Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Riverland renaissance

The Loxton show society organised a wonderful afternoon tea on Friday to host the Riverland launch of The Blue Ribbon Cookbook. About 60 people filled the town's small CWA hall for the event, which also raised money for the society. President Linda Wiltshire and secretary Lynn Schmaal were thrilled with the success of the day, with the society selling out its order of books. Author Liz Harfull talked about how she put together the book and shared stories about some of the cooks, encouraging people to enter in the region's upcoming shows at Loxton on October 5 and 6, Pinnaroo on October 8 and Renmark on October 25. Special guests at the afternoon tea included Loxton cook Joyce Braun, who shares her cinnamon coffee cake in the book, and Pinnaroo cook Dorothy Barker, who brought along one of her prizewinning chocolate layer cakes. It was the first time Dorothy had made the cake since her sister died. Dorothy tells the story in the book of how she 'lost heart and gave up' on making the cake after her sister died a few years ago. Liz is pictured top with Linda and Joyce.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Everyone a winner...

Wilmington turned on its best spring weather for their annual show on Sunday, where author Liz Harfull helped make presentations to the Prince, Princess and Show Personality winners. The competitions were extremely popular with young show goers, with more than 20 children lining up to participate. Judging was not too onerous a task - the winners of the first two competitons had their names drawn out of a hat and every participant received an ice cream and a gift voucher. No wonder it was so popular! Despite side show operators letting them down at the last minute, the kids seemed to find plenty to do, including riding around the arena in a grand parade of historic vehicles. There was a great community atmosphere at the event which had some very well supported indoor sections despite the small population of this historic town in Beautiful Valley. Indoor sections were well supported, with the fruit and vegetables, flowers and junior art classes proving particularly popular. A stunning cabbage grown by junior gardener Phillip won the champion vegetable, and this handsome rooster from Peterborough did quite well for himself in the poultry section.

Wheat over the centuries

A special feature at the Kimba show was a display, created by a local farmer, showing samples of major wheat varieties grown in Australia since the first years of settlement. The seed was provided by various research institutions. It included varieties popular in the Roman era, the first varieties bred in Australia, including Federation released in 1901, and popular current varieties. It was fascinating to see the difference in grain size and numbers, height, and maturity.

Not just about the book...

It is strange the things a writer can find themselves doing, especially if they take on writing a book about country shows. On Saturday, for the first time, Liz found herself officially opening an agricultural show - at Kimba - and helping to make presentations to two new life members of the local show society. She definitely needs to practice her badge pinning techniques, although at least she managed not to stab anyone in the chest.

Despite blustery weather there was a good turnout for the event, with some impressive entries in the cookery section, particularly the sponge rolls which were mouth-watering works of art.

And speaking of sponge rolls, a special treat was getting to share lunch with Wudinna cook Mavis Sampson who shares her honey sponge roll recipe in The Blue Ribbon Cookbook. Mavis travelled to Kimba to especially to meet Liz - the two had to rely on telephone discussions to create the Wudinna section of the book.

Many thanks for show secretary Janet King, local cook and convenor Dianne Hamblyn, and their colleagues for their hospitality. Janet is pictured viewing the world from the customer window of the secretary's office, which saw quite a bit of traffic on Saturday.

Liz travelled to Kimba with Bob and Margaret Rankin from Wilmington, who are featured in The Blue Ribbon Cookbook with their lemon butter recipe. The Rankins were called on to help judge junior handicrafts, and preserves sections at the show, but they also siezed the opportunity to take some entries along for the cookery section, and some entries from daughter Pauline for the handicrafts section where she won a trophy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The West is calling

Author Liz Harfull is off to the West Coast of South Australia this weekend to officially open the Kimba Show on Saturday. She will also be part of a local launch for The Blue Ribbon Cookbook and catch up with local show cook Dianne Hamlyn who provided her prizewinning chocolate cupcake recipe for the book. Then on Sunday she will be a special guest at the Wilmington Show.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On the Yellow Brick Road

Liz joined volunteers from country shows across the State at their stand at the Royal Adelaide Show last week. The display was part of the extremely popular Yellow Brick Road trail which takes people around the showground collecting food products. Liz spent time at the site most days, signing books and sharing stories about cooking and show cooks. She is pictured (left) with Uraidla Show secretary Rosie Schulz.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

First shipment sells out in five days...

What an amazing week it has been for The Blue Ribbon Cookbook. The first shipment of the book sold out in just five days, thanks to overwhelming interest by the media and patrons at the 2008 Royal Adelaide Show. The publishers are expecting the second shipment to be unpacked and in book stores by the end of the month. Apologies to disappointed show patrons hoping to purchase a copy during the event, which ends on Saturday.

Something in the water...

A few square kilometres of country covering the South Australian/Victorian border at the southern tip of Australia is proving to have more than its fair share of prizewinning cooks. The tiny farming district of Mil Lel, known for its lush pastures and high-producing dairy farms, is also home to Emma Kemp and Margaret Douglas. Born and bred on a dairy farm at Mil Lel and now living in the Adelaide Hills, Emma has won the 2008 aggregate trophy as the most successful exhibitor in open cookery classes overall at the Royal Adelaide Show, also winning most successful exhibitor awards in pastries and desserts. On the same day Margaret won the State Genoa Cake Competition, judged in conjunction with the launch of The Blue Ribbon Cookbook, written by Liz Harfull, who, you guessed it, is also originally from Mil Lel. And the State Rich Fruit Cake Championship was won by Shirley Harvey, who comes from Strathdownie, the neighbouring farming district on the Victorian side of the border. Another cook from Mil Lel, Beryl Hill, her daughter Judith Wood, and grandson, Geoffrey Wood are also feature in the book as champion cooks for the Mount Gambier Show where Beryl was the first woman president. Must be something in the plentiful underground water sources for which both districts are known... Pictured at the show are (from left) Geoffrey, Margaret, Shirley, Liz, Beryl and her husband, Murray.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Meet the author

Liz Harfull is having the time of her life this week at the Royal Adelaide Show - Australia's leading city-based agricultural show in terms of attendance per capita. More than half a million people pass through the show gates in eight days, drawn by an amazing mix of competitive classes for everything from embroidery (and cookery of course) to livestock, grains and dairy products. Liz is on hand most days between 11am and 1pm, and 2pm and 4pm, to sign books at the Country Shows stand in the Farm Expo pavilion. She will also be joining ABC radio presenter Peter Goers on his evening show, broadcast from the ABC site near the Secretary's Office on Wednesday evening, at about 8.30pm.

Life is a jubilee...

The humble Jubilee Cake is taking the spotlight this week thanks to the efforts of guest ABC cookery presenter Allie Reynolds, who featured the recipe from The Blue Ribbon Cookbook, during her regular monthly spot on Carol Whitelock's afternoon program.

Broadcast from the Royal Adelaide Show, the program yesterday featured Allie talking about the recipe and serving pieces of a cake she had baked to the crowd. Allie is fascinated by the history of the recipe, which is proving a little elusive. It has been spotted in cookbooks dating as early as 1928, but we are still trying to work out which 'jubilee' it celebrates. The latest theory, is that it was created in South Australia to mark the 25th anniversary of federation. We would love to hear from you at if you know more.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Blue Ribbon cooking with Rosa

Author Liz Harfull will be joining chef Rosa Mato in The Meating Place demonstration kitchen at the Royal Adelaide Show on Thursday, September 11 at 12.30 pm. Liz is not too sure how her skills as an author writing about mainly baking and preserves making is going to help her tackle the assignment, but why not come along and find out...

The new 'Green and Gold'

It has been an amazing few days in the life of The Blue Ribbon Cookbook, with 180 guests gathering to celebrate the launch in the stunning new Goyder Pavilion at the Wayville Showground in Adelaide. Local ABC radio presenter Peter Goers (pictured left with author Liz Harfull) officially launched the book, describing it as a "love letter" to country shows and country show cooks. And Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of SA president Charlie Downer forecast it would become the new 'Green and Gold', refering to the iconic 1920s cookbook that is still in print and found on shelves in almost every South Australian household. A highlight of the launch was the afternoon tea, featuring 30 of the recipes found in the book, made by the cooks themselves, who were guests of honour. They travelled from as far as Port Lincoln and Tumby Bay on the West Coast, Kulcurna Station, just over the Victorian/NSW border on the banks of the River Murray, and Mount Gambier in the south-eastern corner of the State.