Posts Tagged ‘markets’

Blackberry and blueberry pie

February 20, 2011

I love the variety and quantity of fruit available during summer, and if I were to make a list of my favourite fruits, the different sorts of berries would certainly come somewhere near the top. I’ve attempted to make such a list in the past but the occupant of the top position changes depending on what fruit I’m currently eating, so it’s really more of a top-ten-fruits-in-no-particular-order list. But berries are definitely in the top ten.

Yesterday the farmer’s markets were overflowing with blackberries and blueberries of the plumpest and sweetest type, so I decided to celebrate by making them into a pie.

A few tips: using only egg yolks (add a bit of extra water) and working your pastry as little as possible ensures it won’t shrink or bloat into an enormous chewy lump. This is because egg whites act as a raising agent (not ideal in pastry), and rolling and kneading will develop the gluten threads, destroying the crumbly, ‘short’ texture. It’s easiest (and quickest) if you use a food processor to rub the butter into the flour. Shortcrust pastry demystified (you can thank me later).

Blackberry and Blueberry Pie

The filling is fairly oozy especially when warm, so add some gelatine if you’d like it a bit more solid. However sometimes the messiness adds to the enjoyment: as with mud pies, so with berry pies.

1 quantity Jamie’s sweet shortcrust pastry (you’ll have some leftover so pop it in the freezer)

500g blackberries

250g blueberries

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1-2 tbs lemon juice

3 tbs sugar (or to taste)

1-2 tbs cornflour

23(ish)cm glass pie dish

Make the pastry according to Jamie’s instructions. While it’s resting in the fridge, start the pie filling.

Put the sugar, cornflour, lemon zest and juice into a saucepan and add the blackberries. Stir over a low heat until sugar is dissolved, then increase heat to medium-high and cook until mixture thickens, ~5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

While the filling is cooling, line your pie dish. First butter and dust with flour to keep pastry from sticking, then cut 6mm slices of pastry and lay them over the bottom and up the sides of the dish. Wet your fingers, press together the edges, and even out any inadvertent topography until you have a nice smooth surface. Pop it in the freezer, pie dish and all, for about 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 180°C.

Bake your tart shell for 15 minutes or until starting to dry out. While it’s baking, roll out half of the remaining pastry. With the cookie cutter of your choice (I used a star because, y’know, I have this thing for stars), cut out enough shapes to sparsely cover the top of your pie. Put the shapes carefully on a lined baking tray, and when the tart shell comes out of the oven, pop them in for about 5 minutes.

Once blackberry mixture is almost cooled, stir through the blueberries: adding them at this stage keeps them from bursting. Pour the berry filling into the tart shell and lay the pastry shapes over the top. Put the whole thing back into the oven for 25 minutes or until the pastry is starting to brown.

Divine served with thick double or clotted cream, either warm or cold.


A day at the markets

March 28, 2010

The handmade markets were on again today. I love these markets. Though they may be more expensive than others, though their organisation may lack a little, they are currently the best place to see new and inspiring designers and products in Canberra. Everytime we go (they’re only on four times a year), I fall in love with so many products, concepts, and lovely people. They make me really, really wish I was more creative!

Today Libby and I treated ourselves to some adorable and clever cupcakes. Mine was chocolate with a sweet little sheep on top:

and Libby’s was coffee flavoured, made in a little paper coffee cup and done up like a cappuccino.

The markets were at a new venue today and it was terribly, terribly busy. In shuffling along behind the masses of people (and climbing around the overabundance of strollers) our little group got separated, so it wasn’t exactly the group outing we’d envisaged. But I think everyone found some beautiful things, and we did manage to meet up for lunch.

Of course I came home with a few nice things, and plans to make more nice things for myself—if I ever get time!


February 13, 2010

Some treasures found at the Farmer’s Markets and the Gorman House Markets today.

Vintage buttons, silver-plated Grosvenor ‘Christine’ coffee spoons, and heirloom cherry tomatoes :)


December 7, 2009

It seems to be market season here at the moment—both in the sense of there being more markets around than usual, and also that it’s a good time of year to go to the markets. I love finding one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts for my special people, especially if I can buy local and support a crafter. I’m not going to kid you though, it doesn’t matter how many gifts I say I’m going to buy, I always come home with a few things for myself too.

On Saturday I met Amanda, Emily and Devika at the Gorman House Markets. These markets are held in the buildings and courtyards of Gorman House, near the centre of Canberra. Gorman House was originally built as accommodation for public servants in the early days of Canberra (1924, we are a very young city) but these days hosts arts and community groups and a fantastic restaurant, as well as the markets on Saturdays.

image by lars1942 on flickr

I love these markets. They boast a good mix of art and craft, antiques, secondhand clothing, jewellery and food. There’s always a relaxed vibe and plenty of people sitting in the sun in the grassy courtyard, enjoying coffee and cake or a plate of Gozleme. There are usually buskers. Best of all, the prices are always reasonable.

This is a good example of the sort of lovely people the Gorman House markets attracts: Saturday was Amanda’s birthday and after we all found each other, we decided to start with coffee and some raspberry coconut cake. Unbeknownst to Amanda, we had organised to bring a candle and a lighter (knowing cake would be available) and so we stuck the candle in her cake, lit it and sang ‘happy birthday’ at our table in the middle of the courtyard. The whole time we were sitting there after that, people kept walking past and saying ‘Happy birthday!’ to her. Sweet, huh?

It was the perfect weather for markets and we had a great time advising each other on the suitability of secondhand dresses, discovering new crafts, meeting other friends and chatting with stallholders. We had lunch next to the chook stall, where one chook sat peacefully on the table the whole time. I bought some lovely gifts, and managed (predictably) to come home with a few things for me:

the top one is a tiny canvas covered with lovely horse-printed fabric, the bottom one is a delicate black papercut I’ve mounted against white paper. It’s so intricate, I’ll never know how they do the trees without it ripping.

I also picked up a kilo of the most beautiful cherries I’ve had in ages.

It was definitely a successful outing and I only wish I could show you more of the beautiful things I bought—but they’re gifts, and I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise :)

Handmade markets

November 21, 2009

This morning I went to the handmade markets with Amanda, Libby, and Emily.

The markets were again fantastic. Like last time, it was at a big old Woolshed, and it was very busy and very dusty. This time however it was pretty hot—but thankfully not the oppressive 38 degree heat of yesterday! The heat had an upside though, because it meant everyone brought out their cute summer dresses, so the whole market was summery and attractive.

We started early, with coffee and some amazing blackberry crepes. We were so excited we hardly minded that we each accidentally ate several small flying insects—there was something of a swarm, but you get used to that in this climate. Then we hit the stalls, and such things there were to discover! So many different products, jewellery, clothing, toys, artworks, food, handbags, fabric, ceramics…all handmade. We all managed to cross some items off our Christmas lists.

We rendezvoused at lunchtime to show off our purchases and give our feet a rest. I had a very tasty gourmet sausage burger and about three litres of cold fluids. Miraculously, a cool breeze had sprung up by then.

After exploring a few more gourmet food stalls (and rationalising that it made sense to buy fruitcake and shortbread, as we’d never want to bake in this heat), we wandered back to the car, dusty but happy.

I managed to find so many beautiful things, some for me and some for gifts.

I was particularly pleased with my new cupcake apron, so I thought I’d show you it in all its glory.

Cute, no?

It makes me so happy that handmade products are so readily available. It must be so lovely to earn your keep by making things you love, and there’s such a variety of things that there’s something to make everyone happy.

Brisbane, part two

October 10, 2009

Thursday morning dawned on two ladies recharged for another busy (but exciting) day. Washed and dressed, Mum and I headed into the city to meet Tina for a girls’ day of shopping, coffee and gossiping. We caught up with her at Anzac Square, where you can stand next to the eternal flame on Ann Street and look over the Bottle Trees to the city beyond.

anzac square

Our first stop was a buffet breakfast at the Sofitel, definitely the nicest hotel in Brisbane, and without doubt the grandest and most varied breakfast buffet I have ever seen. It was lovely to take our time, lazily going back for more watermelon or croissants or poached eggs. Full to bursting and regretful that we couldn’t manage just another mouthful of that roast tomato, we started for the shops.

Our first stop was the heritage-listed Brisbane arcade. Filled with marble floors, panelled wood and stylish shops, it’s one of those places that Canberra is missing, with all its buildings no older than sixty or seventy years.

brisbane arcade

Here we found The Tea Centre, and Mum stocked up on some of the necessities. I picked up some of their Stockholm Blend, having tried it at High Societea on Tuesday. It’s one of those teas that I, a no-milk-no-sugar-thankyou-very-much purist, love—light, low tannin, and fragranced by a collection of flowers (no fruits or pieces of caramel in my tea, thankyou all the same). It goes very well with cinnamon buns, I have just discovered whilst writing this.

Avoiding the chain stores in the mall, we and our tea traipsed to Queen’s Plaza, in search of things a little nicer and a little different. There are some pretty fancy shops in Queen’s Plaza and while some are within my means (just), the rest you go to simply for the experience. So while Tina and Mum bought mineral makeup at Mecca Cosmetica, and I got some cute pyjamas at Peter Alexander, we went into Tiffany’s purely to feel like Audrey Hepburn, and only imagined making purchases in Alannah Hill. Soon our sore feet turned towards a cafe and a sit-down, but before long we were off again.

a welcome cup of tea

We eventually wandered back out onto the street, tired and hungry but carrying packages that spoke of success. Tina left to catch the ferry to Kangaroo Point, and Mum and I discovered that the hill up which we needed to walk had somehow become steeper since the morning. The sight of some Dalek-like sculptures on a corner underneath a huge fig tree did cheer us up though.


We spent a quiet evening at my Oma’s place, where I showed her my knitting and a knitting magazine I’d brought with me. After that we were more than ready for bed—it’s funny how the excitement of shopping can spur you on, but suddenly you realise you’ve got no energy left.

The next morning we were glad of the chance for a sleep-in, but were still up in time to meet Tina, Andrew and the boys at the Old Botanic Gardens for morning tea. Sitting under the trees was lovely, and the Gardens Cafe was much better than such cafes usually are.

family morning tea

Two coffees apiece was enough to get us going, and we all dawdled over the footbridge to Southbank, where Tina and her family could catch a ferry back to their apartment, to meet their lunchtime visitors. On the way, I couldn’t resist taking more photos of those amazing Moreton Bay Figs.

fig tree

After the others caught the ferry, Mum and I walked along the riverbank to the Art Gallery, where we spent a few hours before it was time to walk back down to Southbank for some lunch. I was particularly taken with the fountains outside one of the windows—I think they look just like dandelions ready to be blown apart by the wind.

fountain flowers

I grumbled a little at all this walking, but the cafe was worth the walk, and we did get the chance to put our feet up.

lunch on the deck

Lunch over, we caught the ferry back to the city, and soon we were meeting Dad at our apartment. He’d been working hard all week—unlike us! We took a few hours for some much-needed couch time, and then it was time to get ready for the big family birthday party.

Tina’s 50th party was held at the Brisbane Jazz Club. Inside a band played traditional jazz while couples danced, and outside we had a huge table on a platform next to the river, with a fantastic view over to the city. Tina’s family and friends, stylishly dressed, chatted, ate and drank the night away. It was lovely to see everyone, and lovely to be outside at night without catching our deaths. Andrew had arranged a bar tab so the champagne was almost endless, and Tina’s favourite cake—Sacher Torte—crowned the birthday table. Towards the end of the night some of us managed to make it inside to hear the band play, nursing a snifter of cognac. They were jazz veterans, relaxed and skilled, and the music made us sway and wish we hadn’t drank too much to dance.

Somehow, somehow, Mum, Dad and I managed to make it out of bed early enough on Saturday morning to meet Suzie at the West End markets. These are fantastic markets which I’d never managed to visit before—combination farmers’ markets, craft markets, trash and treasure, and international food fair. Held in a park in alternative West End, shaded by huge trees.

west end markets

Then we headed into West End proper for a much-needed coffee. On the way I finally managed to find some photo-worthy Jacarandas. These beautiful trees, come spring, replace all their leaves with lavender-coloured flowers, which later fall to make a carpet around the tree. They don’t grow in Canberra, and I miss them.


We sank gratefully into cool armchairs at the Three Monkeys, definitely the funkiest cafe I have ever been to. I ordered their signature drink—the Edith Piaf, a latte-style coffee that comes in a bowl. That’s not just perspective that’s making the cup in the background look small.

edith piaf

Saturday was also the lovely Emma’s birthday, so that evening I joined her family birthday dinner, under the stars in her parents’ backyard. We all wore sparkly party tiaras, at the insistence of ‘Chicken’, her gorgeous three-year-old.


On Sunday, Mum and Dad’s last day in Brisbane before heading back for work on Monday, the three of us took a drive up to Tamborine Mountain, behind the Gold Coast. It was good to get out of the city and see some nature. On the way we stopped at a rainforest treetops walk, and wandered through the canopy and along the forest floor in a happy daze.


tree with strangler fig


We had lunch in Tamborine Mountain Village, at a cafe in a converted house. We ate on the back verandah, with this view


and then explored some of the shops on the main street, discovering a very good chocolatier. All too soon it was time to drive back to Brisbane and then, after a farewell meal of Thai, for Mum and Dad to leave for Toowoomba. I’m always sorry to part with them and feel blessed that we have such an easy and friendly relationship. I spent a last night in the flat in Spring Hill, knitting and thinking about my wonderful family, and the wonderful week we’d had together.

On Monday morning Emma picked me up and I spent my last day in Brisbane with her and adorable, cheeky little Chicken. Even a few hours with an energetic three-year-old gave me a new respect for Emma! I don’t know how anyone does it. It was fun, and I amazed myself and made Emma laugh as I continually came out with old sayings and parent-jokes, that I hadn’t heard since my parents said them to me as a child. It’s funny how these things lurk under the surface, and appear unbidden on your tongue as soon as you encounter a child. It’s also funny how you never get sick of taking photos of children doing funny things.


My Brisbane trip came to an end that evening as Emma dropped me back to the airport for my flight home to Canberra. It’d been a fantastic week—packed with family, friends, shopping, food, happy times and nice places. I miss you Brisbane, and I’ll be back.

Things I’ve been doing

September 15, 2009

I had a lovely weekend. Here are some of the things I did.

Went to the handmade markets with Amanda and bought a cute summery clutch purse. There were lots of awesome things there but it was so exciting I didn’t take any photos. Then we went home to knit and that was also so absorbing that photos were not taken. But cute clutch, no? I can just imagine it with a few of my sundresses.


Discovered a red camellia bush in our front yard, and filled a float bowl with the flowers. Pretty! The best thing about living in a slightly neglected house is the surprises in the garden every spring.


Baked a strawberry sour cream streusel cake. I have made this recipe a couple of times before but had completely forgotten about it. It takes a little more effort than some cakes but is well worth it, for the dense, tangy sour-cream cake parts, the sweet, fresh, baked-in strawberry puree, and the crunchy topping. Very apt for the beautiful spring weather we’ve been having.

tasty spring cake

Bought some plants for my new office. I particularly like this trailing, tropical-ish one, though I have no idea what it’s called as there was no sticker on the pot when we bought it. Colleagues have suggested it is killer ivy, that one morning they will discover the office a mass of vines, and on hacking their way in with machetes will find me strangled by creeping tendrils. I am unfazed. I also have a maidenhair fern and a peace lily, happily brightening the room and filtering the air.


And planted some tomatoes in the backyard. Well, technically Phil did it I guess, but only because he’s a much better gardener than me, and I was hanging out washing at the time. One plant is in the main garden bed and one around the side of the house, as part of the plan to foil the possums in their attempts to eat them. I’ll let you know how that goes.



September 5, 2009

We had a nice day today, a good mix of going out and discovering, and staying in and relaxing. We got up early to go to the Farmers’ Markets, where I got these lovely yellow gerberas, which are now brightening up our kitchen while I wait for the tulip buds to open too.


We also made a trip out to the Fyshwick Markets to go to the game butcher. As well as sharing a bag of hot, salty macadamias, we tried a piece of apple from one of the greengrocers, who was standing out the front of his shop shouting his wares at the top of his voice, assuring everyone that his apples were ‘chilli chicken flavour’. It’s nice to see the spirit of the larrikin is alive and kicking.

We had a nice slow afternoon, with a bit of relaxing, a nice walk, and some cooking. We made rocket gnocchi in butter sauce for dinner—so buttery but so good!


And now I’m off to have a bath.


June 26, 2009

We had a lovely time in Sydney last weekend, despite the rain. Oh the rain. How it rained. Here in Canberra we never get that sort of rain, so I’m never really prepared for it when it happens (something similar happened to us when we went to Melbourne in March).

We arrived on Friday night and checked in to our lovely hotel, cheap thanks to If you haven’t discovered that site yet you are really living under a rock. The hotel had an aquarium in the floor—I could walk above the fish—which was very cool but kinda weird. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of it. We ducked out to chinatown for some dinner—if you’re in the area, do try Zilver‘s food. It’s just amazing, like no Chinese I’ve had before. And their prawn dumpling short soup is absolutely to die for.

On Saturday morning we headed to the artsy suburb of Glebe, for the very cool Glebe Markets. These markets are full of creativity, good humour and alternative style. You can get everything from vintage clothing and indie jewellery to secondhand books and international food. I love to visit every time we’re in Sydney, and my wonderful and very patient husband is happy to take me. This time, like last time, there were some amazing offerings and I came home with some beautiful and funky stuff.

leather bag, vintage shirt, monster threads tee and hoodie

peacock headband, amber ring, vintage porcelain pendant, domino pendant

The only downside was the rain. My goodness it rained. The markets are held in a schoolyard and there were puddles, and overflowing drains, and waterfalls cascading from tarps onto unsuspecting heads. We bought an extra umbrella. We sheltered under whatever cover was handy at the time. We still got wet, wet, wet. But hey, it was the Glebe markets nonetheless, and I wasn’t going to let a little rain spoil it for me. I had several stallholders ask me why I was so chirpy given the terrible weather—I had to reply that I was from out of town, and today was the only chance I would have this year at the Glebe markets, so I was going to make the most of it! But I was still relieved when we were done, and could duck across the road to the warm and dry San Churro, for Spanish hot chocolate and churros.

From there we headed back to the city, where I discovered that Morris & Sons was having a sale. I mean, who can resist half-price wool? Anyway, there are now three potential sweaters in my stash.

half price wool rocks

I also scored the coolest, most 80s-tastic sneakers on sale at Adidas:

high visibility

they’re now known as my fog shoes (as in, used for the same purpose as fog lights).

Saturday night and the reason we’d come to Sydney in the first place finally arrived. The Simon and Garfunkel concert! (really, it’s difficult to restrain myself from putting more exclamation points after that sentence). All I can say is that it was amazing to see them live, like a dream come true. I thought they would always just be one of those things I’d missed out on, like so many other events/fashions/bands/experiences, being too young. So when this opportunity came up I simply jumped at it—and I’m so glad I did.

They sang all the old songs, they told stories, they played some of their solo work, some of it accoustic and some with their very talented backing band. The venue was huge—we were up high and pretty far away—so I was glad of the large screens, the chance to really see it all happening. I was just so happy the whole time, and I feel really blessed that I had the chance to be part of it. I pulled out my record (yes, vinyl) of the Concert in Central Park yesterday, and it said on the front that that was ‘an historical event’. I think that term could easily be applied to the concert I saw last Saturday. And most importantly—Garfunkel still has the ginger ‘fro! :D

The rest of the weekend was slow and sweet after that. Sunday morning brought the sun, and a snatch of warm weather before we left Sydney (where did all that rain go?). We had brekky at a cute little place in Redfern called Strangers with Candy. Their website goes on about their great service, but for me the decor and the food were the stars. Do try it if you’re in the area—it’s a little hard to find but worth the effort. Their homemade hollandaise was the best, and lightest, I have ever tasted.

We stopped for lunch at Lerida Estate on the way home. I guess you could say it’s on the shores of Lake George, but that seems a bit odd since Lake George has been dry ever since I’ve lived in the area—people graze sheep and cows on it now. They make a very nice Pinot Gris there, and everything else I tasted was lovely too. I didn’t realise but apparently the area is also very big for truffles. It was truffle weekend and they had truffle-dog demonstrations and special menus. One man was buying some truffle while we were there—twenty grams cost him sixty dollars! I hope he enjoyed it.

Anyway that’s about it—sorry for foisting such a long post on you after a bit of a drought. More knitting news soon!

Rainbow Wools

June 17, 2009


I know I’ve shown a lot of yarn and not a lot of knitting lately, but I want to take a moment to tell you about a local company whose yarn I just adore. They’re called Rainbow Wools and I first discovered them at the Old Bus Depot Markets in Canberra last year. Being such a lover of handspun and hand-dyed things, I gravitated immediately to the stall heaped high with thick, soft, slubby and curly yarns in so many amazing colours. At the time I was so caught up in the tactile experience that I didn’t get the company details, so later I was sorry I couldn’t look them up to buy more. I did however buy the most beautiful skein of their mushroom wool in a gorgeous hot pink. I was so in love with it that it became a scarf within days.

hot pink scarf

A few months went by. I loved my pink scarf and so did everyone else. Occasionally I hoped I might see the producer again, but I couldn’t really remember much about their other yarns, I just had this image of pinks and yellows and purples, fuzzy and soft and squishy. The stuff of stash fantasies.

Then in January, as we were taking a road trip down the NSW coast on our way back home to Canberra after Christmas in Queensland, we stopped in Bellingen, one of my favourite little towns. It’s the most gorgeous place—you really must visit if you can—but I won’t go into all its wonders now. Suffice to say that in a little craft store off the main street, I discovered some amazing, beautiful wool. Thick, slubby, soft, and with so many different colours. I think I managed to limit myself to five or six skeins, all on a different colour scheme—purples, greens, blues, pinks…bliss. That’s one of those yarns in the header pic of the blog. That’s how much I was in love with them. Over the next few months I took out this wool every time I looked through my stash. I admired it and snuggled it but didn’t use it yet. I knew the time would come. Only recently did I make the first project with this wool, and appropriately, it was a gift for a very special friend.


However I still didn’t know the name of the company that made this wool, this wonderful addition to my knitting life. It wasn’t until I returned to the Bus Depot Markets for this year’s Celebration of Wool that my question was answered. Imagine my delight when I again spotted the stall piled with tasty, happy woolly goodness. At this stage I was thinking only of my pink scarf (which I happened to be wearing at the time), I didn’t connect it with the yarn I got in Bellingen until I started digging through the wares. Imagine my further delight on discovering that the progenitor of the pink scarf, and the maker of the Bellingen wool, were one and the same! It was like an epiphany. Of course I made sure I got their card, and predictably a few skeins decided they just couldn’t live without me.

So, I exhort all you knitters, go unto Rainbow Wools and be happy. Ever since the epiphany and the green beret I’m itching to knit something else with this beautiful wool. It’s like a good friend, a cup of hot chocolate, and a sweet little puppy all rolled into one—happy and comforting.