Saturday, November 27, 2021

Edamame Bean and Tuna Salad


Edamame beans are a delicious addition to any salad. Full of fibre, and protein, they bring green freshness, crunch and are filling to eat. Edamame are young soybeans, harvested before they turn brown. I've made this salad a few times, always with a slight variation, however this is the basic recipe I use. 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Turkey Pie, Cherry and Apple Crumble, and Takarakka Bush Resort at Carnarvon Gorge


We camped at Takarakka Bush Resort for two nights last week. Takarakka is used as the base for those wanting to experience the Great Walk through the spectacular Carnarvon Gorge located in the rugged highlands of Central Queensland. The Gorge is about 35 km long, created mostly by very significant water erosion, where many natural features exist such as the dripping Moss Gardens and the cavernous Amphitheatre. There are many examples of impressive red ochre rock art painted by the local Aboriginal tribes, thousands of years ago, which are still in remarkable condition in the "Art Gallery". Local Aboriginal peoples such as the Garingbal, Gayiri, Gungabulla, Nguri, Wasjigu and Yiman  have all believed through time that the Rainbow Serpent, Mungagudda, began its movement through the landscape here and formed the waterways including the sandstone gorge itself. 

Most people access Carnarvon Gorge via Rolleston to the North or Injune to the South. This is a rough terrain walk, best attempted during the dry Winter months, however we gave it a go in November, it was quite the challenge for me. Walking poles were my saviour, that's for sure, and I've never used them before, but keen bush walkers swear by them.There are about 13 creek crossings across strategically placed rocks to the top of the walk, I think I crossed about 7, and emerged with dry feet. A real test of balance was that little exercise.

The wildlife in the Takarakka Bush Resort are quite comfortable with having people nearby. Mr. HRK and I were taking a rest in the afternoon in the shade of the large Mango Tree as you do, and these kangaroos thought they would join us. I've never seen such tame Kangaroos.

We took a walk around the perimeter of the Takarakka grounds where Mr. HRK was on the lookout for native birds, like this beautiful and very elegant brolga.

This big guy is the chief, so we gave him plenty of room.


A small echnida posing for a photograph

We're having a bit of fun here, so we can send this photo to our wonderful grandchildren.

We stood very quietly by the Platypus Pool late one afternoon for nearly an hour, but unfortunately those little mammals weren't interested in gracing us with their presence that afternoon. A kookaburra in a tree nearby was laughing at us.

Glamping in these huts is also available, if tenting or caravanning isn't your thing.

The Carnarvon Fan Palm below is the only Palm found in the park, one of the last places in Central Queensland where they grow. A grove of them is quite spectacular.

The Carnarvon Gorge Great Walk begins at this sign, which is about 10 minutes drive from Takarakka.

This is the first of the creek crossings on the Great Walk and was the easiest to cross. Things got serious and uphill after that.

Photo below taken up at the beautiful, cool and serene Moss Gardens.

We left Takarakka and drove from Carnarvon National Park to Rockhampton to visit family, along the Capricorn Highway for most of the drive, past the Blackwater Coal Mine, which brings millions of dollars to the region. This drive which surprisingly we have never done before, was quite a revelation about the two main industries which make Central Queensland a very lucrative region for Australia. Beef cattle and coal mining. We followed cattle trucks, all transporting beef cattle to the Lakes Creek meat works in Rockhampton. Seeing so many cattle trucks never used to affect me, but when I could see a couple of the Brahmans looking soulfully at me out of the back of the truck, well, let's just say I couldn't face a steak for lunch. The distinct aroma  of cow manure which hovers around these cattle trucks is very memorable. However it is one of the best fertilisers for home gardens when diluted.

Photo of a cattle truck on the Capricorn Highway taken from our car.

Coal trains run back and forth along the railway tracks beside the highway transporting coal from the Bowen Basin to Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay terminals near Mackay, for export.

Coal carriages neatly loaded with coal
A cattle truck ahead of us in the distance, and a coal train on the track beside us. That's Central Queensland, busy busy.

Empty coal train carriages below on their way back to be refilled.

Now for some cooking, thank you for your patience. Our Irish Brother in Law, Jim, lives in Rockhampton and when we called him we discovered that Mr. HRK's cousin and his wife were there for dinner, and Jim said I'm making Fowl Pie, come and join us. Lynette, who is another lovely cousin, also arrived. Jim is an amazing person, and is completely blind, and has been for many years. His sense of  humour has inspired our family through many difficult situations. He lives independently, and loves to cook. His Fowl Pie was the Turkey pie that we ate for dinner. So the night we arrived he had two sous chefs at his disposal, Annette and I, and he cooked up a storm. I was so inspired by his cooking expertise, and I hope you will be too.  He obviously has these two recipes down to a tee, cooked from scratch though, knows where everything is in his kitchen, but he also makes the family gluten free Christmas Cake each year, and loves to have people for dinner. He's a writer, enters short story competitions, has published a book of poems and is a qualified social worker. He has also been a very active campaigner in Rockhampton for people with disabilities.

Unfortunately I don't have any photos of the Turkey (Fowl) Pie. I was too busy cooking and laughing with Jim and Annette while Mr. HRK and his cousin Ross, caught up on old times. I thought I could make the pie again so I could post some photos, and I might still do that but not in the next few days. I really want to post this now, so please try and imagine a long pyrex baking dish with a filling of delicious cooked turkey mince, and a topping of creamy potato with a golden grated parmesan cheese topping. I know you can imagine such a pie very well.

Turkey Pie with creamy Potato topping


500 g Turkey mince

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs

3 large carrots, finely chopped

3 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 cup hot water

2 teaspoons Gravox thickener

8 large potatoes, peeled and sliced

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup milk

Grated parmesan cheese to cover the potato


Lightly saute the onion in oil, add the carrot, celery and garlic and saute until slightly softened. Add the turkey mince to the saucepan, then the herbs, and cook until the mince and vegetables are cooked. Add the gravox to the hot water to dissolve, and add this liquid to the mince mixture.

Cook until slightly thickened. This is the easiest way for Jim to thicken the mince mixture.

Add a good teaspoon of salt to a large saucepan of boiling water, and boil the potatoes until soft but not falling apart, and ready to be mashed. Drain the potatoes, and add some butter and the milk and mash the potatoes until smooth.

Grease a large baking dish with butter, add the turkey mixture, cover evenly with the mashed potato.

Rough up the surface of the potato with a fork. Jim was very specific about how this should be done.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top of the potato, and place the baking dish in a preheated moderate oven. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden on top. (Then we had a well deserved glass of red wine.)

When I make this pie again I am going to add fresh herbs instead of dried mixed herbs, such as finely chopped parsley and thyme, and a tablespoon of finely chopped tarragon. The fresh herbs will take the turkey to a whole new tasty level.

Now for dessert. Annette and I had peeled and cored the apples for which Jim was very thankful, and he located the bottled cherries in his pantry.

Cherry and Apple Crumble


8 Granny Smith cooking apples

2 x 680 g jars of Pitted cherries

1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

1/3 cup water

Let's cook the apples

  1.  Peel and core apples and slice thinly.
  2. Place in a saucepan with water (not too much), add sugar, and simmer gently until they are soft but slices still retain their shape.
  3. Allow to cool then pour into a pie dish.
  4. Add the cherries

For the Crumble:

1 cup plain flour (wholemeal is preferable)
3 tablespoons butter 
3 tablespoons brown or demerara sugar
3 tablespoons coconut
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon Rolled oats optional (use a little bit less flour)

  1. Place flour in a bowl then rub in butter with the fingertips.
  2. Add sugar, coconut, rolled oats and cinnamon and mix well until a good crumbly consistency.
  3. Sprinkle lightly on top of apples.
  4. Bake in a moderate oven until lightly browned on top.
  5. Serve hot or cold with boiled custard.

(Jim used a variation of this crumble recipe which was delicious.  He used Honey and Nut Granola cereal for crunch, add this after the flour, butter and demerara sugar are rubbed together into a crumbly consistency).

Serving up the Cherry and Apple Crumble

Serve the Cherry and Apple Crumble with homemade custard. Jim made custard by hand on his stove top using Uncle Toby's custard powder. He just knew which ingredients to measure out, how long to stir it and it was a perfect consistency. If he can do it, well so can anyone.

It was a great family night, and Jim's love of food and cooking shone through. 

Happy thanksgiving holiday to my readers in the United States. I expect you will be very busy in the kitchen today. I had my Turkey dinner with family a week early.

Thanks for dropping by and take care.

Warm wishes,


Saturday, November 13, 2021

in My Kitchen - November 2021

When I looked through all of my photos for the past month, and all the food I have created out of my kitchen, I realised it has been a busy month, it certainly feels like it, and this past week for example has gone so quickly. Christmas is just around the corner, so the next projects will be Plum puddings, Christmas cakes, and Mango Chutney. Could we just extend November though please? I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event.  If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month.  Or just head over to her blog to visit more kitchens

A recent dinner party for 12 people, and I brought out the Big Guns in my cooking repertoire when catering for a crowd. Curried Beef Lasagne, Moroccan Chickpea salad, and Chocolate Mousse. All can be prepared well in advance which I love, and were delicious. I also made a big green salad, just because we need our greens my friends.

A Moroccan Chickpea salad is the perfect partner for this Lasagne.

And then for sweets there was Chocolate Mousse based on Nigella Lawson's recipe. I worked on this recipe for a couple of days as I found it too rich to start with.

Stovetop cooking certainly improved for me when we installed our new stovetop this month.  It has made me realise just how fast and very hot two of my stove elements were, and now I need to be patient to achieve that level of heat if I need it. Here's a photo of Mr. HRK preparing to remove the old stovetop, with screwdriver in place of course. It became a major operation though, when we lost power, which was caused by a green faulty fuse box located two doors up the road, which our power runs from. Who knew our fuse box was there, not us? The fuse box  hadn't been maintained for 30 years apparently, because of a huge and very happy plant growing in front of it. Of course nobody admitted to planting the plant. The electrician arrived, our Power Company, Ergon, was called in, a convoy of vehicles lined the road, the plant was removed using a winch, and all was well by dinner time that night. Phew, what a drama. However because of the issues we had encountered, we had to wait for a specialist electrician to call the following day to install the stovetop, much to the chagrin of Mr. HRK, who had planned to do the job himself.

There's been an exciting development at our family. We've have invested in another Beehive, during this last month, Italian bees, not native bees although we have plenty of the latter in our garden all of the time. Farming bees is a real learning curve and a wonderful interest, and our friend and bee mentor whom we bought this hive from, told us that beekeepers who have had problems in the past become the best beekeepers. Well thanks Keith, here's hoping. We lost our hive last year when some Robber Bees infested it with a killer American virus, called American Foul Brood, which is eventually fatal to a hive. It was a big year for viruses in 2020. So we had to destroy the hive and every piece of equipment associated with it, which was so tough, and then wait until we felt strong enough to take on another hive. 

Here's a photo of Mr. HRK and Dylan, a young friend who lives nearby, preparing to smoke the hive to pacify the bees so they can check on their progress. By all accounts the bees are going well, and we should be able to add a "half super" box soon which is where they start making the delicious honey that we hope to harvest in the future. The weather here at the moment is hot and windy, and we saw a few of our bees on the bird bath yesterday trying to cool off. We have high hopes for this hive. The Queen bee came from Duaringa in Central Queensland so she has travelled quite a distance to be with us and her new hive. Beehave Lady Queen Bee,  we need you and some homemade honey.

Adding bark to the smoker

Lighting the smoker

Checking our hive. I didn't get close to take photos of the inside, but the bees seem to be very calm

Here's a lovely little bouquet of flowers in my kitchen that a friend gave me for cooking her dinner. The frangipanni perfume is quite intoxicating, and is one of my favourite flowers and contrasts beautifully with the blue flowers.

Halloween brought us a scary but lovely surprise this year. Generally we don't have any trick or treaters knock on our door, but this year we did. These two dear little girls have recently moved into the neighbourhood, we know their family well and it was lot of fun when they called to trick or treat with their Mum. Thankfully I had some chocolate on hand in the refrigerator so they were happy.

This morning, for a camping trip we are planning, I made a version of my Beef, Mango Chutney and Sauerkraut Goulash, however I seared the flour coated meat in a hot pan, and then added red wine and stock and simmered that down to capture all of the delicious beef scrapings. This is a step I sometimes omit if I am pushed for time, but I want this stew to be full of flavour, some of which might end up in pies.

I made a delicious Vietnamese chicken salad recently, which was perfect as the temperatures rose. Here's the link to the recipe if you missed it.

One of the highlights of my cooking adventures this month has been this Beef Brisket with prunes and vegetables. You can find the recipe at this link. Such a great recipe from Monday Morning Cooking Club, so tender and full of rich flavours.

Last month, 4 weeks ago in fact, when we said goodbye to our beautiful Border Collie, Locky. Our dining room table overflowed with beautiful flowers sent by our family.

There's a very funny story attached to the table runner that you can see on our family dining room table, well we can laugh about it now. We purchased it in Istanbul during a trip to Turkey about 6 years ago, during which of course we embarked on a compulsory carpet buying spree. We were targeted by a supposedly well meaning tourist guide, and taken to a questionable Government Carpet wholesaler. Mr. HRK and I still think we were lucky to escape with our lives in tact, slightly inebriated and well fed though, but we still don't believe this is the actual carpet we purchased.  However it was shipped home to us very quickly, and we weren't in a position  to take the matter any further, despite our doubts. All of the Lonely Planet guides and Turkish tourist books can't prepare you for what really happens during a carpet buying adventure in Istanbul. Older and wiser they say. This Magic Carpet is the curve ball of my story.

Best wishes,