Cornish Pasties

Jack and Ethel

Jack and Ethel

This elegant couple pictured on their wedding day about a hundred years ago are Gran’s parents, both descendants of Cornish immigrants. Sometime in the mid-1800’s hundreds of Cornish mining families sailed to South Australia seeking their fortunes, or just a better life, in newly discovered copper and gold mines.  So many settled in the Copper Triangle at the top of Yorke Peninsula, that the area is now affectionately known as Little Cornwall.

With such a proud tradition, there is furious debate in Little Cornwall, over the recipe for the “proper” Cornish Pasty.  I have seen “Cousin Jacks” (or “Jennys”) foaming at the mouth when detecting the presence of the despised carrots .. think Sicilian when discussing pineapple on a pizza.

Salvia purpurea

Close up of a flower bract

Close up of a flower bract

This is the first year I have grown this lovely Salvia, and I am impressed.  I obtained the cutting in early Spring, planted it in the shelter of an Hibiscus, and crossed my fingers. To my delight, this is no prima donna. For seven months it has quietly gone about it’s business, in spite of minimal watering or attention through drought, competition from the Hibiscus and record breaking heatwaves that claimed the lives of several of its desert-descended brethren.  In early May I noticed the first of many lovely purple flower bracts shyly reaching for the sun.  I will move it once it finishes flowering however, as its current position close to the front path means it gets a battering from passing traffic.. especially the bins.

Market-day Leftovers Soup

Waste not.. want not.  When I come home from the market, I use up the “bits” of vegetables that would otherwise be consigned to the compost.  The pears (or apples) that got squashed (or last week’s orphans), the bits of the broccoli that no-one else eats, the tops of celery that go yellow really quickly,  an over-grown button squash .. the half a pumpkin too much to roast tonight.  The result is a thick, tasty soup that goes well with the crusty wood-oven focaccia that regularly comes home from the market with my vegetables.

Boston Style Black Eyed Beans

Gran's Boston Beans

Gran’s Boston Beans

This rather unimpressive, bland looking dish is an old favourite of mine.  Warm, smokey and filling, Gran had a dish of beans baking in the oven with her weekend roast.  Served up with jacket potatoes and cheese it was lunch the following day, fuel for the long trip home.  Eating it now instantly transports me back thirty years, and school holidays spent with my Grandparents.  Afternoons spent sitting mesmerised in Grandad’s shed as beautiful objects appeared from lumps of timber under the caresses of those calloused hands.  The sound of surf, counterpointed with Gran’s gentle voice as she worked her own magic.  I miss them still .. ahh I think I am going to find a hanky…

Nettle (Urtica dioca)




“Stiðe she is called, she confounds poison,
she drives out evils, she casts out poison.
This is the herb that fought against the worm,
this is strong against poison, she is strong against flying venoms,
she is strong against the foe who goes through the land.”

~ Translated extract from The Lacnunga, a 10th century Anglo-Saxon herbal

Common Names; Common, Bull, Stinging, Greater, String, Fire or Jenny Nettle.  Grande, Gross or Racine d’Ortie.  Chichicaste, Urtiga, Netel, Brennessel, Gerrais, Isirgan, Kazink, Wergula, Stinging-leaf, Hokey-pokey,  Nabat al Nar, Ortiga,  Stiðe, Burn Weed, Burn Hazel, The Arthritic’s Helper.