Bestselling Tasmanian author Rachael Treasure shares a quiet moment with her Waler stallion Akbar as they peruse her recently-released novel — The Rouseabout.
Rachael also writes a very popular web blog — Treasure’s Tales — where, in her own laconic voice, she documents the ups and downs of country life … its about life on a farm, not a country weekender …
Rachael has joined our team at thisTasmania and will contribute a regular Letter from the country.
Here’s her first Letter … an ode, sort of, to the humble swede which freckles Tasmanian paddocks during winter.
This spring, when I next get a poddy lamb to raise, I’m going to call it “Neeps”. Its the Welsh term for swede and when ‘bashed’ with butter is a delicious golden dish.
Our district of Levendale is famous for its swede. So much so, we have an oversupply of them in our farm kitchen.
This winter, when trying to invent new ways of eating them, I discovered the wonderful word, neeps, in my Stephanie Alexander cookbook.
With our bleak long winters in this district, we grow swedes, turnips and rape as fodder crops for our sheep and cattle. Giant things that the stock, wallabies and possums sink their teeth into while they’re still in the ground, turning them into white bowls.
The trend now in fancy-pants grocery stores in the cities is to sell both turnips and swedes as more marketable small round bulbs.
A shame, as the giant swede tastes so much sweeter.
They can be a big as a babies head … as my baby daughter Rosie demonstrates with her friend, “Sven da Svede.” (As you can see, entertainment in the country is entirely ones own responsibility. Strolls with babies to coffee shops and parks to meet other mums is not an option here!)
A downside of eating swedes are of course the prevailing ‘winds’ that result.
After trying to eat our way through ten kilos of swede it’s rather breezy in our house this winter … but on the upside, it provides more delightful family entertainment for simple country folk like us.
Editor’s Note: The Rouseabout has sold 55,000 copies [June 30 2007] and it looks as if Penguin might be preparing for a reprint.