November 8, 2016

You can get it all

There is not much that isn’t available in spring! Local farms would be picking fresh herbs, Asian greens, broccoli, spring onions, tomatoes, beetroot, kale and spinach. Citrus fruits are still abundant and early nectarines, peaches, melons, grapes and strawberries add plenty of variety to fruit plates.

My home veggie garden

I’m really excited to see how my plants grow this season. During winter I seriously got into trench composting. It’s supposedly the most effective way to compost and simply involves digging trenches directly into the garden and then filling them with kitchen scraps, green waste and paper. As the aim is to attract worms, I didn’t add citrus or onion scraps – apparently worms are fussy! It has definitely increased the worm population and I look forward to them doing the hard work of aerating and fertilising. You have to love them!

What I’m cooking now

I love cooking all year round, but in spring meals are dominated by fresh fruit and vegetables. We like to have salads and stir fries, and a vegetable omelette with free-range eggs is a particular favourite.

What I love this season at Vermont

Getting outdoors is a must during spring. It’s a time to get as much done as possible around the house and in the garden before the hot weather arrives. We like to take a walk in the Scheyville National Park and also head out onto the river for a fish or kayak.

One-pot chicken chow mein

Makes four serves

I have chosen this recipe as it is one of my favourites! You need to cook the chicken and stock the day before, so that any fat will solidify for easy removal.

Ingredients for stock (day before)
1½-2kg chicken wings
1 star anise
1 clove of garlic
½ small onion
1 tsp salt


  1. Wash the chicken wings under cold water and place them in a pot with the above ingredients.
  2. Cover the wings with cold water, approx. 4-5 cups, then bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Strain the liquid stock and keep for later – refrigerate so that the fat solidifies.
  4. Remove and discard the skin and bones from the wings; you will need to do this before the wings get too cold. Refrigerate the shredded chicken meat until needed.

Small grate of fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 carrot, sliced
2 spring onions or 4 shallots, diced
⅛ green cabbage, shredded
1 small bunch bok choy, chopped
4 mushrooms, sliced
1 cup broccoli florets
½ cup frozen peas
2-3 packets instant two-minute noodles
(discard the flavour sachets)
¼ cup oyster sauce
Shredded chicken meat from day before


  1. Remove any fat that has solidified from the stock.
  2. Add 2 cups of stock to a large saucepan along with the ginger, garlic, carrot and shallots.
  3. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer.
  4. Simmer for five minutes and then add the cabbage, bok choy, mushrooms, broccoli and peas and cook for another five minutes.
  5. Add the noodles and oyster sauce and continue cooking until the noodles are soft and the stock has been absorbed (if you have more liquid than you desire, either add more noodles or thicken with a small amount of cornflour paste).
  6. Add the shredded chicken and continue stirring until the meat has heated through.
  7. Serve and garnish with fresh chilli and coriander.

Trench composting, worms and the love of growing your own with Julie Sullivan.

Expect more at Vermont

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