I have to say that the weather in Tasmania today makes it pretty easy to be content with your lot in life. The sun is streaming in the window as I type and the sky is as blue as those beautiful stone houses in Rajasthan.
I spent the morning mulling over the things that have kept me happy in my Tassievore challenge over the past few weeks and I have to confess it is mostly those seasonal changes that bring a bit of zing and inspiration back into your cooking. I should explain that I tend to be a bit slap dash in my cookery – I make something fairly basic from the ingredients in the fridge, pantry and fruit bowl using fragments of recipe and cooking knowledge that I have built up over the years. Needless to say it gets the job done but isn’t often worthy of overly enthusiastic praise from the family.
Anyway my Tassievore saviours for the start of autumn have been, in no particular order: Pirates bay octopus tentacles, sweet corn, new season apples and Japanese ginger.
The Pirates bay octopus is a bit of a treat (ie not super cheap…but cheaper than most fish) but I love it because it is easy to cook and can jazz up a tomato pasta sauce or make a great meal in itself if accompanied with some sort of salad and perhaps some chunky baked potato wedges. To prepare it I just rinse off the legs and then put it in a heavy fry pan or griddle with a bit of olive oil at medium/high heat, slap a lid on and leave it for twenty minutes. Then I turn it off and let it rest for another ten minutes before chopping and adding to the dish/meal. The other fun thing about Octopus legs is that they go a bright pinky red colour when cooked, thus elevating your meal another notch or two above the mundane.
Sweet corn seems to be a hit with my little boy and I have to say that I have enjoyed munching and crunching on a cob or two as well. The other great thing about sweet corn is that it gets me thinking of Mexican things and I have discovered that you can do a pretty good sort of Mexican frijoles (bean sauce) using Tasmanian Aduki beans. I have a ginormous sack of aduki beans in my cupboard so anything that gets them cooked and eaten is a good thing.
New season apples are on the hit list because they are just so crunchy and tangy and gorgeously fresh. I am particularly excited by the resurgence in old heritage varieties like Cox’s orange pippin – delicious! New season apples certainly help to ease us out of the declining berry season doldrums and it’s far too soon for us to be sick of pome fruits while eating Tassievore style (that will likely come later in the year…). Keep an eye out for apples ripening in parks and public spaces too – such a shame to see fruit rotting on the ground when it could be chopped up and stewed or crunched on while whistling your way home.
My final pick for the Tassievore saviours list is the lesser spotted Japanese Ginger (Myoga). I grabbed some from the lovely couple at the Little Red Hen stall at Farm Gate market in Hobart and, while no match for the feisty punch of traditional ginger, it was great to have something completely new to try. The ginger looks more like a bulb than a rhizome and has only a delicate ginger flavour and a gentle punch of spicy heat. It works best finely shredded over salads or gently fried and sprinkled over stir-frys. Apparently it has a reputation in Japan for making you forgetful or stupid so perhaps i won’t over indulge (I don’t need any help with forgetfulness and stupidity most days!).
My other non-food cause to be happy today was discovering comfy pink bean bags and fun magnetic words in the new park in Mathers lane Hobart. It was lovely to see such a great use of public space and my little boy loved interacting with the metal sculpture by sticking on and taking off the magnetic letter and words. Let’s hope that they are respected by all the park users and stick around (pun only retrospectively intended) for many months to come.
Have a great International Day of Happiness Tassievores!