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Sunday, 29 May 2016

Fat of the Land

Months ago, in what seemed like another life, it was the height of another glorious Tasmanian summer. The sun was shining, temperatures soared into the low 20’s and our tiny little garden patch was going nuts, providing far more tomatoes and zucchinis then we knew how to handle.

At the peak, several kg's of zucchini and tomato would be harvested every few days
In particular, the 4.4kg monster (now downgraded from a delicious, sweet zucchini to a somewhat less appetising marrow) would require a burst of creative inspiration to appropriately consume. The easiest to find a use for are tomatoes. Tomatoes and cheese on crackers, tomatoes on toast with cheese and tomatoes in lasagne  with a cheesy sauce are just some of the varied and delicious uses I was able to think up. 

The green sauce was best!
I even tried deep-fried green tomatoes, which had the added bonus of using surplus eggs. Delicious, but I am guessing, probably not healthy. This left the large marrow to figure out. Luckily, what to do with over-sized marrows is a solved problem. A quick check in an old cookbook for the recipe and a beer or two later I was away!

How to turn 4.4kgs of marrow into 2kgs of nondescript beige cubes..
Before it could be cooked, the marrow needed to be cored, peeled, diced and salted. Due to its age (I had left it a month or two too long in a futile hope it would grow even bigger!) there was some nasty black stuff that oozed out when it was opened. Even the chooks were not very interested in those scraps…

The chooks were smarter than to try and eat that muck
After this stage, I was getting hungry so made some tempura batter using a home-brew stout and cooked up some cocky salmon Rach had caught a few weeks ago. Delicious!

Dark beer makes an excellent base for tempura batter. In this example I used my own home brew milk stout. To make sure no one drank it by mistake I put it in a XXXX Gold bottle

Hunger sated I could get back to putting the marrow in a large pot. Add in some vinegar and mustard plus a few secret ingredients (basically salt, chillies and onions!) and then simmer for a couple of hours. By this stage I was pretty thirsty, so another beer was required. A few beers later the resulting pickle was scooped into jars which had been sterilised in the oven.

With just months of gardening and hours of cooking you too can have 5 jars of pickle!
Months later, here in very hot and humid Laos, all that’s left are memories of pickles and cheese on crackers and a cool, sensible summer. Somehow I think I will cope though….

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That's right, In Laos you drink beer with ice


  1. Hi Damo,

    Respect! Beer Lao. Actually, it was quite a reasonable drop that beer. Are you enjoying it? I'm ashamed to admit that I still have a Beer Lao t-shirt which I use for working about the place here. It is a bit ratty looking by now.

    That was very funny about the XXXX! There was always the north - south issue in Tasmania about the beer, but being on the west coast, that issue may have been a bit watered down?

    That salmon looks amazing and I'm salivating - sitting in a car park in the north of Melbourne waiting for my lady to finish working - whilst reading about all of the good food you cooked. Mate, preserving food is a huge job, that is why we increased the cupboard space and work space in the kitchen. How did the pickles turn out anyway?

    Hope the food is good over in Laos? I ate a lot of cooked rice and vegetables, but was hanging out for some serious lentils which were rarely on offer. Hope the french stick bread is as good as ever too?



  2. The BeerLao is great I reckon. OK, it isn't quite upto trendy craft beer standards, but it isn't bad, and is probably the best SE Asian beer. I don't mind the dark-lager either.

    I didn't get too involved in what beer we were supposed to drink on the west coast, but my understanding was that the 'local' beer is Boags from Launceston.