Old Jim, a stock agent of great standing in the community, was the man who sold me this farm. Having not yet had the corners knocked off me, it took a while to get a feel for his sales manner, which included hanging up the phone with a crash when I asked dumb questions and yelling “what do you bloody MEAN?” down the line…when I asked dumb questions.
But he was a lovely man, and taught me a lot, and one thing that he said (er…yelled) has always stuck with me; when that east wind blows, the season is shifting. I have no idea whether this is true, but over the years I’ve come to feel that it may be more true than not. It came whistling through the other day, knocking the zucchini plants off their feet, blowing leaves into the kitchen, and rubbing people and animals up the wrong way. Maybe I’m imagining it, but since then the mornings have been cooler, and there is that familiar and welome nip in the breeze that has us hunting under the bed for our slippers. If Jim is right, it won’t be too much longer before we’re barrowing the 11 inch logs over from the shed, to get the wood stove going.
Yet just two weeks ago we were still in the grip of those 40+ degree days, and on one of those days, as fate or luck would have it, we were scheduled to create highly meltable popsicles with the lovely ladies who had booked for the Petals to Popsicles event. My co-host, the fabulous and funny Michelle of Lucky Pops Ice Delights, and I managed to appear cool, calm and incredibly composed until the Thursday prior when the weather forecast for the weekend finally melted us into puddles of hilarious (in hindsight) popsicle related anxiety. However, Michelle’s inspired Plan D, consisting of 80 kilos of dry ice (yes, eighty kilos) in eskies in a mobile cool room worked an absolute treat, and in the end the popsicles froze so quickly and so hard that we needed to dunk them in hot water to release them from their moulds. Let me just say, on my behalf and Michelle’s, what a fab day, and er…phew.
Actually with the air conditioning in the house and a cool room that felt like minus 80, we did alright. We foraged in the cool of the morning, collecting berries, herbs, edible flowers, blood plums, white peaches, cucumbers, chillies, tomatoes, celery and all kinds of garden goodies, before heading back to the kitchen to work out our flavours, with guidance from Michelle and the fantastic notes that she had prepared.
Blending, pounding, taste testing and constructing saw us through the next few hours, and by lunchtime 54 incredible pops were tucked into the dry ice. After sharing a meal prepared from ingredients from the garden, and a lot of laughs, Michelle showed us how to extract our pops from the moulds and package them up for the trip home, but not before we indulged in a little tasting. The flavour combinations were amazing, and included cucumber, white peach, borage flowers and rose petal punch, rhubarb and berry, blood plum, lemon verbena, rhubarb and chocolate mint and coconut cream, cardomom and rose petals. So pretty, and so delicious.
A BIG thank you to Michelle for all her hard work implementing Plan D and for her insight and guidance on the day, to all our lovely guests for their company, creativity and sense of fun, to Pip Compton for her beautiful design work for the event, to Pip’s mum (Chris Howard) for the gorgeous hand made aprons (which our lucky guests took home), to Jo Ely, one of our guests, who not only captured the day through her amazing photographs, but was generous enough to let us show them to you here, to Damien, for keeping us all hydrated, and to Al, without whom these things really would not happen. Thank you all! And yes, we will be doing it all again next February. If you’d like to be notified of the date when it is confirmed just head over here and click on the ‘watchlist’ button. Too easy!
And by the way, if you have not tried Michelle’s own Lucky Pops, you really must. Her clever and innovative use of seasoning and flavours are something else; you can find her at special events around Melbourne, at Clay Fine Foods on Rathdowne St and, lucky us, at Stella’s Pantry in Warragul. She also caters for birthdays and parties. You can contact her and stay up to date with stockists and flavours on Facebook, on Instagram @luckypopsicedelights and via her website.
Scroll down to see Jo’s lovely pics from the day. Thanks Jo!