a plate of veggies

We were out and about today, and our lunchtime toasties were a bit average, so we were keen for something wholesome. One of the things in the fridge was a bag of gourmet mushrooms from the farmers market; we were keen to use them so we ended up building the meal around them.Potatoes and carrots (both also from the farmers market) baked with onion, garlic and some mixed herbs. The kale and mushroom, and some char grilled brussel sprouts) were pan fried in butter, oil and a drizzle of white balsamic glaze.So good and satisfying.

Slow cooked lamb shanks, Italian style

Up the hill from Ballina is a little town called Alstonville that is home to a great little deli and butcher. When we called in recently one of the things that caught my eye were a couple of the plumpest looking lamb shanks I'd ever seen. We don't cook red meat that often but these shanks were calling out to me, so here we go. 
Slow cooked meat is pretty simple really, some fry-able veggies, some liquid and some flavour enhancers and you're good to go. This recipe, as is typical for me, gleans ideas from a few sources and is constrained by what we've got in the fridge or what we can buy easily.
Servings 2 (Normally I'd say 1 shank per serve, but these were huge, so we cooked both and plan to share one, and use the other for a pasta sauce tomorrow :-))
Time Time to chop and prepare ingredients, then at least hours 2½ cooking time. (2½ hours is the magic number if you want soft tender meat.)
Equipment (main) Cast iron enamel potSaucepan (for potatoes)Tongs (for browning sha…


Boring and really important.
One of the critical decisions to make when setting up your little kitchen is which pots to include. Over many years, we find this set serves us really well. Surprisingly, I have never 'wished' for another style pot, these have done the trick for the two of us.
I'll divide the pots into two sections, everyday and specialist (occasional use).
One of the considerations is the small stove top. Large pans or standard woks for example, are too big to position so the heat is under the centre. And, you will need to be able to put dishes beside each other, so anything too big will limit the number of pots in use at anyone time.
So what do we use?:

Three everyday pots 1. 24cm wide, deep heavy base fry pan (with lid). We use this for frying (obviously) but also for risottos, pasta sauces etc.  2. 20cm saucepan, also with a heavy enough base to be able to fry off onions etc if needed. (with lid) 3. 22cm cast iron enamel pot for soups, slow cooking etc. Can be used…

Japanese style chicken broth

Inspired by a lunch dish Johanna had in Maleny a couple of days ago, I decided to have a crack at a style of chicken soup a bit different to my 'go to' traditional chicken soup. The lighter tasting broth seasoned with some soy sauce and the pickled ginger make this a flavoursome and deeply satisfying soup. Very happy.

Servings 2 (generous) 
Time about 2 hours. 
Equipment I used (main) Pan (with simmer pad)Saucepan (for rice)Chopping boards and knifetongs and ladle for servingMeasuring 'cup'Bowls (for chopped ingredients)

Ingredients Sesame oil, couple of glugs½ onion, diced2x garlic cloves, slicedChicken thighs (1 per person / serving)Vegetable stock (500mls)Water (1 litre)Soy sauce (couple of splashes)Vegetables (I used 6x brussel sprouts, finely sliced because I had some, but soem finely sliced cabbage would be perfect too; and some baby broccoli, cut / sliced into match stick size) Rice (I used brown jasmine, ½ cup)Pickled ginger (Japanese style, I used a few slices per ser…


Maria doesn't drink hot drinks very often, so the coffee and tea caper in our van is usually a 1 person affair; hence the small plunger and tea pot.

Coffee tastes better when you grind it yourself. I've had this coffee grinder since we had our first caravan, when my habit was to get up early and do some work before others started the day. Maria and Johanna joke that whenever I grind my coffee (most mornings in the caravan unless we buy one from a cafe) it reminds them of those early years laying in bed trying to sleep while I sat outside and ground away.
Some friends and I visited Marvel Street Coffee for some tasting mornings and Nico kindly gave me one of his cups, just the right size for my morning brew.


I've recently become a convert to rooibos tea, a red tea from South Africa that has the qualities of green tea but more like a black tea to drink. I love this organic blend that I get from GoVita. A couple of months ago Maria found this perfect little van tea pot.…

Fried chickpea and halloumi curry

We bought some fresh halloumi from a local producer at the New Brighton Farmers Market earlier in the week so decided it was time to find a good use for it. We were going to concoct some halloumi burgers but ended up having bagels and a burger from Elwood Cafe for lunch, so needed an alternative. We haven't done much with halloumi before so had to ask the internet. The recipe below is an adaption from Half Baked Harvest which had some great looking food. As always, we used the veggies we had in the fridge.

Servings 2 (generous) 
Time Time to chop and prepare ingredients, then about 30 mins cooking time. 
Equipment I used (main) PanSimmer pad & saucepan (for rice)Chopping boards and knifeWooden spoonStrainerGraterMeasuring 'cup'Bowls (for chopped ingredients)
Ingredients Olive oil150g halloumi, chopped into 1cm cubes1x 400 can of chickpeas1x onion, diced4x garlic cloves, finely choppedGinger (I used 1½  tablespoon of minced)Veggies: I used 1 cup of each of kale, zucchini, eggpl…

Banana split

Don't you love it when shopping for fresh food creates a creative dilemma; what to do with your hoard. After we filled our bag at the New Brighton Farmers' Market a couple of days ago, Maria was pretty sure she knew what to do with the passionfruit and lady finger bananas. 
Meanwhile, I did ice cream and honeycomb from the IGA with raisins from Fundies and a decent splash of Sailor Jerry!

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