I’ve noticed when flicking through the mags at the hairdresser that somewhere along the way we stopped using famous people’s last names. I find it all very confusing as I only see these magazines every 8 weeks on average, the only famous Nicole I know is tall with red hair and when I see a little blonde girl in the photo I am lost – in fact I am always hoping for a footnote to help me out.
But, if it is a way of expressing that some people are VERY IMPORTANT, then let’s talk about Stephanie and Maggie.
Maggie Beer and Stephanie Alexander are dear friends to each other and are Australian cooking legends. There are quite a few more legends of cooking in Australia, but the reason these two lovely ladies are so admirable is that they are also food growers.
They have been recognised as living legends, and honoured with their own postage stamps – good work Australia Post.
Stephanie is the founder of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation – an amazing program that teaches children in primary schools to grow, harvest, prepare and share food. This program has achieved so much but there is still a long way to go and I encourage you to support this if you can, either financially or by being a volunteer to help out at a school.
Maggie has always had the philosophy and demonstrated her beliefs on using fresh, seasonal, local produce – cooking with care and respect for the ingredients. She is also a bit of fun, here are her four tips for failsafe results:
- Find the freshest and best possible produce to cook, and treat it with care
- Keep it simple, especially when cooking for friends – don’t become hooked on showing off for dinner parties
- Get all the ingredients out before you start (if you are really keen, you could even measure them first)
- Have the right tools and equipment to hand
With all this in mind, you can probably imagine my heart rate and hyper awareness when I turned to look through the crowd at a function and saw Maggie and Stephanie together.
Now, I assure you if you ever find yourself in such an overwhelming situation there really are 2 choices – admire them from afar without staring too much…or, go and introduce yourself.
I chose to step towards them, and they were very gracious to break their conversation and let me in. I quickly mentioned my business and interests – then as I wasn’t there to promote anything I simply asked this: “How are your gardens holding up in this heat?”.^
And off they both went – telling me all about their battles with the heat (Stephanie had some damage to the Tomato crop, Maggie’s stonefruit were cooking on the trees) and we swapped some tips about using shadecloth and netting over the veggie patch. It was all over in about 30 seconds, as there was an event manager waiting to see them so I thanked them for their time and floated away.
I am so happy I took the opportunity, and so pleased to discover these ladies were just as fabulous and kind hearted as I always believed through reading their books.
Stephanie and Maggie were at this luncheon for Australia Day celebrations, and to be presented with gold versions of their stamps (seriously – and Maggie giggled when she got hers on stage!). They chatted with the MC for a few moments, and one of the best things they both said and agreed on was that even though they might be considered competitors they have found that by working together they could achieve so much more.
The video above was played during the event, and if it doesn’t make you smile and feel like there are some wonderful people here in Australia, well you must be reading the wrong blog.
Oh, and we had Maggie’s sparkling ruby cabernet jelly with black cherries for dessert. Heaven.
^ Magazine editors…this is a footnote. It helps readers follow along with the story without requiring all the details in the main body. In this case it explains that we were on the last day of a 5 day heatwave with temperatures over 42°C most days.