FRIDAY FEAST with Jennifer Scoullar

Good morning, Feasters. Today I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Jennifer Scoullar to the blog. Why? Because not only is Jennifer a fellow Penguin Australia rural lit author, she’s a fellow horsey girl which naturally makes her a mighty fiiiiine person!

Jennifer ‘s world sounds wonderfully romantic and Man From Snowy River-ish. She lives with her family on a property in the gorgeous southern Victorian ranges. Her house is on a hill-top, overlooking valleys of messmate and mountain ash, and all her life she’s ridden and bred horses, in particular Australian Stock Horses.

Which means she knows what she’s writing about in her debut rural romance, Brumby’s Run.

Check it out…

BRUMBY’S RUN

 

A blissful, carefree summer beckons for Samantha Carmichael. But her world is turned on its head when she learns she’s adopted – and that she has a twin sister, Charlie, who is critically ill.

While Charlie recovers in hospital, Sam offers to look after Brumby’s Run, her sister’s home high in the Victorian alps. Within days, city girl Sam finds herself breaking brumbies and running cattle with the help of neighbour Drew Chandler, her sister’s erstwhile boyfriend.

A daunting challenge soon becomes a wholehearted tree change, as Sam begins to fall in love with Brumby’s Run – and with Drew. But what will happen when Charlie returns to claim what is rightfully hers?

Set among the hauntingly beautiful ghost gums and wild horses of the high country, Brumby’s Run is a heartfelt, romantic novel about families and secrets, love and envy, and most especially, the bonds of sisterhood.

 

 

I am so, so excited about this book and can’t wait to score a copy. The official release day is July 2nd but there are reports of Brumby’s Run already in the shops. So keep your eyes peeled!

And now I hand you over to Jennifer.

 

BUSHFOODS

Recently I’ve become interested in Australian native foods, commonly known as bush tucker or bushfood. I think it’s a natural extension of my passion for our environment. Bushfood ingredients were initially harvested from the wild, but cultivated sources have become increasingly important to provide sustainable supplies for a growing market

The fledgling bushfood industry is helping to conserve wild resources and protect bio- diversity. It is creating incomes and jobs for rural communities, and I like that it values and utilises indigenous knowledge.  It encourages farmers to branch out from traditional crops, and has had some unexpected advantages.  For example, salinity is being reduced in some areas by introducing native perennials, and waterways once polluted by fertiliser runoff are returning to health.

Once I discovered the pleasures of cooking with bushfood, I couldn’t get enough of it. Everybody knows about Macadamia nuts, but there is another far more ancient native nut that has been considered a delicacy for thousands of years. My new novel is set in the Bunya Mountains of Queensland, famous for their Bunya nuts. The nuts come from a magnificent pine tree which dates back to the Jurassic era 180 million years ago. When Gondwana separated into different land masses 45 million years ago, the Bunya pine survived in a few areas of  Australia. It is a cousin to the Monkey Puzzle tree of South America. Nuts from both trees were a prized food for indigenous tribes, and the Monkey Puzzle nut is an important food source in Chile to the present day.

The football-sized Bunya cones weighs 5-10 kilograms and hold between 30 and 100 nuts.  Each nut contains about 130 kilojoules (32 calories) with more starch and protein than the average nut. They taste similar to chestnuts with overtones of pine, and are great in both sweet and savoury dishes.  Bunya nuts are a bit hard to come by, outside of Queensland. But you can buy them online from the Australian Produce Company, and store them in the freezer.

Flourless Bunya Nut  Cake  (gluten free)

Ingredients:

  • 750g of Bunya nut kernels  
  • Half a litre of milk
  • 75g butter
  • 300g sugar
  • 6 free-range egg yolks
  • 6 free-range egg whites
  • 100g almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond essence

Method:

  • Boil nuts in large saucepan for half an hour and remove from shells. (This can    involve hammers and shouting. I find it’s a great job for teenage boys!)
  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Place kernels in food processor and reduce to a smooth paste, slowly adding the milk to soften mixture.
  • Mix softened butter with egg yolks and sugar until smooth and fluffy, then hand-   blend with the Bunya nut paste.
  • Beat egg whites to a firm consistency and again hand-blend with the Bunya nut, mix in one cup at a time, alternating with the almond meal and almond essence until all ingredients are fully mixed.
  • Pour mix into a 28cm spring form, lined with grease-proof baking paper.
  • Bake for 50min in centre of oven. Turn heat off and leave for a further 20 minutes before removing from oven to cool naturally.
  • Shake sifted icing sugar on top. Best eaten same day.

This delicious and unusual cake is also suitable for those with a gluten intolerance.

 

What a fascinating post! Thanks, Jennifer. I really enjoyed that and will definitely be on the hunt for some Bunya nuts now. I’ve cooked with wattle seed and finger limes and a few other bushfoods but not these. Must try!

Now, Feasters, lovely Jennifer has offered one super-lucky reader the chance to win a signed copy of Brumby’s Run. Rah! But as usual you have to work for it. Jennifer and I want to hear all about your best Australian bush experience. Don’t have a best one? Then share your worst. After all, everyone loves a good python in the sleeping bag story as much as they love a romantic campfire dinner/cute furry animal one.

Get in fast because the giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 3rd July 2012. Australian addresses only, sorry.

If you’d like to learn more about Jennifer and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to JindivickWildlifeShelter who has won a copy of Jennifer’s wonderful debut rural romance Brumby’s Run. Thanks to everyone who joined in the fun!

0 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Jennifer Scoullar

  1. Avatarjindivickwildlifeshelter

    Oh – I would love to win a signed copy of this book. As a lover of all things Aussie I have a huge passion for the bush and its inhabitants. We have done a fair bit of traveling and camping around the place and had some interesting experiences. The kids vividly remember an event that occurred on our way to Gemtree in central Australia. We were experiencing mechanical problems with our vehicle and having just spent 10 days having our ute repaired we set off but had to be towed back to Alice Springs where we spent another 7 days waiting for our vehicle to be repaired again. We finally got to Gemtree. Tensions were high with stress and money worries and now major time constraints on our travels. It was dark when we arrived – it was cold and we were tired and dusty. I cooked up a quick throw together meal of rice with some vegies. I served it up to everyone with ‘THE LOOK’ – they knew to just eat it and not complain. They start to eat and tell me that it tastes great. I sit down with mine and begin to eat. It is horrendous!!!! I throw mine in the fire and burst out laughing as hubby and the three kids breath a huge sigh of relief and throw theirs away too. They were too scared to tell me that it was horrible. Whenever we have rice now we laugh about the ‘Gemtree rice’.

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      I’d love to win a signed copy too, jindivickwildlifeshelter! Hmm, can I enter my own giveaways? Perhaps not…

      He he. THE LOOK. Ahh, I remember my mum’s well. Must be something instinctive. Not sure about the rice dish but the rest of your trip sounds adventurous. Although I’m sure you could have done without the breakdown.

      Thanks for dropping by and good luck in the draw!

  2. Avatarrachael johns

    What an awesome post!!! I’ve got a bad memory at the moment and I’m sure I’ve had BETTER bush experience (times when as a little girl I stayed on friend’s farms and LONGED to live on one one day myself), but what I can really think about, is a recent trip to our friends farm. I took my three boys there for a night to do some research for my next book and while we were there we watched the burning off. AT night. It was magic to watch the flames licking across the paddock against the black night sky and more magic was the simple sausage sizzle we had on a portable bbq while the boys and their friends ran rampant. During the day my boys loved throwing paddy melons into the fire and listening for them to go pop. I’m sure I wouldn’t eat a paddy melon but they are a great form o f entertainment 🙂

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      I agree, Rach. Fab post. Love learning about things like this.

      Paddy melons – urgh. Horrid weed, although, as you say, very entertaining for the kids. Sounds like you all had a great time but then of course you did. You were on a farm!

  3. AvatarFiona Palmer

    Great post! Very interesting with the nuts, Jenny. I grew up with my gran making quongdong jam and we were told you could eat the nuts inside them also. When I was in my very early teens, my brother and I decided to go camping outside, as our house is beside scub bush. We had the fire and our sleeping bags set up under a wire arch with a tarp over it. And then my brother drags out the electric blanket with a massive extension cord. We never got cold! Can’t wait to read BR, it sounds fab!

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Fiona, your comment about quandongs makes me think of rosella jam. That stuff is my favourite jam of all time. Jim’s mum used to make it although she hasn’t done for a while, which is a shame because the shop version I’ve found is mixed with plums and tastes very ordinary. Nothing like home-made.

      And your brother’s a camping cheat!

    2. Avatarjenniferscoullar

      Quandong jam … what a classic. There was a time when lots of country grans made this favourite. Just wait and it might come back. There’s such a resurgence of interest in bushfoods. And what a woos your brother was!

  4. AvatarBarbara Hannay

    Thanks for the interesting post, Jennifer. The cake sounds yum. Must check out the Bunya pines in Malanda. And congrats on your debut book. How exciting for you!!
    It’s interesting about different Aussie names for things though, Rachael. Here in the FNQ rainforest, paddy melons are small wallabies. I’m assuming yours are something different:))

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Ahh, yes, so they are, Barbara. How funny. Sadly they’re an annual weed down here.

      By the way, I’m hearing wonderful things about Zoe’s Muster. Looking forward to its release and featuring it on Friday Feast.

    2. Avatarjenniferscoullar

      Hi Barbara … very much looking forward to Zoe’s Muster. And yes, pademelons are small wallabies here too. Bunya harvesting season starts in summer, but be careful. Falling Bunya nuts can be lethal!

  5. AvatarSteph knight

    I can’t wait to read it … I love reading all the Australian romance books ..

  6. Pingback: Release of Brumby’s Run | Jennifer Scoullar

  7. AvatarDiane McKewin

    I grew up in the Central Queensland town of Emerald which, in those days, was very much a small country town. So I grew up pretty close to the bush and can recall many very pleasant events from that time but the one that remains most vividly in my mind is one that was not quite so pleasant! Many years ago when I was 19 and some time before the Fairbairn Dam, near Emerald, was built, I was one of a number of young people who gathered together to go on a bush picnic in the area that has since been covered with water since the Dam was built. My sense of direction is, and has always been, dreadful! Being a loner, I decided to go for a walk and do a little exploring on my own. The end result, as you may have guessed, is that I became lost in the bush…it was an early winter’s day, towards the late afternoon, and became very dark very quickly. Realising that I was lost, I kept on walking and thought that if I kept going I would eventually end up back home in or near Emerald. After I had been found, I was told that I had been walking in the opposite direction towards the town of Springsure! Though I knew I was alone, I could see a native man with a spear walking with me and, in effect, protecting me. He wouldn’t let me stop but kept urging me to keep on walking. It was a very cold night as they can be in that area and I have no doubt that this ‘spirit’ saved my life by keeping me moving. This happened over 40 years ago and it is an experience I will never forget.

  8. AvatarHelene

    Another fabulous post! Bunya pines are truly inspiring trees but please don’t loiter under them when they’re fruiting – I reckon they’d do more damage than a coconut if they hit you!

    The recipe sounds wonderful, Jenny. Bush tucker food is great – I love Lilly Pilly jam although I haven’t attempted to make it myself yet but I have plans!

    One of my bush experiences involved staying with friends who had a quarter horse stud. Three of us were up on Flash, the gorgeous stallion, when he decided to show off. Two of us flew off and I ended up with a badly broken arm which involved a drive back to Brisbane and eight weeks in plaster… Still I went back for more once I was allowed and have good memories of messing around stables.

  9. AvatarCathryn Hein

    Congratulations to JindivickWildlifeShelter whose wish to win a copy of Jennifer’s Brumby’s Run came true!

    And a big thanks to everyone who dropped by. Lovely to see you here.