The crabapples are near-naked, the remaining fruit ripening to a deep shade of buttercup and left on the tree for hungry birds; huge sheaves of parsley are taking over the back bed, a growth spurt urged on by days of rain and nights that are cool against the skin. There is a house not far from ours, one I pass daily, with a persimmon tree, burnished leaves and impossibly orange orbs of fruit peeking bravely above its high wall. Given the devastation of our summer, I thought autumn would completely pass us by. Wish I had a ladder. No-one’s using the fruit. Criminal, no?
A tour today. One promised some time ago.
Ours is a solid redbrick house, built early last century, its driveway flanked by a soft hedge of lavender, humming with bees, and the outstretched arms of an epic neighbouring banksia. We’re a little tricky to find. The number – a dull brass 23 - is attached to the house not the letterbox, a ruse not of our making yet remarkably in tune with our privacy requirements.
The hallway is dark and cold, the floorboards scratched and worn, but things get brighter as you move toward the back. Light floods the studio and kitchen through large glass panes, drawing you into a warmer, livelier space. Autumn afternoons, all golden light and long shadows are proving divine. Step through the sliding door, out onto a split level bricked area lined with herb-filled pots, favourite chairs in various stages of dilapidation, no-longer-presentable-for-company shoes and stacks of weathered wood. Peter’s nests were abandoned before moving, but there are new ones – larger ones - underway.
Look beyond, past the crabapples, and a long, deep-set block opens up. This private stretch of grass – the sweetest part of a pretty damn sweet deal - is what made me hunt the agent down and practically beg that it be ours. When Miss Rosie died two weeks ago, sneaking off as pusscats do, I felt better knowing she'd - at last - known a glorious, sun-soaked life. The garden was her favourite place to be. We miss her terribly, we've all of us cried, but yes, I do believe it’s beginning to feel like a home.
Honey ice cream
Words cannot express just how delicious this is, nor why it should be so. It’s one of those things one eats in grateful silent spoonfuls. A little goes a long way. The honey you choose will make a difference, so make sure it’s glorious straight off the spoon. I imagine you could substitute other sweet, runny things here. Agave syrup would work well, especially if it’s the dark, wild-crafted stuff or even pure maple syrup, to which I am currently addicted. Wish maples grew here. Sigh.
From nutritionist Jane Clarke’s ‘Bodyfoods for Busy People’.
5 egg yolks
4 tablespoons (100g) of raw, untreated honey
300ml of single cream (or 250ml of cream and 50ml of milk)
Briefly beat the egg yolks together with the honey in a heat proof bowl. Set the bowl over a small saucepan of rapidly simmering water, whisking constantly for 5 minutes. (Clarke’s recipe suggests you do this until the mixture becomes ‘thick and pale’, but this hasn’t happened for me yet, despite repeated, lengthy attempts. 5 minutes works out just fine)
Set honey and egg mixture aside to cool a little.
Whisk cream (and milk) to soft peaks. Whisk in honey mixture and blend well. Cool mixture in refrigerator before churning, according to your manufacturer’s instruction, in an ice cream machine.
P.S. The habanero chillies have just ripened and, thanks to you guys, I have a tonne of fresh ways of dealing with them. What a clever bunch. I’ll keep you posted. Also, 2009 is, for me, a year for being brave. You’ll see a bit more of me over the coming days. All part of a little visual project on flickr, initiated by Jeana Marie and gorgeous, wonderful Julie.