Friday, May 24, 2013

Just popped out for a sec......

So, after just over a month of no Gourmet Goddess updates I decided that I really needed to check back in and let you know that all is well and that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. Life has been insanely hectic over the past few weeks, with work and everything else. This has meant not a huge amount of blog worthy cooking and even when there was, no time to sit down and write up anything that might have been of interest. Food at our place has been back to basics, with a few notable exceptions, which I did snap pictures of with Instagram on my mobile phone - so here are the highlights to bring you up to speed.

I acquired an almost new bread machine from a friend who discovered she can't eat bread anymore (boo!) but who passed her bread maker on to me (yay!) I have now gotten into the habit of baking bread every Saturday morning. Have experimented with a few different recipes for a basic loaf and think I will venture into the realm of grainy breads and fruit loaves soon. A few weekends ago we had some bread left over by Sunday morning, so I decided to make us a batch of French Toast with my day old, homemade bread. This loaf was made with organic unbleached flour. I teamed the golden bread up with some fresh blueberries, raspberries and strawberries - and maple syrup of course. It was a delicious treat and the best French Toast I had ever made. The home baked bread was a real winner.

French Toast and Mixed Berries
Made with GG's Home Baked Bread

A road trip down to Canberra one weekend yielded an esky full of fresh produce that we picked up in our travels - including a beautiful big pumpkin, organic garlic, berry vinegar, locally made sausages, chicken terrine, organic beef mince and a small pheasant. Although I have eaten pheasant a few times before, I had never cooked it and thought it was time I had a go. I decided to go with a very old technique for cooking game, which was to soak it in milk overnight before roasting it. To the milk I added fresh thyme and bay leaves from my garden, along with crushed peppercorns and juniper berries. The pheasant soaked in the milk for a good 12 hours, then I drained the milk off, patted the pheasant dry and roasted it with seasonal vegetables. I made a gravy with the pan juices and served it as a traditional roast.

The pheasant was not a large one - just under a kilogram - and it came already plucked but with the head still intact. I removed the head to roast it, although if I was being really old school it would have been left on during the roasting process. The enzymes in the milk help to tenderise the flesh, and the herbs and juniper I added gave it a lovely herbal aroma and flavour. The meat was not overly gamey and came out quite soft and juicy, with the exception of the legs where the meat was darker and not as tender. This is almost always the case with game, or any meat for that matter - the parts of the animal that do most of the work tend to be tougher than the less active parts. The flavour though, was fantastic. I am a fan of game meat - rabbits, pigeon, duck - and I was very happy with my first attempt at cooking pheasant.

Roasted Pheasant with Bay, Thyme and Juniper
Served with Autumn Vegetables

Fast forward to this week, where my work colleagues and I hosted Australia's Biggest Morning Tea, which raises money for The Cancer Council - a very worthy cause. My contribution was a couple of dozen rather kitsch looking pink cupcakes. The cake and icing was spiked with lemon, which gave a little freshness to them and balanced out the sweetness. I went a bit mental with the decorations - lots of sparkly stuff and coloured baubles and flowers. Thought a bit of whimsy in the workplace can't be a bad thing! They were a big hit, and along with the contributions from my workmates who baked their favourite recipes to share, raised over $500 for The Cancer Council. Not bad for some tea and cake!

My fundraising cupcakes - 
for Australia's Biggest Morning Tea

So, what is in store in the coming weeks? Well, tomorrow our bookclub meets and we have decided that instead of our usual Sunday afternoon gathering with coffee and cakes we would do a Saturday version and everyone would bring along a dish so we could have dinner and some wine instead. It's my turn to host so I will have a full house Saturday evening. The weather is quite chilly, so my contribution will be a leg of sustainably produced local lamb from Feather & Bone - my favourite meat supplier here in Sydney. They are fussy about how their meat is raised and produced, and boy does it show in the quality of the produce. I'm thinking I might season the meat with garlic, lemon thyme from the garden and native pepperberries that I brought back from out last trip to Tasmania. If it isn't raining we will cook the lamb over coals outside. Delicious.

Speaking of Tasmania, we are only weeks away from heading back there for a ten day holiday and recon mission. We have completely fallen in love with the place and plan to one day make it our home, where we will grow as much of our own food as possible in that very special and pristine part of the world. As well as having a break there, we are planning to further explore the area where we think we would like to settle eventually. We also thought it would be good to visit in winter so we know what we are in for. I've been watching the weather forecasts and it's going to be freezing. Good thing we both like the cold!

Now you are all up to date, I'm hoping that we will be resuming normal transmission, with more regular Gourmet Goddess installments - so watch this space. The coming weeks look like they are going to be less of a frenzy than most of May has been - thank the Goddess! The weather has really cooled down, it gets dark a lot earlier and that seasonal change just cries out for cosy, comfort food with seasonal ingredients I think. Maybe I will check out out local farmer's market this weekend and see what inspires?


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