GROW FOOD slow food Have your garden and eat it too. A practical guide to organic gardening in the sub-tropics with step-by-step instructions and delicious seasonal recipes. Come with me too on some of my travels in Australia, Europe, Asia and beyond.

SMELLS CAN TAKE YOU ON A REAL NOSTALGIA TRIP.  For me the pending excitement of my childhood Christmases started by walking into a warm house, from the outside frosty air, to the wonderful smell of our Christmas tree (Norwegian spruce) and rum infused cake cooking in the oven (one that my brothers and I had to stir with a big wooden spoon, make a wish, then fight over who was going to lick the spoon and scrape out the bowl).  These days it’s the heady fragrances of the summer garden, MANGOES – and rum infused Christmas cake cooking in the oven with the grandchildren fighting over the bowl.

Living in the sub-tropics there are mango trees everywhere, but we are lucky to get a good season and a decent crop.  Early springtime has me eagerly watching the weather when the mango trees begin to flower and then set their fruit,  as a really big storm or high winds just knocks them all off.  Mind you, when we get a good season there are almost too many to use and, as my neighbour says “It’s like living in Beirut” with the heavy fruit falling onto her tin roof and exploding “just like a grenade going off”.

Luxury, for my grandchildren, is having a whole mango to themselves – best of all eating it without worrying about the drips and the best place to do that around here is on a sandbank of the Brunswick River at New Brighton at low tide – wish I had had the camera!

I HAVE BEEN MAKING THIS TART FOR OVER 35 YEARS.  It’s a real family favourite, and and the recipe has been passed on to dozens of people.  I’m not sure where I got the original from – it’s one of those on a scrap of yellowing paper with very frayed edges, but my new son-in-law paid it the ultimate compliment when he recently tried it for the first time “Di, this is restaurant quality”.  It sort of ticks all the boxes as far as making deserts are concerned:  Simple ingredients, easy to make – no cooking required, looks fantastic, tastes sensational.

MANGO CREAM TART  (serves 8)

250g sweet biscuits (plainish ones like Nice or Tea biscuits)
125g butter melted
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large ripe or 3 medium mangos
Juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes
1/2 cup caster sugar
4 tsp gelatin
1/4 cup hot water
200ml pure cream

1.  Crush the biscuits into fine crumbs.  Now you can have a bit of fun with this by placing them in strong plastic bag and bashing them with a rolling pin, but I usually pulse them in the food processor (it’s usually a measure of what kind of day I’m having – pulse or bash!)
2.  Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the biscuit crumbs and cinnamon and combine.
3.  Press the mixture into the base and sides of a 25cm springform pan.
4.  Chill in fridge to set.
5.  Peel mangos and pulse flesh in food processor with lemon juice and sugar.
6.  Sprinkle gelatin over hot water, stir until dissolved.
7.  Whip cream until it forms peaks.
8.  Combine mango mixture with gelatin and cream and pour into biscuit base.
9.  Chill in fridge until firm.  Serve with cream/passionfruit/extra mango etc.

Mango Cream Tart – decorated by Leila 6


Salmon gravlax with homemade blinis

Belinda Jeffery’s last minute Christmas cake

Festive cheesecake

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