Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Nonna Goes To Melbourne

 Rack of Lamb & Merquez Sausages

MELBOURNE- Anti-pasta,Tapas, Meze, Pizza, Vineyards, Rustic, Arts & Lamb Cutlets
Eggplant Fritters Buffalo Wings


Platters at a wedding
Pear & Rocket Salad
Rustic nook at Melotos

The Yarra Valley Dairy

Nonna Goes To Melbourne. 

With my sister Heidi, Helen, neice Sharna, picking up my sister Ingrid & myself up from the airport, we set off for a visit to The YarraValley. The girls have some favourite stops in The Yarra Valley, but are always up for a new vineyard.
In no time I was relaxing & getting into the excitement of our getaway. Wine , coffee, cheeses, pizza, was only the beginning. What I love about the dairy & Vineyards was the rustic, recycled, old is new again. I wandered around soaking up all the visually inspiring earthy surroundings with each nook & cranny.  First stop The Yarra Valley Dairy!

Milk Jugs

Rustic Dairy
We entered the worn old barn at the dairy to find a wide variety of preserves & old fashioned kitchen appliances. The enamel milk jugs struck a chord of nostalgia, when back in the '60's mum made up our milo drink in a similar jug. Browsing the goods, then onto tasting some samples served by Ingrid, not my sister.

 Cunliffe Waters Preserves

Tasting the dips made with the preserves.
Cheese Platter
Coffee, a cheese platter  & respite from the rush of work. Moving outside to enjoy the surrounding countryside of tree lined avenues and paddocks. the trees are very European and used to break the cold winds and probably even helped protect the fields from frost bite. (stopping the sun hitting the frost on the grasses & plants). Then we drove down the avenue on to Meletos , Napoleones Brewers. Apple trees! Feeling like a school girl seeing the apples growing on trees, I got my happy snaps. I've seen plenty of fruit trees fully laden, even grown my own, but apple trees aren't very common in Brisbane or North Queensland. Marine creates floral arrangements at The Providor at Meletos.
The lovely Marine, the french Florist let me take another happy snap.
Crab-apples for juicing

Wandering through the gardens is inspiring, the ideas, reusing old, odd pieces as features gives it a rustic feel of forever & peace. Espaliering fruit trees on the wall, a wicker trellis, high vegetables gardens, apple trees, grapes on vines & the list goes on.......
Chocolate Dessert
Wicker Gardening
Lunch at Napoleones after a browse through the gift & flower shop

Another Nook in the Garden at Melotos.

Fine Dining or Alfresco with a wine, apple spritzer or coffee is a break from reality & inspires me to whip up a banquet when I get home.

The chocolate production line.

Is this a big enough Easter Egg?

On to The Chocolaterie  & Icecreamery for another decadent experience & 
the Chocolate production line.

Decadent individual chocolates

Another Apron for Nonna!

Onto Yering Farm another vineyard the girls love! Another vino, an Apple cider for me & kick back to soak up the gorgeous blue skies, distant mountain & vineyards. A bottle or two of Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 or a 6 pack of apple cider.

 The Piece De Resisitance (piece ei: means resistance) when 2 parties come together!
The musical 'Ladies in Black' & meze dining in the arcade 'Ca De Vin' off Collins Street.

4 days in Melbourne and I didn't get to visit Captain Cooks' Cottage. Next time.....

Ladies in Black was so 1950's, a time I remember.....
It probably influenced me as a housewife, mother & cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Fortunately, living in the '70's, liberated us housewives. I loved the performances & songs in the show, occasionally, a few gasps from the crowd at the very innappropriate phrases from a very prejudice era. 
Home Sweet Home

Rustic Charm

Ready for the Kitchen
 A few more RUSTIC photos & another apron.
High Tea at Hopetoun.

Another decadent destination is a High Tea at Hopetoun in the Block Arcade, booking are usually essential. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Bone Broth a Cooks Best Friend!

Bone Broth a Cooks Best Friend!

Touted as a Healthy Tonic, a Super Food, full of nutrients, high in vital minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium. Slow cooking draws out the collagen, marrow, including amino acids, minerals, glycine and gelatin. Bone Broth helps heal the gut & reduce inflammation.

Imagine our Grandmothers saying,

"I told You So!"   

Our grandmothers used soups & bone broths when anyone was ill! Remember, chicken soup, a cup of broth, they said it was good for you, though I'm not sure if they understood the nutrients/science behind broth.

For myself I remember the times when fast food was an occasional fish and chips, or a tram trip to the city or Fortitude Valley, where we may have had a treat or a milkshake at a café.
Milk was full cream, meat had fat on it, sugar was something we added to our cereal in the morning. We did have lollies as a treat, homemade biscuits or cake and ice-cream occasionally, but not sugar added muesli bars and snacks. Fruit was a daily treat. Bread was mainly for school lunches or lunch in general, even then it was 1 round, as living in a large family, our daily bread delivery was 1 loaf of sliced bread. Food wasn't available in between mealtimes and I don't remember being hungry, if we were we had to wait for dinner. This was normal family life in the '60's. Roast meals and vegetables for Sunday lunch. Meat, mashed potato and vegetables. (either peas or beans in our case) Cereal for us was Wheatbix, corn flakes, and in winter dad made us semolina porridge. I loved it, it would gel & the milk wouldn't soak into it with some sugar sprinkled on top.
The first time I had cooked rolled oats was when we stayed at the Sandgate Home for a short stint when mum was in hospital. It wasn't too bad there, a bit scary because everything was so large and tall. The nuns were okay, washing our hair over very high kitchen sinks, we had to stand on a chair. I loved Sister Kenny, who was always nice to me. I hated the line up to have a bath in the tub. Any way I hated the porridge. I never got up like Oliver in Oliver Twist and asked for "More, Sir"! even though they were females (smiley face here). 

Amino acids Praline, tightens & builds cell structure, strengthening them. The other benefits besides a strong collagen structure to heal leaky gut syndrome are reducing cellulite & improving the strength of skin & vein walls. Glycine supports detoxing & helps our body to synthesize collagen, aiding in wound healing & supports the release of growth hormones.

1. I've used the Marrow bone, & placed it in a baking dish, added 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
2. I added Vegetables, kale, carrots, celery, leeks, any veggies that are in season or the fridge and Celtic Salt.

3. Covering the bones with water, then cover the dish to retain moisture. I put it in the oven at 160c & brought the water to a simmer.

4. Turning the oven down to 140c I cooked the broth for approx. 9 hours. The longer you simmer the bones the more nutrients you'll leach from the bones.

   5. Remove bones and vegetables. I was going to use the vegetables , but after cooking for that long they were inedible, so the chooks had a feed.

6. Strain the broth and store it in small jars or freeze in ice cube trays. Bone broth is very rich, so if you are drinking it as a tonic, 1 cube is more than enough. To make a jus or gravy, you could use several cubes.

I have cooked the bones in a slow cooker or what we called a crockpot in the good old days. That works well and I even plug it in outside to keep the kitchen smelling fresh. Cover the bones with water, BUT the slow cooking doesn't need much water so it will steam and leak over the side. to counteract this mess, I'd cook a smaller amount of bones. I guess you'd have to work out which is the most economical method.

A little more reminiscing, the first time I got paid for my Saturday morning job at Woolworths at Moorooka, I bought fish and chips for my family on the way home from work. (the shops shut at 12 on Saturdays back in the day). The next time I bought grapes to take home and share, so most of the time it was to treat my family. Shopping for clothes wasn't a big priority, but best of all I had some money to buy 20cents of lollies on the way to school and some tuckshop, something we rarely had.

Fast food, manufactured in laboratories and factories, propaganda on manufactured products like margarine, telling us margarine is better/healthier than butter,  has changed the way we eat today. But there are many people making a huge effort to source healthy produce, prepare and cook it for the family. 
As with everything in life, it is possible with PLANNING.

I hope you enjoyed my journey into the past.

With careful planning, everyone can afford to eat healthy and if you don't think so, think about the next time you buy a coffee and cake or ice-creams or can of soft drink, magazines and I won't mention alcohol etc. (another big smiley face here)

So many easy healthy options for meals.

Check out our amazing butcher shop in Graceville, Brisbane, Qld

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Superfood for Dogs!

Superfood For Dogs!

 Do you know what to feed your best friend?

When did dogs become Vegetarians?

Customers often ask us, "How much should I feed my Dog?"
75% of people don't know the quantity of food to feed their pet.

 I've compiled a list of Superfoods for a Healthy Dog.

It's not hard to spot a healthy dog!

 Have a look in their mouth & smell their breath.

Superfood 1. Bones.  It's not hard to pick a dog that eats bones. Besides looking & acting healthy, look in their mouths & smell their breath.
Bones  are a living tissue, full of nutrients, minerals such as, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, enzymes & amino acids.
Bone marrow is full of essential fatty acids , fat soluble vitamins & iron. Most people know that your dog chewing on their bone is fantastic care for teeth & gums. Bones also provide fibre & a healthy digestive system & bulk out the diet.
Superfood 2. Offal. Dense in essential nutrients, offal can be fed to your dog in smaller amounts. Offal has a concentrated source of Vitamin A, D , E & K, minerals, manganese , selenium & iron. Offal also contains all the vitamin B group, B2, B3, B5, B12, biotin, folacin acid (vit 9), (folic acid is a synthetic form in pills), choline, inositol, B1 &Vitamin C. Offal is a good source of essential fatty acids, both Omega 3 & Omega 6.
Liver besides being served fresh, can be dried in the oven & used as a treat or dry food. Heart contains Taurine which is good for the Heart! Tripe contains probiotics, also good for your poochs' digestion. Kidneys are a source of Zinc.

Hmmm, sounds like Superfood Humans should eat!

Superfood 3. Red Meat. Add some red meat & fat to the bone & you will add extra potassium to the diet, which is essential for a healthy heart. Beef , Pork & Chicken are all good sources of fresh meat.
A customer mentioned cooking raw meat for the first 12 months of a pups life, to prevent salmonella poisoning.  My first response was surprise as I always think of Courtney's meat as Fresh, so don't consider Salmonella. Feeding your pet a main meal once a day, will ensure them devouring all of their meal, then it won't become tainted.
 Fat won't store as fat if you don't overload you pet with dry carb dog food, which can be full of fillers. Fat aids a shiny healthy coat & essential fats for healthy joints. Fat is Energy.
Superfood 4. Chicken. Bone Broths are a good source of nutrients when your animal has a skin condition or not well. I have a recipe on bone broth which can be adapted to chicken broth. Deb a customer was telling me how her dog had a skin allergy & didn't want to give her pooch steroids. Cooking up a chicken broth  as a meal for Archie cured his skin rash. Archie couldn't eat vegetables as his allergy was to the sugar in vegetables. Raw chicken necks & wings are popular with small dogs, giving them bones for healthy teeth & gums, & are once again rich in nutrients.
Superfood 5. Eggs. As a Whole Food eggs are a perfect protein source & the yolks are a good food for a dog with skin conditions.
Vegetables can be added to the diet for bulk, added nutrients & balance of the wild. My son told me that wolves in the wild, devour the part of the beast they kill first, depending on the nutrients they need. It won't always be the organs or it might be different organs each time.

Testimony to a Healthy Dog.

My son was visiting with his dog Amika. Our dogs didn't socialise very well with visiting dogs, so Jordan locked Amika on the verandah. Amika heard Jordans' voice & jumped off the 1 story height verandah  onto the concrete path below. Responding to the dogs yelp & expecting the worst outcome, we took Amika to the vet.  Upon examination, Amika only sustained an Impacted Paw.
The wonderful outcome was also followed by the empathy our dogs showed to Amika while she was being restrained. Mia our kelpie cross approached Amika cautiously, started stroking & licking Amikas' nose. Mia walked passed Amika letting her smell her, lowering herself to show she wasn't a threat. After Amikas' recovery our dogs played as best friends.

is preservative free.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Groundhog Day in the Kitchen.

Groundhog Day in the Kitchen. 


Do you remember the movie, 'Groundhog Day'? The movie,  where every morning was a replay of the day before, until he got it right or got The Girl!

Don't you feel the same way about 'The Kitchen at the End of The Day'? If the dishes are left (even if you have a dishwasher) until the morning, then you need to clean the kitchen, to face the day. Another busy day until the evening meal, when again you're too tired to do the dishes! So you wake up to it again the next morning & the next & the next!

It's easy to say I've got the answer, it's much harder trying to keep up in our crazy, busy lives & that means everyone! Working & stay at home mums & dads.

I had my stint as a stay at home mum with 2 very demanding babies, maybe I was the problem, but I can reassure you, it's sometimes easier going to work outside the home. But I love my kitchen & cooking up a Storm.

"Cooking is about releasing the flavours and aromas in herbs & spices, combining textures & tantalising the tastebuds, Eating with your Senses!" Cooking is also about satisfying everyone's different tastes in the family or when entertaining.

Personally, meat is the easy part of a meal! Whether you like pork, beef, lamb, goat, fish, tofu,most quality cuts only take 10 mins to Fry, BBQ or Sear.

Its what you serve it  up with that becomes the challenge, but it's the herbs & spices that create a culinary degustation & take you on a journey to other lands & cultures. Whether you blend ginger, lemongrass, chilli, garlic, coriander for a Thai Curry, garlic, ginger, garam masala (a combo of black cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander seeds, cloves, black pepper and bay leaves) for an Indian Curry or garlic, rosemary, basil, to concoct an Italian Meal, the recipe is in the flavour of the spices & herbs.

Rice, Pasta, Couscous, Beans, Breads, Stir-fry, Steamed, Salads, Coconut Milk, Jus, Gravy, Grills, Slow-cooked, Braised, Slicing your choice of meat & layering in slices on a salad. Every night Dinner in your kitchen will be a Cordon Bleu Meal!

Croc & Prawn Stir Fry on BBQ

My foray in 2014 into the Great Australian BBQ Competition was a new experience, I really enjoyed. Cooking Classes with Dominique Rizzo, Ada Daher, May Isaac is just the beginning of my new journey into experimenting with herbs & spices. Kneading flour & water to produce many different breads of cultures, like Paan, Puris, Chapattis, Pizza dough, Pasta for that matter, is a sensual feeling & a great exercise using your biceps!
The past gave me some basic, but popular recipes I've used for all our entertaining, My dad's cooking, my husbands Nonna, who taught me how to make pasta & some basic rice & pasta dishes, but my Love of Cooking motivates me to experiment, throwing together a combination of ingredients at hand to present a healthy, nutritious & tasty meal.


Nonna's Tip of the Day.
  1. Fill the sink before you start cooking
  2. Prepare all ingredients
  3. Use a few pots & pans as possible
  4. Teach everyone in the house how to rinse their plates & put them in the dishwasher (the way you like it stacked)
  5. If all the above fail, go on strike.
Go on Strike!

What are your favourite combinations of herbs & spices& favourite fragrant herbs?

Check out our amazing Butcher shop in Graceville 'Courtneys Quality Meat'