Saturday, 18 April 2015

Forage 2015

I can't believe that Forage has been and gone for another year already. 2015 is the fifth Forage, a highlight of FOOD Week in Orange. It's a totally great event, and we've had 4 years of fabulous, dry autumnal weather. 2011. 2012. 2013. 2014. Forage is bigger and better every year. 2015 was something special.

Much rain was predicted this year.
90% chance of 10-20 mm.
And it started raining just as the first buses arrived!
But it was only a shower, and didn't last that long. 
The ladies were mostly kitted out in dress wellies anyway

Highland Heritage's
5 Spice Pork with Crispy Salad

Foragers are an intrepid lot and don't let a little shower
dampen their enthusiasm.

The day was atmospheric and glorious. 

It's always wonderful walking between the vines

With so many delicious pit stops along the way. 

Lolli Redini's
Chicken Rillette with Orchard Fruit Compote

Stepping Stone's Minnestrone
with Trunkey Creek Spec

The Forage ahead. 

Crowds of enthusiastic Foragers build with every bus arrival.

I certainly did. 

Agrestic Grocer's
Wild Mushroom Pie
warming and perfect for the day

Sadly I wasn't drinking but did have the
occasional sip. 
Bite Riot Cherry Juice is good!

Beautiful new vistas with every step. 

Edwena Mitchell's
Beef Shin Braised in Coconut Cream
was sensational.
As was
Hand Pressed Shiraz Sorbet

The rain had held off for long enough
and was soon bucketing down.
Most people had had enough wine that they didn't
really care.

But now I long for a Gustav Klimt brolly too...
It was a wet end to a great day. 

But Kate Brack's
Chocolate and Red Wine Cake
with Roasted Pear and Cinnamon Cream
was Exceptional.
 I didn't care that it was raining. 

Second Mouse cheese to finish
And then a wet and soggy dash to the bus home. I can't wait to see what Forage 2016 will bring...

Edwena Mitchell published her marvellous beef shin recipe on Facebook and is happy for me to share it with you here. I think I need to try this at home. It would be easy to make a half recipe, although so delicious you'll probably want the full one. 

The Braised Shin Beef was quite well received so herewith the recipe, adapted from a Gourmet Traveller Fare Exchange recipe:
2 kg shin beef, don't remove the casings, just cut it up into largish chunks
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 tab pepper
1/2 tab dark brown sugar
1 tab Herbies Chinese 5 Spice mix
1 or 2 green chillis
2" piece ginger grated
6 big fat cloves garlic
2 tabs sesame oil
800ml coconut cream
Make a paste with the pepper, sugar, spice mix, ginger, garlic, chilli & sesame oil, mix the paste with meat and soy sauce & marinate for as long as you can (at least 2 days).

Put the meat into good heavy casserole pot with coconut cream & cook at 140 degrees for 4 or 5 hours till very tender.

Serve with rice and:

2 green capsicum
1 Lebanese Cucumber
1/2 bunch radish
1 bunch shallots or 1 Spanish Onion
1/2 bunch coriander
1/2 cup sushi dressing 

Slice capsicum, shallots & radish very finely, pour over sushi dressing 1/2 hr before serving & use Coriander for garnish at serving.

Serves 8 with a bit left over!!
For Forage, the meat was marinating in the soy & spice paste for one month, cryovac'ed, thanks to, Michael Borg from M & J Meats in Orange, my wonderful butcher.

Marinating for a month! No wonder it tasted so amazing. I might need a trip to see Michael this week too. It's been raining ever since Forage ended, and has turned quite wintery.

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Friday, 17 April 2015


Wow. Brock sure packs an emotional punch. A grim, unusual tale of badger baiting at one level- books for children really can deal with almost anything, and also a tale of a family struggling to get by. 

Our narrator Nicky lives in a small village in England with his Dad and his older brother Kenny, who is a bit simple. 

People say he's simple, and he is. I know you're not meant to say 'simple-minded' any more, but it seems to me that it's the exact right word for Kenny. He hasn't got all the stuff going on that messes up other people's heads. He isn't always trying to work out the angles, or how to stitch you up. He thinks other people are as kind as he is, and he only has one idea at a time. 

Their Dad hasn't been the same either since their Mum left. He's not working, he's got into some trouble with the law and he drinks too much. One morning Kenny wakes Nicky early to go out to meet some of the boys from town, nasty boys who are up to no good. 

Rob wasn't mean. He was something else. He was a psycho. He'd seem all friendly and normal, and then something would set him off and he'd smash stuff up. 'Stuff' could mean you, if you were around. He once bit a kid and the kid had to go to hospital to get a shot for tetanus and probably rabies as well. Rob was on Ritalin but it didn't make any difference. 

There are some unspeakable acts of cruelty in this book, it is not a sweet, cosy tale of British village life by any means. But Nicky is a good kid and ultimately it is about being true to yourself, knowing what is right and the redemptive power of kindness. 

I've never seen a badger but they do sound to be extraordinary animals. Certainly many English stories feature them. Badgers seemed to be everywhere for me a few reading weeks ago. Constance the badger was a major character in Redwall which I read recently (see my review), and there was even a recent Guardian list of the Top 10 Fictional Badgers- the old male from Brock rightly being one of them. 

The old male shifted in his sleep. He was fighting again those long-ago battles, back in the days when his teeth were still sharp. Those teeth were worn down to brown stumps now, but once every living creature feared them. 

Fictional badgers are so popular that they are thought to have influenced the UK's conflicted attitudes to badger culling

I'm so glad that I ordered Brock online after I found it in this list of Top 10 Books for Reluctant and Dyslexic Readers. I'd never read a story about badger baiting. Indeed I didn't know that badger baiting was a thing or what it was, and I was immediately transfixed. Published by Barrington Stoke Teen it is Dyslexia Friendly. I didn't know that books could in fact be dyslexia friendly but they use special thick creamy yellow paper and printing techniques, each page is beautifully illustrated.

Anthony McGowan was an author that was totally new to me. I'll certainly be interested in reading more of his work. I'll be searching it out, and I'm looking forward to reading more from Barrington Stoke- they're doing interesting things with books. 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

CBCA Book of the Year Awards Shortlist 2015

The Children's Book Council of Australia do so much to champion the vast number of great children's books that are produced in Australia every year. The annual Book of the Year Awards are so important to highlight the best of these books every year. The Shortlists were announced yesterday.

Some of these books are very much on my radar already, others are completely new to me, and indeed I'm rather thrilled that I've even managed to read some of them so far. I've already bought others and have them lurking in the TBR so now I will move them up towards the top.

Book of the Year: Older Readers Shortlist

Nona & Me - Clare Atkins
Intruder - Christine Bongers
Are You Seeing Me? - Darren Groth
The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl
The Minnow - Diana Sweeney
The Protected - Claire Zorn

Older Readers Notable Books

Wrath - Anne Davies
Masquerade - Kylie Fornasier
I am Juliet - Jackie French (see my review)
Loyal Creatures - Morris Gleitzman (see my review)
Razorhurst - Justine Larbalestier
The Astrologer's Daughter - Rebecca Lim
Tigers on the Beach - Doug MacLeod
The Crystal Heart - Sophie Masson
Tigerfish - David Metzenthen
The Cracks in the Kingdom - Jaclyn Moriarty
The Year it all Ended - Kristy Murray
As Stars Fall - Christie Nieman
Laurinda - Alice Pung
The Ratcatcher's Daughter - Pamela Rushby
Alexander Altmann A10567 - Suzy Zail

Books of the Year: Younger Readers Shortlist

Two Wolves - Tristan Bancks
The Simple Things - Beth Condon, Beth Norling (illustrator)
The Cleo Stories: The Necklace and the Present - Libby Gleeson, Freya Blackwood (illustrator)
Bleakboy and Hunter Stand Out in the Rain - Steven Herrick
Figgy in the World - Tamsin Janu
Withering-by-Sea: A Stella Montgomery Intrigue - Judith Rossell (see my review)

Younger Readers Notable Books

The Adventures of Stunt Boy and his Amazing Wonder Dog Blindfold - Lollie Barr
Violet Mackerel's Helpful Suggestion - Anna Branford, Sarah Davis (illustrator)
Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy - Karen Foxlee
Kelsey and the Quest of the Porcelain Doll - Rosanne Hawke
Through My Eyes: Malini - Robert Hillman
A Very Singular Guild Book 3 City of Orphans - Catherine Jinks
Tea and Sugar Christmas - Jane Jolly, Robert Ingpen (illustrator)
Going Bush with Grandpa - Sally Morgan and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, Craig Smith (illustrator)
Roses are Blue - Sally Murphy, Gabriel Evans (illustrator)
Crossing - Catherine Norton
The Firebird Mystery: a Jack Mason Adventure - Darrell Pitt
The Ratcatcher's Daughter - Pamela Rushby
Truly Tan Freaked - Jen Storer, Claire Robertson (illustrator)
The Mapmaker Chronicles: Race to the End of the World - A.L. Tait
Paper Planes - Allayne L Webster

Book of the Year: Early Childhood Shortlist

Pig the Pug - Aaron Blabey (see my review)
Scary Night - Lesley Gibbes, Stephen Michael King (illustrator)
Go To Sleep - Libby Gleeson, Freya Blackwood (illustrator)
A House of Her Own - Jenny Hughes, Jonathan Bentley (illustrator)
Snail and Turtle are Friends - Stephen Michael King
Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach - Alison Lester

Early Childhood Notable Books

Baby Beats - Karen Blair
Monster Chef - Nick Bland
My Dad is a Bear - Nicola Connelly, Annie White (illustrator)
Bridie's Boots - Phil Cummings, Sara Acton (illustrator)
Tim and Ed - Ursula Dubosarsky, Andrew Joyner (illustrator)
B is for Bedtime - Margaret Hamilton, Anna Pignataro (illustrator)
Our Island - Alison Lester, Elizabeth Honey (illustrator)
Max - Marc Martin
One Night - Penny Matthews, Stephen Michael King (illustrator)
Kick with My Left Foot - Paul Seden, Karen Briggs (illustrator)
Big Pet Day - Lisa Shanahan, Gus Gordon (illustrator)
Whale in the Bath - Kylie Westaway, Tom Jellett (illustrator)

Picture Book of the Year Shortlist

Rivertime - Trace Bella
My Two Blanket - Freya Blackwood (illustrator), Irena Kobald (text)
One Minute's Silence - Michael Camilleri (illustrator), David Metzenthen (text)
The Duck and the Darklings - Stephen Michael King (illustrator), Glenda Millard (text)
The Stone Lion - Rita Voutila (illustrator), Margaret Wild (text)
Fire - Bruce Whatley (illustrator), Jackie French (text) (see my review)

Picture Books Notable Books

The Amazing A to Z Thing - Bronwyn Bancroft (illustrator), Sally Morgan (text)
A House of Her Own - Jonathan Bentley (illustrator), Jenny Hughes (text)
The Brothers Quibble - Aaron Blabey
Hello from Nowhere - Karen Blair (illustrator), Raewyn Caisley (text)
Top Dog - Rod Clement
Vanilla Ice Cream - Bob Graham
Tea and Sugar Christmas - Robert Ingpen (illustrator), Jane Jolly (text)
Once a Shepherd - Phil Lesnie (illustrator), Glenda Millard (text)
Along the Road to Gundagai - Andrew McLean (illustrator), Jack O'Hagan (dec) (text)
The Wild One - Lucia Masciullo (illustrator), Sonya Hartnett (text)
I Was Only Nineteen - Craig Smith (illustrator), John Schumann (text)
Outside - Ritva Voutila (illustrator), Libby Hathorn (text)

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books Shortlist

A-Z of Convicts in Van Diemen's Land - Simon Barnard
Coming of Age: Growing Up Muslim in Australia - Demet Divaroren and Amra Pajalic (editors)
Mary's Australia: How Mary Mackillop Changed Australia - Pamela Freeman
Tea and Sugar Christmas - Jane Jolly, Robert Ingpen (illustrator)
Emu - Claire Saxby, Graham Byrne (illustrator)
Audacity: Stories of Heroic Australians in Wartime - Carlie Walker, Brett Fatherly (illustrator)

Eve Pownall Award Notable Books

Australian Federation: One People, One Destiny - Net Brennan
Meet Douglas Mawson - Mike Dumbleton, Snip Green (illustrator)
Australia's Greatest Landmarks & Locations - Virginia Grant
Midnight: The Story of a Light Horse - Mark Greenwood, Frané Lessac (illustrator)
Our Island - The Children of Gununa with Alison Lester, Elizabeth Honey (illustrator)
One Minute's Silence - David Metzenthen (text), Michael Camilleri (illustrator)
The Soldier's Gift - Tony Palmer, Jane Tanner (illustrator)
The Poppy - Andrew Plant
Emily Eases Her Wheezes - Katrina Roe, Leigh Hedstrom (illustrator)
The Afghanistan Pup - Mark Wilson

Crichton Award for New Illustrators Shortlist

Rivertime - Trace Balla
Kick with My Left Foot -  Karen Briggs (illustrator), Paul Seden (text)
One Minute's Silence - Michael Camilleri (illustrator), David Metzenthen (text)
Little Dog and the Christmas Wish - Corinne Fenton (illustrator), Robin Cowcher (text) (see my review)
Meet Douglas Mawson - Snip Green (illustrator), Mike Dumbleton (text)
The Lost Girl - Leanne Tobin (illustrator), Ambelin Kwaymullina (text)

I've somewhat randomly picked my winners before reading all the books, by cover alone, or if I've read one book in the category. Last year I picked 50% this way...

The winners will be announced at Noon on Friday August 21 at the start of Children's Book Week (August 22-28). The theme this year is Books Light Up Our World.

I will be trying to read as many as I can before August.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens

I drive past Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens reasonably often but hadn't had time to stop in many years. And boys in the car are always impatient. But travelling back solo from Newcastle Writers Festival recently was the perfect time for a quick stop. I'm so glad I did. 

It was a beautiful day

I only had time for a quick walk about the gardens before lunch. 

The hydrangeas were pretty much done. 

 I was hoping for lots of birdlife, but midday is never a great time. 

The skinks were cool though.

Possibly Yellow-bellied Water Skinks

Pitcher plants

Sadly the only parrot I saw
 The proteas were lovely. 

King Protea. Protea cyanoroides.

 And the dahlias spectacular this day.  

Basalt columns. 
Mount Tomah is a botanic gardens in the lower Blue Mountains west of Sydney. It's at 1000 metres, and sits atop a basalt peak. They have a great restaurant, Tomah Gardens Restaurant, run by Sean Moran from Sean's Panorama at Bondi, it's worth the stop alone.  

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