Author, gardener and ICT Consultant Marghanita da Cruz is a familiar face around the streets of Annandale, where she troves for inspiration and stories for her local history blog, Annandale on the Web. A keen chef and environmental maverick, Marghanita plates up some delicious stories about her own kitchen.
You have published five books on the history of Annandale, what first pricked your passion for local history?
Whenever I mentioned that I lived in Annandale people would start to reminisce. When I asked, they were were more than happy for me to share their stories and sometimes their photos and the Anecdotal History of Annandale on the Web began! My books also draw on personal anecdotes as well as documents.
You also do a lot of good work with the Rozelle Bay Community Native Nursery. What have you learnt working with that group?
In 1998, I also got involved with the Rozelle Bay Community Native Nursery and Bushcare group, which was spearheaded by Beth Buchannan. Beth was an inspiring leader drawing enthusiastic volunteers. While propagating, planting, weeding or sharing a cuppa, volunteers solve the world’s problems. We are learning about the local vegetation, which we have successfully reintroduced around Annandale. This sustains the native birds who rely on these plants for survival.
What is Annandale’s biggest secret?
Our wonderful footpaths.
Do you use any Indigenous plants in your cooking?
My first introduction to lillipillies was being invited to try the fruit from a tree over the footpath on Booth Street. At the annual Footprints ecofestival, I purchase dried bush tomato, pepperberries and quandong jam. I love using the purple fruit, Dianella, and Warrigal Greens with Kangaroo. Perhaps one day, we will again be able to eat the oysters from Sydney Harbour.
What is your favourite thing to make for friends?
For my Christmas party, I make a Kangaroo Terrine, which goes particularly well with sparkling shiraz. For lunches it is usually whole sardines in garlic. I love okra and make special note of friends who share this taste. Sustainable fresh ingredients are my mantra.
The Kangaroo Terrine is best made a day or two ahead and kept in the refrigerator.
1kg of kangaroo mince (available from Supabarn, Annandale)
250g of macadamia nuts (if unsalted, add a teaspoon of salt to mixture)
Teaspoon of ground mountain pepperberries (or freshly ground black pepper or can of green peppercorns)
Teaspoon of dried bush tomatoes (or oregano)
6 bay leaves
Rashes of bacon to wrap terrine
1 medium onion chopped finely
1 clove of crushed garlic
3 tablespoons of macadamia or olive oil
Put mince, macadamias, pepperberries, bush tomatoes, onion, garlic, beaten egg and olive oil in a bowl and mix well.
Place bay leaves decoratively in bottom of baking dish (this will be the top of your terrine). Line dish with bacon rashers. Spoon mixture into dish and lay bacon rashes on the top.
Cover dish and place in bath in a moderate oven for 1.5 hours. Remove from the oven, place a weight on top and allow to cool, then refrigerate.
Serve with crusty bread and quandong or lillipilli jam.