Fairy Bread is an Australian treat, comprised of buttered white bread sprinkled with hundreds and thousands. There is no real recipe for this sweet but there are a few non-binding rules. The bread should be sliced white bread, the spread can be butter or margarine, and the sprinkles must be round, coloured hundreds and thousands and not the rod shaped ones. (Hundreds and thousands are also known as nonpareils sprinkles). Fairy Bread is usually sliced into triangles with the crust left on.
Fairy Bread was first mentioned in a 1920’s Hobart newspaper article which reported children eating it at a party. The creation of Fairy Bread may have been inspired by a Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem called “Fairy Bread” published in A Child’s Garden of Verses in 1885.
“Fairy Bread” Come up here, O dusty feet! Here is fairy bread to eat. Here in my retiring room, Children, you may dine On the golden smell of broom And the shade of pine; And when you have eaten well, Fairy stories hear and tell.
Normally I’m a bit of a rebel and love to play around with recipes, but in the case of Fairy Bread, I’m a traditionalist! If you really don’t like crusts, I think cutting them off is fine. I also think cutting or rolling the bread into creative shapes is an acceptable tweak and a way to get creative with a basic, but very tasty, recipe. 🙂
I’ve recently discovered a less messy way to get the hundreds and thousands onto the bread. Instead of covering the buttered bread with the hundreds and thousands, which usually leads to the round, sugary balls sliding off the bread and rolling all over the kitchen, pour the hundreds and thousands onto a plate and press the bread butter side down into the hundreds and thousands. This is particularly helpful if you’ve cut your bread into unusual shapes.
With winter in full swing it is time for slow cooking. One of my favourite winter meals is corned beef gently simmered in spices. Start this recipe early in the day and let your mouth water as the house slowly fills with the aroma of midwinter spices. Hot slices of corned beef go great with vegetables and parsley sauce. The next day reward yourself with cold corned beef sandwiches topped with sauerkraut and sour cream.
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1.5kg corned beef or silverside
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 cups water
Place the carrots and celery in a slow cooker.
Rinse the corned beef then place on top of the vegetables.
Add the remaining ingredients.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
Australia is having a federal election on Saturday 18th of May. Two interesting facts about elections in Australia:
Elections are always held on a Saturday.
Voting in elections is compulsory.
As voting is compulsory, there is always a big turnout for elections and many polling booth venues use election day as a great opportunity for fundraising. As Aussies love a fundraising barbecue sausage sizzle, this has led to the creation of an election day tradition –
the Democracy Sausage!
Having a Democracy Sausage is seen as a way of both supporting polling booth facilities, which are often held at places that need extra money such as schools, community halls and churches, and as a reward to citizens for being forced to go out and vote. Having a tasty hot sausage in your possession goes a long way to alleviating the boredom of standing in a queue. Well organised polling booths can even take your order while you are waiting in line.
In its basic form a Democracy Sausage is a meat sausage served on a slice of white bread. Grilled onions and tomato sauce are optional extras. Some places may offer a variety of sausages, sauces and optional extras. There are even places that cater for gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan patrons. In addition to sausage sizzles, many booths also have cake stalls selling a variety of sweets.
Having a Democracy Sausage on election day has become such an important part of the experience that there are now websites which offer information on which polling booths are having a sausage sizzle and what they offering so you can choose where to go to vote. Now that’s what I call democracy!
February 1st is Lammas or Lughnasadh in the Southern Hemisphere. In the pagan calendar it marks the halfway point between the Midsummer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox. It is the first of the harvest festivals and the first autumn festival of the year. It is a time of thanksgiving and sacrifice. The name Lammas is derived from an Old English term for “loaf mass” while Lughnasadh is derived from the name of the Celtic God Lugh.
Back in my coven days we followed a Celtic calendar so we celebrated Lughnasadh. When I left the coven I tried to continue embracing this ritual but found it difficult. Using the name Lammas rather than Lughnasadh helped as I could focus on bread and the harvest rather than a male Celtic God. Unfortunately Lammas is celebrated in Australia during the hottest time of the year. Temperatures soar, days are hot and sticky and nights are warm and muggy. It’s hard to get into the spirit of a festival focussing on baked goods when you yourself are baking as long and hot as a Lammas loaf. So instead of baking bread, I thought I would concentrate on the thanksgiving part of Lammas and make a sandwich I had on a recent trip to the USA.
One of the things I am really grateful for is being able to visit my dear friend Anne on Whidbey Island in Washington State. She was a great host and tour guide and took us to some fantastic places to eat. For our last meal on the island we had lunch at Pickles Deli. There was so much on offer so I took my time devising the perfect sandwich. For the fillings I chose turkey with cranberry sauce and mayonnaise. This combination always makes me think of a thanksgiving dinner. Feeling adventurous, I did something I have never done before, I chose lettuce leaves instead of bread as my wrapping. My bread-free sandwich was a light and fresh taste sensation!
The great thing about this sandwich wrap is that you can make it with homemade ingredients or store-bought ones and you can also substitute chicken for the turkey. I’ve made it many ways and they have all been delicious.
You can read more about my travels and recipes from Whidbey Island and other parts of the USA in my book Bites and Pieces of America. 🙂