As part of our quest to buy local wherever possible, we took ourselves off to Hinterland Harvest Markets at Woombye last Saturday morning. It was a drizzly morning, but the produce was fabulous – as were the stallholders…and before we knew it, we’d whiled away a couple of hours.

My key buys were:

  • Crunch from Pip’s Real Food. This is a gluten free, dairy free, no added sugar brekky granola that tastes amazing. I couldn’t decide which of her crunches that I liked best, so bought one of each. My problem is now eating it quickly enough so I have an excuse to go back and chat to Pip. I was so busy chatting that I forgot to take a pic of her stall, so here’s one I snaffled from her Facebook page.

  • Local limes, finger limes, avocados, and bananas. The finger limes have been put to good use in vodka…
  • Locally grown ginger and turmeric
  • Organic, free range eggs – beautifully sunny yellow yolks the way they’re meant to be
  • Tomatoes that taste like tomatoes taste before they’re sprayed, transported huge distances and kept in cold storage
  • Some extremely good sour dough bread
  • Cheese from Gympie Farm and Woombye Cheese company – yes, I know that I don’t tolerate dairy real well these days, but this cheese was worth it.
  • Daryl’s peanut butter – that I was assured is the best peanut butter that I’ll ever taste. I later discovered that even though the peanuts are from Kingaroy, the product itself is from Melbourne. Oh well.

What did I do with it?

First up was the peanut butter. The best I’d ever tried? Now that’s a challenge. It was pretty good, so as well as spreading it on the sourdough for brekky when we got home, I also made these peanut and choc chip cookies with it. The thing about using real peanut butter in this recipe, though, is that because it doesn’t have all the added sugar and oil that commercial peanut butter has, you need to add some extra brown sugar and butter. This makes the cookie a tad shorter, but no less tasty.

I’ve blogged the recipe before – you can find it here.

I also used the peanut butter in a satay dressing. This works perfectly on barbecued chicken thighs, or, when you’re not feeling like barbecuing chicken thighs, store-bought barbecue chicken – shredded – and tossed through some wombok, cucumber, capsicum, shredded carrot or whatever other veggie you have in the crisper.

Oh, what goes in it? About a ¼ cup of peanut butter, a couple of teaspoons of grated ginger, around 3 teaspoons of soy sauce, a pinch or so of chilli flakes, and a ½ cup of boiling water. Shake it all about and drizzle over the chicken and salad ingredients. It’s pretty easy to turn this into a satay sauce too – just by adding some chopped chilli and a small tin of coconut milk.

As well as the satay dressing, I also used the ginger and turmeric in a Kapitan chicken paste. It’s my hubby’s favourite and we’re having that tonight…you can find the recipe here.

The ginger was so young and tender – barely toddling – that I figured it needed to be used in something in which it could star – Chicken With Ginger Sauce. This is a Vietnamese dish from a book I was lucky enough to be given by the hotel where we stayed in Hoi An. If you book (directly with Maison Vy) for more than 5 nights, this is just one of the fabulous rewards on offer.

What you need…

  • 500g chicken thighs, sliced
  • 1tbsp shallots, pounded into a paste in your mortar and pestle (or is it pestle and mortar?)
  • ¼ cup ginger, sliced super fine
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 cups onion slices – I used 1 brown onion and a few shallots
  • 12 spring onion stalks – the white part only. These can be whole or chopped to a manageable length…your call.
  • ¼ teasp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil – I use rice bran oil

What you do with it…

  • Add the oil to a heated wok. Toss in the onions, spring onions, ginger, and shallot paste.
  • Stir it round for a minute or so and then add the chicken, fish sauce, salt, sugar, pepper, and chilli.
  • Stir fry for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked and serve it with steamed rice.

Super quick, super tasty.

If you want further info on the markets, you’ll find it here. The Hinterland Harvest Markets are on in Woombye every Saturday from 6-11am during the summer, and 7am- 12pm in the winter.

Pip’s super crunch can be found here – and is well worth seeking out… (I’m enjoying it with Maleny Dairies yoghurt for brekky after my sunrise walks)

another sunset from a different day

The whole time we were deliberating over our sea-change, one song by Dido kept running through my head. The song is Sand in My Shoes and the lyrics :

Try to forget for one more night
That I’m back in my flat on the road
Where the cars never stop going through the night
To a life where I can’t watch the sun set
I don’t have time

Try to remind myself that I was happy here
Before I knew that I could get on the plane and fly away
From the road where the cars never stop going through the night
To a life where I can watch the sun set
And take my time

It said everything about why we were making the change.

Now that we’re living on the Sunshine Coast, I’m making an extra effort to do just that – stop for a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day and marvel that I can now watch the sun set – and take my time.

There was a day last week when the rain had come and gone, and the sky cleared momentarily to a sailor’s delight of a sunset over Mooloolaba. It started with a pale glow, intensified into something pretty special, before starting to fade again.

 

Good morning from Mooloolaba….

I’m yet to meet a sunrise that I don’t like, so these morning posts are a way of charting my morning beach walks, and the beauty of a coastal sunrise.

Have a fabulous Friday…

Cotton Tree

With paths available all up and down the coast, covering a little extra distance than usual was also not difficult. Like this one: the coastal path from Mooloolaba to Cotton Tree. I started at sunrise and was back at the surf club at Mooloolaba for morning coffee with hubby.

How far?

I started the walk down near The Spit, so it was just over 10kms return. from the Esplanade it’s 4.4kms each way.

 

How hard?

Aside from the headland between Alex and Mooloolaba, this is a flat, very easy walk.

Why do it?

For the scenery. On a nice day, the beaches are fabulous- and on a moody Monday morning in the middle of winter, it can feel like you have them to yourself.

Coffee?

Absolutely- each of the surf clubs has a coffee cart or kiosk. Plus there are plenty of little places like this one that you walk past.

Toilets?

Available at each surf club.

Accessibility?

The path is wide and paved the whole way- making it accessible for wheelchairs and prams.

Dogs?

Leashed only. Don’t forget to pick a plastic bag up from the dispensers along the way…

Want more?

Each Sunday the main street in Cotton Tree is closed to traffic and a well worth a look at market moves in.

Alternatively, why not break your walk at the halfway point and stop for breakfast? Cotton Tree has plenty of great coffee shops to choose from.

Cotton Tree

Located between Mooloolaba and Maroochydore, Alex (as the locals call it) is a long sweeping stretch of sand with great surf and fabulous views up to Old Woman Island of Mudjimba and, further up, Mount Coolum.

Popular with surfers – especially around the Headland at at the northern end of the beach – there’s also good swimming for families in the patrolled section near the surf club.

Alex lies at the midway point on the Mooloolaba to Cotton Tree coastal path, and is a great spot to grab a coffee and get some Vitamin Sea.

Anyways, no more words, just check out the pics…

There’s something seriously surreal about having breakfast with your family on your 50th birthday and then heading straight to the airport to fly home to Sydney. Alone.

On the upside, I knew that in just 10 days time I’d be flying back up to join them for good, but on the down-side? As I said, surreal. But we’re not here to talk about that. Instead we’re talking about the fabulous breakfast before the surreal and solo birthday flight. And fabulous it was.

Elliott’s Bistro at Alexandra Headland – just across the road from the beach.

Ok, right here I’ll back-track just a little. Melbourne has mastered the smashed avo thing. Some would say they invented it. Whatever. Sydney, for whatever reason, with a few exceptions, does not do it at all well.

You start off with high hopes and get a piece of toasted average quality sourdough with a squint-worthy smear of avocado. Or, worse, you pay $5 extra for a miserly amount as a “side” when everyone knows that smashed avo should be piled generously onto excellent sourdough.

From the minute we walked in I knew that Elliott’s would know how to do smashed avo the way it’s meant to be done. It wasn’t just the soundtrack – Bob Dylan and This Wheels On Fire – it was the service, the cute beach-side shopfront, the whole package.

We weren’t disappointed. Miss 19 was well impressed with her avo smash – which she declared up to Melbourne standards. It came with perfectly poached eggs and sharp, salty feta perched on top for the perfect avo. Hubby made his version even more perfect by adding bacon and tomato.

Elliott’s also know that anyone can do the basic bacon and eggs, but a great breakfast place should do that plus something a little more interesting. Something like, say, potato and gruyere croquettes. Served with fried eggs, bacon, a dollop of relish and a dab of blue cheese, this was bacon and eggs with hash browns taken to a much higher level.

And the coffee? Yeah. It was good. Excellent even.

Where: Shop 102, 102 Alexandra Parade, Alexandra Headland

More info: www.elliottsfinefoods.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/elliottsbistro/

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Queenslanders, well, perhaps just Sunny Coasters, tend to be early risers – especially when the rest of us are on daylight savings. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that the sun comes streaming in just after 5am at this time of the year. (As an aside, they tend to dine earlier too – the waitress in one of the Italian restaurants in Mooloolaba apologised for not having a table available before 6.30pm…)

img_0395It’s why, when hubster asked if I’d got the time right for the farmer’s market we were going to for breakfast (‘7am? Are you sure?’) I was sure. I didn’t like to tell him that Woombye Farmers’ Market is underway by 6am. He’ll find out about that soon enough.

‘Nothing will be open that early,’ he said, with the confidence of always being right. ‘It won’t get going until 8.’

Not only was it under full steam at 8am, but people had already bought their veggies (and their brekky) and were starting to leave.img_0394

It’s when you visit farmer’s markets like these – especially in places like this – that you realise there is a growing number of people (it was particularly pleasing to see so many young families) who want to eat fresh food sourced locally. And why wouldn’t you? All the produce from these markets is both of those things.

img_0409Sure, there were some stalls selling raw treats and fermented foods, but mostly it was produce – locally grown vegetables, fruit, cheese, and meats – that was the star attraction. Not everything is organic, but much of it is – or at least chemical free. Real food – with the dirt still on it, sweetie.

I was especially happy to see baskets of locally grown tumeric, ginger and garlic – for most of the year at home we can only get the imported stuff. This looked young and fresh – the way it does in the markets in Ubud…the way it rarely is in supermarkets.

img_0410For brekky we grabbed a plate of home-made pork and prawn dumplings to share, and split a brekky bacon and halloumi roll with home-made pesto. Perfect.

Kawana Waters Farmers’ Market is on every Saturday from 7am- noon at Kawana Waters State College, Sportsman Parade, Bokarina. Don’t forget your market bags.

This post was originally published in October 2016 on andanyways…

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Hey there and welcome – it’s great you could drop by.

What’s this site about?

Essentially it’s about a sea-change, but it’s also about adventure and exploration.

Let’s back-track a little…don’t worry, I won’t prattle on for too long.

In October 1998, when our daughter was just 6 months old, we holidayed in Mooloolaba. We loved it so much that we kept coming back. We’ll move here when the time is right, we promised ourselves.

Over the years we continued to travel, yet we also continued to be drawn back to Mooloolaba. One day, we kept telling ourselves. One day, when the time is right, we’ll move here.

It was hubby who first suggested early in 2015 that maybe that time was now. Things weren’t great at his job, and they definitely weren’t great in mine. No, I said, we’re too young. Two more years. I’ll be ready in two more years.

The months passed and things got tougher. In July last year, I changed jobs and in the week I had between roles we went back to Mooloolaba – ‘maybe the time was right now?’ he suggested. ‘No, I said, not yet.’

Two weeks later, on an overloaded peak hour bus on the M2, I decided there had to be more to life than spending 3 hours a day getting to and from work. I called hubby and said, ‘ok, maybe now.’ I might have also mentioned that I felt too old to be wasting my life away on a commute. ‘Let’s do it.’

In October I got scared. ‘There’s too much to walk away from,’ I said. ‘My family is here, my job is here.’

‘But we don’t have a life here,’ he argued. ‘You’re always tired – there’s more to life than this,’ he said.

‘Too late,’ said our daughter. ‘I’ve already applied to USC (University of the Sunshine Coast). We’re going.’

After that things moved quickly – and, for the size of what we were doing – relatively painlessly. Our daughter got into the Uni course she wanted, hubby retired from his employer of 37 years, we found the perfect house to live in, and ours here in Sydney sold within 3 weeks.

It really felt like it was meant to be – everyone said so.

The move itself begins this week, but I’ll be splitting my time between Sydney and the Sunshine Coast until Easter.

After that? Well, that’s all part of the adventure – and that’s what this blog is about: an exploration of everything the Sunshine Coast has to offer.

So that’s told you something about the sea-change and this blog, but what has any of that got to do with the sea turtle in the logo? I’m glad you asked.

A tarot reader told me many years ago that I had the sign of the traveller in me – the sea turtle, he said, symbolizes the navigator. He also told me I was descended from travellers – more specifically gypsies. And that part is true. Romany gypsies…not that I told him so.

Perhaps it was a load of whatever, who knows, but it’s stayed with me.

Since then I’ve also learnt that the sea turtle is an important symbol in Polynesian culture and is connected to long life, wellness, fertility, union, family and harmony.

The sea is regarded as both the source of food and also the final resting place – or world beyond. The sea turtle covers both sea and land and, because she returns to the beach of her birth to lay her eggs (through a series of magnetic signatures – whatever that means) there’s a belief that the sea turtle also represents a sort of coming home. I suppose it’s about destination, finding your true north or spiritual home – the sort of return you make after and during your travels to the place you’re meant to be.

Sure, it’s a tad new age-y, but it’s also a pretty cool concept, right?

Anyways, that’s why I’ve called this site navigator and it’s why I’ve used the sea turtle in the logo – because I have the feeling that up here on the Sunshine Coast is where I’m meant to keep returning to.

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I don’t know about you, but if I’m going out for breakfast I want something a little, well, different to what I’d get at home – and I say that acknowledging that my husband makes a flipping good brekky and an even better avo smash. I don’t want overpriced avo smash, or, worse, overpriced avo smash that’s been smeared rather than piled onto the bread. Speaking of which, I don’t want overpriced, smeared avo smash on badly toasted, ordinary bread. Nor do I want my eggs rubbery, the decor sterile or the menu boring.

No, when I have breakfast out, I want breakfast the way that it’s intended to be: somewhere a tad quirky, served with a sunny smile-up, and a menu that has you considering your options. It’s even better in a place that only locals know about. See how I just slipped that in? Even though we’re still officially summer people, we will be locals in just a few weeks…

Anyways, The Velo Project is all that with a side of vintage and fabulous coffee.

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There’s a lot to look at here – something in every corner. If you can drag your view away from the bits and pieces, the menu – presented in vintage encyclopaedias – is worth consideration over a cup of excellent caffeine presented in the type of china I’m trying to get rid of at the moment.

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‘See,’ my husband said, ‘vintage china is really in at the moment.’

‘Perhaps, but do we need that much of it?’

‘We threw out the souvenir teaspoons, didn’t we?’

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The thing about vintage china and nik-naks is that they look great in a semi-industrial space (this used to be an old mechanics/ garage) in a place where nothing matches, nothing is trying to match, and everything (including the menu) feels young and vital. In any other circumstance, it just looks old. Here it works.

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As for the food? I somehow managed to resist the urge to try the eggs benny (next time – although with four different varieties, I could try a different one each visit) and went instead for the avo smash – as did Ms T. Served on good ciabatta, the avo is mixed with fresh red onion, roasted garlic, corn, lemon juice and piled high with fresh herbs – I suspect from the garden out the back. At $17 it’s a little pricier than some, but kept us going through a harrowing morning of real estate agents and open homes.

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Hubby went for house made toasted banana, macadamia and date bread served with mascarpone and orange cardamon syrup ($10.50). It looked beautiful and tasted even better than that.

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This place gets super busy on weekends, but there are some tables out the back too – where the herb garden is. The menu is also jam-packed with smoothies, enough varieties of coffees and teas to make even a Melbourne-ite proud (turmeric, ginger & honey brewed on coconut milk or dandelion latte anyone?) and plenty of options for the too young to drink coffee crew.

The Velo Project is located off the Esplanade, a few streets behind Mooloolaba Beach at 19 Careela St. It’s open 7am-3pm 7 days a week and is well worth seeking out…

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This post was originally published in January 2017 on andanyways…