Simple Provisions

Food does not need to be fancy to be celebrated

Parsley Oil | Simple Provisions

This week we came home to find our pantry in disarray. Jars were smashed, sugar and barley and pasta and other hard-to-clean-up things were strewn across the floor, appliances were knocked over and a shelf that had been holding my cookbooks was no longer on the wall.

I had overloaded that shelf with far too many books, and it crumbled under the weight. It was not the shelf’s fault. It had done a valiant job of holding the books up for almost three months, but it could take the strain no more, and politely waited until we were safely out of the house to collapse, sending all the books tumbling to the ground.

The pantry has been tidied, but the books need a new home. While I was stacking them in a temporary corner, I picked out my favourites to sit at the top, and thought I’d share them with you. I’ve created a page with my go-to cookbooks listed. If you like the recipes I post on Simple Provisions, then you may be interested to see my favourite books, as they are what influence my cooking.

There are some classics like Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion, which nearly every Australian household has, and Jerusalem by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi, which everyone who likes food bought in 2012. But a relatively new book has rocketed to the top of my pile in the last few weeks. Continue Reading

Simple Provisions Ford Blog Header

It’s picnic season! The frosts of winter have melted, leaving the daffodils to bloom and the trees to blossom, beckoning us outdoors to reacquaint ourselves with the sun. I’ve received extra incentive to get out and about this year as I’ve been loaned a new Ford Kuga Titanium as part of the Kidspot Voices of 2014 competition (I’m a finalist in the Food and Wellbeing category!). I get the car for six weeks, and I’ll be featuring it in three blog posts over the coming weeks.

The challenge has inspired me to get out of the house and celebrate Central Victoria, starting with picnics. Friends often ask me for my Kyneton tips, and I think a road trip that involves a picnic of local produce, a walk in nature and possibly a swim in a natural watering hole is the perfect thing. Kyneton is a bit over an hour from Melbourne, and makes an excellent day trip. So here’s The Simple Provisions Guide to Kyneton Picnics, complete with where to stock up on picnic provisions, and three of my favourite picnic spots.

Simple Provisions Guide to Kyneton Picnics

Click on the map to see it full size and print it out for your day trip.

I’ve collaborated with local artist Lucy King to come up with this lovely map for you to print out for your day trip, and her gorgeous illustrations will also feature in the other challenge posts in the coming weeks, further celebrating local talent.

Day Trip: The Simple Provisions Guide to Kyneton Picnics

I have a picnic box in the shed. It’s a box of rugs, baskets, utensils, cups, plates, games, hats and all the things that make picnics fun. Having all the bits in one place means it’s easy to pack for a spur of the moment picnic, which are the best kind. My fancy loan car made it even easier as it has keyless entry (so handy with the babe in arms, I need this feature in my life permanently) and a magic tailgate that opens with a wave of my foot under the bumper bar. Seriously.

Here’s a list of all the places in Kyneton to shop for your picnic provisions, so you can fill those baskets in the boot with gorgeous local produce.

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Buttermilk Fruit Scones | Simple Provisions

My friends and I started a tradition nearly ten years ago of the “Scone Off”. I don’t think I was even involved in the original heated discussion over whether lemonade scones were better than traditional scones, but somehow I got drawn in to a competition of who could cook the best scones.

The inaugural Scone Off was inappropriately held in the middle of Summer, on the hottest day of the year, in a small apartment with a tiny galley kitchen that more resembled a sauna by the end of the afternoon. Three contestants cooked three scones each; plain, savoury and sweet.

The judges, our partners and one impartial ring-in, took their tasting very seriously. Scorecards were produced with judging categories including taste, texture, appearance and presentation. That year the Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Union cookbook provided the guidance for the winning scone. It didn’t rise as well as the lemonade scone, but it was light, golden and tasted just like a nanna would make, so it took out the prize.  I came second that year, let down by a batch of burnt bottoms.

Over the years I’ve never won, though one year we got sick of scones and changed it to a Pizza Off and switched contestants. My husband’s pizza won, so I won by proxy (right?!). This year, I was determined to produce a winning scone because a) I now have a food blog, I should be able to cook a scone and b) I now live in the country, I should be able to cook a bloody scone! Continue Reading

Cauliflower, Pancetta and Hazelnut Gnocchetti | Simple Provisions

The first rays of spring sun have started streaming through my windows. Like a cat, I’ve found myself moving around our back room, basking in the warmth, following the sun as it makes its journey across the sky. At just about the right time for lunch, the sun hits my dining room table and makes it an exceptionally pleasant place to be. It’s made even more lovely, as many things are, with a flavoursome plate of pasta and a crisp white wine. Continue Reading

Ann-Mah-credit-Katia-Grimmer-Laversanne

I have lifestyle envy of Ann Mah. She is a food and travel writer and published author who divides her time between Paris and New York with her diplomat husband and delightful baby. She’s lived all over the world and written about her food experiences in China, Italy, and most extensively, France. Last year her memoir of eating her way around France was published, and I enjoyed reading it in the final weeks of my pregnancy when I was doing a lot of eating but not a lot of travelling. Ann’s fridge is similar to mine right now, full of half-eaten bits of baby food, but she also has a genius trick for keeping ginger fresh that I’m totally stealing. Read on to take a peek inside an international food writer’s fridge.

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Small Batch Pickled Radishes | Simple Provisions

Due to a technical glitch, the email announcing this week’s post did not go out. Which means you may have missed a bright pink jar of pickles! If your burgers, tacos or sandwiches need a little pick-me-up, take a look at this recipe for Quick Pickled Radishes.

Here’s how I’ve used the pickles this week:

- Sliced and added to a salad of raw kale, grated carrot, currants and walnuts with a lemon and maple syrup dressing

- Added to a crusty baguette spread with mustard and layered with ham and swiss cheese

- Included on a rather boring cheese platter to add a bit of pizzaz

Small Batch Pickled Radishes | Simple Provisions

If radishes were in a beauty pageant, they’d nail the looks category. They’re truly beautiful vegetables with their vibrant, hot pink skin, china-doll white flesh and ruffly green leaves. But when it comes to the talent portion of the evening, the judges may shift uncomfortably in their seats as Miss Radish struggles to prove her versatility.

Radishes are most commonly eaten raw. The French love them with a thick spread of expensive unsalted butter and a touch of sea salt, making them the easiest, prettiest hors d’oeuvre ever. Radishes can add a mustardy crunch to salads and will look stunning sliced thinly on top of a fish taco. But unless you’re making a lot of fish tacos, you’re unlikely to use a whole bunch of radishes in one sitting. And then you’re left with at least a few pink spheres rolling around in your vegetable drawer, destined to lose their crunch.

Making a batch of quick pickles will help extend the life, and the usefulness, of that bunch of radishes, which is sure to impress those pageant judges.  Continue Reading

Eat Your Greens Pasta | Simple Provisions

Dark, glossy greens are good for you. I think they’re even better when served with a generous portion of carbs and a heavy-handed dose of cheese. My new house has a vegetable garden thoughtfully planted out by the previous owners. We have rows of kale, silverbeet and rainbow chard and this gorgeous greenery is making its way into many meals. This one is my favourite. It’s a meaty green dish, the kind that slips in the vegetables without you feeling deprived of anything more substantial. The secret is anchovies. Continue Reading

Meyer Lemon Delicious Pudding

My oven and I are getting to know each other. We’re in the early stages of a potentially long-term relationship, and, to be honest, it’s not going so well.

I tried to ignore the fact that this new oven is a third of the size of my old one. Size isn’t everything, right? And its cooktop is electric. Julia Child had an electric stove! But this oven runs hot and fast, and it shoots cold air out of a vent that is at the exact height of my bum when I’m preparing food at the bench opposite it. I mean, that’s just rude!

Braving a cold rear, I wanted to share a dessert with the oven. A light, fluffy dessert that would really test this fledging relationship.

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wrap up

 

I have no recipe to share this week, even though I have a brand new kitchen to play with! Our house move was a success and after spending the last week working out how to effectively use the wood fire to heat the house, and how to get Charlotte, the chicken that came with the house, to like us, I’m a bit pooped. But between the beautiful morning light that streams into the kitchen and the plentiful vegetable garden five steps from my back door, I won’t be out of the kitchen long. In the meantime, here’s some things that have inspired me this week.

 

Spin Spin’s tea towels are bright and fun, and would look ace in my new kitchen. I doubt I can resist the two-for-one special on now…

Vegetable inspired wallpaper!

- I think this is a nice summary of steps to becoming a better cook

- Eat This My Friend’s Simple Turkish Eggs will happen when Charlotte the chook starts laying again

- Reading what The Canal House cooks for lunch makes me want summer to arrive. Their cook books are lovely, and Canal House Cooks Every Day is on my birthday wishlist

- Also making me long for summer: the genius behind Momofuku Milk Bar chats about strawberries with The New York Times

- Have you seen Food Curated’s videos? They’re lovely little profiles of food people. This guy really loves bread and butter (a man after my own heart)

- Not food related, but Adam France’s Crafting for a Cause is remarkably imaginative and mesmerising (via The Design Files)

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