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Newsletter 91 – and on we go

My family’s Christmas gathering was successful. Food was festive. Three generations all helped. Crunchy croque monsieur for breakfast before the presents. Lunch highlights were crayfish salad, bought cooked but never frozen from a Victorian fishery, my roast chicken with spiced peaches, and Harriet’s superb trifle and my friend John’s traditional pudding flamed with brandy to the surprise of my granddaughter…

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Newsletter 90 – Jasmine, jasmine everywhere and Christmas is coming!

Jasminium Trachelospermum is such a great plant. It covers walls and fences, is evergreen and in spring it bursts with sweetly-scented flowers.  At breakfast this morning I found this visitor on the balcony rail. We all find that this tail end of the year speeds up and fills up. This will be the final newsletter for 2023. A special thank you to those you have let me know that you have enjoyed reading it…

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Newsletter 89 – Spring stories

I woke today with absolutely no obligations to anyone. Extraordinary and rare. A perfect day weather-wise. Cloudless blue sky, temperature mid-twenties; light, warm breeze, magpies carolling, flowering sage and Rouzette geraniums offering cooling purple backdrop against silver leaves, and my smoke bush and Forest Pansy flaunting their springtime stained glass hues. The smoke bush has shapely glorious rust and verdigris leaves that miraculously become the colour of beaten copper when the morning spring sunshine lights the leaves. And alongside, in its first season, are the rich ruby leaves of my Forest Pansy, even more spectacular than I had hoped for. I am finding that these illuminated spring colours are at least as enchanting as autumn colours…

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Newsletter 88 – Bursting with thoughts.

What a month! Holiday planning. A cruise that was interrupted by Covid, a few days in France, and then the launch of a new book, Fresh, my 18th if counting new material not re-packaging…

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Newsletter 87 – Cook with your Kids!

I am pleased and proud to announce the publication of my 19th or is it 20thbook,

‘FRESH…Family recipes & stories inspired by Stephanie’s Kitchen Gardens’.

I founded the kitchen garden movement in Australian schools over twenty years ago now and it has become an important and well-known force for change. FRESH is intended to encourage families to cook together. It brings together recipes which have delighted young students in schools across the country, together with extra recipes that I developed as I re-cooked and re-tasted some favourites

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Newsletter 86 – Farewell to glorious Autumn

This beautiful picture was taken by my neighbours upstairs from their balcony. How stunning. The next evening the boys told me that there was an owl resting on the pole of my sun umbrella. I didn’t dare open the door but peeped from behind the curtain and just saw a faint shape before it flew away…

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Newsletter 85 – Welcome Autumn

 Autumn is such a pleasure. I am loving the cool mornings and seeing how the trees glisten as the first sunshine touches the leaves. For an hour after I wake the mist still hangs over the river. How fortunate I am to have this view. Birds call loudly. Here and there in my own small garden there is wonderful colour emerging. Little skinks scuttle over the paving stones. Sadly my resident blue tongue lizard has gone to live somewhere else. It is the best time of the year to enjoy my coffee in the garden. I have perfect shade, I can enjoy watching the bees and note that it will soon be time to cut back the lemon-scented verbena, the crepe myrtles and the very leggy salvia. I watched a kookaburra this morning be chased from its comfortable branch by two very noisy magpies…

Read more: Newsletter 85 – Welcome Autumn

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Newsletter 84 – 2023 rolls on

I am a bit ashamed that my last newsletter was just before Christmas. Does anyone else even notice? The festive season was suitably festive and as ever a little bit frantic. There was a marvellous Christmas lunch with all of the Kitchen Garden staff and Board members which can make me feel a bit emotional. I started this adventure with my then PA and good friend Anna Dollard in my spare bedroom in 2001 and now look what has happened. So many young energetic people all working with common purpose, each with great stories to tell of their interactions with students, schools and communities…

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Newsletter 83 – Blue Skies must be on the way

Summer has arrived with many lovely sunny days but there has also been unseasonal rain. The river is very high but we have not had any significant flooding as has happened in so many other places. One benefit is that my garden is romping ahead. Everything seems to grow about a centimetre every hour. The buddleia is a sight to behold with its waving blue spikes. The salvias are blooming, the lavender and sage all out a riot of silver, purple and blue. The wall is almost covered in flowering, scented jasmine. And my recently planted New Forest Pansy tree Cercis Canadensis is so happy in its situation…

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 : Newsletter 83 – Blue Skies must be on the way
               

       
   

       
   

   

Newsletter 82- Moments of connection

I was so honoured to be asked by The National Gallery of Australia to design and oversee a dinner to celebrate both the 40th anniversary of the Gallery on October 8th but also to coincide with the opening of a major exhibition of the works of major Australian artist Cressida Campbell.  We already had a connection. My book The Cook’s Table is bound with a reproduction of Cressida’s After Lunch on the front cover, and Kitchen on the back cover. I have pored over every detail, and been delighted over and over again. The images were so appropriate for a book that celebrated the true pleasures of the cook’s table – simple dishes, not meddled with, idiosyncratic and highly personalised table settings, fresh herbs, grapes, and of course a wine glass…

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Newsletter 81 – Back to school finally

We were to meet the Hon Kristy McBain, Minister for regional Development and the local member for Eden-Monaro. Also a mother of 3 small children. Kristy loved what she saw and how could you not. Small school. Simple setup. 12 students made such a great meal for us. Lemon myrtle tea, leek, silverbeet and feta muffins with green leaf and cherry tomato salad, rhubarb, yoghurt and honey cups. Bursting with pride. And such a lovely bush garden advised by staff from Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens in selection and placement of suitable plants with excellent identification signs. I nibbled on a saltbush leaf and was told by teacher Jessie that her plan for students to make lillypilly jam to eat with their own scones was foiled when the students crunched on many of the bright pink fruits straight from the tree.

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Newsletter 80 – Here I go again

‘Never say never’ one is advised. Wise advice. I find myself writing again. This time it will be a book of family-friendly recipes inspired by what the students in the kitchen garden programs across the country have been preparing and enjoying. I am making adjustments so each recipe will make a family-sized portion rather than tastes for twenty. I have been having fun cooking and sharing some of the test dishes with neighbours. Six of us had a most enjoyable curry night. Today I made little meringues and quince jelly and perfected Anzacs. My nearest neighbours are foodies and when there is just a little to share, I send my sample or taste via a scarlet string bag lowered over the balcony…

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Newsletter 79 – Creeping out of the Covid shell

Although my latest book ‘Home’ was published in October, almost every event to promote it was cancelled. So it has been fun to catch up with friends and events recently.  It is always a pleasure to chat with my clever friend and colleague Annie Smithers.  Even though she lives a long way away I am in touch weekly via her sessions on Blueprint for Living on Radio National with the urbane and curious Jonathan Green.  It was a special treat to have not one but two sessions with Annie. One at Castlemaine in the beautifully-restored Goods Shed, moderated by my friend and former publisher Julie Gibbs (who also hosted a very special luncheon at Bar Midland) and a few days later at the RACV Club in the CBD. We know there are always topics to explore and we could continue for hours. We are never bored and have to hope that our audience feels the same way…

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Newsletter 78 – One Plus One

What a pleasure it was to spend several hours with Rosie Batty chatting about my life and the work I am currently doing. We could have gone on for hours. A lot of ground was covered from my earliest years in London in the Swinging Sixties, to the start of my various restaurants, the challenges of managing marriage, hospitality and young children, and then onto more recent times with the new challenges of founding a Not-for-profit Foundation determined to promote pleasurable food education. The program will be shown on the ABC on Thursday March 10 at 9.30pm.

To read more, subscribe to the Cook’s Companion Club. You’ll be sent an immediate email with links to my current and past newsletters.: Newsletter 78 – One Plus One