“I am the star of screaming headlines and campfire ghost stories.
I am one of the four Black-Eyed Susans.
The lucky one”
Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin is the story of Tessa Cartwright. As a teenager, she was abducted and left for dead in a field of Black-Eyed Susan flowers along with other dead and dying girls. They become collectively known as the Black-Eyed Susans. Tessa is the only survivor.
Now, in her thirties, the man accused of the crime, the man whom Tessa’s testimony helped put away is facing death row. And Tessa is having doubts about his guilt. And if he’s innocent, then the real killer is still out there….
I came to this book in two ways.
It was one of the selections we had for our Crime /Thriller month in bookclub along with Maestra (the one we chose), The Method (which I am currently reading) and The Ex (which I just bought as I noticed it was super cheap as I was getting the link).
Then, the very next day after we had made our choice, Heather who writes the blog Meta’s Meals wrote a very positive review of Black-Eyed Susans on Goodreads and I promptly decided that it was going to the top of my reading list!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Black Eyed Susan’s. It was very suspenseful and the plot was original which is a really hard thing to do in crime fiction. I only hope Maestra which is our book club choice is half as good. Mind you, last year we chose Girl on The Train which…urrggghhhh…I cannot even tell you how much I hated that book.
But this one’s good. And it has a gorgeous cover!
Whilst reading The Black-Eyed Susans, I discovered that there is a cocktail called the Black-Eyed Susan. It is the official drink of the Preakness Stakes Horse race which is run in Baltimore each year as the winning horse is draped in a blanket made of these flowers.
This was delicious. I love pineapple juice and St Germain in cocktails so there was no way I wasn’t going to like this. The lime juice gave it a nice little kick of tanginess too!
The Black-Eyed Susan also got the thumbs up from resident bon vivant F Scott.
Oh, and before anyone complains, I know the flowers I have used in my photos are not Black-Eyed Susans. I am not even sure if they grow here, or, if they did when they would flower. Anyhoo, the gerberas were the closest (only) thing my local florist had that came close!
Here’s the recipe. Why not make one and have a sip whilst reading the book!
Black Eyed Susan
A delicious refreshing pineapple and citrus cocktail with a hint of Elderflower.
Those of you who don’t live in Australia may be unaware that the Melbourne Cup is run on the first Tuesday in November. The Melbourne Cup is our version of the Kentucky Derby or Ascot or the <<insert the biggest horse race from your country here>>.
They call it the race that stops a nation because, come tomorrow at around 3:00pm, just about everyone in the country will stop what they are doing to watch, or listen to, the running of the Cup. If you happen to live in Melbourne, you get to stop for a hell of a lot more than that. We get the WHOLE day off work. Seriously. We don’t go to work all day because for about 5 minutes in the afternoon some horses run around a track. It’s awesome, the most mad and random holiday ever!!!
And because we’re not working, if people aren’t actually going to the races, they have parties and bbq’s or set up parties in the car park at the track, kind of like tail gating but classier. Every one dresses up and the weather is generally good – it’s party time here!!! Apart from the hay fever. That’s still sucking.
And what better way to celebrate your Cup Day holiday, than this adorable vintage salad from Rosemary Mayne-Wilson’s Salads for All Seasons and the accompanying MC Cocktail which I made up to go along with it?
The unifying element between the two is pineapple. And can I just say. Forget Chanel #5. Forget even this gorgeous Sohum Mint Tea perfume which is my current favourite perfume (Notice how even my perfume is named after food?)
Pineapple has got to be the best smell in the world. When I opened that can? I just wanted to take a big swim in that glorious scent. Soooo good. And yes, I used pineapple from a can. Fresh pineapple is great. If you happen to live in Cambodia…OMG, the best, sweetest most heaven scented pineapple ever…or you have a couple of spare hours to pfaff about with peeling and coring and taking the eyes out and blah blah blah. As far as I am concerned, canned pineapple is the way to go.
What was not so good was the tinned crab. It was….fairly bland is a nice way of putting it. Completely tasteless would be another. Despite that, the pineapple was sweet and the dressing was surprisingly good. I think that if you used fresh crab meat this would become super good.
RMW recommends decorating this with crab legs. Even if I had made this using fresh crab I would find that a bit creepy. I used some chopped up chives and mint (both can I add, fresh from my garden)!
Alternatively you could forgo piling the crab into and onto the pineapple rings and mix them together and serve in these amazing bits of crabby kitsch!
I would still use the watercress to line the crab bowls. That peppery goodness added a real bit of zing to this dish.
But I will tell you something totally weird. As I was making it, I believed I had spotted a huge flaw in the logic of this salad. Cos that’s the kind of thing I think about, The logic of food. As I may have said a couple of times before, it’s nice to see that Philosophy major isn’t going to waste!
So, here was my concern. You pile your crab meat onto and into the hole of your pineapple ring. However, the law of gravity would suggest that when you picked up your pineapple ring that the crab meat in the hole would not, should not lift with the ring….
Weird thing is? It totally does. Well nearly totally does. A smidgeon of crab may remain on the plate but it will lift. You need to pack it in fairly tight though.
I would definitely make this again. But I would definitely use fresh crab meat.
So, what do you do with the leftover juice from the can of pineapple? Well, if life gives you pineapple juice, I say make a super refreshing and tasty as hell cocktail. I also happened to have a bottle of Midori hanging about. It was given to me as a housewarming present when I moved into my old apartment. How on earth it managed to survive 13 years I have no idea. Anyway on that bottle was a tag and on that tag was a recipe for a cocktail called a 24/7 which was Midori, Chartreuse, lime cordial and pineapple juice. I made this and it was ok. Then I made a second one where I subbed in some fresh lemon juice for the lime cordial and it was much better. Then I made a third…(see what I mean about being surprised that bottle hadn’t been drained long ago?) where I added a splash of ginger beer. And ladies and gentlemen, we had a winner!
I’m calling my version the MC – Midori and Chartreuse, Melbourne Cup…
Oh, and the left over salad dressing? Was really good on some oysters the following day! It had that Bloody Mary Shot vibe about it. Kind of retro in it’s own way!
I will be spending Cup Day cooking up a Joan Crawford inspired Romantic dinner for two courtesy of Jenny at Silver Screen Suppers…stay tuned, I think it’s going to be awesome! Whatever you do, I hope it’s fabulous!
Ever have those moments where you take a good long hard look at yourself and wonder how on earth you ended up in a certain place? Where your life took that turn?
I had one of those tonight. And it wasn’t pretty. Unlike these Fruity Devils which we will get to in due course.
So, let’s imagine my life as a movie. Not a very glamorous movie. But a movie nonetheless. We’ll start with a close up…
Eight o’clock Friday night and I am sitting alone. At home. Wearing a sweatshirt that had seen better days about five years ago and yoga pants. Well, that’s what the shop I bought them in called them. They may have never seen the inside of a yoga studio or known a down dog but technically they are yoga pants.
None of that is is the problem. He has a new job where he is working nights and I am perfectly comfortable both in my own company and with my attire.
So, lets draw the camera back and see where the problem may lie. Sitting on my lap is a plate of chopped up bananas smothered in peanut butter, wrapped in bacon and grilled. I had a grand idea to do a take on a Devils on Horseback and call it Elvis on Horseback. It didn’t really work…Anyway, bacon and peanut butter is admittedly not the healthiest combination on earth but it wasn’t that that had me cringing either. I count eating weird stuff as R&D. I’m eating it so you don’t have to! And you, know sometimes in this blogging lark you have to take the (super) crunchy with the smooth.
That peanut butter gag was like the Spanish Inquisition. (Because no one expects the Spanish Inquisition).
I’ll stop now.
Maybe the problem will be apparent if we draw the camera back even further…
Yes, that is a very hefty glass of wine in front of me…could that be what has me in a such a state of consternation? Drinking alone? Am I worried about some incipient alcoholism /the state of my liver / my ability to get up and go the gym tomorrow morning?
No, no and resoundingly no. It’s Friday, it’s been a long, hard week and if a girl wants a drink in the privacy of her own home, she should be able to have one. Or two. Don’t judge me.
So what it is? Why am I pausing for a moment of reflection? Not that I am alone at home on a Friday night, wearing let’s just call them “comfortable” clothes; not that I am eating a banana smothered in peanut butter then wrapped in bacon; not that I am drinking alone but that I am doing all of the above whilst watching a movie where Robert Pattinson is playing Salvador Dali.
I really need to re-evaluate some of my life choices. I may need professional help. Or at the very least some movie recommendations….
Who on God’s green earth thought that was a good idea? (Me apparently seeing as it was on my Netflix queue). But then again, I’m alone at home on a Friday night eating bacon, bananas and peanut butter! My judgement is at best questionable.
But apart from me, who else thought it was a good idea? It’s TERRIBLE. Well, to be honest, the film itself is probably not so bad. R Patz, however is more wooden than the stake that should have been driven through his cold dead heart in any one of the billion Twilight films.
Oh, God, why am I still watching it?
Make it stop…someone please make it stop!!!!!
And does anyone else think Vamp boy looks a lot like the Blackadder?
I have no idea what possessed me to pick that film. What is far easier to track is how I ended up thinking bananas and bacon were a good idea. The seed of THAT insanity lies within the book club. One of the ladies brought along one of her mother’s (?) Women’s Weekly cookbooks from the early sixties. It was AWESOME. And whilst I really wanted to just grab it and run….I contented myself with flicking through the pages.
Which is when I saw the recipe for Jaffa Devils. Orange slices wrapped in bacon and grilled. Two ingredients, easy to remember. So I made them. They were ok. They weren’t the best thing I’ve ever eaten but they sure weren’t the worst! And it works in theory – bacon and orange mix well at breakfast…so why not in an appetizer? (Mind you, it’s that kind of thinking that leads to coffee flavoured scrambled eggs…and Little Ashes, which incidentally, STILL watching).
The problem was, the Jaffa Devils became like a gateway drug. For a while there I was utterly obsessed with wrapping fruit in bacon. I kind of like it when food is both good and bad for you, bacon and fruit, peanut butter and celery, cranberry juice and booze..it’s the way o’ the world, yin and yang, toxifying and detoxifying in equal measure.
I wrapped peaches, pineapple, a tangelo…I couldn’t leave the citrus alone. And the banana. The banana was not good. The tangelo, like the orange, was a bit meh…..
The peach and the pineapple? OMG. Super. The Bacon and Peach Combo worked best with a sauce made from Pomegranate Molasses. By which I mean some Pomegranate Molasses poured into a bowl. But you could use some reduced Balsamic if you did not have the Pomegranate Molasses. The Bacon and Pineapple Devil worked with both a sweet chilli and a BBQ sauce.
Pretty damn good, even if I do say so myself! And super easy and super quick to make as well.
In all honesty, give the banana and orange ones a miss. But do try the peach and pineapple. They are gold! And for some Dali gold, skip Little Ashes and watch this clip of the real Salvador Dali utterly bamboozling the folks on What’s My Line.
I fully intended this week to be devoted to Eat your Way To Love and Beauty, but somehow I ended up drinking my way to oblivion and incoherence!
But you know what? I can now honestly say that I didn’t spend the weekend getting tanked on cocktails. I spent the weekend doing research and development. For you dear readers, I did it for you! I’m selfless like that.
I found a version of the first cocktail I made, the Oh Calcutta, in Eat Your Way To Love and Beauty. This combines pineapple, grapefruit, lime and…. curry powder! Yep, a curry flavoured cocktail!
The Swami’s version of the Oh Calcutta suggests you mix the ingredients with spa water. I assumed that was a euphemism for vodka when making my version.
Now, I normally like my cocktails pink and sweet so this was a bit of a shock to my system! Initially I wasn’t too keen on it. Gradually though, the Oh Calcutta won me over. It’s actually has quite a complex flavour profile (whoo hoo, look at me using the foodie words!). There was a slight bitterness from the grapefruit, sweetness of the pineapple, heat from the curry, sour from the lime…the more I drank it the more I liked it!
I was still thinking about it the next day and I decided that, interesting as it was, it needed something more and that something was a little salty kick. So, I made it again but this time I edged the glass (badly) with some ginger salt. I made the ginger salt by bashing some ginger to death in the mortar and pestle and then adding some salt to the mix. I twirled the glass in this. It doesn’t look great but it tasted amazing!
In my first version I toppped the entire drink with grapefruit juice instead of using a mixer, in the second version I mixed grapefruit juice and sparkling water. The result was slightly less bitter which I preferred. I also used ruby grapefruit juice so there was a pink tinge to my cocktail!
I’m now thinking ginger beer would be good in this too….version three may well happen next weekend!
Just in case this has piqued your interest in a curry cocktail, I found a few more versions to tantalise your taste buds bouncing round on the interwebs…
But the weekend of cocktails was not over because it’s feijoa season and thanks to a tree that is fully laden over at my mother’s house we are swimming with them…
For those of you unfamiliar with a feijoa (aka the pineapple guava), it is a fruit much beloved by New Zealanders, and apparently Russians and Californians. It is:
“green, ellipsoid, and about the size of a chicken egg. It has a sweet, aromatic flavor. The flesh is juicy and is divided into a clear gelatinous seed pulp and a firmer, slightly granular, opaque flesh nearer the skin”
Boo, Wikipedia boo! That does nothing to convey the joy of the feijoa – huh…come to think of it from now on, I’m going to be calling them fe-joy-as. I once read in an aromatherapy book that you need to be careful when burning Clary Sage oil because the smell of it can make you feel as if you are drunk! I feel a little bit the same about the scent of a feijoa, it is a kind of fruity, floral, heady smell that…it’s what I imagine heaven smells like. Not that I’m likely to find out. There is no doubt in my mind which way I’m heading.
Feijoa Marketing Board…don’t even think about it stealing this, I’m slapping a ™ on “Fei-joy-as…what heaven smells like” ASAP. Happy to negotiate with you on the licensing of my intellectual property for your commercial gain though. Call me. I’m easily bought.
Mind you, someone at the FMB is doing their job. These babies are currently selling in the supermarket for $2 each!
When I told mum I was going to do some feijoa cooking for this she wanted to know if I was going to make jam. It’s that kind of comment that makes me wonder if I’m actually adopted….Jam. Pffft…why make jam when you can make cocktails?
I found a wonderful blog called Feijoa, Feijoa which is bursting with recipes for feijoas and has an whole section devoted to cocktail recipes.
I made the Odessa Cocktail purely because I had all the necessary but each one of the cocktails sound delicious. And as for the recipes…this may well become one of my favourite sites! There are also several jam recipes for my mother to make.
The recipe for the Odessa Cocktail can be found here:
If you’re wondering why my simple syrup looks like Coke or coffee , it’s because I only had brown sugar in the house. I think it worked though, it added a treacly depth to the syrup. (coincidentally, Treacly Depth would be the name of my indie band…)
The Odessa is a lovely cocktail, it’s sweet but with a little tang from the lime and exactly the kind of cocktail I normally love! Coming after the Oh Calcutta, it seemed a little simple but it was still delicious! My advice to anyone making it would be to strain it really well. I put mine through a tea strainer and it was a little gritty. I would use a finer strainer next time.
I’m going to be spending my week sidling up to people outside the supermarket and asking “Psst…want a feijoa? ..One fifty each or three for three…and they smell like heaven”
All eras have their food fads – remember when everything was daubed in pesto? And/ or sun-dried tomatoes? What about Tandoori chicken served ad nauseam outside of its natural habitat of an Indian restaurant? Tandoori Chicken Caesar Salad, Tandoori Chicken Pizza, Tandoori Chicken Pie, Tandoori Chicken Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Pesto…for the love of God, stop. Just because something tastes good doesn’t mean it has to be used in every known recipe in the world.
Back in the 1970’s pineapple was the weapon of choice. It was everywhere! It was stabbed on toothpicks with a cube of generic cheese and possibly a brightly coloured cocktail onion to form the signature hors d’oeuvre of the decade, it was grilled with ham steaks to provide the first course of the generation and, combined with the glacé cherry, formed the classic upside down cake.
It was also:
Made into Salads:
Used as a receptable for prawns:
In increasingly odd ways (also note the ubiquitous curly parsley):
For main course, there was the exotic appeal of a sweet and sour:
Or a pineapple and pork casserole:
For dessert, apart from the classic upside down cake, pineapple was also a favourite topping for cheesecakes:
Or, as in the case of this post, made into a pineapple soufflé. The recipe for pineapple soufflé appears in a number of cookbooks of this vintage so must have been a popular dish of the time. Also, just to be really confusing, this is not a soufflé as in the French baked dessert but is more a mousse type concoction. I have no idea why this is also called a soufflé. Maybe in the ’70’s “foreign” terms were interchangeable. I guess we should consider ourselves lucky it’s not called Pineapple Bourguignon…
This recipe is so easy to cook and goes a mad, almost flourescent yellow when you first mix the jelly and cream together:
The end result is lovely. The tanginess of the lemon and the pineapple cut through the heaviness of the cream so you don’t get that horrible creamy coating on your tongue. It is a lovely light and refreshing dessert. I’ll definitely be making this again and am already thinking about how I could use the same techniques with different fruit and jelly combinations – strawberries with strawberry jelly? Maybe my favourite rhubarb with raspberry and rosewater jelly… In the meantime though, just enjoy this as is!