Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Peakies Carrot Salad...

My gorgeous friend Peakie, she of the famous Haggis Burger, and the recent Aussie BBQ, served this salad recently. It is sublime. Crunchy, salty, sweet. Totally moorish. And given my recent obsession with bacon, pies and snot blocks, I thought I better post something that was healthy. See, there IS more to the diet of pg and Furry than fat saturated white bread and dead animals on plates.

Not MUCH more, mind you.

Peakies Carrot Salad with Olives, Honey and Cumin

(Serves 4)

3 carrots, peeled and coarsely grated or very finely sliced

1 small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander

A handful of small black olives, pitted

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon runny honey

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Put the carrot, chilli, coriander and olives in a largo bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss together well.

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey and cumin. Add the dressing to the salad and toss well.

Australians all, and ostriches

Australians all, and ostriches.. For most of her primary school years, that is what my daughter Madame Mouse insisted was the opening line of our fair national anthem. Emus, ostriches, I wasn't much fussed, In a country that eats both of the animals on its Coat of Arms, we don't worry too much about that.

So, for our Nationals Day, down at Dromana, the Apex and Lions Clubs and the CFA put on a barbie of gargantuan proportions.

Bands played.

Ladies of the CFA Ladies Auxiliary, wearing frilly hats hand out Damper and jam (no cream, by virtue of our ridiculous food handling laws)

Gentlemen of the Lions Club manned the barbie, dishing out free egg and bacon rolls and barbied snags, in white bread and fried onions. Gotta love the dead horse!

For a woman who's hubbie has had a massive heart attack, I have an unnatural obsession with bacon.

And finally, may I present to you, courtesy of Dromana Lions Club, a FREE egg and bacon white bread roll:

Invasion Day issues aside, the Aussie spirit of dead things on bread, of volunteering for your community, of giving stuff away free, of BBQ'ing in 34C heat by the beach, of white bread and snags with tomato sauce, was alive and well this past weekend.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008


Along with Grocer and Stikifingers, I am proud to announce the opening of Piecon

"Up and down the country roadside signs boast "famous pies" and everyone has their favourite pie stop - a place they emphatically urge everyone try.

Pies have gone beyond being a versatile snack to take on the characteristics of the much loved events they're associated with. Take the party pie and footy pie for example, for which the appreciation of which also takes the event into account.

To not eat pies at all is just plain un-Australian, so it's only proper to have a space dedicated to the iconic pie...

...So here's the sauce, welcome to -
'The True Blue Great Aussie Meat Pie Review'."

So, drop by some time and check us out.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

A Tale Of Two Breakfasts (part 2)

After whining and moaning and sleeping most of Saturday, I had a severe case of cabin fever. Despite the fact my back was aching like a beeotch, Furry convinced me to jump in the car and go for a drive. The original idea was to head down to Sorrento and do a pie tasting for the new collaborative blog I am proud to be a part of, Piecon.

Sadly, it was not going to happen. 10 mins into the trip, my back was in spasm and I was sorely missing my Nurofen. So we ended up at a new venture in Dromana, D'alia.

D'alia is in the building that used to be the local hardware. And despite an extensive refit, it still feels like it. The space is too big. And it reeks of "let's reap the massive Summer tourist dollar", right down to the kids playground at the back.

Good on them, I say.

The decor is generic trend. Monochromatic mission brown and white.

I ordered the eggs Benedict. And, as you can see from the photo, it arrived sans garnish of any sort. It looked strangely bland. And tasted the same. One of the eggs seemed to not have a yolk. No cracked pepper was offered, but there was a pepper shaker with nasty generic white pepper in it.

The muffins were not toasted... naaaasty. The ham was so thin, as to be tasteless. The sauce was weird. Creamy.. not eggy. I don't know if commercial pre-prepared Hollandaise sauce is available, and bugger me backwards with a spoon id it WAS cooked there and then on the premises, but it tasted pre-fab.

It came with a hash brown, which I thought was overkill.

I am putting it down to being the newbies on the block, but it wasn't noice.

On the up side, the breakfast menu was very comprehensive. A big breakie includes the usual suspect, tomatoes, mushies, spinach, snags and umm.... scotch fillet.

The best feature however, was one that few breakfast places offer. Simple Bacon and eggs on toast. No trimmings, no jus, no chutney, no organic free range chevaps, Just. Bacon. And Eggs. On toast.

For $7.50, this was the highlight of the menu.

A Tale Of Two Breakfasts (part 1)

Due to a dodgy lift at work, I strained my back badly this weekend, so Furry decided to spoil me, while I sat around on the couch moaning like a bitch and mainlining Nurofen. Spoilage, in our house, pretty much always comes in the form of food. So I was instructed to sit on my fat butt and keep out of "his" kitchen.

Furry is a great cook, He's not much for poncy food, but does a mean breakkie, insane gow gees and pretty amazing wraps, nachos and other "batch" foods.

He also listens.

So what was presented to me on Saturday morning was thus:

sourdough Turkish bread from the local bakery, toasted. (not a chain bakery, a real live local baker)
1/2 a chorizo sausage, from the local butcher, made on site from locally sourced beasts.
Bacon, as above.
Free range organic eggs, from the Farmers Market (supplier from Red Hill)
1/2 a cheese Kransky (Sadly, from IGA Dromana, source unknown)
A hash brown (also from IGA, but)
topped with Tassie smoked salmon from Angelo's Fresh Fish in Rye.

Serve generously topped with fresh ground black pepper.

Total cost: $15 a serve.

Served with some free trade plunger coffee and a Valium.

No need to eat lunch.

(note the naughty Spewpermarket Kransky hiding in the background. Sorry, they're my breakkie weakness.)

Thursday, 17 January 2008

My New Year Wishes...

Restaurants moving away from the "shock and awe" factor of GM and starting to cook real food, for real people.

Restaurants starting to note suppliers and locations of produce on menus.

Restaurants moving away from the "shock and vom" factor mentioned here, again cooking real GOOD food.

The end of nasty made-up cocktails on wine lists. (Appletini's anyone??? No, I didn't think so)

The end of Cupcakes. Sorry. I hate them.

Easier access to single source meats, like this.

More people eating free-range eggs/chickens/hams.

More trips to the Farmer's Markets.

Local urban suppliers noting the source of their fruit/veggies, like my green grocer in Dromana.

Quality triumphing over convenience.

People sitting at tables, eating together at home.. not balancing a micronuked pie on their laps and shoveling it in their craw while watching The Simpson's.

Suburban fruit shops and butchers highlighting seasonal products.

Less fish from China.

The end of Supermarkets. The rise of local grocers.

The return of the local milkman.

More bread slow proved.

Less "All you can Eat"

Less American terms (they're chips, not fries.)

The return of the word "crisps" to denote not-hot-chips.

What are your food wishes for the New Year??

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

BBQ'ing, the Aussie way.

As previously discussed here:

You know what gets up my goat?? (NO, not the one in My Big Fat Greek Oven).. The U.S centric nature of most food sites... Here's what I wrote in one, as a reaction to all the American "BBQ" posts:

"Ok, this is a US-centric board, but I'm doing my damnedest to edjoo-micate youse guys that there is a WHOLE 'nother world out there.

Let's not even get into the whole "'Mericanization" of my wide brown land, ok.. Suffice it to say that myself, and plenty others like me are fighting tooth and nail to stop Straya becoming the newest State of the good Ole US of A.

BBQ to an Aussie means one thing. Dead animal over flames. It is the bastion of the male... A BBQ is NEVER a "BBQ", it is ALWAY a "barbie"

"Grab a 6-pack, bung the ball and chain in the Holden and come on over for a barbie..."

Pronounced Baaarbie.

It is NEVER a "Q"

People who use the barbie are not "Q'ers" or "Grillers" or "Smoke Barista's".. they're MEN.

It is NOT a "grill".. a grill is an appliance that usually sits above your oven, it has flames that come out top jets and it is good for searing curly-tailed lamb chops or browning crumpets...... INSIDE.

A Barbie is NOT a grill... but the wire rack you place portions of dead animals on can, sometimes be called the grill..

"Darl, do you want me to do these snags on the plate or on the grill?"

A barbie must have snags... and chops.

You can get all poncy and buy designer snags... beef and burgundy, chicken and leek... but a barbie isn't a barbie without some variety of snag.

Chops. Lamb Chops. Again, you can get all fancy with a marinade, but BBQ chops are de rigeur for an Aussie barbie.

See for what I mean.

Steak, caramelised onions,chicken shazliks, veggies done on the barbie are all good.. even burgers (they are NOT called patties, the actual lump of flattened meat is called the "burger")but it's not a barbie without snags and chops.

Barbies (the appliances) come in 2 varieties. Gas and Not Gas,

Gas barbies are directly related to the size of the male owners "wedding tackle". A man cannot hold his head up in public if all he has is a 2 burner patio barbie. These days, wok burners and ovens and other poncy bits of crud are being attatched to barbies. There is testosterone kudos for having these things on your barbie, but no self respecting Aussie man would ever actually USE them.

Not Gas barbies.. the original and considered by some, the best. Made from a dozen random house bricks and a bit of steel plate.

Thats it.

Gas barbies can have volcanic rocks laid across the burners, but never EVER "aromatics" or poncy crap like that. The flavour comes from years of rancid grease, built up and flamed off before any food is laid on. Flavour can come from marinades, but NEVER poofy "vine clippings".It is a well known Aussie fact that using "hickory smoked BBQ chips" causes your testicles to invert back up the inguinal canal.

Tru dat.

Non gas barbies use wood. You could sneak a bit of vine clippings in here, or maybe some applewood, but it's all good as long as you don;t tell yer mates that you've done it. It's wood, right? That's all

Meat. Must. Burn.


None of this "slow roasted and smoked" rot. THAT'S NOT BARBIE-ING!

And you have to drink while you Barbie.. beer or bourbon... and you have to poke the meat.. a lot. And you have to have mates to stand around with and talk.. about important things.. like "How many burner's you got, mate?" "You use the rotisserie much?", "wok burner, eh?? Ever Use it?"

And on no account must a man ever EVER comment on another man's barbie technique... No "you're poking the chops a bit much, aren't you, mate?" is sure grounds for a quick death-by-tongs.. and no court in our wide brown land would convict you.

So, next time "y'a'll" talk about BBQ, just remember that there are 20,434,176 (July 2007 est.) people in the world who don't think that smoking something for 3days and then slow braising it is "BBQ", they just think it's pretty damn silly.

We also think they way you spell programme is dumb, too."

So recently, at a BBQ with Dr Trevorkian and Peakie (she of the Haggis Burger), we got to talking about the above. So.. for my US readers, here is what an Aussie BBQ looks like.

Lots and Lots of nibbly bit, to keep the girls happy while the real men cook:

Action shot of Dr Trevorkian doin' his thang (Note: This is the closest oestrogen is allowed to get to the BBQ, when in use)

Gots to have salads.

And crumbed chicken tenders:

Consume with wine, congratulate men on cooking dead things with fire. Get too drunk to remember to take photos of the amazing Disaster Bay Hot Chilli Wine. Consume said wine (more like a Tokay, actually) with 80% dark chocolate.

Toolangi Tavern.

crispy crackle roast pork with sauerkraut salad
at Toolangi Tavern

chickpea battered flake with tomato and sumac salad.

A random turn in the road. That's all it took. Originally we were headed for St. Andrew and the famous pub, but ended up there too early and decided to keep going. Kinglake was dead, the purported raspberry festival was ne'er to be seen, so a random "right or left, darl?", led us to Toolangi, and its Tavern.

We started with a superb entree of scallops in the 1/2 shell with lime, ginger and chilli dressing. Topped off the above mains with a couple of beers and a glass of wine. $79.00 for the lot.


Go there now.

Monday, 14 January 2008


local tasting platter, Mornington Peninsula.

to Catherine Middleton, who won the weekend for 2 at Chez Fur, in Menu for Hope!!

Well Done You!!!

Saturday, 12 January 2008

The Last Supper.

When I was young, we'd all troop down to Dromana on Boxing Day. And there we'd stay for about a month. Mater Beige and all the aunties would take us to the beach, or to Rye Mini Golf if it rained, and Dad and all the uncles would spend the week in town, and come down on weekends. Dad would take the final two weeks off and I would be in heaven. I had my Daddy-O all to myself for two whole weeks.

He'd come to the beach with us, and sit under the orange and white striped beach umbrella, listening to the cricket on a portable "trannie" hung from one of the struts. He'd hang his watch next to it. He'd walk us up to the pier, where we'd jump off the stauntions into the water.

If we were very VERY good, at the end of the day, he'd swim us out to the sand bar. My brother and I would hang onto his shoulders and beg him to tell us when the water was over our heads. He made us feel so very brave.

One year we went out to sand bar, and discovered that hundreds.. actually thousands of sand crabs were running. He left us on the sand bar and returned to the beach. I can still remember how vulnerable I felt, all the way from shore, with my Daddy-O. he returned with our dinghy and a couple of sticks, and we spent the afternoon poking the sticks into the sand. The crabs would latch onto the sticks and we'd toss them into the dinghy. We collected several hundred and took them home and cooked them up in Grandma's old copper. We ate crab meat for about 2 week on EVERYTHING!

The last day of the holidays was filled with a sad nostalgia. There was cleaning up and packing away of the boogie boards, a final rinse of salt-hardened towels and shoes. I'd have to vacuum the car of its Summer's worth of sand, and we'd put the shells we'd collected in the garden wall next to the sun bleached ones of the previous year.

To this day, vacuuming out my car in July and finding sand in the cracks between the back seats reminds me of the smell of the vinyl interior of the 1970's model LTD.

One of the things that Dad would do was to cook The Last Supper. This consisted of anything that was 1/2 opened in the fridge, that he didn't want to take home. it always had cheese in it and it was always served on bread. No matter what was in it, it always tasted of seas salt and long afternoons. Of the squark of seagulls and the smell of seaweed. it tasted of a complete lack of responsibility and a childhood that would never end. It smelled of endless freedom and the peculiar taste that Pine Lime Splices have, when eaten on Dromana Beach.

It was the taste of the end of the holiday.

Apart from one memorable year which involved scrambled eggs, 1/2 a can of creamed sweet corn and some dodgy tomato paste it was, infact, quite tasty.

So this year, as I was cleaning up on our last day of the holidays, I remembered all those years of Last Suppers, and made one for my son. And told him this story. And told him that one day, I hoped he'd be cooking Last Suppers for his family and reminding them where they came from. And I told him, that no matter how old he was or what he put in them, they'd always taste the same.

Ron Manzie's End of Holidays Last Supper, 2008.

1/2 a can of McKenzie Braised Steak and Onions.
1/2 a bottle of Five Brothers Tomato, Eggplant and Basil pasta Sauce.
1 large field mushroom
1/2 a tub Chris' Tzatziki Lite.
1/2 tub unknown cashew nut and parmesan dip.
Some random spring onions.
2 rashers bacon
dregs of a small bottle of Provencale roasted capsicum mustard
unknown quantity (possibly 1/4 can) of red kidney beans.

Mix together on stove top until heated and mushies are cooked. Serve on toasted random slices of bread and top with grated "pizza cheese" or whatever variant of cheese you find left over. (there's always some!)

Eat sitting next to the clean and folded beach towels, while the sky is a cloudless blue and a gently breeze wafts in from the seashore. Think about your Dad without crying. Count your blessings.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Mussels "Gremolata"

The Mussel Man of Dromana. every local knows of him. About 10 years ago (or so legend has it), he stole a Safeway trolley, towed it out offa Safety Beach and dropped it in. He returned a year later and the damn thing was covered in mussels. Just like the glorious ones above. From there, he's prospered. During Mussel season, IF he's been a'harvestin', he'll have a cardboard sign out in his front yard. "Mussels today". If not, don't bother knocking.

When I started buying from him some 8 years ago, you could get a garbage bag full for $6. Now, they're about $6 a kg.

Scrub mussels well under running fresh water. Beard them and remove as many barnacles as tou can. Preferable bribe your 15 y/o son into doing this.

Add some good quality white wine, some fish stock, a splash of soy, a splash of fish sauce and a knob of ginger and some bruised lemongrass to a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Drop in your mussels and cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and leave covered for a further 5 mins. meanwhile, make your Asian fusion "gremolata".

Finely chop a bunch of corriander, some garlic, the rind of a lemon, some Vietnamese mint and some Thai basil. 1/2 a red chilli.

Remove mussels from heat and throw in the "gremolata". Stir quicky. Ladle into bowls and serve with extra lemon juice and chunks of pasta dura for slurping.

Remember to take pics of the beach the following day, to make all your readers in the Northern Hemi positively VERT with jealousy. And yes, the sky REALLY is that colour!!

Dragon fruit.

Also known as the Dragon Fruit, the Pitaya is a stunningly beautiful fruit with an intense colour and shape, magnificent flowers and a delicious taste. Once only seen in the finest restaurants it is fast becoming common-place throughout Australia as a garnish and a delicious fresh fruit. To eat the fruit serve chilled and cut in half. Scoop out the flesh and seeds much like a kiwi fruit. Hylocereus undatus is a red skinned climbing cactus that Dragon Fruithas received world-wide recognition as an ornamental plant for its large, scented, night-blooming flowers. It produces fruit of 1 kg or more and has a light melon-like taste. The colour of the skin is a beautiful bright red, with translucent white flesh and tiny black seeds. The species is easily recognisable by the triangular cross-section of its stem and minimal spines. This species pollinates very well with H polyrhizus.

The H polyrhizus has a small fruit up to 1 kg with red skin, dark-red flesh and small black seeds. The stems of this species have more spines.

Lima Bean and I saw this magnificent fruit at our local Fruit Mart and HAD to have it. The flesh is white and tastes like a cross between kiwi fruit and Nashi pears. We're planning a Dragonfruit and mint sorbet, served back in the "shell".

Gotta love Summer in Oz.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

What kind of pie??

My darling friend Lizard bought some from her home in Canadia (sic) when she last visited me. And I have been waiting for a chance to use it. Not just on pancakes, but a recipe worthy of this liquid gold. And last night, despite it being 38 degrees C here inOz, my son the Lima Bean had a hankering for pie.

Pie is a staple in our house. Pot pies in winter, peach pies in summer. Apple high pies, cheesecakes, hell, I even do a mean pie with left over strog.

And my Lima Bean is a pie eatin' fool!!! Thus our version of Chicken Run's famous "What kind of pie?"

Anyhoo.. here's the recipe:

Donna Hay's Pecan Pie.
Donna Hay Modern Classics Book 2


2 cups plain flour
3 tablespoons caster sugar
150g cold butter, chopped.
2-3 tablespoons iced water.

process the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor until mix resembles fine bread crumbs. With motor running, add enough iced water to form a smooth dough and process untill just combined. Knead dough and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface until 3mm thick. Place in a 9incg (22cm) tart tin. Line with non-stick baking paper and fill with pastry weights, uncooked rice or beans. Bake for 10 mins, remove weights and bake a further 10 mins or until the pastry is golden. Remove from oven and cool.


1 cup pecan nuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
40g butter, melted and slightly cooled.
3 eggs
1/4 cup pouring cream.

Place pecans on baking tray and bake for 5 mins until golden. Set aside to cool completley.

Reduce oven temp to 160C. Place the sugar, maple syrup, butter, eggs and cream in abowl and whisk to combine. Stir thru the pecans. Pour mix into tart shell and bake for 35mins until filling is set. Cool before serving.

NOW, here are my variations.

Bugger making pastry in 38C heat. Buy a pre-fab one from your local bakery. Don't bother brown baking the pecans, you can buy them pre-roasted. Just as good. I didn't have pouring cream, so I used thickened cream. Worked a treat (except, unbeknownst to me, thickened cream isn't vegetarian, so Lima bean's g/f, The Gnat couldn't partake. As much as I love her, that just meant more for me. )


gratuitous action shot of Lima Bean whisking


Wednesday, 2 January 2008

I am so freakin IN, man!!!

New Year Eve evening. We (16 adults and 12 kids) are sitting under the portico somnolent and swollen after consuming 9kgs of pork on a bed of fennel, pomegranate, lemon and orange along with a 5kg schnapper (see recipe in entry below) and a 3kg pinkie done with no trimmings, to let the "caught less than an hour ago" taste shine through.

It's 43C. the wine is flowing, the kids are playing tappity-run cricket in the drive way. We're relaxing in the gloaming and I am basking in the compliments of my friends. Furry is dehydrated and gnarky, having run a woodfired oven at 800c in a 42C day, but no matter.

Talk turns to last years riots on the MP, and the statistical anomaly of 16 friends knowing 29 people who've lost a parent this year. Just the age we are, hey?

The blokes are hatching a plan to rig up microspray jets under the pergola, to mist us for tomorrow's scorching heat. Any excuse for a Bunnings run, eh?

Our reverie is unteruppted by someone calling my name. Someone who sounds as if they're crying. I leap up from my chair and peer over the fence. Our beloved next-door-neighbour Bill and his wife are looking at me mournfully.

It's Bill's Name Day tomorrow. They have 25kgs of lamb, skillfully split and marinated by Bill's brother, waiting to be spit roasted. Bill is 80 and has never celebrated his Name Day since he came to Australia at 17. But now, for reasons unknown, he's decided to. Invited all his family and friends, and has the lamb ready to go. In the bath, as we speak, he explains.

Except. It's a Total Fire Ban tomorrow. The CFA are clear. No. Spit. Roasting.

Can we cook it in our oven for them? I am thrilled to be able to help out Bill and Margaret on such an auspicious occasion. I ignore my inner Mater Beige, telling me I couldn't POSSIBLY do it, I'm not good enough, I'll bugger it up and spoil his day and people will hate me.

A cross-cultural conversation ensures. Is Nick home? He'll know what to do. Maybe Little Nick in Fig Street might have a roasting pan big enough for 25kgs of lamb. You don't know him? He's Big Nick's cousin. No, not Dirty Nick, Big Nick! Yes. the one married to Helen. Not Elena, Helen... the ones from Keilor. Oh, That's CON's cousin.. sorry.

Alas, even after confering with all the Nicks in Little Samos, no-one has a pan big enough for 2 x 12.5 kgs orf lamb. They'll have to be jointed. Bill's heart breaks as his vision of 2 side by side lambikins slowly revolving over a charcoal pit shatters. No matter, he says, his gruff manner hiding his heart break. It's all good, we'll still have lamb. Con and Nick are summond to joint the beasts. Louis is there too, but with a name like that he can't be trusted to do anything but help me wrap them in foil. I might be part-Greek, or "nearly Greek", as Elena likes to tell me, but jointing the carcasses is a job for someone called Toula, or Con, or Ephiginea. Not me.

So, as soon as the clock chimes 12.00, it's off to bed with Furry and I. The alarms are set for 5.30am. I cringe on the inside, remembering how much wine I've consumed, but when you're on the outer circles of the Dromana Greeks, and one of the inner circle ask for your help, you put such things as hangovers aside. Maybe after this we won't be known as "the mad skippies with the oven" any more.

We're up at sparrows fart. The oven is still blood temp, but all the ashes from last night's firing must be removed, and the oven swept clean before we re-fire it. 2 hours of carefully setting last years vine clipping and split red gum before we see the golden glow of the dome. The signal that the oven has reached perfect cooking temp.

I gulp and beat my inner critic areound the ears, as I am solemnly handed tray after tray after tray of this precious lamb. More than anything, I want to help Bill out and contribute in some small way to his name day. If only to say thanks for being the world's best neighbour. Furry and I spend the next 5 hours turning the trays of lamb every 45 mins, to ensure a thorough and even cooking. We periodically baste the lamb in oregano, olive oil and lemon juice.

The smell is heavenly.

The outdoor temp rises to 34+. The temp inside the oven stabilizes at about 550C. We're roasting, in more ways than one. Friends follow through on last night's suggestion and put up the micro-misters under the pergola. Our back are wet through, but we dry off instantly as we return, every 45 mins to the oven for another rotation.

Finally, Bill comes over and pronounces them cooked. It's 1.30, and we've been at it since 5.30am. Furry and our friend Matty and Bill groan under the weight of the lamb as they carry them next door. On Furry's return, I greet him with a St George's beer, and we collapse under the micro sprayers to the cheers and applause of our friends, all who have taken it in turn to rotate the trays, or bring our more marinade, or mop our sweaty brows as they pass us.

I reckon I've lost 5kgs in this mornings sweat bath.

Next door we hear shouts and cheers as Bill and Margaret unveil the perfectly cooked lamb. Throaty shouts of "Yasou Furry!!! Yasou Ella!!" drift over the fence. Bill and Margaret's grandkids, grand nieces and nephews, random kids off all descriptions join our mob in the street for more cricket. Margaret smiles as our god-daughter, Beck goes "slips" in their front yard.

We are sublimely happy.

Summer loving, had me a blast...

Although the schnapper isn't quite so happy about it. Inspired by fellow blogger Stickyfingers' dish at The Bloggers Banquet, I thought I would turn Furry's catch into something of the same ilk. Problem #1, I have no internet access at Chez Fur. I vaguely remember her saying something about porcinis and mandarin peel, but I'm in Dromana in peak terrorist season, so my chances of getting porcinis are about, uh. NONE.

So here's what I did. Par boiled some arborrio rice in fish stock (Thank godd for the freezer and last year's schnapper heads). Added some galangal and lemon juice. poured the whole shebang into an oven dish, layed on some more galangal and lemongrass.

Scored a 5kgs schnapper both sides and layed it on the bed of "risotto".

Bunged some lemon, galangal, ginger in the cavity, covered with some more lemongrass and a slurp of soy,

wrapped in foil and cooked in the outdoor oven for 1.5 hours.