About us

We are two friends, one living in town and one in the country, who love to cook and entertain at home. We share a passion for our gardens and for the easy-going lifestyle of sub-tropical eastern Australia. And, yes, we both have garden ponds teaming with frogs.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Simple seafood...

Nothing can beat standing in a vegetable garden full of lovely leafy greens and ripening tomatoes, but the next best fresh-foodie thing a person can do is take a trip to a local seafood market and pick up a bundle of just-caught prawns and a few cleaned whole fish.

Goldband snapper

So, on a sunny Spring Sunday, Country Frog slipped down to the seashore to visit the seafood store, stopping to see the seagulls at Scarborough boat harbour where the fishing boats pull in with the fresh catch.


Serve with crusty bread, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. No need to mess around with fancy dressings – let the fresh produce shine all on its own.

On a bed of fresh salad greens, toss down a combination of roughly chopped tomato, cucumber, avocado and mango or pawpaw. Top with a finely sliced salad onion if desired then add a double handful of fresh unpeeled cooked prawns. (The photo shows mango slices that were frozen from last summer’s crop, and so are slightly softer than fresh mango slices but just as tasty.)

There is no simpler way to cook fresh whole fish.

Serves 2
Time: 5 minutes preparation; 10 minutes cooking; 5 minutes resting.
You will need: Large stovetop frying pan with lid; egg lifter

1kg(ish) fresh whole white-fleshed fish such as snapper or squire (young snapper), gutted and scaled
Juice of 1 fresh lemon, and slices of lemon skin
½ teaspoon salt
½ - 1 cup water

1. Heat water, juice, sliced lemon skin and salt in pan until simmering. Lower the fish into the liquid, return to a slow boil and cook five minutes with lid on.
2. Carefully turn fish using egg lifter. Cook covered further five minutes, with lid on.
3. Turn the heat off and leave fish undisturbed in hot liquor for further five minutes.

To serve: Turn the fish again, very carefully and lift the fillet from the back bone in one piece. Lift away the bone, and serve the second fillet. Eat piping hot with salad, salt and pepper.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS – This makes a lovely light seafood dish to serve with fluffy white rice.

1 small onion, finely sliced
1 stick celery cut into fine strips
1 small carrot cut into fine strips
3 – 4 whole green prawns per person
fresh herbs to taste (basil, parsley or coriander)

1. Add onion, celery and carrot to cold poaching liquor, as above, and bring to boil.
2. Cook fish on one side, as above, then after turning, add green prawns and herbs to the pan. Increase the heat to keep the liquor at a slow boil. Cook for further five minutes, and rest five minutes.
3. Serve fish, prawns and vegetables onto a bed of rice, adding a little of the seafood stock as sauce/juice to moisten the rice.

Tip: Leftover rice can be added to leftover liquor. In a small saucepan, simmer 15 minutes with extra vegetables to make an excellent fishy congee (rice soup).

Back home on the farm, inspired by fish galore at the market, I found a couple of interestingly shaped stumps in the wood pile and painted them up to be outdoor coffee/beer tables. You’ve just gotta smile when you see a happy fish!

Next: More spring-season seafood – octopus and mussels

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Koalas, tomatoes and a walk around the frogs' gardens

Spring has sprung. Almost overnight we have leapt from frosty nights to salad days; from fireside stews to picnics; from soup to seafood. Down on the farm last evening, a koala waddled across the lawn on his way to a spring-night tryst (a koala is very noisy when he is on a date with his mate).

It was too dark for a photo and I would never disturb a koala with business on the brain, but this leaf-eater is from the same colony, and they often venture quite close to the house, which is a dog-free zone.

In the town garden, bees are buzzing, birds are bathing, and the lavender is ready to be picked and dried for bathroom posies and to put between the towels in the linen cupboard.

In both gardens, town and country, self-grown cherry tomatoes are dripping from the vines.

FROGBLOG TIP: Become a tomato convert! If you are currently a tomato buyer rather than a tomato picker, take the fattest ripest cherry or heirloom tomato from the pack, cut it into four and pop each of the quarters into a scrape of earth in some sunny spot in the garden or in a balcony pot. No need to water. Wait for rain, or the next hosing. Cherry tomatoes are the easiest to grow, are generally pest free, and once you have one up and fruiting, you’ll have them for life. Let your vine sprawl and ramble, or tie it to a stake if neatness is your thing.


Take a double handful of pumpkin, peeled and cut into cubes, and fry in a little olive oil until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add halved red cherry tomatoes and dress with fresh coriander leaves or parsley.

Serve warm or at room temperature, or turn it into a meal by stirring through some cooked warm pasta. Add olives and/or sliced red onion.

SLICED HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD with char-grilled red pepper

Slice tomatoes; lie on a bed of fresh salad greens; top with marinated red pepper. Serve simply, without dressing, or use the oil from the peppers. (These peppers were hot fire-smoked down on the farm – but that is a recipe for another time!)

Next: Springtime seafood in September – some shellfish, squid and snapper...

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Green pea and potato soup

First day of spring, the Country Frog is still hibernating so I'm thinking one more soup post, with thanks. 
Soup doesn’t come much simpler than this, yet the combination of just three vegetables gives a nutritious meal-in-a-bowl with fibre, protein, carbohydrates and a good mix-up of vitamins. Use the recipe in its basic form, or try the variations that follow.

Serves 4 as main meal with crusty bread and cheese to share.
Serves 6 as a starter.
Very easy.
Time: 5 minutes preparation; 15 minutes cooking.
You will need: Chopping board and knife; medium saucepan; food processor or stick-mixer.

2 cups fresh or frozen green peas (un-minted)
4 medium scrubbed potatoes, roughly diced
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
2 - 3 cups water
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs olive or other oil
Optional: 2 – 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat; add diced onion and cook until just beginning to colour, stirring now and then. Add garlic and continue to cook until onion is softly golden.
2. Add peas, chopped potato, salt, pepper and enough water to just cover the vegetables. Bring to boil; cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until peas are breaking down.
3. Puree in blender or in the pot with stick-mixer. Add more water if too thick and return to the boil before serving. Taste for salt, and add sparingly.
4. Delicious served with creamy natural yoghurt and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

Other suggestions: At Step 2, add any other green vegetables to hand, such as ½ cup diced celery, 1 or 2 chopped zucchini, diced broccoli stalks, shredded silverbeet or cabbage…


Dried peas are a great product to keep in the pantry. They last indefinitely in an airtight jar, and can be used in stews, casseroles, curry, pies and pasties - and they are especially good in soup.

Dried green peas
Whole dried peas and split green peas need to be soaked for 6 – 8 hours, well covered with water, before cooking. In the supermarket, they are generally shelved near 'soups'. Dehydrated whole green peas can also be used – as a substitute for fresh or dried peas – and do not require prior soaking. (You will find them near the dehydrated/instant potato.)

Yellow split peas are not really suitable for simple soups as they require a much longer cooking time, and are best when twice cooked or pressure cooked.

Frogblog Tip: Put peas in water to soak overnight, or before leaving for work in the morning. 1 cup peas will need 2 cups water. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the kitchen bench. Don’t discard the soaking water, but use in the cooking. Unlike the soaking water from kidney beans, which is generally discarded, pea water doesn’t cause flatulence!

DRIED GREEN PEA AND POTATO SOUP (with a touch of curry)

Serves 4 – 6 with flatbread or pappadams
Time: 5 minutes preparation; 30 minutes cooking
You will need: Chopping board and knife; large saucepan with lid; blender or potato masher.

1 cup split green peas, soaked 6 – 8 hours, as above
1 large onion, peeled and roughly diced
2 – 3 medium washed potatoes, chopped (≈ 2 -3 cups)
1 rounded tsp mild curry paste or powder
½ tsp salt, or 1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbs cooking oil

1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat; add onion and cook until beginning to colour.
2. Add curry; stir in well and cook for 30 seconds.
3. Add drained peas, potato, salt (sauce) and enough water to just cover.
4. Bring to the boil; turn to low; simmer with lid on for 20 -30 minutes until peas are soft and breaking down.
5. For a textured soup, mash in the pot with potato masher. Or puree in blender or with stick-mixer.


Add a good double-handful of roughly chopped peeled pumpkin to either recipe, and cook along with peas and potato. Puree to serve. Pumpkin with mild aromatic curry is always a failsafe combination.

Compiled - and tasted - by two frogs.
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