Monday, 18 April 2011

Twelve kids & One dead horse (Tasmanian Adventures Part 2)

The second day of our Tasmanian adventure was the day we had been looking forward to for quite some time.

It was what started the whole adventure to begin with.

A community of like minded folks banded together in the making of a years worth of Tomato Sauce.

Spurred on by the general distaste for the preservative rich & colour additive laden bottles of what is passed off as Tomato Sauce in the supermarkets.  The stuff that most Aussie kids grow up sploshing happily on their sausage sangers and good ol' Meat Pies.

A group of us wanted to make something tasting of real ingredients and all of us (although for some of us it was the first time we met) share a common interest in quality food and the making of it as being at it's best when shared with people we care about.

The day before had been windy & cold but was a wonderful start to our family holiday. You can read about it here.

We woke up to this view on beautiful Bruny Island......... 

How could it not be a great day when it starts with seeing that view from our front deck?!
We arrived at Nick & LJ'S place in just in time to start the day with a delicious brekky with our friends.

The day included 4 different families and twelve children.

As soon as we arrived on Bruny Island the day before the kids made friends instantly, without the hesitations we acquire as adults.

Kids can teach us soooo much but I always marvel at the ease at which they make friends.  What is it that stops that happening when as we get older.....?

There aren't any pretensions, any worries, any comparisons, any prejudice, any age barriers.  They just get on with it.  It's so inspiring.  One of the many many things we can learn from kids if we take the time.

The kids ranged in age from 12 down to 1 but NOT ONCE did any of the grown ups need to intervene.  It was truly beautiful to witness.

The production line was set up ready for an activity that would take all day. 

The kids were super keen to be involved.  My kids had been so excited about this day.

They had been talking about it nearly EVERY day for the last 2 months!

All the kids who could hold a knife got in and chopped.  And there was a LOT of chopping to be done. 

Children are much more capable than we generally give them credit for.  This group of kids were responsible for washing and chopping kilos upon kilos of apples and tomatoes- we are talking about 50 or so kilos!!

They did a fine job as you can see.

The grown-ups joined the kids in the work.

And once the ingredients were chopped, they needed to be mixed through.....

A  rare glimpse of GourmetGirlfriend
And then it had to be placed in two enormous cauldrons and cooked ALL DAY.

It had to be strained.

My eldest son made a delicious snack for the workers that we served with polenta leftover from last night's dinner. He made his signature stuffed mushrooms.  He used Nick's ODO cheese (Bruny Island Cheese) and mixed with chilli, garlic & thyme and baked it.

 He was very very excited that all the adults thought it was soooooo delicious but just about died with pride when Matthew Evans (aka The Gourmet Farmer from the SBS series who was part of the sauce making crew) invited him to come and live at his place if he could cook mushrooms like that!

We forget how words are soooo important to kids.  Words of praise are remembered for a lifetime & for a child to hear them from someone they look up to is just ever so special.  Matthew was probably totally unaware how fabulous he had made my child feel.  It was lovely for me to see.

It was such a special day.  A day that all of us will remember forever.  The photos give you a little window into the joy that was had that day- by all of us.

After the sauce was strained it needed to be cooked again and stirred
and stirred
and stirred.
Until it glowed like an autumn sunset.
  After all the stirring, the sauce had to be bottled. 
It was nighttime before it was ready to bottle....
It filled 61 bottles!
All that was left was to make a label. The inaugural sauce was to be named twelve kids & one dead horse- in homage to the children that made it and a nod to the Aussie slang for Tomato Sauce.

The smiles tell you what a great time we had.

The kids were so happy to try it out on their dinner that night.
The kids ate while we popped the bubbly to celebrate the success of the day.

Over the course of the day we talked & laughed, chopped & stirred, we made & cemented friendships.  The stuff that is the sustenance of life

Making food of this sort is a labour of love.  But the result tastes of the love that goes in. 

The opening of every bottle is a reminder of the joy that went into the process.

The eating of it a reminder of all the love that went into each and every bottle.

And we all knew at the end of the day that this was something that all of us wanted to replicate over & over again.

And that is why next year and for many years after we will do it all over again and look forward to it just as much!

It's the people that made it so very special & I for one am counting the days till next we get together!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Our Tasmanian adventures....PART ONE.

We are home in Melbourne for a couple of days to catch our breath before we continue our April adventures.

Our trip to Tasmania was as heart warming & soul filling as we hoped.

As I sit here trying to start this post I am kind of lost as to which point I start....I think I am going to have to write a series on my Tasmanian adventure.  It has had my mind a whirl with ideas & thoughts since the minute we set off and if I tried to put them all in to one post it will just be too long & rambling.....

The trip started when Nick Haddow of Bruny Island Cheese invited our family to come and stay and make Tomato sauce along with a few other families.

We took the opportunity to take a VERY long overdue family holiday.  The sauce making was going to take a day but we booked a 12 day trip and gave us an opportunity to steal our children out of school to offer an education of a different sort.

We took the Spirit of Tasmania - the boat that travels between Melbourne & Devonport. 
 A large and majestic creature that swallows hundreds of cars in its belly and transports it's cargo safely across the famous Bass Strait.

We wanted the trip itself to be part of the adventure.  Boat trips are the stuff of life long memories, something not part of modern childhood.   We long ago traded the idea of such slow transport for the speed and ease of aeroplane travel.

Our kids have caught many many aeroplane flights but this was their very first boat trip.  And it was my first for a VERY, VERY long time.

One of the bonuses for us as a large family of seven in choosing the boat is being able to take our own car (not so easy to hire a car that fits us all) and we chose to attach a trailer to be able to pack freely- and of course to transport the precious sauce back to Melbourne!
We have done plenty of long haul car travels with our family and it has stood the kids in good stead for the long waiting periods that are part & parcel of boat travel.

We had to book 2 separate cabins as our family is too big to fit into a single.  We took advice of others and booked 'cabins with a view'.
You can almost touch the excitement in this picture of our precious five as they join together grabbing memories.

It felt so big & so exciting.

Arriving the following morning we drove directly to the little town of Perth to eat breakfast at the gorgeous Ut Si cafe.  It was well & truly worth keeping tummies hungry till we arrived there.  An old church has been converted into a gallery cafe that exudes a warm welcome- even when our busy family arrived!

Collette served us coffee that soothed our caffeine deprived souls and filled our bellies with
gloriously prepared, beautiful local food.  All of us left sated and smiling at the wonder of how food prepared with love tastes and looks sooooo different & soooooo delicious.
Ut Si has it's own vegie patch out the back as well as it's own wood oven where their super tasty bread is baked.  My kids wanted to know if it was how ours will look when it is finished.  I told them I hope so! 
 It kept us happy all day.  Things prepared with love do that.

We continued our drive to Hobart and marvelled at the beauty.

We arrived at Bruny Island later that day warmly welcomed by Nick & his gorgeous family.

We sat around an enormous bonfire.
 The children found ways as they do of making instant & lasting friendships.
 We ate the tastiest most perfect hot Minestrone on this very very cold day finished with a little of Nick's cheese around the fire as we chatted into the darkness........

 ......little ones snuggled in the arms of their parents mesmerised by the dancing flames.
We had no phone reception and no internet connection from this time for the rest of the holiday.

It really truly made us stop still and soak up the moments. 

We were instantly transported out of our city busyness and into our holidays........and this was only Day one!!

We could not have been happier if we tried..........

more of our Tassie adventures to come.........

GOURMET GIRLFRIEND'S MINESTRONE (via Elizabeth David's Italian Food)
This is a soup from Italy where region to region it varies widely.  In Genoa, Pesto is added to give the soup a super delicious finish.  I have chosen to share Elizabeth David's Minestrone Genovese as it is really interesting and not that well known but generally I cook a version starting with good quality free range Bacon rashers, oniins, garlic, Italian parsley and whatever veg & beans I have in my pantry.  I just fry off the onions, bacon, garlic and then add the rest cover with water, season and cook through. 
It is one of those dishes that can be varied as much or as little as desired (and can be meat free for the vegos) & is a fabulous way to use vegies that may otherwise get left to waste.
It is best served with really good quality bread.

I often make it for myself for lunch as it can be super quick.

  • 100g white haricot beans
  • 2 large eggplants
  • a cabbage
  • 500g of tomatoes 
  • 2-3 zucchini or a piece of pumpkin
  • 100g mushrooms
  • 3 tblspoons EVOO
  • 100g pasta
  • 2 tblspoons pesto
  • grated parmesan
Soak beens overnight and boil till three quarters cooked.
Strain and place into 1 & 1/2 litres fresh water. 
Cut all veg into small cubes and add with the EVOO to water.
Just before the veg are cooked through add the pasta.
When it is tender add pesto.
Check seasoning and serve with grated Parmesan.

Serve with crusty bread.

Todays listening pleasure is a track called Happiness by Jonsi & Alex....that is really what this day felt like. Total & utter happiness: