Autumn 2016

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How EASY are these!

uncle-chris-and-the-best-recipes-400George, my cartoonist mate, came up with a good idea the other day:
when it comes to recipes, what are my personal favourites?

Well I looked over past editions of Uncle Chris and came up with, in the words of Tina Turner, simply the best!

I must admit (modestly) that all my recipes are favourites of mine. But the recipes inside have been chosen because they're so easy to make (as I hope all my recipes are!) They're full of flavour. They're good for you. And they won't chew up your budget.

I've chosen three of my favourite sauces to spice up a pasta meal
and there are two easy burger recipes.

There are chicken and fish recipes and I have two meals for vegetarians. For dessert, I have simply the best – both featuring apples, because in Tassie we have the freshest!

When looking over my recipes you may decide to invent your own
variations – for example, with my apple crumble recipe, you may choose to use apricots or peaches or nectarines instead of apples.

And while thinking about making choices on what you're buying, go for what's in season – fresh, cheap and plentiful.

Many of our vegies are grown locally. We have the best potatoes, pumpkins, carrots and greens.

The salads grown commercially in Tassie are so fresh and clean. And we produce some great olive oils and vinaigrettes to dress up those lettuce leaves.

When choosing protein – fish and meat – you need only 150 grams per person, even less for the elderly or very young.

When choosing fish, you don't need to buy those varieties that swim into expensive restaurants (here I'm thinking especially of blue eye trevalla). Much cheaper varieties can be just as tasty, but they must be fresh. And if you're not catching your own, buy from a fish specialist rather than a supermarket.

In Tassie we produce the best dairy products – I reckon our cheeses are tastier than what's sent here from Europe and even mainland Oz. And cheaper too. And you don't need much cheese to create a delicious snack – in a celery stick, on crackers or bread, or with fresh or dried fruit.

In Olympics and life it pays to ...follow that DREAM!

Tristan running at the Rio OlimpicsHello Brighton and I hope you have had a great 2016 so far.

Other than having to watch Federer lose another Australian Open to Djokovic on the tele, mine has been pretty good to date. As you can imagine based on these articles, my sport is a big part of my life and for the first time in years I’ve had a great build-up to the approaching season. This means more to me this year than most. Not just because it is an Olympic year but because this year I have gone all or nothing to try to make these Olympics (perhaps my last) what I’ve always wanted them to be. To do this I have given up university for the year and am doing all the little extras as well as possible. I do this to ensure I can go out saying I gave it everything I had in order to make it happen. I am getting up daily and using a rusty old Nintendo Wii fit board to improve balance, I am going to bed earlier, drinking more water and I have added extras like bike riding to my casual job so I benefit from different forms of cardio.

There are days when I wish I was still studying or doing more with my time, but there’s something nice about being completely committed to a goal. This way, whether ambitions are achieved or not, I can rest easy knowing I did the best I could. Importantly I will hopefully be abletosayattheendofitallthatIhave no regrets. This is a theme people later on in sporting careers think about a lot, but it’s also applicable to people in day- to-day life. Some people have told me they were a great basketballer at school, or even played a mean violin, but regretted they gave it up. In life we often have to take the less exciting option to provide for ourselves and others, but I love to hear people say they turned around one day and decided to change path and follow a dream. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all smooth sailing and my bank balance could be much healthier if I went for a 9 to 5. Life’s about memories though, and sometimes money isn’t the most important part of the journey.

The other lesson I’ve understood more as I have gotten older is to do things because I want to do them. If someone needs to nag you to do something, chances are you will drop it as soon as the nagging stops. In this case you may as well spend your time on other things. I have been telling this to my mum for years as she tries to get me to keep my home cleaner, although I guess her mission is one worth banging on about. The other side is not to do things solely with the intention of being rewarded, acknowledged or admired. These are all great, but one day the praise will dry up and all that will remain will be the self- respect and pride you have when no one else is around and you’re still at it. To relate this to getting fit, you really have to want to be fit. If you’d rather sit on the couch and eat pizzas instead that is totally your call. You may not be as healthy as you get older but it’s your life. Obviously my role is to promote heath and I do know how beneficial it is – but it’s your body, and only you decide how best to spend your time.

This brings me to my last point. Not meaning to annoy Essendon supporters, but there seems to be a lot of stories lately about highly paid footballers and others doing stupid things and expecting to get away with it. No one wants to see bad things happen to people, but if there are no consequences for mistakes and people can simply get others to bail them out, then how can we learn? One of the first things we are taught in athletics is that the individual is always responsible for what is in their body and what happens to it. To relate that back to getting fit, my message is that actions always have consequences (good or bad). When people cut corners or cheat (like sneaking a pack of chips when no one is watching) they not only cheat those who care about them but also themselves. On this note, I am finally going to try to give up chocolate until after the Olympics. My motto used to be that if you exercise more then it’s totally okay to treat yourself – but to tie in with my first point, I would hate to miss an Olympic final by the margin of a chocolate bar.

Good luck but more importantly, make your own luck.

Enjoy, Tristan

Tristan on track

Tassie's home-grown Olympian – the flaming haired Tristan Thomas – is on the home stretch in his preparation for the 2016 Games in Rio.

 

The 400m hurdler is back from injury and is trying to reach peak performance in time for the qualifying cut-off date – 11 July – which is just a few weeks before the Games begin.

 

He'll have to run 49.4 seconds to qualify to represent Oz. Tristan's 10 best times are better than that, but he hasn't run that time since 2012 because of injuries.

 

At the last Olympics he ran 49.1 and his best time is 48.68. Tristan will have 10 races before the 11 July cut-off to achieve the qualifying time. He will also represent Oz in the 4 x 400m relay if the team makes the cut.

Fish for your DISH

POACHED fish in a butter sauce

1 tablespoon butter, 3-4 shallots finely chopped, small piece fennel, 1carrot and 1 leek finely chopped, 100 ml white wine, 100 ml of vegetable or fish stock, salt and pepper.

Heat the butter and fry the shallots, carrot and leek until soft but not coloured.

Add liquid, reduce the heat and poach the fish fillets for 5-8 minutes. Pour liquid into a small saucepan, add 75 g of butter to the poaching liquid and whisk. Season and serve the butter sauce with the poached fish and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley.

PAN fried fillets

Clean and dry the fish fillets, put a tablespoon of flour seasoned with salt and pepper in a plastic bag, add fish and shake vigorously to coat the fish with the flour mix. Shake off excess flour, then fry fillets in melted butter over medium heat, basting all the time.

 

Cooked fillets should have a a brown crust while the flesh is moist in the centre.

 

Place the cooked fillets sprinkled with freshly chopped parsley on warm plates, increase the heat until the butter
foams (don’t let it burn). Squeeze a lemon into
the hot butter and pour over the fish.

 

BAKING a whole fish Make this marinade to flavour the fish.

1 tablespoon lemon juice
3-4 tablespoons oil
1 clove garlic crushed
3 tablespoons chopped herbs
1 tablespoon mustard

 

Mix the ingredients and brush on fish, both inside and out, and rest in fridge for 1 hour.

 

Oil a baking tray and place a sliced lemon and rosemary or dill on the base. Place the whole fish on top, brush again with marinade and some salt and pepper. Bake in a 220C oven for about 20 minutes. While baking, brush the fish with the marinade at least once.

 

Chicken lickin’ GOOD

FRITTATA di pollo

A great use for left-over chicken
650 g boiled potatoes and carrots
400 g sliced cooked chicken

8 eggs whisked

100 ml chicken stock
3 tablespoons grated cheese chopped parsley

1⁄2 teaspoon salt and some pepper
1 tablespoon oil

 

Mix the ingredients in a bowl. Heat the oil in a pan, then cook the mixture slowly on low heat for about 35 minutes. Serve with a green salad.

 

CHICKEN curry

500 g sliced chicken

1 tablespoon oil

1 large onion coarsely grated
2 apples peeled and cubed
1-1 1⁄2 teaspoon curry

100 ml white wine

500 ml chicken bouillon

175 g long grain rice

2 tablespoons sultanas

2 tablespoons pine nuts shredded coconut

 

Dry the chicken with paper towel, heat the oil in a pan and fry chicken in small portions and take out of pan. Reduce the heat and fry grated onion in the pan for
 1-2 minutes. Pour the wine into the pan and reduce by half. Add bouillon, then the rice and simmer covered for 15-20 minutes.

 

10 minutes before the end of cooking, add the chicken pieces, sultanas and pine nuts. Sprinkle with shredded coconut and serve with a fresh garden salad.

 

SAUTEED chicken breasts

2 chicken breasts without skin

1⁄2 cup flour
1⁄4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs lightly beaten
3⁄4 cup breadcrumbs

1⁄4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/3 cup melted butter

4 lemon wedges

 

Season the flour with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

 

Dredge the breasts lightly in the flour mixture, then in the eggs, then in a mixture of breadcrumbs and cheese. Brown on all sides in the melted butter on medium heat. When done, serve garnished with the lemon wedges and a fresh garden salad.

Meatless MEALS

FUNGHI al limone

750 g mixed mushrooms sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter heated in a pan,
4 shallots chopped
2 cloves garlic squashed
2 bunches of chopped italian parsley zest of a lemon
salt and freshly ground pepper
pinch of cayenne
100 g mascarpone or crème fraiche
400 g green fettuccine

 

Heat oil and butter in a pan, then add the mushrooms and cook while stirring for about 3-4 minutes. Add the ingredients except for the fettuccine and mascarpone and cook for about 10 minutes. Season and pour in the mascarpone and season with salt and pepper, according to taste.

 

Boil salty water in a large pot, add the fettuccine and cook al dente (firm to the bite). Drain the pasta through a sieve and place in a large warmed bowl. Blend in the mushroom mix and serve garnished with fresh parsley.

 

VOL AU VENT with vegetables

Purchase 8 vol au vents at the supermarket and heat in a low oven.

 

While they warm up, make the vegetable filling:
1 tablespoon butter
1 bunch spring onions
400 g snow peas
250 g sliced mushrooms
1⁄4 lemon zest and juice
250 ml sour cream or crème fraiche
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper

 

Melt the butter in a pan, add the chopped spring onions and sauté. Then add the sliced snow peas and cook until soft. Add sliced mushrooms and the lemon zest and juice and cook until soft, then add the sour cream and season with salt and pepper.

 

Take the hot vol au vents and fill them with the hot vegetables. Serve garnished with some parsley.

 

Pasta PERFECTION

 

ARRABBIATA sauce (The Italian word translates to angry –because it’s hot!)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 capsicum, deseeded and sliced into fine strips
1-2 teaspoons finely chopped chilli (go easy if you don’t want it too hot)
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 bunch parsley chopped
oregano chopped (or dried if you don’t have the fresh version)
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan to taste

 

Heat oil in a pan, add onion and garlic and fry. Add capsicum and keep frying until soft, then add tomatoes, chilli, oregano and simmer for about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and mix with your cooked pasta.

 

Add parmesan and serve.

 

GORGONZOLA sauce

150 ml cream
150 ml milk
150 g gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmesan ground pepper and touch of salt pinch of nutmeg

 

Heat cream and milk in a saucepan, add gorgonzola and cook until creamy. Then add parmesan and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

 

Add cooked pasta, mix well and serve.

 

CARBONARA sauce

1 tablespoon butter
150 g bacon or pancetta, chopped
1 onion chopped finely
3 eggs
200 ml cream
100 g parmesan
1 pinch nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

 

Heat butter, add onion and bacon and fry until the onion is soft, then mix the freshly cooked pasta with the bacon and onion.

 

In a separate pre-warmed dish mix the eggs, cream, parmesan and nutmeg. Add the pasta mix to your egg mix and combine well – using two forks will help. Add more parmesan to taste.

uncle-chris-grann-400

 

Eating with GRANNY

The Apple Isle has a long history of apple-growing, with the first apples planted here in 1788. The notorious Captain Bligh on the good ship Bounty sailed into Adventure Bay on Bruny Island and planted three apple trees. Apparently one thrived ... and so began one of Tasmania’s main industries.

Several apple varieties popular in many countries were first developed in Tasmania – including croftons and democrats.

The apple season is with us again this autumn and we’re lucky to have orchards at both ends of the state. Red and golden delicious, pink lady, fuji, gala, gravenstein ... what a mouth-watering range!

One of my favourites is granny smith, an Australian creation. It was first grown by Maria Ann Smith in Sydney in 1876 and is now one of the most popular varieties around the world.

Granny smiths make great apple sauce for your roast pork and they are a wonderful apple for desserts.

 

 

Apple crumble

Peel, core and slice two apples. Place in a lightly buttered baking dish with 1⁄4 cup castor sugar and 2 tablespoons of sultanas. Top with toasted muesli and bake until apples are tender.

 

 

Baked apple

Soak sultanas and other chopped dried fruits together with some nuts in rum. Core whole apples (one per serve) and score the skin around the diameter. Put apples in a lightly buttered baking dish. Stuff with the dried fruit and nuts, add a nob of butter on each apple and bake at 180C for 30-45 minutes.

Your GOOD SCENTS guide to happiness

Blue Emotion roseSometimes I think a few of our politicians are on the nose but I don’t reckon our gardens should be – at least not in a negative way.

There’s no reason they can’t smell a million dollars.

All it takes is a bit of common scents (pun intended).

There is any number of amazingly perfumed plants we can grow to have our gardens coming up roses in the olfactory stakes.

Follow your nose around a local nursery and you’ll know what I’m on about.

So why would you want a sweet smelling garden?

Well, it’s to do with happiness. Gardens are all about sensual experiences. And it’s been shown scientifically that pleasant fragrances can have dramatic effects in improving our mood and sense of wellbeing.

I know little makes me happier than the drop-dead glorious whiff of daphne when I come within three metres of the bush near our front door in winter.

Or the heavenly perfume of the nearby potted murraya on a summer’s evening.

If your garden is missing in the perfumed department, now is a good time to act.

Happily, it won’t cost you a motza.

 

Scents of place

You’ll only need one or two perfumed plants, maybe a couple of the same species, preferably sited near an entrance.

Any more and your nostrils will be assailed by perfumed pandemonium.

So what to choose?
For mine, no garden is complete without a daphne.

The best known and still one of the best smelling is Daphne odora. Grow one in good free-draining yet slightly moist soil in a morning-sun position and you’ll be seduced.

The trick is to get it growing happily,

then leave it alone apart from a little fertiliser, and watering when conditions are dry.

Or try the new Daphne ‘Perfume Princess’ that’s earlier and longer flowering.

Then there’s the sublime smelling gardenia. Yes, Tassie’s cool can cause problems and you might not get quite the impact as in northern states, yet Gardenia augusta ‘Florida’ can do it nicely, maybe in pots that can be moved to avoid the chill. It boasts luscious glossy green foliage and exquisite white flowers when conditions are warm.

Another gardenia proving its worth in Tasmania is the perfume-packed Gardenia ‘Grandiflora Star’.

The list of contenders goes on, and on.

Honeysuckle (Lonicera species) is a natural, with the spring flowering and cream bloomed Lonicera fragrantissima one of my personal favourites.

Lilac (Syringa) trees in their multitude of floral colours can create perfumed heaven, and Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum), claimed by some to being highly aphrodisiacal in the perfume department, is a climber that’ll have you sniffing appreciatively through summer.

Chinese star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) with its vanilla scent is another climber to consider.

And a Tassie must is the boronia (Boronia megastigma) with its cup- shaped brown blooms. It can be the devil to get settled and going, and then it’s not that long lived, but your brief affair with it will be unforgettable.

Also worth seeking out is the intensely scented, pink-flowered sticky boronia (Boronia anemonifolia).

For a mid-winter scent-sation, you can’t surpass luculia, especially the large shrub Luculia pinceana ‘Pink Spice’ with its masses of pink blooms. It’s still little known but definitely worth growing.

Rosy options

Then there are roses, ah gorgeous roses.

If you’re after a sweet smelling rose, my money is on a pale peach beauty called Sharifa Asma. Not to be confused with asthma (it was in fact named after an Omani princess at the request of her family), this one is a bush rose that gets to about a metre tall, with perfume seemingly by the bucket full over spring and summer.

Some others to put on your hit list include:

Papa Meilland – a velvety red French charmer, it grows as a bush to a metre tall and the strong fragrance is practically to die for.

Double Delight – With ivory and crimson blooms, this bush rose grows to a metre high, looks wonderful and is choc-a-block with perfume.

Mme Isaac Periere – The French have a way with deliciously perfumed roses and this old pink one is an all-time winner for its spicy scent.

Blue Emotion – Another French seductress, this lilac-mauve bloomed rose gets to about 1.5m high and never seems to stop winning fragrance awards around the world.

Blackberry Nip – Its stylish magenta purple flowers are as big a knockout as its heavenly perfume, and it gets to about 1.5m tall.

If you’re in the market for a couple of perfumed roses, buy them now in a pot or hold off until winter and get them a little cheaper as bare-root plants (no pot or potting mix).

Bare-root roses look like daggy old shrivelled up sticks, yet plant over winter while they’re in hibernation and they will burst into leaf come late winter/spring.

Oh, if all the botanical names I have been prattling on about have your head spinning, don’t worry. Just drop round to your local nursery and start sniffing out the plants you like.