Friday, October 29, 2010

Quandong Crumble Pie

[The Quandong, aka Australian Wild Peach]

I recognise that not everyone will be able to get their hands on quandongs in order to complete this recipe. However, we are eating plenty of them at the moment as the only fruit trees we have are Wild Peaches, and they are loaded with fruit!

Of course, the following crumble pie recipe doesn't have to have a quandong filling: Any stewed fruit will do!

To make the shortcrust base:
2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
150g cold butter
1 egg
Cold water (the amount you use will depend on the flour and the humidity in the air)

--> Place flour, icing sugar and butter in food processor and mix until butter has been incorporated into the flour and the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and mix for a further 3 to 5 seconds. With the food processer going, pour in cold water: Start with 2 tablespoons and then drizzle it in until the pastry comes away from the sides and forms a ball. Take it out, wrap in glad wrap (cling film) and place in the fridge for around 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, take the pastry dough out of the fridge, and on a lightly floured bench, roll it out gently with a rolling pin. Roll it into a circle until it is approximately 5mm thick. Place the pastry over your greased pie dish and gently press it in and around the sides. Cut off any excess, and prick the base many times with a fork (this helps the pie shell cook without rising). Put the pie dish into the freezer for 10 minutes before you cook it. Cook at 180*C until it is golden brown, then remove from the oven and allow to cool.

To make the filling:
5 cups seeded quandongs
1/2 cup white sugar (quandongs can be quite bitter so ensure you check that the fruit is of the desired sweetness, and use less or more sugar as required)
A little water

--> In a large saucepan place seeded quandongs, sugar and water and stew on a low heat until fruit is tender and well cooked (approximately 15 - 20 minutes).

Spread stewed quandongs evenly into cooled pie dish.

To make the crumble:
1 & 1/4 cups plain (all purpose) flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter

--> Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut or rub in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over top of pie and press down lightly. Bake, uncovered, at 190*C for 20 minutes or until crumble has browned slightly.

Serve pie with fresh cream and/or vanilla icecream.

[Quandong Crumble Pie]

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lady of the Butterflies by Fiona Mountain

Title: Lady of the Butterflies
Author: Fiona Mountain
Category: Historical Fiction

"What was the point of living if it was not to learn? There were things I wanted to know, that I couldn't live without knowing, couldn't die not knowing, or not at least without trying to find out."

Fiona Mountain's debut novel Lady of the Butterflies is based around the life of entomologist Eleanor Glanville.

Eleanor grew up on the marshlands in Somerset, and was made heiress of Tickenham Court at her Puritan father's death. Eleanor was educated by her father in a manner that was unconvential for the time, teaching his daughter about the developing sciences as much as religion, and with little focus on "female tasks". This upbringing encouraged Eleanor's fascination with the natural world, and with butterflies in particular.

After her marriage to her first husband, Edmund Ashfield, and with plans in the works to drain the marshes for prime grazing land doomed to fail, Eleanor's interest in butterflies wanes as she settles into domestic life and becomes a mother. However, at Edmund's sudden death she establishes a friendship with London apothecary James Petiver, whose interest and knowledge of butterflies re-sparks Eleanor's obsession.

Her second marriage to Richard Glanville proves disasterous, and so Eleanor distracts herself in the collection and recording of butterfly specimens. Through this process the connection between the condition of natural habitats and butterflies was made. It was also these collections that made her famous, some of which can now be seen in the British Natural History Museum, and which lead to the naming of the Glanville fritillary in recognition of her efforts.

However, Eleanor's family did not share this appreciation. They used her interest in butterflies to found claims that she was not of sound mind in order to turn over her will and claim her estate.

Whilst Eleanor's exact fate has not been established, Fiona Mountain provides one of the most inspriring and clever endings to Eleanor's story that truly reflects her passion and determination to be free, like the butterflies she dedicated her life to admiring. This is not just a novel about a woman with an interest in butterflies: It is a story about the amazing and inspiring life of a woman who refused to be dictated to and restricted by convention, and whose tireless work in the study of butterflies has provided us with the understanding necessary to ensure their survival.

A beautiful story, impeccably written, and highly recommended.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Taking Leave...

...and looking forward to a week of relaxing in the sun and admiring the ocean with a good book in hand!

I will not be able to blog whilst away, but posts will recommence once I return.

Hoping everyone has a wonderful week ahead!