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pumpkins,passionfruit & perfect cakes

And slices and chutneys and iced Vo-Vos and all those old fashioned things, also many new and surprising bits of show cookery and many stories of fascinating country shows and cooks and – that's how you get perfection – tips from the judges, in Liz Harfull's  "THE AUSTRALIAN BLUE RIBBON COOKBOOK".  Sister D. talks with Liz on belly today.

Yes well that was the plan, until the technology gremlins got involved, and none of my prepared recorded material agreed to play.  So the interview with Liz Harfull will be on belly on June 23, but you can find the book details and a recipe from the book, using abundant in season passionfruit, at the bottom of this post.

Please tune in next week June 9 with Sister Michael, who will play an interview with Kerrie Turner, director of the Tweed Foodie Fest, about some interesting farm tours and other food lovers' events coming up on June 13 to 15, and again later in the year.

Or check out


I have a whole lot of pumpkin songs that I could not play either, waiting for you to come on belly with your pumpkin ideas.  It is such a good value, versatile and great tasting veg, great in both sweet and savoury dishes.  So if you are pumpkin mad leave a comment below and come on the show.


Ronit Robaz, of Open Table Catering, who has been a very busy woman, helping feed the protesters at Bentley, and participating in the fabulous one year celebration dinner at the Kulcha Jam Food Coop, did manage to battle the Byron Bay traffic and turn up, for a very informative chat on pumpkins.  She has been cooking mountains of pumpkins at Bentley, they are also taking over her garden, so possibly in self defence she has come up with some very innovative uses. 


The recipe below is the one Ronit prepared for the Coop degustation dinner, where a bunch of chefs gave their time and talents to produce an absolutely delicious celebration of local whole foods.  There were many really creative ideas, here are a few for you to try.  And obviously everything is in season right now.


- a mildly spicy green raw soup as a starter

- green jackfruit used as a salad vegetable

- sprouting brown rice – AND using it to make a focaccia, with black olives: it was very moist in the middle and seared crisp on the outside

- serving risotto on cooked field mushrooms – Anthea used sweet potato and garlic, you could try blue cheese, or lots of fresh herbs, tomato, or anything that goes with mushrooms – even more mushrooms.

- making a macadamia (or other nut) cream, flavoured with honey and citrus, to serve on the side of a cake instead of cream – or with a crispy biscuit



1 spiralised butternut squash/pumpkin
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cold pressed sesame oil
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
pinch salt/tamari

Combine all ingredients.
Massage all ingredients in a bowl and leave to soften.

Orange segments, cut supreme and diced in a small bowl and set aside.


1 cup macadamia nuts, soaked 20 minutes
1 & 1/2 tsp tamari
1 tbsp tahini (optional)
2 cups fermented veggies/cabbage
4 good sized shiitake mushrooms, stalks removed and sliced

1. In a food processor, grind the macadamia, tamari and tahini
2. Remove from the food processor and add fermented veggies, stirring in by hand, along with the shiitake strips

To Serve

1. Mix the macadamia mixture with the butternut squash noodles
2. Top with the orange pieces and garnish with micro greens.


During the show, we talked about a spiraliser, which is the tool you need to spiralise veggies (surprise!).  Which means to turn them into tubular strips.  Ronit said you can also use a mandolin, or julienne them by hand.
If you have to use your hands and get a lot of sap on yourself, wash your hands not the pumpkin, you will wash flavour away.
The tahini isn't in the original recipe, as it did not fit the 100 mile brief, but Ronit recommends it.
You can use other types of pumpkin.
If you don't make your own fermented veggies, buy traditionally fermented ones from a market or health food shop.  They add the acid note to the dish, and balance the richness of macadamias.
You can use almonds to replace the macadamias.
Ronit had mandarins, so she used them instead of oranges.
We are lucky enough to have fresh shiitakes here, but you might be able to substitute with dried ones, soaked.  Not sure on that one, experiment!


I've been having a mullet feast with my friend Robert, and managed to convert him to the joy of the mullet.  Still dirt cheap and far from dirty tasting, and very good for you.  And hard to overcook.  Try a simple seared fillet topped with a raw veggie salsa.

We also had a smoke fest on the bbq.  Our smoked mullet is still a work in progress, but smoked octopus is fab – best straight on the smoker so the skin gets a good hit of smoke and doesn't go mushy, as it did when we tried to marinate it.

And the smoked prawns were pretty good, both plain and after a simple oil/lemon marinade, they take a surprising amount of time to be just cooked in a hot smoking d.y.i arrangement, 15 minutes.  (a rack over equal parts rice/tea/brown sugar, wait for it to smoke before adding fish etc, in a covered barbie).  Happy experimenting.



A judge in the WA Supreme Court has ruled against a West Australian organic farmer who claimed his neighbour contaminated his farm with genetically modified canola.  Steve Marsh  alleged he lost organic certification for more than half his farm after GM canola drifted onto his land from his neighbour's property.  Mr Baxter, the neighbour, claimed he followed all regulations on buffer zones and notified his neighbours when he planted the GM canola.
The trial is believed to be the first of its kind in the world. Justice Kenneth Martin dismissed both common law causes of action against Mr Baxter –  negligence involving the breach of a duty to ensure there was no escape of GM material, and  private nuisance.  Evidence at trial was that Roundup Ready  canola swathes were harmless to animals, people and land unless the canola seed germinated in the soil and cross-fertilised.  ‘There was no evidence at the trial of any genetic transference ,’ Justice Martin said.   In 2011, eight GM canola plants were found and removed on the property and there were no others in subsequent years.
Justice Martin said there was no evidence of ‘any reasonable interference’ by Mr Baxter, who had used well-accepted harvest methodology, and he ruled Mr Baxter was  not responsible for t removal of organic certification.
Slater & Gordon lawyer Mark Walter, who represented Mr Marsh for free, said  it was a disappointing result and left non-genetically modified food farmers with no legal protection against contamination from neighbours.
Network of Concerned Farmers spokeswoman Julie Newman said farmers should never have been pitted against each other and urged the government to consider making legal changes to protect all farmers.  State and federal governments have continuously stated that the solution to any GM contamination events is common law.

Check out ABC TV's Australian Story tonight (Monday 2 June, or online) for an insight on the world of reality TV cooking shows.  Jules Allen, from Lennox Head, was a Masterchef contestant in 2013. She  is a social worker and single mother who has fostered 29 children.
ABC online reports "She is clearly a very capable woman but she says her experience as a contestant [..] left her feeling like "a basket case"."
Ms Allen says : ""I think it's fair to say most of the contestants I kept in contact with found the hardest thing was the transition back into so-called normal life. "
Despite feeling bruised by her MasterChef experience, she acknowledges the doors that it opened.  Her profile allowed her to pursue charity work, travelling to Cambodia to help abused women and children and working with Deborra-lee Furness as an ambassador for National Adoption Awareness Week.

Have a look at the Future Feeders- Growing young farmers from the ground up
The Future Feeders project is all about working to address the challenge around ageing farmers and lack of succession planning. It provides young people with opportunities in small scale farm management and ecological agricultural skills development. It helps them access land and  move into careers in sustainable food production with an emphasis on  our local food security.  It aims to gather young people committed to feeding our community to be participating owner/members of a food production co-operative.  The Future Feeders have launched a crowd funding campaign to get their project to the next level, including an educational facility to use as a base for an intern-ship program.  To find out more  go to the Future Feeders website:

Finally, if you are thinking of heading away for the June long weekend, both the Mornington Peninsula and the McLaren Vale have food and wine weekends on, from the 7th to the 9th of June. Look for the McLaren Vale sea and Vines festival and the Mornington Peninsula winter wine weekend.  Then call me if you need a food or wine taster.  If you are heading to Sydney at the end of June – from  Friday, 27th – to Sunday 29th Good Food and Wine Show is on at Sydney  Olympic Park.



by Cassandra, from Liz Harfull's  "THE AUSTRALIAN BLUE RIBBON COOKBOOK", published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $39.99 out now


125 g (1/2 cup) passionfruit pulp
60 g unsalted butter
2 large eggs, beaten well
165 g (3/4 cup) white sugar


1. Place the butter and sugar in the top of a double boiler and heat slowly over simmering water, stirring continuously until the butter melts.

2 . Combine the passionfruit pulp with the beaten eggs. Pour them into the butter mixture, whisking constantly until it is smooth and thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

3. Pour the passionfruit butter into small, hot sterilised jars and seal immediately.

Makes about 1 cup.


You must not cook the mixture over a direct heat and do not allow it to boil or it will curdle.

The butter will only become really thick when it has cooled.

Make the passionfruit butter in small quantities as it will only keep for a few weeks. Always store it in the fridge.


The butter should be smooth, with a creamy texture and the distinctive tang of passionfruit.
It must be of spreadable consistency and not too runny.

Consider straining the beaten eggs before adding them to the mixture to make sure they are well beaten and to avoid flecks of egg white in the butter.


Passionfruit butter


Love and dark chocolate pumpkin muffins (I'm sure that would work),

Sister Tess


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