Of Traveling

3200km in 9 days.

A burning art festival.

Some truly remote areas of this country.

And some very interesting insights into life, distance the take up of renewable energy and from the most unexpected of quarters a view on the true Australia.

Yes I have been traveling. More to come in the next few days.


Where do you get your inspiration?

So tonight’s meal was baked ham studded with cloves and a honey mustard glaze, broccoli fritters and a Croatian cabbage salad.

Not a bad knocked up meal.

The ham is inspired by a meal a Canadian friend made when he crashed at my place for a few weeks in his travels, the salad is from A.’s heritage and the fritters are from a new facebook page my friend Libby from libby cooks directed me to.

I get my inspiration from my upbringing as I have said in other posts my parents had little (well by first world standards) but what we had we used wisely. I have developed over time the skill to use what was at hand to make do.  Be it cooking, the travels I have done, and life in general. I would say frugal rather than cheap but I will accept either tag as at the end of the day they are just tags.

And like most I find inspiration online as well.

I posted a list of blogs today that I follow the one comment on reflection of these is that all of them have a thread of people living their dreams and lives and within their means. The world is certainly not in great shape at the moment and if we are all going to get by I would say that more people getting by on what they have is going to have to happen. Making do is going to have to stop being the norm of the 3rd world and become the realm of the first world. I hope these are skills I can pass onto my kids.

But enough preaching meal was as below.

Baked Ham

Take a piece of ham put whole cloves into the skin of the ham every centimetre or so. Mix honey and mustard together to taste then pour over the ham as a glaze. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for one hour. Slice and serve

Broccoli and Parmesan Fritters


Cabbage Salad

Finely sliced cabbage, salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar to taste.

The cheats blog for the day.

It is the weekend and I am at home with the kids today. A. is off to her community of sewers which will mean that I need to keep a sick 1 year old and a smart hyperactive 3 year old who uses her powers for evil at times entertained for the day.

And as it is not really conducive to creative writing I am going to cheat today and put up a few blogs that I read on a regular basis.

This is not all the blogs I follow a selection of a few. As you can see it is an odd mix of things and the only two things that bind them together is they are all different, and that they tell a human tale of life. Each has a different perspective. You don’t have to agree with everything on the blogs and I certainly don’t but that does not make their perspective or the fact it makes me think about my own perspective any less valuable to me.

Soon we will travel to another state to spend some time with an artist friend of ours and his friends as they run an art festival in the desert. To many of my work colleagues this seems odd. They mix in similar circles to themselves, families with kids.  There is nothing wrong with that but A. and I made the decision when the kids where born we would ensure thy mixed with all sorts of people. Life is diversity and as a permaculture principle you integrate not separate.

Hopefully at least one of these might perk your interest as well.


The Hungry Giant. This is one of the first blogs I subscribed to. It is a great little food blog and a very natural view of food from a culture that is both close and yet nicely different from my own. I already plan to make some of his tocino when I make bacon next (minus the msg) http://thehungrygiant.net/

The great Milkwood farm lots of good stuff here. http://milkwood.net/

The urban forager is great and makes we want to go back and live the UK again and makes me think about what I can use in my own area. I would say this is one of my favourite blogs. http://theurbaneforager.blogspot.com.au

My good friend Libby’s blog. Her amazing food and a strong ethic to life is covered in it. http://www.libby-cooks.com/

A bit commercial but a good read. I like the tales he tells as I grew up in the area he talks about and my views as redneck kid of the same things he does seem a little less romantic. But to his credit he lives his life to his dream. http://wholelarderlove.com/

Earthen Acres is wonderful little blog I don’t agree with everything from the author but that is life. What I love is the simple philosophy of being in control of your life and not going beyond your means. So much of our lives are made a misery by chasing things we really don’t want or need and this blog looks at this issue in a great way. http://earthenacres.wordpress.com/

Ranting of an amateur chef. I don’t always go for his food but get some great ideas and love how he pulls together so many meals on so many days. I worry my email is not working I don’t get my daily update. http://rantingchef.com/2012/07/13/cioppino/

My good friend Josh at apocalypse. http://apocalypseequipped.blogspot.com.au/

 400 days till 40 is my morning coffee at work read. http://400daystil40.wordpress.com/

A good mix of eclectic stuff here on food and life. http://jibuyabu.wordpress.com/

I particularly like the stories of Europe http://comeduemaiali.wordpress.com/

Tales from the land next door that I need to spend some time in. http://atdownunder.com/

Is what we are doing good making us bad?

This is my 50th post and thought I had better do a bit of ‘not an urban hippy’ philosophy. Of late the blog has been more like a food blog and that is ok but today something a bit different.

So the weekend was an interesting one from a number of points of view but perhaps the thing that stood out in the weekend right up to Monday was the sense that a lot of people seem to be using their ‘I have done good’ to excuse them from basic manners and what I will call basic goodness. All these things I mention below are small things but they seem to me to add up to a certain feeling…

It started on Saturday with our usual run to the farmers market. We had a good morning chatted to our usual vendors and bought a bit more and bit less than usual. Then on the way out I spotted that someone has left an empty coffee cup behind our car. Not a biggie a minute for me to drop it in a bin but it seemed to me that one of the things that a lot of those folks who go to a market covet is a ‘green tinge’ and here they can’t do the most basic of environmental things and ensure that they put their rubbish in the bin.

As with all first Saturdays of the month we headed to a local swap meet next. We sit, we swap we have coffee the kids run around and Andrea chats. Or that is on a normal day. However this was a little different, I am on the news letter of a local transitional network and knew they would be out in numbers at this event having advertised this to us all. They had overwhelmed the place and the usual suspects had fled it seemed. I got a taste of ‘transitional networks view of community’ when I was waiting in line for a coffee you pay by donation. I had been waiting patiently for a while as there was just a couple of poor volunteers serving people and low and behold a couple of the transitional group wandered inserted themselves in the spare foot in front of me a and the counter and demanded a coffee and cake. When I raised an eye brow the people acknowledged me and then turned their back on me. No doubt safe in their knowledge that they were building a better society based on community and basic values like politeness… We fled like the other regular attendees.

Onto Monday and as I reflected on this I passed the salvos and the two other charity shops on the way to work it hit me again. People had dumped crap everywhere most of it would be unsaleable. The salvos and other charities spend millions each year getting rid of rubbish dumped at their stores rather than helping people. And perhaps with a slightly different perspective I now noticed this and thought I am sure these people console themselves that ‘we are donating this stuff’ when in reality they are getting rid of stuff they might have to pay to get properly dealt with. But with a very clean conscience no doubt.

These are just small things I noticed. I was perhaps a little bit more aware having read a few articles lately one of which was an article on how the purchase of fair trade and organic items seemed to predispose people to acts like littering and not showing basic politeness.

My own philosophy on this is simple. Being of old redneck stock I was taught basic manner by my parents and grandparents. I take my hat off when I go indoors, I open doors for people, I oddly still call the older people who where around when I grew up as Mr and Mrs, I say hello to people and speak to my neighbours (I even help them) and I teach my kids to say thank you when some does the same for them.  My opinion is If you wish to build a good community and society you need to stop with the view that you have done your good now you can just go back to your normal self. Be good because it is good. Be polite becuase if you can’t be how the hell can you hope ot build a comunity based on mutual respect. At the end of the day if all you get is a better world what have you lost?

But enough of the rant there is kilo and half of pork to be salted for making bacon. Bacon hmm yes more like a food blog…

So this is what it should taste like …

The other day one of the managers at work who has this amazing garden said she would bring in some mushrooms for the family to eat. She does something I plan to do this year and has some inoculated logs which grow shitake mushrooms. She grows them both on traditional oak logs and some eucalypt logs and each apparently imparts a slightly different flavour to the mushrooms.

The ones given to me where from the eucalyptus logs and the first thing A. and I noticed was the smell. We have both been in Japan and eaten shitake there these had that same smell but just a little different a bit spicier for want of better way to describe it.

Given such wonderful food I decided to can the original dinner idea and use them while they where less than 24 hours from picking. I made a classic dish shawanmushi (savoury custard) with shitake mushrooms and very simple pork and mushroom stir fry.

Both dishes came out perfectly and A. and the particularly the kids loved them. The mushrooms had flavour and a very different texture to store bought shitake. As A and I both said this obviously is how they are supposed to taste.

What a great gift for us we were very lucky… and yes I definitely have permission to grow my own mushroom logs next year.  And for a return gift … well I think some of my homemade blackberry wine will be the go.

Shawanmushi (savoury custard)

  • Mix two packets of bonito powder with 2 cups of warm water.
  • Slice 2 mushrooms finely
  • ½ tablespoon of soy
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of sake
  • 3 eggs (the girls are laying despite the winter)
  • 1 finely sliced spring onion

Mix all ingredients except mushrooms and spring onions together but try to avoid frothing up the mixture.  Pour into bowls to steam (cups work well here) and place the mushrooms on top. Place in a tray with water ¾ of the way up the mixture. I tried it in the oven as I have done before but couldn’t get the heat right so put the tray on two gas hobs to finish it.

When almost cooked and you can tell this when the juice coming out is clear and the top is just set. Place a share of the sliced spring onion on the top to finish cooking for 5 more minutes.

Japanese Mushroom and Pork Stir Fry

  • 400 grams of sliced pork
  • As many mushroom as you have sliced (I had four good sized mushrooms)
  • A bunch of spring onions sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of soy
  • 1 tablespoon of sake
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

Fry sliced pork in a little neutral vegetable oil (I used sunflower) when almost cooked add the spring onions and mushrooms. Fry lightly and then add the other ingredients (not too much of the other ingredients please as you want to just bind it together and not over power the mushrooms). Cook together for a few minutes till the soy and sugar are just lightly caramelised.

Serve on steamed rice.

So you don’t have time to make dinner …

When I got back from japan at the start of the week ago it was a bit of shock to go from 22 -25 degree Celsius and a nice level of humidity to the cold that is Melbourne this time of year.

It was a bit busy as it always is when you get back catching up on life work and everything and it would have been very easy to reach for the take out for the week and blame it on the life and travel. I didn’t and am glad for it. Life is about the living and buying take out and eating meals at work does not count as living for me…

A bit of planning and some quick recipes and we ended up with some nice meals and bit of cash in our pockets. I am going to do a post on cash and the saving of it. It is not about the money saved but what can be done by the money saved.

So the meals for the week

Tuesday off the plane and to work day.

One pot rissoni, with beans and chorizo (takes less than 15 minutes and I made a double batch)

  • 1 tablespoon of Sunflower oil
  • 1 Chorizo
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves sliced
  • 440 gm. can of tomatoes
  • 440 gm. Can of beans
  • 1 & 1/3 Can of water
  • 1 cup of Rissoni
  • White Pepper
  • Salt to taste.

Add oil, cubed chorizo and sliced onion fry till onion is golden. Add garlic and continue to fry for 2 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, water, rissoni (small pasta shaped like rice) and good batch of white pepper and salt to taste. Bring to boil. Simmer till rissoni is cooked (about 5 – 7 minutes as the rissoni cooks very quickly)

Serve  with some fresh herbs or some sort of cheese on top you have (I have used cheddar, parmesan, feta and salted ricotta at various times all with success)

Wednesday we had the mix of A. going to her sewing group and my parents getting back into town so I cheated … kind of and pulled out some frozen homemade pumpkin and bacon soup out and put it on the stove. Served with bread and feta on top and quick salad it heated up while I got the kids to bed. It feed 6 of us and enough for lunch the next day (see a post on bulk cooking shortly for the recipe)

Thursday packet pasta with tomato and veg as we get our ceres pack that night

Latina tortellini (or any other type of pasta even unfilled) dropped in hot water to soak while you cook the rest of the meal.

Slice 2- 3 garlic cloves, 1 onion, capsicum, some bacon or in this case a smoked chicken breast. Fry all ingredients till onion is just coloured. Drop in a 440gram of tomatoes and a can of water. White pepper, chili, salt and ½ teaspoon of brown sugar. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add drained pasta and 1 cup of frozen peas. Cook till pasta is done.

Served with a big salad took 20 minutes while Andrea bathed kids.

Friday left overs and another huge salad from our ceres box.

Yes it was a busy week but when is it not a busy week for any of us? I am not putting this up to say nah nah but simply to show that with a bit of planning and a few skills anyone can eat well and live a bit more.