Sunday, April 11, 2010

This is where I've been....

This past month has been a blur for me. The start of a new day job, which I'm really enjoying, for one, took up a substantial amount of physical and mental energy. Any down time that I have has been spent testing numerous recipes, doing research, taking and editing photos, and following up on paperwork and applications.

Finally I am able to unveil what has been taking up the majority of my time as of late. The fruits of my labour, the silver lining in my cloud when things are rough, my pride and my joy.

Those of you familiar to this blog knows that I take a lot of care in testing and developing my recipes. Sometimes all it took was an visual image in my mind to turn it into reality. Such was the espresso, fig and pomegranate cake. Other times, it took a lot of tries and a lot of frustration to reach a point where I am satisfied.

Late Summer Products
(I actually brought them out a month ago, so pardon the slightly out-of-seasonality)

Espresso, Fig and Pomegranate Cake with Butterscotch Sauce

Plum and Quark Cake
(Schulz Organic quark gave this cake a delectable tender and creamy crumb)

Is developing a cake recipe really that challenging? After all, there's a multitude of recipes anywhere you care to look which will readily give up its secrets at the flip of a page or the click of a button.

My cakes are an expression and an extension of myself. I know what I want them to taste like before the batter was made, before the ingredients were weighed. Some were just right the first try. Others required more tweaking, and a stubborn few ended up being axed from my repertoire.

I'm currently working on getting myself a spot at one of the Melbourne Farmers Markets, but I'm at that stage where all I can do is really cross my fingers. Amidst all, I find it imperative for my sanity that I take the time to read. I am attempting to re-educate myself, to strengthen my knowledge about eating and buying sustainably produced food, and the reason for it.

I may have mentioned that Barbara Kingsolver's 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle' is one of my favourite books. Ever. Kingsolver's genius lies in her ability to deliver information in engaging and often humorous ways that is always easy to understand. From there, I have branched out to Pollan's 'The Omnivore's Dilemma', a book which many, including both Barbara Kingsolver and Matthew Evans (see next paragraph), have made references to.

My most recent (and favourite) purchase was Matthew Evans' 'The Real Food Companion'. This book is truly a joy to read; something that I wish I had written myself, because, before the publication of said book, I had wished on numerous occasions that someone would write a book that focuses on produce and ingredients as well as the ways to prepare them. Preferably someone who understands Australian produce, and who champions seasonality. And in this book, I got exactly what I had been longing for: a book that explains produce with more than just a passing interest.

Fall/Winter Products
(or part of it, as I'm still testing recipes)

Brown Sugar and Apple CrumblePie

Pear and Milk Chocolate CrumblePie

Vanilla Bean and Maple Persimmon Cake

Honey and Almond Cake
(reminiscent of honey bears/graham crackers, but gluten-free!)

Quince and Rosewater CrumblePie

All that is the reason why I am doing this. Why I am adamant about changing my range with the change of seasons, and why I have to keep testing recipes using new season produce that I find on my weekly jaunts to the farmers' markets. It is not out of pretense that I categorise my produce into ' S/S' and 'F/W', but out of respect for the seasons and what they literally bring to the plate. What started as an interest has bloomed into a full blown love affair with baking and eating seasonally; at present I look forward to each week as new varieties of heirloom apples, pears, quinces, and fresh nuts and citrus go on their way to mark the start of colder weather.

With any luck at all, I may soon be on my way to sharing them with you.