This is why I live here…

This blog is not about food, it’s about people. It’s about the “Tassie” part of being a Tassievore, and why I live where I live. But it begins with a cheesecake.  

The beautiful berry cheesecake was waiting on my doorstep when I arrived home last night, along with a handwritten note from a new neighbour. I was so surprised and excited that I immediately called my boyfriend to brag about it. Then I panicked. I didn’t know what the appropriate gesture of thanks was – it was like I’d stumbled into some sort of sacred ritual, a kind of suburban Australian equivalent of a Japanese Tea Ceremony. I did what seemed to be the only logical thing, and dashed to the kitchen to make a batch of honey spice biscuits (recipe below) and popped over to return the favour.

Having lived most of my life in one of the largest cities in Australia, I’ve always felt that “being neighbourly” is a rare and prized gift. I was fortunate to grow up in a neighbourly sort of place, but it was certainly an exception to the general rule of City Anonymity. A friend of mine in Melbourne frequently visits the supermarket in his pyjamas because he is absolutely certain he will never bump into anyone he knows. In contrast, I rarely get to my letterbox without a wave and a friendly shout from across the street. 

In Tasmania, acting neighbourly seems to be standard, and the locals don’t always realise just how special that is. The cheesecake wasn’t the first Random Act of Neighbourliness that I’ve experienced since being here, in fact it wasn’t even the first this week. But every time it happens I feel a little wave of gratitude and I promise never to take it for granted.

I moved to Tasmania for pragmatic reasons, but I have stayed for emotive ones. There’s something special about those Random Acts of Neighbourliness that turn a suburb into a community, and this is why I live here.

This weekend, go and get neighbourly. Head out to the farmers market and say g’day to the people who grow your dinner. Drop over to an old friend’s house for a cuppa and a catch up. Or maybe make a batch of honey spice biscuits and go introduce yourself to your neighbours… It’s the Tasmanian thing to do.

 

Neighbourly Honey Spice Biscuits (makes enough to share with friends)

½ cup sugar (challenge: if anyone can substitute or reduce sugar further let me know and I’ll update the recipe!)

1 cup Tamanian honey

2 free range eggs

2 tablespoons of local olive oil

3 cups plain flour (Callington mill)

1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon each of allspice, cinnamon, cloves and ground ginger

  1. In a large bowl, beat honey, sugar, eggs and oil.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients, and gradually add to the honey mixture, mix well
  3. Pop into the fridge for 2 hours to cool (or the freezer for 20 minutes if you’re in a rush)
  4. Heat oven to 180 degrees
  5. Roll dough into small balls (around 1 inch) and place on baking tray about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden.
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10 thoughts on “This is why I live here…

    • Hi Ellyn,
      Unfortunately we are pretty limited with Tassie Spices. In fact, all i can think of really is pepperberry… Most people i have spoken to who are doing the whole hog are allowing spices/ flavourings. I just make sure i buy mine from a Tassie owned business like spice world in Hobart. And the sugar quandary! we don’t have any, i am substituting by using a mix of honey (i’m becoming quite the honey expert!) and apple juice concentrate (which i get from Live Life in Hobart if you are southern based).

      • Pepper berry, pepper leaf, salt bush, wattle seed & lemon myrtle are native spices grown in Tas, but not always commercially available. There are also native herbs like sea celery. Paulette from Provenance Growers is a wealth of information on such things!

  1. I’m a fellow big mainland city refugee, and I wouldn’t go back for quids. Last weekend my neighbour presented me with a freshly killed and clean wallaby carcass. It doesn’t get any more Tassievore than than! I’m so glad I wound up here. =o)

    • We’re glad you’re here too – not too sure what the wallaby thinks though. What did you do with it?? Some Tassievores mince wallaby’s up for sausages, others do a casserole with plenty of liquids (be careful of it drying out), others still wont go near them! Pet food, Prosciutto, Parmi – we’d love to know!

      • *laugh* Most of it is in the freezer, bagged up into cooking cuts. The shanks will be slow-cooked in stew, the fillets will be grilled as steak, finely sliced and quickly cooked as stir-fry or diced up and used in curries and stews. I’ve kept the bones and am planning on trying a soup when the weather cools down.

        My kitchen is very basic and I have no room for curing, so it’s all simple stuff around here. Sausage would be fun though! =o)

      • We have no room for curing either, but we dream! Nice work with using all the cuts, that is such an effective use of a resource! Stock from the bones sounds interesting, some bones just don’t impart flavour. We definitely need to hear back how the soup goes.

  2. It is also really easy to grow rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, dill, parsley, fennel, mustard, coriander, etc in Tassie and not quite as easy but still doable to grow basil, anise, chili, and apparently cumin. Though I guess lots of these are herbs rather than spices? What is the distinction actually…are herbs leaves and spices seeds?? It seems like we are pretty set, except for the spices needed to make a good chai (or spice biscuit)!

    • Good question! As far as we know, stevia isn’t grown commercially in Tassie (let us know if we’re wrong!) Small scale production can occur in our climate but processing to remove the bitter taste and grass flavour is probably unfeasible in the backyard.

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