Tasmania's journal of discovery

Midland Morsels

Midlands Morsels
Favourite recipes from the heart of Tasmania (mostly)
By Susan Butler
Published by Starr Ink

This is an utterly delightful book.

You can read it like a novel. The plot is simple: intrepid reporter contacts a great many people who live in the Midlands asking for their never-fail family recipes and reproduces them in a simple spiral bound book that commemorates the spirit of our island, our pioneers and our fantastic home cooks.

Along the way you meet interesting characters, are tuned into some local gossip, and help a good cause.

The writer is an American who met her husband in India in 1985, married him in 1991, and came to call the Midlands home.

Gems of recipes

She has put together a compendium of home cooking. The same that the Duke of Edinburgh famously said he never got any of — “All I get is fancy stuff.” Well there’s nothing particularly fancy here but in its pages you will find gems of recipes that have been standbys — and stand-outs — for generations of Tassie women and men.

From the fact that all the recipes have been tested and tried, and tested again over many years, you know they’re going to work.

Better still, the people who provide the recipes also pass on those kinds of hints that glossier cookbooks rarely do. Take the advice that accompanies Potato Leek Soup (no contributor’s name given, not that that matters when it’s straight from the kitchen stove):

“Actually this is Vichyssoise, but I don’t bother about using cream instead of milk … Also I don’t bother with scalding the milk before adding it … why dirty another pan when it tastes just as good and speeds up the preparation process?” Adds our charming, and disarming, cook, “I serve it hot instead of chilled”.

Sheep’s-Head Soup

There are recipes from 100 years ago, from the 1920s and 1930s, an occasional handwritten entry, wonderful old photographs, and there is even a useful mixture for feeding rescued baby kangaroos, plus an indispensable page of handy hints that come from years of experience.

There are some fun stories too. My vote goes to the late Edward (Shima) Fitch, who made his esteemed Sheep’s-Head Soup the moment his wife, who detested it, went away for a few days.

It took thoroughly cleaning a sheep’s head and stewing it until tender, adding vegetables and stewing gently for a further six or seven hours — my sympathies lie with the wife! But he took care to enjoy the results and dispose of the remains before Sis, his wife, came home.

Part of the profits of Midlands Morsels goes to the Benevolent Organisation for Development, Health & Insight (BODHI) Australia, a tax-deductible charity that was founded in Tasmania and works in developing countries.

Providing a hook …

The Dalai Lama agreed to be founding patron in 1989, the same year he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.

As Susan Butler explains: “BODHI believes in providing a hook, not a fish. We have supported innovative and sustainable health, education, environmental and micro-credit projects in India, Thailand and Tibet.”

An example of the latter is the Revolving Sheep Bank that loans ewes and nannies to poor nomads in Tibet, which are repaid in kind after five years, thus enabling further loans to other nomads. Environmental project include such practical things as water pumps and water purification.

Learn more about BODHI at their website.Patsy Hollis

Next entry: The Mary Phenomenon

Previous entry: The Spud Wars

<< Back to main

STAY IN TOUCH. Sign up to be alerted when new content gets uploaded to Tasmania's online magazine. Enter your email address. We'll do the rest. We respect your privacy and this information will only be used for email alerts.

Pendragon Hall
Roaring 40s
Meadowbank Wines
Ruth Waterhouse jewellery
Slim Ink Book Rental
Mayfair on Cavell
Bush Beats: a walk on the mild side
Guided walks with experienced bushwalker and passionate naturalist, Alison Moore, who will interpret the secrets of the landscape and its living systems. Full day walks, half-day walks or two-hour walks.

Rod & Fly Tasmania
Mike Tanner, a 30-year veteran flyfisher, shares his skills at introductory classes, or guides the more experienced on Tasmania's renowned Central Highlands lakes. (03) 6266 4480

Attitude Taxis
Relax in luxurious leather seats as we deliver you in comfort to your destination. Airport transfers, Tours & Day Trips can be arranged. Call 0417 516 419 or 0409 783 343

Get Firefox!
Diamond Island
Norfolk Bay Convict Station

Tasmanian Jobs
Elizabeth College
Ray White Hobart
Book City Hobart
Stanton Bed and Breakfast
The magnificent convict-built country manor, Stanton, was built in 1817, and is situated on one of Tasmania's first land grant sites — 16 acres of pasture and orchards at Magra, in the heart of the historical and beautiful Derwent Valley.

Red Tag Trout Tours
Roger Butler leads this one-man Tasmanian guiding operation which caters to flyfishers, from all over the world, who share a common goal: getting a wild brown trout to hand.

Cobbers: mates on a mission
We've been looking at the future and it isn't working. But we can fix it, one blog at a time.

Bed and breakfast in Tasmania