Category Archives: Darling Downs

Fennel beet & kale salad

Fennel beet and kale salad

In the first two weeks of removing refined sugar and processed food from my diet, I have lost 2.2kg and a whooping 5cm off my waistline. And this is just the start.

I have been inventive with food and created some amazing new recipes. The fun part is recipe hacks,  substituting ‘bad’ ingredients for something nutritious. It is a shift in thinking. I definitely don’t substitute taste and satisfaction but I am always looking for the nutritional value of my meals. I don’t want fillers, I want every part of my meal to be useful.  Tonight for dessert, I made mini chocolate mousse set in small containers. The base was raisins and almonds whizzed together and pressed firm on the bottom of the container. For the mousse I whipped banana, raw cacao powder, coconut oil and a few medjool dates. I topped it off with a sprinkle of lemon zest.  A perfect end to a healthy dinner. I’m still tweaking the recipe.  I will share it once I have perfected it.

I am in danger of becoming a raving health nut that won’t shut up about food but I am LOVING my life right now. I cook from scratch all the time, spend hours looking at recipes, reading labels and experimenting in the kitchen.  The end result is we finish every meal feeling refreshed and satisfied but not heavy, bloated or tired. I am building up a library of ideas.  I will share with you my best discoveries and try to limit the ‘preachy’ aspect that often proceeds moments of enlightenment :)

The recipe below is my latest super food salad with a perfect marriage of flavours. The zesty lemon garlic balances perfectly with the soft sweetness of licorice and orange.

Ingredients

Finely diced or shredded kale
Grated fresh beetroot
Thinly sliced fennel

Dressing

3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Generous handful of parsley
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 tsp mustard
A sprinkle of ground pepper

So it is pretty simple -  put all the dressing ingredients in the food processor and blend until creamy.

Salad dressing  ingredients

Salad dressing

Mix all the salad ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle with dressing and top with a few slices of orange.

The ingredients in this salad are packed full of nutrients:-  fibre, vitamin C, folate, potassium, manganese and beta-carotene, iron,  vitamins A, B6 and C, folic acid, silica, vitamin K, calcium, phosphorus, selenium,  manganese, zinc and powerful antioxidants.

Beetroot is a great liver cleanser and makes you happy (the betaine enhances the production of the body’s natural mood-lifter serotonin). Kale is a powerhouse of nutrients and one cup of this leafy vegetable will deliver well over 100% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C.

Eat this salad on its own or serve as an accompaniment to a late summer meal.

Fennel beet and kale salad

I wanted to sneak this recipe in with only 6 more days left of summer here in Australia. There has been lots of rain recently and the air is starting to cool down in the Granite Belt. I love autumn. It is my favourite season. I expect to be playing with cinnamon, apples, eggplant, chicken stock and apple cider in the coming weeks.

 

 

 

Kale and tomato gnocchi

Every meal has a story. The provenance of the ingredients, the journey  traveled to get in your kitchen and the lives of those it passed on the way.

Returning from the Glengallan spring market on a Sunday afternoon, I felt inspired to make gnocchi.  Making do with what I had in the unit, I pulled out a heap of ingredients to make a sauce. I have never made gnocchi before, so I googled a detailed recipe. It struck me that the ingredients laid out on the bench was a gorgeous representation of south-east Queensland produce. I love looking at all the raw ingredients before they are transformed. Then the sense of accomplishment, you get from cutting, dicing, mashing, frying, pressing, rolling and baking the ingredients to turn them into something wonderful.

Here is the story behind my kale and tomato gnocchi.

CHAPTER ONE: The Gnocchi ingredients

3 large sebago potatoes

The Potatoes: The previous weekend we drove down to Canungra on a whim. I picked up a 3kg bag of prize winning sebago potatoes from a roadside stall for $5.   This cute tractor honesty box (pictured at the top) was set up on the right hand side of the road, as you you approach the town, just before the Canungra creek bridge. The Canungra show happened to be on the day before and apparently these spuds had won first prize (hopefully in a spud competition).

Canungra is a small rural town nestled in the back of the Gold Coast Hinterland.  Also known as the “Valley of the Owls,” it is only an hours drive from Brisbane and a popular motorcycle stop over.

The Egg: Earlier in the day (gnocchi making day that is), I bought a dozen eggs from a roadside stall in Gladfield, on the Cunningham highway. This was after a particularly disappointing visit to the Glengallan spring market (a story I will share later). I can’t verify the provenance of these eggs but they had the tell tale signs of being straight off the farm.

The Flour:  I used biodynamic wholemeal wheat flour from Red Gum Milling. This was an extra I ordered in my weekly Food Connect box. Red Gum milling grow, mill and store the grains on the farm without the use of chemicals.

1kg of this flour is $4.50 through Food Connect.

CHAPTER TWO: The Gnocchi sauce (kale and tomato)

As a subscriber to Food Connect, I now have a regular supply of local vegetables. My fridge is always stocked with an interesting range. For my gnocchi sauce I decided to use cherry tomatoes, kale, chilli, garlic, mushrooms, roma tomatoes  and Italian parsley.

The imperfections of the cherry tomatoes remind me that produce is not meant to be supermarket perfect all the time. Taste and nutrition count more than looks.
I like the surprise each week when I open up my Food Connect box. It keeps my diet diverse and seasonal, plus it stops me getting in a rut with meals. Kale is not something I ordinarily buy but it is fun to play with new ingredients.
Being my first time using Kale, I had a quick google to see how to use it. I read that you can't eat the stems. Turns out this is more a matter of personal preference than in-edibility. The stems are thick and fibrous, some ideas for use are: juice, soup, stir-fry or even vegetable stock. Next time!

I added a bit of fresh rosemary to the sauce.  I had bought the rosemary bunch for $1,  from the heritage trust stall,  at the Glengallan markets.

Fresh rosemary
Steeped in history and grandure, the Glengallan homestead is a beautiful setting for a seasonal market.

CHAPTER THREE: Making the Gnocchi

I boiled the potatoes with the skin on for about 35- 45 minutes, until soft enough to skewer but so the skins were not split.
Once cool enough to hold, I scraped the skin away with a knife.
1 egg, freshly grated nutmeg and a bit of pepper and salt.

After mashing the potato and pushing it through a colander (best alternative I could think of to a potato ricer), I made a well with the potato and poured the egg mix in the centre. I kneaded the mixture together, gradually adding the flour. It is a bit messy at first.
It takes a few minutes of kneading to get a smooth but slightly stick dough. Don't over knead or add too much flour as this makes the gnocchi heavy and tough.

There are many ways to shape and indent the gnocchi. I found a few quick tutorials on You Tube and opted for the short roll and curl down a fork. Clearly this takes practise and no two pieces of mine looked the same.
I need practise, but this is not too bad for a first attempt.

CHAPTER FOUR: The Sauce

In a last minute decision, I browned a bit of steak to include with the sauce.

I cheated a bit and added a jar of tomato pasta sauce (provenance and story unknown).
To maximise the nutrients from the Kale, I added this to the mix at the end, once I had turned off the stove. The heat from the sauce was enough to wilt it down.

CHAPTER FIVE: Coming together

Once added to boiling water the gnocchi takes about 1 minute to cook. It is ready when the gnocchi rises to the surface. I recommend cooking the gnocchi in smaller batches.
Skim the gnocchi from the water with a slotted spoon and drain well.
I mixed my gnocchi with the sauce and baked it in the oven for 20 minutes , to allow the flavours of the sauce to nicely penetrate the gnocchi.

My gnocchi was light, fluffy and full of the tastes of south-east Queensland. Yum! It was also prize winning (best meal of the week that is).

Spring in my step

First day of spring and I am looking forward to a new season, in more ways than one.

This Sunday we are heading  to the Glengallan homestead, just out of Warwick for the spring market. It is held on the grounds of the historical homestead, on the first Sunday of every season. I have never been before, so I don’t know what to expect. The homestead is such a grand location. I plan to immerse myself in the colours and scents of spring in the country and check out what the new season has to offer for food inspiration.

Glengallan homestead is just under 2 hours drive from Brisbane, making it an ideal Sunday drive.  Don’t forget  this Sunday is also Fathers Day.

Anyway I’ll share more about my visit after the weekend. I just wanted to mention it now, after all it only happens every 3 months, I wouldn’t want you to miss it.

Details are on the Glengallan website.

Happy spring to you all!

What a wonderful time of year.

Week 34 with Food Connect and I am a subscriber

I finally joined Food Connect and picked up my first produce box last Wednesday. I found out about Food Connect months ago, when I was googling for suppliers of local produce.  I was researching the concept of food miles and looking for food sourced within a small radius of Brisbane. I loved the idea of Food Connect but told myself the reason I was not subscribing, is that I already spend most weekends visiting various farmers markets.

I decided last week, that a good supply of organic produce, sourced directly from local farmers and obtained without having to scavenge the markets, was too good to continue to pass up.

With Food Connect, the journey from paddock to plate is nice and simple. Produce is sourced from about 80 local farmers, within a 500 kilometre radius of Brisbane (most of it comes from within 2 hours of Brisbane). Each week the harvest is delivered to the homestead and packaged into boxes.The boxes are delivered to ‘city cousins’ (people in various suburbs that volunteer their garage space to be a weekly convenient collection point for subscribers). My city cousin is only a few blocks away.

Food Connect is a community shared agriculture program. You have to subscribe to the service and pay for 6 weeks up front. This gives the farmers security as it guarantees a market for half a season.

What I like most about Food Connect:-

  • All produce is chemical free and most of it is organically grown.
  • On the website you can check out the expected harvest for the week and it’s origin. How cool is that.
  • I can read the profile of the farmers and find out their story.
  • I live in a unit so delivery of products is problematic if I am not home. I love being able to pick up my box anytime on a Wednesday afternoon.
  • I can add extra items to my order each week (cut off is 12 noon the day before), with the online ordering system.
  • I am part of a community that cares about making a real connection with our food.
  • I am part of a better, more equitable way of distributing local produce in a socially responsible way.
This is the mixed gourmet box I collected last week that contains fruit and vegetables for 2 people for 1 week.
This week my box contained: spring onion, celery, bag of baby spinach, 4 mandarins, 2 oranges, 1 broccoli, 3/4 jap pumpkin, 1 cos lettuce, 1 pineapple, bag swiss brown mushrooms, 2 green capsicums, 2 green apples, 4 carrots, 4 avocados, 3 lemons, ginger, handful of cherry tomatoes, 4 small sweet potatoes and 2 small beetroot.
The gourmet box for two is $55 per week. I ordered extra apples (my husband has apples for breakfast) but the size of the box is decent.
To save on packaging you are asked to return your box each week.

I am picking up my second box tomorrow. I have ordered a few extras;  bio dynamic rice, single origin coffee from Northern New South Wales and some bio dynamic flour.

I am a very new subscriber but a massive fan.

Lockyer Valley reconnaissance

I am often asked how I find the places and products that I use and blog about.  Once you are looking for local options, they pop out at you. Blue car syndrome I suppose. The other part is getting out and about. A lot of small local suppliers don’t have a web presence and only sell at local markets, shops or a farm gate. You don’t find them unless you travel there.

We like to take the back streets, visit regional markets, check out local information centres and pull over at roadside stalls. I love being on the open road. Some of the best products are found taking a wrong turn or heading off with no fixed plan.

This month Small Town Chutney officially turned one. To celebrate we decided to go to the Darling Downs Zoo. The trip was a bit unplanned. I took a few screen shots of google maps on my ipad, we headed off to Gatton and took  little back streets down to Picton. I don’t trust our GPS  (which is nicknamed Harry). Harry has a fondness for big highways and grossly overestimates travel time on unpaved roads.

The colours in the Lockyer Valley are so pretty. The  combination of green crops,  blue sky and the deep brown of freshly ploughed fields is striking. Located on a flood plain, the land is fertile and rich, ideal for growing vegetables and salad crops. Disaster struck the region at the start of this year, with devastating flash flooding completely obliterating some of the smaller towns and wiping out crops and infrastructure.

It was shocking to drive through Grantham seven months later and find most of the houses were gutted and unoccupied.  There was still a car stuck up in a tree and rented green shipping containers  in every yard. The town is tidy and life was slowly returning but it is a long way off any normality.  It made me sad and I didn’t want to take any photos. I felt like a rubber necker staring out the window at house after house, gasping at crumpled garages and buckled machinery.  It was a merciless torrent of water that powered through that town.  Looking around at the wide open farming land,with the ranges in the distance,  it is hard to believe that all but one street in the town was destroyed in a matter of minutes.

It was comforting to see lush crops growing and farmers out in the fields. It was a tough start to the year for the farmers in the Lockyer Valley.

The rest of our STC reconnaissance trip was not very successful in finding new products. It was good to explore the region, appreciate the changes in vegetation, learn the history and visit smaller settlements. Bright yellow wattle dotted the hillside on our way to Picton.

Ma Ma Creek General Store

We stopped in at the Ma Ma general store for burgers. They stock D.A.D.Z Farm homemade preserves, made by Darrin and Debbie Zichke in Townson. In hindsight I should have grabbed a big jar of the pickled beetroot.

St Stephens Anglican church on the hill at Ma Ma Creek.

After the zoo we headed to Glen Rock Park to camp for the night.  Just near Junction View we passed this eery looking farm with massive deciduous trees. It was impressive and I couldn’t figure out what until I saw the sign for Organic Pecan Enterprises.  Turns out this farm is one of three in the area.  This particular farm is has over 2200 established pecan trees standing nearly 15m in height. It is certified organic and produces 70 tonne of nut each year. I didn’t even know pecan trees were decidious!

Organic Pecan Enterprises - Pecan farm near Junction View, QLD. Along East Haldon Road

The entrance to Glen Rock Park, Queensland

There is plenty of honesty boxes in the area but everytime I saw one, we had a car behind us or it was too hard to find a spot to turn around. That’s the problem with looking for things on the fly.

A field near Upper Tenthill, full of pumpkins. Love the sign!

The next day I was excited to visit the New Earth GreenE markets in Marburg. I had read about them on a few online directories and sites.  I had never pulled off the highway to visit Marburg before and the markets sounded alternative and fun. According to the various references I could find on the net, the markets are held every Sunday from 7.00 am to 1.00 pm at 110 Queen Street, Marburg. This is not the case. The town was sleepy, no market traffic or signs and the green shed at 110 Queen street was closed up.

What's the deal?

We returned home from a fun weekend empty handed.

Find your market rhythm

Sremska Grill Rocket Salad made using ingredients purchased from the Rocklea twilight markets.

There are some excellent farmers markets around but for my staple supply, the Rocklea Wednesday night twilight market is my constant. Conveniently close there is an abundance of parking and it is my mid-week date with my sister. The ambiance rocks, there is always a band busting out soulful tunes and the stall holders have more time to chat.

Best of all – I have found my market rhythm. I can weave through the people easily, I know the lay out, what stalls I like, what places to avoid and what signs to look for.

I accept that many of the produce stalls at the Rocklea markets do not sell local produce direct from the farm.  The commercial Rocklea market is on the opposite side of the road so it’s not hard to guess where a lot of the produce comes from.

There is  local options you just need to know where to look and what to ask. So this week I thought I would share my usual purchases and favourite stalls.

Meet James.


James is a vibrant character with a hearty chuckle and smile. With a background in growing his own prize-winning vegetables, James has carefully selected his suppliers. The product selection is small but his stall is always buzzing with regular customers.  My order each week pretty much remains the same:-

Cucumbers and mixed cherry tomatoes. These come from Helidon (near Toowoomba). The 'cukes' are small, super crisp and acid free and would have to be one of Jame's signature products.
A bag of white mushrooms. James can tell you the exact time he picked these up from the growers (usually very early that same morning). The food miles is negligible as they come from Archerfield. The large field mushrooms are organic.

I also buy a bowl of Rocket or salad greens for $2.99, also from Toowoomba. The freshness of the salad bowls is proven by the shelf life in your fridge. Even a week later these salad greens are still perky and crunchy.

Depending on the season, James will also stock blueberries and strawberries.

Meet Dave & Valerie from Olive You


Dave is a culinary experimenter, always trying new olive oil infusions or tinkering with his balsamic range. Dave's zest for the craft of producing his products and his love of good food is contagious.

Dave and Valerie own a small olive grove in Mutdapilly, Queensland. Life on the olive grove can be tough at times, especially this year with their olive trees failing to perform as well.  It is inspiring seeing small producers persevere  through trying times. Unless you want to see the market place dominated by agribusiness, it is worth supporting the smaller struggling producers.

My usual purchases include:-

  • A bottle of plain extra virgin olive oil
  • A bottle of infused extra virgin olive oil
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Fresh Pasta
  • Balsamic Vinegar
I go for the citrus infusions in spring and summer, bush spices in Autumn and the garlic, herbs and chilli infusions during winter.
Dave makes up a few batches of fresh pasta each week. You have to get in early. The fresh pasta is $6 and he makes a pasta sauce for $4.
If you get stuck for creative uses of olive oil or balsamic, just ask Dave. Balsamic is so versatile. I love it drizzled over steamed carrots.

Farm Fresh from Beaudesert

There is a little quirky stall run by Du.  She sells produce from her own farm in Beaudesert.  Many of the vegetables sold are specialty varieties. I am slowly working my way through these but  am clueless how to use them.  It helps that each product is clearly labelled, with a picture of the plant and a few suggested uses listed. Du will always make you feel special. Once the final price is announced she will either say ”’ but for you I make it” and proceed to knock a small bit of the price or she will slip (of course making sure you notice) an extra apple or a further handful of beans into your bag. I think it is nice when your patronage of a stall is recognised and appreciated with a little token benefit.

This is Mao. All I know about this is you have to peel the skin off first.
Bitter Melons
Wing beans - Use in Stirfry and Salads
Winter Melon - Use in soups and stir fry
I always buy my pumpkin from Du. The Jap Pumpkins are so rich in colour and taste, I highly recommend them.
Du also stocks a range of Stanthorpe apples with taste testing of each variety on offer.


Backa Smallgoods

Each week I buy something different from Richard at Backa Smallgoods, whatever takes my fancy. I like them because no preservatives are used and the meat is sourced locally. Have a chat to Richard about what you are after (e.g a pizza topping, something to grill or hungarian style pasta sauce) and he is happy to make suggestions.  The range includes

  • Pork and Beef Kulin
  • Italian Caccottori
  • Sremska Gril
  • Mild and Hot Chabi
  • Smoked Spec
  • Beef Sticks


Pork Kulin - made with pork meat,cracked pepper and hot paprika.
Italian Caccottori - these are coated in pepper.

Yummioh Organic Bakery

Yummioh Organic Bakery are sourdough artisans based in Mt Gravatt East. The sour dough is make using their own starter and contain organic flour, filtered water and salt only. There is no chemicals, preservatives, fat or sugar used at all in the production process. This bread is a work of art.


The organic spelt wholemeal sourdough lightly toasted with butter and Vegemite is my favourite comfort food breakfast.

Gradually getting to know your local market is satisfying and ultimately saves time.  New things pop up all the time and there is treasures to be found (like freshly shelled peas) so reserve a bit of time to browse once your shopping list is completed.


Tips for the Twilight markets:-

  • Bring enough cash to pay the $3 entry fee (per car) but there is an ATM on the premises if you need to top up.
  • There is  toilets at the far end of the car park.
  • For bargain prices – come closer to the end but be prepared for pushier sales.

The seasonal fig

One of the joys of eating with the seasons is certain foods become an annual treat that become synonymous with that time of year. For me at the moment this is figs. The colours remind me of sunrise  in the country, crisp mornings, wearing scarves and the promise of cooler days. I love the soft pink insides with a hit of orange and deepening purple skin.

I remember my grandparents had a big fig tree next to a windmill on their property in the hills of Perth. We used to pick them soft and ripe from the tree. If you want a juicy, soft,  ripe fig you pretty much have to pick it off the tree.  I recently found out that figs do not ripen after picking.  This means that ripe figs are not supplier friendly as they are perishable and not robust enough to travel excessive food miles.

Last Wednesday at the Brisbane City Farmers Market, I bought a  container of fresh figs from Ban Ban Springs for $6 from the Ainsworth Produce potato specialists stall.  This is a cute stall set up primarily for potatoes but they also stock organic garlic from Toowoomba,  ginger, galangal and turmeric from Eumundi. I had to google Ban Ban Springs – it is up past Gympie.

There are many fantastic savoury and sweet fig recipes for pies and tarts but I prefer to eat my figs raw and unaccompanied.

Just for fun on Saturday morning I mucked around with a few other raw serving ideas.

Breakfast of diced figs sprinkled on Kenilworth organic yoghurt.
I bought the organic yoghurt at the Brisbane City Farmers Market. The plain yoghurt is sweetened with honey. It is the best - I buy a big tub each week.

I was given a set of cute black and white cups with saucers as a wedding present but prefer my coffee in a big mug.  Not wanting them to go to waste the cups are a perfect serving size for desserts and yoghurt.  Maybe its an odd serving choice but then again I use teapots as vases so it’s not unusual for our household!

Yoghurt with fig is an obvious serving idea for raw fig. So I ventured a bit further in my creation.  Firstly I need to introduce you to Backa Small Goods. I will no doubt be raving about these guys a bit as they are creating truly awesome products. All their products are preservative free and the meat comes from either Toowoomba or Beaudesert and is naturally wood smoked.  Even the wood is locally sourced.  Richard makes all the products out of a small shop in Beenleigh but I buy from them at the Rocklea Twilight markets and Brisbane City Farmers Market.

Prosciutto from Backa Smallgoods. This piece cost $7.50
Add a little bit of Barambah Quark
With a drizzle of Lime Balsamic Glaze from Olives You. Olives You have a regular stall at the Rocklea Markets and are one of my favourite market vendors.
And here you have it. Fresh fig stuffed with quark, wrapped in prosciutto and drizzled with lime balsamic glaze. The flavour combination bursts in your mouth!

The time is now to enjoy autumns harvest of figs before they disappear for another year!

Making Pasta – a sister bonding experience

It was a perfect stay-at- home, overcast Saturday afternoon when my sister came over to make some pasta. It didn’t take long for us to develop an efficient two person rhythm to feeding the  pasta through the machine.  Sipping on wine and chatting away, we patiently turned our raw ingredients into silky fettuccine drying on the racks.

Eating fresh pasta is only part of the reward for making it yourself. Spending time with my sister we bonded over the simple therapeutic kneading process and watching the strips surrender to the machine.  It is a process that is not all about the end product. Good things take time.


Provenance Shopping List

  • 1 doz free range eggs, Knotsbury Farm - Wyreema (Darling Downs), Queensland – $5.50
  • 1.5kg Durum flour, Kialla – Toowoomba, Queensland – $6.40/kg
  • 375g jar Ozganics Pasta Sauce (tomato & basil) – Murwillumbah, New South Wales – $5.50

I have already posted about Kialla Flour, which is milled up in Toowoomba.  For my pasta I selected Kialla  Durum flour, which has a gorgeous soft yellow colour. I sourced this from Wrays Organics in Indooroopilly. Most of their Australian organic flour in the large plastic tubs is Kialla Flour, although this is not shown on the label.

I bought  a carton of Knotsbury free range eggs from Superior Fruits in Graceville. Knotsbury Farm is located in Wyreema, on the Darling Downs.  It is home to over 9000 birds and they produce about 3000 doz eggs per week.

Fresh eggs at room temperature is best for pasta

For my sauce I wanted something simple, that would showcase the pasta. I simmered a jar of Ozganics Pasta sauce with some fresh diced tomatoes and basil.

Ozganics is made in Murwillumbah on the Tweed Coast in New South Wales. The pasta sauce is made without using chemicals, artificial sweeteners or preservatives.

My husband has been telling me for years that when it comes to pasta sauce, less is more.  I wish I had some old Sicilian saying to insert here or recipes passed down through the generations, but I don’t.   In fact, I am often teased about being a faux Italian.  I have always had a love of food and a desire to feed anyone in my home. But with a maiden name like Janicke, it was not until I took on my husband’s surname, that people started assuming I am of Italian background.

I guess what I am trying to say is;  yes my name is Isabella Torrisi and I spend afternoons making homemade pasta,  but the truth is,  I am definitely no expert.  To make your own pasta, you don’t have to be. This was my second attempt and it was a spectacular result.

Advice from a pasta making novice – pick good quality ingredients and  invest  time kneading the dough. A supple and slightly elastic ball is easier to work with.

Silky fettucine wth tomato & basil - best enjoyed with wine & friends.

Laidley & Beetroot Dip

My dip got a good rating and even my brother-in-law who is not a fan of beetroot went back for another scoop

My husband and I love to go away for the weekend. Recently, we decided to check out the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. On the way to the range, we pulled off the highway, to check out the Laidley Country Markets.

The main street of Laidley is quiet and quaint. It’s amazing how the pace of life can change so noticeably, only one hour out of Brisbane.  Laidley is in the Lockyer Valley, an area often referred to as the Salad Bowl of South East Queensland.  The district is responsible for producing the majority of Australian grown beetroot which is exactly what I had come to find.

After a lazy morning, we had a late start to our trip and made it to the markets just on closing time. I wasn’t too fussed, as long as I could still get some locally grown beetroot. Many of the stalls had packed up. Aside from farmers produce, there was an offering of clothes, tools, plants, home-baked treats, jams & furniture.

1/8 of my massive bunch of beetroot. The colours were so vibrant.

I got my massive bunch of Laidley beetroot for $4.

Before continuing our trip, we popped into the Das Neumann Haus.

Located on the main street, this historic house has been restored and is set up as a Museum.   The rooms have been carefully refurnished in the original 1930′s style.  It’s a pretty cool insight into rural life back when the township was first flourishing.

I loved the old kitchen with its wood fired oven and rustic utensils.

In the kitchen of Das Neumann Haus

We enjoyed the old photos and newspaper articles on the walls. Walking up creaky stairs, and standing there looking at an eerily empty children’s bedroom, was a bit weird. Downstairs doubles up as the town’s information centre with a little cafe. It’s not the trendiest spot in town but worth a visit.

From Laidley, we took a few back roads to Gatton.  I love driving past crops and figuring out what’s planted there as we whiz by. It amuses me how excited I am to identify the crop.   ‘I think its cabbages, no maybe that’s broccoli…lettuce, wait..its beetroot..ITS BEETROOT.’  Despite my husbands lack of interest, I know he enjoys my enthusiasm. I insisted that we pull over so I could take a few photo’s.

Beetroot
beetroot

We made it back to Brisbane to spend Sunday afternoon with my sister, catching up on her recent ski trip.  I made beetroot dip for the occasion.

BEETROOT DIP

Ingredients

2 whole beetroot (oven roasted)

3-5 cloves of garlic

tsp cumin seeds (lighted pan roasted)

Natural yoghurt – I used Barambah organics yoghurt

fresh dill

squeeze of lemon juice

    This is so simple to make with a food processor. Oven roast the beetroot for about 1 hour or until soft.  Blend all your ingredients in the food processor.  If you like dip thick & creamy, partially substitute the yoghurt for cream cheese.

    Barambah Organics - All Natural Yoghurt. This is made just up the road from where I live using milk from its own farm at Inglewood, in the Border region of QLD/NSW

    Find a stockist of Barambah Organics All Natural Yoghurt click here.

    Provenance Shopping Basket

    • Barambah Organics All Natural Yoghurt, European Style set in tub (500g) ($4.95) – Brisbane, QLD (Milk from farm near Inglewood, QLD)
    • 1 big bunch of beetroot (about 8 whole beets) ($4.00) – Laidley, Queensland
    Laidley Beetroot Dip

    I plan to share a bit more about our trip to Toowoomba but here is a few pics for now.

    Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers
    I heart Tulips (Laurel Bank Park, Toowoomba)

     

    A bit of other info

    1. Read a bit more about Herman & Annie Neumann.
    2. A bit of history about the Laidley district.
    3. The Laidley Country Market is held on the 4th Saturday of each month in Ferrari Park, Whites Road from 6.00am – 12noon.

    Brisbane City Farmer’s Market – ginger & shallot beef Stir-fry

     

    Wednesday Brisbane city farmers market

    Price & convenience dictate many of our purchases. I don’t mind paying a higher price for quality local products. I appreciate there is higher production cost and the profit margin isn’t backed by high volume sales. Besides, I don’t believe the true cost of my food is represented by a price tag.  Working full-time in the city means my chosen lifestyle needs some level of convenience to food shopping.

    I went to the City Farmer’s Market at Reddacliff Place (opposite the Casino). These markets are held every Wednesday. The number of regional produce stalls was encouraging.  Aside from the obvious issue of how to cart my purchases home on public transport, these markets are convenient. You can visit on your lunch break or drop by after work (the markets are open until 6pm).

    Organic free range eggs from Country Range Farm - Oakley

    This is not an exhaustive list but here is a few stalls I liked:-

    • Rosalie Village Meats – their range included Bangalow sweet pork
    • Kandara Strawberries from Morayfield, Sunshine coast
    • Organic free range eggs from Country Range Farming in Oakey
    • Mary Valley Fruits (limes, passion fruits and tree ripened avocados)
    • Glasshouse Mountain sweet pineapples
    • Australian grown pepper from Silkwood pepper farm near Innisfail, North Queensland
    • The Original Pick-A-Box fresh produce from Woodford.
    Freshly picked garlic from Woodford
    Kaffir Lime leaves

    I had a chat with the guys from the Original Pick-A-Box stall. All of their produce comes from either their farm in Woodford, or neighbouring farms.   The weeks harvest included fresh kaffir, lime leaves, ginger, garlic, herbs, oranges, peaches, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and avocado .  I was told the ginger was harvested 2 days ago. The garlic had been pulled from the ground the day before. Who could resist such freshness?  I bought ginger & garlic.

    Being able to buy freshly harvested produce on my lunch break made my day!

    Oranges straight from the tree to you

    On Saturday, at the West End Green Flea Markets, I bought organic shallots from the Happy Eden farmers stall.  I love everything they have to offer, especially the carrots, which remind me of my childhood and Mum’s vegie garden. The vegetables are not the image of perfection , but are full of the character that one expects from homegrown produce.

    Spring onions from Eden Farm - Altiora

    For $2,  I scored a tea-light candle handmade on the farm from 100% beeswax. It is a small family run farm. The family is usually very busy, but are considering having a farm open day for interested  regular customers. Count me in please!

    Shopping List

    • 2 heads of garlic ($2.00) – Woodford, QLD
    • 1 whole ginger root ($20/kg) ($1.00) – Woodford, QLD
    • 1 bunch of spring onions (Shallots) ($2.00) – Allora, QLD

    Ginger & Shallot stir-fry beef

    To save time you can skip the marinade. The simple combined flavour of the ginger, garlic and shallots are equally good on their own.  I marinated my beef in garlic, ginger, dash of soy sauce, squirt of honey and ground black pepper and left for about 4 hours.

    Firm, crisp ginger with a beautiful spicy fragrance

     

    I softened the ginger gently over heat then stirred in the shallots until nicely fragrant. Turning up the heat, I added the marinated beef strips. Don’t over cook and save a few diced shallots to mix in at the end.

    Ginger & Shallot beef stir-fry served with brown rice

     

    For more details about the Wednesday Brisbane City Farmers Markets click here.

    It was super windy when I visited. I can't wait to go back and spend more time browsing then holding on to my skirt!