Eating our way around Queensland

Traditionally when camping I’ve always shopped and planned menus prior to leaving on holidays.  We usually have enough food to last a week and pantry items for the trip.  The longest we have travelled for is about a month.

As I am embracing a more sustainable lifestyle my food prep methods have altered.  This has come about for several reasons but the main one being reducing my food miles and supporting local farmers.  So here’s a few of my favourite tips:

  • I now fully embrace scrumping (food grown on public land ripe for the taking-just today I found an orange tree growing next to the Pacific Highway)
  • I love buying straight from the farmer-roadside stalls are awesome!
  • Local butchers-ask them who they source their meat from and usually they are happy to chat with you
  • When dining out/take away get local knowledge first and don’t be afraid to ask the waitress where products are sourced from.  A great waitress will know and a good waitress will go and ask the Head Chef.  Sometimes menus will have this information.  Be especially weary of seafood products.
  • Source the best bakery in town
  • When buying a souvenir for that special person back home, consider a locally made product like preserves, wine or cheese.
  • Before I even start on a journey, I do a little internet browsing and check out if there are food trails

I love the fact that I can cut out the middle man, meet the producer and directly help small Australian businesses.  The kids love it too.  Picking strawberries, trying different cheeses, drinking real milk and catching red claw,IMG_2511 it all adds to the adventure of discovering Australia.

Camping Etiquette 101

155797_10151693614962017_1593539900_n[2]Okay before I dive head first into this blog I want to start by giving you a little insight into my relationship with my better half.  Think yin yang, peaches and cream, good cop bad cop, cats and dogs…we’re complete opposites but so perfectly matched.  Now I’m going to be honest with you I’m the glass half empty and he’s the glass half, actually he’s the glass QUITE full especially if it’s his home brew!  I needed to paint a picture before I have a little whinge….

So back to the blog…actually before I get there….let me state for the record that I LOVE CAMPING!  Being out in the open, the scenery, camp cooking, toasting marshmallows and watching the ambers of the campfire glow, NOT being at work, what a great way to spend time with loved ones.

Alright so now back to the blog….my little whinge…Why don’t people follow the unwritten rules of camping etiquette?

  • SMOKING You know, I have spoken to a number of Park Managers/owners and they are all in agreement that smoking on campsites needs to be reviewed.  I know I am quite sensitive to cigarette smoke but come on people, smoking within 5 metres of where I sleep is not cool especially if I am trying to sleep. Don’t get me started on cigarette butts that litter camping areas too.  One camp manager I spoke to suggested having a designated smoking zone.  Not only would this contain the litter, it would also give the smokers’ a space that they can enjoy their habit without affecting non-smoking campers ESPECIALLY CHILDREN. Let me know readers if you have found a non-smokers Garden of Camping Eden!
  • MY CAMPSITE IS NOT AN EASEMENT  Okay so I may have personal space issues but I kind of get a little irked when people walk right through our campsite. It’s like, okay the shortest route to the amenities is in a straight line! I really try hard to teach my kids to walk on the pathways/tracks/easements and NOT through campsites, it’s a shame others don’t.  Worse still, we have not only had people park (and sleep in their car) on our campsite but also sit at the camp table provided on our site and decide to sing and belt out tunes on the guitar late one night. In this instance being heavily pregnant with my third child did not help matters either.  This was a National Park and it was NOT suitable for the congregation of about 100 that turned up. Not sure what is more annoying someone walking past my bed at midnight or 5am especially if they are chit chatting with their toilet buddy?
  • WASTE MANAGEMENT  Park managers need to understand that for people to use bins correctly that you have to make it REALLY, REALLY simple.  I mean I know it is fairly obvious that the bins near the fish cleaning area with the sign above it saying FISH WASTE ONLY means exactly that but some people still don’t get it.  It would seem also that if bins are too far away from camping areas that campers either litter or make do with the small bin supplied at the amenities block.  For some campers too, I feel that they are still struggling with the idea of recycling. Admittedly though I have been to a handful of camping areas that seem to have it right.  One park we stayed at even had a bin for used batteries!
  • NOISE POLLUTION  I’m talking REALLY, REALLY LOUD MUSIC enough said.
  • RULE BREAKERS So I’ve been told on the odd occasion that I’m black and white, a rule follower and it is true.  If we don’t have rules we would have complete chaos.  I understand that sometimes people unintentionally break rules.  However some people must think they are above this or the rules don’t apply to them.  One in particular moment sticks to mind here. NO DOMESTIC ANIMALS IN NATIONAL PARKS- to most of us this is a fairly simple and clear rule. Aw no not for some.  Whilst camping in a beautiful park in South East Queensland we once had the unpleasant experience of other campers deciding that our patch looked so good they would camp so close to us that our tent ropes crossed over. I mean who in their right mind would set up camp next to newlyweds-well this family of happy campers did! (By the way tents have very thin walls). And before you say it must have been very busy let me point out that the campsite was near empty and about the size of half a football field.  Go figure….Anyway after I got over my personal space issue one of the campers pulled out a pet rat! Noice! I mean really!

I mean is it that hard people? Or am I too black and white? Uptight? Anally retentive? I don’t know maybe I should consult Glass Quite Full Man. I’m sure he couldn’t care less!  Would love to know what others think on this issue!

My Ocean Harvest

With the salty sea breeze caressing my face, the cool water licking at my feet, whales frolicking on the horizon and the osprey circling  above I was transported away to a moment of happiness.  I could here the kids squealing with delight as they constructed a pool and then later entombed their older cousins in the sand. Yes people I was at the beach, Noosa North Shore to be precise.

Now please don’t be alarmed by what I am about to tell you next…..Are you ready?….Okay…..Sure?……So beside the fact that I was having some well deserved R & R with my family, I was also on a mission to catch a fish!  Earlier on in the day we had collected a couple of dozen pippies in hope to entice our dinner to join us.

So after a few unsuccessful attempts at casting a surf rod beyond the first breaker, my darling husband, Reece, decided to man up and help me out. (He’s so strong!) Shortly after I hauled our first dart of the day. Reece stepped up yet again by dehooking, rebaiting and casting my line. Over the course of the afternoon I caught three more dart and a bream (all legal size). I was happy.

I felt it was important to write this blog as this is part of who I am.  Ever since I was old enough to hold a rod, my parents would take my brother and I fishing in the passage near Bribie Island.  These were magical times.  For not only did we connect as a family, it was an opportunity to connect back to our roots. Yes we are all descendants of hunters and gatherers and depending where we lived would determine our diet.

Today it is a  completely different story.  It’s convenient food for our fast paced lifestyles.  Too tired to cook? Busy day at the office?  Nothing in the Fridge? Food these days for the affluent, comes premade, precooked, packaged, frozen, chemically altered and potentially has travelled more times overseas than I have.  Getting all your meals from a grocery store, dining out or take away conveniently also disconnects us from the source. Take for instance the frozen prawns my friend bought the other day.  Caught in Australia but packed for your convenience in China.  My friend had made the innocent assumption (like most of us who have any nous of common sense) that being Australian it would be packed here.

I honestly believe that if you source food directly from mother nature you will reap the benefits.  So what does one learn from a fishing experience? Catching a meal takes time, patience, respect and knowledge. That afternoon helped me reconnect with ocean. The fish that I caught we were grateful for, we only took enough for a meal and the osprey who had been patiently circling above graciously accepted the frames which we shared with him.

A Celebration for Foodies

When it comes to food I am fairly obsessive.  If I’m not in the kitchen creating or in the garden collecting eggs or picking vegies, I’m probably reading a food mag or watching a cooking show.  Let’s not forget the regular practise of consuming food too.  That I do quite well.  So when one of my BFFs (Best Friend Forever) suggested we go to this year’s Causley Fresh Gate To Plate Degustation (http://www.gatetoplate.com.au/main.html) well I did backflips.  What a great foodie challenge to eat through several courses highlighting local products and local Chefs.  Of course this would be deliciously accompanied by some beautiful near local wines.

Helper Dianne Luxton and Chef Antony Perring at the Gate To Plate masterclass on Saturday afternoon. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner

Helper Dianne Luxton and Chef Antony Perring at the Gate To Plate masterclass on Saturday afternoon. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner

Well did I cry in my pillow and comfort eat my way through a bag of Choc Bits when my BFF informed me that she had been too late to book us a table.  Okay I may have been a little too dramatic with the crying into the pillow scene but I was genuinely upset.  However there was a silver lining on a cloud of pink fairy floss to our dilemma.

BFF had suggested we book in for the Yamba Food Trail followed by a Master Class.  All day taste testing local food and getting foodie tips from experts, “Yeah, count me in!” Locally ground coffee (http://www.espressobotero.com.au/), a tour of a local fish farm (http://pim.net.au/),  a local deli shopping experience (http://www.causleyfresh.com.au/), lunch at Wato’s Fish and Burger Bar, Yamba, and  let’s not forget to mention the beautiful bottle of Sparkling we consumed(http://www.robertchannonwines.com/Scripts/openExtra.asp?extra=1) made for an unforgettable food trail experience.

Our day continued on a high with a Master Class at our local Art Gallery. Our host for the day Chef Antony Perring (http://www.ironsandcraig.com/) , roped me into assisting him to make ricotta.  (Between you and me I was totally loving the limelight). We were also spoilt with some mouth watering BBQ prawn and scallop nibbles.  No one could resist the  dessert presentation (http://www.nicholsonfinefoods.com.au/) which was truly a work of art.  On the inside we were all plotting the quickest way to get to the dessert display and which people we would need to knock over (lucky I was in the front row and therefore could throw myself at temptation).  All of this amazing food was perfectly matched with Robert Channon Wines from the Granite Belt and coffee made with love from Espresso Botero.

Alas all good things must come to an end, so I bid my new friends farewell but I was happy in the knowledge that not only do I have all of this amazing produce available to me in my Clarence Valley, I know that I’ll be doing the food trail and master class again next year.  One last word, this obsessed foodie enjoyed herself so much that she has volunteered to help organise next year’s event. Maybe this way we can be guaranteed a table at the Degustation!