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The last leaves of Autumn


Autumn leaves are pretty special here — our native vegetation is often very beautiful, but the plants that have leaves that turn gold or orange or scarlet are almost invariably exotics, imported from the northern hemisphere. So when I spot some spectacular autumn display it’s a treat.

I spotted this in a neighbor’s front yard coming home the other afternoon. The sun was shining through the last few autumn leaves of this tree and they were lit up gorgeously, as you can see.

I drove on past, then stopped, backed up, and got out to take a few photos.

Two days later and we had rain and storms, and last time I passed it, there was just one golden leaf, hanging valiantly on. I didn’t stop to take a photo as the rain was pelting down and I was a wimp. <g>

I really miss the glorious Virginia Creeper in my old garden — one whole fence was covered in glory every autumn — but not only have I moved, the entire  back yard has been bulldozed down to mud, and the creeper, and all my other lovely plants have been replaced by bricks. All that remains of that garden are my photos. 


Branch Down

It’s getting chillier here as we slide toward winter. We had heavy rain and wind the other night and a large branch of my beautiful Silver Princess (eucalyptus caesia) tree crashed to the ground.

I had to get a friend around to cut it up with a chainsaw. This photo shows just a bit of it, after we’d moved it out of the way a little and cut off some of the thick part of the branch. It had landed on top of my xanthorrhoea (grass tree) and my car.  But the xanthorrhoea seems to be bouncing back and the car was undamaged.

The fallen branch had masses of white/silver gumnuts — so pretty, like ready-made Xmas decorations — so after I’d chosen some for me and a friend, I put more out on the nature strip, from where they’ve been steadily disappearing. Some of the clusters look like little candelabras.

Luckily the missing branch hasn’t spoiled the shape of the tree at all.  But there were masses of new buds on the fallen branch, so I guess we won’t get as many of the gorgeous flowers this year. (You can see what they look like here — and that’s the branch that fell down.)

Now my house is full of vases with the graceful twigs and leaves — it’s SUCH a pretty tree. The pic below is showing a vase between the temporary bamboo chairs where my newly covered lounge suite will go when it comes — hopefully towards the end of this month. And that little round table was made for me by one of my adult literacy students — he was 80 at the time. 


Curd Cakes & Pink Bunnies

I blogged some tima ago about gingernuts, a biscuit that quite a few of my heroes favor. Another sweet treat they enjoy is a curd cake — also known as a maid-of-honour, though I generally just say curd cake. A few readers have asked about these, so I thought I’d post a bit about them.

Curd cakes are made with soft cheese, which is a very variable term.  Some recipes say sieved cottage cheese, and some suggest something like Philadelphia cream cheese, maybe even the light version. My guess is, such an old recipe is probably very forgiving and flexible.

The recipe for the ones pictured is from this site, along with a little story about how they were named Maids of Honour by Henry VIII. But there are quite a few variations, so I suggest you browse a few recipes and pick one.
Here’s Delia Smith’s version. And this is Mary Berry’s. And there are plenty more – just scroll down.

 I haven’t tried any of them yet, but I plan to. I love to bake, but only ever do it when I know I have visitors coming, or am going somwhere and will bring something to share. Otherwise, if I just bake something for me, I will eat it all!

Yesterday a friend of mine was planning to drop in with two little girls and, since I wanted to use a couple of new biscuit cutters,  I decided to  make bunny-shaped and lamb shaped Easter biscuits with pale pink or white  royal icing. In the end I couldn’t get all the ingredients for royal icing (which dries glossy and hard) so I just used ordinary icing, with a tiny drop of red dye to make pink bunnies.

I’m no kind of decoration expert, so I just blobbed the icing on and smoothed it to the edges somewhat. I got better at it as I went along. The lambs were quite blobby with drips down the side.

I didn’t put any faces on, as I know when I was a kid I would never have eaten a bunny or a lamb with an actual  face! But a smooth pink, bunny shape, no worries. <g> And I did put tiny marshmallow tails on them.

Do you do any special baking at this time of year?