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'

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Tropical North Qld inspired Pasta!

Tropical North Queensland

inspired our Pasta/Masta Class!

As a 14 year old visiting  Cairns & staying at the Y.M.C.A,  travelling with my sisters, 2 yr old brother, mum & dad by Sunlander, tripping around all the beautiful beaches & Tablelands, I vowed I would live in North Qld.  
That wasn't my plan when I met Stephen, but it culminated in my living in the North Queensland town of Ayr, for 12 years. We worked & raised our first 2 children outside of town until we moved to Brisbane 25 yrs ago. We often drove north to visit cairns or the tablelands or south to the Whitsundays. Last year, my daughter & I stayed at Palm Bay on Long Island. PARADISE!!!

While living in Ayr I learnt a few recipes from Stephens' Nonna & Zia. The pasta making was a new experience, using anything we could hang the spaghetti over (rods 'tween 2 chairs etc) to dry.

It takes a little mastering & is best to have an extra set of hands. Today, I have 3 extra sets of hands & it was all about Teamwork.
Jaimi, Nonna, Lily & camera shy Callum!
Eggs & Flour 

We had fun & enjoyed eating our work. Homemade Pasta has a very  light texture. It's delicious with a dob of butter, sprinkle of salt, pepper & parmesan cheese
Our first attempt at the dough was a disaster.
The dough was too wet!

Some chefs' use Semolina & double zero flour, but Nonna used ordinary plain flour when she showed me. The measurements Nonna showed me was a small bag of plain flour & 10 fresh eggs the hens laid in the back yard.

We used baking paper on the bench, for easier cleaning. Each child took a turn cracking the eggs into the flour. We stirred in the eggs & as it started to mix they all helped mix the dough. They put their hands into the flour, so the wet mixture wouldn't stick to their hands. If the mixture is too sticky, add a little flour at a time until you can kneed the dough. Eggs may vary in size, so the mixture can be inconsistent, that's when you add the extra flour, if it's wet.
Knead the dough until it feels silky & smooth. The longer you knead the dough the more aldente the pasta will be when you cook it.
I prefer it lighter, so I don't over-mix the dough.

We rolled the dough into a log shape & wrapped it in Plastic until we were ready to roll it. Give it 30 mins or longer.

The cutting & rolling out the pasta needs teamwork. Jaimi cut the dough & fed it through the rollers, Callum turned the handle, which needs precision, not rushing it. Lily caught the pasta as it came out of the rollers.

Each time we passed the sheet through the rollers we decreased the gap to make it the thickness we wanted to cook.

Then when we had the thickness, we ran it through the cutters on the machine. Once again, it has various cutters to produce the spaghetti shape you desire.

Now the grand-kids had a rest break, 
as it was exhausting work, kneading, behaving, listening.


Cooking up the pasta in salted, boiling water. My simple recipe to don pasta, is frying up diced onion, garlic & rosemary in butter, tossing it through the pasta with freshly grated Romana or Parmesan cheese. The grandkids love my Beef Bolongnaise Sauce. 

Feeling Tropically Inspired, fresh Fruit Salad with seasonal fruit is next.
Making our own pasta is very simple way of getting back to our roots. An age when we had chooks & vegetable gardens in almost every back yard. Most of my travelling experiences have been in Australia, but seeing many travel to Oz, I guess we've got the advantage of enjoying our home land & all it has to offer. 

Please ask questions if my instructions aren't clear. I would love to hear and reply to any comments. Monika

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Tantalising Lebanese Cooking!

Tantalising Tastebuds with Lebanese Cooking!

Another jaunt across town to Putia Restaurant at Banyo, a suburb I spent some time in as a kid, visiting my Oma & cousins. Putia is well worth the visit, very relaxing pretty location & the food is Delicious

Putias' Menu is based on very fresh, seasonal & local produce.Chef Dominique Rizzos' passion comes from her Italian Heritage,cooking Italian Cuisine but referring to her food as Mediterranean. It's an Organic Passion for Food & Dominique is a genuine, beautiful lady. 

So an introduction to the equally lovely lady Ada Daher! Ada describes herself as a home cook & like myself, loves cooking up a Storm for her Family. 

Again another culinary journey to a Mediterranean destination, Lebanon. After a browse through the established vegetable & fresh herb garden, I relaxed in the ambiance of the outdoor setting covered by a huge Poinciana Tree.

Beginning with a refreshing drink of home-made Lemonade & fresh herbed Punch, we were introduced to the other guests, donned aprons up then introduced to the order of the night. Starting with preparation, of ingredient of recipes that we would use later in the class. 

First preparing the dough for Honey Puffs, then the dough for the Spinach Pastries. Syrup for the Sweet Cheese & Honey Puffs.

The preparation of the vegetables next, slicing eggplant & frying. Chopping florets of cauliflower to fry for another dish. We all shared in the prep. Back at our work bench, we washed spinach & parsley, then chopped it finely. Plenty of garlic & onions, some lemons freshly juiced, sultanas,  pine nuts & Feta for the pastries. This mix could easily pass as a salad. 
The finished pastry reminded me of a similar one a friend made in smaller crescent shaped pastries filled with olives.

Frying up sliced Eggplant & mince for Scheik el mihshi. 

Fried Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce & Prawns.

Making Tahini was interesting, as the sesame paste gets thicker as you add the liquid. Knowing when to stop adding the liquid is the key. 
The Mediterranean recipes often call for Honey & Sultanas in the savoury food. Greek friends of mine always have finger food, such as the crescent shaped olive filled pastries, egg& sultana savoury pastries, Taramousalata (greek caviar dip)! YUM, YUM, YUM...

Halawat El jibni, Sweet Cheese, was a very interesting process & delicious. 
A first for me was eating Honey Puffs,
 scoops of gooey pastry dropped into hot oil,
 cooked then dropped into the sugar syrup prepared earlier. 
Apparently, a heavier texture compared to greek honey puffs 
& I thought similar to a doughnut pastry. 

But once again very enjoyable. 

Time to put together the Pasties with spinach & feta filling.
Having prepared the dough earlier, rolling it in a log, covered & resting it, we sliced it into pieces then learned how to roll, the thickness kneaded (needed), we filled the pastry with the prepared spinach mix & a scoop of soft feta. The pastries were then baked for 10 mins in the oven.

After layering up the Sheik el mihshi, eggplant, cooked lamb mince, tahini sauce, finely chopped tomatoes & parsley, then the Cauliflower with Tahini & Prawns, it was nearly time to taste the food.

When we started, I thought, pastry, deep frying, sweets, aahh, BUT it was a very well balance meal & delicious. 


Most of the flavour in the class was from garlic in the tahini sauce. I tasted the cooked mince & found it didn't have any seasonings in it & had wondered, why not use cumin or a spice, BUT the Tahini sauce added all the flavour it needed. A beautiful balance of flavours.

Thank you Dominique & Ada for a lovely night off.  
Now  a new meal, I cooked for a lunch with limited ingredients, that fell in with my Healthy Eating. 
Eggplant, Haloumi Cheese, Spinach, Capsicum & a drizzle of lemon juice. A finger food, I picked up the section, curved the eggplant & bit into the layers. 
Prep: Peeling the eggplant & sliced, fry it in butter, along with the capsicum & haloumi, layer & eat. 

Buon appettito!