Primal leek and potato soup


This leek and potato soup is a satisfying dish. It manages to be smooth and creamy texture without the cream. To make this a paleo dish you could make it with sweet potatoes instead of potatoes.

Primal leek and potato soup

coconut oil
1 leek, chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups of chicken stock or bone broth

  1. In a large stock pot, heat the coconut oil on medium heat.
  2. Add the leeks and saute until soft, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken stock to the pot and bring to the boil. When the stock boils, add the potatoes and bring back to the boil. If needed add boiling water to cover the potatoes.
  4. Then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until potatoes are soft.
  5. Remove from the heat and blend until smooth with a hand mixer or blender.
  6. Divide among bowls and serve warm.

Serves 2.

How to cook pork sausages braised in cider


Yesterday I cooked two recipes for dinner for my Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge – Pork sausages braised in cider with apple and juniper, and Perfect mashed potato.

Basically you brown the sausages and onions and apples separately , then you combine them together and stew them in a casserole dish on top of the stove. It took about half an hour prep time, and then an additional one hour stewing, so this isn’t a quick after work dish.

Matt adjusted the pan as it wasn’t sitting on the hob properly in the center. I had to take the lid off to boil some of the liquid off and thicken up the cider sauce.

I boiled two potatoes to have as a side and mash them with a cool device which looks like a spiral on the end of a masher. (I don’t know what it’s called but it works a treat.) I added cream instead of crème fraîche because I couldn’t find any in either Coles or Woolies.

The highlight of the dish was the lovely apple and cider gravy. It was nice but I wouldn’t cook it again. The mash was delicious based on cream, but again a bit of treat since rice milk works just as well without the guilt.

Delia’s Complete How to Cook – (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

How to cook goats’ cheese, onion and potato bread


So the first recipe I cooked for my Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge was goats’ cheese, onion and potato bread with thyme.

I had to preheat my oven to 20 degrees higher than the recipe, because our oven always lets us down and needs adjusting. The red potato I choose was a little too large for the recipe at 250g, so I didn’t use all of it. We had no thyme so I used oregano instead.

I had a heap of trouble with our scales. They only work when you take the battery out of them and then that seems to kick start it, otherwise you can press the on button repeatedly and nothing happens. I had to test my maths skills when I weighted the flour in a bowl.

We didn’t have any self-raising flour, so I added 2 teaspoons of baking powder to add a raising agent to plain flour. I don’t think my grater is very sharp, as the potato kept getting stuck half way when I was grating it. I mixed together the ingredients as per the instructions and the flour stuck to the potato. I wish I had cut the cheese into smaller chunks. I also left out the mustard because we didn’t have any.

My palette knife is over 30 centremetres long, so I stirred the mixture with a teaspoon. I used it for measuring something and was trying to save on washing up! Why I tasted the batter I’m not sure, but it was quite salty. I don’t know whether Matt will like it, because he doesn’t add salt to his food. I used a paella dish for cooking the bread with some baking paper, but I forgot to grease it. I’m usually not very good at following instructions in recipes – I like to get creative and make changes.

Fifty minutes later I had a small loaf which didn’t rise much. The potato bread was yummy with a good crust, although I think I’d prefer the red onion version over spring onion. Matt said “you wouldn’t know there was potato in it” and it “was very nice, a bit like damper.”

Delia’s Complete How to Cook – (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

No-dig potato garden by Esther Dean



Here are Esther Deans’ instructions for creating a no-dig potato garden:

Go to your greengrocer and select ten good round potatoes with ‘eyes’. Place one potato in the centre of each pad of lucerne hay and cover with four handfuls of compost followed by a layer of about 20 centimetres of teased loose straw. Water gently and well.

After a few weeks the potatoes will push up through the straw. As they grow make sure that they are covered adequately with straw or grass clippings, otherwise ‘greening’ might take place, making them inedible. When the tops have died down, remove the top layer of straw and your potatoes will be ready for harvesting. Store in a dry place (do not wash them) until you are ready to enjoy your lovely home-grown potatoes.

No-Dig Gardening and Leaves of Life – by Esther Deans

You can use sugar cane mulch instead of straw. It’s also best to use organic potatoes or you can purchase seed potatoes from The Lost Seed or The Diggers Club depending on which state you live in.

My potato project – The importance of organic

This is a short video that demonstrates the differences between growing an organic vs a store bought sweet potato in a glass of water.




Everyone keeps commenting that we skipped spring and went straight to summer with 30 degree days and a heatwave in Brisbane. I’m hoping that all this hot air will be followed by some decent refreshing rain.

The ever faithful passionfruit and choko have stopped bearing.

We pulled out all the onions and shallots as they were covered in black bugs. The neighbours sprayed their weeds and grass (probably with Roundup) a few weeks ago, and ever since we’ve had a lack of ladybugs.

Buds and flowers are starting to appear. We have four ruby red flush roses and all the citrus are flowering. We also have some figs forming.

We harvested the remaining cabbages (5.3kg). They were starting to get ravaged, by what I though was hungry possums, but ended up being just a collection of caterpillars.

It was very exciting to finally pull up the first row of potatoes. They filled up a shoebox and weighed in at a healthy 4.5kg.

It turns out the unknown greeny-yellow citrus was a lime. So the other tree must be the mandarin.

Tank off


July was our worst month so far. We didn’t sow suitable Winter crops early enough. We really need to start seeing some action in the garden or we will fail miserably at our challenge and in as little as a few months it will then become an impossible feat.

As we sat on the grassy hill enjoying some sun and steak sandwiches, we discussed our progress in the garden.

I’m worried the potato crop has failed a second time. It looks like we have lost the first row. Matt declared that he has given up on them this year. He thinks we should have used more soil and compost for hilling them up, rather than nutrient poor sugar cane. He also thinks we have been watering them too much, whereas I think they might have not been watered enough.

Matt also thinks that our soil isn’t good enough yet, as we used compost from a landscaping supplier rather than use the full no-dig option. We agreed that the vegetable beds don’t get enough sun in Winter as they are shaded by the neighbours’ mango trees. And yet too much sun in Summer.

We were starting to consider that the unidentified citrus tree we have might be a lemon, as the fruit are starting to turn yellow. I looked through our plant label album and discovered it was actually a ‘washington navel orange.’ Matt nobly took the blame and said it was his fault for thinking it was a mandarin!

Our grass is starting to brown off and we haven’t had any decent rain in over five weeks. To make matters worse, I accidentally didn’t turn the tank tap off properly. (I have a habit of not putting lids on jars tightly either!) Our tank was half full, but now it is down to the bottom rung.

Pumpkin solution


I was hoping to have a break from the gardening this weekend, but alas once I started I kept finding things that needed attention. The seedlings that I grew from seed in peat pots desperately needed to be planted out into soil. I love peat pots so much that I ordered some more. Actually they are called jiffy coco pellets and are made from renewable coconut husk. The only down side is that the pots can dry out easily and need watering every second day. I planted a number of tomato seedlings in empty spaces throughout the four vegetable beds. We have a feral tomato growing from compost up through the passion fruit vine, but the red cherry drops are flavourless.

I planted a red kuri pumpkin in a green square pot. I hope it will grow in a container, but I’m yet to work out a good position for it, because I know it will sprawl outward. I’m tempted to put it over the grape and choko vines, but Matt thought it would prefer the ground. While browsing through a The Diggers Club catalogue later, I pointed out the World’s largest pumpkin which can grow fruit to 227 kilograms. It’s a shame Matt doesn’t like pumpkin that much, because we would only need to grow one pumpkin and we would meet our goal weight for this year!

Matt thinks we have black aphids on our garlic and shallots. He also concluded that they are harmless because he can’t see any damage. I looked them up, and it’s best to let nature take their course as they’ll eventually be eaten by predators.

I pulled up a couple of potato plants left from our first attempts at growing them from the beginning of the year. I was surprised to collect three baby spuds, which Matt later roasted up. He ate them and said they were nothing exciting. I’m not sure whether he was just saying to make me feel better because there wasn’t enough for both of us. Our newer potato plants are starting to die back, but they haven’t flowered yet. We’re not sure if this is ok? We used sugar cane mulch to pile around the stems and encourage more growth but perhaps we should have used compost to provide more nutrients.

Planting by the moon

Our seed potatoes went in on the weekend. I bought them months ago from The Lost Seed and they arrived in four neat brown paper bags. I was worried they’d gone bad or green in the back of the cupboard, and we really have missed the prime months for planting spuds. Matt declared himself in charge of the potatoes and he selected four of our local market favourites – Pink Eyes, King Edwards, Nicola and Kipfler. We shouldn’t have worried, the tubers were bursting with sprouting buds and more then ready to go in. Our only worry now is that perhaps we might have too many!

Today was the day before a full moon, and according to my “Astrological Calendar and Moon Planting Guide” by Thomas Zimmer, it’s a perfect time to sow “fruiting annuals – those vegetables which you want to produce abundant seed, or the seed bearing organ of the plant.”

We both got home early from work, and set about planting out our first three beds. The plantings were based on The Diggers Club article “The Mini-Plot“[PDF] and what in suitable for Brisbane’s climate in November.

Bed one:

Bed two:

Bed three:

  • Squash: White Scallop
  • Beans: Lost Seed Runner Scarlet Emperor x 12; Aqua Dulce Broad Bean x 12
  • Eggplant: The Diggers Club Listada Di Gandia x4
  • Rosella: Eden x 3
  • Eggplant: Cima Viola x 4

We ended up swapping the carrots for squash, beetroot for eggplant and rosella. In the perennial bed, we swapped the artichoke and asparagus (we don’t like either) for watermelon and rockmelon. The potatoes took up half the bed, but that’s ok because we’ve got two lots of rhubarb in pots.

In retrospect, we were thinking it might have been better to space out the timing of the plantings so that everything doesn’t come up at once. Oh the enthusiasm of naivety :-).

Salmon and potato salad (Russian)

Salmon and Potato Salad

Cooked for the Russian entry of the Euro Cup and Plate challenge.

If you consult your Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide, you’ll want to choose fish which are ranked “Green – Better choice”, such as imported canned salmon, predominantly Sockeye (Red) and Pink Salmon. Coral trout are on the “Amber – think twice” rank, and Atlantic Salmon, cod and ocean trout are on the “Red – no” rank.

For choosing sustainable seafood:

Salmon and potato salad recipe (Russian)

2 organic, free-range eggs
3-4 boiled potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
1 fillet salmon
150ml white wine
50ml mayonnaise
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

  1. Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with boiling water. Bring water to the boil and immediately remove from the heat. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove eggs from the water, cool and peel.
  2. While the eggs are cooking, place potatoes in a saucepan with just enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the heat, drain and set aside.
  3. Heat half the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Brown the onions. Remove from the pan.
  4. Heat the other half of the oil in the same frying pan and sear the salmon both sides quickly over high heat.
  5. Turn down the heat and add the white wine. Simmer for 8 minutes.
  6. Flake salmon and spread it over the bottom of the serving dish. Spread the onions over the top, then drizzle over some mayonnaise. Top with potatoes, and a little more mayonnaise. Finally slice the eggs, and place on top. Drizzle with mayonnaise and garnish with the parsley.
  7. Chill for an hour before serving.

Serves 2.

TIP – You could use tinned new potatoes to make it quicker and diabetes friendly.