I’ve been quite fortunate to grow up near some of the best beaches in the world. Heading down to the sand as a kid and digging in my feet in the hope to find pipis is a past time that conjures up some really great memories. It’s not something that I’ve really had a chance to do as much of over the last decade. But since a recent holiday to Byron Bay uncovered, I’d realised I hadn’t properly passed on this beautiful seashore foraging skill to my daughter.
I remember early on in my childhood being at Port Stephens with friends and family, making sandcastles, getting in the water for hours or having a dig with my brothers when we had the chance. Our incentive in finding pipis meant that were we successful in striking a payload we knew we were made me proud.
It was a blast getting her out there to find a few handfuls. We collected enough for a feed, and I gotta say, they were pretty fuckin delish-usss! So, with our 30-40 pipi haul, we made our way home to start prepping the little buggers. First things first though: You need to purge them of all the shit and grit inside them.
NB: For the following recipe, put aside a 2/3 Cup of the seawater to cook the Pipis in
PURGING the PIPI’S
Unless you’re Bear Grylls and enjoy eating shit sand, mud, and roadkill, you need to purge (cleanse) the pipis of all the crap inside them. It’s like giving them gastro, without it being contagious to you. I probably should have just said ‘detox them’.
- Make sure the container you are transporting home the pipi’s in, is big enough to hold twice as much seawater to pipis
- quickly clean pipi’s under cold tap water, cleaning any noticeable crap off if necessary
- sieve the saltwater to eliminate any grit and shit
- Place the pipi’s back into the saltwater and leave overnight
- the best place to get the saltwater is right near where you found your pipis
Pipis In Ocean Stock
This is a simple dish that takes advantage of using the ocean water the lived in
2/3 Cup of the seawater filtered through a napkin
Dash of white wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1. In a small to medium pot, bring the seawater to the boil
2. Gently place the pipis into the water and cook them for a few minutes,
3. Take out each pipi when their shells open and set them aside. When all pipis are out of pot turn heat
to medium-low and reduce liquid by half
4. You can choose to stop right here and devour the pipis as is on toast…no? ok continue
5. Start off by adding 60g of the butter, 1/2 tsp of the pepper, the dash of vinegar and lemon juice. Make sure
you taste your lemon first to judge its flavour. It may be too sour or bitter, so taste and go easy
6. Have a taste, liquid should be lightly lemony with a hint of vinegar. Should still be able to have the body
of the ocean in the flavour. A little tangy
7. Add sugar if desired
8. Place pipis back in warm broth and gently stir
9. Gently plate up and pour liquor over pipis and finely chopped tarragon
10. Serve with a wedge of lemon and warm crusty bread
Being half Maori, half English, half German, half Scottish and half Irish has assured me the culinary skill to be able to boil any meal of the day.
I enjoy the efficiency of flicking the switch on the stove and reheating over and over again my boil up pot, such a dream. My wife thinks it’s a fucking nightmare. But like all women that are 100% Australian Bushranger stock, you know the type, always on the run, never relaxed enough to appreciate the alluring aroma of a boil up pot that’s been sitting on the stove for a good week.
Maoris treat it with the same respect as a French baker would feed daily his 100-year-old culture starter for his sourdough bread. Continually topping up the ingredients here and there when needed, intensifying that wonderfully pungent master stock that my wife thinks smells like ‘camel piss’. Once again, I don’t hail from bushrangers, so who am I to argue what the scent of camel urine smells like.
Any Maori will tell you it’s soul food. The smell that fills the home is one that intoxicates the senses, evokes warmth, togetherness, family time even pants off alone time.
Me and the Koro
If there’s one thing I learned from my old boy was that, over the course of a boil up pots stint, it may see many different ingredients. It may start out with just bacon, watercress, potatoes and doughboys. By the time it’s run its course, I may have thrown in pork or beef sausages, pork or lamb chops, pork belly, speck, more bacon, cabbage, carrots, taro, cassava and a tonne of butter. On this lap, Watties tomato sauce is a must!
NB: I know that’s not Watties in the photo. I had just run out and couldn’t be fucked going down the street to get more. It was early days. Plus a bit of sugar-free stuff is good for the diabetics in the house.
Dad would go for days just reincarnating the same ingredients. Personally unlike conventional Maori-ism, after about day three, I split from the pack and heed the calling of my European roots, bringing in the big guns, indulging in kransky, knockwurst, rookwurst, bratwurst, even South African boerewors sausage. Big bold flavours, some adding a smokey edge to the broth. I will savor each bite with some sauerkraut, sweet Belgian mustard or German mustard.
Here I will usually throw in some carbs seeing as the doughboys disappeared a couple of days ago, by adding some gnocchi or German Spaetzle noodles if you could be fucked making them.
Look boilup may not be the healthiest dish on the planet, but if you lay off all the bread, doughboys, potatoes or noodles etc boilup itself can compliment a ketogenic diet, provided you consume a sensible amount and don’t be a dickhead and go overboard.
I myself, regardless if I return to vegan-ism again, will always love the smell and the memories that this one-pot dish provided throughout my life.
A huge pot
500g Potatoes washed and peeled
- Wash Watercress
- Place in pot with potatoes and bacon on top
- Fill with water 2/3 the way up the ingredients, add butter and a good pinch of salt
- Bring to the boil. As soon as boiling begins, reduce heat to low-medium and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender.
- Add doughboys and cook for a further 15 minutes
2 Cups Self Raising flour
1. Place flour in a bowl add a good pinch of salt
2. Add enough water to bring flour together
3. Flour bench and turn mix out on it
4. Add more flour or water if needed
5. Knead dough until all comes together. Dont over work
6. Roll pieces into balls about 5cm across
7. Add to the top of ingredients cover with lid and cook until fluffy in the middle. About 15 minutes.
NB: When I could be bothered, I rub about 80g of cold butter into the flour before I add the water.
I sometimes swap out the water for lemonade, soda water or milk.
From an early age, I knew I wanted to cook. My Nanny used to belt out the most scrumptious delights. The smell of the kitchen with biscuits, cakes, jam doughnuts cooking was euphoric! You could smell it down the road. I loved that street. 89 St Aubins St Scone. Mrs Brennan’s house across the road would be the same. She’d constantly have cakes on the bake. Between Nanny’s and Mrs Brennan’s, you knew something good was happening.
My Mum followed suit. She could rustle up a massive feed every day of the week, even if there appeared to be no food about. She was like David Copperfield the way she made shit appear. I loved eating Mum’s food. Even more so cooking with her.
Dad was a miner and a steak and 3 veg guy. He was a gun at putting down a hangi, whipping up a boil up, but boring as fuck when it came to everyday meals. We all couldn’t wait when he went to work on the afternoon shift. As soon as we saw that car hit the driveway, we’d listen to hear the car hit the main road a kilometre away, and as soon as that happened, boom! it was on. Preheat the oven…
Now that Dad was out of the picture we could experiment. Not that we had a tonne of ingredients, but we somehow found something to make that would taste delightful with a cup of tea or milk. Mum always said to me as we stood looking into the seemingly empty cupboard: “Stibby, while ever we have flour, water and an egg, we won’t starve” … How right she was
Ahhh yes. Lemon biscuits and cakes. Orange biscuits and cakes. Sponges, pound cakes, pancakes, chocky cake. Each sweet creation started out a generic mix and we would work out what ingredients we had available to transform it into something else. Mum and I would sit down at the dining room table near the fireplace and look through our cookbooks and dream about giving some of the recipes a go. We used to also have those trays of recipe cards. Some of the ingredients I’d never heard of at the time, but today they are staples in my larder [love that word].
Now, one of my absolute favourites was the pumpkin scone. When I knew Dad was about to go to work, and Mum had cooked us sausages and vegetables for instance, especially when one of those veges was pumpkin, Id get my brothers to save their piece of pumpkin to go into the scone mix when the old boy was gone and make sure they kept quiet. Or if Dad got an inkling something was happening like that without him, he’d probably just eat all the pumpkin!
An hour later, we’d be tucking into those fluffy orange clouds of dough heaped with butter, golden syrup, vegemite or whatever jam we had which usually comprised of apricot, strawberry, raspberry, or plum jams. Cheese and honey, which was a bonafied favourite of my brother Rossi. If we were really lucky there’d be my favourite.. FIG! Fig jam and cream to this day is still a snack I find hard to turn away from. Funny thing was, even though we made them regularly, I knew no-one else who made them. Until the wife of a Queensland peanut farmer made them famous…
As an aspiring young cook growing up in Australia it was hard to ignore the name of Margret Fulton. She was like bacteria, in everything! With her books, she became a force to be reckoned with and she set the benchmark for so many Chefs past and present, but it was another humble woman who offered the world her pumpkin scones with love that grabbed my attention… I strangely felt I had found part of my tribe, and quite chuffed even to think that it was someone who was hi-profile.
Lady Flo’s famous recipe
I can’t remember the first time I saw Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen with her scones on TV, but I was seriously glued to the screen thinking something like “finally! There are others that exist” Instantly, Lady Flo became a culinary hero of mine. She became famous in her own right not only for her pumpkin scones but also for her take on ‘Classic Country Cooking’ ‘Traditional Australian Fare’ as the title of her book suggests. It was hearty, warm, no fuss, comforting soul food, best enjoyed with family and friends.
Right up until I was 34 years of age, I believed that everyone in Queensland ate pumpkin scones. After 13 years living in Queensland, I have to say I’m a little bewildered that I’ve met ONE person, one. Numero fuckin uno amount of people that have made them. Most had only ever had those shitty supermarket versions.
WHHHHHHAAAAAAAT!!! This couldn’t be… How could this be? Why was this so?
Bit sad really. I kind of felt like I’d waited all my life to get to Disneyland, only to find that when I finally got there it was shut down. Oh well, back to Lady Flo…
Being the wife of Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, arguably one of the most prolific and controversial political figures in the 20th century must’ve been an adventure. The Kingaroy peanut farmer born in Dannevirke New Zealand who rose to power as a ruthless, iron-fisted leader that knew how to control the media. Sure he may not have like protestors or union groups. So what if he allegedly had the police in his pocket, one thing stands true about the man, he knew hard work, and he wasn’t scared of it. And whilst you can’t believe everything you read or watch in the media, to me he came across as a family man that had love and respect for his wife, regardless if his staunch exterior didn’t express it. And unlike many politicians of the 21st century, who would sell their grandmothers for a steak sanga without sauce, Sir Joh for mine was kind of like the character ‘Thanos’ from the Marvel Cineverse.
Click of the fingers, the shit disappears. Things gain order. Only the worthy will remain. Not everything may have been done positively, but he believed it was all for the greater good. Underneath the hard exterior, there was a good family man.
Still, as they say, behind every great man is an even greater woman cooking up afternoon tea
And that I imagine was Lady Flo. 1st Lady of Queensland, Queen of the pumpkin scone. A rose amongst many thorns that brought joy and unity through her love of cooking. One of my all-time food heroes and one of the few people I knew of that shared mine and my Mums love for pumpkin scones. I never got the privilege to meet her in person and share a scone with her, but like all great food heroes, I hope to get to know her a little through the recipes in her recipes.
These days if someone asks me “what’s a pumpkin scone?”… I answer them in my best Sir Joh voice
“Don’t you go telling me about pumpkin scones! I know quite well what they are:
DONT YOU WORRY ABOUT THAT!”
The recipe in this blog comes courtesy of Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen’s cookbook
“Classic Country Cooking, Traditional Australian Fare”