The footy season is now well and truly over, with my beloved Sydney Swans safely tucked up on holidays so I think it’s time to bore you with my golf game instead… or perhaps not. As my dad so loves to say, us Heins weren’t meant to play golf. A truism I sadly keep proving each week.
‘Tis a good thing then that I have all the deliciousness that is Friday Feast to keep you entertained. And this week’s guest is hugely entertaining too!
Multi-published Melbournian Kate Belle’s latest novel The Yearning is a must read. There was so much I related to with this book – the setting, the era – but it was the compelling story and Kate’s mastery of language that I adored most. A wonderful read that I can’t recommend highly enough, especially if you were a child of the 70s.
Take a look…
It’s 1978 in a country town and a dreamy fifteen year old girl’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of the substitute English teacher. Solomon Andrews is beautiful, inspiring and she wants him like nothing else she’s wanted in her short life.
Charismatic and unconventional, Solomon easily wins the hearts and minds of his third form English class. He notices the attention of one girl, his new neighbour, who has taken to watching him from her upstairs window. He assumes it a harmless teenage crush, until the erotic love notes begin to arrive.
Solomon knows he must resist, but her sensual words stir him. He has longings of his own, although they have nothing to do with love, or so he believes. One afternoon, as he stands reading her latest offering in his driveway, she turns up unannounced. And what happens next will torment them forever – in ways neither can imagine.
Intrigued? Of course you are! The Yearning is available now from Amazon for your Kindle e-reader or reading app, Kobo or iTunes. For the print book visit Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, Eltham Bookshop and other independent book stores, or your local chainstore.
Unsure? Then read an extract here. You’ll be hooked, believe me.
Now please welcome Kate who is generously sharing a wonderful family recipe. Just the sort of Friday Feast I love.
Christmas Hand Me Downs
Hi Cathryn and readers. What a boon to finally get a guernsey on the famous Friday Feast. I’ve looked forward to this for a long time and even though I’ve literally had MONTHS to consider what to write about, I still can’t decide what recipe to share with you.
After checking the recipe index and seeing the poorly state of the vegetable list, and because I’m a vegetarian, I thought perhaps I should do a vegetable recipe – like creamy mashed potatoes, lemon & butter beans, or roast vegetable medley. But that seems a bit mumsy and boring and ‘eat up your veggies before you have dessert’. (Although there is nothing dull about the way I do veggies. Plenty of good quality butter, salt, pure olive oil, black pepper and cream. I’ve already told my doctor I’m here for a good time, not a long time. Bugger the cholesterol.)
But at heart (the part that’s still beating after all that fat) I’m a cake and pastry girl with a natural leaning toward carby, home-baked fare, and this is the time of year I embark on my boiled fruit cake, white chocolate white Christmas, and plum pudding. So, against the repressed murmurings of my must-eat-wholesome-low-fat-food-fairy, I’m going to treat you to a special Christmas recipe that was passed to me by my dearly beloved’s ex-wife (yes, you read that right), who in turn inherited it from her Great Auntie Flo.
There are so many things about this recipe that appeal to me. Firstly, it’s been handed down three generations. Its history is as long as my list of ex-lovers and I can’t help wondering how many Christmas tables it has graced in the last century. Secondly, the family this recipe originated from were teetotallers and it contains so much alcohol there’s no need to refrigerate it. It just sits in its pudding bowl in a cool, dry cupboard for months developing mouth watering celebratory flavour. Thirdly, I love that it’s a second hand recipe. It goes well with my second hand kitchen utensils, second hand pets, husband and aprons. We are a fully recycled household so it seems appropriate to offer Friday Feast up a second hand heirloom recipe I’ve appropriated from someone else’s family.
Every October this recipe makes an appearance at my kitchen bench on a Saturday I’ve allocated for pudding making. Be warned, this pudding is a serious and messy commitment, but well worth it. The pudding itself is medium weight, very dark and moist. The amount of butter in it makes it very rich necessitating only small servings. One pudding goes a long way. I recommend you start early in the day and have no other plans. My first attempt at Auntie Flo’s pudding (actually, my first attempt at any Christmas pudding) took a day and a half (my fault, not the pudding’s) and almost put me off the whole exercise. But with practice I’ve got the preparation down to about four hours. With up to six hours boiling time on the stove top that’s the day done.
The recipe itself is photocopied from a cookbook and includes a footnote about how individual members of the family prefer their pudding served – X: bit of custard, Y: piles of brandy cream, Z: a smidget of cold whipped cream – which is a delightful addition and brings extra warmth to the experience of making it.
All in all, it’s a recipe befitting a writer. It brims with mysterious back story, has great depth of character and a compelling and involved plot that leads to a profoundly satisfying climax.
Just one more thing – the secret to the inherent goodness of Great Auntie Flo’s Christmas pudding isn’t in the butter, the dried fruit or even the booze. It’s in the Christmassy feelings that flourish as you get your hands utterly sticky and hum your way through your daggiest Christmas music while you work. (Yes, you must!)
Auntie Flo’s Christmas Pudding
Ingredients for 1 standard 2 ½ pint pudding (Use as best quality as you can manage – no substituting!)
Daggy Christmas CD – push play and turn up loud
90g candied peel
½ cup blanched chopped almonds
70g minced fresh apple
125g plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice
250g suet (or butter if you’re vegetarian)
250g soft breadcrumbs (I blitz day old bread in the food processor)
125g soft brown sugar
Grated rind 1 orange
2-3 eggs (free range of course)
1 tblsp brandy
2 tblsp rum
200ml beer (heavy only)
Chop up dried fruit and nuts and combine with minced apple.
Sift flour with salt and spices into large mixing bowl (big enough to take the rest of the ingredients)
Grate the butter/suet into flour and rub in well (this gets very sticky but is quite enjoyable if you give in to it)
Add breadcrumbs, sugar and grated orange rind and mix with hands until even.
Mix in fruit and nuts (yes, using your hands)
Beat eggs, adding brandy and rum (you can use a utensil for this bit)
Mix boozy eggs and beer to other ingredients and mix thoroughly into a soft mixture (okay, you can use a wooden spoon for this, but really, it’s better with hands :-))
Grease the pudding basin well (with butter) and line the base with baking paper. Press the mixture into the basin, pushing out all air pockets until the basin is brimming with yummy pudding.
Cover the top with a double thickness of greased baking paper followed by a double layer of tin foil and tie down tightly around the bowl rim with strong string, making a string handle for ease of removal from the boiling pot.
Put the pudding bowl into a huge saucepan on the stove top and pour in enough hot water to come half way up the sides of the basin. Cover and boil for 6 hours (NB I usually make 2 smaller puddings by dividing this mixture in half and boil them for half the time). Keep an eye on the water level and top up as necessary. Too much water will soak into the pudding and make it gooey, not enough will make the pudding dry.
Allow pudding to cool and store for 2-3 months in cool, dry, dark cupboard. Cook it for a further 2 hours (adjust time according to pudding size) on Christmas day.
Serve with copious quantities of the reveller’s choice of brandy cream, custard, cream or icecream (or all of them!) and devour lustily.
Do you have a traditional Christmas recipe your family serve up every year?
Ooh, Kate, I could wrap you in a big Father Christmas hug! What a gorgeous post, and thanks so much for sharing such an important recipe with everyone at Friday Feast. I can just picture you now, boogie-ing to Jingle Bell Rock as you rub butter into flour or mix ‘boozy’ eggs.
So Feasters, do you have a Chrissy recipe that’s adored? I’ve got to brag that I make a mean Christmas cake, completely overloaded with brandy-soaked fruit. Because we tend to travel interstate, alternating between far north Queensland and south-east South Australian I haven’t had much of chance to create our own tradition, but we do get to savour other’s.
What about you? Do you get in the spirit with rum balls? Maybe fruit mince tarts? Or perhaps you have a special way with turkey? We’d all love to hear. Your tradition might inspire a new one for the rest of us.