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Posts Tagged ‘caramel’

We have woken each morning this week to the heavy all-pervading smog of thick smoke.  Not that unusual for this time of the year – they often back-burn the state forests and sometime also on Fraser Island, but this year it is heavier than usual.  The very wet summer last year meant that many of the local sugar cane farmers could not harvest all their crops and were left with a lot of stand-over cane.  This grows thick and full of thrash (outer leaf) to the point where it becomes a thick, matted mess that doesn’t allow the sunlight to penetrate to the ground – and that means that the ground doesn’t dry out.  And the way they deal with it is to burn the cane, something that doesn’t happen too much in a good year much these days.

Hence the smoke.  And of course, where there is smoke, there is increased particles in the air. And of course when this occurs, you get the most amazing red moons rising.  With the full moon this week, the nights were just stunning! 

Reminds me of our trip out from Beijing to the Ming Tombs, with the pink moon just dipping to touch the horizon on our left and the red red sun just having emerged from the horizon on our right!  When we asked our guide about why the sun was red that day, he looked at us most quizzically and said “Today?  The sun is red.  It is always red!” And no matter how much we tried to explain, he could not comprehend that the sun in fact is not red, and that he was always looking at it through a pollution haze.  I felt really sad for him.

Its been a great week.  Monday night saw Don and Catherine visit.  We love their annual stop on their way north or south – they are great company and there are always plenty of travel and family stories to share.  Of course the topic of conversation with any of the family at the moment is the upcoming wedding of Michael and Carline in Jamaica.  We are all frantically trying to find ways to get there!

Last night was our annual fondue party.  Now, this is often a big affair held downstairs with upwards of 6 + fondues and often 30 – 40 guests.  But this year we decided to just go intimate.  So 8 of us sat down first to a Neuchâtel Fondue (cheese fondue to the uninitiated!) then to a Chinoise Fondue (thin slices of meat cooked in broth).  These were followed by a Spiced Dark Chocolate Fondue and a Caramel Fondue (requested by Shayne!)

We dipped sourdough bread and mixed vegetables (mushrooms, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, baby sweet corn and potato) into the cheese.  Now, that cheese was the best.  I buy the Fondue blend from Fromart Cheese where they take all the effort out, selling pre-grated, blended packs of  cheese suitable for fondues.  We ate the lot, and yes, we even scraped out that small round disc of baked on cheese from the base!  Then we sat back as chicken, beef and pork simmered away in the broth.  I had made the most amazing chicken stock for the broth earlier – well worth the effort!  These were accompanied with home-made tomato and piquant sauces. Mmmm.  We drowned them with glasses of Vicars Choice Sauvignon Blanc, a lovely Torres Spanish red that I was given for my birthday and an Eaglehawk Cab Sav.

The dessert fondues this year were also great – served with sliced bananas, whole local strawberries at their peak from Boswell Strawberries, marshmallows, cubes of the last piece of pannetonne from last Christmas and for a fun touch, with part mix soft lollies.  Yep, were good – not a single drop of either left!!!  To match them we drank Moscato, some of that magical Francois Peyrot Pear Cognac and more of that rocket-fuel Caol Isla whiskey.

James phoned this morning with another food distributor that sells all the chemicals need to prepare spherical foods – goody goody – more new toys!  And Antony and Amanda are looking forward to Monday when they collect their new car.  Yep, a great week!

And to cap it all off – it is our darling little Mathilda’s first birthday.  I am waiting for Michael to get home from volunteering at the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum and for Gen to wake up after a nightmare night shift so we can Skype with her and mum and dad, Steph and Felix, loudly singing Happy Birthday.

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Ah yes, Saturday 21 August will go down in history here – no, not because of the b****y election, because before the election had been called, this was the day we had set aside for our Fondue Party!  Invitations were issued many weeks back.  This was the only party we were interested in!

A fondue Party has become almost an annual event here.  Between us and the Kuhns and Pullers, we have 7 fondue pots – enough to easily make the party pretty wild!

The RSVPs came in slowly and for a while there, I thought we might get away with having it upstairs, but true to Maryborough form, there was a rush of invitation acceptances at the last minute and on the night we ended up with 16 people and so made the decision earlier in the day to have the party downstairs.  Michael, the darling, cleaned all the blown-in leaf litter, dusted and generally got it ready downstairs while Gen and I cooked and diced and sliced.  Thankfully we could pre-prepare all the fondues with the exception of the cheese one.

I had declared that the event would be an election-free zone as we were all so disgusted with the lack of choice we had this time around.  And to make matters worse, none of us even knew who three of the local candidates were – there had been minimal letter box drops, negligible advertising and no sign of the candidates in trying to inform the electorate of their policies.

I have an ancient Fondue Party recipe book that dates back to that heyday of the pot, the 1970s.  Every time we have a fondue party we pour over the pages, trying to decide which ones to make.  So this year, we made the following:

  • Avocado Fondue made with a roux, mashed avocado and grated parmesan cheese;
  • Blushing Fondue made with cheddar and blue cheeses and tomato soup.  These two were served with bread cubes, cooked chat potatoes and lots of veges – cauliflower, mushrooms, carrot, celery and capsicum.
  • Traditional Neuchâtel Cheese Fondue made in the traditional way with garlic rubbed pot, dry white wine and with the newly found (and very expensive, but oh-so-worth-it) Swiss Fondue Cheese Mix that Kamala put me on to.  The mix is basically a mixture of mature Gruyère cheese, Vacherin or Tilsit, some Swiss Appenzell.  Oh so fantastic and oh so original tasting.  The only downside is that it makes me want to go back to the Alps to Cordon so I can sit and have my fondue watching the moon rise over Mt Blanc again!  Check out their website.
  • Oil fondue with beef, chicken, pork and prawns to cook served with a piquant sauce, a swedish sauce (mayonnaise, horseradish and apple sauce) and a tomato sauce (mayonnaise, tomato paste and finely chopped gherkins).  These were followed by
  • Chocolate Honey Almond Fondue and Caramel Fondue – both served with fresh bananas, sponge biscuits, marshmallows, strawberries to die for, licorice and lolly bananas.  Mmmmm – we all waited for those desserts!

The night raged with us all eating our fill and then some!  Lots of time for chatting and catching up as we cooked and dipped which was so nice.  Sue and John are leaving for Europe tomorrow and we are ever so jealous.  Gen is house-sitting for them while they are away.  And we celebrated Andrew’s news of a new job with the North Burnett Council as Director of Community and Culture.

Finally, those of us who were left came upstairs about 10:00pm and we finally turned on the television to see what was happening with the farce that today we are calling the election.  Ah yes, as suspected, too close to call.  It will be weeks before we know the outcome – but we do know that the two local members in our region have been returned (both National Party) and that there are 3 Independents who will probably hold the balance of power.  Hmm, therefore there will be three electorates that get a lot of favour in the coming years.

So off to bed a little after midnight – Michael of course sat up later and did most of the cleaning up, the darling!

One Sunday off he went to the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum where he volunteers while Gen went to work and I quietly pottered, cleaning up the last vestiges that showed any party activity.

After lunch, Ina and John called around.  They had cycled out to Teddington Dam – just a short ride they said, only 11 km.  Huh – all up and down steep little hills – John was less than impressed!  Well, that is what you get if you want to be a keen cyclist!!  It is a really lovely spot in the summer though for a barbeque or picnic.  The other news they had was that they have bought a house in Richard Street.  Set between two major park areas of the Original Maryborough Site and Anzac Park, it appealed to them much more than another house in Ella Street set smack bang in the middle of suburbia.  We hope that they are very happy there!

Hmm, now to find them the perfect housewarming gift . . .

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