meet mr dudley

Christmas time. I love it so. Holidays, Summer, feasting, family and friends – a few of my most favourite things all rolled into one. So glad it’s here.

It’s hard to believe, but it was Christmas two years ago that saw the birth of stonesoup. I had been toying with the idea of starting a blog for a few months but had decided to leave it until I had some time to devote to figuring the whole thing out. I’d started a list of potential topics to cover (I know I know, I am a Virgo, not much happens in my world without a list) .

Close to the top of my list was a note that simply said ‘meet mr dudley’, and I must say dear reader, it’s been very remiss of me to have taken this long to get around to introducing you. You see Mr Dudley is my pepper grinder, an indispensable member of my kitchen family. He was a gift from my gorgeous little sister Nao way back at Christmas 1998. I still remember meeting him for the first time myself: Naomi had handed me a gift from under the tree with a card that simply read:

‘Dear Jul,
Meet Mr Dudley!
Merry Christmas.
Love Nao xoxo’

I began to think my little sis was starting to loose it…I mean at that time I had a boyfriend and really wasn’t on the lookout for another man in my life, especially not one who could fit into such a small box. With curious thoughts buzzing around my head, I tore through the paper to reveal a very handsome grinder made of wood with Mr Dudley proudly engraved on his base.

It was love at first sight really, and Mr Dudley and I have been together since. Actually Mr Dudley might be getting up there in contesting the title of the most well travelled pepper grinder in the world. Wherever I go, Mr Dudley goes. When I was moving to California he was one of the first things I packed. And I just couldn’t imagine my time living in France without my pepper guy to complete the seasoning on so many picnic meals straight from the markets. On my trip to the Northern Territory last year he was with me every step of the way from camping in Kakadu to checking out the sunrise over Australia’s most famous rock, Uluru.

When my other sister Sas gets married in Fiji next March, it would be unthinkable not to include Mr Dudley, he just loves a beach holiday. And while I know he’s probably a little nervous about our planned trip to India later in the year, I’m sure he’ll fit in just fine once we get there. After all, a chance to visit the land of spice…what self respecting pepper grinder wouldn’t be excited about that…all good things…

black pepper icecream
serves 4-6

Years ago I remember reading a Chris Manfield recipe in the Good Weekend for such an icecream and my first reaction was ‘weird’… but after thinking about it and now actually making my own, I am definitely a convert. So much so that now I am toying with the idea of spicing up other sweet creamy classics like panna cotta.

I like to serve this icecream all alone, with Mr Dudley on the table to add an extra hit if needed, but it would also work well as an accompaniment to luscious ripe strawberries or anything chocolatey.

2T (heaped) freshly ground black pepper
3 egg yolks
300mL pouring cream
75g (1/3)C white sugar
pinch salt
1C natural yoghurt

Lightly whisk yolks with pepper. Combine cream and sugar in a small saucepan and heat until almost boiling. Pour hot cream over the yolks. Whisk well then return to the saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture starts to thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Stir through yogurt and refrigerate until chilled. Freeze in an icecream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Enjoy.

Mr Dudley at Ayers Rock – photo by Missy Helgs

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Here’s hoping your turkeys are moist (and preferably stuffed with another bird or two), that your hams are glazed to perfection and that all your Christmas dreams come true. Enjoy your holidays whether they be beachey or snow-capped.

Love Jules

ps. To celebrate achieving the grand old age of 2, stonesoup is closing for a well earned break. I look forward to sharing more recipes and stories with you from the 7th of January.

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