A chicken and barley soup to come home for


Hello! It's nice to be back here after a couple of weeks away from blog-land. I have loads of great posts lined up for this little space, but in the meantime...wanted to quickly share the below recipe...

Tim and I have just wrapped up a brief visit to Hong Kong and it's pretty nice to be back home with the kids, on our cold, quiet and sodden farm. We were there for a trade show, as part of a NSW Dept of Trade and Investment producer delegation, and it was, I think, a success. We/Mandagery Creek Venison exposed ourselves (in a tasteful way) to some potentially significant new customers and also found ourselves sharing ideas and experiences not only with a bunch of fantastic producers, but also professionals from different nationalities and business backgrounds.

Working and living from home, from a farm, can sometimes feel a bit insular, so we count ourselves very lucky to have had this experience; essentially a big fat injection of motivation, endorsement for what it is we are doing and excitement about doing it even better.

Now back home, it's time to follow up, reflect and most important of all, catch up with Ali and Tom. Plus, because we're all feeling a bit under the weather (runny noses all round), it's soup this house needs, and lots of it. So today I made a big pot of the below. It is the culinary opposite from the dumplings, noodles, cocktails and strangely coloured teas and iced milk drinks we'd been partaking of over in Honkers. And just perfect.

Chicken, barley and vegetable soup to come home for

This is the perfect comfort food - it's easy to make (which is in itself, very comforting), really good for you (again, a comfort), easy to eat and completely delicious. Make double if you have a pot big enough; it's great for the kids' lunch thermoses and/or just to have stashed in the fridge or freezer for an emergency refuel. Serves 4-6.

1 brown onion, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 tbsp thyme leaves
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery, finely chopped
4 rashers of beautiful, fat double-smoked bacon, chopped into strips
400g free-range chicken thigh pieces, chopped into small-ish pieces
4 cups of chicken stock (or more depending on the consistency you're after)
1 parmesan rind (if you have one lying around in the fridge or freezer - no big deal if not - just adds some extra flavour!)
Three or four pared strips of lemon zest
1 cup pearl barley

To serve - extra parmesan, finely chopped parsely, some toasted pepitas (for crunch and goodness) and a drizzle of olive oil.

Heat a couple of glugs of olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan on medium. Cook the onion, stirring often, for about five minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, carrot, celery and thyme and cook for another couple of minutes. Toss in the bacon, increase the heat a little and cook for a few minutes, or until it's cooked through.

Now it's time to add the chicken, increase the heat a little more and cook for two minutes or until the pieces are pretty much all sealed. Pour in the stock, add the parmesan rind, lemon zest and pearl barley. Season well, bring to the boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve with extra parmesan, finely chopped parsley, pepitas and a little olive oil. Plus of course, some warm, buttered toast soliders.

Biccies and a little break


Hello from frosty Orange, I hope everyone is keeping warm and well. We are just coming to the end of a crazy week and are looking forward to a relatively quiet weekend (after tomorow's Farm Kitchen lunch!). I've also been meaning to share the recipe for the below muesli biccies for a while, but have been waylaid along the way. And speaking of being waylaid, I'm reluctantly taking a wee bloggy break over the next week or so. Tim and I are off to Hong Kong next Wednesday to attend a trade show and have loads to to before heading away. We (Mandagery Creek Venison) are going with a group of other NSW farmers to show off just how awesome our region's produce and producers are. Yay.

So I'll be back soon with some great new posts, lots more mojo and ideas for local and lovely food, people and places. And in the meantime, will be posting pics and news over on my Instagram and Facebook accounts. See you in a couple of weeks!

Muesli biscuits

These biccies are really delicious and, I like to tell myself, a fairly healthy snack. I used Brookfarm cranberry muesli which added extra yum factor. Makes about 20.

150g butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
finely grated zest of one orange
1 egg
1 2/3 cups wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups muesli

Preheat oven to 180C and line a tray with baking paper. Cream the butter, sugar and orange rind together until pale and creamy. Add the egg and beat until smooth. Fold in the flour, baking paper, cinnamon and muesli. Roll into little balls (about a teaspoon-worth) and place on the baking tray a few centimetres apart and squash down lightly with a fork. Cook for ten minutes or until lightly golden and cool on a rack.

The Friday List


Another week has flown by with big and unrealised plans to post new stories, do more reading with the kids, spend some time in my neglected garden, fold boring laundry and climb my mountain of jobs yet to do. But I did manage to find a little time to faff around on the computer and do some aimless reading...here are this week's favourites.
What should I eat for Breakfast today is my new favourite food blog. Gorgeous words, photos and recipes.

Dig this chick is a gorgeous blog set in the Montana countryside about growing, cooking and playing through the seasons.

Let's all make these fritters and never feel bad again about not eating enough greens in one day.

I didn't find any time this week to iron. But I did manage to read this fantastic piece on the importance on eating together and this essay on Noma

I think this recipe for citrus ambrosia just might be the perfect winter pud; light, refreshing, seasonal and easy. How good would this be after a main course of this slow-cooked lamb.

Can't wait for summer so I can make this peach pie

Life changing crackers via My New Roots

Armchair travel - off we trot to South Africa's Pringle Bay. Yes please. 

Have just discovered, and am loving Wild Thyme and Sweat Pea's website and approach to life. Gorgeous.

Chocolate tahini, mocha mousse with lots more stuff...wordy but delicious

Preserved lemons via the Floury Baker. I've been hanging out to make a batch this winter.

The Friday List and (another) pear cake


Hello and good morning! Here is a little list of reading and cooking ideas for the weekend. Hope you all have something fun planned. I'm heading off first thing tomorrow for a night away with some girlfriends to paint, eat, maybe drink a glass or two of vino and chill out in great company. And I really cannot wait to get.in.that.car.

In the meantime, I posted the above picture of Tim's birthday cake on Instagram a couple of weeks ago and a couple of lovely people have since asked for the recipe. It's actually just the Danish Apple Cake recipe from my book, also published here in the blog last year. With a few alterations; I doubled the recipe, used poached pears instead of apples, dropped the currants (he's not a fan) and instead of sandwiching the pears between the batter, just dotted them across the top then sprinkled the lot with cinnamon sugar. It was yummo. 

This is the prettiest cake I think I've ever seen. I'd like to eat it, with endless cups of tea, in this tree house

Apple cider and salted caramel creme fraiche coffee cake - yes it’s a mouthful. But I’d say a pretty delicious one...

Has anyone cooked with spruce tips? Apparently they go well with venison! Might try this lemon risotto with spruce and match it with some bbq'd Mandagery Creek Venison leg steaks this weekend!

And from the same author; this winter cauliflower soup with crushed juniper berries. What a beautiful flavour combination. Am thinking this would be a lovely starter at our next Farm Kitchen lunch!

Gorgeous rhubarb upside-down cake from the Green Kitchen Stories. And from the same source; if you are getting a bit tired of the old porridge with brown sugar combo; here’s three fab new ones to try.

Hello there...lemon ricotta pancakes with whipped camomile cream. Oh my. Can somebody please make this for breakfast (for me) tomorrow?

A really simple, yummy soup from Pip at Meet me at Mikes. Is it just me or does everyone else feel happier about the world after a little spell in Pip's world? I just signed up to her 'Feeling a bit sh**t" digest, the one she sends out on Sunday nights at 7pm when we're all feeling a bit sh**t and think eveyrone should do. A definite mood lifter!

It’s the middle of winter. But weirdly, instead of hot chocolate, I’d love a big frosty glass of this pineapple coconut water.

Love the idea of this flour and fire day. One day, when we have a wood-fired oven too, we might host something similar. Gorgeous post Jane!

If you have a blog, love blogs or want to start one - check out Blog Society's website and, of course, blog. So much good stuff here! I'm yet to make it to one of their events but live in hope...

Ladies who lunch - very very rarely


The idea of a mid-week lunch with my friends is heaven to me. Unfortunately, it happens all to rarely. Hardly ever actually. So when the lovely Prue of Olive and Clover, said she was coming to Orange with some new pieces for her online store, and could I please take a few pics of them for her blog....an idea was born.

We decided to meet at another friend, Willa Arant's restaurant Racine. Then gather a few girls together, dress up and take some pics. Here are the results, and Prue has posted more, with recipes too, over on her blog.

With her chef-husband Shaun Arantz, Willa runs Racine with great style and grace. The restaurant has been awarded a chefs' hat two years in a row now,  and is renowned for innovative fine dining grounded (literally) in its use of local produce (including ahem...our Mandagery Creek Venison!). More recently, the couple opened their restaurant up from 10am on Thursdays and Fridays with a more casual cafe-style menu offering everything from pastries to bowls of soup, salads and share plates (the more formal restaurant menu is also available).

The whole set up is just ideal for relaxed catch ups over coffee and pastries (from Racine's bakery in town) or light lunches. And, unlike many restaurants and cafes it's absolutely child friendly. Because the restaurant is situated right in the middle of a vineyard, there's plenty of space for kids to run around (including a wide green lawn often used as a marquee space for the weddings Racine often hosts). Willa provides crayons and paper for creative little people, and encourages the more active young guests to bring soccer balls and have a kick on the lawn while the rest of their party has lunch. Nice hey!

You can find all of these beautiful garments over on the Olive and Clover website. And for more information and/or bookings for Racine, jump over to their site for all the details. Thanks!

The Friday List and snow!


Tom came careering into our room this morning yelling, 'it's snowing'. We raced outside and he was dead right; the world was white. I've never seen snow like this in my nine years here in Orange and am just as excited as the kids. Yes it's freezing outside, but it's crisp, bright and crunchy underfoot too. Tim quickly jumped on the quad bike and did a lap of the paddocks to check the herd and they seem completely unfazed by the snow, mostly just sitting around in the paddocks waiting for the red tractor to arrive with their breakfast (we are giving them extra grain in these cold days to keep their energy levels up).

So after snowmen were made and snowballs thrown, I drove the kids to school, which was also covered in snow. And now, although there are deadlines to meet and phone calls to make; have just spent the morning playing in the white garden taking photos and eating snow with syrup.

My fridge always seems to have a few jars of leftover fruit poaching syrup in its depths, so I pulled these out (one quince syrup and one from some moscato poached pears we served recently at the Farm Kitchen) and made snow cups drizzled in syrup.

 They are so delicious - and of course, on the off-chance you don't have a garden full of snow (this is the first time in years we have!), you could easily make these with ice blitzed in a blender and then drizzled with syrup or nice cordial). I've now stashed a container of snow in the freezer for the kids tonight, and might even drizzle a little Stone Pin Gin over the grown-up snow cups. Because it's Friday. A white Friday.

The Friday List

I've been wanting to visit Anna Tasca Lanza's Sicilian cooking school since meeting a recent graduate in Turin 15 years ago. Am now thinking this post might be the closest I'll come to ever getting there. Sigh.

In the snowy/icy theme of this post; here's a spot of armchair travel to Iceland, via Cannelle et Vanille

This raspberry ripple buckwheat porridge looks just perfect. Perhaps we in the Southern Hemisphere can make ours with rhubarb? Or stewed apples even?

Such a cool idea - this restauranteur and chef are cycling across America to talk to strangers about what they eat. Here are a few pics from their stint in the Rockies.

Another great article about cool people doing cool things - this time over in Berlin. Meet the dudes behind Infarm; an inner-city farming project growing great things. 

A belated nod to Bastille Day....Le Grand Aioli. Might have to wait for warmer weather to make this one!

I always love popping in at Dinners with Friends; such a great snapshot of different places, seasons and people.

Apparently New York's Shake Shack does the best burgers in the states, and here's the recipe (or an interpretation of the real thing at least!)

Potstickers from Two Red Bowls. Would love somebody to make these for me tonight!

Delicious comes to the farm


A couple of months ago, a team from Delicious magazine came to visit. They were here to work on a winter feature for the August issue which goes on sale today!

Photographer Mark Roper, the magazine's Art Director Shannon Keogh and food stylist David Morgan were such fun to work with, all so enthusiastic and keen to get the very best shots - and we were blown away by how they work together to produce such beautiful images. Mark risked life and (burnt) limbs to get just the right shot of the venison on its hot plate. David was an excellent 'stage mom', coaxing Alice to keep smiling as she stood in the freezing cold holding her cake until the light/composition/everything was perfect. And Shannon kept it all on track, holding light reflectors, giving gentle direction and loads of bright ideas.

Just some of the beautiful props David brought along for the shoot (I was kind of hoping he'd forget a few bits and pieces, no luck sadly).

Thank you so much to everyone at Delicious, mostly Food Director Valli Little who first approached us with this idea. It's pretty exciting for Tim and I to see our Mandagery Creek Venison, literally from paddock to plate, featured in a magazine like this and we are very grateful.

This issue is also celebrating the Delicious Produce Awards which have just been announced (full list of winners can be found here), talk about being in good company!

Here above and below are some pictures I took of the shoot as it progressed. And also a snapshot of the feature itself. For more - please grab a copy yourself. It's a beautiful issue and we are proud to be part of it.

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