Tag Archives: food and drink

A New Kind Of Chutney — Yum, Yum!

There are other things that I do besides writing and photography and one of them (occasionally!) is cooking something special. What’s wonderful about making chutney is that you can enjoy those brightly coloured jars of goodness all year long.

We have loquat trees in our back garden here in Australia that are simply groaning with fruit right now. I had never even heard of a loquat tree until we moved to this part of Victoria, so I had to do some research into them. They’re a stone fruit, originally from China. And since ours are 65 years old, they are HUGE and full of fruit!

The birds have been circling the trees, so I decided that I’d better get cracking and use some of that gorgeous orange-yellow fruit before they ate all of it. So I spent hours today chopping and prepping what turned out to be a very spicy chutney. It smells and tastes like it will be worth it!

 

Bowl of loquats fresh off the tree.

 

 

Cut up loquats prior to cooking.

 

 

Chutney Simmering

 

 

Completed jars of loquat chutney.

 

Here’s THE RECIPE!

Now — back to work on some photos. More soon.

COPYRIGHT
©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
All rights reserved.

Fabulously Fractured Facades in Metro Melbourne, Australia

We had just moved back to Melbourne, Australia in 2002 and this contentious and expensive cluster of buildings and paved courtyards were completed that same year. I remember the first time I saw Federation Square (now generally known by the shortened title of Fed Square) and it seemed raw, unfinished looking, and very windy at the time. But over the years it has grown on me and I now find it ‘interesting’ if not beautiful.

Housing the NGV Ian Potter art museum, ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image), SBS Television and Radio Broadcasting Centre, and a range of cafes, bars, shops, and other cultural offices, Fed Square continues to provoke a love-hate response from both tourists and the citizens of Melbourne. Click on the first link in the article to read about some of the controversial decisions, negative reviews, and blow-out costs that surrounded this project.

 

The fractured and fragmented facades of the modern buildings at Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia are a sharp contrast to the more traditional structures all around it.

The fractured and fragmented facades of the modern buildings at Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia are a sharp contrast to the more traditional structures all around it.


 
The buildings of Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia contain a cluster of arts organisations, a television and radio broadcasting centre, and several cafes and restaurants.

The buildings of Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia contain a cluster of arts organisations, a television and radio broadcasting centre, and several cafes and restaurants..


 
Another corner of Federation Square in the heart of Melbourne, Australia

Another corner of Federation Square in the heart of Melbourne, Australia


 

COPYRIGHT
©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
All rights reserved.

What Flavourful Goodness in France!

I have only ever seen peaches growing on a tree. But when we arrived at this tiny cafe in a tiny village off the main road in the Bethmal Valley, a man and a woman were sitting at a table nearby under the veranda overhang cutting apart the tiniest of peaches as an ingredient for one of the sorbets they made in their organic shop.

The smiling man handed each of us a piece and said, “They are wild peaches. They grow on a vine.” And our mouths were filled with the most delicate of flavours. The menu board across from us was equally tantalising since everything was made on the premises from organic ingredients.

The parfums — the flavours? Menthe, origan, framboise, mure, prunelle, coing — mint, oregano, raspberry, blackberry, wild plum, quince. Yum! We had one each of the framboise (soooo soft and sweet!) and the prunelle (and Mark said it was quite mouth-puckery but lovely).

Another slice of life in France!
 

A board inside a cafe in the South of France listing their organic sorbet selection for the day.


 

COPYRIGHT
©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
All rights reserved.

Emerging From The Twilight Zone With Chutney

Seriously, when I realised that it had been a month (and a very odd month indeed!) since my last post, I felt like I had stepped inside an episode of The Twilight Zone and time and space had eaten me. There have been rather a lot of ups and downs with medical issues, but I am hopeful that things are on the upswing now. (fingers crossed!)

We did our very-few-blocks walk across the river to the Saturday market here in St. Girons yesterday and came back with a new digital kitchen scale and all of the ingredients for something wonderful — tomato chutney!
 

9 completed jars of tomato chutney


 
I laughed at the online instructions that said that the chutney took half an hour to prepare and one and a half hour of simmering before it was time to jar it. Perhaps if someone works a lot faster than I do they could do the prep in half an hour, but it took me an hour of peeling, chopping, and stirring. And Mark, the darling man, had to step in right at the end because I was gasping from chopping the onions.

This simmered for over 2 hours before it became the colour and texture that made me happy, but here is the recipe for anyone who’d like to try it. And it made 9 jars of recycled-marmelade-jar size final product. I tweaked the basic recipe with lots of spices after reading several versions of tomato chutney recipes online and deciding that just tomatoes, sugar, and onions was going to be a bit too bland for our taste.
 

Spicy and fragrant tomato chutney simmering atop the stove as it thickens


 
This totally fits in with our ethos of trying to live in an eco-conscious manner. We didn’t spend a penny on fuel since we walked to the market, we bought local produce with very low food miles, and we used recycled glass jars. The total cost for the ingredients was just about €7, I got 9 jars, and frankly that’s a much more sensible economic idea if you enjoy cooking than spending €3-4 or more per jar for quality chutney.
 

Glass jars simmering in boiling water to sterilise them


 
Here’s the recipe below. The amount of seasoning can be adjusted up or down according your own idea of what is spicy enough. Enjoy!

TOMATO CHUTNEY

2 kilos of ripe tomatoes
500 grams of sliced and slightly chopped onions
8 fat cloves of garlic
8 cm piece of ginger peeled and chopped
375 grams of brown sugar
325 ml of cider vinegar
Juice of one lime
1 large or 2 medium apples — peeled and chopped
1-1/2 to 2 cups of raisins
10 cardamom seeds
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp smoky paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
4 tsp cumin
4 rounded tsp allspice
3/4 tsp cinammon

Bring all ingredients to a full boil in a large kettle-style pan with a heavy bottom. Once boiling, reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for at least 2 hours, perhaps longer, until you see the liquid significantly reduced, the mixture thickened, and the colour of the chutney change from bright red to a brown-red.
 

Jars of hot chutney turned upside down as they cool to give a tight seal


 
Spoon mixture into hot, sterilised glass jars making sure to wipe the rims clean before sealing the lid tightly. Turn the jar upside down whilst cooling to allow for a tight seal.

Enjoy!
 

Cooled jars of tomato chutney


 

COPYRIGHT
©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
All rights reserved.

Autrefois Le Couserons: The Grand Parade Of Tractors in St. Girons, France

A sunny Saturday was perfect for the annual Autrefois Le Couserons celebration of rural and traditional life here in the Midi-Pyrenees of France.

The barricades went up early and people began lining the streets, sitting in fold-up chairs (including right beneath our front windows!) or standing anywhere that there was a small patch of available space that was not on the road itself.
 

Parade spectators at the Autrefois Le Couserons parade in St. Girons, France


 

Parade spectators sitting beneath our windows in St. Girons, France


 
For just over two hours, they paraded through St. Girons — tractors, carts, bands, singers, dancers, vintage firetrucks, you name it! And all of it went right beneath the windows of our apartment where we each stood, camera in hand, taking hundreds of pictures on that bright and clear day.

I am dividing the coverage of this event into several articles and slideshows so that it isn’t an overwhelming amount to look at each time.
 

Vintage tractor on parade at the Autrefois Le Couserons festival in St. Girons, France


 
Now for all of you ‘tractor geeks’ (Ooops! Tractor ‘enthusiasts’ was what I meant!) — Enjoy!


spinner
Average rating  1 2 3 4 5fYou must login to vote
21-Tractor-750.jpg
22-Tractor-750.jpg
23-Tractor-750.jpg
24-Tractor-750.jpg
25-Tractor-750.jpg
26-Tractor-750.jpg
1-Tractor-750.jpg
2-Tractor-750.jpg
3-Tractor-750.jpg
4-Tractor-750.jpg
5-Tractor-750.jpg
6-TractorParade2-750.jpg


 

COPYRIGHT
©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
All rights reserved.

The ‘Teaser’ Parade for Autrefois Le Couserons in St. Girons, France

The light was thinning as we left the house on Friday night. We hadn’t realised that there would be an opening night parade — a teaser — prior to the multi-hour Autrefois Le Couserons spectacle that was scheduled on Saturday morning. But we were fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time once again.
 

Three generations of a French family watch the small opening night parade for the Autrefois Le Couserons festival in St. Girons, France


 
Up and down the streets of St. Girons, people gathered in the windows overlooking the small parade and they followed it on foot in some cases. The night was fast approaching, the temperatures were thankfully dropping, and there was an air of excitement all along the route of the parade.
 


spinner
Average rating  1 2 3 4 5fYou must login to vote
10-WatchingMusicians-750.jpg
11-WatchingFromAbove2-750.jpg
12-ShepherdOnHorseWithDog-750.jpg
13-ThreeInWindow-750.jpg
14-HorsePair2-750.jpg
15-BalconyViewClose-750.jpg
1-AcrossTheOldBridge2-750.jpg
2-Musicians-750.jpg
3-PlayingHorns2-750.jpg
4-Accordians-750.jpg
5-DrivingCart&Talking-750.jpg
6-GirlAtopDonkeyWithIce-750.jpg


 

Come back soon for another slideshow from the hundreds of photos that I took over the weekend.

Coming up next? Tractors and farm vehicles from all eras!

COPYRIGHT
©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
All rights reserved.

Autrefois Le Couserons: Extended Coverage On The Way!

Hundreds — seriously — I took almost 200 photos last night (in spite of the people and cyclists who stepped right in front of my proposed shot again and again!) and well over 600 today. So I have a lot to wade through! Those numbers don’t even take into account the several hundred photos that Mark took, too.
 

Musicians in traditional dress at the Autrefois Le Couserons festival in St. Girons, Midi-Pyrenees, France


 
It’s been a glorious two days of vintage vehicles, traditional music, and people in historical costume and we are all quite relieved that the weather stayed clear and bright. As the parades went through St. Girons on both days, people clustered high above the street in front of their windows to watch the spectacle pass by.
 

Watching from above as the Autrefois Le Couserons parade passes through St. Girons, Midi-Pyrenees, France


 
I think I’ll create a couple of slide shows of the (turn down your volume if you don’t want to hear the music track on this link!) Autrefois Le Couserons festival here in St. Girons in the Midi-Pyrenees of France. This is an annual celebration of traditional rural life in the Couserons.
 

Shepherd on horseback with his dog tucked into his arms at the Autrefois Le Couserons parade in St. Girons, Midi-Pyrenees, France


 
We now live in such a fascinating place with layers of history and settlement over the centuries since its pre-Roman origins.

Stay tuned for more pictures from this activity-packed weekend!

COPYRIGHT
©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
All rights reserved.