Tassievore tips for the International Day of Happiness

blue buildings

I have to say that the weather in Tasmania today makes it pretty easy to be content with your lot in life. The sun is streaming in the window as I type and the sky is as blue as those beautiful stone houses in Rajasthan.

I spent the morning mulling over the things that have kept me happy in my Tassievore challenge over the past few weeks and I have to confess it is mostly those seasonal changes that bring a bit of zing and inspiration back into your cooking. I should explain that I tend to be a bit slap dash in my cookery – I make something fairly basic from the ingredients in the fridge, pantry and fruit bowl using fragments of recipe and cooking knowledge that I have built up over the years. Needless to say it gets the job done but isn’t often worthy of overly enthusiastic praise from the family.

Anyway my Tassievore saviours for the start of autumn have been, in no particular order: Pirates bay octopus tentacles, sweet corn, new season apples and Japanese ginger.

The Pirates bay octopus is a bit of a treat (ie not super cheap…but cheaper than most fish) but I love it because it is easy to cook and can jazz up a tomato pasta sauce or make a great meal in itself if accompanied with some sort of salad and perhaps some chunky baked potato wedges. To prepare it I just rinse off the legs and then put it in a heavy fry pan or griddle with a bit of olive oil at medium/high heat, slap a lid on and leave it for twenty minutes. Then I turn it off and let it rest for another ten minutes before chopping and adding to the dish/meal. The other fun thing about Octopus legs is that they go a bright pinky red colour when cooked, thus elevating your meal another notch or two above the mundane.

Sweet corn seems to be a hit with my little boy and I have to say that I have enjoyed munching and crunching on a cob or two as well. The other great thing about sweet corn is that it gets me thinking of Mexican things and I have discovered that you can do a pretty good sort of Mexican frijoles (bean sauce) using Tasmanian Aduki beans. I have a ginormous sack of aduki beans in my cupboard so anything that gets them cooked and eaten is a good thing.

malus-coxs-orange-pippinNew season apples are on the hit list because they are just so crunchy and tangy and gorgeously fresh. I am particularly excited by the resurgence in old heritage varieties like Cox’s orange pippin – delicious! New season apples certainly help to ease us out of the declining berry season doldrums and it’s far too soon for us to be sick of pome fruits while eating Tassievore style (that will likely come later in the year…). Keep an eye out for apples ripening in parks and public spaces too – such a shame to see fruit rotting on the ground when it could be chopped up and stewed or crunched on while whistling your way home.

My final pick for the Tassievore saviours list is the lesser spotted Japanese Ginger (Myoga). I grabbed some from the lovely couple at the Little Red Hen stall at Farm Gate market in Hobart and, while no match for the feisty punch of traditional ginger, it was great to have something completely new to try. The ginger looks 2013-03-19_19-20-59_257[1]more like a bulb than a rhizome and has only a delicate ginger flavour and a gentle punch of spicy heat. It works best finely shredded over salads or gently fried and sprinkled over stir-frys. Apparently it has a reputation in Japan for making you forgetful or stupid so perhaps i won’t over indulge (I don’t need any help with forgetfulness and stupidity most days!).

Otto enjoying the new Mathers Lane Park in Hobart

My other non-food cause to be happy today was discovering comfy pink bean bags and fun magnetic words in the new park in Mathers lane Hobart. It was lovely to see such a great use of public space and my little boy loved interacting with the metal sculpture by sticking on and taking off the magnetic letter and words. Let’s hope that they are respected by all the park users and stick around (pun only retrospectively intended) for many months to come.

Have a great International Day of Happiness Tassievores!


It’s harvest time!

Well, it is officially Autumn…not that it feels like it today at 33 degrees!  I love autumn…it is a time of reflection, grounding and harvesting lots from the garden!  Below is a sample of my pickings the other day: necterines, hazelnuts, zucchini, apples (4 varieties), bush beans, scarlet runner beans, chilies, cucumbers, kale (2 varieties), tomatoes (at least 3 varieties) and plums.

IMG_0086While I love the bounty in the garden, how can one household of 1.5 people get through it all?!?  By sharing the fresh produce (my bike basket was overflowing with zucchini’s for my work colleagues this morning); cooking feasts and inviting friends over to share it; and preserving (& fermenting) it!

IMG_0134I have gotten quite into homebrewing this year with Cherry Stout, Rhubarb Ginger Beer and Cherry Mead earlier in the season and yesterday, I racked some Blueberry Wine and Necterine Mead.  The only problem with the wines and meads is that they have to age for up to 2 years before I can drink them…the ultimate exercise of my patience….

The most recent Tassievore event was a flurry of preserving activity at the Sally Wise Cooking School in Molesworth. A half day workshop in which we made: raspberry jam; piccalilly; tomato relish; apricot and raspberry tea cake; hawthorn and mixed berry cordial; plum sauce; preserved plums; apple and rhubarb shortbread; spelt bread and labne.  It was amazing!  you can see lots of photos of the workshop on our facebook page, but here is a couple to whet your appetite

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I will share one of Sally’s recipe’s with you.  It is for Piccalilli, which is great, because basically you can make it with whatever you are feeling overwhelmed with from the garden 🙂


1kg diced veggies (beans, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, etc)

2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
¼ cup salt
2 cups sugar
2 cups Tassie apple cider vinegar
2tsp mustard powder
2tsp turmeric
2tsp cornflour
2 tbls apple cider vinegar


  1. Place the vegetables, onions and capsicum in a bowl, add salt and mix well. Leave to stand for at least 1 hour. Drain well.
  2. Combine sugar, vinegar, mustard powder and turmeric in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add veggies adn bring back to boil and cook approximately 25 minutes.
  3. If the mixture is too thin, mix cornflour to a paste with extra vinegar and stir through. Cook two or three minutes more.
  4. Spoon into warm sterilised bottles and seal. Eat immediately or store for up to 1 year.

Sally also made a yummy dip by combining this with sour cream or cream cheese (the only Tassie cream cheese that I know of is from Red Cow Dairy in the NW, but there are several Tassie sour creams available) that we got to dip the warm spelt bread into…yum!

If you are feeling sad that you missed out on this fantastic workshop, don’t worry, there are still several more Tassievore events coming up, including the Tassievore cook-off this weekend in Moonah!  Learn how to use all sorts of Tassie ingredients and try 9 different Tassievore dishes made while you watch and ask questions.  It will be lots of fun and there are still tickets available, so please get your ticket now!

The Living Local Feast is also coming up (13 April).  A gourmet 3-course fundraising dinner for Sustainable Living Tasmania, featuring 100% Tasmanian ingredients.  Below are some photos from the last 2 years feasts.  It is pretty amazing and there are still tickets available, but they are going quick!  Don’t miss out!

57 42 Main course dessert

We are also planning workshops in the South, North and North West in May to share some of our tips and tricks for incorporating more Tassie goodness into your daily life.  These workshops have been made possible by an Earn Your Stars Grant that we recieved from the Tasmanian Climate Change Office. Details to be confirmed over the coming weeks.  We also got funding to collate a “where to get it” resource to help finding Tasmanian food easier for people.  Do you have a local shop or market that has a great range of Tassie goods? if so, please let us know about it by commenting below or email lissa@slt.org.au

I hope you are enjoying the challenge!


Tomato week

This blog follows on from the interview with Owen and Emma Kate of TomBoys

After our chat they gave me some tomatoes – just over 20kg actually.. A lot. Too much? Nearly! Definitely enough so I could play around with how to use them.

When the Tassievores got together to brainstorm events for the events calendar, a group tomato picking/ bottling event was top of my list for a good reskilling workshop. It didn’t pan out unfortunately, so this blog is about my own experience with a lot of tomatoes.

Straight up I did as Owen and Emma Kate recommended and made a passata/ sugo style sauce from a Fowlers Vacola recipe that just so happened to be all Tassievore (score!).

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Chop.  Cook.  Herbs.  Don’t they look nice!? Here are the proud results of the passata-fest with sexy bottling outfit in the background.


I have already used one bottle to make a zuchinni-puntanesca style pasta with some home churned pasta – very happy. I’ve given away a few bottles but will hold on to the rest for some more tasty adventures. I worried it would be too watery and bland, but nope! Great flavour.

I gave 8 or so kilos to a mate who made a big batch of tomato sauce with them – the type you’d pour on a (local) snag in bread,


so after that and the Passata I had 7kg of tomatoes left. I decided to wait a bit for flavour to develop.  The tomatoes were picked that morning so there were no soft/squishy/furry toms in the mix. They didn’t make A grade due to superficial blemishes – a black spot or no little greeny stalky bit.  Checking in on them three days later I was greeted by a half-box of happy, red little fellows still quite firm and nowhere near ‘squishy’.

So I left them a week in a box on the floor.

And then they were how I wanted them, crazy red and getting soft to touch – still no furry ones as none of the skins had split. I made a sauce/ relish combo which turned out great (not as salty/ acidic as a tomato sauce, and not using a bottle of EZY sauce as I probably would if making a relish). The mustard seeds are really only for decoration as they didn’t add much flavour..


I thought i’d give drying a go with the final kilo.  Unsure how economical this is with power though – especially when you put the dehyrdrater on the wrong setting – repeatedly. (estimated 14 hours of power usage to dehydrate them)

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Anyway – the end result of the drying experience (with salt and rosemary) was this.  They look crazy red huh.

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I can’t believe that’s all of the tomatoes gone!  Now that I know I can make these things I would love a few more batches of passata and some conventional sauce (mate only gave me one bottle, booooo) and maybe try a few types of salsa – I wonder if tomato paste is hard to make or the energy (electrical) put into making it doesn’t make it worth it?  Hmm yes i definitely want to try more.  Good news is that I know where to source TomBoys now (pun!) and they aren’t the only one around growing local toms. *ahem – proud announcement, the first of my own backyard crop are getting some colour on them – Behold the first pick!