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A Travelling Cook: March 2014

A Travelling Cook

A Travelling Cook: March 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Is Mr Pablo coming to Germany?

A lot of people have been asking me lately if we are taking Mr Pablo to Leipzig with us. The answer is, of course! We're in the middle of the process right now. He had his rabies vaccination this morning and a new microchip as his old one of 17 years is obsolete.  Once we move I'll write a bit about our experiences and how to move a cat from Australia to Europe.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Loving Hut, Northcote

I went along to Loving Hut in a good mood thanks to $5 wine (Tuesdays 4pm-7pm, Northcote Social Club) and a hungry belly. I wasn't sure what to expect, I can't eat too much soy or gluten. The lay out of the restaurant is white, big and spacious with plenty of light and weirdly, a TV showing scenes of the 'natural world'. We were rather taken with the otters frolicking. There's no alcohol but I enjoyed a fermented ginger beer with passionfruit ($4.50).

Chris and I arrived early and as we were hungry decided to order an entree. Money bags, deep fried (presumably) filled with mung bean, mushroom and tofu ($7). They were nicely done but we found the filling very bland. They came with sweet chilli sauce which I'm not a fan of. I really should just carry Srircha around with me!
For mains, despite my limitations, we decided to order something a bit different to our usual veggie options at Asian restaurants,  'Southern Fried Chicken' and a mixed mushroom stir fry and two bowls of brown rice. We were a bit confused when this above appeared at the same time as a friend's identical order which contained a pile of the 'chicken'. And why rice when we'd already ordered two bowls of brown rice which were sitting next to the dish? We queried the waiter and he said we'd been given the lunch version by accident he'd bring some more out. No dramas. They were tasty, chewy goodness with a general sprinkling of salt, five spice and other seasons. The insides had the texture of chicken. Oddly, the extra chicken we were given failed with the spices, and was definitely lacking in the five spice.  The sauce you can see didn't taste like soy mayo so I'm not sure what it was made of. It would have gone nicely with a big green salad, or even potato curry rather than rice.

I enjoyed the stir fry five mushroom dish ($12) , the mushrooms were chewy and tasty without any particular seasoning. it was a really generous serve, we didn't finish them.

Other folks at the table enjoyed the entree crumbed prawns, bean curd and veg stir fry with crispy noodles and Mongolian 'beef' (the latter was a huge sizzling plate of mock meat, definitely best shared amongst friends I think!).

Would I come again? Yes, but more so with a group of people who like to share a bunch of different dishes as a table so I could get more vegetables. Too much mock meat for me alas (of my own choosing) so I'd make different choices next time. Otherwise I'd come at lunch, it's a nice airy space for a lunch meal with a book.

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Food for thought

Break out the Breville, it's time for a Toastie by John Naylor
Do you like toasted sandwiches? Apparently they're making a comeback in restaurants and cafes. I'd like to contend they never left. Whenever we were unwell our mum would make us toasted sandwiches for lunch/dinner full of either creamed corn or Heinz tinned spaghetti. When I left home back in the 90's my grandma gave me her toasted sandwich maker which looked like this one:

It made perfectly toasted sandwiches with lava like molten insides if you weren't careful and you had to be careful not to let the bread packet or butter tub touch any exposed metal or you'd experience the acrid smell or burning plastic and a rather sorry looking bread bag. Did you know that April 12 is Grilled Cheese Sandwich day? What's your favourite toastie?

I love old photographs that feature people in every day situations. These photographs by Bill Rauhauser of working people in Detroit are just wonderful. See more here

Why is preserving so popular? June Taylor on Jam Making and Avoiding Waste by Dana Velden

                                         Scones and jam made by me

 I don't think preserving has ever been unpopular. It's been central in every food culture from kim chi to gravalax and it's more perhaps that some people in the twenties and thirties are realising that their working parents were more inclined to buy a jar than spent time standing over a pot and are keen to learn to make their own. All the merrier I say!

Recipe ownership & copyright infringement – be respectful, but informed by Amanda McInery 

I read this post with interest about the sticky issues of recipe ownership and copyright infringement when it comes to blogging. She (and other bloggers) have found themselves in a touch of contention with Dan Leppard and his agent for creating recipes which are derived from his books or credited to his work. I know in my experience that there are some recipes that can't be owned per se because they've been passed down through so many hands. Like strawberry jam. I''m only aware of two different stove top versions and they don't differ whatever book you read. But if you choose to add other ingredients, whether spices or liquers etc, then they become that of their creator in my humble opinion.

 This differs from buying or downloading a free copy or a Jamie Oliver book. Sure, he has plenty of money, but less books bought mean less people employed all the way down the line. It's very hard to make a profit in publishing cookbooks if you aren't one of the big names. But I also think bloggers need to be a bit smarter. If you run a blog full of recipes then publish a book with the same recipes (and usually additions) and gain publicity and a good reputation, well no wonder people are passing around your original blog recipes! That said however, your original creations and building of your audience may what enabled you to get a book deal in the first place. What are your thoughts?

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A weekend jaunt in Hobart

A couple of weekends ago Chris and I headed to Hobart for a relaxed long weekend. We stayed in South Hobart, in a sleepy picturesque area in a lovely self-contained cottage with a lovely comfy bed, a high pressure shower, well stocked kitchen (for kitchenware) and comfortable light filled lounge room. It was a much need opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of work and spend some time together. It was conveniently located close to a gourmet food store so we stocked up on cheese, artisan bread, a plethora of dips and pickled food and fiery ginger beer and craft apple ciders. South Hobart was just simply beautiful and I spent much time enjoying looking at beautiful homes.


On Saturday we visited some of the usual suspects like Lark Distillery and Salamanca Markets

   We also went along to MONA via ferry. It's pretty much everything everyone says it is, at time dark and disturbing, at other times, light and enlightening. To be honest I found a lot of it a bit creepy and sinister, perhaps more to do with the mood I was in than anything else! 

Roger Ballan's work was particularly creepy

(images from here)

Afterwards we enjoyed a session of wine tasting at the winery attached to Mona then caught the ferry back to Hobart to enjoy an evening of telly, patchwork (well me) and gourmet pasta. 

Sunday included a well deserved sleep in, and breakfast in South Hobart. Chris wouldn't let me take a pic of my meal but whilst the menu was rather egg heavy ( I don't eat eggs) I appreciated that they tried to combine a variety of flavours and make breakfast a bit more interesting. This was followed by a meander into Salamanca where we attended March in March (yes, we're probably the only people to attend a rally on holidays). 

We also went along to The Market, a local artisan craft market which was held at a Freemanson's Hall. I've never been to one so I was rather intrigued:

I was also quite taken by this cushion but had to avoid the sale as it would be one more thing to ship overseas...

Sunday was a bit less interesting after these events as we found that most of the shops and bars were closed. Rather frustrating but we ended up at a pub a bit further out (lots of hill walking) where I enjoyed a couple of glasses of sangria and a read on a comfy couch. I enjoy reading in pubs, some people may find it a bit antisocial but luckily we both enjoy reading. 

We intended to go for a last dinner out but struggled to find anywhere open that we wanted to eat at. So it was a quick stop at the city supermarket for the ingredients for a quick veg curry. Followed by the rest of our cheese and some salted chocolate and a funny movie on the telly. 

As a pet lover I loved this front door of a local Veterinarian...

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

This song is now going to be in your head all day

i'm very happily child free but I thought this rather hilarous and awesome!


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As sure as the dawn...(an ode to our 17 year cat, Mr Pablo)

Inspired by Kayte of Woogs World, I decided to contribute my own list of inevitable things that happen to me on a regular basis


As sure as the dawn...

  • The cat decides he wants to go inside once let outside
  • The cat decides he wants to go outside once let inside
  • The cat manages to look innocent to all misdemeanors
  • The cat will sprawl on the floor in front of the doorway right where you need to go
  • The cat will only eat certain brands of food in certain flavours which are often sold out
  • The cat will get excited when you go into the bedroom in case you might be going to bed

 We got Mr Pablo when he was in 14 and his owner was moving into a nursing home. He makes me very happy.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spicy pumpkin, spinach and fetta pasties

I made this recipe over the weekend to clear out the fridge and use of some leftovers.We had a bumper crop of pumpkins this year and Chris picked this one a bit early but I decided to use it anyway.

 I usually make my own pastry for pasties (similar to the one I use for empanadas) but I decided to cheat and use vegan frozen short crust pastry as it was warm in the kitchen which is not great for making pastry! I used fetta cheese but to veganise the dish you could of course, use tofu or cashew nut cheese or almond fetta I've used all of these before with good results.



  • Chunk of pumpkin
  • 1/2 onion
  • tablespoon onion jam
  • garlic cloves to taste (I love garlic so always use four times as much as written in a recipe)
  • 500g fetta or tofu
  • 3 cups spinach/silverbeet/rainbow chard
  • 3 tablespoons dukkah
  • 1 cup tinned corn, drained


1. Heat oven to 180c
2. Heat olive oil in a fry pan. Saute onion and garlic over low heat for five minutes. Add diced pumpkin and cook until softened for about 10 minutes.   

3. Add the spinach, silverbeet, corn and fetta and cook for five minutes until  well combined. 4. Stir through dukkah. Allow to cool. 5. Cut each pastry sheet in half to create two strips. 6. Place 1/4 cup of the mixture along the middle of one half of each strip. 7. Fold and seal. Repeat with all the pastry. 
8.Transfer the pasties to a tray lined with baking paper.
9. Poke holes in top of each pastie to allow steam to escape and aid crispness of pastry.10. Bake for 15-20 minutes until  golden.


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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Food for thought

Really look forward to a weekend away with my beloved next week. We're going to Hobart and it'll be our last holiday before we move. I love Tasmania, especially the amazing cheese and fresh produce!

I've a list of new recipes I'm intending to make over the next few weeks once I get  the time. These include:
  • Bean and chocolate brownies
  • Corn tortillas
  • Soda bread
  • my own vinegar plant ( go through soooo much vinegar in pickling and relish making).
Some things that have intrigued me over the last week:

Multiple call outs for penguin jumpers. Turns out the jumpers aren't actually for the penguins in the most instances and the are used to dress fundraiser soft toys like the ones below. You can read more about it at The Great Penguin Sweater Fiasco by Mike Dickison

Speaking of knitting (something I lack patience for), I am charmed by this snail tea cosy by Anke Klempner:

The issue of working for free comes up in a lot of not for profit and social enterpreneurial organisations. I often get asked to provide workshops and presentation for free, usually for big NFP's with hundreds of staff and sizable budget. The staff who attend on the night get paid, the caterer gets paid, the drinks supplier gets paid, why shouldn't I? A critical look at the issue is presented by Jessica Gottlieb in
The Problem is that My Job is Your Hobby

I'm a big fan of Rohan Anderson's work. Whilst I don't agree with everything he says and does and at times find his work unbearably hipster (this could be perhaps unfortunate timing more than anything), his books and blog are also beautifully photographed. I suspect the culprit might be his wife Kate Berry who now has a charming photography project sharing her rural Victoria work with another photographer called Kate Berry in London. Check out The Other Kate Berry for some stunning pics.

I also think this campaign by Catapult to address the issue is female child slavery for International Women's Day is very clever.

I'm also running Community Preserving Day in Northcote on Saturday March 22nd from 11am to 4pm. $5/$10 gets you a day of learning to make different preserves, a tasty vego morning tea and lunch, full instructions and recipes and plenty of preserves to take home which you'e made with your very own hands. I'm also seeking Darebin folks to contribute through submitting and teaching their favourite jam, pickles or preserving recipe (you will be paid for your time) so email me if you are interested. Bookings can be made here

And if you're a fan of milk and biscuits, this idea might appeal in a big way...

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Travel pics (lots of pics) and why I am looking forward to moving to Germany

When we tell people we are moving to Germany, the first thing people say is "Why would you want to move there?". I've spent some time in different parts of Germany and whilst it has had at times been challenging, I've always felt like I wanted to be there. We looked at moving to Germany in 2009 but it was a time when Green Renters started to really take off so we had to make a decision. The GFC also hit which helped make the decision for us. 


My first trip to Berlin. God I look young and thin! We aren't moving to Berlin (it's usually the second thing people ask). I adore Berlin but it's easy to get in a bubble of expats and Melbournites and we're keen to challenge ourselves a little.

Cannot wait to make lots more preserves, cheap berries will be a luxury! Will be great fun.

Loads of outdoor cafes. And in winter, they don't do energy saving heaters like Melbourne, they put blankets out!

Always great to visit community gardens. This one was in Hamburg. The third question people ask me is if I speak German. The answer is, a little. I'm not a natural learning languages but I'm working on it. It's something I am of course extremely nervous about. I am a voracious reader and follower of news. I love the cinema. I love interacting and meeting new people. But I don't want it to be an excuse not to do something new.

Lots of sustainability sensibilities. These pics were taken in Freiburg, considered the greenest city in Europe.


 Markets! God I love markets! I've read that the Christmas markets are particularly spectacular.

I'm always a sucker for art.

I love Bionade and could buy cases of the stuff.

Old school eastern european relics. This was in a hotel room at a holiday resort in Sassnitz.

I don't have rose coloured glasses on. Learning German is very difficult. Adjusting to cultural differences is hard. Packing up a whole house and clearing it out is hard (and incredibly time consuming). But it's time for a challenge, and a change. We're winding up Green Renters and whilst we hope to do some of the work we do in a different way (more on that later) like our cooking classes, we are relishing the opportunity to try new things and do new things. Running your own charity is incredibly consuming (at times to our detriment) and the freedom of change will be incredible.