Monday, 16 June 2008

Stock - the old fashioned way

I recently had a customer come in and ask how could she make stock – the ones in the supermarket were full of preservatives and flavor enhancers and also contained gluten which she had a problem with.
Now I know it is very quick and easy to pick up a carton of Campbell’s stock on your shopping round but to tell you the truth it is such an expensive way to make soup.
Winter for me is having a big pot of soup always on the stove ready and inviting…ready for the kids when they come home from school cold and starving; ready for when I’m inevitably home late from work to serve as an instant entrĂ©e with thick crusty bread while I put dinner on; and always ready to serve just in case friends pop in unexpectedly which is always delightful (don’t you always have a great time when things are spontaneous?)
Making stock for me is just a part of winter – and one thing I look forward to. Often on Friday nights I make my stock – it is such a wonderful ritual to end the week. I do confess I usually pour myself a glass of red wine while I’m doing it, which makes the ritual all the more enjoyable. I believe this relaxed, nurturing energy is passed into the food so therefore those that eat it are not only nourished physically but also emotionally!

My Stock Recipe:
2 chicken carcasses (or beef bones, ham hocks etc.or just vegies if you are vegetarian)
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stick celery including tops
1 bay leaf
1 piece lemon zest
6 black peppercorns
Sprigs of fresh herbs from the garden
1 piece of seaweed (I use arame or wakame: seaweeds contain all 100 or so minerals & trace elements in the most absorbable form so your stock becomes very mineral rich. p.s. there is no seaweed flavor – my family & friends would have no idea I’ve use seaweed in the stock!)

Place chicken carcasses in a stockpot and cover generously with cold water. Bring to simmering point and add remaining ingredients. Gently simmer for approx. 4 hours (the aromas are great). Refrigerate and strain any fat that has risen to the surface. The stock is now ready to use for your favorite soups or casseroles etc. I salt my stock as I use it for soups etc. – I use an unprocessed celtic salt because it is very rich in trace minerals and gives my soup a very rich flavor with extra depth.
This stock can be refrigerated for 2-3 days or frozen. (A great way to freeze some of the stock is in ice-cube trays so when you want just a little bit to flavor meals you don’t have to thaw the whole lot.

It is wonderful having control over what is in your food. No multi-national food company determines how many flavor enhancers, extracts, salt and sugar (cleverly disguised) you consume. And what’s more it is so cheap to make and so much more flavorsome and healthy for you and your family.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Slow Food Winter

David & I belong to Slow Food Southwest - a movement that started in Italy in 1989 in opposition to fast food. There are groups of like-minded people (or convivia) all over the world that embrace the philosophy of slow food - food that is seasonal, sourced locally and lovingly cooked using age-old recipes and methods that have been passed down through the generations.
We meet at the start of every season and enjoy an afternoon of good food, good wine and good company. Our winter meeting on Sunday 1st June was held at Clyde Park Winery in Bannockburn - a magnificent setting with wonderful hosts. Terry and Sue are not only known for their beautiful wines; they have an outdoor wood oven which cooks the most delicious pizzas! I highly recommend the mediterranean pizza with a glass of their pinot noir. As we graze and gaze over the rolling hills and vines you could swear you were in Tuscany. Slow Food is a wonderful way to pass a Sunday afternoon. For more information visit

Monday, 2 June 2008

Full Moon Feast

One of the things that dawned on me recently was that, with the exception of Christmas, Easter and birthdays we have no family rituals anymore. And… in the past few years as our children are growing and branching out and our jobs are becoming more demanding and life is just getting so busy, we rarely stop as a family and just celebrate life. I remember as a kid, every Friday night was fish ‘n chip night and every Sunday lunch was a roast –without fail! We would sit around the kitchen table as a family and Mum would dish up our meals and we’d eat together and talk (of course these talks would quite often blow out into full-blown debates and arguments, but I felt very much a part of my family with my thoughts and opinions valued, if not always agreed with).

So, with my fondness and downright obsession with the moon I decided to create our own family ritual – a “Full Moon Feast.” For one day every month we will prepare a feast on the night of the full moon. Everyone in our family is expected to be at home that night and can invite whoever they want – and we will gather around our kitchen table and share good food, good wine and good conversation. It will be a time to stop and escape from our hectic schedules and celebrate with the people we love. No TV, no work, no mobile phones and no homework.

We had our inaugural Full Moon Feast (FMF) on Tuesday 20th May 2008. Some very old and dear friends and some new friends were invited and it was a great success. It was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable nights we have had in ages. At the end of the night when everyone had left Dave and I both felt relaxed and regenerated. We had stopped the merry-go-round for just one night to celebrate how precious our family and friends are to us. And we loved it!

It feels like we have started a wonderful tradition and there are many of our other friends keen to join us for the magic of the next full moon…


Hello, we have decided to start this blog at least partly as a way to motivate ourselves to make some changes in our lives. We have increasingly found ourselves busier and busier with no time for anything except work and veggin' in front of the TV. Mary is extremely busy as Managing Director of her company Mammoth Health in Geelong, Australia and I am kept busy by my job as Executive Officer of the Australian Camps Association. We have both been wrestling with this for some time as we both love our jobs - but we miss the things we did together in the past. This included gardening, walking, spending time with our kids as a family and I even managed to get Mary into golf for a while.

Our problem is that both of our jobs are at least partly about getting people to slow down and experience life more - but we are having trouble taking our own advice. So this blog will be our attempt to document the things we do to try to rectify this. We will make some false starts I am sure - but hopefully we will be able to at least occasionally get off the merry-go-round to make sure we appreciate the things and the time we have.