Picnic Polish style and a cake for lazy people

To celebrate the arrival of our stepdads sister (let’s call her The Lovely R) from Poland, a picnic was organised at the lovely McKell Park in Brooklyn, a mere 25 minute drive from the homestead. This cute wee park is leafy and green, has a number of picnic tables and overlooks the beautiful Hawkesbury River. You can lounge around in the shade, chow down, then when everybody needs a spot of cooling off, it’s just a short walk down to the enclosed swimming area at the base of the hill.

The sky was as clear as a bell and the sun had risen this morning saying in its best Spike Milliganesque voice, ‘Good morning Sydney, today I am going to burn as hot as an Italian pizza oven and fry you all into tiny crispy bacon like pieces.’ In other words, it was damn hot. Carnivorous chickens roamed freely and battled with brush turkeys for scraps that had fallen at children’s feet. Frightening and delighting, simultaneously.

The best thing about this picnic was that The Lovely R had gone cooking mad and conjured up a number of amazing Polish dishes as her contribution to the picnic. R hails from Boleslawiec, a town in the south west part of Poland. I can happily say that very little cooking was done by anyone else in our family and we were all super excited to wrap our laughing gear around the amazing looking food. First up were stuffed capsicum/peppers, what’s not to love about a stuffed veggie? R had made a very tasty vegetarian version with rice and mushrooms and a heavenly meaty version. Both were cooked in a deliciously piquant tomato sauce.

R had also rustled up two different kinds of pierogi. (Yes, two, people. She doesn’t do things by halves and vegetarians by halves.) Pierogi are wee dumplings made of unleavened dough that are first boiled then pan fried and in this case, served with buttery fried onions on top. There was the vegetarian pierogi filled with cheese, potato and onion and the kolduny litewskie meat version with lamb mince, onion, peppers, garlic and marjoram. A fight almost broke out when divvying up the leftovers. I missed out. Just saying.

As if that wasn’t enough, The Lovely R had baked what she called ‘ciasto dla lenisych’, or The Cake for Lazy People. (An apt description for our family at this picnic.) A lovely yeasty, vanilla cake that sits in its batter state and bubbles away overnight before baking. She had topped it with ruby red plums and sweet nectarines. It was seriously good. As if we had not been spoiled enough, The Lovely R bestowed upon us some gorgeous handmade gifts. These included gorgeous ceramic glazed brooches made by a friend of hers as well as brightly coloured adorable local pottery (which bizarrely fit in with the chicken theme of the day) as well as scrumptious Polish caramels. Please stay here forever and look after us. Please.

This Cheergerm is pondering a lazier lifestyle, never cooking again and following other people’s picnics around, taking photos and scrounging food. I am also hoping for a pierogi lesson from The Lovely R before Poland (and her very hungry husband), call her home. In the spirit of full disclosure, we did score some leftover stuffed peppers and cake. So don’t feel too sorry for me. (I write this post with a face bulging full of a delicious Polish caramel with an oozy caramel centre…hello mumma….)

Hope you enjoy the new format.

Click to access McKell-Park-walk.pdf



Camping Cheergerm style

Some may say that our crew ‘glamps’ more than camps. We do have electricity and fridges. I am totally down with that.

South West Rocks, in New South Wales, is a five hour drive from Sydney town. Nestled between the ocean and rivers it is a lush, green paradise. We are camping at the South West Rocks Tourist Park on the side of the beautiful Macleay River.

Eating in the great outdoors is awesome. Our group efforts have left no-one wanting. The children move around in a pack, thong footed and sun kissed. Adults increasingly unwind and shrug off the shackles of everyday life. 

Nothing can take the edge of our relaxed lifestyle. Not a million mozzies, bluebottle stings or numerous visits from the asthma train to Kid 2.

Ocean and river swims. Numerous pool visits leave us happy and weary. I lie in my khaki green tent at night as fruit bats fly overhead and the ocean crashes. Dinners out at night have included visits to the Riverside Tavern and the Smithtown Riverview Hotel. They provide a welcome relief from feeding the hungry hordes and mountains of washing up.

The oceanfront Horseshoe Bay kiosk in town sits under majestic Norfolk pines and serves The Best Potato Cakes In The World (think handmade, salty and crispy). The sproglets devour the $2.50 ice-cream cones that they have been saving up for all year.

Foodie camping delights have included coleslaw, a vibrant broccoli salad, magnificent zebra prawns, corn and zucchini fritters, fattoush and kafta patties, fish straight from the river, and of course, potato salad.

These photos were taken with The Yaks mobile phone. Not half bad.




Millefeuilles aux tomates et lentilles and a lady crush

I am putting it out there, Rachel Khoo is a big spunk. Don’t worry Yak, nowt wrong with appreciating beauty from a distance. Not only is this dark haired lass easy on the eye, she also cooks delightful dishes in her teeny tiny Paris kitchen. Her food is inspiring, beautiful and I love how she puts her own personal twist on classic French cooking.

I have been reading her second cookbook, My Little French Kitchen, in which Rachel gets out amongst it and looks at regional food throughout France. Dishes on my ‘to do’ list from this cookbook include a carrot tarte tatin, a walnut and buckwheat caramel tart and this ‘summer on a plate’ dish of a vegetable millefeuilles.

This recipe is from the ‘Brittany’ chapter and this millefeuilles is essentially a multi-layered veggie pie made of Breton buckwheat galettes. Rachel tells us that these savoury pancakes are always made of buckwheat and are best enjoyed with a bottle of the locally produced cider. Good news for Mr Yak who can no longer enjoy beer as he once did.

It was New Years Eve and just the Yak, the lads, my sweet self and The Dadmeister aka Mr Bagpipes, were in da house. We began with a delightful cheese moment. A mouth watering squishy Saint from Bruny Island, a fudgy tangy surface ripened cheese. This could be it people, the most awesome cheese I have ever eaten. Ripened just a smidgen past ‘delicate’ it is almost nutty with a back taste of that delicious moldy penicillin flavour. An extra happy note for all you vegetarians, these cheeses are all rennet free! Oh yeah…

Back to the millefeuille. A great entertaining vegetarian dish. It sings in a soprano voice of all things summer and next time I will be adding a dash of goats or feta cheese to one or two layers. When making your crepes, don’t be pernickety about the size of your frypan, just swirl the mixture around until you have the right size. Lord, making crepes is like watching paint dry. The extremes you will go to when you have a lady crush, (and are also very hungry.)


200g buckwheat flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
600ml cold water
Vegetable oil, for frying
100g Puy or beluga lentils (French green lentils)
1 large zucchini, chopped into 3mm cubes
2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped into 3mm cubes (I used one red and one yellow)
200g cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
300g assorted tomatoes (a mix of heirloom green, yellow and red would be great if you can find them)
1 tbsp lemon thyme

Mix the flour and a pinch of salt in a bowl.
Make a well in the centre and gradually mix in the water, adding just enough for the batter to have the consistency of double cream. Don’t over stir as this will produce rubbery galettes. Cover the batter and chill in the fridge for at least one hour, or overnight. Before using, whisk again and add more water if necessary.
Heat a 15-18 cm non-stick crepe pan or a small frying pan over a medium heat and brush with a little vegetable oil. Pour in a small ladleful of the batter and quickly swirl the pan so that the batter coats the base entirely. Cook for 1-2 minutes, loosen around the edge with a spatula, then turn it over and cook for a further minute.
Slide the galette out of the pan, then repeat to make 12 galettes, greasing the pan with a little oil each time.
Stack the galettes with layers of kitchen towel or baking paper between each one.
Cook the lentils in boiling salted water until just tender.
Drain and mix together with the zucchini, peppers, cherry tomatoes, onion and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a loose-bottom round baking tin (the size of the galettes, my tin was 9cm high with a 19cm base) with baking paper.
Place one galette at the bottom of the tin. Spread with some of the lentil mixture then top with another galette. Repeat until you have used up all the galettes, ensuring you finished with a galette. (My mixture made 11 galettes.)
Slice the mixed tomatoes (in my case I didn’t have a fancy mixture of heirloom tomatoes so made do with the ones I had) and pack them tightly on top of the galettes. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with the thyme.
Cook for 20 minutes, carefully remove it from the baking tin, slice and eat hot.

Cooking Notes: My millefeuilles was 9 crepes high and I had a dash of the filling left over.

Recipe from My Little French Kitchen by Rachel Koo, Published by the Penguin Group, 2013

A quick thanks to the following blogs for passing on some very kind awards. It was lovely to be mentioned and thought of. Please go and check out these cool bloggers when you are kicking back this holiday season with a cup of whatever takes your fancy. The Cheergerm and Yak family are off camping for two weeks and Mr Bagpipes is in control of house and dog. We are hoping he doesn’t trash the joint with too many parties while we are gone. (He has said that invitations have already been issued.) Stay tuned for some Camping Cheergerm posts.

A.Prompt Reply


Vegas Hungry Girl

France Says

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