A month ago a friend from Aranda bought hand sanitiser called "Kill the Bastard" from Campbell IGA. I contacted the makers, Wild Brumby Distillery and Cafe at Crackenback in the Snowy Mountains, which I am told is a popular stop for Canberra skiers en route to Thredbo.
Marie from Wild Brumby gave me a list of other places which may have it, though it was then in short supply. Walking out of the Friendly Grocers at Garran with a bottle in hand, a man in hi-vis tidying the walkways, bade me good morning.
It is, I said, and mentioned the hand sanitiser. He said, "We have a de-greaser for the tractors which is called 'Start Ya Bastard'."
So, not quite done, I then bought a bottle of inexpensive French pinot from IGA Yarralumla called "Fat Bastard" (2017) from the Languedoc-Roussillon region. One to open for Mother's Day.
If, however, your tastes are for a drop of gin, Mother's Milk (or mother's ruin), Tas-saff has a beauty. Having written about Tas-saff (Kitchen Garden, February 25 ) it was wonderful to see their fields of gold with Tino on Gardening Australia (April 3). Nicky Noonan says their Growers Own Distillery, located on the farm commenced operation in 2016, has saffron gin (and saffron vodka) produced in small, hand-crafted batches by the Noonan family, email www.tas-saff.com.au/buy-saffron. On April 24, they were harvesting and "had 50,000 saffron flowers today".
Figs from farm or forest
The Harvest Group at the National Arboretum Canberra was to hold a stall last Saturday with fig preserves among the produce on offer, unfortunately postponed. By March 3, members of the group had harvested 65kg of figs and the cooks among them had been hard at work. I joined the figgers at 8am on March 11 but the fruit was in a lull between first and second crops. Our bonus was to have balloons rising over the fig forest and T-Rex descending into a paddock between us and the lake.
Meanwhile I have sated the fig desire by eating scrumptious dehydrated organic figs from Rosnay Farm and Rosnay Organic Wines, started in 1997 by the Statham family at Canowindra in NSW. Sam Statham says Mountain Creek Wholefoods are the only stockist in Canberra at the moment. Their figs were first planted in 2004 and they have about 110 trees with the varieties White Adriatic, Prestons Prolific, Hollis Purple, Brown Turkey, Green Ischia, White Genoa and Black Genoa.
Kitchen gardeners have been planting cabbage during the past month. Cabbage has gained renewed popularity as kimchi and sauerkraut among those who enjoy fermented foods.
A friend, Sandy Forbes of Yarralumla, recently made a one-pot cabbage soup. She used a variation of recipes from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion (2004) and Goose Fat and Garlic by Jeanne Strang (1991) who has lived in south-west France for decades. We pondered the name La garbure and Sandy found that it derives from the use of the term "garb" to describe sheaves of grain on a heraldic shield or coat of arms. The name of garbure, which is eaten with a fork, is a reference to use of pitchforks to pick up sheaves of grain. It is referred to as a peasant stew, its rib-sticking element and key to its rich flavour obtained from smoked ham hock.
I made a simple version of the dish, which follows, it is the best in comfort food and I did use a fork to eat it.
1 leek, washed well and sliced
4 Kipfler potatoes, sliced
3 sticks celery, strings removed
handful of green beans
1 clove garlic, crushed
haricot beans (couldn't find any, would use cannellini next time but fresh beans substitute)
1/2 Savoy cabbage, core removed, finely sliced
1/2 green peas (I used frozen)
freshly grated nutmeg
sourdough or rye bread
(Strang includes salted pork belly and jambon de campagne, plus confit d'oie which is pieces of goose or duck preserved in fat and Sandy, not having these in the house, added chopped uncooked bacon)
Put potato carrot, leeks, celery, turnips, onions and garlic into a heavy saucepan (I used a Le Creuset casserole), saute in olive oil for five minutes, tossing occasionally, Cover with cold water, add bouquet garni and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Raise heat to a bubbling boil and add beans, after five minutes add peas, and after another five minutes add cabbage. Reduce heat, simmer for a further 10 minutes. Season with pepper and nutmeg and serve with sourdough bread (mine was Wholewheat Miche Sourdough loaf from Sonoma).