Tag Archives: chocolate

tasting NSW with the Sample festival and the Good Food Guide

On air on Bayfm 99.9 community radio 12/09/2011


The Sample Festival judges hard at work: L to R Steven Snow, Joanna Savill, Barbara Sweeney and Belinda Jeffery

A show packed full of goodness.   I took listeners to last Saturday’s Sample food festival, where I spoke to happy people in the sun, and local food legends Steve Snow and Belinda Jeffery.  The Good Food Guide co-editor Joanna Savill, and the regional editor Barbara Sweeney were also up for the festival, I asked them about the Guide, which has just come out, and their best tips for eating in Byron, Sydney and all over NSW.   But I started the show with the story of my conversion to the love of turnip (cue angelic singing) thanks to the delicate Japanese turnip, KABU.


I have been experimenting with kabu for about a year.  There are 2 types of people in the world, turnip lovers and oh no not turnip people.  I used to hate turnip but I’ve seen the light.
Yes thanks to kabu I am a turnip convert. At least in small doses.Turnips are an ancient vegetable, first cultivated 4000 years ago in Northern Europe.  I used to just think Baldrick when I saw turnips, they are firmly associated with starving medieval peasants, desperate for anything remotely edible.    But they are also associated with purity and simplicity and virtue, the simple life and monks.  And they are good for you. Kabu is a good turnip to try because the taste is very mild.  The Japanese and the French use a lot of turnips, usually young, crisp, sweet varieties.  In France they are traditional with duck, the Japanese pickle roots and leaves and use them in soups and salads.  I love them just chargrilled, thinly sliced in a mixed salad, in a mash with potatoes, or as a fast pickle, sliced and sprinkled with sugar, salt, and lemon juice for an hour or 2.  Or even just before you start cooking the rest of the meal.  If you are tentative about turnips, start with just  a little mixed with other ingredients.  They can just bring an earthy depth to dishes, a light turnip note not a shout, if you use them in moderation.  And we may both end up fully converted to the love of turnips.   (aaaah ah aaah!  more angels)


Go no further than Belinda Jeffery’s flourless chocolate and roasted pecan cake – it is the featured recipe at the moment on her website, the picture is pure chocolate porn.  I made it last night in someone else’s kitchen, with an oven that has the temperatures completely rubbed off the relevant knob (what do people do to these knobs?  This has happened to me with other ovens).  It turned out just magnificent, and super rich – it is basically like eating a cake sized chocolate truffle.  I used one of my favourite malt whiskys in it, Laphroaig, and no vanilla (it didn’t stand a chance).  Mmmmm.  If you must be restrained, strawberries and pineapple are also in season (and  go well with this cake, with a bit of plain thick organic cream)


Last Saturday was a sunny day in Bangalow, tons of people went to the Sample food festival, many locals from the whole region, and plenty of visitors.  One comment from many people was about the venue – Bangalow is much easier to reach from many parts of the North Coast than Byron Bay, and most people know the Showgrounds are a beautiful venue thanks to the long-running weekend markets.There were lots of stalls selling tastings from local food producers, caterers and restaurants,  a farmers market that was supposed to stop at lunchtime and ended up going all day, music, a whole kids area, wine, beer, cooking classes thanks to Leah Roland of the Bangalow Cooking School and local chefs, and some high powered judges to see which restaurant or caterer did the best small and large dishes on the day.  By late morning the queues at the restaurant stalls were long, but I have never been so happy to queue.  Not just because there was good food at the end of the line, but because the success of the day means there are lots of us ready to attend a well organised celebration of local food, and days such as Sample are more likely to become  regular events.  So let me take your ears there.  First some  free food demostrations that were going all day, then replete and giggly eaters and the food judges impressions.  All the bits of purple writing below are links to audio, just click, and let the bellysisters know if you have any problems listening to our belly bits.


As the music was pumping at the end of the day, I spoke the two local judges of the restaurant and caterers’  competition for best plates of the festival.  Steve Snow, chef of Fin’s in Kingscliff, is happy to come to Bangalow for any reason and no reason. If anybody is reading this, please take note, it is much easier for my belly to get to Bangalow than Kingscliff.

Steve Snow at Sample Food Festival 2011

Writer and TV and radio presenter and Mullumbimby local Belinda Jeffery was another judge at the Sample food fest last Saturday – and a very proud local indeed by the end of the day.  By the way the day was such a success that even the table the judges sat at could have been sold several times (not sure if with or without the judges), the music stage was sold, and who brought those amazing roses?

Belinda Jeffery at the Sample Food Festival 2011

Later that same evening the food lovers of the North Coast gathered for a gala dinner at the Byron at Byron Resort, again organised by the indefatigable and gorgeous Leah Roland.  Joanna Savill and Barbara Sweeney were kind enough to share their impressions of the day with belly just before enjoying an array of dishes from some of the area’s best chefs.

I spoke with Joanna Savill, who you may remember from The Foodlovers Guide to Australia TV program, about the Sample festival in the dark in the rainforest –  we were trying to find a quiet place to talk.  The only place was on a walkway among rustling trees and the odd bat.

Joanna Savill at Sample

I also asked Joanna about the brand new Good Food Guide, since she is the co-editor, and she has lots of advice for every pocket on where to eat if you go to Sydney.

Joanna Savill on the Good Food Guide

Barbara Sweeney was the fourth judge at the festival.  She is an experienced writer and restaurant critic, and was involved many years ago in the student bible, Cheap Eats.  You may have caught her before on belly talking about Mexican food in Australia.  This was  first year as regional editor of the Good Food Guide.

She talked to belly about places we may want to discover as North Coast locals or visitors all around NSW.

Barbara Sweeney 1

Barbara Sweeney 2


And congratulations to Fleur’s in Ballina and Satiate in Bangalow on winning the $10 and $5 dollar plates of the festival categories respectively!



miss September and the honeybees working hard on lavender honey ice-cream at the Sample festival



If you are in the mood for a festival, the Iluka Living the Good Life Festival is on this Saturday  17 September. The festival is open to visitors or stall holders selling local produce, or to producers who would like to run presentations or workshops.
For more detailed information visit the event web page www.livingthegoodlifefest.com/.

Mullum farmers market is giving $1000 to Mullum High as part of a project in which students will be growing and selling flowers at the market and breeding heritage poultry.


Live long and eat chocolate,

Sister T



Big Train, Max Greger and his orchestra

Hildegard of Bingen, O choruscan lux stellarum, antiphon, from ‘music of the angels’

Bass Bucket, Yes Please

Mariza, Fado Curvo

Bass Bucket, Bass Bucket

on air March 7: Italian in season flavours, women’s voices & Danish Mardi Gras

It was a March hare’s mad tea party of a show today. Alison Drover was our guest fresh reporter and she was in an Italian mood, she prepared a whole lot of info on fruit and veg in season in March, especially zucchini eggplant and figs, then she couldn’t get to the studio so sister T has to pretend to be much blonder and nicer and better dressed (you can tell in the voice) and read out all Alison’s info and recipes. On the first belly in April though, she will be live on air in person. Also, straight from the belly lab, a wonderful new discovery, lychee choc tops, the belly bulletin featuring breast milk ice cream, stories from fabulous community radio food shows, lots of women’s voices to celebrate 100 years of International Women’s day, Danish mardi gras, and this week’s markets as usual.


This month March and I tend to think I am very Italian because it is the season for many fruits and vegetables, which characterize a lot of Italian cooking…  The fig, the zucchini flower, the eggplant, the zucchini, pumpkins and basil.

It is about using the seasons in abundance having a lot of something like eggplant and adding something special to it like an artisan cheese or some prosciutto but taking time to prepare the vegetables well. The Italians are inherently sustainable in the kitchen and supplement vegetables, which are low carbon footprint with small amounts of meat or often than not any meat and also make flavorsome cheeses, curds and intense pestos.

Zucchini Flowers – are at the markets however they disappear. Harris Farm and other groceries stock them however it is worth talking to your grower and even asking to reserve some. They are fragile and therefore you need to consider this with regards to price. They price can vary from anything to $4.00 a punnet upwards. The best incentive to grow food is to taste it.  The recipe that I have provided is for zucchini flowers and is a little “special” however worthwhile and then another that can be whipped up easily.

Corn …is ready and its arrival was celebrated in Corndale at the Chicken and Corn night in a few weeks ago at the Community Hall.

March is the month of figs. This is a time to seek them out and dedicate meals to them. I love figs grilled with cheese, salad, balsamic and roasted macadamias however they are good in so many ways especially on top of cakes.  Finding the Fig – figs are not going to be everywhere like the custard apple or the lime however this makes them more treasured. Look for them at local stores ie Bexhill Store has some great ones bought in by locals or the markets.  They have only a very short window at their peak so check out the local market now to see if you can get them. Figs grow quite well on the North Coast, despite coming from a more Mediterranean climate. The delicious plump fruits are highly perishable and can only be stored in the fridge for a few days. You can poach, grill and bake figs and add them to salads.

Custard Apples – love to grow in this region and are plentiful and often found on the side of the road at stalls as well as at the markets. More and more recipes for using them http://www.custardapple.com.au Peter Gilmore from the Quay restaurant in Sydney made them famous with the Custard Apple ice cream which is great.

Eggplants are glossy purple and in abundance. Many people overlook this vegetable however it is such diversity. The recipe I have included is for an eggplant stack with roasted tomato sauce, feta and basil. Whole eggplants can stored for two weeks in the fridge but once cut, they quickly discolour. Eggplant can be sliced and fried for use in lasagna but this method soaks up a lot of oil. Whole eggplants can be sliced lengthways and roasted for half an hour or so in a moderate oven until they collapse. The skin can be easily peeled off and the flesh pureed with tahini, lemon juice, a hint of crushed garlic, a teaspoon of cumin and a little olive oil and salt to make a brilliant dip – Baba Ganoush.  Of course you can mix eggplant with other ‘in season’ vegies such as tomatoes and zucchini to make a  ratatouille, which is basically a mixed, or roasted vegetables and onion in a tomato sauce. I take out all the tomatoes that I harvested in December from the freezer and mix them with the zucchini and eggplant.

Zucchini are robust and will keep in the fridge for a while and can be grated to make fritters with, chargrilled and layered like the eggplant, diced and fried with pasta or can be oven roasted with oil and garlic and rosemary make a great salad for a bbq.

March is the month for harvesting and eating beans, beetroot and Bok Choy. Beans of all sizes and shapes including green (or French), butter beans (yellow), scarlet (actually purple) and runner beans are in season now. One idea is steamed with basil, chopped boiled egg, macadamia oil and some red onion.

Baby beetroot should also be ready now and available at your local market. If you grow your own, you have the added bonus of using the tops – the smaller leaves in salads or the larger leaves in cooking, as you would use spinach. The roots are good sources of vitamins B1; B2 and the leaves are high in Vitamin C.

March is the month for:

• Making lime cordial so that you can top up your vitamin C in winter when limes are going to be very expensive

• Celebrating the fig – bake a cake, roast them poach them grill them

• Eating eggplant every which way and how

• Enjoying berries blueberries and strawberries before they disappear.

• Eating plums the last of the stoned fruit although in this area look for the sugar plums as they grow better here

Fruits in season this month:

• Apples – galas and red delicious have been in the shops for a few weeks, while Jonathons are coming off the trees at the moment

• Avocadoes – Hass are finishing up, but Shephards are coming into season

• Bananas

• Berries – this is the end of the season, but blueberries and blackberries are still very good

• Figs

• Fuji fruit

• Guava

• Mangoes – Kensington Prides have finished but the end of season Palmer mangoes are beautiful

• Pears – William, Sensation and Bosc

• Pineapples – Bethongas are still great

• Plums are gorgeous at the moment – particularly radiance and I’ve seen the first of the tiny sugar plums

• Pomegranates – mostly still fruit from the US, but the local supply will start later in March

• Quinces

• Rhubarb

Vegetables in season this month:

• Asian greens

• Beans

• Broccoli

• Brussels sprouts – the season is just starting

• Capsicums are good and cheap

• Cucumbers

• Chestnuts should be coming in later in the month

• Chillies

• Eggplant – the long thin Italian eggplants are particularly good

• Lettuce – although they’ve been small recently

• Mushrooms

• Okra

• Potatoes – Dutch cream and Sebagoes are the best

• Snow peas

• Sugar snap peas

• Sweetcorn

• Sweet potato

. Zucchini – excellent small zucchini available at the moment


Tips – If you open a bottle of wine mid week and don’t finish it take a freeze bag and freeze it and write across it “White White” . This is a great way of ensuring you have wine for cooking when you need it without opening a bottle especially


Vegetable oil, to deep fry

140g feta  (try to go to the Farmers Market and get a local feta as it has so much flavor and you are supporting farmers who we rely on for the skills of traditional cheesemaking)

¼ cup parmesan, grated

2 Tbs thickened cream

6 zucchini flowers

1 cup plain flour

1/3 cup white wine

½ cup corn flour


Fill a saucepan half full with oil and place over a medium heat until hot enough to deep fry.

Combine the feta, parmesan and cream in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper. Spoon into a piping bag, pipe the mixture into the zucchini flowers and twist the flowers closed.

Place the flour, and white wine in a bowl, add a cup of water and using a whisk, whisk to make a batter.

Coat the zucchini flowers in corn flour, then carefully place in the hot oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden and crispy. Drain onto a plate lined with kitchen paper.   Sprinkle with salt to serve.


If you have some left over bread make it into breadcrumbs lay them on a tray with some olive oil on low heat to crunch them up and you can use this as a topping.  I also add some finely chopped rosemary and thyme from the garden which I have hung to dry.

5 red capsicum

70 ml olive oil

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced –(please use local garlic)

1 onion, finely chopped

4 cups peeled and diced tomatoes -passata

800 gm eggplant (about 2), cut widthways into 5mm-thick slices

400 gm green zucchini, cut widthways into 5mm-thick slices

6 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced horizontally

140 gm (2 cups) fresh coarse breadcrumbs or leftover bread finely chopped

100 gm finely grated cheddar or your choice hard cheese

2 tsp thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 180C. Place capsicum in a roasting pan, drizzle with 2 tsp olive oil and roast until skin is blistered (10-15 minutes). Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and cool.  When cool, peel and remove seeds (discarding peel and seeds), thinly slice lengthways and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and sauté until soft (5-7 minutes). Add tomatoes, season to taste and simmer, stirring occasionally to combine (4-5 minutes), then pour evenly into the base of a 3 litre-capacity deep baking dish.

Layer eggplant, overlapping slightly, over prepared base. Season to taste and repeat with zucchini and roast capsicum. Scatter anchovies over and finish with a layer of Roma tomatoes.

Combine breadcrumbs, cheddar or your choice of hard cheese and thyme in a bowl. Season to taste, then scatter over vegetables and drizzle with remaining olive oil. Pop in the oven and bake until top is golden about 55 minutes.

Alison Drover



One other delicious thing in season this month is lychees, a bit of an odd up and down season this year, but there are quite a lot around at the moment.  Look out for small stone ones, a whole lot more flesh in even the small looking ones.   I had a lovely lychee martini in Brisbane recently, the best part was 3 frozen lychees on a stick as decoration/swizzle stick.  I took the idea back to the belly lab, and after much product testing, highly recommend to you…


Peel and remove the stone from lychees, trying not to open them up too much.

Soak in a white spirit – white rum works well, vodka is drier and lets you taste the fruit more.  Skip for kids of course.

Freeze.  When frozen, coat in warm tempered chocolate and re-freeze.

Eat straight from freezer with great delight.

You could also experiment with filling the centre of the lychees with nuts, chocolate ganache, another fruit….too much is always good!



Yes they are dancing in the streets in the biggest Carnival in the world today, in Rio, and all over Brazil and the Catholic world, celebrating life and love and rich food before we all get very serious and give up all animal products and sugar until Easter.

Most of us have heard of the Rio mardi gras, and the Sydney one, but have you heard about Danish mardi gras, or fastelavn?  It evolved out of the Catholic tradition, but as Denmark became mostly Protestant, it turned into “a time for children’s fun and family games” like whipping your parents.  It is celebrated the Sunday or Monday before Ash wednesday.

Some towns in Denmark hold  large Fastelavn  parades and festivities , including hitting a wooden effigy of a cat filled with sweets – which once used to contain an actual cat.

Of course there is a special food associated with Danish carnival, a sweet bun sometimes filled with cream.  It is made with potatoes, flour, egg, sugar and butter and deep fried.  Typical carnival food, sweet fried dough seems to be popular all over the world for mardi gras.

The other typical Danish tradition is a good flogging, now done mostly by children to wake up parents on the Sunday of fastelavn.  They use bunches of twigs or willow, decorated with sweets or feathers, egg-shells, storks and little figures of babies.  Apparently it started as a fertility ritual, when it was mainly the young women and the infertile who were flogged.  Then very pious parents would flog their kids to remind them of Christ’s suffering.  Now the kids get their revenge.  But the flogged ones always get a sweet bun in return.  If you are living at home with mum and dad, you could just go multicultural and be Danish for a day.

FASTELAVN BUNS – from this unadorned but great collection of Danish recipes, a lot from his mum, bless him.

* ½ pound potatoes

* 1 cup potato water

* 1 package dry yeast

* ½ cup water

* 2 cups flour — sifted

* 2 tablespoons soft butter

* 1 egg — beaten

* ¾ cup sugar

* ½ cup warm water

* 1 teaspoon salt

* 5 cups flour

Cook potatoes. Drain and reserve potato water. Mash potatoes. Mix mashed potatoes, potato water, yeast cake soaked in the 1/2 cup water, and the 2 cups flour. Let stand overnight.

In the morning add the butter, the egg and the sugar, and cream well. Add the lukewarm water, salt and the 5 cups flour. Beat well. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

Punch down and roll ½ inch thick. Cut into rounds with a cookie cutter and drop each round into hot fat, browning on both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels.  Roll in sugar while still warm.


I played a few minutes from a couple of my favourite community radio food shows.  Because on community radio you can be involved no matter your gender, colour, sexual orientation or fanciability.

This is a story from the American network NPR, by those other fabulous sisters, the Kitchen Sisters, about an indomitable woman who fed and helped the black civil rights campaigners, including ML King.

And this is from the Melbourne station 3CR, a piece from their long running food show ‘Food Fight’.  If you are chasing up info on all the benefits of coffee grounds for your garden, or you are thinking of starting up a coffee grounds recycling system where you are, the website is http://groundtoground.org/


AND FINALLY …. sometimes it’s hard to believe belly only goes for one hour:


CARE Australia is  launching the Walk In Her Shoes challenge  in celebration of the 100th year of International Women’s Day.  Women and girls make up 60 per cent of the 1.4 billion people currently living in poverty. Millions walk over six kilometres a day in search of food, water and firewood. This leaves little time for anything else.  So if you want to Help break this cycle of poverty, Walk 10,000 steps per day for one week and get sponsored – the week is Monday 28 March to Sunday 3 April 2011.
You can raise money towards firewood, water, food, health care, safety or education to reduce the burden.  Go to www.careaustralia.org.au for details.

In other news, the 2 big supermarkets are fighting over milk, Mallams has closed down in Mullum, but I’d rather tell you about life-saving honey, soggy pizza and breast milk ice cream.

Honey made from an Australian native myrtle tree has been found to have the most powerful anti-bacterial properties of any honey in the world and could be used to treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections that commonly occur in hospitals and nursing homes.   The myrtle is (leptospermum polygalifolium), which grows along the Australian eastern seaboard from the south coast of NSW to Cape York.  The honey is being tested by a Brisbane-based research group.  Meantime cover yourself in honey, it can’t hurt, just watch out for ants.

What does it take to break the  the record for the world’s longest pizza?   One-and-a-half tonnes of flour, 650 kilos of mozzarella, 1,500 litres of water, 30 or 40 kilos of salt and about 15 kilos of yeast, also one-and-a-half kilometres of chicken wire, and a special oven that can cook one-and-a-half metres of pizza per minute.
And no rain.  So maybe they never should have tried this in Melbourne, especially this year.
More than 40 chefs from Melbourne pizza restaurants were working since midnight last weekend on Lygon street, to make the 1.2-kilometre long pizza and were halfway through when rain-affected soggy dough brought the attempt to an end.
The pizza was going to be distributed to charities across Melbourne.
Judges from the Guinness World Records Association were there to decide if the pizza broke the previous record which is held by Poland.
Organisers say they might try again next year.

On my last belly show I told you about how popular baby food is with many adults.  Now you can go straight for the ultimate baby food.  A cafe in London has started selling ice cream made from women’s breast milk.  It is called Baby Gaga, and it’s made with milk expressed by 15 women who replied to an ad on an online mothers’ forum.  One of the milk donors, Victoria Hiley,  said that if adults realised how tasty breast milk was then more new mothers would feel happier about breastfeeding.  She expressed the milk at the cafe and it was pasteurised before lemon zest and vanilla pods were added as it was churned. Ms Hiley, is paid $23 for every 10 ounces of milk.
The man behind Baby Gaga icecream, Matt O’Connor, said he could not understand people being squeamish about the product. “If it’s good enough for our children, it’s good enough for the rest of us,” he said.  “Some people will hear about it and go yuck – but actually it’s pure organic, free-range and totally natural.”
Already a pretty good story, but now it’s much better because singer Lady Gaga has had her lawyer send a stern legal letter telling the ice-cream makers to : “cease and desist from in any other way associating with Lady Gaga any ice-cream you are offering,” .  The letter accuses The cafe of “taking unfair advantage of, and riding on the coat-tails of” Lady Gaga’s trademarks in a manner that is “deliberately provocative and, to many people, nausea-inducing”.
The ice-cream was a big hit. One serve costs $22.50 and it’s brought out by waitresses wearing flamboyant outfits, a bit of a  Lady Gaga trademark.  But breast milk icecream is now off the menu because Westminster City Council seized it for health and safety checks.  “We are taking the ice-cream away for samples,” a spokeswoman said.  “It’s not a ban. The owner has voluntarily agreed not to make any more or sell any more until we’ve got all the results.”  Breast milk could carry viral infections, including hepatitis, she explained.
The manufacturers have said they use the same screening procedures as blood donation centres or milk banks in London.



Still celebrating wonderful crazy community radio,  the tracks I played today were from a compilation done to support a Sydney community radio licence aspirant station that unfortunately never became permanent, Out Fm.

From “Inside Out”, Warner records 1999

authority over the fish –  by artificial

flowers in the sky – by boo boo and mace

miss del ray – by jo jo smith


love and chocolate cake, sister T




The belly love boat sails the world on Valentine’s day

The belly love boat went on a lovely world cruise today, thanks to a whole bunch of delicious romantics who shared their ideas for food and love with Sister T (captain T for today) and Sister B, on a special valentine edition of belly.  We have talked a lot about romantic meals in the past, this time we wanted to hear your ideas.  Luckily Sister B has a new friend called David who teaches at the Byron Bay English language school.  His students come from all over the world, and many know just how to be romantic, on Valentine Day or at any other time.  So much so that we think the school may have to hire security guards now.  Thank you very much to David (who is not advertising he says, but did mention he is single although I did not ask), Kim Yong Kyu from Korea, Dimitri from France, Carlos from Spain,Nawaf from Saudi Arabia, Marta from Catalunia, Ilona from Switzerland, Luca from Brazil, Kyoko from Japan, and Ashley from Korea.  And a couple of others that I couldn’t play because of technical  difficulties (radio term for ‘not pushing the right buttons’ ).

I also managed to find a few local romantics in the Brunswick Heads monthly market, a lovely smallish one held on the shores of the Brunswick river, not far from the beach.  Some good veggies and fruit too, not easy at the moment.  A drummer even improvised a whole riff on love and  food.  But it was hard to find people who would admit to planning a romantic or seductive meal.  So sad!  Even if you boycott Valentine’s Day and all its rampant commercialism, it really doesn’t take much to surprise someone occasionally.  As one woman said: “stick a candle in it and it’s romantic”.  A takeaway pizza with a candle in it is better than nothing!  Or a delicious picnic, pre-packed from your local deli.

A few tips from around the world:

Candles candles candles, chocolate, seafood especially lobster, strawberries, more chocolate and other sweet things, bubbles, the best you can afford – yes you’ve heard it before, but most people love them, from Mullumbimby to Montevideo.

If you are in a cold place, a cheese fondue in front of the fire – voted most romantic by 2 out of 2 Swiss women interviewed

If you are in a warm place – the beach, the outdoors, or somewhere beautiful – setting the scene is important

If you happen to live in the desert and your father owns a lot of camels, a camel ride in the moonlight works well

Women love a man who cooks, and everyone who cooks all the time loves not cooking occasionally

If you don’t have a sexy foreign accent, pretend

Expensive ingredients like lobster work because your loved one can see you are making an effort, but then cook them very simply and lightly.  And btw lobster is relatively affordable in Australia this year
Most food is sexier eaten with the hands (ok maybe not soup), even spaghetti says Sharna

If you are in the Byron area and want to cover a naked  someone in something delicious, go locally grown : macadamia paste not melted chocolate


Anna, Pregnancy Birth and Beyond :

I’m a fine wine and chocolate girl……..followed up by my husband on a plate! Ha!………the intensity of passion calls for light eating………which means to me of mouth watering morsels of delicious salads, exquisite tasting delicacies like marinated prawns, seafood or fish……………….I’m such a romantic!

Cruizy :

umm seductive meal ….
I’d keep it simple …….
I’d start with champagne
BBQ banana prawns &  scallops on a bed of oshitashi
(steamed spinach, with a soy and lemon dressing, dash of wasabi on side)
Mains would be lobster with virgin olive oil, lemon juice and some home
dried tomatoes  and a mango and pinenut leafy salad.
Dessert would be  lashings of strawberries with a dark chocolate and ginger
dipping sauce and a delicious chilled sauterne

The bellysisters just love Cruisy’s idea of simple – go girl!


Melt chocolate slowly and cover pieces of fruit in season (not many strawberries sorry – but bananas, lychees, pears, much more)
Serve as individual pieces or make kebabs
Add more or less cream as you melt the chocolate depending on whether you’d like it hard or soft, maybe alcohol

Marinate fruit in season in a little spirit, cook pears in wine

Or make a slit in a Cavendish (not lady finger) banana skin and add rhum, cook in a dry pan or oven until soft, eat warm


We had to go for the love poetry book today of course
From “A POMEGRANATE” By Diodoros Zonas, About 100 BC

These are the gifts for Priapus, the god of love – well …of sex really

“A pomegranate just splitting, a peach just furry,
a fig with wrinkled flesh and juicy bottom,
a purple cluster (thick-berried well of wine),
nuts just skinned from their green peelings…”

And the full text of a gorgeous Pablo Neruda poem :


“Drunk as drunk on turpentine
From your open kisses,
Your wet body wedged
Between my wet body and the strake
Of our boat that is made out of flowers,
Feasted, we guide it – our fingers
Like tallows adorned with yellow metal –
Over the sky’s hot rim,
The day’s last breath in our sails.

Pinned by the sun between solstice
And equinox, drowsy and tangled together
We drifted for months and woke
With the bitter taste of land on our lips,
Eyelids all sticky, and we longed for lime –
And the sound of a rope
Lowering a bucket down its well.  Then
We came by night to the Fortunate Isles,
And lay like fish
Under the net of our kisses.”

And if you recite this poem by candlelight, you probably don’t even need food….until afterwards.

Love and chocolate paint,

Sister T

Copyright © Soultravelmultimedia


The Love Boat theme

Bebel Gilberto, Summer Samba (So Nice), remixed by Mario Caldato Jr, from Tanto tempo remixes

Serge Gainbourg, La recette de l’Amour Fou

Asilah Island, Halim Love, from Bar Vista:Arabic

The Cruel Sea, Let’s lay down Here and Make Love

Joaquim Rodrigo, Tonadilla, allegro ma non troppo, Turibio Santos and Claudio Scimone on Spanish guitar

Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Look of Love

Positive Black Soul, Wooyuma

on air January 10 – Toorak to Rome, Lilith to Elvis, with campfire cherries

The wonderful Lilith was  in the studio today for our last episode of ‘Cooking with the Stars’.  Today’s episode is for Capricorns and those who love them and everyone who would like to hear about some of Lilith’s own adventures – the stuff of legend.  And a whole lot of famous Capricorn chefs, even a recipe today.  In the second half of belly I played an interview recorded in December at the 2010 National conference of the Australasian Cultural Studies Association. Sounds serious and it was, even though I went to hear a couple of panels all about Masterchef. Lots of learned scholars discussing food issues in a thoroughly enjoyable way, including Liv Hamilton from Macquarie Uni in Sydney. She is looking at how politics and unease about migrants in Italy is reflected in battles over what kids should be eating in Italian schools.  The dark side of the Mediterranean diet!
And lots of Elvis, straight from the great Parkes Elvis Festival.  Or so  he told me, and you don’t argue with the King (aah-hu!).  Of course you don’t need a reason to play Elvis, but Liv was just back from a road trip that included all the sequins and karaoke of Parkes, so… Liv adds that she was camping with 4 foodies and “best dessert of the trip was marshmallow fondue with cherries, made in our little skillet on the gas burner. And of course we took our coffee pot, for fresh coffee every morning.”  I do that too, the Italian caffettiera works well on a barbie.
Although I was a bit rude about the cherry fondue on air (well we can’t ALL like marshmallows), I might see if I can get Liv to share the recipe for you marshmallow lovers.
Liv is from a part Italian background, but is vegetarian and gluten intolerant, which helped lead her to some places and people well away from tourist postcard versions of Italy.  During our interview, she discussed some aspects of her doctoral thesis, which “examines the ways in which immigrants and minorities in the city of Rome construct their identities in place, making claims to belong in a city in which they are often conceived as outsiders.”  We talked about the outrage in some sections of the community and the press when Rome tried to bring in ‘ethnic’ menus in schools, as a way of learning about the major immigrant groups in the city.  Now the government and the policy have changed, and Liv writes :

“Authorities encourage children to eat a ‘Mediterranean’ (Italian) diet through provisions in school canteens. 2010 is the first year that a national policy on school canteen food has been released (previously this had been managed at the local level).  This policy  requires  school canteens to use fresh, local products and recipes, and does not allow  individual schools to introduce ‘ethnic’ menus.

Children of immigrants are described (in this same document) as being at high risk of obesity due to attempts to maintain the family’s traditional diet at the same time as eating an Italian diet (thus causing ‘excess’), while their families’ low incomes lead to consumption of high-fat foods (something common to all children of low socio-economic background, but in this document specifically attributed to children of immigrants – with no statistical data provided on how many of these families earn low incomes).

Essentially, the assumption is that the Mediterranean diet is the healthier choice and
children should be encouraged to adopt it even at home, with the food provided at school seen as an educational tool and a way to promote ‘integration’.”

We also talked about how some Italian towns (eg Lucca in Tuscany) are trying to ban non-Italian restaurants from historic centres, so as not to detract from their Italian-ness.  And most importantly, if you happen to need a break from Italian food in Rome, Liv recommends “Il Guru delle Spezie” – the guru of spice Indian restaurant.

Sister T


Today we belatedly wish happy birthday to all our hardworking, ambitious Capricorns, those Goats who can digest almost anything if they have to, but
are usually choosy about their food, preferring it simple, unfussy, elegant, classy and classic. Their tastes tend towards the best restaurants, traditional linen and silver, top quality ingredients impeccably prepared and served,  so of course many respected chefs are Capricorns – in Japan, which now has more Michelin stars than any nation, their two most famous TV chefs, Chen Kenichi and Rokusaburo Michiba are both Capricorns.
The traditional dishes Capricorns tend to favour are often rich: steak and kidney pie enriched with truffles and field mushrooms, or Chateubriand followed by tarte tatin, port and a fine fromage.

Like chef ALAIN CHAPEL, supposedly a pioneer of nouvelle cuisine, whose signature dishes included stuffed calves’ ears with fried parsley, truffle-stuffed chicken in a pork bladder cooked in a rich broth and gateau de foies blonds, a mousse of pureed chicken livers and beef marrow served in a lobster cream sauce ­ one Capricorn’s version of nouvelle cuisine.

Capricorn chef KEITH FLOYD‘s wine-fuelled TV presentations endeared him to millions of viewers in 40 countries because when things went wrong he just threw them in the bin and carried on. Floyd’s last meal was oysters and partridge with champagne.

But they’re a loveable combination of the earthy and the posh – for all their posh preferences, they’re a down to earth sign with cold systems that love slow-cooked hot food and solid hearty nosh: roasted game, dark fruits and rich wines, and it was Capricorn ELIZABETH DAVID, pre-eminent cookery writer of the mid 20th century, who brought regional and rural Mediterranean
cooking to Brits worn down by post-war rationing and dull food at a time when Meditteranean ingredients were mostly unavailable and olive oil only obtainable from pharmacies.
Liz took off early adventuring round the Meditteranean on a boat with her married lover, hung out in the Greek islands with famous writers and lived with various boyfriends in Crete, Alexandria and Cairo.  She pioneered the modern writing style of describing
food in its context and historical background with anecdotal asides.

Capricorn chefs love roasted or baked recipes that take hours to prepare because cooking’s their therapy that helps them unwind and release those pent-up emotions at the chopping board.

Capricorn chef BERNARD LOISEAU‘s discerning palate, fanatic attention to detail and frenetic work ethic won him the coveted 3 Michelin stars along with the highest possible honours awarded by the French government, but after the Gault Millau guide downgraded his restaurant from 19/20 to 17/20 Loiseau shot himself ­ a cautionary tale of how some Capricorns can take themselves way too seriously.

Unlike my favorite domestic goddess, kitchen queen and food porn star the Honorable NIGELLA LAWSON, who won a thousand pound bet by eating 30 pickled eggs in ten minutes.  She went into labour with her daughter while eating a
slice of pizza and hanging onto a bookshelf in agony, but when her sister kindly tried to relieve her of the pizza she snarled don’t touch my food.  Channeling Miss Piggy with her lush descriptions of the joys of comfort food, the divine Miss Nigella says: “When I see a picture of someone who’s hugely fat I don’t think how hideous, I think how delicious it must have been to get there.”

And lastly, my friend and personal favorite Capricorn chef, Australia’s godfather of cooking TONY BILSON.  We shared a house when he left home in Colac Victoria and moved in with his Larousse cookbook under his arm to a Toorak Rd mansion full of people off their faces on experimental substances.  Through all the madness Bilson just kept turning out beautiful French food on one of those Aussie Early Kooka gas stoves, which we in no way appreciated and were usually too wasted to taste.  I did stints in the kitchen at several of his restaurants (Albion, Tony’s Bon Gout, Berowra Waters) just because they were the most happening places to be, because Tony’s genius was for orchestrating the marriage of food and people – the Bon Gout was the place to eat during the Whitlam years, and at Kinsela’s he brought restaurant and theatre worlds together in the throbbing hub of Oxford Street.
Typically Tony talks in terms of ‘the experience’, because for him the art of cooking is turning food into a celebration of being alive.  And with trademark Capricorn earthiness he says : “It’s a fabulous craft to be involved in, so ephemeral. A great dish today, shit tomorrow.”

One of the recipes he cooked at Toorak Rd in the Sixties:


for 6:


100 g (4 oz) butter
100 g sugar
100 g plain grated chocolate
100 g ground almonds
6 eggs, separated
5 ml (1 tsp) coffee essence [not seen in shops since the 60s, so we think a strong sweetened espresso would work – careful not to add too much liquid]

Sauce: 175 g (6 oz) plain chocolate
175 ml water
75 g unsalted butter

Cream: 150 ml (1/4 pt) single cream
150 ml double cream
15 – 30 ml (1 – 2 tbsp) icing sugar
a few drops vanilla extract.


1. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Beat in egg yolks one at a time. Add chocolate, almonds and extract.
3. Whisk egg whites until stiff, fold gently into chocolate mixture.
4. Butter + dust with caster sugar 6 souffle dishes. Pour in choc  mix.
5. Place in a roasting tin, half full of hot water. Bake in oven at 180°C (350°F) Gas 4 for 30 – 40 minutes until puffed and just firm.
Cool for a few minutes.
6. For sauce put chocolate and water in pan. Stir over low heat until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in butter.
7. Whisk single + double creams together till fluffy.  Add icing sugar + vanilla.
8. Spoon a little sauce on to each serving plate. Invert puddings onto sauce
and cover with whipped cream.


Spring has Sprung… Tis the season to get fresh… plus Raw Chocolate mmmmm say no more!

As always your taste buds can be tuned to the beautiful BayFM on a Monday morning where we serve up an hour of mouthwatering radio. Sister Rasela cooking up a storm for you today in the Belly kitchen and springing into action with talk of how this beautiful season allows us to connect with nature, our bodies and our taste buds.

SPRING… It’s a new beginning – the time of the year to rise early with the sun. You can’t help but notice plant life pushing upwards after winter slumber, just like many of us who feel the colour come back to our cheeks, having been hidden during these past cooler months.

Have you noticed the green colour of tender young shoots, the sight of which nourishes the soul through the eyes. The appetite for food decreases as the body naturally cleanses itself, not only of food residues but also of excessive desire and the accompanying emotions of dissatisfaction, impatience and anger.

The metaphorical membrane over the eyes and mind disappears and vision becomes clearer. Things are seen in new ways.This is a time for contacting your true nature and giving attention to self awareness and self expression.

Living in sync with nature is an incredible experience. When you buy local, seasonal, organic produce from farmers, growers and shops within your community, there is an energy which is quite pure and carried through all the stages of your foods life and into your life. You’ll know more what i mean if you grow and eat your own produce already.

Think about what you want to put in your mouth to nourish not only your body but your soul. It is not just a solid mass that lands in your stomach (well, sometimes it is) processed beyond all recognition and sealed in a plastic bag and ‘preserved’ (although goodness only knows what they are trying to ‘preserve’ as there is no goodness in it!)

Food that is natural, whole, fresh and seasonal is what you should be aiming for, then you may be able to experience the oneness with nature, the  s i m p l i c i t y.

Don’t deny yourself ‘treats’ just think about what a ‘treat’ is. Are you really ‘treating’ your body when you put something into it that is a chemical concoction of synthetic flavour and colour…. i mean, why would you bother?

Mimicking the colours and flavours of fruit... synthetic chemicals wrapped in processed sugar. Yum?

So… back to SPRING FOODS

This is the season to attend to the liver and gall bladder.

In spring we naturally eat less to cleanse the body of the fats and the heavy foods of winter. The diet should be the lightest of the year and should contain foods that emphasize the ascending and expansive qualities of spring (like a bloom about to blossom).

Young plants, fresh greens, sprouts and wheat or cereal grasses are ideal. Salty foods such as soy sauce, tamari, miso and sodium rich meats all have a strong component of sinking energy and are best limited during springtime.


The expansive rising quality of sweet and pungent flavoured food is recommended as a means of creating a ‘personal spring within’. You could use a little concentrated sweetener with pungent herbs such as honey and mint tea.

The pungent cooking herbs : Basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill and bay leaf are all quite desirable at this time.

Most of the complex carbohydrates such as grains, legumes (beans) and seeds have a primarily sweet flavour which increases with sprouting.

Young beets, carrots and other sweet, starchy veges such as sweet potatoes are good too.

Try to get out of  the ‘habit’ of having the same thing for the same meal everyday. Our bodies change daily, monthly, seasonally, like the weather so we require different foods to maintain overall good health at different times in our lives and most certainly on different days..


Food preparation becomes simpler in spring and let’s face it, who doesn’t want more simplicity in life?

Raw and sprouted foods can be emphasized more… now I’m not suggesting that you give up eating what you are currently eating to live off a couple of lettuce leaves and a bag of sprouts (although that may well suit some people), it’s just a great time to add these to your diet if you haven’t already and maybe replace one winter vegetable with something more fresh and alive. Gradually adapt, like the changing of the leaves on a tree… slowly, slowly but surely.

Sprouts and raw foods are cleansing and cooling.

Meet Eric, owner of the first raw food business in town

Spring represents youth and raw foods are thought to bring about renewal by reminding the body of the earlier more youthful states of human development. A time before the use of fire when man was extremely active, physically generating abundant heat; so early people found balance in the cooling effects of raw foods.

All the stages of our evolution are still encoded within us; going back through the layers of our evolution to more primal biological states is necessary if renewal is to be complete.

Raw food consumption should increase with signs of heat in the individual. If you are frail and cold then take it easy and don’t go too hardcore on the raw food, please!

It is both better and easier in warmer climates and during times of great physical activity although most people do well eating at least a little raw food in their diet each day, with greater amounts in the spring and summer.

Remember there are always limitations. Uncooked foods can weaken digestion in some people and even sometimes trigger excessive cleansing reactions. Not recommended for people with bowel inflammation or for people who are frail with signs of weakness. (Although you would have to try it yourself and see what suits you as an individual)

Intuitive eating… is listening to your body and is far easier to do when you are not changing your thoughts and emotions with chemicals and stimulants. Get real and discover life!


If you live somewhere that is cold, it’s pretty much a necessity to cook your food. Winter time also calls for the need for warmth within.

In spring, food is best cooked for a shorter time but at higher temperatures. In this way food is not as thoroughly cooked – especially the inner part, retaining vital nutrients.

If oil is used (coconut is recommended as it can reach high temperatures without destroying it’s goodness), make sure it’s quick and at a high temperature – sautee method is good.

When cooking with water, light steaming or minimal simmering is ideal

When making Raw Chocolate it is always essential to ensure that the bowl and fingers are well licked and none is left to waste…. which brings me to our next topic for today and that is talking to the lovely Robin Jackson about Raw Chocolate, Cacao vs Cocoa and what happens in a raw chocolate preparation class… amongst other things.


From nibs....

Chocolate has been enjoyed for thousands of years as a way of connecting to the divine Love of the Universe. No food symbolizes Love more than chocolate.

We would like to reveal the ancient mystery the has been uncovered… here on the Belly Show, lerned after years of searching…..

….. the secret ingredient in EVERY recipe is L O V E!

Now we’re talking Raw Chocolate here and into the studio enters Robin Jackson, a woman full of Love for many things but today we are focussing on Raw ‘Chocolate’ – RAW cacaoa (ka-cow) and the inevitable temptations accompanying this superfood.

.... to this!


A slight change in the lettering represents a major difference. Cocoa (co-co) powder has been treated with alkaline salts, is mixed with a number of chemicals during processing and has powdered milk added to it which blocks the bodies absorption of the healing nutrients of RAW cacao.

Knowing the nutritional benefits of RAW cacao helps to act as an important reminder that when we eat food in it’s natural state, we are able to harness the magic of the food, it’s healing powers, it’s full life force and health benefits.

cacao pods

Cacao pods

Raw cacao contains Magnesium, Chromium, Antioxidants, Vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, C, and E which are all present in significant quantities. It also contains fiber, iron, niacin, phosphorus, as well as containing ‘happy brain chemicals’ such as Theobromine, Phenylethylamine, Anandamide an Tryptophan the details of which are lengthy and interesting and can be googled at you own leisure. All you have to know is that it makes you feel GOOD.

The importance of RAW cacao in chocolate is emphasized in the fact that it remains caffeine free due to the natural state it remains in, unlike other chocolate where the theobromine is converted into caffeine when heated. This makes RAW cacao and raw chocolate a natural stimulant that is caffeine and comedown free 🙂

It is crucial that you think about where your chocolate comes from. 80% of cacao used by large companies in your average everyday chocolate bar is made with cacao that comes from West Africa, where horrible working conditions, including child slavery, degrade humanity on a daily basis (not to mention the pesticides!) So next time you reach for a mars bar or a packet of those chocolate biscuits you love so much, think about what it took to make. Some poor child’s life is hardly worth living just so you can get fat on a chocolate bar you don’t need anyway. Please, enjoy the good things in life, but not at the expense of others. Make your own or buy fair-trade, organic, RAW chocolate and be happy to eat it, guilt free in every way!

Look for the 'good stuff' when buying chocolate.

I was fascinated to hear Robin talk about the different forms Raw cacao comes in. It can be found in Beans/Nibs/Powder and Butter. Until today i thought each one was created for it’s own individual purpose but i learned that it starts as the bean, is blasted into the nibs, ground into powder and finally extracted into butter. Each form is just a step along the way and each form can also be tranformed into the most incredible chocolate delights you will ever have. Part of the enjoyment is knowing that this is GOOD for you!

Robin was lovely enough to offer a free place in her next Raw chocolate creation class which will be held on Sunday 26th September. If you wish to find out more info about anything to do with raw food, you can contact Robin from the info below. There is also a monthly newsletter that is released in conjunction with Raw Ecstasy so if you would like to be on the mailing list for that feel free to mention that in your email. Alternatively you can find the stand at the farmers markets on Thurs Byron, Fri Mullumbimby, Sat Bangalow and all of the Sunday/Weekend markets dotted around this wonderful Shire of ours.

Robin Jackson – robin.rawecstasy@gmail.com

Phone – 0449 133 418

See you at the markets!

P.S. This show featured the Album ‘Jiggy Jiggy’ by Shoebox… “it don’t take much to make me HAPPY” … lalalala 🙂

belly 6 September 2010 – springing into asparagus, TV chefs and happy pets

From today I will try taking the radio show posts straight from the show running sheet, so you can see something closer to what went to air.

It’s the  first belly of spring, also the first belly of the month when we usually have a look at what’s in season around Oz,then today’s guest  tells us all about allergies and elimination diets you can try in order to diagnose allergy – no not for you, for your cat,dog,cow,canary,chook,ferret – Matt the Vet will discuss the food allergies that your beloved companion animals may have,  + food news, and a great recipe from Luke Nguyen’s new cookbook

[the belly cat has decided to sit on the laptop to supervise this one, and the belly dog on my feet-screen getting very hairy]

Cheeseburger in Paradise by Jimmy Buffett

DRAW for our lovely subscribers – Lentilicious 2 packs of lentil mixes(thanks Sharna and Anthea)

Right now there are so many TV food shows, so many, old ones dug up, and from all over the world – well mostly the UK but I saw one from New Zealand last week,had a very pretty lake view in it. And Kids Masterchef is starting next Sunday – Anyone with kids knows it should be really fun to watch, they are so passionate about food. One of the best is ‘cheese slices’ which reflects the cheesy obsession of Will Studd, cheese providore to many of Australia’s best restaurants and Qantas business and first class. One of my cheese spies – we’ll call him “deep cheddar” – tells me Will gave the program to the ABC very very cheap, just to improve our cheese knowledge presumably. A true cheese evangelist. And more importantly, Will has bought into our North Coast paradise, so hopefully there will soon be even more wonderful cheese all around us. Cheese slices is on ABC1 on Wednesdays. And Luke Nguyen’s Vietnamese food show has come back very quickly to SBS, so have a look if you missed it first time round. I’ve got  Luke’s recipe – caramelised mackerel with pineapple to share with you.


This recipe is a marriage of many different elements, balanced together
perfectly. It is a lighter version of the popular traditional dish of caramelised fish,
ca kho. I have balanced the salt with the pineapple, the fish sauce with sugar and added
dark soy sauce for colour. If you don’t often use pineapple in cooking, give this a try; you’ll
be pleasantly surprised.
When using a clay pot for the first time, make sure you immerse it in cold water for a few
hours. This will ensure that it does not crack over intense heat. Clay pots release earthy,
smoky flavours into your food and they maintain their heat well.

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 spring onions (scallions), white
part only, bruised
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
3 mackerel cutlets (600 g/1 lb
5 oz in total)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
300 g (101/2 oz) pineapple, cut into
bite-sized pieces
200 ml (7 fl oz) chicken stock
(page 328)
1 tablespoon fried garlic
(page 329)
1 tablespoon garlic oil (page 329)
2 spring onions (scallions), green
part only, sliced
1 small handful coriander (cilantro)
1 bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped
1 Lebanese (short) cucumber,

In a bowl, combine half the garlic, the white spring onion, the fish sauce,
dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Coat the fish with
the mixture, then cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 15 minutes,
reserving any leftover marinade.
Place a frying pan over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of the vegetable
oil. Add the pineapple and stir-fry for 1 minute, then remove from the pan
and set aside. Add the remaining oil and heat over medium heat, then
brown the fish cutlets on both sides.
Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the fish to a chopping board.
Chop each fish cutlet into four pieces with a heavy cleaver. Transfer the fish
and pineapple to a clay pot and pour in the reserved marinade. Place the
clay pot on the stovetop, turn the heat to high and bring to the boil. Add
the chicken stock and bring back to the boil, skimming any impurities off
the surface. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the
liquid has reduced by half.
Add the remaining chopped garlic to the pot along with the fried garlic,
garlic oil and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and stir to combine.
Spoon the sauce over the fish. Remove the clay pot from the heat, garnish
with the spring onion, coriander and chilli, and serve with a side bowl of
cucumber and jasmine rice.

serves 4–6 as part of a shared meal

Caramelised Mackerel with Pineapple

Recipe and image from The Songs of Sapa by Luke Nguyen, published by
Murdoch Books, photography by Alan Benson.

I played the belly interview with Luke  last week, and the last few minutes this week, where he suggests using any firm fish as substitute for the mackerel.  If you don’t have a clay pot, I think you can try using any deep heavy bottomed pot.  Also maybe just add more fresh garlic to the recipe if you don’t have a big bottle of garlic oil handy. The crispy (but not burned) fried garlic would definitely add lovely texture to the dish.  And make sure you use beautiful ripe fresh local pineapple.
Luke and his partner/photographer Susanna Boyd also mentioned the Little Lantern foundation they are setting up to help kids in Vietnam.

And straight on to the watermelon man and what’s in season in Oz in September.

Asparagus – in season from now to December, some Australian growers go til march.  The season a bit slow this year. It has been cold,wet where most asparagus is grown, a lot comes all the way from Peru right now. According to the Australian Asparagus Council, 93% comes from around a small town called Koo Wee Rup, S-E of Melbourne. Yes there is an Australian  Asparagus Council, the website is asparagus.com.au, lots of facts and recipes, though a lot of their recipes look a bit dodgy. Asparagus is very easy and quick to prepare, it is the shoot of a feathery plant in the lily family. The Roman Emperor Augustus had a saying “faster than cooking asparagus ” for doing something very very fast. The worst thing you can do is boil the hell out of it, but you can bbq it or put it with rich flavours like eggs and cheese, baked in the oven, or use in cold or hot soups, usually reserving the tips to add whole at the end. Or stir fry or very quickly steam. The ancients thought it is so good for you that it deserves ‘officinalis’ in its name, meaning medicinal. It does have a lot of folate, vitamins b and c and anti-oxidants. Unfortunately it doesn’t grow easily around here. I’ve tried in the veggie patch and mine gave a few spears then went to asparagus heaven. I’ve now found out that you shouldn’t pick every spear that pokes up, just the first few from now to November, maybe December, then let the plant form leaves and grow strong, especially the first couple of years.
– some other veg and fruit : artichokes, choose heavy and not wilted looking, they are the flower bud of a big thistle, you don’t want to eat wilted buds.
avocados – one more recipe, from farmer Chris Casagrande in the Byron Shire Echo : a chocolate dip for bananas, to freeze or use as cake icing. Mash avocados with cocoa and a little lemon – he swears it’s great.  Also broad beans, young garlic, spring cabbages,lots of greens, pinapple,lots of citruses including blood oranges and cumquats. locally I’ve seen good rhubarb, papayas,lots of strawberries, new season pecans and rice.

Grapefruit,juicy fruit by Jimmy Buffett

The Meat Lovers song from Dr Siggy, aka Greetings from Switzerland

– Matt Allworth aka Matt the Vet gave us some great information about food allergies in pets and elimination diets we can try at home if our favourite animals start to have symptoms like itchy feet, intestinal disturbances or rashes.  Some of the most common allergens are beef for dogs and fish for cats. Vegetarian animals can also develop allergies.  Oh and we discovered that it’s a bad idea to try to turn your ferret into a vegetarian.  For lots more info see http://communityvet.net/2010/03/diy-elimination-diet-for-the-dog-an-cat/

And Matt was a great barrel girl

Lena Horne – I want a little doggie


Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – enterprising Chinese have been making fake Australian wine, from small Boutique labels to Penfolds. Investigators have found wine labelled Benfolds, or Penfolds bin 888, which is a lucky number in China. The copies have very similar bottles and labels to the originals. China is Australia’s fastest growing export wine market.
And global champagne sales have risen by about 40% in the first half of this year, so you can stop worrying about those poor champagne makers who were doing it tough in the GFC. And the bonuses that are again flowing into the pockets of investment bankers are obviously being put to good use.
In local news, Tweed tourism have just launched a seafood discovery tour, that you can download or pick up at a tourism office, and follow your fishy way from Cabarita to Corrumbin. Restaurants, fish shops, picnic spots,oyster farms and even crab catching tours.
Or go to sustainfood.com.au for lots of local food stories and links, including right now an initiative you can join called the Grow your own food challenge, which over 12 weeks encourages as many people as possible to register the amount of garden space they are devoting to food production. At the same time gardening expert Phil Dudman will give a week by week guide to establishing your own food garden. The challenge has already started, but you can join at any time, and there are already gardening videos online.
And congratulations to The Byron Beach Cafe which has won “Best Tourism Restaurant & Catering Service” at the inaugural North
Coast Tourism Awards

EDIBLE QUOTE – As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists.  Joan Gussow

Seaman Dan – Follow the sun

Love and chocolate cake, sister T

belly 29 March 2010 – travels with seedsavers, wild harvest, easter chocolate

TOPICS : Seedsavers catch up – travels, wild harvesting, autumn recipes; chocolate and more chocolate

GUEST : Jude Fanton, director of the Seedsavers Foundation

PRESENTER : sister T


August – we were three weeks in Vanuatu to film for Centre for
International Research into Agriculture and Development (CIRAD) based in
Montpelier, with a long term programme in Vanuatu. We filmed in remote villages
(one 70km from roads – went in by canoe) a film called “Our Roots” that will be
out in a month. It covers the re-diversification of root crops (yam, taro,
cassava and sweet potato) through seed reproduction.

October – a three week speaking and filming tour for Biodiversity Network
in Japan.

Mid November to mid January – in Rajasthan and then a month in Malaysia to
mid Feb. We were filming agricultural biodiversity and resilience and trialling
the running of Seed Savers from afar. Thanks to iPhone and excellent mobile
phone coverage and wifi connectivity in both countries we were constantly
connected and could field emails and update our website.

Autumn is a good time for fruit harvests; beginning of
citrus; acerola; guavas of all types, e.g., cherry and strawberry guavas; Ceylon
hill berry; bananas; pomegranate.

Wild harvesting

Guavas – we have found two types on side of road.
Mushrooms though it does not seem a big season this year.
Pecans – story of tree in neighbouring lane cut down.
Mangoes – story of huge old trees cut down in three public carparks. We have
several seedlings of each growing in our gardens here as a rescue operation.

During the show Jude and sister T were throwing around ideas for saving fruit trees and vines that are on public land, before they suddenly disappear due to development or old age.

Possibilities :
* a map/register of fruit bearing plants so they aren’t wasted/annoy landowners/council with fallen fruit
* a course as part of the ACE sustainability series on how to take cuttings/seeds/graft
* Jude will look at putting info on seedsavers site/through local seed network
* cuttings/fruit should be taken for propagation from plants that you know give great fruit, well before they are at risk
* us bellysisters would be happy to collate information on the www.belly.net.au site if you send it in, or link to any info
* please comment!

– from Jude


Cut up guavas roughly. Put them in a thick bottomed saucepan and add enough water to fill to one quarter the height of the guavas.
Boil twenty minutes to soften and bring out their juices.
Pour all this mush (don’t mush it) into a muslin bag or pillow case or bank bag and hang with a shoestring (!) over a bowl to allow juice to drip out overnight.
Do not squeeze, cajole or in any other way interfere with the dripping process, or the juice will go murky.
Weigh the juice and pour into the same saucepan as before. Add equal (or less, say two thirds) weight in sugar.
Boil slowly until setting point. Ah ha! How is that achieved? How judged? The jam and jelly makers’ dilemma!
It takes any time from 20 mins to an hour. It will take less time if you have put in a lot of sugar, and if you add pectin in the form of apple pips or Jamsetta.
It will take more time if you put in a lot of water in the first process, or little sugar in the second.
To test when you have reached setting point, take a cold plate and drip a bit of jelly on it. Let it cool and observe whether it is set by tipping it sideways.
Be careful at this point as setting point is reached fairly quickly.


Take any edible leaf that you normally use as spinach (i.e., cooked), such as
spinach, chicory (I used the prolific perennial spreading monk’s beard chicory),
dandelion, Brazilian spinach, farmers’ friends, other edible weeds – all called
horta in real Greek spanikopita. Boil in plenty of water for a few minutes,
drain and chop.
Fry chopped eschallots, or if you have to, onions in olive oil or similar. And
garlic if you like.
Add more oil and some flour to make a roux.
Add ground nuts (food processors do a good job) such as cashews, hazelnuts,
macadamias or almonds.
Add soya milk and/ or water, stirring til smooth and cook a few minutes.
Add salt and pepper and/ or nutmeg.  I then blend it all with a bamix.

Recipe, or rather a treatment, for NON-TRADITIONAL PESTO

Use any herb such as coriander, oregano (with others as it is a bit strong),
parsley or fennel.
Use any nut such as cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias or almonds ground in food
Use any tree oil, such as olive or macadamia.
No need for parmesan cheese, garlic optional.


Easter is named after Eostre, a version of Astarte/Kali, the goddess of fertility and birth, worshipped  at the spring equinox.  Of course Easter is spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Christian missionaries often adopted pagan events as Christian holidays to increase acceptance of their god.

Eggs are ancient symbols of fertility.  In an Orphic myth, the goddess gave birth to a world egg – the 2 halves are heaven and earth, from the egg comes the god Eros – the bisexual god of love, the first ever surprise from an Easter egg – should keep everyone happy! The ancient Persians, the Chinese, many ancient cultures were also into eggs as a symbol of the new year starting in the spring.. And they were a forbidden food during Lent, so good reason to eat them when Lent is over. There are many Easter rituals associated with eggs, decorating, throwing, rolling or hiding them for kids to find.

The Easter bunny or rabbit comes from the hare, another ancient, pre-Christian symbol of fertility associated with spring & the goddess. In one story the goddess Eostara changed her pet bird into a rabbit to entertain a group of children, and the rabbit laid brightly coloured eggs for them.

And why are all these rabbits, eggs, chickens and bilbies now made of chocolate?  Well, if you can make something out of chocolate – why wouldn’t you?  This delicious development came much later though, in the 18th and 19th century when European confectionery geniuses were experimenting with their craft in many ways.

Easter is also a great time for chocoholics to stage their own war on drugs by converting all their addictions to chocolate.

Chocolate contains a variety of wonderful substances.  So if you are hooked on:

CAFFEINE – chocolate can provide theobromine, chemically similar to caffeine.
POT – chocolate has anandamide – a cannabinoid which is also naturally produced in the human brain.
ECSTASY – party happy with tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is a precursor to Serotonin, an important neurotransmitter involved in regulating moods.  This is the same way an E works.
SPEED – in chocolate there is phenylethylamine,a neurotransmitter from which amphetamine is derived. Often described as a ‘love chemical’.  The wonderful wikipedia, to which I owe the rigorous scientific research, says that “it is quickly metabolised by monoamine oxidase, so it has no effect on the central nervous system”.  Well we know the answer to that problem don’t we?  Eat more chocolate, faster.

And remember, dark chocolate good for you – especially your circulation.

The 12-step chocoholics program:
get the t-shirt if you like this motto, at virtualchocolate, you will find lots of chocolate dipped quotes there too – many of these seem to have been copy/pasted all over the chocoweb, but you’ll see why, they are delicious [maybe chocoholics can’t resist the instant gratification of grabbing these]:

Twill make Old Women Young and Fresh; Create New Motions of the Flesh. And cause them long for you know what, If they but taste of chocolate.
from “A History of the Nature and Quality of Chocolate”, James Wadworth (1768-1844)

Put “eat chocolate” at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you’ll get one thing done.

Don’t wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty. Chocolate isn’t like premarital sex. It will not make you pregnant. And it always feels good. Lora Brody, author of Growing Up on the Chocolate Diet

Life without chocolate is like a beach without water.

“Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso.” (Ideas/things should be clear and chocolate thick.) Spanish proverb – and they should know, they have the best hot chocolate in the world – and churros, fried sugared dough to dip in bitter chocolate – perfect – good reason to visit the Spanish part of town

Forget love– I’d rather fall in chocolate!!!

If it ain’t chocolate, it ain’t breakfast!

Money talks. Chocolate sings!

If chocolate is the answer, the question is irrelevant.

Once you consume chocolate, chocolate will consume you.

“Exercise is a dirty word. Every time I hear it I wash my mouth out with chocolate.” ~ Charles M. Schultz peanuts cartoon

Save the Earth! (It’s the only planet with chocolate.)


your bellysisters would love to hear from you – please leave a comment or send an email to belly@belly.net.au

Seedsavers (also in the local phonebook) :

PO Box 975, Byron Bay, NSW 2481, Australia,Tel (61) 02 6685 7560. Mobile 0432 549 825
02 6685 6624 is no longer in use.
See Seed Savers’ extensive and interactive website: www.seedsavers.net

Michel Fanton receives emails at michel@seedsavers.net

General enquiries should be sent to  info@seedsavers.net

– chocolate quotes, and chocoholic t-shirt