Friday, 29 May 2009

The Caveman Diet

...or Paleolithic Diet. The first time I heard this term was on SBS's "Food Investigators" two weeks ago. It had me intrigued. The Paleolithic period started about 2.5 million years ago. Or so I read. So what would you eat? Red meat, fish, eggs, fruit, vegetables and nuts. No dairy, no grains.

How long did the cavemen live? 25-30 years? Just guessing here. So how healthy would a diet like this be in the long run? Let's say for 70-80 years?

Would YOU be able to eat like this? What would you miss most?
Me? Grains. Potatoes - seriously!

There are tons of articles and websites to be found. Here is one article to give you an overview of what the diet is all about.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Pretty Protea

They are starting to flower.

Stunning bushes and gorgeous flowers.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009


Just a tasting portion for lunch. Crumbed Saffron Milk Caps.
Cut in thick slices. Season the flour with salt & pepper, onion & garlic powder. Or any other seasoning.

Fried in butter and oil. Golly gosh! What a ripper!Even the Flower Gnome 'could have happily done with another piece or two'. Now that is saying something!

Now I am thinking - maybe mushroom parmigiana? Or just like schnitzel, with mash and veg?

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Globe Artichokes

They are coming up again and looking good. These are the easiest things to grow, if you have enough room in the garden. They need a bit of space. They are drought resistant, frost resistant and fuss free.
I still haven't disposed of the old spent stalks that I cut off and laid on the ground.

This means I have tons of little ones coming up around the seed heads.
Anyone for globe artichoke seedlings? Or established plants? I have to thin out the existing clumps a bit further.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Mushroom picking time

...or 'Invasion of the Forest Gnomes'?Gosh, what great fun to take a bunch of people to pick some Saffron Milk Caps.

Kel & Si came prepared with knives and brushes. The brushes were a really good idea. Clean them straight away. Saves you heaps of time afterwards.

Pip only picked a tasting portion. Let's hope she'll like them. There are tons left.

Afterwards we all had a taste of each others' produce. Quince paste from Pip (absolutely delicious!) and walnuts from Kel (fantastic taste!). And some custard/berry tart from us.
Thanks, folks, for coming over and making it such an enjoyable afternoon.

Serving ideas. Sauté them in butter, garlic, onion and salt & pepper. Add parsley or chives.
Then the fun starts.

Use in tortillas with or instead of your refried bean filling (plus shredded lettuce, grated cheese, sour cream, etc.).

Use as filling in puff pastry parcels.

Pile on toasted bread, cover with grated cheese, put under grill till cheese is melted and golden brown.

Use in omelette.

Eat straight from pan when nobody is watching. :)

Thursday, 21 May 2009


Having been bitten by the mushroom bug, we went and had a look around the area whether we too could find some edible mushies.

We could not believe our eyes! There was a cluster, and there, and then we discovered an even more amazing fact. These mounds on the slope, were not just ordinary mounds - they were mushroom hide-outs. Scrape off a thick layer of pine needles and you unearth a big cluster of the best Saffron Milk Caps imaginable.

These were some of the visible ones.Anyway, we went totally overboard and within 20 minutes our baskets were overflowing. 9.5 kilos of Caps!The cleaning took more than 4 hours! What a chore! If they were cleaned as quickly as they were picked ....

Quite a few of them were vacuum sealed, fresh, either sliced or whole. Ready for the freezer.
Some of them I sliced and sautéed in butter and portioned into containers to stow in the freezer, too.

The rest were either sliced or, the smaller ones, left whole to dry.
What fun! What absolutely incredible fun!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Pig in a dressing gown

What to do with a generous pile of wild mushrooms, kindly given to us by Kel of the Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius delisiosus) fame? (Not for lack of recipe ideas, but because of their preciousness.)

Pig in a dressing gown, of course! This dish is from an Austrian recipe book in English that Flower Gnome bought in a souvenir shop in Austria ages ago. The title was not well translated, as you may have guessed by now, and it actually is pork fillet in puff pastry. Same preparation as Beef Wellington.

Sauté mushrooms in generous amount of garlic, chopped onion and salt & pepper until tender. Add parsley or chives. Let cool. (Try not to quality test too often!)Take sheet of puff pastry, add a generous layer of mushrooms, then add seared and seasoned pork fillet. Wrap, bake till golden brown.
Serve with roasted sweet potatoes and stir-fried vegetables.There were plenty of mushrooms left over to freeze 2 portions for another time. Gosh, they were delicious! Great texture and taste!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Egyptian Gold Flour

When we went on our mini-break in Clare, we passed through Tarlee. I had always wanted to visit Four Leaf Milling's shop to see their product range. So that's what we did.

Woohooo! I was like a child in a lolly shop. The range is fantastic! The lady in the shop was very knowledgeable and friendly. We were able to stock up on flour, grains, seeds, etc. Do visit them, if you are in the area.

Anyway, I was intrigued by their Egyptian Gold Flour.

On Sunday I was finally able to experiment with it. Pancakes for brunch. I had made them many times before (a Jamie Oliver recipe) and they are always a hit.

This time however, the reaction from Flower Gnome was unprecedented.

"Ecstasy!" was the first exclamation.

Ummm... I think I'll censor the second exclamation! *LOL*

This was my plate.
Flower Gnome insisted I take a picture of a 'proper' helping - which obviously includes ice-cream. So here is her plate.There were two types of pancakes. Banana and pears. Topped with maple syrup. Heaven!

The flour changed the texture quite a bit. The pancakes were fluffier but also had more umphh (maybe I should translate that into 'bite'). It is not as finely ground as the usual flour. The taste was excellent. Slightly nutty.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Winter Pasta

It's great fun trying to create new dishes with seasonal produce.

Last night's tea.

Tasmanian Mountain Pepper Pasta:Make usual pasta dough and add finely crushed Tasmanian Mountain Pepper corns. Err on the cautious side, as they can be quite overpowering. I used 3 peppercorns to 1 cup of semolina. Enough pasta for 2 hungry people. There was a lovely hint of pepper in the pasta. You don't want more than that.

Brusselsprouts, cauliflower, red capsicums, garlic, (good quality) speck, garlic chives, pink peppercorns (can't seem to see them in the picture) and chopped roasted chestnuts.
Fry everything until slightly golden brown or just done. Add splash of stock or white wine, season. Let simmer till alcohol evaporates. Add cooked pasta. Sprinkle chopped garlic chives and shaved parmesan over the whole lot.

Enjoy!I would add more chopped roasted chestnuts next time. I hadn't used them in this way before, so was a bit stingy with them.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Today's view

It's been foggy, windy, rainy and dark the whole day. Wonderful weather to stay inside and get some work done.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

'Bad chook!'

Yes, that's what you can hear at our place at the moment. The first time Flower Gnome said that to a renegade chook, I nearly keeled over.

The little buggers are still breaking into our orchard and veggie / berry / flower garden. They dig up Flower Gnome's iris and bulb beds and totally mess up the thick mulch around the fruit trees. Very frustrating.

We had free-range chicken curry last night. Delicious! No, not our chooks. But it is very tempting to eat 'Bad Chooks!'.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Riesling Trail

Another great treat in the Clare Valley is to hire a bike and cycle along the Riesling Trail. The path is well-maintained, pretty flat and easy to tackle.

Setting off from our cottage.After a very dry and scorched summer we enjoyed the sight of lush, green paddocks.And on we pedalled. Unfortunately, we had not cycled for nearly 10 years (how did that happen?!) and the bike seats were getting very hard and uncomfortable.So we heeded this sign in Penwortham (10km from Clare) and stopped here. A cup of coffee, surrounded by books.
Then back to our cottage as our bodies demanded a long hot spa! Aaahhhh....

Monday, 11 May 2009

Port & Chocolates

That probably describes best the indulgence of our weekend away.

Not that we had a lot of port or chocolates, but it is something we normally don't have.
The Clare Valley is magnificent in its autumn colours at the moment. The air is crisp, the food delicious, the wines outstanding. Everybody was friendly and relaxed. One comment from a visitor from Queensland (we were having a delicious Ploughman's Platter at a winery when we overheard this) was that she could not get over how friendly South Australians were. Then she continued, 'They must all be on Happy Pills.'

Yes. We were on Happy Pills this weekend. It's called holidays.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Visit the Veiled Garden!

The garlic bed is looking pretty. The raised bed behind holds leeks.
The first bed holds white mustard, beetroot, carrots, spring onions.
In the second bed you find cabbage growing. The third bed, with the tall loops, has broccoli.The long bed in front, covered by an old curtain, holds freshly sown purple dragon carrots.

All this covering, first of all to keep out the chooks (as they tend to break into the veggie garden and do terrible damage to mulched beds), and to keep out the Cabbage White - so as to avoid all these caterpillars munching on all the greenery.

Two late-maturing varieties of apples - Granny Smith and Lady William. Netted to avoid the winged rats getting our fruit.Inside Lady William's veil:

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Crabapple Wine

Really? It looks more like the water in our dam at the moment.

Anyway. The crabapples spent about 10 days in the fermenter to do some fermenting. Siphoned off the liquid, squeezed juice out of the crabs, then added sugar and raisins to the lot. Now for some more fermenting.

In the next picture you can see the second fermenter with crabapples in the background. I started this batch 1 week later. That lot has to ferment a bit longer.

Then I will do the same thing again. Siphon off, add sugar and raisins and let ferment a bit more. Once the fermenting has stopped, it will all go into bottles. Then wait for at least 6 months. I sure hope it will then look and (more importantly) taste like proper wine. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Spicy Cauliflower & Potato

As soon as it gets colder, it is time to eat more curry.

This time we tried Spicy Cauliflower & Potato.
Basically, it is a curry stir-fry or a stir-fry curry? Anyway, it is delicious. Topped with cumin seeds and garlic slivers that were browned in a little oil.
Served with freshly made naan and a dollop of raita.