Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stuffed Zucchini

So we grew up on stuffed zucchini...whenever one got away on the plant and came into the kitchen with tough skin and big seeds, Mum would stuff it with mince and cheese...YUM!
Being that I am a mostly vegetarian now, and we have a garden that also grows zucchinis of size, I needed to come up with a new stuffing plan.
Upon return recently there were a couple of large yellow zucchinis in the garden that my husband was particularly proud of!

Zucchinis first must be gutted - remove the seeds!
I remove the seeds after cutting the zucchini in half long ways (again, apologies for the strange angle of the image, I still can't figure out why it does that!).
I then made a rice, tomato mixture which involved sauteeing off some leeks from the garden, a cup of rice, a handful of chopped fresh tomatoes, a big handful of parsley and one and a half cups of water or stock - salt and pepper. I cooked this through, using the absorption method.
I then added it to the zucchini.
The next bit involves cooking the zucchini.
So I place the two halves together and wrap them in foil and placed them in a large baking dish.

This is then baked at about 180 degrees for 25-40 minutes, depending on the size and bulkiness of the zucchini. You want it to be soft in the middle.

The finished product was delicious and served with a garden salad (literally from the garden!), with lettuce, spinach, sorrel, radish, cucumber and celery.
You definitely don't want to eat the skin, but the flesh of the zucchini is melt in the mouth delicious!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tomato Tart

Well, I just thought this particular recipe was the most delicious thing I had eaten in a while and had to share it...whilst on the tomato rampage!
Soooo simple really!
I made a simple shortcrust spelt pastry (2:1 flour and butter - of course I use nuttelex) and blind baked it.
It is important to blind bake it well because otherwise the tomato juices leak out!
Of course you can use bought pastry - the gluten free pastries are not too bad!
Slice up some beautifully ripe tomatoes (in our case they were just picked off the vine that morning) grab a tub of bocconcini...and layer (tearing the bocconcini is the best fun)!
Bake in the oven until the cheese has melted and it is warmed through (between 20 min and 1/2 hour).
Serve with lashings of fresh basil and ground black pepper and devour!
Seriously, incredible!
We didn't even add anything else to the plate on this occasion, just ate the tart!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dried tomatoes

We are still dealing with the tomato glut so the other day I decided to dust off the food dehydrator my friend gave me and give it a go.
I sliced the tomatoes as you would to go on a sandwich and placed them in the dehydrator. It took about 8 hours all up.
I then drowned them in canola oil and put them in the fridge.
They are an AMAZING addition to a cheese platter, so much sweeter than the shop bought ones!
One day when I get some time I am going to make a sun dryer because I was very conscious of the power the dehydrator uses and am not sure how 'environmentally sustainable it is'...in the meantime, I keep the drying to a minimum and we enjoy the tomatoes in moderation!
Sorry about the angle...these are the dried tomatoes in canola oil! YUM

Monday, December 20, 2010

Not quite a Risotto, not quite a Pilaf

I was trying to figure things to do with my beautiful tomatoey puree but couldn't be bothered standing by the stove and cooking for ages (yes, it does even sometimes to people who like cooking!). I wanted rice, so thought I would make an oven baked rice dish. I haven't read a recipe for it before but I did recall a colleague of mine years ago making me a baked tomatoe (tinned) and zucchini rice dish way back when (in Coonamble actually, when I was doing a stint working there in the arts!)... I digress.
So..I have tomatoes and zucchinis fresh in the garden...it should be good!
Our leeks are also particularly lovely at the moment, they are just starting to get a bit of size about them and are still nice and sweet, so I cut one of those up for some extra flavour. I browned them off in a little olive oil so they were wilted and had releaed their pungent aroma.
Next I chopped a few small yellow and green zucchinis. I didn't even bother browning them off because they already looked gorgeous and I thought they might lose some of their integrity with extra cooking.
I added the leeks, the zucchinis and one and a half cups of rice to a baking dish. I added two tablespoons of my home made tomatoe puree and then added 3 cups of water to it and stirred it around some. I also added a little thyme and oregano for additional flavour.

Just before the cook off!
I covered the baking dish (which I might add I have owned since I left home in 1996!) and cooked for about 30-45 minutes in a moderate oven.
The finished result was light and fluffy!
The dish is done!
To garnish I added some basil leaves at the end, just wilting with the heat of the rice and lightly pan fried home grown eggplant (aubergine) which is DIVINE...and I cannot tell you how much more I LOVE eggplant than ever before!!!!
I also added some home made fetta cheese and a few drops of the tomatoe puree for colour and extra tartness.
For a boring throw together, I don't want to cook dinner dish, this is definately a winner!
It tasted even better the next day for lunch!

Tomato on Foodista

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tomatoes galore

We have tomatoes going rotten on the ground we have so many, or we don't get to them quick enough to beat the little fruit fly (damn it!)...but I have been doing some really gorgeous things with them recently - I will have a few posts on tomatoes!
First, the best thing to do with abundant tomatoes, like those below (one pick mind you!) is to turn them into a concentrated puree. I decided to attempt to make my own tomato paste.
Incredible vivid red tomatoes with an even more rich flavour!
First I chopped up the tomaotes into rough quarters (ensuring that I threw away any that had grubs in them...a very disappointing process some days :()
Cut up and ready to go in the blender!
Then they are tumbled into the food processor and blitz to within an inch of their life. All you are left with is a runny tomatoe soup.
At this point you could turn it into gazpacho if you like, though I am not fond of cold soup, so haven't yet!
I then add the puree mixture to a pot and simmer on a low heat for about 40 - 60 minutes until it is thick and most of the liquid has been evaporated or absorbed. What you are left with is mainly seeds, but the heady tomatoe flavour of this delightful brew is incredible!
Soooo much better than any shop bought tomaote puree you could imagine!
I rather like this arty shot!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rain brings abundance

The rain in our region is continuous and has been devastating for people who have been unable to harvest their wheat crops. I really feel for these farmers who, after surviving 10 years of drought were super excited about a bumper crop...and not it is sodden and lying flat in the paddock.
For us the rain has brought green to our life, which you have to be grateful for, particularly in this dry part of the planet!
Our veggie patch continues to produce gorgeous quality produce and despite a bit of white mouldy stuff on the zucchinis and cucumbers, which makes the fruit drop off or rot at the flower end, everything is growing incredibly - we haven't even watered for a week, which is FUN!
Incidently, I got a great tip for the white mouldy stuff on the zucchini in the supermarket yesterday (another local veg garden fanatic!) - take off the affected leaves and spray what is left with milk that has been left to sour. She said to make sure you get the affected leaves out of the garden as it spreads like crazy! I took all the leaves off yesterday afternoon and plan on souring some milk today to spray this afternoon, will let you know how it goes!

I thought I would share our December 1 haul with you, this will set your tastebuds up nicely for the goodies to come out of this delicious abundance!
December 1 veg haul - a small pick!
The first thing I did was roast the root veg, the last of the swedes and a couple of golden beetroot (hubby's fav) and enjoyed them with a delightful quinoa and zucchini slice (recipe to come!).

The last of the swedes were roasted perfectly!
In truth the swedes were a little chewy, I suspect we left them a little long (they were flowering when I picked them!), but the beetroot was, as always, to die for...sweet and earthy and moorish!
Have a wonderful day, whatever it brings!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The last of the mulberries

It has been an age since I wrote, mainly due to the fact that I have been on the road consuming only things that other people have cooked for me.
I have to say that this last trip (15 days) away was the best I have had in regards to my health, I had only two minor minor stomach incidents! I  suspect that my acupuncture master and the nuferm that I take are certainly doing their trick, that and I am getting much better at having emergency food in my handbag and am forcing myself to stop and eat!
Anyway, thought I would share a DELICIOUS mulberry treat with you, since the tree is now bare and the only delightful flavour packed treats we have left are in the freezer, waiting for one of those miserable winter days when you long for the taste of spring!

This mulberry smoothie not only tasted amazing (would have been heaps better if I had bothered to take the stalks out of the mulberries!) but was really good for me too!

Mulberry Smoothie
500 ml organic soy milk (or whatever milk you like)
1/2 cup mulberries ( you can substitute for any fruit you like or have handy!)
2-4 tbs plain yoghurt (home made in my case..YUM)
1tsp chia seeds
1tsp Nuferm Plus (high probiotic superfood stuff...GREAT).
1 tsp honey (I am using this incredible honey we found on the great ocean road it is RARE VEDIC ORGANIC HONEY and is raw, pure, unheated and untreated, you have never tasted honey like it!)
Handful of ice
Sometimes I even throw in a handful of muesli for extra crunch and carbohydrate!

Blitz together and enjoy as a fulfilling, satisfying and out the door quick breakfast!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A trio of zucchini and thyme

I haven't posted food recently, mainly because I have been away so much that I haven't really been gathering or cooking - the two days I was at home this week I did enjoy the garden though planting out beans, pumpkins and some spaghetti squash among other things. The thing that is really growing out of control is the zucchini - we have three types growing, yellow, green and a light green variety that I am not sure what it is. We also have the gorgeous patty pan squash coming up and they are a real treat when they are small and fresh with a bit of butter and cracked black pepper!

In order to counter the stock pile of zucchinis, I made a delightful three zucchini, leek and fetta tart ...
the raw ingredients picked fresh from the garden
I made a spelt pastry for the base, blind baking it to ensure it was nice and crispy (it was actually the same pastry that I used for the mulberry tarts recently shown!).
Chopped and ready!
The leeks and zucchini were sauteed in a little olive oil, salt and pepper until they were softened. I also added in a big bunch of three types of thyme (to keep with the THREE THEME) which I removed after the veggies were softened. They added a delightful hint of thymeness to the finished tart, wtihout the 'bits' they leave!
Three Thymes for Three Zucchinis
I layered the cooked zucchini in the tart case and poured 5 beaten eggs over the top (the number of eggs will depend on the size of the eggs and how much veg you have in it), I could have added cream to the eggs to make it more velvety and luscious, but as it doesn't work with my body, I left it out! I sprinkled the last of my fetta over the top and a bit more cracked black pepper and a few thyme leaves.
It baked in a moderate oven until the eggs were set - again depends, between 30 and 45 minutes and let it rest for a few minutes before devouring!

The finished tart

Served with some lightly steamed snow peas tossed in a little olive oil and thyme and a chilled semillion...

Served and ready for consuming



Tuesday, November 9, 2010


We awoke this morning to discover a possum had been helping itself to a huge parsley plant in the back corner of our garden, it has stripped the poor plant bare! We are in a huge dilemma about this as not only does the possum have the potential to wreak havoc on our harvest, but it has decided, for the second year in a row, to make its nest in the wall behind our bed...so we have an early morning wake up call about 4am every morning as it slips and slides around looking for a comfy place!
Last year we put up with it, but we didn't have a garden that looks like an organic supermarket for possum and friends!
The hauls from the garden recently have been crazy. Because I have been away so much and my husband doesn't consume as many veg when I am away, everything was a bit out of control.
We have pulled out the snow pea plants, we got probably 20kgs off them this year...incredible!
The beans (climbing and dwarf) are all coming along and we thoroughly enjoyed our first feed of beans in a raw cabbage salad last night (Thai!).
We have three kinds of zucchini and a few squash plants growing crazy, so much so that I simply cannot keep up with picking them!
The cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli are still being harvested and taste sensational as are the beetroot (I have very cleverly planted about 20 plants every 6-8 weeks (that I raise from organic seed) so we have a ready supply rather than a huge glut!
Actually, I pickled some beetroot the other day *you will never eat beetroot from a can again!*
I used a mixture of verjuice, water, fructose and black pepper...it is delightful!
The spinach is great for the chooks (who incidentally are being fed sooo much with the pulling out of the tail end of the autumn veg!) and the asparagus is looking happy as are the carrots.
I have lots of new zucchini, squash and pumpkin plants in and some that have just come up from seed, so we should have an abundant summer.
The tomatoes are going off and provided we can keep the bugs out of them - we will have a bumper crop of gnarly old breeds, heirlooms and some romas! YUM!
I have to admit that I am having trouble getting my herbs to grow from seed, not sure what is going on with the basil, coriander etc...they just won't come up!
The only thing we are really missing now is fruit, olives and a vineyard...all to happen next spring!
Gotta love the GOOD LIFE!!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Life should be lived and loved!

I have had such a blessed life with a supportive and wonderful family, equally great friends and a husband who is incredibly patient, kind and supportive. What I haven't been blessed with is a simple internal system!
I have spent so many years gazing internally that I am, on some occasions, quite literally, over my body! I become so frustrated with the fact that I work so hard at doing everything right...exercising, eating well, not eating the things that make me ill, taking supplements etc that I cannot believe I am still unwell as often as I am. I do occasionally go into denial and brag about how well I have been; immediately my body retaliates with a bout of pain and my husband reminds me that it wasn't actually that long ago since I was sick ( he has to put up with me complaining and my irrational mood swings!).

What have I learnt that my body reacts to?
Milk (not cheese for some reason)
Coffee (decaf okay)
HUNGER! I get the worst symptoms when I go too long (ie 3 hours) without food!

What are my symptoms?
It varies from challenge to challenge but generally either one or a combination of many of the following:
Stomach cramps (sometimes so bad that I just have to grab a hottie and head for bed)
General discomfort
Grumpiness and Misery

Generally I am fun to be around!
I think the longest I have gone so far wihtout some kind of an episode of the above symptoms is about 3 weeks (YAY!).

So, what do I do?
I avoid; wheat, red meat, milk (can eat cheese), watermelon, garlic, onion (these are just new discoveries) and sugar
I have acupuncture, generally weekly when I am in town long enough
I take a high nutrition food supplement (Nuferm)
I drink lots of water
I eat 3-5 times a day
I exercise 3-5 times a week

What are my plans?
I plan to have the gene test for coeliac, to rule it out (or not and then get tested properly, which involves going back on wheat products for 6 weeks...which I want to avoid if I can)
I will get tested for fructose malabsorbition
I will keep doing what I am doing and hope that somewhere along the line we can realign whatever is wrong!

The thing is that there could be plenty of things worse, so I am not complaining, I just make adjustments in my life to suit and move on!

Life is too short and should be lived and loved!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The journey thus far

I guess that by this stage you understand my passion for veggie gardening and cooking; and I think I briefly explain in other parts of this blog the fact that I am a long suffering foodie with issues...but I haven't shared a lot of the journey regarding those issues...so I thought I would.

I believe that I have suffered with whatever it is, as yet still undiagnosed, for a long time. I have recollections of severe stomach pain on various occasions;

  • age 16 at the Taranaki V Springboks game when I lived in NZ on youth exchange with Rotary - couldn't enjoy the game, I had to lie in the foetal position and breathe
  • age 14 + on camping trips to the Warrumbungles in central NSW - mostly climbing the damn hills!
  • various ages at home, on horseback, at pony camp....vague memories but poignant when you reflect
I had always noticed, as a teenager, that when I consumed a large amount of milk that I would get a headache not long after, so stopped doing that (although sometimes the nice cold, chocolatey milo milk in the afternoon after a 1hr bus ride home would be too hard to resist and I would suffer!) but I really started noticing and paying attention to other pain and the terrible reflux I was experiencing, about a year after I moved to Lightning Ridge, 11 years ago now, and thought I would start eliminating things myself. 

First to go was the coffee; which I drank alot of, a habit that formed as a result of a 6 month stint as a waitress/barista in an Italian place in Alice Springs - noticeably I ususally drank a milk based coffee (der!)...didn't help.

Over the next few years I gradually excluded dairy (entirely for more than 12 months), wheat (haven't had any - by choice - for at least 7 years), and lastly sugar. 

The irony of this self elimination process is that I still wasn't getting better - AND, the kicker, I was going to doctors pleading for them to help....all I ever got was a new drug to take (by the way, some of them actually made me worse!). I had to ask, just last year, for a gastroscopy to test for coeliac disease, but I had not done enough of my own research and after I went through an anesthetic (which is NOT good for the body or soul) my next GP told me that they wouldn't have found anything because I had eliminated wheat from my diet so many years ago - WHY didn't the doctor know to ask that questions - particularly as we had had a discussion about why I wanted the test?

I forgot to mention that I had prick tests done at the RPA clinic in Sydney (a 10 hour drive for us), simply because I still wasn't feeling well and was in fact getting worse, but they showed nothing...so I thought I could eat wheat and dairy again...BIG Mistake! I do remember how excited I was though to pull up at the White Rose Cafe in Dunedoo and inhale a fresh corn beef and pickle sandwich (an old fave!) on white bread!!!!! Not so good 2 days later!

I could have done the full elimination diet, but the idea of consuming pears for a whole few weeks and not much else did my head in - so I kept paying attention to my body and cutting out things that made me sick!

To be continued!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My day

Yesterday was slightly crazy and just made me realise how complex my life is right now, with so many fingers in pies!

A bit like the seasons, my life is cyclical - it starts with the dormant recouping stage (winter) and leads up to the madness of spring and summer and then a gradual down turn of Autumn (although in my case, I usually skip this season all together and go for a cold SNAP as I crack under all the pressure and throw my hands in the air and take my bat and ball home!).

I have had periods of down time, where I haven't worked at anything in particular, but always, always, during that period I am concocting my next big thing - which then of course I have to bite off and chew!

I'm Not Fussy is one of those projects - a 'chicken and the egg' project and sooo much to do in soooo little time.

I am impatient by nature, my Mum always recounts the story of my first day of school when I threw my bag down in disgust proclaiming that it was a waste of time because they didn't teach me to read and write! I really haven't changed much - although the projects and the risks just get bigger!

So, back to my day....

I am part of this incredible program, the Australian Rural Leadership Program www.rural-leaders.com.au, aimed to create better leaders out of those of us who have a passion for rural and regional Australia (which I really do!) the program does require some work. So after I had blogged and done a bit of work on facebook etc for I'm Not Fussy I set about doing some work for ARLP including my report, project work and stuff for the course council.
Then an email came through about a scholarship to complete the Company Directors course, which I have wanted to do for ever, but couldn't afford...so, I completed my application, hot off the press, because I knew I wouldn't get back to it (and because I was in work avoidance mode too I have to admit!)

Then I set about writing some content for the website www.imnotfussy.com.au.

All the while the glass man was fixing the broken window in my office from a break in 12 months ago, and fixing screens to the windows - as protection...all a little too late as the office was again broken into on Sunday - always a day late! Luckily they only got away with a couple of old phones, which will be no good to them anyway as I have blocked them...HAHA!
But they did make a mess and it has really left me baffled that they ransacked my office, the kitchen and shed of the restaurant in the complex but didn't take anything else, why go to all that trouble and not at least take the computers, or screens or the grog? I am not complaining but just pondering the effort required for a couple of useless mobile phones.
So, now I am all caged in, which I don't like, but do feel much better about leaving the office at night (had considered camping out here!).

Next was lunch, which was a delicious fresh cooked chicken breast tossed through some garden greens, snow peas and radish all sloshed in a zingy vinaigrette..Highlight of the day!

I then spent the afternoon volunteering at the Australian Opal Centre www.australianopalcentre.com - a FANTASTIC place that I love working at because the fossils are incredible (100 million year old fossils, some of which are opalised too!) and it is a super amazing project. I also got to catch up with a friend who I rarely get to see, because of my crazy life!

Then I organised to go and sell some opal, so spent a while doing that...was successful which is always a good feeling!

I then dragged my self to the gym, which is always an effort, but well rewarded afterwards, apart from feeling noble, I always feel a couple of inches taller and a million times less stressed!

I reveled in the next hour as I got to play in the garden, pulling out old plants and replenishing the soil with new mulch and seedlings raised from our own organic seed - what a sensational feeling! Apart from the mozzies which gave me a real hiding, it was pure bliss and such a wonderful feeling after such a crazy day!

Dinner was the next plan, and I decided to go Thai and whipped up a Green Papaya Salad (green papaya very luckily found at the Fullers store at Bellingen on our way home from Coffs Harbour on Sunday) with sticky rice and fried chicken....will show picks and recipes another day, but YUM OH YUM! Transported me back to the busy street of Chiang Mai during Songkran!

So, all in all it was a productive, albeit hectic and slightly chaotic day...and I certainly did sleep well.

No sign of Autumn or a cold snap just yet!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tarts and all that yummy stuff!

I picked a beautiful bowl full of mulberries off the tree this morning and was slightly disappointed that there are fewer red ones than there have been; we may only get a couple more weeks of the delicious deeply sweet treats!

There is simply nothing better than swanning around in your dressing gown, in the garden first thing in the morning, it is such a refreshing start to the day and one that I really miss when I am away.

I thought I would share my mulberry frangipane tart today; I made it last week, but it was sooo delicious!

I started with shortcrust pastry, made from Stephanie's Cooks companion- 3:4 ratio of butter to flour(spelt in my case), roughly rubbed through, worked a little and let to rest in the fridge for 1/2 hour. I believe the trick with short pastry is not to overwork it, if you want that nice crisp crumbly and buttery texture.
I cooked the mulberries down with a little honey (ayurvedic honey in our case) and Madeira until they were softening slightly and the sauce had turned a bloody purple.
The cooked mulberries went in the case (which had been blind baked)..already looking delicious!
Mulberry tarts prior to the frangipane epiphany!
I kept looking at the tarts though and thought that they were just not complete...I didn't have any more pastry left so I could not make the pies...what could I do?

Frangipane - of course! I have never made it before but I know it tastes good and would probably go really well with these beauties!
So 830pm and I have the kitchen wizz out blitzing up almonds and eggs!

Thank goodness for Stephanie again; I just LOVE her book! I used a packet of almond meal, 25g of fructose (sugar replacement -you use a 1/3 less and it doesn't upset my stomach!), some butter and an egg.

The frangipane was liberally spread on top of the mulberry mix and baked until golden.
The golden brown tarts!
They were a super sweet treat that we just devoured and oohed and aahed over!
Who could ask for more - a warming treat from the oven made with love and produce from the garden!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pizza Dough - recipe by request

Makes 2 pizza bases (enough to feed one hungry person or one not so hungry and have left overs  for after!)

Combine 1 cup of warm water and 7g of yeast in a large mixing bowl then stir to combine and dissolve yeast. Set aside until foamy(about 5-10min). Put 2 cups of plain flour (I use organic spelt flour) in a bowl with 1.5tsp of salt, make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast and water mix. Stir with a wooden spoon, make sure you pull flour from the sides until the dough comes together. If the dough is too stick, add another 1/2 cup of flour. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead in an additional 1/2 - 1 cup of flour until the dough is smooth. Once it is smooth and elastic to feel, shape into a ball and place in a bowl (which you have oiled). Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm area to double in size (could take up to 2 hours...depending on how warm your area is!). Punch down the dough, divide into two equal portions and use!

Split the dough into two even balls and roll out the dough on a floured surface (if you are using a stone pizza base you will need to heat it up in the oven)

Spread your choice of base (tomato paste, pesto etc) and top with your choice of flavours and cheese!

Place the pizza on your chosen cooking implement (pizza maker, stone base etc) and cook - in a HOT oven will take between 5-10 minutes.

The base will rise and bubble, don't be alarmed - these are the BEST bits!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I love Paella; not only because of the way the actually word sounds (when said correctly!) but the memories it conjures of a holiday in Europe, a fleeting visit to Spain (one night!) and an evening in the town square; a sangria induced bliss coupled with paella, creme catalan and some ruccous football fans! But that is for another day!

I was given a Paella pan for Christmas last year, so, along with my two chefs in the kitchen (the kids!) we prepared a banquet for the family! Despite the heat, it was Lightning Ridge in January, we managed to prepare a super special paella, complete with yellow belly and yabbies (as well as sea fish, chicken and prawns!), broad beans and all the other delights including chorizo!

The paella had all the requirements I have read are important - moist and supple rice, a crunchy and delicious crust on the base and just the right combination of freshness (from the peas) and flavours! It smelled amazing whilst cooking and, I have to say, even tasted fantastic the next day!

We coupled the Spanish triumph with a non alcoholic version of Sangria, which I made using the aerated non alcoholic wine you can buy from the supermarket and orange juice - it was a HIT!

There is a lot of anxiety around about making paella, and I have to say it is warranted! With so many wonderful ingredients the fear of failure could be costly...but I say, just trust the recipe and DON'T be tempted to stir!!!!
A HOT day in Lightning Ridge, the flavours and the scents of this divine dish and I was transported back to my summer memory of beautiful Spain in July x

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I picked what I thought was one carrot last night and ended up with a pair - a very friendly pair!
A Friendly pair of carrots!
We were thrilled with the length of the beauties - normally our carrots end up short and squat and a bit gnarly because we over water and the soil is too solid - but we have the mix right on this one!
When I chopped the stalks off I got that great smell of brightness and true carroty scent; you just don't get that when you buy them from the shops!
They tasted delightful and added a real sweetness to my simple stirfry of XO garden veg and tofu (with a good slug of Shaoxing wine!) This pair of lovers met a happy end!

XO tofu and garden veg stirfry featuring the LOVER carrots!

Monday, October 18, 2010


This post is coming more from a place of what I am desiring currently...Pizza!
This gorgeous beauty was created one Sunday afternoon towards the end of fire weather (although we have had the fire back up and cranking in the last week...who knew Lightning Ridge in October could be cool!!! Loving it!)...anyway. I made the dough, a simple, spelt flour and no oil number, and it rose to perfection by the warmth of the fire. By lunchtime it was at its optimum and in the meantime I had had whipped up a gorgeous rocket and mixed nut pesto with greens from the garden and a pungent olive oil (I am not a pesto purist and usually use whatever nuts I have available - in this case it was a mixture of almonds, green pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds). It provided the base of the pizza, topped with anchovies and home made bocconcini (YUM) and cooked in our Pizza Maker (which I just LOVE! and don't use often enough!) they took about 5 minutes. We topped them with a delicious salad from the garden, including spicy little radishes which added to the spark of the pizza!

Yum Made with LOVE Pizza!
This pizza provided an incredible treat which my mouth is watering for as I write! 

BUT the real joy was as much in the preparation and the company and the feelings evoked by the situation of warmth and sharing as it was in the eating!

That is the thing I love about food - if done properly, it creates atmosphere and while the memory of the dish may fade, the emotions attached to the moment won't!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Frittata Friday

It is a windy, wet miserable day here today and is more akin to curling up with a good book and a hot choccie than working! So I thought, for lunch, we needed something wholesome and delicious that would remind us that the rain brings bounty and our garden loves it and rewards us with goodies to nourish our bodies and souls.
So, a zucchini and three thyme frittata was in order!
I made it using two reasonably sized (if not misshapen) zucchinis, a small onion, three kinds of thyme (normal, variegated and lemon thyme) and a big handful of flat leaf and curly parsley, all fresh picked from the garden and taken straight into the kitchen (are you jealous yet?)!
I sautéed said ingredients in a bit of olive oil with some smoky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper until they were nearly soft (I think it is still nice to have some give in the veg in a frittata).
I then topped them with four whisked hens' eggs - gathered yesterday - and some crumbled home made fetta - shall have to have another cheese fest soon, the stocks are diminishing!
The whole thing was then let to set and crisp up until just about firm on top of the stove before I finished it off under the grill.
I topped with a home made vinegarette (1generous tsp of french mustard, 3-4 tsp of white or red wine vinegar and about 6-8 tsp of olive oil all added to a small jar and shaken thoroughly) for a little extra zing and punch to cut through the rich egginess! Can I say YUM too many times?
Odd angle...
Frittata Friday - delicious inspiration on a not so delicious day!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010


We planted a mulberry tree last year, it was my husbands' treat to himself whilst I was working away from home! He has, like many people, childhood memories of gorging himself on their sweet, purple deliciousness and being scolded for the light dusting of purple stain left behind on skin and clothes!

We expected to wait a few years for a crop, but thanks to careful attention, love, a really, really great season,  and the huge tajmahal of a bird proof net it has over it, the darling tree is about three times its original size and abundant with mulberries!

The best thing is that the fruit is ripening at intervals, so there is just enough to sate your desire for a few days and then the next crop is ready!

The heaving tree - before any major cropping
Mulberries are sweet and delicious when ripe, the only tartness really comes when you pick it a little early - and there is a method in picking! The berries that are truly ripe will literally fall off in your hand, with the most gentle press of your finger - if you have to force the berry to yield, it won't be ripe enough!

The bright green stalks contrast against the brilliant
purple of the ripe fruit!

If any of the fruit makes it inside...I love them simply thrown in the non stick pan after cooking buckwheat pancakes (organic buckwheat and water...simple!) and swirl them around a bit with a splash of proper maple syrup - not the fake stuff which is loaded with sugar!. This makes a sensational start to the morning (made even more divine after a wander in the garden harvesting breakfast!) or a cheeky after dinner treat!

Organic bliss - buckwheat pancakes served with homegrown
mulberries and maple syrup!
Mulberries also make brilliant tarts (making one tonight with the left over harvest from this morning!), crumbles (we made one recently that had mulberries and green apples YUM) or go well with yoghurt on muesli for breakfast.
Of course there is no better way to eat them than from right off the tree - and there is no sneaking either, the purple stain on your fingers and lips is a dead give away!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Incredible Booglies (Yabbies)

We were so privileged this week to devour a delicious pile of tasty Narran (river) yabbies! On another recent fishing trip my wonderful husband was able to gather some of these giant blue river dwelling delights so that, upon my return from a hectic I'm Not Fussy schedule, we could enjoy the bounty!
Bright blue Narran River Yabbies, caught near Angledoool NSW
I am always so excited by the prospect of what to do with Yabbies and have, over the years, developed a number of wonderful dishes - one of which is my signature...but you will have to wait for that one!
Rather large Blue Yabby!
I have so many happy memories of childhood whiled away waiting for the tug, on the end of a piece of bailing twine with a piece of meat wrapped strategically around an ample sized rock, which meant there was a yabby! Then ever so slowly pulling the beast to the surface, so as not to shake it from its grip on the bait and finally, when it's head feelers broke the surface of the creek, a final and mighty scoop with whatever catching device we had (Dad once made us a yabby scoop out of an old saucepan which he had drilled a heap of holes in - had pretty poor resistance in the water rendering it almost impossible (and never successful!) to use!). There was much joy if the yabby was caught and much laughter and taunting when the beast was picked up carefully and used as a weapon for scaring unsuspecting watchers on resulting in high pitched girly screaming! Of course, the real treat was in the eating! In our house it was always yabby boiled in large pot of water until they turn lobster red! Then, in a very messy occasion, they were devoured, accompanied by bread and Dad's famous homemade seafood sauce (mayonnaise, tomato sauce and a bit of worscherire!).

Verjuice Yabbies
These days our cooked yabbies get additional sophistication!
This week I quickly stirfried them with the freshest parsley from the garden, salt, white pepper and a good slug of Maggie Beer's verjuice! Served neat, they were sweet, meaty and completely divine! Please sir, can I have some more :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

So many troubles

I have met so many people - or people who know people - these past few days at both the Gluten Free Food Show in Melbourne and currently at the Good Food and Wine Show in Adelaide who are living with chronic conditions that are a mystery and a challenge both to mainstream medicine and the alternative therapies. It just reinforces to me the need for more communication, more education, more research and more conversation because people's quality of life is adversely affected and it shouldn't be.
It raises, for me, the question about what is wellness?
To me, it is a whole of life approach. I have spent many years trying to discover what was 'wrong with me' why I was rendered housebound and fuzzy with stomach pain and a general feeling of internal ugliness...the lesson for me, which I am constantly relearning and having to remind myself, is that wellness is holistic. You cannot simply cut out certain foods to make you better. It has to be more. Since exploring this philosophy, we have rid our house of chemicals, we live, as much as we can out of the veggie patch or what our surroundings provide, we enjoy time with friends and family, I take time for me and my body with alternative therapies and I try to stress less (this one is tricky sometimes, particularly when embarking on a new venture!). I now feel better than I ever have when I was just focusing on what food I could and couldn't eat!
I want to share this message - while concurrently putting my money where my mouth is and raising funds for health and wellness research and education, so more people can revel in their life rather than just going through the motions and tolerating ill health or unwellness.
Join me on this journey and SHARE YOUR STORY TOO!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fish Friday

I have recently spoken about our delicious Yellow Belly feast but had no images....well the men went fishing again and came back with a haul! The river was rising and the fish were biting...they said they caught heaps of really small ones that they threw back (about 30) and came home with these six beauties!
Yellow Belly from the Barwon River at Walgett
We had a great feast of them - after my father in law painstakingly filleted them all (they enjoyed their fillets too!). I don't particularly like fish soup, but next time I will be saving the heads and skeletons for my friend who LOVES it - I will feel much better about that because I always felt so wasteful throwing them away.
My husband just carefully crumbed the fillets with Gluten Free Rice Crumbs (which the whole family LOVES!) and served with snow peas from the garden, roasted kipfler potatoes and carrots...simple, elegant and DELICIOUS!
This really is great living - not only do you get the enjoyment from catching the fish, but the joy and knowledge that you are eating FRESH food that has been harvested sustainably with thought and care.
Gluten Free Yellow Belly!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Three cheeses

I thought I would share with you the most exciting part of home making- getting to see (and the of course eat) your goodies!
Here are three organic cheeses I have made recently, with the help of my gorgeous step daughter.
L-R Farmhouse Cheddar, Fetta marinated in oil and house garden herbs and Haloumi
Aren't they GORGEOUS!

The cheddar really was a labour of love, 2.5 hrs of stirring, four days of curing and now up to 12 months until eating! This to me epitomises delayed gratification! Something the GEN Ys are going to have to learn!

The fetta we have soaked in a brine for a few days and now have marinated in canola oil (the last time I put it in olive oil it set hard in fridge, canola doesn't) and thyme, oregano and parsley from the garden,we have also put in a little cracked pepper for zing! It will keep for up to 6 weeks now which is a great shelf life I think (not that it ever lasts that long because we share it around!)

The halmoui is a relatively easy cheese to make, only requiring  a large saucepan to make it in and it is simply delicious fried up! The first time I made it I was so excited when it squeaked (the first lot didn't even make it into the brine!). Kids love this cheese as is salty and has such a delicious flavour from the cooking process - the texture is also very agreeable, albeit slightly hard to describe!

The satisfaction to be gained from turning litres of ORGANIC, unhomogenised milk into delightful edible treats that can be shared with family and friends (marinated fetta will make a great Christmas gift!) is truly a joy. Just like sharing the veg from the garden, the glow that I get when people comment that they love to eat what we have grown is a natural high!

I do sometimes worry about the food miles of my cheese (I have to order it from Coffs Harbour - 9 hours away) but it does come in a refrigerated truck that comes across with produce for other shops in town anyway! So in that sense I am just making their trip even more worthwhile! I am, however, always keeping my ear to the ground locally for someone who milks a cow...or goats!

I learned to make cheese at a couple of courses in Armidale last year, just one day workshops with a wonderful woman Siggi, who I have called a few times since with cheese dilemmas and she has been more than happy to help! It was such fun and as you can probably tell, it is a skill I am thoroughly enjoying (both for the making and the eating!)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yella' Belly

This week we enjoyed the spoils of the beautiful Barwon River near Walgett with a feast of yellow belly (golden perch). I don't have any pictures of it, but I can tell you that the sweet white meat was simply divine! It was simply pan fried, after very careful and expert filleting and we enjoyed it with homemade potato, beetroot and zucchini crisps and a bright yellow tartare sauce made from our chookies eggs! I find Stephanie Alexanders' mayonnaise the best so far, 1 egg yolk per 100ml oil, easy to remember and delicious! Mixed with a pinch of salt and some lemon juice get the yolk working and then gradually add the oil to emulsify. It is a pretty safe and fool proof recipe (it is actually one I have shown in an earlier post with the tempura).
The girls in for the night!
There are so many things you can do with eggs, they really are a wonderful creation! I love them simply scrambled with a light drizzle of oyster sauce when I am craving something a little sweet savoury in the morning - or, my childhood favourite which I rekindled recently - egg fried in bread! You nib a bit of bread out of the centre of a slice (preferably home made - I make spelt bread) and butter both sides (I use dairy free nuttelex). Fry one side until golden and then flip, crack the egg into the centre and allow to gently cook (you can add a lid at this point to help if you want to speed it up). If you don't like runny eggs (which I do) you can flip again and make a sunny side down version. The clincher of this dish is the addition of freshly picked and roughly chopped curly parsley - which I think should be part of the 80s revival it has so much more flavour and texture that its flat leaf cousin! Salt and pepper is a must! I love this as a Sunday evening supper when you just can't be bothered cooking anything too  much extravagant! The deep crunch of the golden fried bread next to the soft textured egg flesh and the irony green off the parsley...OH YUM!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Brussel Sprouts are delicious!

The big picture brussel bush, as the bush
ages, the large leaves get tighter and bushier

I think the poor old Brussel really cops a bit of a hard time and maybe it is just because we have all tried the large, old version that you most often find at the supermarket!

We have attempted to grow brussels in the past and not succeded, but this year we got the mix right - good red soil mixed with sheep poo and early morning sunlight with protection from the west seems to suit the brussel.

The bush the brussels grow on is very cool and slightly unexpected - check ours out!

The slugs do love them, so you might have to get out with a torch in the evening and do a bit of harvesting - we just squash them but some people give them to the chooks.

Close up Brussels - YUM!

In our endeavor to be organic home gardeners, we have avoided slug pellets instead opting for the beer in a bowl solution - any kind of beer in a shallow dish acts as an attractant for the slugs, they crawl up, take a sip and fall into their death. Sounds a bit macabre, but just gives you some idea of the effect alcohol can have on you!

I like to keep my brussel eating simple, just some nuttelex melted in a pan and tossed with salt and pepper before adding the brussels - they are definitely best picked young, when the leaves are sweet and have a really intense 'sprout' flavour.
If you aren't vegetarian, take out the salt and add some prosciutto or pancetta to the pan and toss the brussels in that!
I also like cutting them into halves and adding them to a vegie stir fry, they go well with Chinese flavours.

Brussels love Snow Peas and Cabbage - all best eaten picked fresh from the garden...or bought at
the local Farmers Market!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Organic gardening, grow your own food | Pot Gardening

Organic gardening, grow your own food | Pot Gardening


I read a fantastic book about 6 months ago - Eat Right for Your Blood Type and it certainly has assisted, in a BIG way, my health and wellness journey. As I am a type A blood, I am to eat a mostly vegetarian diet - a little fish and chicken is okay, but red meat isn't. This wasn't an difficult step for me, as I have been vegetarian before, and actually prefer not to eat huge quantities of red meat, but fell into eating it often as my husband enjoys it! What it has meant for me is my metabolism has sped up and I feel much healthier on the inside, I hope this is reflected on the outside! I also find that when I don't eat a lot of meat protein at all my weight drops which is always a nice surprise! My diet consists largely of beans, pulses and vegetables. I do have to eat more frequently, about every 3-4 hours, but this is a more supportive option for blood sugars and maintaining constant energy through the day anyway.
So, having a great veggie patch is like heaven for a vegetarian! We recently harvested our first attempt at parsnips, which I love! They didn't exactly turn out like they should have!
The gnarliest parsnip you have EVER seen!
The roast veg before cooking (the pink and white stripy
stripy veg are our white beetroot -super sweet and delightful)
BUT it did make a gorgeous addition to the warm roasted veg salad I made to accompany steamed home grown broccoli, snow peas, beet tops, spinach and brussels.

I just threw together some beetroot (homegrown), sweet potato, the parsnips, zucchini (home grown) and threw them in some good quality olive oil, splash of water and a bit of dukkah. The parsnips could have gone in a little earlier, but the long tentacles added the greatest crunch to the dish! 
Sometimes simple is the best!

The completed dish - a wedge of lemon on the side and YUM!