Host: Glenforrie Station
Hi my name is Justine, and welcome to the Glen Florrie kitchen – where there’s dishes a plenty and lately non-stop tomatoes coming in my door ready for sauces or chutneys.
As the beloved “cookie” (yes everyone gets the nickname) you’ll have plenty of people coming in and out the door needing lunches for mill runs or when checking fences, plus plenty of visitors stopping by to say “G’day” or stay for a while. So, make sure there’s always plenty of biscuits, cakes and slices for snacks and smokos. During the year, I worked on my savoury smoko repertoire – savoury scrolls are my forte. See below for some suggestions.
The biggest events throughout the year will always be mustering. Mustering comes and goes, usually for us it is structured around when Murray and friends can assist in mustering. In the kitchen, you’ll be busy preparing meals, cooking smokos and desserts, and packing esky’s, then after muster unpacking esky’s, cleaning boxes etc. and preparing meals all over again for the next one. Teesh has camp cooking down to the T between lists and pre-cooked meals. With our pre-cooked meals, we set and cook them for majority of the day, checking and turning meat as time goes by in either the slow cookers or in the oven. While tea during mustering becomes a “re-heat and eat” process, plus a few veg if you’re lucky, there will always be dessert, and especially cheesecakes, a Glenflorrie staple. Teesh said “Cheesecakes are what brings friends together, and especially chopper pilots back.” I understand and is especially evident when she makes her famous mocha cheesecake. For me, cooking during mustering means less stress and planning as the only food I decide upon is what to have from the pre-cooked meals and when during each night of mustering – ah, bliss. This allows for time spent around the fire with your workers, chatting or admiring the star show above you.
Back in the kitchen and it’s time for another killer. Lucky for us, however unlucky for the poor steer, he became sacrificial since he broke his hock while travelling on the truck back to the yards. If there is no sacrificial beast, then a beast is usually chosen specifically for eating purposes. We hang the whole beast from large hooks and skin and gut it while it is hanging, saving the offal (innards) for family friends. We then use a chainsaw to cut the head off and beast in half lengthways then half again across the back of the ribs so it is in quarters, its two front and two back legs. These are hung on smaller hooks in the chiller and left to rest for around a week, ensuring they do not touch to prevent sweating of the meat.
On the day of butchering we cut a small steak off the beast and cook it in butter to determine whether it will be a steak or mince beast. This trial steak tasted spot on, not too chewy or ‘cow’ tasting, so we set up the action stations with Teesh and Abby on the front half – cutting ribs, and T-bone steaks, and Craig and I with the help of Rod (visiting from down south) on the rear quarters, cutting away silversides, stew meat, roasts and osso bucco. From the front quarters’ we take the flaps and roll them into rolled roasts, on a suggestion from Teesh I added flavour through minced garlic, fresh or dried herbs, spices, mustards and salt and pepper. They’ve become a favourite for all staff and give an extra something to our roasts. See bottom of post for some of my flavour combinations. Tried, tested, and loved by us all. We pack everything into bags, labelling quantity and cut and stack bags between already frozen meats to ensure it freezes quicker while writing down all bags on a scrap of paper to cross off later … if I remember.
After cutting the beast in half. Readying to hang in the chiller.
Craig rolling roasts while I prep the next delicious flavour combination.
Since we don’t strictly eat only beef we also cut up three sheep a few weeks ago, and stock pork and chicken on a regular basis also. It’s a nice change from beef and allows me to cook some of Teesh’s and my favourite dishes, Peanut Chicken Satay wraps. See bottom of entry for recipe. Although we have copious cook books in our shelves, it is still handy to ask staff what they would cooked, since they are the ones you cook for, suggestions are always helpful and appreciated. So, staff across Australia, please let us cookies know your favourite home cooked meals. We won’t be able to cook it exactly like your mums/dads/grandmas etc. dish, but we’ll try our hardest and hopefully, cookies, the staff will love you for trying it.
We’ve had mice in the kitchen, snakes coming out of the roof, goannas on the veranda, puppies galore, beasts hanging in the chiller, plenty of visitors and enough cakes and slices for a small army … but isn’t that what it’s like to feed our workers?
Our gardens have helped immensely with feeding everyone and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed caring for the plants and watering them. Plenty of tomatoes meant I was busy until I left, making chutneys, relishes, sauces and beetroot relishes too. Acquiring 9 chooks has also helped with sustaining the hungry mob with plenty of eggs, meaning quiches, tarts, and egg and bacon pies. They eat my scraps from the kitchen and if the grass is short enough they stay out of the veggie gardens and peck their way around the back door. Just be careful of dogs, they either love herding them or love eating them so know when you can and can’t let them out for a wander.
A ute full of home-grown vegetables.
Here’s my top 5 hints for a newbie cook:
- Have your ‘go to’. These easy recipes are ones which you love making, are easy and don’t take too much time. They will ground you and make the week less stressful. Mine is peanut butter chicken wraps.
- Low and slow. Since our meat is sometimes tough we generally slow cook camp meals for 8 hours, minimum. So, put your slow cooker on low and wait all day. Believe me, it’s worth the wait.
- Ask for help. No matter what you know or have learnt so far there is always more to understand. So, ask for assistance, in time your resilience and inventing skills will blossom.
- Preparation is key. Yes, I understand the last thing you want to do before going to bed is planning your meals for the week, but it helps, immensely. You’ll know what you need and for how many people and you can then enjoy more time in the gardens/out of the kitchen.
- Add flavour. Use dried and fresh herbs, (in the words of Julia Child) butter, butter, butter, salt and pepper, mustard, crushed garlic and don’t forget spices – try cinnamon or garam masala with beef. Also, since using stocks and sauces which contain plentiful salt regularly, add honey or brown sugar to your mixes to cut through the salt and for a touch of sweetness.
To finish off I’m going to share with you all my favourite recipes. This is the most difficult decision I have ever made which to share but here it goes.
Peanut butter chicken satay wraps: Serves 4 people
1kg chicken breast or thighs (approx. 2 breasts)
1 tbsp. chicken stock
1 tbsp. curry powder
½ tbsp. cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 cup water
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 tbsp. oil
Heat oil in a pan over med-high heat and cook chicken until brown, do in batches if necessary. Add all chicken in and cook spices until fragrant, add stock and water and simmer. Add peanut butter and stir to ensure all chicken is coated thoroughly. Simmer over low heat until desired sauce consistency is achieved. Serve on tortilla wraps with lettuce, tomato, grated cheese and carrot. Add any other vegetables and change spices and peanut butter depending on taste.
Savoury Scrolls: serves 8-10 people
1 quantity pizza dough
200g grated cheese
BBQ or tomato sauce
Additional or substitutes: shredded ham, cooked chopped bacon, tomato, onion relish, cooked chopped meat, baked beans, leftovers etc. you get the idea. Any flavour combination works. Experiment.
Make 1 quantity pizza dough as per instruction or in bread maker. Lightly flour surface, knead dough approx. 2mins then roll out to a rectangle 1 inch thickness. Cover with sauce, toppings then cheese, leaving a 1cm border along 1 long side. Roll long edge to opposite border and seal by pressing edge into dough. Cut inch long pieces using a serrated knife being careful not to squish the roll. Place in a pre-lined or greased ceramic dish and cover with glad wrap. Leave in a warm, draft free place to proof for 30-60 minutes. Can cover with foil to assist in proofing if struggling to find a warmer place. Preheat oven to 180◦c, remove glad wrap and foil and bake for 40-50 minutes until golden.
The best-ever ribs recipe:
2kgs beef ribs (whatever fits in your slow cooker is perfect).
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
2/3 cup tomato sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
Brown ribs in pan to remove excess fat. Transfer to slow cooker. Sauté onions until golden, add sauces, vinegar and sugar and heat until blended. Pour over ribs. Cover and cook until tender. Turn meat when required. Remember; low and slow. Approx. 8-9 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone. Serve with rice/fried rice.
Soup – cauliflower and potato.
Due to rain and wind coming in June I needed something warm to sustain the crew. Oven baking the cauliflower adds a crisp but subtle flavour. This recipe was a hit with the crew so here it is for you.
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
3-4 med potatoes, peeled & chopped
1 brown onion, chopped
1 tbsp garlic, crushed
500ml Vegetable/chicken stock
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Preheat oven to 200°c. Place cauliflower on a tray, drizzle with oil and bake in oven until golden on top, around 30-40 mins. Heat oil in a 2-litre capacity saucepan over med heat. Add onion and fry until golden. Add spices and cook until fragrant, stirring frequently. Add cauliflower and potato and cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently. Lower heat, add vegetable stock and water until vegetables are covered. Return to boil then simmer over low heat for an hour. Remove from heat and blend with a soup attachment. Return to heat and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm with a slice of fresh crusty bread.
White chocolate raspberry cheesecake – Glen Florrie is renowned for its cheesecakes, or at least Teesh’s favourite and boy does she make a delicious cheesecake.
1 packet biscuits, crushed
100g butter, melted
500g cream cheese
200g White chocolate
1 tin condensed milk
Dash Vanilla essence
2 tsp gelatine
¼ cup hot water
200g Raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 tbsp sugar/honey
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp water
Place gelatine in hot water and stir until combined then leave to cool. Bring cream cheese, cream and melted chocolate to room temperature. In a small saucepan heat raspberries and sugar/honey until dissolved. Cool while making base and cheesecake. Crush biscuits, add butter and press into a spring form tin or individual muffin tins with removable bases. Beat cream cheese until smooth, while mixer is on add melted chocolate, cream, condensed milk and vanilla until combined. Place half of cheesecake mix in tin, dollop in 1-2 tbsp. of the raspberry mixture, chill in freezer 1/2 hour, pour remaining mixture and raspberry on top and swirl with a butter knife, careful not to touch the crumb base. Freeze overnight and remove 10-15 mins prior to serving.
Rolled Roast – Some flavour combinations we’ve enjoyed so far are;
– Crushed garlic, herbs, salt and pepper
– Thyme, garlic, all spice, turmeric, salt and pepper
– Crushed garlic, mustard and fresh herbs (Rosemary, parsley, thyme and oregano)
The boss has said, ‘never again will we be eating a non-flavoured rolled roast’. Thanks, boss. So, use whatever you have at your disposal and don’t be afraid with flavour.
You’ll miss home, family and friends but after just one season you’ll make memories that’ll last a lifetime with friends you’ll never forget. I love my job, cooking for other people and trying new and different foods and recipes. So, if you are ever considering taking on a cook position on a station I would tell you to ‘just give it a go’ and to ‘put your best foot forward’. You never know the friends you’ll meet, the family you’ll gain and the amazing places you’ll see which will change your life forever. In the words of Richard Branson “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later”. Also, don’t forget to appreciate the little things in life, the here, the now and be present.