The Byron Farmers’ Market

When and Where?

byron farmers market for pintrest

A wonderful way to spend a couple of hours while stocking up on some of the best produce you will find anywhere in Australia is to go to  the Byron Bay Farmers’ Market.  Held every Thursday morning from 8 am to 11 am on the Butler Street Reserve, the markets deliver so much more than wonderful fruit and vegetables.

What can you buy?

My basket runneth over.
My basket runneth over.

The answer? Almost anything, providing it’s in season or freshly made and comes from the Northern Rivers. Of course, regular market goers look for their favourite things: amazing marinated olives, Tenterfield lamb, decadent offerings from the Byron Muffin Man and the French Patisserie, fresh Ballina prawns, piping hot samosas, Bangalow sweet pork, dry land rice from Nimbin, cheese from Burringbar, beef from Casino, a freshly brewed latte,  fruit and vegetables and so much more! This week I restrained myself: I bought carrots that smelled like carrots and broccoli that had been picked that morning. Just putting them in my basket made me feel ten times healthier. I noticed that the apple man from Stanthorpe was there. I read their family story.

stanthorpe apples

 Then I tasted and filled my basket with apples and pears. Will my selection last long enough to make an apple tart?  Mmm … maybe not. I bought some more just to make sure.

stanhope apples2

Some fresh silver beet and shallots and I was nearly done. I bought freshly cut pumpkin and the stall holder gave a great tip. Cover your cut pumpkin with a paper towel and it will keep for ages. I also purchased tomatoes and capsicums from Hayter’s Hill Tomatoes.

hayters hill tomatoes

Veggie Lasagne will definitely be on the menu this week!   A loaf of sourdough from Heartbreads  and my basket was full.

And then there was more!

Purchases completed, I could turn my attention to the entertainment on offer. There was a young indi trio whose original songs were very engaging.

entertainment at the markets 2
Love an acoustic sound!

Further down the market, was an older entertainer whose guitar work was amazing.

acustic guitar at the market 2
In the spotlight

I love it when someone does something new  with a song that you know well. It’s like meeting an old, rejuvenated friend. I reflect that talent doesn’t  reside only with the young but also with the young at heart.

No market day is ever exactly the same. The performers change and the offerings  change with the seasons. New stall holders appear often with unusual produce to sample. Besides wanting to feel more connected to the food we eat, I think that is part of the reason,we enjoy farmers’ markets so much. What do you think?

Yoga in the Bay

My view across the bay from the Beachside Yoga Studio
My view across the bay from the Beach side Yoga Studio

June 21st was extra special this year. Not only was it my birthday and the winter or summer solstice depending on whether you live in the northern or southern hemisphere but it was also International Yoga Day.

Not so long ago, I looked in the mirror and saw one too many lumps and bumps. Gazing at my reflection, I found it difficult to visualise myself doing cartwheels in the sand, something that had seemed so easy when I was younger. So, I decided to give yoga a go, as I’d been reliably informed that if you want to improve your flexibility while strengthening  and nurturing your body and mind, then yoga is the go.

But, I encountered a problem.  What kind of yoga should I attempt?  Here in Byron Bay, you can practise downward facing dog in various styles including Vinyasa, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Hatha Flow, Yin Yoga, Power flow, Purna and Bikram just to name a few.  Now I know my limitations: didn’t want to break anything nor did the thought of sweating myself into the perfect body shape appeal.  My friend, Annie came to my rescue.  “Join me at Beachside Yoga,” she urged.

The Daily Bulletin at the Surf Club
The Daily Bulletin

I check it out. Two words stand out: slow and gentle. Then there is the location. The  Beachside Yoga studio. is upstairs in the Byron Bay Surf Club  and all equipment is supplied.   I decide to give it a go. Classes are 90 mins long  and the cost is $18 per class. There are regular specials so check out their website.  http://www.beachsideyogaandmassage.com.au/

all prepared
Our mats await.

 The teachers are great especially Grace Benn. Under her guidance, Annie and I  have traveled some way along our yoga journey. The view of the ocean  seems to illuminate our practice.

view through the window
Salute to the sun!

 I have had found that the body awareness relaxation or shavasana really does make you feel relaxed and stress free. (I  fallen asleep during shavasana – lavender eye pillows and a soothing voice can have that effect. I only hope that I haven’t  snored!) Afterwards, I seem to float my way to coffee at a nearby cafe.

Fishheads Cafe, just a stones throw away from the surf club
Fishheads Cafe, just a stones throw away from the surf club

My yoga class has become a weekly ritual. I hate to miss a class! Have you given Yoga a go?  If so, what has been your experience? I would love to hear from you.

 

Churning it up in Mullumbimby

Hand made blue cheese
Hand made blue cheese

If our grandmothers and great-grandmother were stranded on a deserted island, participating in the latest season of ‘Survivor’,  I think  they could win. They had skills!  They could chop wood, start a fire, milk a cow, churn the milk into butter and make cheese.

cow
Who wouldn’t love this face?

Whipping up a roast chicken dinner was child’s play: all they had to do was catch, kill, pluck and stuff said bird. Easy … for them. They knew how to turn fruit and vegetables into yummy jam and preserves and create delicious terrines and pates without giving everyone salmonella poisoning  … unlike me.  They were the original domestic goddesses.

Luckily for mere mortals like myself,  dedicated modern day domestic goddesses, like Debra Allard, cheese maker, teacher and dairy godmother, are helping others rediscover these lost arts. I first saw Debbie at last year’s Sample Food Festival which was held in Bangalow, just west of Byron Bay.

Judge Debbie at the R and A Dairy and Cheese Show.
Judge Debbie at the R and A Dairy and Cheese Show, 2015

There she was on stage,  demonstrating how hilariously easy it was to make mozzarella cheese in 30 minutes. When the chance to attend one of her classes arose, run by ACE education in Mullumbimby, I couldn’t wait.

I arrived, accompanied by my good friend, Annie Milic. Our ‘dairy’ for the day was all prepared. Taking our positions behind our bain marie’s, we examined our equipment and recipes. We donned head attire, obligatory for health and safety reasons. Suddenly we were transformed into Smurfettes, ready for any challenge.

cheese making
After reading the instructions, the Smurfettes are ready.

 Our first cheese was goat feta. This was a little complicated, but by carefully following Debbie’s instructions and  keeping a close eye on my thermometer, I was able to navigate my way to curds and whey. The curds were ladled into a large hoop and regularly turned and voila, there was my feta!

My feta waiting for its briny soak.
My feta waiting for its briny soak.

 All I had to do was take my briny whey home and soak my feta for a week. Then it would be ready for consumption. Apparently, it will last up to six months! Will it last that long in my fridge? Probably not!

But the day wasn’t just about making feta. We also made cultured butter which was truly delicious and paneer. I intend making a spinach and paneer curry with it but haven’t got round to it yet.

As well as learning age-old skills, Debbie provided morning tea (scones with jam and cultured butter) and lunch, a ploughman’s feast. There was crusty bread, Bangalow pork roast, home made pickles, salad and a selection of Debbie’s hand crafted cheeses. I particularly liked her take on blue cheese. All in all, it was  a great day and Annie and I will be back for more. Perhaps we will graduate to Brie or Jarlsberg. If you are interested in attending one of Debbie’s classes, you can find details on her facebook page.

Sandbar Shenanigans

What’s not to love about a visit to the beach?

PicMonkey Collage
Rock pools and sandbars at Byron Bay

While, relaxation has been my priority at the beach, some of my children, while on holiday,  have viewed a visit to the beach as an opportunity to put their personal training ambitions to the test, with me as their subject. Not wanting to disappoint them,  I found myself wading through waist deep water against the current. Encouraging words reached my ears. “This will be a  great workout for your thighs, Mum. It’s not hard, they train horses like this all the time!” .Gritting my teeth, channeling  my inner Phar Lap, thighs burning,  I pushed, slipped and gurgled my way across the bay to the Pass. (The surf gutters were quite deep at the time.)  Not content with trying to trim my  pear shaped bits, my personal trainers also had a thing about cardio! Soon I found myself power-walking along the beach. Now this was not a good look.  I found myself breathless and  unable to talk, ( a serious impediment if you ask me.) I couldn’t stop to greet friends who were leisurely taking in the sights as my personal trainer would proclaim, “Come on Mum … you can talk later … come on … catch up … you can do it …”

sandbar at clarks
Rockpools and yet more rockpools

But holidays pass and fitness trainers return to work. The beach has once again become a place where I can immerse myself in a natural mineral spa as I swim, surf or just float about in warm ocean currents.  It’s a place where I can dabble my feet in the shallows, sink my toes into soft white sand and  laze away an afternoon under the beach umbrella accompanied by a good book. This was especially true  this  week. Long sandbars appeared almost overnight in the bay.  Wonderful rock pools were revealed, perfect for floating or snorkeling in. Thigh sculpting was impossible as the water was too shallow. I walked from the Pass almost to Main Beach, moving from sandbar to sandbar. I had to dawdle. Power-walking was impossible.  After all,  I had to watch where I was  putting my feet. I didn’t want to find a hidden rock! . The view from the sandbar to the beach was so lovely! There were lots of five and six year old having their first snorkeling lesson. The excitement when they spotted their first fish hiding under the rocks was infectious. Maybe tomorrow I will put on my goggles and join them.

15 - 19
Gone snorkeling
IMG_20150416_112601
View of the beach from the walkway at the Pass

Coffee Golf

Secretly, for years,  I have had  a vision of myself as a lady golfer. Not the Kari Webb sort of golfer but the casual, carefree sort of golfer who happily swings away down a tree lined fairway, greets the local wildlife as  they leisurely stroll by and tests their  putt putt skills in the real world.  A golfer who plays consistently enough not to feel intimidated in the presence of those who can really whack the ball and speak knowingly of hazards and back swings.  But alas, while I was working, the vision never materialised, indeed at times it vaporised!  While time always posed a problem: there was never a spare weekday morning where I could attempt to make my vision a reality, there was also my inner acknowledgement of my limited athletic ability. Although my legs and arms do work, my early experiences on the hockey field had left a dent in my self confidence – I vividly remember running for my life, as a mad teammate, hockey stick raised  above her head, chased after me just because I had messed up her goal.  Abandoning sport, I turned to the arts. However, even here my coordination was suss. My  attempts at ballet resulted in a rendition of the Dance of the Dying Duck not Swan Lake

So, as you can imagine, it was with some trepidation that I agreed to join my friend Annie and participate in a beginners’ golf course. There we met our instructor, Nicole Dicken or Nicky to her friends. Nicky is a AAA rated coach but more importantly, she has the ability to see and appreciate the sometimes small improvements  you are making and instill belief. Belief that you will improve, that you are a valuable member of the group and that Golf  is a game that should be fun. Annie and I were hooked and we graduated to ‘Coffee Golf’.

Nicky runs a clinic most Tuesday mornings  at Mullumbimby Golf Course and all are welcome. Just contact the Golf Club on 0266842273 for further details.

Mullumbimby Golf Course
Mullumbimby Golf Course – view from the club house overlooking the 9th hole.

There, in a group setting, under her watchful eye, we practice hitting targets using different clubs, chipping and putting.

Chipping Mania
Chipping Mania!

After slogging for an hour, we return to the club house for coffee. There, overlooking the garden, we relax and regroup.

Cannas in the garden leading to the 10th hole.
Canna lillies in the garden leading to the 10th hole.

Refreshed, it’s time for our game. We could play up to nine but usually call it a day after about five. There are many laughs, groans and mini triumphs as we make our way around the course. I take pleasure in little things – a drive off the tee that doesn’t hit the hazard or the trees, landing on the edge of the bunker and not in it, being able to spot my ball in the murky waters of the ponds and making a putt from the edge of the green. I tell myself., like Toad in Wind in the Willows, that,’ it’s all fun and excitement.’

A wonderful morning spent, Annie and I make our way home to Byron and dream of golfing adventures to come. Playing Teven, Byron, Ballina …. Augusta?

Souvlaki and chai energy muffins

Until  relatively recently, my culinary  skills could, at best be described as rudimentary.   This I attribute to my childhood.  The kitchen was a place where I had to mop the floor and peel potatoes. It was the place where my sister Jenny always got to wash up, while I had to wipe up and put away the dishes, a much more time consuming task. To this day, I don’t know how she managed to convince our mother that she was the superior washer upper when she completed the task in a time worthy of an Olympic 100 m champion.  So,  in protest at my unfair treatment (and a desire to finish my current book), I avoided the kitchen as much as possible. As a result, I  left home  knowing how to pour milk on cereal, boil an egg, cook toast and open a can of baked beans – real survival stuff!

But one  of the joys of living in Byron Bay and the Northern Rivers is the foodie culture.. There are an amazing variety of restaurants and cafes to sample. This week, I revisited The Cyprus Tree, our local Greek restaurant. This restaurant never fails to deliver memorable and delicious food,from souvlaki to scrumptious seafood, perfect for a birthday dinner for my friend Annie.

PicMonkey Collage
Champagne not Ouzo was the order of the night!

 

As well, the area is full of  really knowledgeable, capable people willing to share their skills and help you develop yours.  This week saw the inaugural meeting of Byron  Library’s  Recipe Club.  The club will meet on the  third Tuesday of the month at 2pm,  at the Library. There was a very promising roll up of interested parties. The guest speaker was the bubbly, Julie Ray.
I had met Julie before when I had attended her seafood paella class in Lismore at The Pepper tree Kitchen.  I shared the photo of my success on that occasion with as many friends as possible. My culinary efforts had never looked or indeed tasted so impressive!  So I was looking forward to listening to what she had to say. I was not disappointed. She came laden with ideas about interesting ways to use macadamias,  a totally decadent recipe for a passionfruit cream curd cake and her chai energy muffins which we shared for afternoon tea. The muffins were delicious and you can find the recipe at Julie’s website,  julieray.com.  I noticed that she also had a great recipe for Gramma Pie on her website,  that she had sourced from Bangalow grandmother, Mrs Jarratt. I love trying heritage country recipes.  Maybe it’s because I love to daydream about all things historical.

chai-muffins-300x127
Super healthy Chai energy muffins

 

 

Classic Byron Beach Walk

Have you noticed how a change in the weather makes the familiar, unfamiliar? And waiting to be explored anew!  It’s misty and a little drizzly as  I stroll out on my version of Byron’s Lighthouse walk; a walk which maximizes photo, conversational and coffee stop opportunities without  leaving one dripping with sweat and  gasping for breath, in dire need of  resuscitation and a cold shower.

Leaving the car resting in the Clark’s Beach car park ( it’s always easier to park here and I’m one for a stress free life),  I make my way up Lighthouse Road to the boardwalk and gaze at the bay and check out what’s happening on the beach.Yep,  definitely worth a paddle later.

Shades of grey ... looking good.
Shades of grey … looking good.

I cross the road leading to the Pass and continue along Lighthouse Road a bit further.  Palm Valley to my left, is drippy with tree ferns and palms.

palm valley greeness
palm valley greenness

I walk until I see the crossing sign and head up the road to the lighthouse. It is always cool and shady here. I could be trekking through Middle Earth!  Often I spot hang gliders here, but not today.

the winding road
the winding road

At last, the Lighthouse beckons. Pit stop. Today it is just water but tomorrow it might be coffee and cake from the cafe … or an ice cream … or ….

Down the steps to Wategoes Beach and up and over the hill to the Pass. There are exactly 46 steps to climb. (I have been reliably informed by my personal font of all knowledge, my husband, Kenn.) I  trudge, I count,  I lose count and I trudge slowly, very slowly over the hill. Are there only 46? Surely it’s more! It feels like a lot more. I notice that the sky is clearing and the sun is coming out. Below the beach beckons.

Beach path at the Pass
Beach path at the Pass

Shoes off and a short splash  back to Clark’s. I do not give into temptation and stop at the Pass Cafe or the Beach Cafe. Rather, I dig my toes into the sand and the sea and dream.

.