Wednesday, October 21, 2009


When times are bleak... cook supper. Nothing seems quite so dire outside of that meal you didn't feel like but discovered you were starving when you got to. One of the forager/ self sufficiency fellow's greatest friends is humble bivalve - mussels, oysters, clams (pipis!;-)) and razor-clams. Unlike fish or squid, or crabs or spiny lobster or prawn, they're not not feeding or moved away - especially the first two as they grow on hard substrates. If you can manage a tide-table you can probably collect them, unless the sea is really really really thumping. They're a lot more versatile than people realise - Like corgettes (zucchini , baby marrow AKA the reason why you lock your car when you visit me in summer (so they don't get put in your vehicle quietly)) you can get quite inventive about the ways to turn them into dinner. Oysters are great in steak and kidney pudding (they were traditionally part of this, when oysters and kate-and-sidney were poor people's food) and mussels can be used as part of everything from rissoles to stir-fry. I always freeze some for hard times - steam them open, de-beard them, and then return the meats to the cooking liquid plus some extra water - it needs to be slighty salty. I put the bowl with a small plate on top to keep the mussels down into the freezer, and take it out and bag it later. Like this they'll keep for months.

So this was tonight's supper - about 50 mussels, 4 rashers of bacon (normally this would be our own bacon, but life is too screwed up for that this winter) a bunch of tiny asparagus from the garden (Asparagus are a great crop for self-supporting too -- take lots of initial work and nothing much after that) some flat-leaf parsley, a red onion, and - for things not out of the garden/ made by us, olive oil, flour, and a bit of sherry and white wine and some milk from my neighbour. And rice. A roux made with the flour and the fat from the bacon and then made into delicate wine/sherry flavoured sauce with those and the milk - add mussels to exchange flavors, add bacon, pour onto the rice (laced with onion sliced v.thin cooked very slowly in a drop of olive oil in a closed cast iron pot (as cool as the the stove will go) until soft and translucent and then flashed at heat to caramelise the natural sugars). The asparagus I added to the top of the steaming rice, for about 4 minutes. The flat-leaf parsley adds some colour and flavour, and must be put on at the last to retain colour and release scent as it cooks slightly on the hot food.


  1. oh gee, that looks amazing!! Utterly delicious. I think you should do a regular cooking post on the blog here.
    As for courgettes, they are indeed versatile, and we love them ... but currently paying $16.99/kg for them. Have to move out this house in a couple of months, otherwise would be growing 'em!! Wonder if they'd grow in pots??

  2. Ack. Winter prices! Yes, they do just fine in a LARGE pot, with enriched soil. And frankly 2-3 plants is as much as most families can cope with. The 'difficult' part is that the seeds don't germinate below soil temp 20 C if I remember right. You can of course cheat this by germinating them indoors (even on some wet warm cotton - wool (it worked... a little, but potting soil in a little container, on a warm pad worked about 70-80%(if they haven't started in a week, they probably won't.) They're quite subject to various pumpkin blights in damp weather, but otherwise hassle free, fast and over-productive. My first of this I planted some 30 or so... and they flourished. 40 ways to cook corgettes anyone?

  3. As the one who was lucky enough to eat it, I must say it was totally delicious!!

  4. aah, Barbs, we may have to skip across to Flinders for lunch now 'n then!! :o)