Australia is world-renowned for its Neighbours. Good neighbours become good friends - its a tune the whole world sings along too. Truth be told, living in Australia is considerably less dramatic than the TV show would have you believe.
I've been an Australian resident for 39 years now and I'm yet to be the subject of a car bombing, accidentally impregnated with someone else's child or discovered my husband having an affair with my sister.*
There was that time when someone stole my identity, but that's about as close as life gets to Ramsey Street.
Our neighbours are small-crops farmers. They grow various fruits during the year - dragonfruit, eggplant, persimmon, strawberries, lychees and figs. They're some of the hardest working people I know - rushing from harvest to harvest depending on the season.
We've become friends over the past twelve years. Most recently in a combined effort to try to stop the approval of a telecommunications tower next to our farms. The objection has monopolised much of my time over the past few months, you may have noticed that I haven't been sharing many recipes. Truth is, it's hard to get excited about corn salsa with a fifty-six metre monstrosity looming over your shoulder.
Our objections have been registered with Council and there's nothing to do but wait and hope that they make the responsible decision.
After one of our tower discussions, Pina gave me a box of beautiful ripe figs. There was nothing to do but turn them into heavenly fig paste and return a jar.
how to make fig paste
Yield 1.2 kilos
What's more satisfying than a really great cheese platter? Accompanying it with fig paste you made yourself! Learn how to make deliciously-gooey fig paste from four simple ingredients.
1.5kg ripe figs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup shiraz
30g Jam Setter
Trim then puree the figs. Combine the puree, sugar and shiraz in a large saucepan.
Bring to the boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer for two hours.
Stir in the jam setter, bring the paste back to the boil. Boil for two minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool.
Store in sterilised jars, ready for your next cheese platter!
I lie about the lack of tv-worthy drama with our neighbours. Yesterday morning, the Big Sister stuck her finger into a wooden piece of our noughts and crosses game. It started swelling at an alarming rate and none of my normal tricks could remove it.
I made a panicked call to Bearhands beseeching him to meet me in the shed to perform an emergency nought-ectomy but he was at the other farm. I was making other plans when Pina's son Giuseppe coolly rolled in on his motorbike, bearing a box of dragonfruit and persimmon.
Could he help us?
NO WORRIES. He reached into the tool box we were standing next to, selected his preferred surgical implement and removed the offending zero in one swift motion.
"I don't think she'll do that again Amanda" he said.
"Not if she wants to continue playing the recorder" I replied.
do you have good neighbours?
what's your favourite way to eat figs?
*Admittedly, I don't have a sister but even if I did I think the likelihood of that happening is probably over-represented in the show too.