Ginger Pudding (& Sticky Date Pudding)

My Granddad, Keeny Brennan, with Chris(tmas) the cocky

I LOVE this photo. It is one of my favourites! I never knew my grandfather, but I knew Chris the cocky! He was a Christmas present to my Mum when she was about five. Chris was a talking cocky who used to live in the laundry. Laundries in the olden days in Australia (and I guess some places still today) had toilets in them (or a w/c - which I had to inform someone what that was the other day. I felt old, or maybe just Aussie, you don't see them so much over here), and whenever someone went into use the bathroom he would say, "What you doing in there?"! He also used to say Mum's name, and a slew of other things. He would dance like cockies do. I know, it seems weird to have a pet cocky, and kind of cruel, but a lot of people had them back then I suppose. I love pink and grey galahs - which is what Chris was, they are kooky and fun and they make me smile! Apparently, Chris died young at about 50. Is that why there are so many in Australia?

Besides birds, I also love pudding. To be precise I love Sticky Date Pudding. Whenever I am in Melbourne I have to go to Segovia's especially. I was kinda bummed that the ledger seemed to have date-everything-else-but-pudding, but about 10 million other types of pudding. So, I thought Ginger Pudding sounded good instead. I've never made pudding before - I didn't know how the heck to do it, and BP's ledger really didn't help much. In fact, I think it was a wonky recipe, as there weren't any eggs in it!! So, I did a bit of research and did what I could. It worked! But my pudding was a hard lump of ginger rock bread, dry as anything. It sat in the fridge for a while before it was sadly tossed. Sorry BP, this one was a total dud!

I had a dream where Grandma told me that the secret was the you put treacle in the bottom of the bowl before steaming it. Does anyone know if that is true? Wouldn't that be awesome if it was!! I would totally try it again if that were true!!

Anyway, so then I decided I needed Sticky Date Pudding to commiserate. So, here it is! We have been eating it all week, and haven't invited one single person over to enjoy it with us! Little piggies over here!! (But it was sooooo good!). So, we have been gorging ourselves on SDP and Mad Men. Can't get enough of either of those this week.!! Next time we'll have people over to share, I promise.

See you next week. Cook this if you can. It's easy! You don't even have to steam it, it's an oven jobby.

And PS. I got the recipe here.

Oh, and PPS. Pudding in Australia is sometimes not the same as pudding in America!! (And sometimes, it is).

Sticky Date Pudding

1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
1 1/4 cup chopped pitted dates
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 tsp baking powder

~ Preheat 350 f
~ Place dates in saucepan & cover with water (approx. 1 1/2 cups). Bring to boil & simmer 3 minutes
~ Add baking soda to date mixture (it will bubble)
~ Cream butter, sugar & eggs (1 at a time)
~ Gently mix flour, salt, vanilla. Slowly stir in baking powder & 1/4 cup of the liquid from the dates, until thick like pancake batter
~ Drain the rest of date liquid and discard. Stir dates into mixture
~ Bake 30 - 40 minutes in a buttered 9" round baking pan (I used small pie tins for individual servings)

Caramel Sauce

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup cream
1/2 + 1 Tbsn brown packed sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

~ Combine. Bring to boil. Reduce and simmer for 3 minutes

~ Serve with cream or vanilla icecream

Ginger Pudding

take 2 cups of flour
2 Tbs sugar
1 dessertspoon ginger
a piece of butter the size of a walnut rubbed into the flour
2 dessertspoon treacle
1 tsp bicarb soda, dissolved in a little milk

~ Mix to the consistency of batter
~ Pour into battered mould
~ Steam 3 hours
~ Serve with sweet sauce or custard

I added egg, as obviously with just these ingredients it isn't very wet... I am still in the dark about how it should be...! Anyone?
But oh well, here's the sticky date version...

Sausage Rolls

 Brennan (My Grandpa, Keeny Brennan's, parents) residence in Kalgoorlie

I started making sausage rolls about a-year-and-a-half ago. I had been wanting to make them in forever, but I never knew how. And every time I would ask my Grandma Campbell (my Dad's Mum) how to make them, she would say, "Everyone knows how to make sausage rolls", to which I would reply, "I don't" and she would say, "They're so easy Nerissa"....  And that is about as far as the conversation would go. I would get frustrated and feel like I was 4 again, asking her "But, WHY Grandma?" to which she always would say, "Because Y is a crooked letter" (she always stumped me, I never knew what to say to that. The point, I do believe! I also shut up quick smart when I would ask what was for dinner and she would say "a wigwam for a gooses bridle". Huh?! Total brilliance! I'd love to hear what old sayings your Grandparents gave you! They're always so awesome, especially across countries..).

- Anyway, it was like she was holding back some secret information that she didn't want to share with me, with that ever present twinkle in her eye! I felt like this because her sausage rolls are the best. AND she also used to own a pie shop (nb. Australian pies mean meat, not sweet!) where she made both pies and sausage rolls, (among other sweet deliciousness), so I knew she was an expert. Finally, I got a little bit of info from her. Like, that she used to roll out her dough through a hand-wringer but that that got too much work, so she jimmied up a motor to the wringer and let it do all the work. And how much butter you should use in puff pastry, and why you may as well just buy the pastry because who wants to do all that anymore? And how she used to buy 'pie seasoning' to make her pies taste so good, but then they stopped making it, and pies were never the same. THEN she started telling me all about vanilla slices... although I may have to have another consultation on that because I can't remember a thing - there was too much drool going on to actually take it all in.

Anyway, I didn't really get any sausage roll info that was particularly useful, so I just researched them for myself. I bought the pastry and tried out a few things. I am very popular when I make these. And let me insist that they taste awesome with the home made tomato sauce

So, for anyone who loves Sausage Rolls, but doesn't know how to make them, here you go... My secret ingredient for both pies and sausage rolls? I don't mind sharing it. Vegemite.

Next try? Jamie Oliver's Sausage Rolls.. Bet they're awesome (and he uses bought puff pastry too!)

Sausage Rolls

1 lb sausage meat (ground pork, or you can use actual sausages and cut them out of the casing. The more seasoned the meat, the better. If it isn't seasoned, season to your taste - salt, pepper and whatever you like!)
1 small onion (if you want!)
2 eggs (one for pastry, one for mix)
1/3 cup milk (milk & breadcrumbs aren't mandatory, they just beef out the mixture)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 sheets frozen puff pastry

~ basically all you really need is the meat and the puff pastry. Everything else is to taste, so experiment!
~ chop onion finely, mix with meat & 1 beaten egg
~ mix milk and breadcrumbs until milk is absorbed, add to meat mixture
~ divide pastry sheet into 3 along folds (the sheets that I get are folded into thirds, if yours aren't, just make long strips)
~ put meat mixture along middle and roll up like a log (I spread vegemite on the pastry first)
~ seal with brushed egg
~ cut to the size you like - they can be fairly long, or bite size (party sausage rolls we call them!), and pierce a steam hole in each
~ brush with egg or milk
~ bake in a pre-heated oven (350 f) for 20 - 30 minutes, - until puffed and golden brown
~ serve with tomato sauce (ketchup) - there's a great recipe here from the ledger!

Lemon Jam

mum at school

I am always surprised when I go to buy lemons in New York. They're kinda expensive.. Well, ok, not in the scheme of things, but comparatively they are. When you come from a place where there are so many lemon trees that kids have lemon fights over backyard fences, or instead of throwing balls you throw your dog a lemon (that one's really great - when they can't help but bite into it!! haha! Endless amusement) and people would leave buckets, and I mean buckets, of lemons out on the curb for anyone to take, it is weird to pay $2 for 3 lemons. No wonder there are so many lemon-y recipes in the ledger. (And tomato-y. But that's another story!).

Last year when we went home to Australia for a visit, we were picking limes like it was going outta fashion. And serving ourselves up great cocktails with fresh limes. Oh summer in Oz!

I miss the smell of citrus trees, and I didn't even realise it until the lime adventures last year. So fresh and clean mixed with all that fresh salty sea air and eucalyptus. I can't wait to get some fish and chips with some squeezes of free lemons and go down to the beach to watch the sun set.

In the meantime, lemon jam!! (If life serves you up a bunch of lemons, you could also make this - it has just as much sugar!! Oh, and life hasn't served me any lemons lately, so don't worry,  - I just found out I got into the Gamelan orchestra here in NY, which means added inspiration for a music project I have up my sleeve!! Yay! Not to mention some more sentimentality for me after a childhood spent running around sandy laneways and gorging myself on nasi bunkus and banana juices, gamelan always in my subconscious). Very excited.

Oh, and a word of caution back on the lemon jam. Don't put this onto boil and not watch it. This lovely photo ended with me cleaning caramelised sugar off the stove top. It still turned out ok, I haven't tasted it yet as it is setting - hopefully with still enough sugar to actually turn to jam!.. We'll see. I'll report back soon.

Until next week!

Lemon Jam

12 lemons
4 oranges
12 lb sugar

~ slice the lemons & oranges into thin slices and put into bowl
~ add 8 pints water
~ let it soak all night
~ put on boil with sugar
~ boil 3/4 of an hour

Nellie Biscuits

My Mum, Karyn, as a little girl in Esperance, WA

I love this photo of my Mum, it looks so much like my little sister I think! This blog has been so lovely for thinking about family, remembering fun times, and remembering my Grandma, imagining my Great-Grandma and generally feeling very reminiscent, sometimes too much so, for my home and family and the past. I have always loved the past. But, there are so many things I love about my life now, some of which I wanted to share today.

I love the Rollerskaters at Central Park! They come out during the summer and disco-skate the day away every weekend. I love watching them, it is terribly fascinating and infectious. Sometimes I think I should join in, but I don't want to, I think I get more enjoyment out of watching, and I would probably have a crash if I were watching & skating. 

I love the guy who sings Beatles tunes in the subway tunnel between 6th & 7th ave. He is always there, and always so happy singing his Beatles songs. Sometimes I don't know if it is the acoustics, or if there are songs he ain't so great at, but he always makes me smile and think of the Balinese cover bands, if you've seen one you'll know what I mean. 
I love seeing the Statue of Liberty (aka The Green Lady) and Brooklyn Bridge as I am on the train going over the Manhattan Bridge. 

I love eating Couscous at Cafe Gitane, and breaking my 'no coffee' rule when I go there. (One of the best places for a good coffee in the city! OK, coffee is getting better all over, but theirs has been great for the 9 years I've been here, so I send them the love!). On food, I also love Mamoun's. Hello, awesome cheap falafel sandwich that I can take to Washington Square Park to see the little kid busking on a piano (yes, a real one. They wheel it out from somewhere!). Oh, and, I also love Bonnie's Buffalo Chicken Wings, and even though it now takes me an hour to get to them, we still like going to Brooklyn for them! (Open up in Harlem guys!)

I love the bike path that runs along the Hudson. Even though my bike is crap. (OK, it is really the user! I can't even say my bike is crap anymore because I got a new one for my birthday. From my Dad. Same colour as my first bike and all. He said he thought it was funny to buy his grown up daughter a bike!). It is so nice to ride along the river and see the city on one side, the Hudson on the other!
I love Yoga Today. They teach the best yoga classes online, and make me happy that I can practice every day if I want to without worrying about not being able to afford yoga classes.

And I love writing this blog. It really makes me smile to cook and eat and talk. I made these Nellie Biscuits Tuesday night. We had some friends over to our place, and got cooked for!! Having no dessert to serve, I whipped these up. There were quite a few! When I got home from work the next afternoon there was this little one waiting for me. And it made me happy that everyone liked my biscuits and ate them up. Yum Yum!

Nellie Biscuits

2 cups of flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp bicarb soda
2 oz butter or lard (4 TBS)
1 cup sugar
1 eggs and a little milk

there was absolutely nothing else on this recipe, so I looked up other cookies and saw they were a very simple cookie dough, that you really could add anything too. So, I was able to garner the rest from there..
~ cream butter & sugar
~ add flour, cream of tartar and bicarb soda
~ beat egg and add a little milk
~ rounded teaspoon of dough makes a good size
~ cook for 10 minutes in 375 f oven
~ add icing, or whatever you would like, or leave them plain