A Great Australia Day Weekend

A cheery spread of corn fritters, homemade bread and relishes, Convent garden salad and gr
A cheery spread of corn fritters, homemade bread and relishes, Convent garden salad and grilled cherry tomatoes

I was fortunate to spend this weekend with friends visiting the Convent. A real Australian weekend, with the Kandos Hot Rod and Street Machine Show¬†providing a background soundtrack, a couple of barbies, a trip to Dunn’s Swamp and cricket on the telly.

It was satisfying that the Convent provided well, with all salads coming from the garden, as well as beetroot and zucchini supplementing the barbecue. Homemade bread made a few appearances and berry sorbet made use of the berry patch.

Plentiful glossy lebanese or finger eggplants
Plentiful glossy lebanese or finger eggplants

Eggplant chutney was made, taking advantage of the gorgeous little lebanese eggplants. An initial picking yielded half a dozen jars. I’m now adapting to making use of garden produce and planning meals better. I also no longer rely on star ingredients I could so easily purchase in Sydney for entertaining. It’s very rewarding to put forward courses that celebrate the garden and the seasons and visitors can help pick and prepare. I’m also making good use of quality appliances that have been so under-utilised such as my Kitchenaid mixer and ice-cream maker as well as the bread maker.

In the meantime, my friends will be willing guinea pigs as I attempt to establish Convent staple and signature dishes.

The finished product
The finished product

Visitors

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Daughter #1 is paying a visit with Popcorn, a rather beautiful and boisterous eight month old border collie. Roxy and Tango have met Popcorn briefly a couple of times before and it has not gone well. He is big and active and they are small and not the most socialised dogs in the world. So having him here for a while (or perhaps longer) is an interesting prospect.

Roxy, the smallest, is used to Tango dominating (in a quiet but forceful manner) but is most forthright in letting Popcorn know his place when he gets too close or tries to play. However, given she is smaller than Popcorn’s head, it’s daunting when he becomes excited and lunges at her. Tango has used the retreat technique and just goes to her bed in my room and asks for the door to be closed.

Let's all sit shall we? Positive time training and socialising
Let’s all sit shall we? Positive time training and socialising

Food is a social tool. We are putting effort into training Popcorn whilst he is here and using it as an opportunity to refresh the smaller versions who, I must admit, were never greatly trained. It’s funny to see the three of them trying to please with their sits, drops and stays for treats – all hostility and avoidance is quickly forgotten.

It will be interesting to see how everyone copes with the changes. In a couple of days, Popcorn has come a long way in understanding the large property from his previous small yard and that he has people around most of the time, instead of being left on his own for long periods. He is trying so hard to make friends with the dogs and Roxy is making a big effort to accommodate him, as the three of us work in the garden together. However it’s a matter of two steps forward, one step back at present. Fortunately, no one seems jealous – it’s just understanding each other’s space and size (and not stealing the little dogs’ food!).

In the meantime, it’s lovely to have my daughter here. I’ve really missed having the two of them around this year.