Sunday, May 31, 2015

Search for the source of your food

I have just discovered this website after reading a very well written article in the Life section of the Weekend Australian today by Laura Dalrymple, about how important it is to know the source of our food, the importance of buying locally grown produce when possible, and not being "anaesthetised by choice and abundance" or by the packaging on foods we buy.

Local produce at the farmers markets in San Sebastian, Spain. When travelling overseas,
I am always impressed by the habit of shopping  daily at the local markets.

At home, we are growing as much of our own produce as we can in our own backyard, and some of the front yard as well, however it is realistic to expect that in suburbia we are still dependent on purchasing many items from the local markets, supermarkets, or IGAs.

Spanish artichokes

As retirees with more time on our hands, we are swapping or just giving away surplus produce excess to our needs. This not only reduces waste, but it also feels really good to share.

Cured meats for sale at the San Sebastian markets

I'll see how the Flavour Crusader website develops, but I am becoming increasingly passionate about this whole issue.

As Laura says in her article, "the decisions we make at the check-out are proving to be the most effective change agent in the retail sector. Never underestimate the power of one."

The flower markets-San Sebastian

Friday, May 29, 2015

Corned Beef Fritters, they're budget friendly and delicious

Corned Beef Fritters are one of the meals I grew up with, and even now, just the thought of them makes my mouth water. A beautifully cooked piece of corned silverside for dinner is as popular as it's ever been, and then after a couple of days, using the leftover slices to make fritters, is not only budget friendly but also delicious. Your family and children will love them.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ginger Syrup Cake

This Ginger cake embraces the sweetness of  golden syrup, and the heat and spice of fresh and ground ginger. It is always a winner with a cuppa or as a dessert, especially as the weather starts to cool down and has always been a favourite cake of ours.

We dug up some fresh ginger from our garden, picking just enough to make the aromatic Ginger syrup.

I offered to take this cake as dessert for our after tennis dinner party, which happened to be our lovely friend Chris's birthday as well. Chris loves ginger, and really enjoyed her birthday cake.

Chris and her  Ginger syrup birthday cake


120 g unsalted butter
250 ml golden syrup
2 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
2 heaped teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
220 g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
250 ml milk
2 free-range eggs, beaten
Icing sugar, for dusting

Ginger Syrup

1/2 cup caster sugar
125 ml water
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

Let's Cook

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.
Grease and line a medium sized square cake tin. 
Melt butter and golden syrup over low heat; remove. Sift flour, ginger, mixed spice, sugar and salt into a large bowl.
Add milk and egg and mix until smooth. Gradually add butter mixture and stir.
Pour batter into tin; bake for 50-55 minutes or until risen and firm to touch.

Ginger syrup:

Combine syrup ingredients in small saucepan, boil, stir, reduce heat, simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove cake, pierce with a skewer; spoon over hot syrup. Cool, dust with icing sugar.

This recipe is taken from David Herbert's recipes, however I have doubled the ingredients to serve it as a dessert with thick fresh cream mixed with Greek yoghurt, and swirled with homemade strawberry jam, or ice cream

Just halve the ingredients if you wish to make a smaller cake in a standard loaf tin.

Happy cooking,

Best wishes


Monday, May 18, 2015

Honey Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

This is such a simple recipe, and although tomatoes are officially out of season at present, I just managed to buy some beautiful cherry tomatoes at the supermarket  at a reduced price because they had passed the use by date, however were still in excellent condition. This recipe is taken from the River Cottage Veg Everyday cookery book, and whilst I am not vegetarian, we are reducing our meat consumption to what it was, and a dish like this marries beautifully with risotto, grilled or roasted vegetables, or just to quote Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, "piled on toast with a sprinkling of flaky sea salt on top." Perfect. So simple and so delicious. The original recipe uses 1 tablespoon of honey, however I think this could even be reduced to 1/2 tablespoon if you prefer things a little less sweet like me. This depends on how sweet your tomatoes are as well.

500g cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon clear honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190 deg. C/Gas Mark 5. Lightly oil a a medium roasting dish or pie dish. Halve the tomatoes and place them, cut side up, in the dish. Ensure they fit snugly with little or no space between them.

Crush the garlic with a pinch of salt, then beat it with the honey, olive oil and a good grinding of pepper. Because I had quite large organic garlic cloves from nearby Eungella, I mashed them up in my pestle and mortar with the salt and mixed the rest of the ingredients in the bowl.

Spoon the gooey, garlicky mixture over the cherry tomatoes.

Roast for about 30 minutes, until juicy and bubbling.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pickled beetroot


An early trip to the local market in wet, windy conditions, and I arrive home with all locally grown produce. Because of the wet weather, and the temporary relocation of the market stalls to an uncovered area, only the local, noncommercial growers seem to be present today, making it much easier to sift through what is grown locally, versus what the larger commercial suppliers have sourced from down south. There is so much more transparency about what we are buying and eating, if food can be sourced locally, and isn't packaged.

The secret ingredient which sets this pickle apart in flavor and intensity is the cinnamon stick. All the flavors will develop in the jars over the next couple of weeks resulting in a very aromatic and tasty beetroot pickle. I only finished with two jars of pickle, because the the beetroot weren't very large this time. However, there was enough pickling mix for four jars. Your jars will need to be wide mouthed to accommodate the beetroot slices.

I promise you that after making Pickled Beetroot and tasting it, you will never buy commercially canned beetroot again.

Let's pickle:


4 large beetroot

Pickling Liquid:
1 1/2 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cracked pepper or peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon mixed spices (can include 1/2 tsp celery seed, 1/2 teas. mustard seed)
2 whole cloves
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp salt

Preparing the beetroot for pickling:
  1. Cut off the leaves and clean up any blemishes. Don't peel them or cut into them at this stage as the red juice will bleed into the water. Wash the beetroot completely and cook in lightly salted water for 20 to 30 minutes. This depends on the size of the beetroot. If a cooking skewer passes cleanly through the beetroot then they are cooked.
  2. Cool the beetroot and then remove the skin using a knife, but some of the skin will just rub off in your hand. Use gloves if you don't want pink hands at the end of this.
  3. Slice the beetroot, or cut into wedges or julienne strips.Slices should fit neatly into a jar, and are a great addition to a  steak burger. Beetroot wedges will look more impressive at a Dinner Party.
Sterilise your bottles:
  1. This is most important. Everything you work with must be warm to hot.
  2. If the bottles have already been just washed in the dishwasher that should be enough, or for safety's sake place them in a preheated oven at 130 deg. Celsius for 20 minutes as well. I place a tea towel on a biscuit tray, and lay the bottles and the lids on the tray, making sure they don't touch each other.
  3. If they haven't been recently washed or sterilised, wash them in hot soapy water, carefully removing any traces of former contents, rinse in clean water, and then sterilise them in the oven as mentioned in no. 2.
  4. Never place hot pickling mixture into cold bottles or they may crack.

Preparing the Pickling Liquid:
  1. Place the pickling mix ingredients i.e. (everything except the beetroot) in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  2. Simmer for 5 minutes. Taste it to ensure it is to your taste. Strain it then to remove all the seeds, however they will sink to the bottom of the pickling mixture.
Final steps:
  1. Pack the beetroot into your hot sterilised jars and top up with the vinegar mixture.
  2. If bubbles appear, just keep packing down the beetroot slices with a spoon until the bubbles disappear.
  3. Seal the bottles and keep on your kitchen bench for a couple of days or pack them away in a cool place.
  4. They will be at their best to eat after a couple of weeks after maturing in the jar, and up until three months.
  5. After you open the jars for the first time, store them in the frig after that.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Growing Rosellas in the Tropics


Rosella plants

Growing rosella plants from seed is very easy. Last year I dried and saved some seeds from our first crop of rosellas. These were the rosellas which I didn't consider good enough for jam, however they produced enough seeds for a future planting, I just dried the seeds on absorbent kitchen paper in my sunny laundry for a couple of weeks and then stored them in a plastic container in the crisper of the refrigerator until I was ready to use them. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Beef Stew in the Slow Cooker or Crock Pot

Beef pies, yum, who doesn't like a meat pie?
This very tasty and easy beef stew  can be easily adapted to meat pies or French casseroles served in mini Cocettes, or with the addition of dumplings, can feed crowds of people. 

Monday, May 4, 2015



Ten days ago I met Herman the German. He is a sourdough cake, who starts life as a sourdough starter, and grows on the kitchen bench for 10 days. He has his own website which can be found at:

My long term foodie friend Julia, visited me at home with some of her deliciously cooked Herman Friendship cake  and a portion of her Herman sourdough starter. I have stirred, fed and nurtured Herman all week, and on the weekend, Herman multiplied to four, and the cooking began. Two friendship cakes and a loaf of sourdough bread later, Herman is officially a member of the family. The cake is delicious and keeps well in the freezer and also makes a sensational dessert with the addition of cream, ice cream etc.

Herman Sourdough bread:

My sourdough bread exceeded all of my expectations. I followed Cheryl's advice from Herman's website, and started the kneading process after lunch, letting it rise overnight, and then cooked the loaf for breakfast the following morning, using half strong white flour, and half Laucke's Multigrain Soy and Linseed bread making flour. No bread maker involved. The smell of the sourdough bread cooking throughout the house early in the morning was heavenly.

The recipe for the bread can be found at Herman the German's website.

Friendship Tea Cake


1 Herman sourdough starter
1 cup of sugar (8oz or 225g)
2 cups of S.R. Flour (or 2 cups plain flour and 2 heaped tsp. baking powder)
Half teaspoon salt
2/3 cup  of cooking oil (160ml)
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla essence
1 normal can pie apple (or 2 cooking apples cut into chunks)
1 cup raisins (200g)
2 heaped tsp. cinnamon
2 heaped tsp. baking powder


1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter


Mix everything together in a large bowl,  including the sourdough starter and spoon into a large greased baking dish. Sprinkle with a quarter of a cup of brown sugar and a quarter of a cup of melted butter. (This last step is optional but well worth it.)

Bake for 45 minutes at 170-180 deg. C. Test the middle with a clean knife. I find it cooks beautifully in this time, however you may need to cover in alfoil and bake for a further 20 minutes to ensure it is cooked properly in the middle.

In 9 days time, I will have four Herman sourdough starters, which means more bread baking  and other variations. There are lots of recipes available on his website. If you have always wanted to try a sourdough starter and make your own bread, this really works.

The Herman Sourdough Starter Mix:

150g (5oz) plain flour
225g (8oz) castor sugar
1 packet of active dry yeast
275 ml or 1/2 pint of warm milk
55ml (2 fl oz) of lukewarm water


  1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water for 10 minutes and stir.
  2. Add the flour and sugar then mix thoroughly.
  3. Slowly stir in the warm milk.
  4. Cover the bowl in a clean cloth.
  5. Leave in a cool dry place for 24 hours.
  6. Now proceed from day one of the 10 day cycle.

Day 1 - Put me in a large mixing bowl and cover loosely with a tea towel
Day 2 - Stir well
Day 3 - Stir well
Day 4 - Herman is hungry. Add 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar and milk. Stir well.
Day 5 - Stir well
Day 6 - Stir well
Day 7 - Stir well
Day 8 - Stir well
Day 9 - Add the same as Day 4 and stir well. Divide into 4 equal portions and give away to friends with a copy of these instructions. Keep the fourth portion.

What a great idea to be able to give one away to a friend, accompanied by some Friendship tea cake.

Do you think dear Reader, that one of the nicest things in life is when a friend arrives unexpectedly with some home cooked goodies to be shared and enjoyed?

Dame Elizabeth Murdoch Rose, a Hybrid Tea. The flower, a gift from my neighbour.