Yesterday morning after the ANZAC service we returned home for a quick breakfast then I gave Kathy some assistance in preparing for visitors. Then it was off down the range to Cairns to meet an early morning flight from Sydney. The weather in Cairns was the same as it was up top – heavy overcast and steady rain.
Daughter Ellie had arrived with three Sydney friends. We drove around some of the sites, but in the rain they lacked their normal appeal. We spent the afternoon with a clear conscience, watching the rain from our patio and sampling a steady stream of Kathy’s home-cooked kitchen delights.
This morning was a bit kinder looking, although typical tableland’s in nature. That is, utterly impossible to pick what will prevail in fifteen minute’s time, let alone the rest of the day. Being near the edge of the tablelands, about 700 metres above the coastal plain, our localised weather patterns are driven by variations in sea breezes and the humidity they bring up from below. Within half an hour we can go from sunshine, to misty drizzle, on to heavy showers of rain and back to sunshine again.
For today’s activities though, that was much better than set in steady rain. Today Kathy took the visitors off for a day of sightseeing. My challenge was to decide on what to have for dinner. By early afternoon I had to make a value judgement on our chances of having a fire-pit barbeque out on the open lawn.
Even though we have had a couple of hours of mostly sunshine I could see dark and heavy, low clouds to our west. The nearby Malanda was getting a soaking. I decided to cancel the barbeque. With grilled roo medallions now off the menu we were still keen to give our city folk guests a proper Australiana dinner.
Plan B was an old favourite, corned beef. There are any number of variations on how to cook a fine corned beef. With well-tested recipes dating from way back, passed down from our respective sides of the family, we have combined those and evolved what we reckon is a winner.
Not surprisingly, the key is how the corned beef is cooked.
Immerse the 2.5kg (5 lb) piece of corned beef in a pot full of cold salted water
- one large carrot cut into three or four chunks
- one medium size onion cut in half
- a fist-full of celery tops and chunks of stalk
- 6 or 8 cloves
- Two or three Bay leaves
- A good pinch of whole peppercorns
- A dash of brown vinegar (balsamic or red wine)
- Two tablespoons of raw sugar
Bring slowly to the boil then simmer gently in pot with lid on for four or five hours.
Slices of boiled silverside, served with both white and mustard sauces, steamed and buttered half potatoes, boiled cabbage, steamed carrot pieces, cauliflower au gratin and mashed pumpkin is one of our favourites.