Long time friends and lazy lunches

It was just going to be the most fabulous day… the sun was shining, the breeze was gentle, the house was tidy… and some very special guests were coming for lunch.

I could barely wait. It was years since I had seen any of them, and so much had happened in all our lives.

Who were they?

Only a small group of the most precious people in my life outside my own family. My school friends.

No, really. We had always been so close, but when school was over we all went in our separate directions.

Growing up in a beautiful rural coastal town was a great way to spend our teenage years, with long days on the beach, picnics in the bush, fish and chips down at the harbour, and hanging out at the ice-cream parlour on the main street – oh, yes, and, um, going to school – but life after school meant going away to uni if we were to grow any further.

...having fun and letting our hair down after the HSC exams

…having fun and letting our hair down after the HSC exams

We kept in touch, writing lots of letters in the early days (long distance phone calls were way too expensive for our student budgets, especially since one of our number actually went overseas!) and, of course, making the journey to attend each others’ weddings as we each shifted from studying to career and family life.

Then slowly it sort of became birthday greetings and Christmas cards, each writing ‘the letter’ (filled with the year’s news and, recently, carefully chosen photos), and actually getting together became an increasingly rare event…

…but we are still so, so close.

So, Em was in the country, and visiting our part of the world… could we arrange a meeting? Serendipitously, and most unexpectedly, Effie emailed about something, and Row doesn’t live too far away… so it was time for me to get my organising shoes on (a rare event) and invite everyone out to Seventy Seven Acres. A date was quickly chosen to match Em’s days in Canberra, and Effie was happy to drive for four and a half hours, while Row would pick up Em on the way through.

All that was needed now was a pretty table and a simple lunch, and old times would do the rest.

...a very simple start to a centrepiece for the table

…a very simple start to a centrepiece for the table

I settled on a frittata that I could whip up the night before and serve cold with a freshly made garden salad. I also made a simple dressing of lemon, lime and pepper in cold pressed olive oil, and used my new juicer to make a cordial of green apples and grapes with ginger and lime. The girls were bringing dessert, but I had a fruit plate with rockmelon (cantaloupe), grapes, and kiwi fruit, + some nice cheese and crackers, if needed.

 

... a simple meal ready to be served

… a simple meal ready to be served

Simple zucchini and bacon frittata with cheese

ingredients

2 or 3 rashers of bacon (trimmed and cut into tiny pieces) – I use a delicious biodynamic bacon, cured by my favourite butcher

1 small zucchini (courgette), sliced super thin

about a cup of your favourite cheddar cheese, freshly grated (so much better than the store bought pre-grated variety that is thick with anti-caking agents, and it only takes a moment to do) – more if you really love cheese (+ you can get creative and try different varieties if you feel adventurous)

6 large eggs (it goes without saying that I choose free range)

herbs to taste (basil & oregano work well – fresh or dried)

cracked black pepper (also to taste)

olive oil

method

1. coat a medium sized casserole dish (I like stoneware) with a fine layer of olive oil, preheat the oven to about 170-180o C, and make sure that you have chopped, sliced and grated any ingredients as necessary.

  1. start by frying up your tiny bacon pieces until they are just starting to turn golden, then put them out onto a piece of absorbent kitchen paper to drain off the excess fat and cool.
  2. Beat the eggs until all bubbly and frothy, adding in your herbs and pepper as you go.
  3. Put a layer of zucchini into the bottom of your dish, sprinkle with a layer of cheese, followed by a layer of bacon.
  4. Repeat, saving a little cheese to sprinkle over the top.
  5. Carefully pour in beaten egg/herb mixture and sprinkle the last of the cheese on top.
  6. Pop into the oven and try to be patient because this will take about 40 – 45 minutes – some recipes suggest that you can cook fritatta at 200o C for about 20 minutes, but in my experience this seems to lead to a runny middle while the outside looks quite ‘done’. Try it. It might work for you.

Serve up hot with veg of your choice, or chill for a cool accompaniment to a big, fresh, crunchy salad. It will comfortably serve 4 very chatty girl-friends, with some left-overs, but you might have to upsize for a family of hungry, rugby playing boys.

...simple zucchini and bacon fritatta, topped of with a garnish of freshly picked opal basil

…simple zucchini and bacon frittata, topped off with a garnish of freshly picked opal basil

And, yes, it was an absolutely fabulous day, and we reluctantly parted company at about 8pm, having laughed, cried, hugged and talked our socks off, pledging that it wouldn’t take that many years before we get together again.

They’re always welcome at Seventy Seven Acres… but, then again, there’s always a cruise up the Rhine to consider…