It's the eve of Thanksgiving in the States. Although the first Thanksgiving was celebrated to give thanks to God for helping the pilgrims survive the brutal winter, it's now a non-secular holiday with no gift-giving or guilt, unless you count overeating. Which brings me to the three important F's - Food, Family and Football. Yup, we stuff the turkey, stuff ourselves and then hit the couches and recliners to watch football and more football in a tryptophan-induced daze.
Naturally, a lot of locum doctors and their families who are living in Australia and New Zealand like to celebrate, but it's not always easy to find a Turkey dinner with the trimmings. One says forget the turkey! They stuff themselves with Barramundi (a delicate fish) and Morten Bay bugs (or Bay Lobster) - and try not to think about missing the pumpkin pie while they celebrate with their new "makeshift family."
Still others, like Dr. Kathryn Starkey, choose to celebrate in a whole new way. She and her partner, Molly Evans (who's an incredible cook, by the way), recently discovered "Damper" or "Bush Damper" - a bread that's crusty and crunchy on the outside and soft inside. Damper often sustained the early colonial settlers who explored Australia's remote and harsh landscape for months at a time because the ingredients are basic and easily transportable for long journeys. It was slowly baked in the hot ashes of a fire, or cooked in a Dutch oven, and then eaten with whatever condiments were handy, like slices of meat, golden syrup and a mug of hot, sweet black tea, known as "Billy tea".
Whether it's with Billy tea over an open fire or English tea at the Hilton, Australian cuisine is always an experience - even on an American Thanksgiving table. And whether you're baking in an oven or cookin' over a fire, Dr. Starkey's Damper recipe will work for you.
2 cups self raising flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 and ½ cups milk
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons butter
Extra flour if needed
Add milk slowly and mix to form a soft dough. Knead lightly on a flour board until smooth. Shape into a round loaf, brush with milk and cut a cross on the top. Place dough in a round pan and bake at 375° F for 30-40 minutes. If you're using a campfire to cook, cover with hot ashes and coals and bake for 30 minutes. Gobble it up!