A Recipe Book For Those With Food Intolerances.

My daughters have eaten all manner of interesting food whilst travelling the world including moose, armadillo, duck tongues and sea urchins. Do you think I’ve ever been able to get either of them to eat cucumber? Not on your life ! It wasn’t until they were both in their early twenties that I could stop hiding Brussel Sprouts in their meals. How I adore the much maligned Brussel Sprout – my favourite all-time veg.

Thankfully my offspring have never suffered from any food allergies. I remember the increasing difficulty of holding celebratory Morning Teas at the Office because of the various food intolerances so many suffered. It became easier to cater for your own needs only and not to share-a-plate.

Blogger, Jillian, from FeedMyFamilyblog.com has a husband and a son who each have 8 food intolerances, 3 of which are shared.

Jillian is one of those “quiet achievers” who knuckled down during the social constraints of the Pandemic to produce a Recipe Book from her years of tweaking meals to better meet the needs of her family. Mothers’ And Others’ Recipes From the Heart has recently been published in both e-book and print format and includes recipes handed down through the generations with variations to cater for different dietary requirements.

Recipes cover Biscuits and Slices, Cakes, Desserts, Dips and Savoury Nibbles, Salads and Main Meals. They are easy to read and to follow. More importantly these are all meals that can be integrated into everyday meal times.

Under the name of each recipe is a colour coded reference to advise which intolerance the recipe caters for : Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Soy Free, Sulphate Free or Nut Free.

At the end of each there are notes should you wish to make further variations such as swapping one ingredient for another.

This book has been produced with much love and with contributions from Jillian’s family and friends.

One disappointment only: not one Brussel Sprout in sight!

Here’s a link for further information:

Mothers’ and Others’: Recipes From the Heart

You’ve got to respect those amongst us who have achieved something other than a batch of sour dough or brownies during ISO, don’t you?

NOTE:

Although Jillian and I both live in Brisbane we have never met, yet we have shared information about local WordPress events and Book Fairs. She asked for an honest review which I like to think I achieved by replicating one of the recipes in her book – the Roast Vegetable Couscous (with tweaks as I’m spring cleaning the pantry and defrosting the fridge in readiness for Christmas).

Delicious – even if I had to hide the pumpkin.

A Rollercoaster Of A Week

What a rollercoaster ride we all experienced last week and that does not even include events on the other side of our world. Two of our most important sporting events were held according to our new Covid World and OMG it was ……….different.

 These were followed by The Junior Master Chef Semi Finals last night. The cooks are aged between 9 and 14 years and lets just say that they decimate my confidence in the kitchen. Grand Final tonight so I’m expecting tears. That’s me – not the contestants.

Take these cooks for example :

Mirror Glazed Carrot Mousse with Carrot Jelly and Biscuit courtesy of 10 play.com
Brownies with Candied Beetroot, White Chocolate and Beetroot Rocks courtesy of 10 play.com

One sweet little thing in pigtails cooked a pumpkin tart with a parsnip flavoured ice-cream. Who eats parsnip flavoured ice cream? Why would you even think of such a flavour? I don’t get it. My favourite contestant, a lad aged 10 whose favourite snack is Pate and Blue Vein Cheese has since been eliminated, though I see he is now giving online cooking classes…..OMG

On a more personal level last week I experienced a couple of Epic Fails.

My attempt at making clay wind chimes, without a lie, almost burnt the house down. Who was the imbecile that declared that creating home made gifts was a positive mindfulness experience ? Unless mindfulness includes a heap of expletives…..

And I had a death in the family. My favourite Rosemary bush carked it, requiring a massive effort for its removal. There’s more to the story including sewerage pipes, Grevillea trees, and several trips to the Dump but you get the gist.

The books by my bedside grew yet again. I’m drowning in them, I tell you.

And then there was this. Bless my cotton pickin’ socks.

Spring, Bruschetta and Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers.

Spring in Queensland is delightful and I am suffering from an over supply of tomatoes and basil from the garden. Obvious solution : Bruschetta in front  a  Sunday afternoon movie. ( Shenandoah with Jimmy Stewart for those interested. An old favourite and the tune is hauntingly beautiful).

Spring also marks the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, an annual event  for over seventy years that ensures thousands of tourists visit for the magnificent displays of colour, the heritage, culture, food and country hospitality. 

Toowoomba, 2 hours drive west of Brisbane, is Queensland’s biggest inland town, and at 700 metres above sea level has a kinder climate than our capital. The floral displays may not have been as diverse this year because of Covid 19 though the parklands full of garden beds were every bit as beautiful.

Looking out east from the top of the range to Brisbane and the coast
Poet, Dorothea Mackellar got it so right!

There are simply too many places of interest to visit in Toowoomba to mention in one post so I will tackle them in future posts. The Cobb and Co Museum is Number 1 to add to the Must Do List: it takes you back to the times of  horse-drawn carriages and steam trains with its interactive displays and heritage trade workshops in silversmithing, millinery, whip plaiting and blacksmithing. A great place for the Little People to become immersed and the fresh scones are only as country folk can prepare them. ( Question : Why is this ?????)

Bitterly disappointed to discover the Milne Bay Military Museum permanently closed as it requires a new location. When I last visited I was bogged down in school projects and laundry and was clueless about the Kokoda Track. Shame! Shame! Shame! Might be time for a few letters from a garrulous retiree or two….

So good to see you again, Spring….

Food and Music Save The Day.

The times they are a changin’. – Sir Bobness

Music from the 70’s has been my companion this week. When I downsized I tossed the Wedgewood and retained my vinyl collection. When I divorced I tossed the bloke and retained the music. Best decisions I made in years.

The music has kept me sane after having had our Prime Minister declare that there would be no overseas travel until 2024 – by which time, I wailed, that I would be dead- and the Northern Territory will keep its borders closed for eighteen months ( to provide biosecurity for the Indigenous population). I have no issues with being realistic but holy guacamole, a little hope goes a long way.

So lots of Donovan, Carpenters, Carly and Sir Bobness. In a different lifetime Sir Bobness ruled my house. I remember seeing him perform at the Sydney Opera House, one of those dreadful concerts for which he is renowned. I was decked out in smart work clobber, he and the rest of the audience wore cheese cloth. Some months later, having learned my lesson, I wore cheesecloth and little else to the Opera House to enjoy an evening with Donovan. He performed in a three piece suit.

So of course I’ve been cooking 70s style to go with the music. No fondues because I use that these days as a peg basket, though meatloaf stuffed with hardboiled eggs and plenty of stuffed cauliflower. My daughters don’t know whether to be appalled, impressed or alarmed.

No recipe books required – it’s all there in the wings which is a bit of a worry.

Next week we’ll move on to the 80’s. You’ll be pleased to learn I skipped the 90’s.




A New Cookbook In The Works.

Following weeks of Self Isolation I was anxious about the results of my 6 monthly blood tests and was fully prepared for a lecture from my General Practitioner.

You know, weeks of channelling Nigella Lawson cooking comfort food with a wine in hand, scones for morning and afternoon tea, and outdoor activities reduced to picnics by the water and gardening. (I planted vegetables like a madman in case carrots and spuds went the way of toilet paper…..)

It was good to get frocked up for the appointment though I was feeling decidedly blobby. Putting make up on felt really strange and I hadn’t had a hair cut since the week before Christmas. If there’s a remake of The Adams Family on the cards I’m a shoe in for the part of Cousin It.

Plus I was nervous about the pending lecture.

Well blow me down with a feather all test results were damn fine. *Kidneys, Liver, Sugars, Cholesterol, Blood Pressure and I’ve dropped 5 kilos.

Repeat :

Lost 5 kilos in Lockdown.

Forget the Paleo, Keto, Atkins, and Israeli Diets. I’m working on a Covid Recipe Book which highly features Brie and Bordeaux, Shiraz and Salami, and Crackers with Chardonnay.

*Thank goodness there is no test for Brain Cells. That may have been a totally different matter.

Note:

With the easing of restrictions in Queensland enjoyed a Chicken Schnitty at the local this week. Starting to feel human again.

Still need a haircut.

Damn Damper

Home Isolation means that I’m cooking and eating way too much. Mostly good healthy tucker using fresh vegetables from the garden, but it’s the need for “comfort food” like Damper that is getting me in trouble.

Damper is an iconic Australian bread historically prepared by stockmen, drovers and swagmen as flour and salt could easily be carried. Just add water – literally. Damper could be cooked over the coals of a campfire or in a camp oven, and was eaten with salted beef or lashings of Golden Syrup ( also known as Cocky’s Delight or Cocky’s Joy).

According to the Australian Dictionary Centre the name was derived from “damping” the fire, covering it with ashes. This preserved the red coals, ready to re-kindle the fire the following morning. The damper was buried in the ashes to bake. 

Damper has seen a revitalisation and gentrification of sorts. Each Australia Day, the 26th of January, the traditional Damper recipe is tweaked by thousands across the nation and is served alongside prawns, barbecued lamb chops, and lamingtons or pavlova. Ingredients can include goats cheese, chives, dried tomatoes, olives and spinach leaves. Even pistachio nuts. These days the bread base can include baking soda, powdered milk, or beer. No longer is the humble Damper something simply to warm the belly and enjoy with a Billy Tea, but rather a culinary experience. 

I prefer individual Dampers which are cooked and served on a stick. This method was popular as they were just the right size to soak up the meat juices, baked beans or fried eggs when travelling the outback. Yes, my weakness – soaking up the meat juices very a la Henry VIII. No apologies whatsoever to vegetarians. They were hung off a string that went from one side of the fire to the other and cooked over the heat of the fire. That’s the Dampers, not the vegetarians.

They’ve always been a success when I’ve cooked them. And who said we have to wait till next January?

Recipe

2 cups of Self raising flour

1 cup of water

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon of butter

Mix. Divide into eight oblongs. Stick a skewer through the middle. Cook on bbq 15 minutes.

                                                   Or

Place in cake tin, wrap in alfoil, and surround with embers. Cook for 45 to 55 minutes.

A Scone, Anyone?

Is there anything better than a freshly cooked scone and a hot cup of tea? 

Don’t look at me: couldn’t cook a scone if my life depended on it. But if you happen to sample a scone cooked by one those magnificent cooks from the CWA with their secret recipes, the answer is No, No, and No!

The Country Women’s Association of Australia, or CWA, is the largest women’s organisation with 1855 branches across the country. Its aims are to improve the conditions for country women and children and to try to make life better for women and their families, especially those women living in rural and remote Australia. The organisation is self-funded, nonpartisan and nonsectarian.

One of their popular fundraises over the years has been to publish a book of recipes from within their ranks. Honestly, every female over fifty would have a well worn copy of a CWA Cookbook in the cupboards. No cause for shame – embrace it…..

First formed in 1922, the CWA during the Depression helped those in need with food and clothing parcels. During World War II, they provided meals for the troops in rural areas and made camouflage nets and knitted balaclavas and socks. More recently, they offer rural women a network, scholarships for education, as well as assisting with practical support during times of drought, fire and flood.

Date and Ginger Scones

A visit to the CWA tea room at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney has been a Must Do for more than 70 years. More important than the Grand Parade, the Farm Animals and the Show Bags, a Devonshire Tea was always the first port of call ( before the blokes headed off for a beer at the * Cattleman’s Bar, family commitments having been met).  In recent years the CWA would raise approx $150,000 from the sale of about 50,000 scones, tea, coffee and products made by members each year.

With this years Show cancelled the CWA have come up with a new initiative whereby you can purchase a virtual scone or a virtual Devonshire Tea. Go here :

Who said you couldn’t teach old dogs new tricks?

*Also renowned as a pick up spot after 6pm, but you didn’t hear that from me.

Note: Thank you Cat Balou for keeping me updated about the CWA scones. I haven’t forgotten that you shouted Devonshire Tea at the CWA Tea Rooms the last time we attended the EKKA ( Brisbane Show).

Awassi Cheesery, Grantham, in the Lockyer Valley, QLD.

Recently I alluded to a trip I had been invited to join by Queensland Tourism to discover the hidden treasures of the Lockyer Valley.

I don’t know about you but I’m getting antsy. I’ve had three trips cancelled so far this year – Margaret River WA, Longreach in Outback QLD and P.N.G – with a fourth highly questionable. Although we can’t travel yet, we can always start to plan our next, can’t we?

Every story is a ride to some place and time other than here and now. Buried in an armchair, reclined on a couch, prostrate on your bed, or glued to your desk, you can go places and travel through time. – Author: A.A. Patawaran

The Lockyer Valley is just over 90 minutes drive from Brisbane and both the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and sits in the shadow of the range up to Toowoomba. It is one of the most fertile and productive regions in Australia though floods, fire and drought have sorely tested the region over recent years.

Awassi Cheesery is a relative newcomer to the area and is a boutique sheep farm and dairy nestled in the Grantham Hills.

Never heard of an Awassi Sheep? Dating back to biblical times the breed originated in the deserts of Syria and Arabia and are a popular throughout the middle east. Not only are they hardy, they are a good wool-producing sheep (for carpets). Their milk is naturally homogenised, high in fat and proteins, low in lactose and makes a very high quality of cheese.

Awassi Cheesery is a ‘Farmstead Cheesery’ where all cheeses are produced from the milk collected on the same farm where the cheese is produced. Nothing is imported.They are handcrafted in the full sense of the word, from the paddock to the milking parlour to the cheesery. Every aspect of making the finest cheese is under the watchful eye of the cheese maker.

So, things to do at the Awassi Cheesery, other than be impressed by the rolling hills :

Cheese classes and tastings
Dairy and cheesery tours
Hands on cheese making experience
Farm gate outlet sales
Awassi all natural cosmetic and skin care range
Farmstays – milking, cheesemaking and animal welfare.

There are also special events such as enjoying an Awassi Luncheon in the Avocado Grove which you can read more about at http://www.awassiqueensland.com.au.

Slow Cooked Awassi

In typical farmer mode the Pigott’s are resilient and creative recently turning to producing a Fig Leaf Tea from produce in their Fig Orchard.

Did you know that an Awassi’s tail can be over 2 kilos in weight and the fat content is used to create an all natural line of cosmetics?

If you like your cheese put this on your Must Do List. Well worth the effort!

The Avocado Grove

Cocky’s Delight

My daughter and her husband gave up the bright lights of the city to live in a remote northern region of our country. The pearl earrings and stilettos have been placed into storage, and the small car that was so brilliant for parking in tiny city spaces has been traded in for a beast that includes sleeping quarters, bull bar and racks for fishing rods. Hilarious as neither of them have fished in their lives.

When they visited over Christmas I thought I’de share a few meal preparation tips for basic and rural living because there certainly weren’t going to be any 3 or 4 Hat restaurants where they were headed. The only hats around would be wide brimmed with corks hanging off them to deter the flies.

This in itself was strange because I too am a city lass and have never been camping in my life. Never, unless you include camping in the back garden with the stereo, the drinks fridge and bathroom equipped with bubblebath.

Lessons from my childhood came flooding back, the lessons from a father who after years in Bomber Command during World War 2, returned to a position held for him for four years and who then allowed him twelve months leave to “find himself”. What did my private school educated, city slicker father do during those twelve months? Went sheep shearing, and shooting foxes and rabbits for their pelts of course.

This was the reason that as a child there was always a tin of Golden Syrup, or as it was better known, Cocky’s Delight or Cocky’s Joy, in the pantry. You see it was not as expensive as jam, did not need to be refrigerated, and came in a tin making it easily transportable, especially in saddle bags. Spread across damper straight off the coals it was considered the bees knees and bushies loved it.

My father was always happiest sitting in front of a fireplace shaped from large rocks way down the back yard, with fresh damper covered with Cockys Delight, and hot Billy Tea. Used to scare the bejesus out of us kids when he swung that billy tea around his head, as old bushies used to do

A cocky is a small farmer. He usually selected himself a 300 or 500 acre holding, clears it, fences it, pays for it, sows wheat in it – and then he goes to bed to wait for his crop.

The next morning he gets up and finds the paddock white with cockatoos grubbing up his seed. He is there to sow and reap -cockatoos. And that, they say, is how he got his name as a cockatoo farmer – a cocky.

⁃   C E W Bean, On The Wool Track. 1910.

So when the daughter visited I cooked Golden Syrup Dumplings. Minimal effort, minimal ingredients, and simple to cook on a camp oven. Flour, Butter, Cockys Delight and a dash of milk. I cooked it in the slow cooker and the daughter agreed it was a tasty alternative to Black Forest Cake and Pavlova which were going to be difficult to source in Arnham Land.

In hindsight I wonder if this was a precursor to the Depression style cooking now so prevalent thanks to the missing staples on our supermarket shelves…..

Good News In A Week That The Media Are Determined Will Break us : Part 2

Yes, I know. Such a bizarre world we are living in right now, and yet I have more good news. Except that I read today that Dan Murphys has a shortage of rum across Brisbane. Just as well I only like rum on bananas en flambe, or poured over ice cream.

The Lockyer Valley is an area of rich farmland that sits between Toowoomba and Queensland’s capital city Brisbane. Farmers in the valley produce around 95% of winter vegetables that are supplied across Australia.

I was recently invited to travel across the Lockyer Valley in a tour hosted by celebrity chef Alastair McLeod, Ambassador for this area for some years. McLeod, some of you may know, is of Irish/ Torres Straight Island descent and has a passion for fresh produce. One evening he cooked for the group utilising the produce from local butchers and farmers where we had stopped along the way. One thing I took away from meeting McLeod, other than his sincerity in pushing fresh Australian produce, is that good meat doesn’t have to melt in your mouth. “It’s ok to masticate”, he said. And that he likes a red with his beef.

My travels across the Lockyer indicated lots of new growth with undulating hills covered in various shades of green and parklands fresh and full of new life. But looks can be deceiving. The Lockyer Valley is in “Green Drought” mode which essentially means that although the area has most certainly benefited from recent rainfall the moisture hasn’t soaked deep into the earth. Our farmers are still battling. When our farmers hurt, their communities hurt. And they need help.

Blogs covering my experiences in the Lockyer Valley will be published elsewhere in coming months 🙂

As a fellow blogger recently stated, thank you Karen J Schoff for the inspiration, “Sometimes we can be so keen to explore the rest of the world we can overlook the places and history that is just around the corner”.

Quintessential Heritage Listed Qld Pub in Forest Hill.

Ever so grateful for such a wonderful opportunity in retirement, on so many levels. Sending a rude gesture to the schmuck who berated anyone over 45 for wasting space. Don’t come anywhere near me if I’m holding a golf club ya dipstick.