I actually heard Nancy talking to Genevieve Jacobs on the local radio before I met her. She was being interviewed as part of the @666Canberra “Walter Burley Griff-phone” series and was being asked all sorts of foodie-related questions by the ABC presenter.
Nancy runs the well-regarded Foodlovers Shop at the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets. Her shop specialises in specialty gourmet food products that taste as good as they look. Nancy and her team hand make over five hundred gourmet food products. Their self-labelled range includes savoury sauces, mustards, dressings, chutneys and relishes and sweet dessert sauces, jams, jellies and marmalades.
Being based in the Belconnen Fresh Food Market allows them to source fresh ingredients from local suppliers. Nancy and her team purchase, chop, cook and bottle all our products on site. In addition to FoodLovers products, they also stock a huge range of gourmet food products from many of our favourite Australian foodie icons – Maggie Beer, Peter Watson, Charmaine Solomon just to name a few.
So it was fitting that we had our interview in one of the Belconnen Market’s own restaurants: Tee’s Trading House, which serves great authentic Asian food with a smile. I enjoyed a great-tasting Laksa while Nancy had some delicious chicken noodle soup.
Recently Nancy added to her stockline after a personal request for Mustard Apricots from none other than Maggie Beer! Now there’s an endorsement that any foodie can admire!
And if you can’t quite make out what Maggie Beer is using, here’s a photo of Nancy with one of her many proud creations.
So Nancy, who are you? I am who I am. My name is Nancy Harrison – to my two daughters, I am Mum. To my friends I am Fancy Nance, and to others I am the woman that makes food like their grandmothers used to! I have been a teacher of kindergarten children, a youth group leader, an avid Unionist. I have been a public servant (a procurement and contracting specialist no less!). Most recently I was known as the Coffee Lady when I established and ran Coffee’s On Coffee Cart outside the Discount Pharmacy in Macquarie and at Kings Swim School in Macgregor.
I currently own FoodLovers at Belconnen Fresh Food Markets and spend most of my days in front of the stove cooking up jams, pickles and chutneys, sauces and dressings in the old-fashioned way and without any additives – just the way Nanna used to make them. There are about 500 different products that we make, which also includes the baking of Anzac biscuits, Melting Moments, fruit loaves, almond bread and meringues.
Of course, I try to source as much as I can locally. Most of our quinces, cumquats, lemons and Seville oranges are grown on local trees and are picked especially for us while they are in season. I would like to expand this a little, but need to be careful about provenance etc. It is getting really difficult to find fruit and vege commercially (eg frozen, dried or tinned) that is grown in Australia. The only way I know how to ascertain if it is grown in Australia is to go and pick it myself, and I don’t really have the time to do that!
I am trying to find a balance so that we bake some gluten free products too. Most of what is in the bottles is gluten free – it is not thickened and I don’t use anything that may have allergens lurking. I spend some of my week playing with recipes so that I can develop special diet foods that are readily available. We are very tuned into allergies because I am allergic (and anaphylactic) to many foods including seafood, pork, eggplant and mango…
Age? I am in my 50th year.
Where do you live? Currently in Page (for 8 years) but am about to move to a new unit in Macquarie.
Have you ever blogged about food? Ha! I have never BLOGGED. I wouldn’t know how to! <Nancy does however do many amazing cooking demonstrations and is full of helpful advice for her customers!>
Other hobbies? My job is my hobby. I just love cooking and being around food. I love making others happy by providing them with good, nutritious, wholesome goodness! I love helping people create imaginative and interesting things to eat from what they have available to them..
I am a volunteer for TEDx Canberra this year, which keeps me out of trouble – I am the Food Experience Manager, which means I organise the food for the day for the 650+ attendees. It’s a challenge, but good fun at the same time!
Apple or Android? Android – only because I didn’t know what a good thing Apple was all those years ago when I should have stuck with them!
Car/bus/bike? I own a car, but am hoping we will bike much more when we move.
Favourite TV show? t stay awake long after I am home usually. However, I have become a bit obsessed with Game of Thrones (a friend loaned me the DVDs), Miss Fisher and I really love anything Australian.
Favourite devices? Devices??? What does that mean? <Yes, she does have a great sense of humour> In the kitchen, I couldn’t do without my jut-jut (stick blender) – been the best investment I have ever made! I also have an amazing food processor which juices citrus in a snap! I love it!
Can we take a peek at your home screen? My home computer screen save is a beautiful photo I took in the Bunya Mountains in Queensland – a huge blue and black butterfly landed just in front of me and I couldn’t help but take a photo of it!
Most-used app? Probably Facebook. Basecamp? Not sure.
Favourite social media? Facebook – it’s the only one I really know how to use to any effect!
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? My emails – usually have links to Facebook and Basecamp.
What do you worry about at night? If I am awake – I worry about the lack of sleep! Lately its been about the house and all the stuff that goes with that – mortgage and insurance etc. Sometimes it’s FoodLovers and how we can get more people to visit – there’s been a marked drop-off since the budget was announced.
Most exciting recent news? Have you heard – I am buying a house! I guess there was also the talk with Genevieve Jacobs on 666 Canberra the other morning. I am going to my school reunion on the long weekend as well. It’s in Bundaberg. Haven’t been ‘home’ for more than 30 years, so it will definitely be interesting.
Ideal career? I am living my ideal career – I have done lots of things in my life, but what I am doing now is just wonderful!
Recent book you recommend? I have a huge personal library (which is going to be culled during the moving process). I bought lots of children’s books over the years that I was training and teaching in Canberra primary schools…most of them are Australian authors who have much to offer adults as well. My favourite author is John Marsden – he wrote the Tomorrow When the War Began trilogy in seven parts! My kinda bloke really!
Recent online video you laughed at? A TEDTalk from Texas – a builder who designs homes from scrap was describing how he uses hens eggs and nuts as decoration for his houses – how using what everyone else has in their foyer in a bathroom or a toilet is much more interesting…very funny talk!
I listened to Sting speak on line at TED in March 2014 – I think it may have been in Vancouver. He was saying how when he forgot his roots – back in the ship-building town he grew up in – he couldn’t write anymore. Once he returned to his roots, he found he could write again and has written some amazing songs since then – Dead Man’s Boots…I will never hear SOS (Message in a Bottle) and not think of his TEDTalk!
Favourite food? Like I said to Genevieve the other day – there is nothing like baked beans on toast for me – it takes me back to my childhood I think.
However, I love a good roast with crispy, creamy potatoes.
And for lunch, any time – Chicken Noodle Soup (or if I make it – Vitamin C Soup) – a Vietnamese inspired soup with thick rice noodles, bok choy (and any other green veges I have in the fridge) and a rich chicken stock that has been steeped with ginger, lemongrass and coriander. My almost 10 year old loves it!
and here’s a slightly better photo of the tasty lunch we enjoyed together at Tee’s Trading House 🙂
Anyone who follows social media in our fair city would be aware of the popularity and success of the HerCanberra website. This website is “written by Canberra women, for Canberra women” and it is written extremely well. Although the website has had a couple of guest posts from token males (like this one) it has become another good example of Canberra’s amazingly smart, hard-working, talented and outspoken women and is highly-recommended reading.
HerCanberra features the voices of local writers, the website posts daily about topics of interest to the Capital’s female population. From ‘what’s on’ to reviews of places to eat; social commentary to health and fitness; beauty and nutrition to books and movies; fashion and motherhood to recipes and home style; if it’s part of ‘her’ life you’ll find it on HerCanberra. If you’ve ever wanted to know who’s behind it, well that would be Amanda Whitley. Amanda jokes that she manages HerCanberra in any ‘spare time’ she might have amongst all her other responsibilities and pursuits yet she manages to attend and investigate an amazing array of Canberra events, openings, celebrations and community festivals, sharing her love for our city with her growing readership both here and interstate. I recently met with Amanda at one of her favourite places in Canberra, Manuka. She shared some secrets about what interests her and what keeps her busy life on track.
Amanda Whitley, Who are you? I founded HerCanberra in January 2011 after the premature birth of my youngest daughter led me to leave the public service and start dabbling in the odd blog or two (including being the first site moderator for Mamamia – but I gave that up after refereeing one two many argument over c-sections and childcare). These days, I manage HerCanberra in any ‘spare time’ that’s not spent wrangling two gorgeous little girls, instructing Zumba, or eating. I’ve also done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign!
Amanda Whitley with some of the HerCan team at the 2013 Christmas party – 100 people attended (it was sold out).
How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing HerCanberra since January 2011 and had a personal blog before that as well as contributing to MamaMia. I worked as Mamamia’s first site moderator and met many Canberra women while I was doing that work. The idea for HerCanberra was something I came up knowing there was a real growing market and demand for stories and news that would be of interest to Canberra women.
Apple or Android? We are a dedicated Apple family!
Car/bus/bike? Well, we have two kids so it has to be the car most days to ferry the kids around.
Favourite TV show? MasterChef Australia
Favourite devices? iPhone, MacBook Air (which is my mobile office)
Can we take a peek at your homescreen?
Most-used App? Facebook without a doubt.
Favourite social media? Facebook.
What’s the first thing you check online each morning? Facebook notifications, emails, website, Canberra Times.
What do you worry about at night? All the things I have to do the next day, because there’s only one of me.
Most exciting recent news? I was selected as one of the 100 #Humanbrochure particpants by VisitCanberra and am really looking forward to showcasing our beautiful city to the rest of Australia and the world.
Ideal career? I’m doing it! Websites are the new magazines and I always wanted to work in a good magazine. I published my first magazine when I was ten years old – it was called “Wombat”! 🙂
Recent book you recommend? I love crime novels and really enjoyed A dark and twisted tide by Sharon Bolton.
Recent online video you laughed at? Can’t really think of a video I laughed over…but the ‘DYAC’ blog gets me every time…on the first one, I kinda smile, then by the 10th I’m rolling on the floor. Damn you auto correct!
Favourite food? 86 is my current favourite place to eat in Canberra. I recommend you take your wife their on a date night Elias! Make sure you tell them you’re on a date and ask to be seated at the kitchen bench where you can watch the chefs, cooks and staff work and interact, you will be entertained.
Don Dunstan was a South Australian politician well ahead of his time.
As someone who has studied the history of political campaigning in Australia, Dunstan’s campaigning efforts in the 1960s were seminal, having laid the foundation for the highly professional ‘It’s Time’ campaign which swept Gough Whitlam to office in 1972.
In 1976 Don Dunstan also published a self-titled cook book.
The Adelaide Advertiser published a review of the cookbook in 2006. It’s online here and reproduced below:
Cooking: Home-grown – Don Dunstan’s legacy
Review by GENEVIEVE HARRIS, THE ADVERTISER JUNE 22, 2006 11:30PM
Thirty years after South Australian renaissance man and premier Don Dunstan published his cookbook, the recipes remain as modern as ever.
COURAGE, innovation and change were the hallmarks of one of South Australia’s most remarkable premiers, Don Dunstan, who served in the post for a short time in 1967 and again from 1970 to 1979. He not only steered many forward-thinking changes to our state’s laws and legislation but also challenged our perspective on food, cooking, restaurants, theatre, the arts and even fashion. Who could forget his parade of short-sleeved safari suits, long socks and pink shorts?
In the middle of his most productive time, 30 years ago this year, Don Dunstan found the energy and inspiration to write a cookbook. Don Dunstan’s Cookbook defined the ’70s in terms of kitchen arts, he later described it as “a period piece”, yet its text and recipes remain relevant and sometimes innovative.
It was developed around his home and garden. He had a fowl pen as the foundation of his garden, and chicken features heavily. He describes chicken as “the best basis of Australian cuisine” – more true today than ever.
Culturally diverse even then, many of the recipes are drawn from and influenced by Mr Dunstan’s travels. Indian and Malay cooking each take up a chapter, with healthy smatterings of French, Italian, Greek and Swedish and other flavours in between.
Desserts were omitted from the original 1976 edition, but were introduced in a 1998 edition, focusing on fruits from the garden. These four recipes, taken from his cookbook and reproduced faithfully, are not out of place in 2006.
The scrambled eggs are a delicious brunch idea and a strikingly similar version can be found today at Citrus restaurant in Hutt St. Blend with 300ml cream and a noggin of brandy. Put in glasses and chill.
Don Dunstan’s Cookbook was first published by Rigby in 1976, and a second edition by Calypso Press. It is out of print. The recipes are published here with metric measurements. The chicken with chickpeas is an easy, hearty winter stew. It matches wonderfully with the simple but flavoursome bean recipe. Mr Dunstan was quite passionate about beans and begged us not to boil them out of existence.
Last, there’s the rhubarb fool, and Mr Dunstan certainly was no fool to allow the aromatic, sweet, sour flavour of home-grown rhubarb dominate. In the “Joy Of Cooking” chapter, Mr Dunstan explains: “I find a continuous satisfaction in growing, preparing, serving and eating food, and want to share it with you.”
Chicken with chickpeas
1 large roasting chicken (2kg)
2 tbsp corn oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
250g chickpeas, soaked overnight
Juice 1 or more lemons
2-4 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and black pepper or pinch of cayenne
Cut the chicken into joints. Heat the oil in a saucepan or deep, flame-proof casserole (large enough to hold chicken). Fry the onion in the oil until soft and golden. Sprinkle with turmeric and mix well. Add the chicken and saute gently, turning it until it is a dark, yellow colour all over. Add a pint (about 600ml) of water, the soaked and drained chickpeas, lemon juice and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer gently covered for an hour or longer, until the chicken is very tender, the chickpeas soft, yellow and lemony, and the liquid very much reduced. Adjust seasoning and serve.
1 onion, finely chopped
Young green beans, amount to suit, topped
2 tbsp chicken stock
Chop an onion finely and soften in butter over a low flame.
Add your tender young beans just topped and tailed, and toss them in the covered pan until they are glistening. Cook over a low flame, giving an occasional toss for 3 minutes. Then add a small amount – almost two tablespoons – of chicken stock. Simmer, then cover, until the beans are tender.
Eggs (to suit number of serves)
Small knob of ginger, peeled Ghee
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder
Red chilli, finely chopped (to taste)
Powdered cumin, to sprinkle
Fresh tomato wedges, to garnish
Extra coriander leaves, to garnish
Another flavoursome variant on scrambled eggs goes this way.
Beat your eggs and add cream and stir it in well. Chop some fresh ginger, and fry it in ghee. Add a chopped onion and fry until soft. Now add 2 tbsp of fresh coriander leaves chopped, and a tsp of turmeric. Stir them and add the eggs; continue stirring. As the eggs commence to set, add some finely chopped fresh red hot chilli, or if you haven’t these, sprinkle in a scant half tsp of hot chilli powder. Continue stirring, and when the eggs have set, serve. Sprinkle the top with powdered cumin seed, and garnish with fresh tomato wedges and sprigs of coriander.
1 bunch rhubarb
1 cup sugar
A slug of brandy
String and chop a bunch of rhubarb.
Put in a saucepan with a cup of sugar and enough water not quite to cover, and simmer until soft.
Although I’m happy to eat vegetarian and vegan food most of the time (there are a lot of awesome Lebanese, Indian and Vietnamese dishes I love in this category for starters) I am basically an omnivore. However that doesn’t stop people asking me for tips and lists of Veggie options for themselves or their friends visiting Canberra.
I’ve always said there’s no point re-inventing the wheel and will happily point to existing resources to save my own time and effort.
Here is the best list I have recently found of Vegan (and vegetarian) eating options in Canberra. Enjoy:
<Updated May 2014> Also my friend Sonja has a blog with useful info about vegan meals in the parliamentary triangle here: http://sonjabarfoed.com/2014/04/vegan-in-the-parliamentary-triangle-ii/ Sonja can be followed on twitter as well @SonjaBarfoed .
<updated July 2014> I also just found a very good online list of Vegan joints in Canberra here: http://www.happycow.net/australia/australian_capital_territory/canberra/
Many Canberrans will recognise Carmen from her family’s “Honey Delight” stall at our local Farmers Markets and shows. I first met Carmen a few years ago online as she is a prolific social media user who spreads the good news about bees in and around Canberra with passion! I recently met her in real life when I ambitiously volunteered to host an urban hive in our family backyard. Sadly for various reasons, including dogs, cats, too many small children and my desire to re-arrange and re-design our whole backyard and gardens meant I went back to the bottom of the waiting list for new hives. Bees need a little bit of private space and some relative peace, both of which are in short supply in our household!
Carmen recently agreed to be the subject of another regular Canberra Foodie interview and I hope to join her soon for a breakfast during her never-ending quest to find Canberra’s best Eggs Benedict, and she has found some very impressive samples already!
A photo of Carmen standing proudly in front of her award-winning honey at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
So Carmen, who are you? I am a third generation beekeeper. I grew up in a large commercial beekeeping family in northern NSW – the Walker Family. At times we were the largest beekeeping family in Australia and during our most productive years we employed up to 10 men.
My family has exported bees and honey to a number of countries including, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and the middle east. We practice a natural beekeeping method and while we have met the criteria for organic produce for over a decade it is only recently that the family as a whole has agreed to commence the organic certification process.
We sell our family produce under the label of Honey Delight at Capital Region Farmers Market. It is an excellent, raw, untreated honey and recently won 3 gold medals and champion commercial exhibitor in the National Honey Show at The Royal Easter Show, Sydney.
I moved to Canberra 20 years ago (mainly due to lack of opportunity in the small country town where I grew up). I’ve continued to spend large periods of time in the country and now consider myself a rural-urban hybrid. I keep my own bees and the majority of my equipment belonged to my grandfather.
My family and I started Canberra Urban Honey in 2012 as a response to the many requests we were getting to help people pollinate their backyard fruit and vegetables. The project began as a community project that my family and I managed on a volunteer basis. We financed the project using donations from our extended family and also raised a small amount of money using crowd funding. Our project used Pozible to raise $2,000 and was the first Australian agricultural project to use crowd funding.
The immense community support for our project and the demand for bees as pollinators in the city meant the project had to evolve in order to remain viable into the future. In 2014 we changed Canberra Urban Honey to a not-for-profit venture and it now employs my son Mitchell as a trainee beekeeper. Our Canberra bees struggled in the drought but our tender loving care meant our bees produced excess honey during the 2013 spring and summer. We finally had our first significant honey harvest at the end the summer of 2014.
Canberra Urban Honey has subsequently been recognised for significant urban agricultural excellence and won Champion at Canberra Show. Canberra Urban Honey is the first urban honey to be awarded a medal at the National Honey Show at the Royal Easter Show. We are incredibly proud of the Canberra community for making this all possible and we hope they feel part of the significant recognition Canberra Urban Honey has achieved over the past two years.
Age? Ha ! – not disclosed!
Where do you live? Gungahlin
How long have you been blogging? 3 years
Other hobbies? Gardening
Apple or Android? Apple
Favourite TV show? I have three – Walking Dead, Vikings and Downton Abbey
(I have been heavily influenced by my teenage children)
Favourite devices? My phone camera and Gopro
Can we take a peek at your home screen?
Most-used app? Twitter
Favourite social media? Twitter
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? Twitter
What do you worry about at night? Mostly nothing but otherwise – bees and the weather
Most exciting recent news? Medals at The National Honey Show for Honey Delight and Canberra Urban Honey
<And here is the photo to prove it!>
Ideal career? Beekeeper
Recent book you recommend? MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood – look for me in the acknowledgements.
Recent online video you laughed at? didn’t get one so I’ve taken a bit of licence here and added an interesting bee clip… is that ok Carmen? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTLgSqu4r3E
Favourite food? Honeycomb with brie and crackers – I have it every day !
To learn more about Carmen’s amazing award-winning work with bees go to her website: Honey Delight
Carmen and Mitch have also done plenty of interesting media about their adventures with bees, like this recent story on ABC Rural: Australia’s youngest urban commercial beekeeper