Cook this: fig & walnut jam

Nonna and Nonno have an enormous garden, full of fruit trees and vegetable plots, all lovingly tended to every day. I grew up surrounded by overgrown zucchinis and their flowers which mum and Nonna would stuff and fry, the sweetest mulberries that I ate by the (very literal) bucketload that I’d pluck from the lower braches of the tree myself, and my favourite,  figs.

Sweet, sticky, brightly coloured and impossibly delicious, figs are one of the most vivid tastes of my childhood. I’ve tried the odd few from a supermarket or fresh food market, but they’re just not the same as Nonno’s.  Now, every year when the figs come in, Nonno gets on the phone to let me know, and off I go to collect. I was pretty stoked last weekend to get the call up and find a kilo of figs waiting for me instead of the usual handful!

With my fructose intolerance,  I can’t stomach as many as I used to, but there was no way I was letting them go to waste, so I decided to eat a few, keep a few for the next few days, and turn the rest into jam! If you’re lucky enough to be able to get your hands on a kilo of fresh, sticky figs, this is a pretty easy way to keep them around for a little longer…

Ingredients:
– 1kg fresh figs (stems removed, roughly chopped)
– ½ cup caster sugar
– 1 tbsp vanilla extract
– juice of 1 medium lemon
– ½ cup toasted, crushed walnuts

 

Method:
1. Combine the figs, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice with ⅔ cup of water in a large pot. Set it over high heat and bring to the boil.

2. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for around 45 minutes, until it thickens up to a more jammy consistency.

3. Stir in the walnuts ans pour the jam into clean jars and cool to room temperature before screwing the lids on and refrigerating (will keep for 3-4 weeks). Easy!

 

This jam works really well on fruit toast, as a cake filling, and especially well on my date and sesame scones (smothered in jam above), which, if you have a spare $9.99 laying about, you can find in my cookbook 🙂

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Bream Creek Farmers Market, Tasmania

Bream Creek Farmers Market
Held at the Break Creek Showgrounds, 138 Marion Bay Road, Tasmania
https://breamcreekfarmersmarket.com.au/

If you’re lucky enough to be around Hobart on the first Sunday of the month, you’ll be wanting to hire a car and take a drive, with the Bream Creek Farmers Market somewhere on the itinerary. We discovered it completely by accident when we visited last month, on our drive from Hobart to Port Arthur; I saw a sign for a farmers market, so we turned and followed the arrow and ended up at Bream Creek!

It’s a gorgeous little market, with some of Tasmania’s best produce coming out to play every month. Even more impressive is the fact that it’s run entirely by a volunteer committee with a passion for supporting the local community.

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After a year of successful market (they started back in December 2012), they gained enough popularity and notoriety to produce a cookbook, full of incredible recipes from the growers and locals, which I noticed being sold everywhere in Hobart and Port Arthur- they were even selling copies at the gift shop at the Port Arthur Historic Site!

They also have a wonderful concept of the “community stall,” best explained in their own words:

We are aware that some producers may not have enough stock to require an entire stall at each and every market, so we welcome you to make use of the BCFM Community Stall .  You might have a few bags of lemons or some freshly picked veggies – so bring them along!

All you have to do is bag or bunch your produce, clearly label with a price and pop into the Community Stall on the morning of the Market… Spend the morning shopping, socialising, listening to our great live music, relaxing on the beanbags and having a coffee and some lunch, then pop back into the Community Stall to collect your money and any leftover produce.  So easy!

 

It was pretty hard restraining ourselves, knowing that we only had limited luggage space coming home… Husband took some hot sauce home, and I got a nice big jar or apricot and walnut jam (actually the best jam ever) from Crooked Enterprises), and that most magnificent almond croissant you can see below (which was devoured with tea, coffee, and live music in the background)… soft and fluffy and perfect enough to rival any Melbourne hipster bakery. So happy we stumbled on this little market – it was picture perfect in the most stunning setting, with such a great atmosphere and seriously good food!

Cook this: 3 ingredient Chia Berry Jam (and PB&J overnight oats)

You know how they say that necessity is the mother of invention? That’s how we came to this recipe.

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I have a serious overnight oats obsession. It’s a crazy easy breakfast, can be really healthy if you do it properly, and can be easily customised to your tastes. I’ve posted an easy coconut blueberry overnight oat combo that I’m a big fan of, but after a reaaaalllly delicious PB&J donut I had at Shortstop not long ago, I decided to get a bit more creative with my oats.

So, the necessity was a healthy way to do PB&J overnight oats. Regular jam was out of the question, because it’s pretty much just pure sugar. I thought about using chia seeds in the jam instead of mixed in with the oats like I did with the blueberry coconut version; they expand and jell really well, which I thought would eliminate the need for as much sugar. I looked at a few other chia jam recipes online, but a lot of them were still pretty sugar heavy, or used a heap of honey, which I don’t really enjoy in large amounts. I played around with it, and think I’ve nailed a version that I really like now – it only needs 3 ingredients, takes a few minutes to put together, and isn’t horribly bad for you! Which means PB&J overnight oats became a more legitimate breakfast option!

Jam first – in terms of how much it makes, one batch fills an empty Mayvers Peanut Butter jar (because that’s my favourite peanut butter and I have an insane amount of empty jars at home because I eat so much of it!) which holds around 375g of PB. You’ll need:
– 2 cups frozen berries of your choice (I like raspberries)
– 2 scant tbsp caster sugar
– 3 tbsp chia seeds

1. Put the frozen berries into a small saucepan (no need to defrost first) with ¼ cup of water and the sugar, and set it over medium-high heat.

2. Keep stirring the berries as they start to defrost and go to mush. Once the berries get soft and watery and the mixture starts to bubble, let it simmer for 3 – 4 minutes, still stirring.

3. Take the saucepan off the heat, and add in the chia seeds. Optional – you can also add in a little vanilla extract here, too – just gives it a really nice, smooth flavour. Then let it just sit for 5 minutes.

4. After a quick rest, carefully spoon the jam into a clean jar, sit it for another 5 minutes, then put on the lid and pop it in the fridge. That’s it, simple! Just remember that this jam won’t keep for ages, because it doesn’t have a ton of sugar. That shouldn’t be a problem, though – it tastes too good to ignore!

 

THEN, you want to be using this stuff in the best breakfast ever – healthy PB&J overnight oats! To make one serving of heaven in a jar:
– 50g rolled oats
– ⅓ cup milk of choice (I use soy milk, almond milk actually also works really good in this!)
– 2 tbsp chia jam
– 1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter (I use Mayvers because it’s the best!)

Ready for the easiest “recipe” ever?

Put everything in a jar. Shake well to combine. Refrigerate overnight. Enjoy.

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Eat here: Red Door Corner Store, Melbourne (brunch)

Red Door Corner Store, Northcote, Melbourne
http://www.reddoorcornerstore.com.au/

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Well if this isn’t the cutest little place in the northern suburbs, then I just don’t know… I think I’ve found another favourite cafe to add to my list! Self-described as a cafe/milk bar/corner store type neighbourhood set up, they’re doing the breakfast/brunch/lunch/coffee thing, and doing it bloody well. They have a few little tables set up out front, a beautiful indoor area, and a gorgeous little courtyard out the back; you really feel like you’re dropping in to an old friend’s place for a cuppa, which is a really good feeling to have particularly when you’re visiting an establishment for the first time!

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I absolutely fell in love with the decor inside – the beautiful, vintage baking utensils and equipment framed on the perfect white walls put a huge smile on my face and made me feel right at home (also made me wonder how I’d be able to make that look work in my own home… I’ll work on it).

Anyway, food. A friend (a fellow foodie) and I were overdue for a catch up last weekend, and thought it’d be a good opportunity to try somewhere we’d never been before, which is how we came to eat here. We both wanted a bit of everything, so we decided to order a few things and split them all, to maximise tasting ability and stomach space – great option! Here’s what we made our way through:

Cold-pressed fresh orange juice ($5.50) – yeah it was pretty pricey for OJ, but honestly it’s probably the best cafe OJ I can remember having. Worth it.

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We grabbed a potato rosti each ($4.50 each), because who can resist crispy potato? They were delicious, would highly recommend them and think they’d be a great accompaniment to your bacon and egg breakfast dish!

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Next up was the pulled pork roll with red cabbage and chipotle aioli ($10.00). This was a huge winner – the pork as incredible, super soft and very tasty, I really liked the aioli, and the bread from Dench was right on point. Would definitely order this one again!

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Lastly was a serve of the crumpets ($9.50). How could you not?! I think this is one of their signature dishes – the crumpets were clearly baked fresh, soft and fluffy and soooo good! The Myrtleford butter was incredible, so creamy. The honey was a big hit with my friend, and I loved the jam – one of the best I’ve tried! You can actually buy the jams to take home, which I think I’ll have to do next time. I’m also going to have to learn to bake crumpets!

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It sucked that we were so full from breakfast that dessert wasn’t a very intelligent option, because the dessert cabinet was absolutely magnificent… I’ll be back for cake. Multiple cakes, actually.

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So, if you live in the area, don’t make any excuses. Cancel plans if need be and make a breakfast or lunch or brunch date ASAP. If you don’t live in the area, it’s a beautiful little suburb, so get out there and eat some beautiful food. Also, the staff were so lovely – they were really friendly, were all smiling, and were very accommodating. It just added to that comfortable feeling and happy vibe of the place, and one of the things that’ll bring me back again 🙂

 

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Eat here: Lady Bower Kitchen, Melbourne (cafe)

Lady Bower Kitchen, Reservoir,  Melbourne
www.facebook.com/ladybower

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Sunday mornings are the best. We seem to have falling into a routine now which I really love. It goes something like this:
– Wake up around 7.30 (we’re early risers by nature)
– Walk 5 or 6km
– Find a cafe to eat breaky, relax, discuss future travel plans
– Walk 5 or 6km back home or to where ever we’ve left the car
– Get on with the rest of the day

One of my favourite breakfast nooks is the Breakfast Club (see more of them here and here), but this time, given that it was a surprisingly beautiful, sunny winter morning, I decided on a different spot, where I knew we’d be able to get a seat outdoor in the sunshine, and therefore bring the furry child along as well, who is always keen for both a walk and breakfast.

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Welcome to Lady Bower Kitchen! It’s a bit cute, a bit kitsch, a bit hipster, and as yet, probably a bit underrated. It’s in a quiet area that you wouldn’t be able to easily stumble upon if you don’t actually live in the area, so you really need to know what you’re looking for. If you’re not from the northern suburbs, it’s well worth the trip. I’m quite surprised to see some reviews that reflect some customers’ disappointment in the limited menu (personally, I’d rather a limited menu that’s done well than a million options that are all mediocre) and the “poor, inattentive service” (we’ve been here numerous times and have always had very friendly and attentive service, regardless of the day or time we’ve turned up).

Someone (though it wasn’t me or Marley) was still recovering from a big Saturday night out so he went with the seeded toast and spreads & a fruit punch (in the jar you can see in the very top photo). Luckily for me, someone wasn’t particularly hungry so I got some bread to try the spreads with. Feijoa jam, quince jelly and lemon curd. All amazing. Marley also shared the toast, and he thoroughly enjoyed it, being his mother’s furry son; carbs with fat and sugar are always appreciated.

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I went with the apple, rhubarb & raspberry bircher muesli. Oh my goodness, that’s a seriously delicious bowl of breakfast goodness. The rhubarb and raspberry compote was incredible, just sweet and tart enough all at the same time, and the muesli itself was really creamy. The apples were super crisp – it all just worked perfectly. I rarely order this sort of stuff for breaky because I can do a pretty solid porridge or overnight oats myself. I’m not sure what made me order this, but I’m glad I did, and I’ll absolutely be back for another serve again soon!

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It was a pity I wasn’t super hungry, because there was the most magnificent display of cakes and biscuits sitting on the front counter just begging me to try them all, so it might be a pot of tea and cake for breakfast next time! I know when most of us Melbournites think of great breakfast spots, we usually migrate to Brunswick, Fitzroy, those parts. But with great food and seriously amazing service, it’s worth the trip out to Reservoir to visit Lady Bower for your breakfast or brunch next weekend!

 

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