Olive trees grow in South Australia on just the scent of rain and the poorest of soils. They are shockers to remove but as they are extremely flammable local councils do their best to get most of them out of the bushland around here. It’s a three person job to get one tree out – one person with a chainsaw, another person standing by with a drill and another with a bottle of poison, and maybe even another standing by with a bobcat, a box of matches, a can of petrol and a cup of tea for everyone.
You have to cut the tree to ground level, drill deep holes in the stump and then pour poison into the holes immediately. Very labour intensive work, so the councils can’t afford as much olive eradication as they’d like. They used to cut the trees down, then cut the branches into good firewood size and then down tools and leave piles of olive wood everywhere. Not the smartest fire prevention strategy if you are hoping to reduce the fuel load. But maybe they knew we were there, lurking behind a clump of scrub, wheelbarrow at the ready, eyes shining with firewood lust and itching to solve their problem.
Council guys move on, we move in. Its hard work hauling firewood up a rocky slope but memories of how cold it gets in the Hills spurs us on to feats of endurance. We could secure a whole winter’s firewood with a weekend of hard labour. Now the council poison the trees and haul the branches away and we spend quite a few cold nights forlornly watching our stash dwindle.
In these parts, free firewood is a prize. A prize worth fighting for and few trees fall and are allowed to rot quietly into the soil. I’ve heard stories of a road on the other side of the ridge where a car ran into a large eucalypt and before the shocked, but unharmed driver, could even call the police two men from separate dwellings raced into the street with their chainsaws, eyes afire with wood lust. Could be an urban myth, but I doubt it.
We have three olive trees on our property. Two arrived via a passing bird but the third is a Giant Kalamata given to us by a relative who runs an olive orchard. The two feral trees thrive in this harsh environment, the pedigree olive tree struggles. Yesterday we harvested a couple of buckets of black olives from the two trees and will spend the next few weeks fiddling about with water and salt as their bitterness is leached away. Then they’ll be packed in jars with garlic and rosemary, placed somewhere dark for six months and forgotten.
Then one day we’ll find them again. They’ll be delicious and their meaty salty flesh will be a reminder as to why we allow our own olive trees to endure when in the bushland all around us the war against olives rages on. But I know who will ultimately take possession of this rocky, forbidding hill.
I baked an American Pound Cake in a Bundt cake tin today and while I prepared the cake mix I wondered about the tin. Why is it called a ‘Bundt’ tin. The German words Bundestag and Bundesrat came to mind, and die Bundesrepublik Deutschland, the proper name for Germany. So did the Bundt tin originate in the German parliament perhaps?
The word ‘Bund’, according to Wiki, refers to ‘a bunch of people’, so the governmental use of the word makes sense. A Bunch of People Cake? Well, a cake is usually eaten when people gather together, as a cake is fundamentally a ‘group’ item. But what’s with the ‘t’ at the end?
Domestic history interests me, so I had to go further. I had to know. The ‘Bundt’ tin originated not in the German Republic’s parliament, but with an American marketing company. Who would have thought? The use of ‘Bundt’ is similar to Ikea’s use of Swedish words for each item they sell. The word carries the clean fjord and pine flavour the marketing people like to sprinkle on their campaigns. Anything Nordic has mystique at the moment, (except in Scandinavia probably), even in publishing where thriller/mystery novels set anywhere north of Copenhagen are hot. And closer to home I have a niece who works in Sven’s Viking Pizzeria and they do a brisk trade, so she tells me. Mario’s Pizza or Giovanni’s Pizza just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Back to the Bundt. Bundt tins are the product of a Minnesota based kitchen ware company, Nordic Ware. They introduced the Bundt tin in 1950 and no doubt added the ‘t’ to lend that exotic Nordic feel to the product. Fjords and meatballs had allure even in 1950.
For thirteen years the Bundt tin failed to sell in reasonable numbers and Nordic Ware were about to drop the tin from their catalogue. The cake makers of America cared not for this odd shaped pan, until in 1963 Good Housekeeping featured a cake called The Tunnel of Fudge, which had been baked in a Bundt tin. Sales of the cake tin soared, out-selling Jell-O moulds. (Jell-O is an American delicacy I have yet to encounter but first heard of when reading a St Trinian’s book as a teenager).
Nordic Ware has sold sixty million Bundt tins and have designated November 15 as National Bundt Day. I too would have a national day for my product if it sold sixty million units. It’s not going to happen, but one can dream.
I bought my own Bundt tin years ago because it had a pleasing shape, looked like it might be a challenge to use and had – I have to admit – a certain Germanic appeal. I felt that my cakes would be taken more seriously if they emerged from such a tricky vessel. Anybody can mix a cake in a food processor, slop the mix into a silicon mould and whack it in the oven, but make a cake in a Bundt tin and you are looking at major Woman’s Weekly/Country Women’s Association levels of cake making.
Until today I’d always thought the Bundt tin was a survivor of the Edwardian passion for moulded foods, but as I see, it’s not. However, having rediscovered it at the back of the cupboard I am going to have a crack at making an Edwardian fruit jelly. These are time consuming and fiddly to make apparently and the results are probably much less delicious than the natural fruit, but the fun – as always – is in the making.