Tag Archives: fish

Bangalow Banquets & glamorous mullet

Today is the last belly of 2013 for sister D and me, so we've packed it full of goodness for you.  In the first hour, Jody Vassallo will tell us about the wonderful new Bangalow Banquet community cookbook project, then we'll talk  hanukka & stonefruit, in our second hour we have one of Australia's best fish cooks, Paul Wrightson - Byron Beach Cafe executive head chef, here to talk about sustainable and fabulous fishy choices for the party and Christmas season, a new cookbook to give away, news, markets & more, so tune in to the belly kitchen.




Here are a couple of recipes for you from this wonderful community project.  Something old and something new, both highly recommended by our guest Jody.



Chia Crackers recipe submitted by Jody Vassallo

These crackers are the perfect wheat free snack,
top them with a few slices of avocado and a
drizzle of lemon juice or use them as a dipper for
guacamole, salsa or any type of hummus that
takes your fancy.
½ cup chia seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds or flax seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
½ cup almond meal
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon sea salt
225ml water
1 tablespoon tamari

Preheat oven to 160°C (320ºF). Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Put the seeds, almond meal, salt and herbs into a bowl and mix to combine.
Whisk together the garlic, water and soy and pour over the seed mix. Stir until combined. Spread onto a
baking tray and bake for 30 minutes, then slice in half and carefully turn over, don’t worry if it breaks you are
going to make smaller crackers in the end. Continue cooking for 25 minutes or until the crackers are crisp.
Allow to cool on the tray before breaking into cracker size pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Avocado Lime & Coriander Dip recipe submitted by Sally Johnston

2 avocados, mashed
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large red chilli, seeded and chopped
1⁄2 small red onion, finely diced
1⁄3 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
3 drops Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place avocado in a bowl. Spoon over 2 tablespoons lime juice and toss gently to coat. Add oil, chilli, onion and
coriander to avocado. Add Tabasco sauce to taste. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently to combine.
Stand for 5 minutes. Serve with crackers


from the section of the cookbook called : The Middle Years 1970s ~ 1990s


5 Cup Cake Recipe submitted by Felicity Scott

Easy, delicious, never fails.

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup soy milk
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup chocolate chips or dried fruit

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a wooden spoon.
Pour mixture into tin and bake in oven for 40 minutes. Serve warm with lashings of butter.
Serves 6-8







fiery saffron aioli and a simple salad


For the fish

1 kg coarse rock salt

2 large free-range eggs

1½ tablespoons fennel seeds

1 lemon

2 portion –sized whole sea mullet or sea bream, from sustainable sources, gutted, scales left on, gills out

1 small bunch fresh basil

1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the aioli

3 large cloves garlic, peeled

1 pinch saffron

sea salt

50 ml olive oil

50 ml good-quality Spanish extra virgin olive oil

For the side salad

½ cucumber, peeled

1 large handful green olives, stoned

2 bbq peeled red capsicums

a few sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped

freshly ground black pepper



This Spanish technique of baking fish in a thick layer of salt is not only quite theatrical, it will also give you the most perfectly cooked fish.

The salt is there to create a little kiln or oven around the fish so don’t; you won't be eating any of it. Make sure the fish isn't scaled because the scales help keep the moisture inside the fish as it cooks.

·         Preheat BBQ or oven on high.

·         Put the rock salt into a large, wide bowl with 2 tablespoons of water, your eggs, fennel seeds and the peeled rind of the lemon.

·         Mix everything together until sticky and claggy

·         spread two-thirds of the mixture around the base of a roasting tray in a thick layer.

·         Stuff the cavity of your fish with the basil and parsley (or any fragrant herbs),

·         lay the fish on the salt bed, and completely cover it with the rest of the salt so you get a layer just over 1.5cm thick.

·         Pat it down firmly, then put into the oven for 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Once cooked, remove from the oven, take a sharp knife and stick it through the salt into the middle of your fish. Carefully touch the knife to your lip and if it's hot, the fish is ready. Leave to one side for 10 minutes and make aioli and salad.


·         pound and mush up the garlic, saffron and a good pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle until you've got a smooth vibrant orange paste.

·         Use the pestle to mix in the olive oil, a drizzle at a time. Be patient and wait until you've got a smooth emulsion before adding the next drizzle.

·         Do the same with the extra virgin olive oil.

·         Add a squeeze or two of juice from your peeled lemon and taste again.


·         slice cucumber and put it into a bowl.

·         Tear the olives and add to the bowl along with the torn-up cleaned capsicums, the parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

·          Season with a little salt and pepper, then toss together.

by now the salt on your fish should be hard as a brick

·         give it a whack around the edges with the back of a spoon

·         peel off the whole salt top

·         Carefully brush the excess salt off your fish

·         then gently move it to a platter using a fish slice.





First up, some fabulous events that are coming up soon.

Kulcha Jam is having a South Indian themed fundraiser this Thursday December 5th.  from 6pm. Russell, the 'dosa' man will be cooking up a
delicious dinner followed by sweet delicacies made by other CO*OP members
who are caterers, chefs, cooks and food lovers.  There is lots of wonderful music, including Ben Walsh, Si Mullum from Wild Marmalade, and a Bollywood Sisters dance, and lots of Bhangra and Bollywoood music to get down to.  It's cheap and for a good cause, all proceeds to the food and music co-op.  At the Byron Arts and Industry Estate, 1 Acacia St, more info on www.kulchajam.org/coop or facebook.  And listen up to belly next week for co-op updates, as Alice will be visiting Sister Michael.

All that dancing on Thursday will get you limbered up for an evening of aphrodisiac delights at the Bangalow A&I Hall, on this Saturday December 7 at 7pm.  Check your local papers or listen to Arts Canvass this Thursday on bayfm for more.  Or check out the excellent blog by Megan one of the organisers – aphrocuisine.wordpress.com
It has lots of lovely recipes, worth checking out even if the only one you're loving at the moment is yourself.  Creative pairings like  Scallops with Custard Apple, Tarragon & Almonds, which the bellysisters have been given permission to share with you.  The menu for the Byron event includes in season watermelon and cucumber salad with rose geranium and toasted coconut, and mango curd tartlets.  mmm.  But maybe you shouldn't look at the menu, because you may be playing games like blindfolding your dining partner (or maybe someone else's, we don't know) and feeding them.          email : aphrocuisine@gmail.com or call 0431 911 403

And then feed your brain and your soul at the 2013 UPLIFT Festival – it  brings together some of the world's  most innovative advocates for global sustainability and oneness.  Byron Bay, 12-15 December.  Speakers who focus on food issues include locals happiness economist Helena Norberg-Hodge, who is a world renowned activist, writer and filmaker,  ex-bayfm presenter of the Healing Wave, Janella Purcell,  Jeffrey Smith, from the US, director of The Institute for Responsible Technology, on GMOs, and the delightful and insightful Vandana Shiva from India, biodiversity and seed freedom campaigner.  She calls patent and intellectual property laws of the World Trade Organisation "a tool for creating underdevelopment" with "only a negative function: to prevent others from doing their own thing; to prevent people from having food; to prevent people from having medicine".  If you can't get to Byron Bay or are looking for a cheaper option, you can subscribe to a live high quality web stream of the event.  See upliftfestival.com



The Northern Rivers region of New South Wales is blessed with a basket of
riches that is vitally connected to both land and sea. Whilst the coastal
plains and valleys are home to an abundant variety of crops and livestock,
the Tweed, Richmond and Clarence rivers provide a connection to the sea and
the sumptuous seafood that inhabits the coastal waters. In hand with a
number of producers, distributors, retailers, restaurants and cafes, the
farmers, growers and fisherman are all pulling together to celebrate the
quality and diversity that contributes to the provenance of the region.

In the Autumn of 2014, Northern Rivers Food are presenting the region's
inaugural Harvest Festival and are calling on all participants in the food
industry to take part on in what will be a week of events to celebrate and
showcase our finest offerings.
Running from the 26th April to the 4th of May 2014, the Harvest Festival
will host two signature activities that will be co-ordinated by Northern
Rivers Food. The first being the 3Rivers Farm Gate Tours which involve bus
tours visiting source of our amazing produce, and the other being the Long
Table Lunch. Surrounding these two events, growers, producers and
restaurants have the opportunity to create complimentary events (either
individually or in collaboration) across the week.
Want to get involved? Submit your event idea now!

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 6.12.10 : December’s fish and fruit and fiery Sagittarians

Today the belly astrogourmet Lilith beamed down to the belly kitchen to talk Sagittarius for her regular “Cooking with the Stars” segment, we went around Australia to see what’s in season in December, lots of fruit and veg as usual but a fish focus this month as it is so popular leading up to the holidays, lots of local events in our Belly Bulletin , and some of your holiday cooking and eating and drinking plans.

Cherries in a Chinese Bowl, by Gatya Kelly, part of the Eat/Paint/Love opening Friday 10.12.10 at Still At the Centre in Byron Bay. © Gatya Kelly



All you need to know is on 2 really good websites – the Sydney Fish Market and the  Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

The Sydney Fish Market has a season guide, what’s in peak season or good availability so cheaper,better fish that hasn’t travelled the world to get to you.
Peak in December -Sydney rock oysters, school prawns (lovely Yamba prawns locally), loligo squid peak but southern calamari good availability, blue swimmer crabs – lots in local fish shops
Fish peak availability – atlantic salmon, tiger flathead, gold band snapper and big eye tuna, but unfortunately all problematic according to the AMCS – on their avoid list

The good news is that  on the AMCS better choice list,  there are lots of choices of fish and seafood in season:
wild australian salmon, blue mussels and blue swimmer crabs, all farmed oysters, school and bay or greentail prawns in NSW, the squids, farmed scallops, whitings and trevally

Lots of recipes on the fish markets site too.  And you can even find out how to tell the gender of a squid.  If you want to.


Asparagus, Hass avocadoes, beans, beetroot especially small young ‘uns, broccoli, capsicum (skip the green ones, they are just unripe red and yellow caps), celery, cucumbers fat and thin, eggplant, onions, peas, radishes, corn, tomatoes hit full flavour, and zucchini and their flowers if the rain doesn’t rot them all.  Try pumpkin flowers if you have a vine.


As we said in the bulletin, rain is really playing havoc this year, and not just locally for once.  But look for stone fruit now : glorious cherries and apricots,  berries (locally strawberries on their way out), blueberries in full swing, raspberries, rock, water and honeydew melons, bananas, mangoes, valencia oranges, passionfruit, pineapple, and starting a bit late, so maybe at the end of the month, lychees.


Honu tells us the  Liberation Larder Christmas is on, free and veg and delicious at the Byron Community Centre, 12.30 on December 25th.  All welcome.

This Friday December 10 the Eat, Paint, Love art exhibition kicks off with plenty of real food and drink and music at Still at the Centre Art gallery on the Byron arts and industry estate.  But look closely at what you put in your mouth, as they have gathered more than 60 artists and 90 artworks all on, or around, food.  Table Manners  a ceramic installation by various artists will also be on for 2 days only, the 10th and 11th. Veet, will launch “Veet’s Cuisine” her first cookbook with 100 Vegetarian Recipes and beautiful drawings.  The exhibition runs until the end of January.  For more info listen to Arts canvass on bayfm around 9.30 this Thursday.

Look out for a new local magazine, focused on Northern rivers cooks and food producers, a quarterly called Sample.  It is edited by the Echo’s food writer Victoria Cosford, and produced by Remy Tancred of Lennox Heads, who was behind that handy guide to local restaurants, and record of many great girl nights out, Ate Phat Ducks.  You can find some tastes online, including a scallop risotto and an interview with the very successful macadamia producers from Brookfarm, at www.samplennsw.com

And wonderful Mullumbimby cook and food writer Belinda Jeffery has a new book out, called “the country cookbook”.  In Belinda’s own words, “This book… chronicles a year of my life in one of the most beautiful corners of Australia, the Far North Coast of NSW. It really is a celebration of the ‘Rainbow Country’ as it’s called, and of the simple pleasures and food that mean so much to me.”

If you are into learning to grow and cook with plants suited to our sub-tropical environment, check out the Starseed Nursery website or see them at a Farmers market.  They sound like they are doing really interesting projects, and we plan to get them on belly soon.  Lotus, mushrooms and papaya are all upcoming workshops, as well as the fabulously named coconut day.  This weekend, 11 and 12 December, they are cooking in and with bamboo, exploring bamboo and fire, and making bamboo bio-char which is a soil conditioner. It’s a 2 day workshop with food and music.  www.starseed.co

In national news, cereal company Kelloggs has been crowned Australia’s most misleading junk food advertiser for the fourth year running in this year’s Fame and Shame Awards.  They are organised by advocacy group The Parents Jury, which fights against junk food advertising to children.  Kellogs won both the pester award for their LCM snack bars, and the Smoke and Mirrors Award for claiming Nutri-Grain is good for aspiring athletes.

If your favourite Christmas food is fruit, be ready to pay more and accept slightly damaged fruit.   Australia’s wettest spring on record and a rainy start to summer threatens fruit and grain harvests all across the south-east.  Hail and rain has wiped out 80 per cent of some cherry crops at Young in New South Wales.
Mango growers in Queensland and the Northern Territory are also badly affected.Trevor Dunmall from the Australian Mango Industry Association says the wet conditions are damaging what was already a light crop. He says there will be fewer mangos around this season, and those that make it into the supermarkets will be slightly damaged. “To pick mangos you really need dry conditions, the rain can damage the skin and leads to easier marking and blemishes … so the appearance may not be ideal,” he said.
The National Farmers Federation says fruit and grain harvests across the south-east are under serious and continued threat.

But we like to finish on a positive note, so if you are on social networking site facebook, you may soon be getting slices of virtual pizza.  And if your facebook  friends send you enough virtual pizza you will be able to redeem it for slices of real pizza.  Well sort of…real major chain fast food pizza.  And of course you can find the branches with the GPS on your mobile phone.

And if your food dreams are more of the fancy restaurant variety, you don’t need to go all the way to France to eat in a 3 Michelin star place.  There are now as many 3 star restaurants in Japan as in France, 26.  Japan also has more than twice as many restaurants as France, roughly 500 thousand to 200 thousand.  So just pop off up the road to Japan and make a start.

Lilith’s Cooking with the Stars for

Sagittarius is here

or click above the rainbow


You don’t do Christmas?  We are happy to hear about whatever you like to use as a reason to get around a table with loved ones, and most importantly, what you will eat!  As I type this I remember the Christmas phonecalls to grandparents, in the dark days before skipe or cheap calls of any kind.  One of the first questions was always : “What are you eating?”  And the longest, most detailed answers.

So now everyone within radio or computer or phone range can join that conversation.  So go on, tell your bellysisters, what are you eating this year, and who will be around your table?  (don’t do tables?  that’s ok too)

Sister T

MELLOW SUMMER TUNES (rain? what rain?)

Watermelon Man, sung by Les Mc Cann
Summertime, delicious version by Angelique Kidjo
Distant Shore by Chieko Kinbara
Sarah Vaughan with Gotan Project – Whatever Lola Wants

on air 8.11.10 – the food of the elves – or at least of the Finns

On the belly menu today,the man who invented the menu, the rudest chef in the world and the one with the cutest little boy smile, reindeer week in Helsinki, peach Melba and the Kylie Minogue mango.  To celebrate the return of sister Bernadette (of the Canonised Casserole this week) we finally took off to weird and wonderful Finland, and the magnificent Lilith the belly astrogourmet will be cooking with the stars for those sexy troublemakers, Scorpio.  Seasoned with plenty of tango, which just seems right for Scorpio.
Well that was the plan…. Then we talked about elves just a bit too much, always a dangerous thing to do in Byron Bay.  I swear mischievous gods and creatures of all kinds keep a close eye on the rainbow region – too much teasing and your day goes banana shaped.  Anyway the lovely Lilith was mugged by elves as she stepped into the studio and all her fabulous scorpio info disappeared.  She looked under various toadstools and in the car, no good, so for all those predictably fascinating Scorpio chefs please tune in next week.  Revolutionary Auguste Escoffier (he got his chefs to drink barley water while working rather than booze for a start), bad boy Gordon Ramsay and cute boy Curtis Stone will definitely feature.  The bonus is that next week’s guest, Nancy-Jo, and Lilith are old friends and larger than life, so it should be fun.
We did manage to bring you lots of news and talk about Finland before the elves stepped in.

One of the most popular Finnish foods - cheese!


The Tenth Biodiversity conference finished late last Friday in Nagoya, Japan.  It covered many issues aimed at stopping the current rapid loss of species, and brought together countries with very different priorities.  The most difficult discussion was aimed at fighting biopiracy, the unauthorised use of genetic material.  Several cases have involved traditional foods which have also been used for their medical benefits for many generations, like South African rooibos tea or turmeric in India.  Many food seeds have also been “collected” without compensation to the traditional owners.  Unexpectedly, the conference managed to come up with an agreed protocol on how to handle access and benefit sharing of genetic materials, although commentators are already saying key sections are very vague and subject to the future interpretation and goodwill of participants.  But the protocol is at least a start on a very  contentious area, and also includes compounds that are derived from the original genetic materials.
Lots more info at :
or search for “access and benefit sharing ”

If your parents were born overseas in a country where most people are svelte and slender like most of Asia, you might think that your genes protect you from becoming a chubby Australian.  Professor Bruce Hollingworth from Monash University has just conducted a study that proves you’d better watch out and eat your greens.  In just one generation, Australian children of migrants are catching up with the obesity rates of their peers – getting a whole lot tubbier in the case of children of Asian migrants, and a little thinner for the kids of migrants from Suthern Europe.  The Professor thinks this is either due to giving up traditional diet and exercise, or  that “overweight and obesity become normalised by peers”.  Nearly 33% of Australian adults are overweight.

US researchers from the University of North Carolina say they have found a “tipsy” gene that explains why some people feel the effects of alcohol quicker than others.
The 10 to 20 % of people who have the “tipsy” version of the gene break down alcohol more readily, so they feel the effects of alcohol much faster.The gene may offer some protection against alcoholism, as people who react strongly to alcohol are less likely to become addicted.  Meantime in Lebanon, organisers of a wine festival in Beirut poured around 100 bottles of Lebanese wine into a giant glass, 2.4 metres high and 1.65 metres wide, to successfully break the world record for the biggest wine glass.

Mango season is hotting up, and you could soon be slurping into a ripe juicy Kylie Minogue. The ABC reports that three new varieties of mango have been developed in the Northern Territory, and Primary Industry Minister Kon Vatskalis wants one of them named after our Kylie.  “I think Kylie should be so lucky to have this mango variety named after her,” Mr Vatskalis said.
The mangoes have been developed over 16 years under the National Mango Breeding Program, a joint venture between the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland and the CSIRO.

Are you inspired by food and are you an artist or is the thought of food enough to drive you to become an artist right now this minute?  Then submit an artwork in any medium to Still at the Centre Gallery on the Byron arts and industry estate by November 27.  Details of the Eat/Paint/Love exhibition are on the web at www.the-centre.com.au.  The opening on December 10 sounds like it will be fun too if you just want to look at the foodie art.


There’s a wild, underpopulated country, about as  far away from Australia as you can get – not in outer Khazakstan, but in much visited Europe – it’s called Finland, and if you’re thinking of taking your very valuable Aussie dollars for a spin, I strongly recommend it – maybe even for some of the food.  After all, Scandinavia is the new Spain among foodies.
Finland is the size of  Germany, but only has 5.3 million inhabitants, only 2%foreign born, and has been veryisolated for most of its history, so many Finns look similar – like smiley, well fed elves.  They live among 200 thousand lakes, 70% of the dry land is covered with forest.

They are the world’s no. 1 coffee consumers, 10kg a head, almost 6 cups a day,
friendly, welcoming, English speaking (they have one of the world’s most obscure languages, only similar to that popular lingua franca, Estonian). They like a drink – so there are many good bars, but apparently in winter many people only go out after a few too many drinks at home, so the bars get a bit rowdy)
They invented the sauna and there is 1 for every 2 people – cos  Finland is cooold – all year round apart from the occasional heat wave.  Winter is long and dark, we went in June, early summer, and it was colder than our North Coast winter, but light almost 24 hours a day.  It is really the place to  experience the seasons – in summer Finns are out in the streets, at open air markets, summer restaurants on lakes, or out to lake or seaside holiday houses, almost all Finn families have one – each with a sauna.
Until very recently there was little choice of foods, because of the short growing season, so there are lots of traditional pickles,preserves, rather than fresh veg, although root vegetables, especially spuds, are popular.  One reason for the Vikings to sack Europe – get food supplies!
The government is trying hard to get Finns to eat a healthier diet – butter is still sold in minimum 1 kilo packs, and there is lots of cheese in the diet, but they now have a ‘vegetable of the year’.
Finland is a good place to experience real seasonality in food, even these days when most of our food is shipped all over the world. Even in the capital, Helsinki, you will see a lot of the same basic ingredients depending on the season, with the provenance very proudly and prominently displayed when locally grown/made, and usually much more expensive.  If something is Suomi – Finn for Finn – you will know.
Our early summer visit was the season of  salmon and strawberries, although in restaurants there were still many meaty casseroles, often stodgy and heavy.
Smogasbord rules and is often a good option – for breakfast in hotels, lunch in restaurants, it includes many salads, and breads,smoked

lunchtime smogasbord on Finnish design crockery - simple and satisfying

fish – all sorts and sizes – even smoked small prawns, which were great.
We also tried a bit of Rudolph – smoked reindeer. You can also get reindeer salami and dried meat, lean,dark red,intense. Right now is the time to get fresh reindeer, it is all sold in October/November when the herds come back from roaming the tundra.  Helsinki restaurants have 6 week “reindeer weeks”, at other times it is mostly only available frozen.
Helsinki has some highly regarded fusion restaurants.  The best known is the Michelin starred Chez Dominique.  Others are part of a Scandinavia-wide rediscovery of food traditions, and serve a  locally focused “Helsinki menu”, local food from reputable local producers.
We found the most interesting food was at markets. In summer, all year covered market halls sprout open market stalls which are lively meeting spots.   Kauppahalli and kauppatori are in various parts of town and offer fresh veg and meats, pies, soups, pastries, cheese, including the very traditional ‘bread cheese’- like a big round paneer,baked on an open fire.

leipa juusto-bread cheese or squeaky cheese

There is also a strong coffee and pastry culture, most times of day are good occasions for a coffee and sticky bun – or pulla, cardamom scented yeast temptations that come in many varieties.  The breads are so good that I went looking for a Scandinavian bread cookbook (I didn’t find one by the way, if you know a good one).  Fabulous shapes,huge loaves, loaves with holes to store on a rod,small and square, different grains, textures, crispbreads. And often really healthy tasting but delicious.  Rye is so popular that apparently there is even a  Mcrye under Finnish golden arches.

And finally, the food was occasionally a bit basic but  Finnish glassware, crockery, cloth,furniture will always make it taste better – clean but quirky, designs several decades old that still look cutting edge but often fun, playful, colourful but stylish.  Famous Finn design names like Iittala, Marimekko,  Arabia,  have both fancy stores and outlets in Helsinki. Flea markets are also very popular and cheap,and part of a really strong commitment to reusing and recycling.  If you think a red bin and a yellow bin is hard, try about a dozen types of bins!

Here are a few links that will tell you more – there are tons of websites with information about Finland.

http://eat.fi/helsinki – this is an amazing site with real time indications of which restaurants are open – I’ve never seen one like this in Australia, very useful, also links to reviews

http://www.transitionsabroad.com/listings/travel/travel_to_eat/food_in_finland_quiet_culinary_revolution.shtml – a good summary of the current Finnish food scene

http://www.finlandforthought.net/2010/06/21/which-finnish-grocery-store-should-i-choose/ – a funny discussion on Finnish food that starts in the supermarkets and ends up commenting on the whole social structure

http://www.finlandinsider.com/finnish-food-attraction.html – a description of a Finnish market hall

http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/htimes/eat-and-drink/13128-gourmet-touch-brings-out-subtleties-of-reindeer.html – all about reindeer on your plate, and lots of other articles from the Helsinki English language paper

And here is sister T’s favourite recipe.   I am pretty sure I ate these rolls and they
are delicious.


600 mL        (rolled oat flakes)
250 mL         (dark wheat flour)
1½ tsp             salt
1 tsp                 baking soda
600 mL       sour milk
50 grams (2 oz.)   melted butter
Mix the dry ingredients. Add the sour milk and the melted butter; make a smooth batter. Allow the batter to swell up for approximately thirty minutes. Spread the batter on a greased baking paper placed on an oven tray and bake at 250 degrees Celsius (480 F) in the middle of the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until the bread is golden brown. Cut into pieces and eat while warm with butter or cheese.


– In recipes, soured milk created by the addition of an acid or by bacterial fermentation can often be used interchangeably. For example, 1 cup of cultured buttermilk, a soured milk produced by bacterial fermentation, can be replaced by 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup. The chemically soured milk can be used after standing for 5 minutes.

And this one is sister B’s.  You’ll need somewhere to make an open fire, just right for outdoor-loving Finns.


from “Under the Midnight Sun” by Liisa Rasimus
Ajatus Kirjat 2005
A lovely cookbook that follows the Finnish Seasons

serves 6

a whole 1.5 Kg salmon
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp white pepper
100mL/7 tbsp melted butter

Open up the fish on the belly side and carefully remove the backbone without damaging the skin, so that the two fillets remain joined on the dorsal side.  Sprinkle the inner flesh with salt, sugar and pepper and leave for a few hours in a cold place.  Fasten the salmon, skin side down, onto a wooden board by means of wooden nails.
Prop the board up against an outdoor open fire so that the glow of the fire heats and cooks the fish.  Brush the fish several times during the cooking process, which will take 1-2 hours depending on the size of the fish and the distance from the fire.

Sister T


NICK BARLOW in the Helsinki Times reviewing reindeer tenderloin
“if I closed my eyes when eating I could taste the Arctic tundra and the Northern winds on my tongue, smell the scent of fresh lingonberries and hear the lowing of the reindeer themselves.”

…  wonder if Rudolph the red nosed reindeer is a popular carol in Finland : “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, had a very tasty sauce…” But seriously, it is a local, sustainable ingredient, lean and healthy, ticks all the boxes.

belly October 4 – loving and cooking in Italy

Victoria Cosford

For today’s belly radio show sister Tess had a lovely long chat with Victoria Cosford, author, restaurant reviewer, cooking teacher, and food  writer for the Byron Shire Echo,  about her book Amore and Amaretti.  My movie-pitch description of the book is Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Anthony Bourdains Kitchen Confidential under the Tuscan Sun – but with much better recipes and more realistic descriptions of Italy.  It covers a period of over 20 years of visits to central Italy, when Victoria was quickly swept up into cooking in various restaurants and tempestuous  affairs with Italian cooks.  Victoria isn’t 100% sure about my movie pitch description, but she did admit that she has Scarlet Johansen picked out for the lead role.  A very good choice as you can see.

A few snippets :

– we are starting a campaign to get local butchers to cure pig cheeks – “guanciale” in Italian – join in and ask your butcher

– Victoria’s advice on finding good restaurants in Italy : if you are somewhere where you have eaten well, ask the waiters where they eat.  In Perugia, just go to ‘Vecchia Perugia’, and tell them ‘la Veeky’ sent you

– the recipes in her book look like good home cooking because that was the specialty in most of the restaurants where Victoria worked, apart from the odd ‘amburger’, so they are well and truly tried and tested

– if you like the sardine recipe, try the same or a similar crumb mix on opened mussels and bake

Victoria shared a sardine recipe from her book (see below), on the grounds that it is extremely popular with friends so there must be something to it.  Of course sardines are also very good for you and a good sustainable fish.  Victoria was also today’s guest for the fresh report, some favourite veg at the moment are spinach and silverbeet – do as Italians do, and make the most of the delicate white stems of silverbeet, great steamed with a light dressing or pan cooked or baked  with plenty of cream and parmesan.  Just like asparagus, also in season.  And I love Victoria’s way with artichokes.  She trims and slices them, and sautes them in olive oil with chopped onions and garlic, then adds risotto rice and keeps going with a normal plain risotto recipe.  but we both agree that it is hard to find good artichokes around here, let us know if you know of good sources.  I’ve also just found a good info source for seafood in season on the Sydney Fish Market site.  One of our favourite fish, Spanish mackerel, which can be expensive in Australia, is at peak availability in October.  See here for more information.  We have several mackerel recipes on belly, I fell in love with this fish in the U.K.  (Yes I know, normal people fall for the culture, the green green hills…).   I certainly did not fall for its pretty face though.


Lots of foodie events coming up, so today’s bulletin is a bit of a what’s on, including more lovelorn women tasting their way around Italy.

Byron Bay Writers Festival are putting on a special  premiere of Eat Pray Love with a  screening at the Dendy Byron Bay cinema this  Wednesday, 6 October. Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love was a publishing phenomenon, as the cliche goes, the story of a woman’s           quest to travel the world and rediscover herself. Mainly by going to beautiful places and making love to beautiful men in the movie version. Julia Roberts is in the lead role and the ‘eat’ part is set in Italy of course. According to reviews the food is beautiful too. Bookings advised.  At Dendy box office or phone 6680 8555.
There will be Champagne which I suspect means lovely Aussie bubbles as we are still being very free with that word ‘champagne’ decades after our winemakers have stopped using it for our sparkling wine,  and a theatre snack from 6pm, screening at 7pm and you get to meet Candida Baker the new writers festival director.
The 200th Octoberfest has just finished in Munich Bavaria, because of course it starts in september, but this saturday 9 October you can do octoberfest at the  Lismore Workers Club
For more information  Contact Lismore Workers Club
you get a 2 course German Oktoberfest Dinner * Fun German Entertainment * German Games & Competitions AUTHENTIC GERMAN BEER. In Munich someone was testing odour eating bacteria, because the event is now smoke free and they need to find new ways to get rid of the smell of sweat and stale beer that used to be covered up by cigarettes, but Octoberfest does last 2 weeks in Germany and attracts millions of people – probably better off with the Lismore version.
If you live in the Nimbin area, there is a Local Food Self Reliance Slide Show
on Thursday 14 October from 7.30pm at the Tuntable Falls Community Hall
Bookings are essential. For more information and to make bookings please contact the Nimbin Food Security Project Manager on (02) 6689 1692
They have received $50 000 funding through Northern Rivers Food Links for a village Showcase Project. International community development facilitator and trainer Robina McCurdy will show  projects from around the world and help identify new ways that the Nimbin Community can work towards local food self reliance.
In a couple of weeks , on 21st to 23rd october there will be a Northern Rivers Food Celebration at the Lismore Showground.
Over three days, visitors can enjoy local  produce, meet the growers and producers, and discover the great biodiversity of the region from macadamias, to tropical fruits, chocolate, coffee, organic meats, biodynamic muesli, fruit and vegetables, artisan breads, and cheese.The Food Celebration will be the largest regional show in Australia, and include a Sustainable Living Expo.
There will be demonstrations by local chefs, and schools will participate in a competition,  cooking exclusively with local produce.
To book a site phone Leanne Clark on (02) 6621 3413
New Brighton Farmers Market will be staging a bake-off as part of the Sydney International Food Festival -this year they have encouraged Farmers Market and regional NSW involvement .
Get creative using market produce. Go to the market on Tuesday, October 5, 8-9.30am and purchase specified surprise seasonal products to create either a sweet or savoury dish.  Entry is free, one entry per person.
Take your creation to the market the following Tuesday, October 12, for display and judging, 8-8.30am.  Prize presentation at 10am.
There will be both chefs’ prizes judged by Manfred Rudolf from the ‘Yum Yum Tree Café’ New Brighton and Steve Tuckwell from ‘Contis’, Brunswick Heads and a peoples choice prize judged by a small panel of market regulars, all prizes are NBFM vouchers.
Enquiries and entry registration : 6677 1956 [ah] Tony Hinds
UPDATE – bake-off at New Brighton has been cancelled due to a lack of bake-offers, but will happen at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market (on every Friday morning).  You will find the Mullumbimby details if you click on the New Brighton link above.

SARDE AL BECCAFICO – Baked Stuffed Sardines

2 slices day-old rustic bread
2 tablespoons sultanas

Australian sardines

2 tablespoons pine nuts
80 – 100 grams mortadella, as finely chopped as possible
(optional)[ndsis – you can use any cured pig bits or no pig,
but Victoria loves the unctuousness of mortadella]
2 tablespoons grana or parmesan, freshly grated
Grated rind 1 lemon
2 fat cloves garlic, finely chopped
2/3 bunch parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
750 grams fresh sardines, filleted and butterflied
Bay leaves
White wine
Olive oil
Preheat oven to 200 C. Soak bread in milk briefly, then squeeze dry. Place in a bowl together with sultanas, pine nuts, mortadella, cheese, lemon rind, garlic and parsley, season with salt and pepper and combine well. Place about a teaspoon of mixture in the middle of each sardine and arrange on baking tray with  a bay leaf between each. Sprinkle wine over the top and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve as part of an antipasto.
This is a recipe from Victoria Cosford’s book ‘Amore and Amaretti’ – Wakefield Press 2010
available at Mary Ryan’s ABC Shop and Collins Books (used to be Book City) both in Byron Bay
We love a good food quote on belly and Amore and Amaretti is bristling with fabulous Italian sayings.
My fave:
“cio’ che si mangia con gusto non fa mai male “- whatever you eat with pleasure can never make you ill – which is basically my whole eating philosophy.  Victoria’s is the much darker:
“non c’e’ amore senza amaro” – there is no love without bitterness
And speaking of amaro, the Italian for bitter, I love amaretti, Italian biscuits which literally mean ‘little bitter ones’, used a lot as ingredients – and I was looking forwards to amaretti recipes in “Amore and Amaretti”, but Vic says the title came from her publisher, and she doesn’t really like amaretti much – though she advises you to try pumpkin and amaretti ravioli.  So look forwards to a big amaretti rave from me soon on belly, first I need to experiment with one of the weirdest recipes I’ve ever seen, chocolate, amaretti, ricotta and eggplant cake.  And a few hours after first seeing that peculiar recipe from the Naples region, I ate a similar chocolate eggplant dish from a new Byron restaurant – oddly compelling, but no amaretti.
Sister T

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

seedsavers 2005 Byron Bay feast

Seedsavers is a wonderful organisation started in Byron Bay by Jude and Michel Fanton, in a suburban house and (bare) garden.  Seedsavers now has projects around the world, supporting biodiversity and traditional farmers and home gardeners too.

And occasionally they have wonderful get-togethers in their garden (which now is a paradise of food plants from all over the world),  talk and share wisdom and of course cook and eat.  In 2005 sister T watched this being cooked over an open fire – right in Byron Bay, not on a small tropical island.

Solomon Fast Food! – Roots in Fire with Johnson of the Solomon Islands

Bamboo (we used Dendrocalamus latiflorus) cut between 2 nodes approx 45cm long
Cut up any root crops eg. Taro, cassava, yam, sweet potato, … & place in bamboo tubes according to type of root (don’t mix) & stuff open end with banana leaves.
Put bamboo in fire flames & cook, turning often, until bamboo is black
Transfer bamboo tubes to fire’s embers & wait until the tubes steam & smell cooked.
Bamboo wall thickness affects cooking times – thinner bamboo walls means the roots cook more quickly & different root crops take different times to cook
approx. 40mins on average.

Fish in Palm Leaf with Atai of East Timor

Make a fire and let it burn down to the coals.
Take: Any fresh fish
Herbs, eg. Fennel
Salad: Lettuce, garlic & tomato
Stones that are hot from the fire
Put all in one parcel made of a big banana leaf & tie together.
Put on top of embers & cover with stones & more whole banana leaves for one to one and a half hours.

Fish Wing Parcel with Atai

Big fish wings marinaded in bush lime juice for 1/2 hour, garlic, onion, pepper, (curry powder can also be added), Lemon Grass, Salt, (Finely chopped Chilli can also be added)
Put all ingredients in Banana Palm Leaves & stitch up using palm fronds along the sides of the parcels.
Put parcels on the fire’s hot coals & cook for half to one hour.

And there were more good things from the Fanton kitchen, which is a hungry alchemist’s dream  of jars filled with strange preserved things – all from the garden of course.

Pickled Bamboo by Jude Fanton of Seed Savers

Dendrocalamus latiflorus & Bambusa oldhamii (which can grow in cool climates eg. NZ)
Harvest in hot months
Cut longitudinally then peel off husks
Boil 20mins (if still bitter then pour off & reboil)
Pickle in strong brine
LATER: Slice & soak to remove salt
Lime juice, fish sauce
Lemon, lime juice lemongrass Kaffir LIme leaves & young cinnamon leaves (+palm sugar or something to sweeten if desired)
Leave to marinate.

Yacon (Polymnia sonchifolia) by Jude Fanton of Seed Savers

“The Yacón is a perennial plant grown in the Andes for its crisp, sweet-tasting tubers. The texture and flavour have been described as a cross between a fresh apple and watermelon which is why it is sometimes referred to as the apple of the earth.” Thank you wikipedia!
Slice then marinade half an  hour or so in orange, lime or mandarin juice

Curry Powder

In heavy frypan, put coriander, cumin and  fennel seeds and dry roast.
Warm some mustard seeds towards the end.
Chilli if desired.

And it must have been lima bean season…

Lima Beans can be cooked in the following three ways:

Lemon/Lime Lima (Madagascar) Beans with Jude Fanton of Seed Savers

Fresh Madagascar Lima Beans (if green don’t need to soak ie. If they’re just been picked from vine. If dried, soak and boil until soft)
Add any citrus and any oil and any herbs (for example, you could use chervil)


To make hommus, mix cooked lima beans with tahini and any citrus.

Fried Lima Beans

Soak and then boil lima beans until soft (with no salt) and then drain.
Refry with onion, garlic and curry powder (see above recipe).

And to finish, after all that healthy home-made vegetarian goodness,  a healthy home made cake!

Johnson’s Birthday Cake

( also an excellent all-round cake mix) from Jude Fanton of Seed Savers

2 eggs – separates yolks from whites and beat egg whites with sugar
Add some liquid such as coconut milk, orange juice or any citrus
Could put some butter or oil in.
Add any dry ingredients, such as millet flour, wheat flour, linseed or almond meal plus a teaspoon of a raising agent, such as cake raising mix (1 teaspoon to every cup of flour)
Mix everything together and bake in a moderate oven.

Yummy Caramel Cake Topping from Mara of  Puerto Rico

Mix together 1 – 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of lime/ lemon/ orange in a pan on the stove top and stir until sugar dissolves but don’t caramelise it (ie. Remove before it darkens)
At that point of caramelisation, add cream until it’s a bit runny.
You can also add a bit more citrus so it doesn’t harden too much.
Then mix cocoa from the seed and mix with macadamia, cardamon and cinnamon in a mortar and pestle.
Sprinkle over cake and caramel topping – bon appetit!

But wait there’s more recipes!  Maybe this was the next day – they have fun on those Seedsavers conferences.

Pigeon Peas by Rob

Soak pigeon peas overnight in hot or boiling water and then drain off.
In a pan, fry some onions, curry powder, garlic, ginger.
Add soya sauce to deglaze (ie. To get the caramel off the pan).
Add hot water, bay leaf and thyme.
Cook for 1/2 hour on stove.

Chilli Guacamole (Guacamole Picante) by Pablo of Argentina

3 soft avocados, 5-6 cherry tomatoes, a little spoon of coriander, 1 chilli, 1/2 an onion, and juice of half an orange or lemon, pinch of salt, 3 soup spoons of olive oil.
Mix all ingredients in the blender to make a paste.

Golden Oven Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes (Papas Doradas) by Pablo of Argentina

Cut potatoes into cubes and put in a pan with olive oil and a little salt
Place in a hot oven of 230 – 250 degrees Celsius
Leave for approx. 45 mins
For sweet potato do the same as for potato and cook for 20 minutes.

BBQ Leg of Lamb (Pierna de Oveja Asada) by Pablo of Argentina

Can’t get any simpler than this…
Cook leg of lamb with sprinkled salt on bbq.

Green Salad (Ensalada Verde) by Pablo of Argentina

Lettuce, onions, fennel bulb with olive oil and salt.

Aussie Fish Cakes by June

Fresh fish (or tinned, eg. Mackerel, Salmon, or Fish Cutlets)
Mashed Potato (double the quantity of the fish)
1 egg
1 small onion
herbs (e.g. Parsley, thyme & oregano)

cook & mash potatoes
mix all ingredients together
make into patties
roll in flour
shallow fry for approx. 5 minutes on each side

Not enough?  Here‘s a link to another feast (this a recent one in India)

belly 22 march 2010 – mullet, gotu kola, cucumbers

TOPICS : the mighty mullet, smokin’, eating your rampant pumpkin vine, healthy traditions – Sri Lanka (gotu kola), dr Siggi’s bad chef recipes – souffle’, Sister Rasela’s Morsels – odd uses for cucumbers

GUESTS/INTERVIEWS : Paul Van Reik, Sri Lankan born wonderful cook and food writer, and youthful father of many children
Dr Siggi Fried, bad cook freedom fighter
Sister Rasela – nutritionist and bellysister



This week sr T is loving pineapples, sea mullet (extra fab to July as it goes North to spawn) and taming the pumpkin vines by shallow frying the flowers and marble size baby pumpkins (in a light flour and water batter).

The mighty Mullet

bake, pickle, smoke, bbq, make fish pastes and pate’, goes with tomatoes, oranges, fennel, mushrooms, onion, garlic, eggplant, all kinds of herbs, substitute for mackerel in Spanish and English recipes (much cheaper)


First, smoke yer mullet

1 wok, a metal cake rack, maybe foil, mullet fillets, skin on

Smoke mix :

1/2 cup each brown sugar, rice and tea leaves (I just used tea that was getting a bit old), a few leaves/sprigs of woody herbs, maybe a few fennel seeds, lemon myrtle – experiment

To smoke you need a wok, either an old one, or lined with foil, if you haven’t got a wok lid the foil has to be long enough to cover the fish.

Put the smoke mix in the wok, heaped in the middle.  Then the metal rack, high enough to not touch the mix, the fish skin down on the rack.  Cover with lid or crimp foil over so it seals the top but doesn’t touch the fish.

Cook on high until it starts to smoke, then 10 to 20 minutes on medium heat depending on size/your preference.  If the mix goes out and you need to cook the fish a bit more, finish in a dry frypan, skin down.

Then you can use the mullet in many ways (lovely for pate’)

or make a herby garlicky green sauce – I whizzed olive oil, lemon juice, salt , pepper, garlic, parsley, mint, chives and fennel tops in a food processor

Made sourdough toast, thinly sliced tomatoes on top, then flaked mullet, then drizzled bright green sauce….mmm

And pretty too.



* is there a dish in your tradition that is supposed to be extra good for you?  Please share it with the bellysisters, either on air or on the website.

In the Sri Lankan tradition, it is said that gotu kola keeps you youthful, and is good for your blood and rheumatism.


1 cup cooked rice (see below)

2 -3 tamped down cups of gotu kola leaves (1 bunch)

Boil rice in a lot of water until grains whole but mushy – a thick starchy soup/porridge consistency.

Pound leaves in a mortar, sieve out solids and  keep juice or puree
with a little water in a blender and sieve out solids.  Makes 2-4 tbs of bright green juice, add to cooked rice with a pinch of salt. It will have a minty/sharp/peppery flavour.  Add jaggery to taste (or honey/plain sugar).

Have a bowl each morning, you can re-cook any leftover dry rice until it is mushy to make this.

The following recipe is from Paul’s website,  where you will find many more delicious Sri Lankan recipes


This is a standard preparation you can make with any leafy green  – spinach, silver beet, kankun, amaranth, chrysanthemum, radish and turnip leaves, chickweed and so on.  If you can get them, there are two Sri Lankan greens in particular that do well with this treatment – gotukola, also called pennywort,  and often available in the growing season from good South East Asian suppliers; mukunawena, a quite specific Sri Lankan herb which you may find at Sri Lankan grocers.

1 bunch leafy green vegetables
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 tsp turmeric
pinch of salt
1 tbsp grated coconut (fresh is best, frozen is also fine, desiccated is a no-no)
1 tbsp Maldive fish ground fine (you can substitute dried prawns)
vegetable oil


Wash the leaves and shred them fine.

Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan big enough to hold all the shredded leaves.

Put in the mustard seeds and fry till your hear them pop. Immediately add the leafy vegetables and stir rapidly. You want to try and coat all the leaves with oil and seed.

Add the turmeric, salt and Maldive fish, stirring all the time to prevent the leaves burning, like in a Chinese stir fry.

When the leaves have darkened and gone limp,  add the coconut and mix it through for a minute or two at the most. You just want it to take on the colour of the turmeric and be thoroughly integrated with the leaves.

Taste, and adjust the seasoning. If you like, squeeze some lime juice over it. Take it off the stove. You don’t usually serve mallungs hot, so let it cool down a bit before eating.

(C) 2007 Paul van Reyk



Look up any good cookbook for a souffle’ recipe.  Prepare as suggested but don’t worry about using precise amounts as all souffles will collapse in the end.   However, ther is a trick that Leyton Hewitt, the famous tennis player, uses to create perfect souffles (almost) every time…when the souffle is cooking, stare at it intensely and shout : ” Come On” at least 3 times.

(C) Dr Siggi Fried


So much said about the poor cucumber (great for cleaning metal according to Sr Rasela – not sure if this is a compliment)

“A cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.”
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer

“Raw cucumber makes the churchyards prosperous” – English Proverb

“He had been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put into vials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw, inclement summer.” Jonathan Swift  (Irish writer)
“Cucumbers  are like virgins, they do not keep long” –  Dutch Proverb


good mullet info :


wok smoking :


http://www.buthkuddeh.com.au/ – Paul Van Reyk

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centella_asiatica – lots of good gotu kola info and pictures

www.kopping.com – dr Siggi

belly 8.3.10 – glitter’s glorious grains and cooking with pisces

TOPICS : food labelling laws, tuna, website launch, quinoa, millet and buckwheat, autumn foods, cooking with the stars for pisces

GUESTS: Glitter Girl, bayfm presenter, poet and grain lover
Lilith, astrogourmet and hula dancer

PRESENTERS : Sister B and sister T


MILLET AND MUSHROOM BAKE adapted by sister Glitter from: Food for the Seasons : Eat well and stay healthy the traditional Chinese way, by Professor Lun Wong and Kath Knapsey

Serves 4

Like all the grains, millet is fine for any season.  But it is particularly good for autumn as it gets rid of heat (that maybe a summer leftover), moistens dryness(the most  common autumn problem) and supports yin and kidneys for the upcoming winter.  Mushrooms ease coughs and get rid of phlegm as well as strengthening the lungs.  If you have a great deal of phlegm, swap the millet for rice.

3 cups millet
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil/ or avocado oil
1/2 cup of flour (unrefined) can be millet, rice, buckwheat
1/2 onion, chopped
200 gm mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons tamari
bunch parsley

Soak millet in water overnight.  Drain.  Add millet, fresh water (8 cups) and salt to a pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 35 minutes.

While you prepare other ingredients, preheat the oven to 180 degrees.  Place millet in an oiled casserole dish.  In a frying pan, saute onions and mushrooms
until soft.  Then add flour, and stir in with the mushrooms and onions, before adding 1 1/2 cups of water.  Stirring continuously.  Bring almost to the boil, then
cover, reduce heat and simmer for five minutes.  Add tamari and simmer for a further ten minutes.  Pour contents of frying pan into the casserole dish and stir very lightly
with millet.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Cut into four slices, garnish with parsley and serve with lightly steamed spinach.

This could also  be accompanied with steamed carrots, pumpkin, and asparagus

– a sister Glitter favourite from : The Australian and New Zealand Book of Wholemeals, by Marcea Weber

Serves 4-6

1 1/2 cups of buckwheat (roasted)
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon of himalayan pink salt
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 tbs minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup grated carrot
4 tablespoons of coconut oil/ avocado oil/ ricebran or olive oil (cold
6 large cabbage leaves
1 cup roasted, ground almonds or walnuts
3 organic eggs, beaten
2 tbs miso (young)
1/2 teaspoon each thyme, basil, oregano (dried)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3/4 cup of LSA (linseed sunflower and almond) or millet meal

Firstly bake buckwheat kernels in 200 degree C preheated oven until lightly
Then bring 3 cups of water to the boil.  Add buckwheat, salt, cover and lower
heat, simmer 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, cut the rest of the vegetables.  Heat the 2
tablespoons of chosen oil and saute mushrooms for 5 minutes.  Remove from skillet or wok, set aside and add the 2 remaining tablespoons of oil to wok.  Saute the rest of the vegetables in order listed above.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Now, bring a pot of salted water to the boil.  Add cabbage and blanch 1-2
minutes.  Drain and rinse under cold water.
Preheat oven to 190 degrees
Roast and grind nuts.
Oil bread tin.  Line tin with cabbage leaves, covering the bottom and sides.  Leave enough overhang to fold over and cover the top.

Combine half the buckwheat with the cooked vegetables and the roasted nuts.
Beat eggs and miso, combine with buckwheat mixture and add the rest of the ingredients.
Spoon into cabbage-lined loaf tin (9 1/2 cm x 23 cm) ( 4 x 9 inch), press down firmly and fold overhanging leaves over the mixture.  Cover the pan with a double layer of oiled paper.
Reserve other half of buckwheat for another recipe ( e.g. stewed fruit and buckwheat )

Place the loaf pan in a baking dish and pour enough water into the
baking dish, so that it reaches halfway up the sides of the loaf pan.  Bake for 45-60 minutes or until firm to the touch.
Cool before slicing.

Serve with steamed spinach, bokchoy or kale and  steamed squash and sliced


Fish live in water and water sign PISCES more than any other sign need
to keep their fluids up, they’re notoriously fond of liquid refreshments ­
they drink like fish, and are usually partial to liquid rituals around food:
dipping chilled grapes in dessert wine in a pool strewn with rose petals,
sipping exotic liqueurs beside a moonlit sea or eating mangoes in the bath:
undeniably the most appropriate setting.

As you’d imagine they favour sensuous slithery food: oysters, rice noodles, the sexy texture of melting brie, the  perfume of lusciously succulent, juicy fruits.  Mood is as important as food to a Pisces. They need a feel-good ambience because romantic Pisces likes to feel the luuurve in the cooking,to eat with loved ones and yes, you can open that wine now.

Famous fish foodies include the exuberant “Dances with Saucepans” Ainsley
Harriott of the BBC cooking show More Nosh, Less Dosh among many others –
posh Swiss chef Anton Mossimann who runs his own exclusive private dining
club in London – and the photogenic Hell’s Kitchen gourmet spunk
Jean-Christophe Novelli who became personal chef to the Rothschilds at the
age of 20.

Other well known Fish are Mrs. Beeton, the most famous
cookery writer in British history, and the notorious and formidable Fanny
Craddock.  Even though her only claim to culinary fame appears to be the creation of the prawn cocktail she was billed as the Queen Of The Kitchen, probably because she presented her TV shows in ballgowns, big jewels and mega-make up when nineteen-fifties housewifes all wore aprons. One of the pitfalls of being a fabulous Piscean is a constitutional vulnerability to substance abuse,and Fanny had a major amphetamine habit which made her so explosive and rude to her guests the BBC had to sack her.

And another Pisces foodie was Adelle Davis, the American health author who
pioneered the fledgling field of nutrition  during the mid-20th century,
advocated whole unprocessed foods , recommended dietary supplements to prevent disease and was an outspoken critic of food additives, but also published in 1961,
under the pen name  Jane Dunlap, a classic of psychedelic  literature
called Exploring Inner Space: Personal Experiences Under LSD.

Being the sea creatures they are, Pisces are ruled by Neptune and I’ve
chosen one of my personal favorite recipes for the healthy protein of their

GRAVLAX SALMON ­ A Scandinavian recipe for  raw salmon cold-cured with salt,
sugar, pepper, dill and alcohol.  No cooking is required, but it does take
2-3 days to cure.

1 fresh salmon, and it must be fresh
3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 good-size bunch dill, roughly chopped, stems and all
1 tablespoon spirits: aquavit, lemon vodka, your choice..

Fillet the salmon, or have the fishmonger do it for you; it needn’t be
scaled, but leave skin on.

Lay both halves, skin side down, on a plate. Sprinkle with the salt, sugar
and pepper, spread with all of the dill, splash over all of the spirits.
Sandwich the fillets together, tail to tail, then wrap tightly in plastic
wrap.  Cover with another plate and weigh down with something heavy on top.

Open the package every 6-12 hours and baste, inside and out, with the
accumulated juices.  On the second or third day, when the flesh has lost its
translucence, remove skin and slice thinly on the bias, and serve as you
would smoked salmon – with rye bread or pumpernickel, potatoes and home made
mayo, anything really.

BY Lilith


we ran out of time to tell you our Pisces icon Mrs Beeton quote – we would have had to interrupt Lilith’s hula dance, unthinkable!

but just so good for international women’s day, so here it is:

“The rank which a people occupy in the grand scale may be measured by their way of taking their meals, as well as by their way of treating their women. The nation which knows how to dine has learnt the leading lesson of progress.”


to find out more about the best brands of tinned tuna and sign the Greenpeace petition

to contribute to the government review of all food labelling issues – submissions due by May 14 – or go to the food label review page of this site

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