Backyard Passionfruit Ice Cream

March 18, 2014

passionfruit

My boyfriend has a tangled, overgrown passionfruit vine growing from a neighbouring backyard into his Balmain courtyard.  For years he has been throwing them out as they fall off the vine.  But now I squeal whenever I see one on the pavers in the courtyard, run down stairs and fetch it, collecting them in a bowl in the kitchen until I have enough to make an ice cream so delicious and heavenly it’s hard to imagine that it has such simple ingredients.  Even an ice cream purist like Andy (vanilla with chocolate sauce, please) has to admit that it is pretty damn good.

Passionfruit Ice Cream
Adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz

1/2 cup fresh passionfruit pulp, from 10 passionfruits
1 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons milk
7 tablespoons white sugar
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks

Scoop the pulp out of the passionfruit and place in a sieve over a non reactive bowl.  Press down on the pulp to squeeze as much juice into the bowl as possible.  When you have close to half a cup, mix in half a cup of the cream and put to one side.

Warm the milk, sugar, salt and the rest of the cream in a small saucepan.  Whisk the egg yolks gently and pour the warm milk mixture into the yolks, whisking to combine.  Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and stir on a low heat, scraping the bottom and corners of the pan with a silicone spatula so that the custard thickens evenly.  This may take up to ten minutes.  The custard is ready when you can run your finger down the spatula and leave a clean line.

Discard the leftover passionfruit seeds and pulp from the sieve and place back over the bowl containing the passionfruit and cream mixture, pour the custard through the sieve and stir into the passionfruit and cream mixture.

Chill and then churn in an ice cream maker for 30 minutes.

Take to the dog park at the bottom of the street on a Friday afternoon and share with everyone.  We were very lucky and got some lemon meringue pie in exchange.


Solace in Nature (and Solitude)

January 6, 2014

unplug

When you work in a large city, and you work with people every day and then ride home on a crowded train, I find it is often easy to dream of being alone.

This is when I start planning holidays in my head spent walking the cliffs of Dorset or Cornwall, or spend whole days longing for my parents’ coastal farm in New Zealand.  I dream of landscapes without people, and start to feel some peace.  But when I can’t actually get away and go to such places, sometimes a narrative containing an exploration of solitude and wilderness is just as restorative.

So, my comfort shelf: the books I turn to when I’m looking for that wild and quiet place.

Plainwater by Anne Carson

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

The Dubious Hills by Pamela Dean

Always Coming Home by Ursula Le Guin

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Consolations of the Forest by Sylvain Tesson

Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills by Neil Ansell


Where I Settle for a While

November 15, 2013

Double Bay Library

I started a new job recently in a beautiful old public library building surrounded by gardens.  There are kookaburras in the trees outside my office, and I can walk barefoot down to the beach at lunchtime and go for a swim.

So my life for the next few years will involve sunshine, trees and other greenery and sand between my toes.  But also new fiction, interesting and quirky non fiction, book clubs, poetry performances, picnics, author talks, artists and architects, and morning teas.  Not a bad way to spend my days.


Strawberry Mornings

September 23, 2013

strawberry mornings

I’m newly back in Sydney after 3 months in North America, and am enjoying slow mornings sitting on the back lawn with my cat.  Breakfasts are not only slow, but easy – pot set yoghurt with fresh pear or strawberries and some syrup that I made to have with soda water, but that is just too tasty to dilute and waste in a drink.

While I was away my local cafe Cornersmith opened up a new space on Illawarra Road, offering fresh local produce and cheese making classes run by Kristen Allan.  Kristen’s pot set yoghurt is for sale in the Cornersmith Picklery for $10 a jar and it was that trembly just-set tart opacity that begged me to pour homemade strawberry-basil syrup over my breakfast a few mornings ago.  I’m glad I did.

Strawberry Basil Syrup (adapted from the kitchn)

2 punnets strawberries, trimmed
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1 cup sugar

Blitz strawberries with a bamix or blender wand.  Press through sieve to remove seeds.  Measure resulting juice into a cup, topping up with water to measure one cup if necessary.  Pour juice into a small saucepan with lemon juice, basil, and sugar.

Heat mixture over medium heat until boiling.  Simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Remove basil leaves and pour into a clean jar.

Can be added to soda water, poured on top of yoghurt or ice cream or eaten with cake.  Nom.


Mexican Wedding

June 16, 2013

mexican wedding attirevineyard con astroturfwedding crowd

If you are ever invited to a wedding while you are traveling – by family, friends, a stranger you met on a long train ride – I would strongly recommend graciously accepting the generous hospitality and enjoying what is bound to be an unrepeatable cultural experience.

Read the rest of this entry »


Travel Knitting

May 24, 2013

2013-03-13 07.52.31

Travel knitting requires small projects for small moments.  Something tricksy enough to not bore you, but that won’t get totally ruined if you forget which row or where in the row you are.  I’m often grateful for a piece of knitting that I can pick up while I’m waiting for a friend or host to get ready, or while waiting for a ride.  Mostly though, having something interesting to knit makes those long bus and train rides bearable.  And you end up with something new and beautiful to wear, enhancing your minimal travel wardrobe and bringing you daily joy.

I carry a little knitting kit with me when I’m on the road: a couple of different sizes of double pointed needles, a needle gauge, a little tin with a few stitch markers, safety pins, a tapestry needle and a decent sized stitch holder, a notebook for keeping ideas and notes, a paper copy of a favourite sock pattern (normally Nancy Bush’s Fox Faces Socks) and enough fingering weight wool for one tiny project.  Don’t take more yarn than you need – traveling is an excellent way to add to your yarn stash.  So many yarn stores to visit, so little time.


Girl in Melbourne

May 12, 2013

2013-05-04 18.31.02

Melbourne is a city that swaddles you and keeps you warm, as long as you are appropriately dressed.  It’s the kind of destination you always park a scarf when visiting (especially in Autumn) because you never know how bitterly cold it might be.  This is why Melbourne feels a lot like home, because New Zealand is the same.  And because my sister lives in Melbourne, so a part of home is always there to welcome me.

I never really do much when I am there, only the things that you imagine people do in this town.  Shop, go to cafes, eat, wander through parks, walk up four flights of steps in search of a bookstore, go to museums and galleries.  But it is an easy to navigate city, so simple to get around.  Perfect for exploring and for solitary wandering days punctuated by meals with friends.


Cactus Love

April 2, 2013

2013-02-23 16.55.33

I saw this gorgeous idea for indoor potplants when I was visiting my friend Rainy at her beautiful house in Dunedin recently.  Normally pots would need drainage holes, but since cacti like it arid, I guess this is not necessary.  Brilliant!


Farm Life

March 16, 2013

sheephaymakingnz gothic

A trip to the family property in Waikouaiti, just outside Dunedin, usually involves hanging out with the sheep and chickens and a bit of hard work – usually gardening or helping with the sheep.  This trip both my sister and I were home and helped with the end of summer haymaking.  Our father cut the grass using his vintage tractor, and we then spent three days raking and turning the hay.  I will always remember the smell of the grass drying in the sun and whenever I close my eyes all I see are Dorothy Norman’s photos of grass.


Katiki Point

March 14, 2013

moeraki lighthouse

Many people visiting New Zealand skip Coastal Otago for the grand mountainous splendor of Mackenzie Country and Central Otago, but from the Waitaki down to the Catlins is one of my favourite parts of the South Island.  It’s only a five hour drive from Christchurch to Dunedin, and there are plenty of places to stop on the way.

One of the best places to visit is Moeraki, but don’t just go see the Moeraki Boulders and eat a delicious lunch at Fleurs Cafe.  One of Moeraki’s best kept secrets is Katiki Point – a short cliff top walk with beautiful ocean views and lots of wildlife.

From Moeraki town center, drive down Lighthouse Road.  There is a public carpark at the lighthouse.  Walk from here through the long grass and fields towards the point.  Yellow Eyed Penguins and Blue Penguins do nest here, so try and keep your voices low and watch out for holes in the path (Little Blues often build their nest in abandoned rabbit holes).  You can often see Yellow Eyed Penguins on the beach, or standing on the hills around the beach moulting.  There is also a reasonable sized seal colony here and huge numbers of NZ Shags (Cormorants).

Katiki point is also the site of an old Maori Pa.  If you go at low tide you can walk over the rocks to the pa site.


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