13 March, 2015
Due to popular demand, Liz Harfull’s first book about the traditions of country shows and show cooking has been reprinted in time for Mother’s Day 2015, and so has her book about the unique, historic seaside town of Robe.
The Blue Ribbon Cookbook was first released in 2008. Now in its 5th print run, it has become a classic for people interested in the world of country shows and traditional home-baking and preserving, with recipes and tips handed down through generations of show cooks across South Australia.
Also back in print is Almost an Island: the Story of Robe, which was released in December 2013 after more than six years of research, writing and photography by Liz. This beautiful hard-cover book of almost 300 pages, is crammed with contemporary images, rare historic photos, and stories and memories from generations of residents and holidaymakers in one of southern Australia’s best loved seaside towns.
Robe featured recently in the History Channel’s Coast Australia series, with Liz helping to tell the story of more than 16,000 Chinese who landed there on their way to the Victorian Goldfields, in what is described as one of the greatest treks in Australian history. The book also explores summer holiday traditions, one of the oldest surfing competitions in the world, still held every Easter at Robe, and the town’s role in establishing SAFCOL, the country’s first fishing co-operative.
In a recent review, History Council President of SA Susan Marsden described it as “more than another coffee table book”, “written with love and care… This is a well-researched, well-written and beautifully-illustrated history as well as a pleasure to browse.”
Published by Wakefield Press, both books can be ordered direct from the author (email email@example.com) or your nearest bookshop.
22 July, 2014
The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook has been rushed into a reprint after hitting the national best-seller list for non-fiction. The book reached No 4 on the charts tracking sales through book retailers last month, just a few copies behind chef Peter Evan’s cookbook and I Quit Sugar, which has dominated the list for a year or more. The book is also currently No 1 on Allen & Unwin’s own best-seller list as its top-selling title in Australia.
“It is very exciting and a real tribute to the show cooks I wrote about, and their generosity of spirit in sharing prize-winning recipes and allowing me to tell their fascinating stories,” says author Liz Harfull.
“In this day of celebrity chefs, reality television and fashionable food fads, its great to see that the stories of some humble home cooks and simple, traditional recipes handed down over generations are striking a chord with the public.
“Given my book contains enough butter and sugar to sustain Australian dairy farmers and cane growers for years, some of my readers have even jokingly suggested that I am restoring balance to the karma of the food world!”
Liz is preparing for a busy few months as the spring show season kicks into gear. She is due to make guest appearances at shows and author events across the country, from WA to Queensland between now and November.
You can keep up to date with news about coming events and the world of show cooking by following her new facebook page.
11 December, 2013
After some seven years in the making, Liz Harfull’s new book about the historic seaside town of Robe is being launched this weekend at a special community celebration. Almost an Island: the Story of Robe brings together original historic research and contemporary stories, as well as memories and hundreds of images gathered by generations of residents and holidaymakers. It has been published by Wakefield Press, with support from the District Council of Robe and private sponsors.
The book will be launched at the Robe Institute on Saturday (December 14) by Peter Cahalan, who was chief executive officer of History SA for 20 years and is now Industry Partnerships Manager with the South Australian Tourism Commission. Responsible for liaising with the State’s regional tourism organisations, Mr Cahalan is also a board member of the Australian Regional Tourism Network.
“We are delighted Peter is able to launch the book, given a background that combines both history and tourism,” says Wakefield’s publicity director Angela Tolley. “It’s the perfect combination for the book, which explores not only the early years of settlement when Robe was one of southern Australia’s most important shipping ports, but fascinating tales relating to its emergence as a favourite holiday destination.”
For more information about the book visit www.robebookproject.com
22 July, 2013
It’s been a busy few weeks despite the cold, wet winter weather in South Australia. At the weekend, Liz was a guest speaker at the Bookalicious Festival held at Burnside where she hosted Christmas in July with Dickens. Participants enjoyed a Christmas lunch of Victorian-era dishes featured in Dickens’s writing, while listening to Liz talk about her food writing experiences. Members of the Adelaide Dickens Fellowship added to the occasion with readings from his work.
The session picked up on a concept developed by the Adelaide Hills Foodies Book Club. Liz is convenor of the club which meets six times a year over a meal inspired by set books, either fiction or non-fiction, with strong food themes. Two years ago they tackled A Christmas Carol. The event was so successful it was repeated last year for a sell-out audience. On the menu at the Burnside event was roast turkey with sage and onion stuffing and celery sauce, boiled beef, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots and gravy, followed by mince pies and oranges.
Apart from brussel sprouts and cabbage, fresh green vegetables were not a big part of the winter diet in Victorian England, but things are slightly different in the Adelaide HIlls where horticulture is a major industry and there are several thriving weekly markets. Earlier this month Liz was a speaker at the fabulous Mount Pleasant Farmers Market.
It also gave her the excuse to catch up with local show cook Joyce Fendler who will be one of 70 cooks featured in the new national version of the Blue Ribbon Cookbook, due out in March 2014. One of the State’s most experienced show cooks, Joyce is sharing a mixed mustard pickle recipe. She often supplements produce from her own vegetable garden with purchases at the weekly market which is held under cover, making it a great option no matter the weather.
19 June, 2013
The Campbell Town community in Tasmania has paid tribue to pioneering wool producer, Eliza Forlong, with a statue unveiled in the main street. This remarkable woman introduced Saxon Merino sheep to Australia way back around 1830, and helped to change the thinking and future of Australia’s superfine wool industry.
Eliza and her family emigrated from Scotland and established a property just a few kilometres down the road from the farm where Nan Bray runs sheep today. When she decided to write about Nan in her book Women of the Land, author Liz Harfull seized the opportunity to tell something of her predecessor’s amazing story.
“When I am travelling around the country talking at author events I often ask members of the audience to put up their hands if they have heard of Eliza. Quite often no-one responds, but when I ask them if they have heard of Elizabeth Macarthur the response is very different. Just about everyone raises a hand,” Liz says. “It gives me the perfect excuse to try and shift the imbalance and tell people something of Eliza’s story. She was an astounding woman for her time, and its great to see Campbell Town contributing to efforts to see she receives the recognition she deserves.”
View Australian Wool Innovation’s brief video about Eliza and the unveiling of the statue.
8 March, 2013
A new edition of Women of the Land has been released this month (March 2013) because of the overwhelming response to the original version.
Capturing the lives of eight inspiring women who run their own farms, the book hit the bestsellers list for non-fiction in Australia just a few weeks after it was first released in April last year. The response was so positive that publisher Allen & Unwin asked Liz to write some new material for a second edition, updating the women’s stories.
“I was surprised how much had changed in all the women’s lives in such a relatively short time,” she says. “They have been through personal struggles, and like most farmers they have faced some tough times, but for most of them the recent years have been kinder, rewarding them for their courage, perseverance and deep love of the land.
“I have tried to capture some of that, as well as a sense of what happened when these eight women met each other for the first time. They all travelled to Adelaide from across Australia for the launch, which turned into this magical day. Even though they come from such diverse backgrounds, they connected immediately and that has led to this amazing, ongoing sharing of advice and stories between them via email.”
Liz says she is still overwhelmed by the book’s reception, although not surprised that people are drawn to the women and their stories. I feel so privileged that they let me into their lives. It was a great honour to meet them and have the opportunity to share their stories – a life changing experience for me both as a woman and a writer,” she says.
Signed copies of the new B Format Paperback available direct from the author for $20.00 plus postage (RRP $22.99).
4 June, 2012
Always wanted to capture for posterity those much treasured recipes handed down from one generation to the next in your family, or create your own recipe book? Prize-winning cookbook author Liz Harfull is presenting a special workshop in Adelaide on Saturday, June 16, 2012 to share her skills in art of recipe writing. Part of the SA Writer’s Centre regular workshop program, the afternoon session will reveal the steps you need to take to write recipes that are easy to follow and help the people who use them to achieve a successful result.
The workshop will give Liz an opportunity to share some of the insights she gained while researching and writing The Blue Ribbon Cookbook (Wakefield Press 2008), which captured the stories, recipes and secret tips of prize-winning country show cooks from across South Australia. A best-seller now in its fourth print run, the book was runner-up in the Best Easy Recipe Book category of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Paris in 2009 and short-listed in the World Food Media Awards in 2010.
Since the book came out Liz has been on a quest to encourage people to record favourite recipes within their families before the memory is lost. “I have had lots of lovely feedback from readers that the book has inspired them to realise the importance of making sure someone in the family learns how to make recipes that have been handed down through previous generations,” she said.
“I have my own sad story of a family recipe which an uncle used to make for us every week, and none of us actually took the time to sit down with him and not only write the recipe down, but ask all those important questions about technique that are usually not committed on paper. Realising the same thing was happening with the traditions of show cooking was one of the things that inspired me to write the book in the first place. And I soon discovered that writing recipes that draw in the reader and give them confidence to cook is not as simple as you might expect, especially if you are doing a whole book and want people to have the confidence to try another one.”
The workshop will be held from 2pm to 5pm at the SA Writers Centre, Rundle Street, Adelaide on Saturday June 16, 2012. Bookings are essential and places are limited. Cost: Members $55, non-members $77. For more information go to www.sawc.org.au or phone 08 8223 7662.
1 May, 2012
A new book which brings together the inspiring stories of eight women who run farms has hit the bestsellers list for non-fiction in Australia just a few weeks after its national launch. Women of the Land captures their ways of life, their personal struggles and their remarkable achievements in what is traditionally considered a man’s world. Published by Allen & Unwin, the book has been written by award-winning rural journalist and Churchill Fellow Liz Harfull, who grew up on a farm near Mount Gambier in South Australia.
“Even though people generally realize there are many women farmers out there, I suspect there is a belief that women only farm in partnership with their husbands, or brothers or fathers,” Liz said. “That is one of the reasons why I was so keen to explore this theme, made even more pertinent by the fact this is the Australian Year of the Farmer.”
Liz said she was also particularly keen to write about parts of rural Australia not considered the Outback, which was already the focus of many books and movies about the bush. “The vast majority of rural Australians live in more closely settled areas, which are rich in their own stories, traditions and characters,” she said. “This is the world I grew up in and know best because my family have been farming a small property near Mt Gambier in the South East of South Australia since the early 1860s.”
4 April, 2012
ABC Landline presenter Pip Courtney today launched a new book featuring stories about women farmers at a special gathering of South Australia’s rural press club. The Rural Media South Australia event in Adelaide attracted a record attendance of more than 150 people, including rural journalists, farmers, researchers, agribusiness and politicians interested in rural issues.
Pip talked about her experiences as a Landline reporter and the changing roles and recognition of women’s contributions to rural Australia before launching Women of the Land, written by South Australian author Liz Harfull. “I couldn’t think of a more appropriate person to launch the book. It would never have happened without Pip,” Liz said.
“I was asked to do the book after a publisher at Allen & Unwin spotted me on Landline in a story Pip did about my quest for Australia’s best show cooks. She was looking for someone to help her tell stories of rural Australia from a woman’s perspective. It was one of those moments that most authors only dream about – a publisher coming to you!”
Among the special guests on the day were all eight women featured in the book. They travelled in from around Australia to attend, and have the opportunity to meet each other for the first time. “It has been a very exciting day for all of us,” Liz said.
Read Pip’s full speech or watch the Landline story about the launch.