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Time to slow down and smell the saltbush...

And touch, taste, admire and savour it.

As we commence another rotation around the sun, I’ve been taking some time to reflect…

Despite optimism and best intentions, the start of 2021 was a bit of a shaky start. A stumbling start actually - taking an unexpected fall and ending up in the Emergency Department of my local hospital on New Year's morning after temporary paralysis in all four limbs - scary!!

Whilst I'm not out of the woods yet medically (with a likely surgery looming), acute symptoms of the fall have largely subsided, allowing me to return to the things I love most in the kitchen - kneading bread, making dumplings, and playing with new recipes.

I was recently prompted to pick-up the beautiful book by Annie Raser-Rowland (with Adam Grubb), The Art of Frugal Hedonism (A guide to spending less while enjoying everything more), having first read it a few years ago. Whilst only part way through my second read, all of the sentiments continue to ring so true. In particular, the joys of growing, foraging and gathering. Being frugal, but not skimping on things that maximise pleasure and happiness, such as good quality, sustainably produced wine - life’s just too short to be drinking bad wine! And taking the time to relish with all of the senses - a privilege that I more deeply appreciate following my fall almost 1 year ago today.

To "relish" is described in the The Art of Frugal Hedonism as taking the time to savour the sensory experiences that come with everyday activities - such as stroking your dog's (or rabbit's!) silky ears between thumb and forefinger, or inhaling the eucalyptus oils being baked out of street trees on a scorching summer afternoon's walk home - as if you had paid for them.

A simple pleasure that has continued to bring me joy throughout the year (and Truffle loves it too!) is my old man saltbush. Old man saltbush is a native Australian shrub with silver-grey foliage, which continues to thrive in the sandy, coastal soils of my front yard, with very little attention from me - one of the benefits of growing plants that are more climatically suited to the local environment. Saltbush is relatively high in protein and minerals and its salty edible leaves can be harvested all year round - to be added to salads and stir fries, or shallow-fried with (plant-based) butter and garlic for a simple and elegant pasta accompaniment (similar to a crispy burnt butter sage sauce). But my favourite way to enjoy saltbush is by sun-drying it on my verandah or car dashboard and crushing the dried leaves into dust or flakes to make saltbush furikake.

With the close of the year permitting time to slow down with a pair of scissors and sips of wine on the verandah, I recently whipped up a new batch of saltbush furikake to see me into the start of 2022. I always have a little jar of this on hand to jazz up any savoury (and sometimes sweet) meal with a sprinkling of taste, texture and joy. It is great for jarring up batches to gift to friends and family too. I hope that there are many opportunities for you to relish in the coming year!

For the recipe to create your own jarfull moments for 2022, go to the Recipes tab and look for "Jarfull Condiments - Sprinkles - Saltbush furikake".

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