All posts by The Editor

Discover Sandalwood Nuts

Western Australia is a huge state made up mostly of arid outback terrain. The population is concentrated in its fertile south west corner mainly in its capital, Perth. Known for its abundant parkland, beaches and snorkelling sites, Perth is the World’s most isolated capital city.
355 kilometres north of Perth, where the desert meets the south west, is a 686 km² nature region formerly known as White Wells Station which was acquired by the organisation Bush Heritage Australia in 2003 for conservation and renamed Charles Darwin Reserve.

A tree that is common within the Reserve is the grey, gaunt and gnarly West Australian Sandalwood Tree. Like the Quandong Tree, the slow growing Sandalwood is a root parasite, favouring wattles such as Acacia acuminata as a host tree which provides extra water and nutrients.
Sandalwood nuts are highly regarded as Aboriginal ‘bush medicine’ and were quickly adapted by the white settlers. The old timers always carried sandalwood nuts in a tobacco tin for medicinal purposes to quickly cure urinary scalding or “devilled kidneys” which resulted from drinking the highly mineralised waters.

Western Australian Sandalwood Tree has been a source of protein and nutrition since ancient times. European explorers first noted the Western Australian Sandalwood Tree in 1832. The first exports to the Far East for ceremonial purposes commenced in late 1844.

However with the introduction of sheep, goats and rabbits, sandalwood seedlings were decimated. This in turn impacted on the critically endangered native Brush Tailed Bettong who were instrumental in the propagation of the tree as they would scatter and hoard nuts like squirrels, burying them and forgetting about them, so that the seeds germinated and the trees regenerated naturally.

As the wild stands became depleted a concerted effort to cultivate Sandalwood began.
Following initial plantings in 2007, the first sandalwood nuts were harvested in 2011 and the journey to re-establishing them as a nutritional and valuable bush food began.
Western Australia currently has the largest sandalwood plantation resource in the world.

Sandalwood Nut kernels have an unique and delicate flavour with an amazing texture which make it a highly versatile ingredient or stand-alone product. Sandalwood Nuts are packed full of goodness with very impressive nutritional properties. This superb native Australian Bush Food is now being appreciated and embraced by a vast range of consumers, Chefs in fine restaurants and numerous chocolatiers.

Creamy WA Sandalwood nuts are Australia’s second native nut behind the Macadamia nut. Roasted Sandalwood Nuts contain 38% Omega 9 oils, less than 1% carbohydrates, 17% fibre and 17% protein. They can be included in many diets such as gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and paleo.

Lentil Carrot Sandalwood Salad with Tanami Fire, Pepperberry and River Mint
Place 150gm puy lentils into 500ml vegetable stock, bring to boil then reduce to simmer 25 mins. Drain and cool to room temp.sandalwood-carrot-salad
Combine 4 grated carrots, 120gm raisins, 40gm nuts (sandalwood and macadamia roasted and roughly chopped), 2 tspns finely chopped coriander, 1 tspn Tanami Fire Seasoning, 1/4 tspn Ground Pepperberry, 1 tspn dried River Mint, 2 tspns grated ginger, salt to taste. Mix in lentils. Set aside for 20 mins at least.
Mix 2 tspns honey and Tbspn Olive or Macadamia Oil. Pour over lentil mix , stir through. Serve.

Macadamia and Sandalwood Dukkah
Grind 500gm dry roasted macadamia nuts and 250gm roasted sandalwood nuts. Add 30gm crushed Bush Tomato,15gm Desert Lime Powder, 30gm Garlic powder, 40gm Artesian Salt, 20gm saltbush powder 100gm toasted sesame seeds and 15 gram roasted and ground wattleseed.

Dreadlock style

Dreadlocks aren’t just fashion statements; they can also reflect religious beliefs.

A common misconception is that those who have consciously formed dreadlocks do not wash their hair, but this is usually not the case; in fact many dreadlock care regimens require the wearer to wash their hair as regularly as non-locked hair

Our Island Home

Discover Australia Through Her Food

Glorious Beings

Celebrating those who know who they are. Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

Love your curls!

  1. Ask your hairstylist to cut your hair dry, not wet. And add long layers
  2. Plunking or plonking magnifies curls and stops frizz:
    After washing, conditioning and adding styling products lay a microfibre towel on a chair seat and slowly plunk your hair into it and loosely wrap. Wait for about five minutes, and carefully remove the towel. Arrange your curls and then allow to completely dry before scrunching them out
  3. No need to shampoo every day.
    Use conditioner yes and reapply styling products like Jessicurl Spiralicious
  4. Deep condition once a week. Jessicurl Deep Conditioning Treatment
  5. Style your hair using a diffuser on the coolest setting
  6. Sleep on silk. Cotton has a tendency to suck the moisture from your hair. Silk pillowcases allow your curls to glide over the fabric


Jessicurl on Facebook

Discover Quandongs

The inhospitable Red Centre of Australia is dry, rugged and barren but there is food if you know where to look. Aboriginal people know which acacia tree roots hold the prized Witchetty Grubs and where to dig for edible honey ants. There are wild oranges on the edge of creek beds, and seasonal seeds, berries, bush tomatoes, wild figs and wild peaches (quandong).

The Quandong (Santalum Acuminatum) is found in the arid and semi-arid regions of all Australian mainland states. Semi-parasitic, it is usually hosted by Wattle Trees. A small desert tree up to 4 metres high, with rough dark bark and pale green elongated hanging leaves. Cream flowers appear late summer and, depending on the season, form fruit which is ready for harvest in early spring.

Traditionally, the Quandong was an important food source for Australian Aborigines. Athough somewhat tart, they are highly nutritious and contain twice the vitamin C of an orange. When hunting game was in short supply, male members of the Red Centre’s Pitjantjara people substituted the wild peach for meat.

Quandong gathering and food preparation is considered Pitjantjara women’s business. The ripe red Wild Peach would be eaten raw or dried for later use. Typically the women would collect Quandong in bark dishes, separate the flesh from the pitted stone, and then roll the edible fruit into a ball. The fruit ball was then broken up for consumption by the tribal group.

Highly valued for its medicinal properties, Quandong was brewed into a form of tea which was drunk as a purgative. The tree roots were also ground down and used as an infusion for the treatment of rheumatism. The leaves were crushed and mixed with saliva to produce a topical ointment for skin sores and boils.

Encased within each Quandong seed is a very nutritious oil rich kernel which was also processed in a similar fashion to treat skin disorders. The kernels are edible and some tribal groups were known to use crushed kernels as a form of “hair conditioning oil”. Quandong is also the preferred food source of emus, and, as is the case with many native animals, the bird eats the whole fruit but is unable to fully digest the seed which then passes out into its own rich compost. This makes for easy collection because it’s easy to spot emus in the bush.

Quandong trees possess an aromatic wood that was traditionally used by aboriginal people in “smoking ceremonies”. The wood from the slow growing trees was prized for the making of traditional bowls – pitti or coolamons.

Australia’s early pastoralists became creative around the campfire. When stockmen were away from home for long periods they baked dampers infused with Quandong leaves.

When in season – between October and February – many early settler farmers would also take their families out for a Quandong picnic. After gathering Quandong the peeled fruit was used to make a variety of jams, chutneys and pies. Such treats were often the only delicacies to be had – especially during drought and depression years when money was short. Many older Australians eyes still mist when reminicsing about Quandong Pie from their childhood and how they painted the seeds to make the playing pieces for Chinese Checkers.

During the past 30 years the Quandong has become a firm favourite of Australia’s burgeoning bush food industry. Commercial Quandong plantations are now an economic reality. Quandong fruit can be dried and/or frozen for 8 years or more, without losing any flavour.

Dried Quandong halves are available year round in the (Taste Australia Bush Food Shop) and are an excellent pantry staple. In the early part of each year I make Quandong in Liqueur, this gives it a good 9 to 10 months to infuse and is ready for inclusion in the Christmas Cake. It also makes an intoxicating icecream topping when pureed.

Quandong in Liqueur

Soak 100gm dried quandong halves in water overnight, drain and transfer to a large glass jar. Add 750ml Vodka plus cooled sugar syrup (2 cups sugar dissolved in half cup water). Stir into the jar. Seal and place in a cool dark place. Stir weekly. Should be ready in 4 to 6 weeks but of course the longer, the better.

Quandong Chilli Sauce

15 Quandong (dried or fresh) rough chop
1/4 cup vinegar (don’t use sweet spiced type)
2 small chillies – chopped and de- seeded
1 tsp salt
1 tbspn brown sugar or palm sugar

If using dried quandong soak overnight, then drain.
Simmer slowly quandong and chillies in the vinegar with salt and sugar added, until mixture has become reduced and quandongs soft and mushy, about 30 mins.
Sauce should coat the back of a spoon and not just run straight off.

Quandong Paste

Ingredients
100gm dried quandong
400gm sugar
juice of one lime

Cover the quandong with water and soak overnight.
Cook until tender (about 30 minutes).Strain
Puree the fruit and place in a pot with sugar and lime juice.
Cook for approx half an hour until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened.
Then pour into moulds and allow to cool before covering. Excellent on a cheese platter.

Quandong Pie

Ingredients
100gm dried quandong soaked overnight
1 litre water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornflour
250gram short crust pastry
2 Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored and cubed)

Method
Simmer quandong with water and sugar until thick and hydrated then stir in apples. Make a smooth paste with the cornflour by adding a little water. While quandong and apples are simmering stir in the cornflour mixture bring to the boil until the first bubbles appear then take off the heat and cool.

Grease a 20cm pie tin and then line with pastry pressing the pastry into the sides and leaving an overlap of pastry. Fill the pie crust until 3/4 full with quandong and apple mix. Brush egg wash around edge of pie crust and top with a pastry cover. Crimp pie edge to form a seal and brush top with egg wash. Run a fork over pastry to form a pattern then place five holes in pastry top

Bake at 180C for 30-45 minutes or until pastry is cooked and nicely browned.

Norfolk Island

Norfolk Island, an 8 km x 5 km Australian island in the South Pacific Ocean defined by Norfolk Island Pine Trees, lush verdant volcanic terrain  and jagged cliffs.

Just a two hour flight from Brisbane or Sydney on July 1 2016, the island’s independence came to an end as the debt ridden holiday haven was taken over by the Australian Government.

For many islanders the changes were not welcome but there was no other choice.

I was there just prior to the hand over and can attest to the landscape.  It is beautiful, postcard perfect and a place all Australians should strive to visit at least once in their life.

I learned more about Australia’s convict history there than in any other place in Australia.  It’s not a pretty story.  There were some very gruesome events and most of them are entwined with Sydney’s convict beginnings.

MORE>>