Up behind my childhood home in Gympie was a magical garden overrun with emus, kangaroos, koalas and other iconic Aussie creatures - Warnie excluded! (For those who may not know who "Warnie" is - he's an Aussie ex-top cricketer whose latest
Gympie is a hilly town; the property mentioned nestled snugly on the side of a hill “up behind” our place; we weren’t in a gully, but were situated on a lesser incline, one street over. The garden art, topiary, was the result of the creative mind and skillful hands of Pat Rafter’s grandfather. Pat’s mother, Jocelyn and her brother Lloyd played “cowboys and Indians” and “cops and robbers” amongst their mystical landscape. Throughout my first year of high school my heart fluttered like a butterfly when Lloyd passed by. He was (still is) a few years older than I. In my active childish imagination (it’s still actively childish) he looked like Audie Murphy with a Tony Curtis twist. Fringed by lush black lashes his arrestingly attractive eyes were not unlike those of the young Curtis! He was what one calls “pretty”, but in a decidedly boyish way! How did I jump on board this rambling, rattling train of thought? Special meals I remember started it; not that you would’ve guessed! My mind frequently meanders in mysterious, questionable ways! I’ve enjoyed some unforgettable meals; one of which was a sumptuous roast pork repast in 1975; a piece of shoulder pork, as sweet, juicy, tasty and tender as fresh crabmeat! Another was a splendid plump rump steak feast my brother and I shared 1994 when I called Townsville home. King Island rump - so tender it could be cut with a fork! I dare to pronounce it was the best steak I’ve ever had! I salivate still at its memory! With mouths agape and accompanying “ooohs” and “aahhs”, we savoured the moment before attacking our meal with lustful gusto. The best mud crab feast I’ve had (and I’ve had many) was beneath a sparkling starlit tropical sky with the tray of the Hinchinbrook ute as our table! Unashamedly unladylike with crab juices running down my chin and icy Heinekens nearby, paradise was within reach! Dougie, a pro-fisherman from whom I bought barra, mackerel and muddies gifted me, for my personal consumption, six large, full bucks! My chef cooked them for me – a treat in itself! Bernie, one of my staff joined me in the “muddy-green grenade” demolition! My fourth birthday cake holds a unique position of historical importance for me - an ice-cream cake! The moment remains vivid when, with a smile on her lovely face and her rich auburn hair in a fashionable coiffure, my mother appeared before me bearing my surprise! Do we own our memories or do they own us?
Bestest-Ever Rump: Marinade:- 1/2c olive oil, 1tbl grated ginger, 2 crushed garlic cloves, a dash each of soy and Worcestershire sauce and 1tsp seeded mustard; add 2 thick rump steaks; marinate 1-2 hours. Drain; grill or pan-fry as desired. Rest steak on warm plate; cover with foil. Sauté a handful of halved Swiss Brown mushrooms in butter; add 2tbls each thyme, chopped garlic, chives and shallots; add splash of white wine or brandy; add some marinade to the pan; reduce by half; add 1/2c cream; cook 2-3mins. Serve with tossed salad and mashed garlic potatoes. Cider Vinegar Pork: Place casserole on high heat; add 5g butter and 1tbl oil. Brown 900g 2.5cm cubes of pork shoulder, a few at a time. Add another 5g butter and 1tbl oil to casserole; add 12 pearl onions; brown; add 150ml cider vinegar; stir, scraping base and sides; return meat/onions; add 4 thyme sprigs and 1 bay leaves; season; simmer; transfer uncovered to 170C oven - 1-1/4hr. Remove pork and onions; toss herbs; put casserole on heat; reduce liquid to half; whisk in 1.5tbls sour cream; add pork. Choccy-Treat Ice-Cream Cake: Leave 1lt vanilla ice-cream at room temp, 10mins. Chop 1 Mars Bar, 1 Cherry Ripe and 1 Violet Crumble bar into pieces in bowl; add ice-cream; mix well; spoon into round non-stick cake tin; freeze. Invert onto plate; decorate with grated chocolate, glacé cherries and crumbled honeycomb. Lee George