Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's official - the Blue Ribbon Cookbook is a bestseller

The Blue Ribbon Cookbook found it's way onto the Top 10 Bestseller list in South Australia this week, much to the excitement of author Liz Harfull and the team at Wakefield Press. Astoundingly, the book outstripped in sales the recently-released second version of Australian cookbook phenomena '4 Ingredients'. A second edition of the tribute to country show cooks and their prizewinning recipes has been ordered, only a few weeks after the main shipment of the first edition hit book stores. But there are no guarantees the next edition will arrive in time for Christmas so Wakefield are encouraging people who are thinking about buying copies as gifts to do it sooner rather than later.

Barb's cheesecake the best

Barb Smithies amazing baked cheesecake wowed cookery judges at the Callington Show on Sunday, taking out the championship ribbon. But local Blue Ribbon Cookbook cook, Cherrol Wundersitz, didn't do too badly either, winning another prize for her curried zucchini relish which is featured in the book. Cherrol and author Liz Harfull were on hand to sign books for patrons at the which had one of its best crowds yet. The youngest show in the State, the event only started about seven years ago and continues to build in popularity, with more than a few city visitors dropping in to discover what a country show is all about.

Well just look at me now...

The indoor section at the Mount Gambier Show took on a fresh and impressive look this year with competitive classes being displayed in stylish new cabinets. The cases onced graced the floor of the Royal Adelaide Show pavilion housing cookery, cake decorating and handicraft competitive classes, but they weren't needed any longer with the completion of a brand new pavilion earlier this year. Despite unseasonably hot weather (over 30 degrees C on Saturday) the Mt Gambier Show attracted a healthy crowd, with many finding sanctuary in the cool show hall. Apart from the usual array of baking and preserves, they also had the chance to view entries in the regional final for the State rich fruit cake and genoa cake competitions. Shirley Harvey, from Strathdownie, who has won the rich fruit cake title seven times, won the regional qualifier again this year, and Gloria Buck, from Millicent, took out the genoa cake semi. Both women will now contest the state finals in September 2009.

Everything's coming up roses at Penola

One of the highlights of the annual Penola Show is its $1000 rose competition. It's a tribute to the strong traditions of a town which supports Australia's famous Coonawarra wine region, and the longstanding links between grape and rose growing. The local show society presented author Liz Harfull with a beautiful rose bush to thank her for speaking at a special afternoon tea in Penola last week. The event aimed to encourage people to buy The Blue Ribbon Cookbook and enter cookery and preserves classes at the show which will be held on October 31 and November 1. It also brought together again Liz and the two junior cooks from Penola featured in the book - Bella Minge and Caitlin Fulton.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Eat your heart out Nigela...

Uraidla show cook and beef cattle producer Jean Evans proved a hit when she and author Liz Harfull made their debuts as cooking demonstrators at the very popular Adelaide Showground Farmers Market on Sunday. A little nervous about the experience, Jean turned out to be an absolute natural, even while comparing herself unfavourably to television cook Nigela Lawson. Jean showed an enthusiastic audience how to make her prizewinning apple squares, a fantastic apple shortcake recipe passed on to her by her mother-in-law who was a World War I war bride from Scotland. Jean brought along her favourite backing pan, a tin made from a Mottram's flour tin lid during the Depression years and used faithfully ever since to make the squares.

Mavis does it again...

Temperatures topped 30 degrees C at Coonalpyn on Saturday but it didn't deter people from supporting the local show where ABC radio personality Peter Goers was a hit. Peter loves visiting regional areas and paid tribute to country people and the enormous contribution made by volunteers to community life during his opening speech. Among the crowd was prizewinning show cook Mavis Klitscher who has been going to the show since it started more than 60 years ago, with her father as president. Although Mavis doesn't cook any more she tries to enter at least one class in the indoor section, to keep in tact her record of competing in every single show. This year she only entered one thing - a gerbera in the cut flowers section - and won champion flower. Go Mavis!

Back home...

One of Liz Harfull's earliest memories is lying in bed listening to the arena announcements start up on show day, just a few paddocks away from the farm where she grew up at Mil Lel. It was a signal that it was time to get up and enjoy the excitement of show day. Years later and the sound is the same, according to Liz who returned to her 'home' show as a special guest on October 11. And what a day it turned out to be. Held in absolutely perfect spring weather, the event attracted a record crowd and an expanded program of displays and attractions, including a staggering seven rings for horse events. Not bad for one of the only two district shows (as opposed to a show held in a township) still being held in South Australia. Overseeing activities in the hall was convenor and local show cook Margaret Douglas, pictured with her daughter Helen, who was on hand to help.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Minlaton Show celebrates 130 years

Despite a few early showers of rain, locals and people visiting Yorke Peninsula for the school holidays, turned out in large numbers for the Minlaton Show on Wednesday. The society was celebrating a very special occasion - its 130th event. The grounds feature one of the oldest show buildings still in use, and the home of its indoor competitive classes. While the cookery and preserves entries were outstanding, it was the number and quality of entries in the floral and pot plant classes that really drew the admiration of showgoers. Read more about the show...

MASH takes Minlaton

Young Angus McEvoy thought outside the square when he came up with this prizewinning entry at the Minlaton Show on Wednesday. Angus decided to pay tribute to the popular US sitcom set in the Korean War, in a special class for decorated trays with a TV theme. Not sure the judges would have seen too many heaps of cold potato in this class before, but it draw more than a few chuckles from people as they explored the indoor exhibits. Good one, Angus!

Go Marj

Kingston cook Marj Maczkowiack was undoubtedly the star of this year's Kingston Show which attracted a bumper crowd to the popular Limestone Coast event on Sunday. No sooner had regional show association president Garry Possingham launched The Blue Ribbon Cookbook than queues of people starting forming to buy copies and get Marj to sign them. Queues are nothing new for Marj - people line up in the town's mainstreet every Easter to buy her astounding sponge rolls from a community fundraising stall. Now in her 80s, Marj still cooks through 24 hours before the show to prepare her entries. This year she was rewarded with a perpetual trophy for her cockles (which she has won 11 times according to proud husband Rodney) and the aggregate trophy for the open cookery section. At the end of the afternoon a large crowd gathered for the trophy presentations, with secretary Kathy Wright and committee member Judy Taplin pictured doing the honours.

A little bit of magic at Bordertown

Perfect spring weather brought plenty of young families out for the annual Bordertown Spring Festival last Saturday. Liz officially opened the festival, which is the current name of the traditional Bordertown Show. A ute competition and a visiting magician were highlights of the program, but one of the more unusual spectacles was this tame kookaburra, which was part of the popular animal nursery. It was fascinating to see this remarkable Australian bird so close up.