Wednesday, August 26, 2015

around the table: croquets and an old mincer


Do you remember this post?


It was all about the sharing of food around a table, something that I’ve always loved to do.
So many of my most lovely childhood memories are of sitting around our table, sharing food and chatting about our day. I especially loved it when we’d have family and friends come over to join us. To me, there’s just something really special about preparing food and sharing it with others. It give me that cosy, comforting feeling and probably has something to do with the reason why I am definitely not a size 10.

Anyway, this post is all about the croquets I mentioned way back in February. It’s a bit of a ‘part 2’ kinda post as well as a re-introduction to my new feature which I’ve taken way too long to get up and going but…well, better late than never…? I’m calling it Around The Table but I’m thinking that the word table is really just a term to symbolise the space where the meal is shared. The table could well be a picnic rug on the grass or a log in the bush, pretty much wherever the food is shared and the story is told and smiles are found on the faces of the people I munch with.

So, Around The Table is all about the sharing of food with others and the stories that come about surrounding that food. It could be the meal itself and the recipe or it might be where that meal is eaten an the story behind the table or the room or it may even be the story of the china plates and the knives and forks used to eat the food from. Everyone has food stories and memories, cosy, lovely memories based around meal times or special recipes. I want to be apart of sharing those memories, not just mine but the people I share food with as well. I want to take the time to savour the moment and breathe in everything about the food and the people I’m sharing it with.

Oh, but before we get into the food sharing  stuff I wanted to take the opportunity to let you in on a little secret. You remember, Pete, the guy I introduced you to as my first Around The Table food story sharer back in February? Well, he’s also this lovely man.  {insert heart emoticon and big smiley face}

Oh, and one more little secret, Pete’s also going to be having a bit of a voice here every now and then. I felt like it was time to spice this little space up a bit and adding a male’s perspective will be a nice balance to my girly rantings and ramblings. Don’t you think? He’s got a lovely voice too, I might add, and he has some cool stuff to share – hunter-fishing-making-doing-testosteroney kinda stuff. He’s a feather and nester for sure - a boy feather and nester. It’s one of the many, many, many things I love about him.  It’ll be fun and I’m really excited about it and I can’t wait to introduce him properly …but hang on, where were we?
OK, back to this post and the croquets.

Here is the story of Pete, an old mincer and the deliciously moorish croquets.
Pete’s family are Dutch. He spent many childhood days hanging out with his grandparents, his mum’s parents. Croquets were a special part of those times. Pete often helped his Opa  make croquets in the old shed out the back of his grandparents boarding house. There was a basic kitchen set up inside it and this is where a lot of the messier kind of cooking took place. Much of the bulk cooking was done out in the shed as Pete’s grandparents were regularly cooking for the boarding house that they ran at the time. Here’s the original mincer that they used for preparing the croquets. Isn’t it a beauty?

Pete’s mum recently gave Pete this mincer to use in his own kitchen. It’s Pete’s Opa’s mincer and it holds so many beautiful, croquet making memories for Pete and his family. It’s the same one we used to make the croquets in this post and I spent a  lot of time taking photo after photo of it. It’s  definitely a gorgeous kitchen appliance and it is something that I know Pete will always treasure. I found it hard to stop taking photos…as you can imagine, I’m sure.

While Pete and his Opa were out in the shed making croquets Pete
would ask his Opa to teach him Dutch words. They were always words that he would never remember. Pete remembers big aluminium cooking pots and bone handled knives and forks stacked inside the shed kitchen. The process of making the croquets was like a production line, which you’ll see in a minute. Pete and his Opa always wore plain white aprons while they were cooking together.The croquets were always made for special times where the family would gather together.
I can just picture Pete and his Opa standing around the kitchen bench making and chatting, chatting and making as they whiled away their grandfather and grandson time together making croquets and bonding and creating beautiful childhood memories for Pete.

So, here we go with the croquet making process. It’s quite a process that’s for sure and I can totally see why these were only made  for special times.

The first thing  to get hold of is some meat. It doesn’t actually matter what sort of meat you use for croquets, it could be chicken or pork or beef but for our croquets Pete chose to use lamb that he had raised himself and recently had slaughtered. He especially chose to use this neck piece because during the depression times meat was scarce and nothing was wasted, everything on the slaughtered animal would have been used. The neck tends to be a tough old piece which people often  discard but if slow cooked it is a lovely tender meat with awesome flavour. As Pete’s Opa would’ve realised and as I found out during this process, there is actually quite a lot of meat on the neck and so it’s perfect for croquets. A bit of a process but well worth it.


Next, you need to grab a large saucepan and boil the neck for hours until it’s tender {falls off the bone}.


Once the neck is cooked you then need to let it cool and pop it in the fridge overnight for the fat to separate and make lard. The lard is then scraped off and used if you’d like to. The stock from the meat is kept for a bit later on in the process.


Once the neck is cooled you need to scrape the meat from the bone ready for mincing.


Chunks of the meat are then put through the mincer and minced.


Once the meat is all minced up, it needs to be spiced up a bit with herbs from the garden – nothing specific, just whatever you have in the garden at the time. We used oregano, thyme and chives. Then we added some paprika.


Next you make a rue out of left over stock {with added stock for extra flavour} with plain flour and butter  and then add the rue to the meat mixture.


When the rue and meat mixture has formed a pasty consistency let it cool. Once it’s cool then you’re ready for the messy bit.

croquet collage the messy bit

Form the meat mix into neat loggy shapes. Coat with flour, egg and breadcrumbs. To make a really yummy, crunchy croquet Pete double coats them back into the egg and crumbs.
Last but not least, deep fry the croquets until they are golden and crunchy on the outside.


The final and best part of this whole process is the eating, of course! Add some djohn mustard and then hoe in which is exactly what we did and it was really hard to stop eating them. They are so yummy – crunchy and golden on the outside but soft and tasty on the inside. Mmmmm.


I dare you to stop at 4.


Pete and I shared these croquets with his mum, around his table, which also happened to belong to his grandmother and then his mum and now, Pete. As they reminisced about Pete’s grandparents and the old mincer and the lovely times they shared making croquets with Pete’s Opa, we also enjoyed some more present memories which Pete has made part of his table {photos that he and his kids have taken under a sealed, clear table cover}.


See, this is what I love about sharing food around the table.

How about you? Have you got some foody memories that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them. Maybe you might like to share them here, that’d be fun.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

lately …



I’ve ben doing a bit of this and a bit of that lately. Enjoying the gorgeous wintery days we’ve been having. Admiring the sunny little faces of my daffies that have emerged from the sleepy, fairly bare garden beds. They are so happy aren’t they? They are the little ray of sunshine in a winter garden.



Two of my favourite guys picked me these daisies from the beach as we were scrambling back after a bout of fishing. One of the favourites convinced the other to pick me some flowers. There’s something about daisies that I just love. They are such a humble, simple little flower. They are the straight forward member of the garden, don’t you reckon? The no frills, take me as I am flower of the winter bed. They remind me of my mum and that makes me smile. Actually, there’s a daisy that is called Dorothea. Pretty cool since that’s my mum’s name {Thea, for short}. I’ve always loved thinking about that.




Mm mm…fish and chips at Eden wharf. Definitely a feast was had that day.




Lately we’ve had pancakes. A little visitor wanted to make heart shaped pancakes so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take 20 or so photos of a pancake on my new plate. As you do.




Lately we had a bonfire at Pete’s. Bonfires in winter are so lovely. There’s something therapeutic about watching the sparks of a bonfire dissipate into the night sky. The warmth is amazing and cooking potatoes in the foil tops off the whole experience.



Lately I’ve been lucky enough to be playing schools with a gorgeous little 11 year old. It’s been so much fun and I have to say it’s something that Lewi, as a child who has never been to school, has never wanted to play. This photo was taken during our ‘lunch break’. These are some of the students that go to Jess’ school. They are very quiet, well mannered students, as you can imagine, I’m sure.




Lately we’ve been to some lovely spots for our home schooling get togethers. This is a gorgeous spot on our lovely far south coast – Bournda Island. When the teenagers hang out on there it makes me think of Lord of the Flies. I’m not sure why. lol





So that’s us lately. How about you? What have you been up to? I’d love to know.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

essential oils: a new feature on my blog

Over the past year or so I’ve been playing around with a lovely little collection of pure, organic essential oils. I’ve managed to gather a whole drawer full of these pretty, labelled brown bottles and they  have become a bit of a life line for us who dwell in this little tin house.


We use the oils daily for one thing or another. There are so many to choose from and I’ll definitely be going through them here over time but an all time favourite of mine is lemon oil. I pop a few drops into my water every single day, especially during these wintery months. Here are some of the lovely advantages of using lemon oil:

• Cleanses and purifies the air and surfaces
• Naturally cleanses the body and aids in digestion
• Supports healthy respiratory function
• Promotes a positive mood and cognitive ability
• Helps ward off free radicals with its antioxidant benefits
• Soothes an irritated throat


Apart from having any old excuse to take 100’s of photos of these little brown bottles in all different positions {as you do!} I’m also excited to be sharing these oils with you over time on my blog. So stay tuned for more essential oils ramblings and a photo or 20.


Oh, and if you’d like to know more about how to start your own little collection of essential oils, then click on this banner and I’ll email you some details. Once you try them you’ll love them, I promise.

essential oils

Friday, August 7, 2015

lew lately…



1. Lew’s painting from art class. 2. Home schooling get together at Short Point, Merimbula. 3. Monopoly with Jake and Ov. 4. Squash. 5. Shooting for the first time. 6. Film Club in the park at Candelo. 7. Home schooling get together at Pambula river mouth. 8. Camping at Mallacoota. 9 & 10. Woodwork class. 11 & 12. Spiral Gallery Plethora of Postcards exhibition. 13. Snow ball throwing near Nimmitabel.  14. Fishing at Bermi. 15. Lew and Ptol. 16. Home schooling get together at Aslings Beach, Eden.                      

Fun times.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

a little camping in mallacoota



Not so long ago we packed up the camper van, loaded the boat and headed down south with the kids to the gorgeous little fishing village of Mallacoota.

I hadn’t been there since I was a teenager and so it was like I was experiencing the place for the first time.

What a lovely experience it was.


Mallacoota is quaint and quiet and the coastline is beautiful. Not so dissimilar to our beautiful far south coast.

We camped at a local caravan park right on this inlet. The sound of the waves from the beach just around the corner lulled us to sleep at night and the smell of the salty sea air pleasantly wafted through the door of the camper as we awoke each morning.

Yep, it was blissful and relaxing and it made me question why the heck I’d been so worried about camping for so long.




It’s funny thinking back to my thoughts on the whole camping phobia. Friends would often try to coax me into going camping  and I would always cringe at the thought of it and adamantly tell them no, I don’t do camping. As Lew got older and particularly once he became a teenager I started to feel a little of that good old parental guilt – I’d never taken my child camping! I knew that he’d need therapy later on, possibly by the age of 21, if I kept holding back on the camping thing so I vowed to a couple of my friends that I might try it sometime in the future. But I secretly hoped I could hold off for as long as possible.



To be honest I think it was the thought of having all of the camping responsibilities. Thinking about setting up tents and building fires and all of the goings on that make up the whole camping thing and doing it all on my own didn’t help. But camping with Pete has been really fun. He’s a bit of an expert and has the packing and unpacking and setting up routine down pat. All the bits that stressed me out turn out to be the things he’s really great at.




Anyway, fast track a little bit and here I am camping with my 15 year old who likes to complain a fair bit about the whole process though secretly I know he loved it.

And can you believe  I did love it?




So we spent a couple of lovely days by the water. The boys fished off the jetty and from the boat. we went for walks and collected shells and sat around the camp fire and toasted marshmallows and played card games and pretty much just chilled out and unwound.




This cute little wattle bird was so friendly. I hand fed it while we nibbled pies and pastries at the little bakery across from our camp site.




And when it came time to say goodbye to the gorgeous Mallacoota I felt the pull to stay another night or 10. Unfortunately the kids were keen to get home and do their thing but us adults could’ve handled another month or two just hanging out.

Now I’m looking forward to our next little camping adventure.

Where to next?

Any suggestions?