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Albert Tucker (1914-1999)
(Joy Hester at Heide) c.1940′s
silver gelatin print
Collection of State Library of Victoria
I love this photograph of Joy Hester, one of Australia’s leading Modernist artists. It’s so light-hearted and, well, joyful! There is an accompanying photo of Joy doing a handstand, this being taken immediately afterwards. The photographs taken by Albert Tucker at this time are so evocative of the Melbourne artworld in the 40′s, when times were tough and new thinking was aplenty. And despite breaking new ground in intellectual and artistic circles, there was always time for frolicking at Heide.
(There is currently an exhibition of Tucker’s photographs at Heide Museum of Modern Art.)
Warning: This Parisian confectionery shop window display is generally unrelated to the foodstuffs discussed below, apart from the presence of chocolate, but it illustrates this week’s theme so well …
As a child my favorite sweet treat to make was hedgehog. Every year before Christmas, my mother and I would make several slices, hedgehog among them, so there would always be something on hand to serve visitors over the festive season. It seemed so special to see all the McRobertsons shortbread tins packed with slices between layers of greaseproof paper. For for the young cook, there was the double treat of crushing the biscuits and licking the chocolatey spoon afterwards.
This is not the recipe that we used to make. It is so much better! It is adapted from one found in the March 1997 issue of Australian Good Taste, and differs from the traditional recipe in that it is made from real melted chocolate and has fruit added. I included prunes, as they are a great rich, textural contrast with the chocolate. And I still make this every Christmas for gifts and to serve visitors, and for Easter too …
Pinry’s Favorite Hedgehog
- 200g shortbread biscuits, broken up into smallish chunks
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup currants
- about 10 pitted prunes, chopped
- 250g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
- 75g butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- cocoa powder to dust
Line a square cake tin with baking paper
Melt butter in a large saucepan (large enough to hold all ingredients – who wants to wash a mixing bowl as well?).
Add chocolate and remove from heat and let sit for a minute or so. (Don’t let the chocolate cook or it may seize up, rather let it gently melt in the hot butter). Stir with a wooden spoon until chocolate is melted. Stir in honey.
Add biscuit chunks, walnuts, currants and prunes and combine until well coated. Press well into cake tin and chill until firm.
Cut into small squares and dust top with cocoa. Store in old biscuit tins with Scottish pipers on them.
A souvenir, a memento, a remembrance. Paris, 1989, with sponges purchased from the souvenir shop on the Eiffel Tower. (As Mr. Foxy says, they are a very good likeness of the Eiffel Tower, but they are much more absorbent.)
I have always been in love with Paris, or the idea of Paris, so amongst the excitement of contemplating my first visit there I was steeling myself for possible disappointment … but au contraire! Paris was not to disappoint – it was all true! The art, the architecture, THE FOOD! And there really were people walking around wearing berets, carrying baguettes and there really were slim designer-suited women walking poodles on leashes. The memories of the first visit are still heady. I was 25, travelling with the man of my dreams, staying in a picturesquely shabby one star hotel, walking endlessly through those wondrous streets, picnicing on chevre and pain poilane, dining in tiny bistros every night. I felt like we were Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg (only without the crime, police evasion and misogyny).
We returned a couple of years later, then again in 2004 and 2006, and are still dreaming of when we can return again. On the last visit, the exchange rate was fairly bad, so I couldn’t buy anything of great note, so satisfied myself with a buy-up at the cheap souvenir shops near Notre Dame. I tried to buy every possible likeness of the Eiffel tour that wasn’t too expensive or too crass. (Sadly the white ceramic salt shaker is no longer with us). I love the iconic nature of this structure, and despite its over-exposure to the point of kitsch, it is still an impressive and magical building.
Paris, 2006. Our first child was designed in Paris during our 2004 visit, so we felt that it was only right to take him back for a visit for his first birthday (and while he could still travel cheaply on aircraft).
And, this post should rightly end here, but I just had to share this, which appeals to me enormously. Wafer biscuits stuck together with icing! This is from a little booklet for kids that I bought at the supermarket, Little Disney Library, Ratatouille: What’s Cooking (ACP Magazines Ltd, 2006). There are also other great French- and rat-themed novelty recipes, including fabulous faux escargots made from gherkins and pin-wheel sandwiches! Perfect for that upcoming Bastille Day dinner party (I have already bought the wafers …)
*or another excuse to post baby photos… For Words and Pictures…
OK, you know the routine: bath, pajamas, teeth, 5 minutes, then bed.
no, 5 minutes…
ok, 1 minute to go … 1/4 minute … 1/2 minute … 3/4 minute … 1 minute! Time to go to your bedroom!
have you chosen 2 books? well, alright, 3 books then…
lights out time … oh, you want a drink of water…
alright, back in bed please, I’m turning the light out… well, where is the torch?
back in bed please! lights out … please don’t shine the torch in my face … now I’m going to tuck you in, all snuggly-wuggly. A story? ok … “Once upon a time … not that one? Well, “Once upon a time …
Goodnight sweetie … a song? ok , “Hush little baby, don’t say a word …
Goodnight my darling, cuddle … oh sorry, I didn’t mean to squash you …
But you have to sleep in your bed … no, it will be ok … no, Santa’s not coming tonight … because it’s not Christmas … well, maybe one day you’ll see a reindeer … you’ll be alright, just call me if you have a naughty dream … where’s Daddy? He’s at work, but he’ll come and see you when he gets home. Go to sleep now … but you have to have a good rest … oh, I can hear the babies crying, I’ll come and see you a bit later. Good night beautiful, love you…
More bed-time stories via Meet me at Mikes…