Whole Larder Love » Grow. Gather. Hunt. Cook.

It’s something I would have only imagined in a dream. But it’s really happening.

A weekend of my workshops held at the magical place that is Camp Wandawega, Wisconsin. I’ve been wanting to organise a weekend workshop stateside for a while now but nothing seemed to come together until now. This time though everything is falling into place, thanks to Max Wastler and David and Tereasa from Camp Wandawega.

So here it is. A weekend of sharing a bunch of skills I use in my daily life, along with good food, great company and poking campfires. It’s a skill based weekend and they may be skills you want to introduce into your own daily life, or it may just be the experience you’re after. Either way, events like this don’t come up very often. A weekend at Camp Wandawega alone is worth it. The place is a magical fairyland of awesomeness.

So what will we be doing on this rad weekend?

Over the course of the weekend I will teach you how to :

Dispatch a rabbit or chicken (depends on what I can get my hands on)
Pluck, gut, skin and butcher small game
How to prepare trout for smoking and curing, fillet and de-bone
Cure pork; make bacon, prosciutto, pancetta and chorizo sausage
Secrets of sourdough bread, pasta’s and pizza bases

Accommodation at the Camp and all food is included.

Tickets are limited. First in best dressed.

Book Here

 

 

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  • July 15, 2014 - 5:22 am

    Michelle - Holy cow! That camp is freakin’ amazing! I love it! I”m moving in!

    What a great event.ReplyCancel

  • July 15, 2014 - 11:47 am

    Brenda - oh my that living room with those comfy chairs, fire and deer heads…I’m moving in! Looks amazing!!! Well done Ro! Your workshop in Aus were amazing….you’ll amaze the pants off our american counterparts for sure xReplyCancel

  • July 17, 2014 - 2:42 am

    Dad Berry - “Hello muddah, hello faddah
    Here I am at Camp Wandawega.”ReplyCancel

Opting for the backroads is not just an approach for getting from A to B. It’s also whatever alternative route you choose other than the main more obvious path. I’m all for taking the long way round, those roads with no hitchhikers, no large groups of lycra clad riders and not a sign of the  weekend tourist driver. The rougher the surface, the more remote, or the more bordered in bush the better. The same can be said about an approach to living. I don’t believe that it’s about going against the tide, it’s more so just taking a different path to get to a similar destination.

The previous version of me, he always took the safe road. In life I’d often chose the path that was the brightest lit, the best paved and the clearest in direction. I can’t take that path any more. I’ve avoided that route for years now, and my now preferred alternate route takes me everywhere I need to go. Be it in snow, rain or hail.

If you’re keen on taking that back road you will find that you may be late, you may learn something new and no doubt you may disappoint, aggravate and frustrate some people that may be waiting for you at the end of the journey. You just have to stay the course. You just have to drive whatever way you think is best for you.

I took my truck on one of those journeys that was both literal and metaphorical. At the end was the prise of an oak forest that housed more of the beautiful lilac wood blewitts. They’ve made the most gnarly meals that are fast becoming new winter favourites. Slow cooked bunny, blewits and bows (farfalle) is surely one of those new to my list of winter food traditions. It’s a dish made extra turbo with a few slices of my new Jamon, (aged 9 months from that big old sow we butchered last year), mascarpone and peccorino. It’s most definitely a take on the classic creamy mushroom and chicken sauce, but it’s the backroad version. Another example where taking the alternative route, and choosing a lost path will give you something new to experience and possibly treasure. This meal is triple awesome.

Wild food. . .who in their right mind would choose wild food over conventionally grown food? It’s 2014, not 1814. We have the technology. Opting for the backroad in this case is one hell of a journey. I used to care knowing that what I was doing was quite different to the norm, but now I couldn’t care less. I just enjoy doing whatever it is that I like doing. Someone once asked me “whats with this hunter gatherer ego trip?” The truth is I don’t know. Only thing I’m sure of is that it’s definitely not an ego trip, it’s a life choice. A choice to live a particular way that I’ve embraced for life.

The upside? Well I get to have rad experiences for myself and I share many of these moments with my little family. My version #2 family. The one I’ve made with lovers, past and present. Us and our kids, our motley cure, our band of gypsies, travelling down backroads together, looking for a more adventurous and meaningful alternative.

We work together, we cook together, we grow and learn together. We have no set path, but we never lose our way.

Life’s too short not to take the alternative. You may just find your way by getting a little lost.

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  • July 12, 2014 - 7:20 am

    Jane @ Shady Baker - Love it Rohan, we take a few dusty back roads here too. Those pasta bows are perfect :) ReplyCancel

  • July 12, 2014 - 7:33 am

    Michelle - Having just spent seven hours driving home from Cradle Mountain via the back roads I can relate. Lovely post and I love the metaphor.ReplyCancel

  • July 12, 2014 - 9:56 am

    leaf (the indolent cook) - What a gorgeous pasta dish. Oh and I would argue that wild food IS also conventionally grown food… according to nature’s convention, and that has been around longer than we have. ;) ReplyCancel

  • July 12, 2014 - 11:08 am

    Robin - I’m always sad when we get back to pavement. Life is better on back roads. I drove on a back road a couple of days ago to pick wild raspberries and chanterelle mushrooms. Birch bark I’ll use to start fires was a bonus. It falls off logs as they’re being taken to the mill. I’m all set for fire starters and kindling for the campfire cuisine workshop I’ll lead in the fall.

    The pasta dish looks delicious!ReplyCancel

  • July 12, 2014 - 2:07 pm

    thecitygourmand - As always, I think you’ve captured the spirit of the season so wellReplyCancel

  • July 12, 2014 - 11:58 pm

    alan - My good man I saw the post and just had to try your pasta dish.
    I featured it today for supper and it was a hit.
    Love it, and love your blog.
    AlanReplyCancel

  • July 13, 2014 - 8:18 am

    look see. by naomi fenton - Snow! Mushrooms! Pasta! Oh my!ReplyCancel

  • July 13, 2014 - 10:55 pm

    Trish - Hi Ro,
    Any chance you will be including Bluies in this Saturday’s wild mushroom hunt workshop? I feel totally confident with collecting Saffron Milkcaps from your first workshop even though we only found three (wow, was that over a year ago already?) and now Slippery Jacks which we didn’t see that day but I have diligently researched and taught myself to identify. I’d love to add another shroom ID to my foraging repertoire! I went to my secret pines yesterday for what will probably be the last grasp of Milkcaps. They are getting too old and big to really enjoy now, but I still came home with a basketful. It just took bit longer, 3 hours + of foraging, to find enough good specimens; time well spent for me and my two pups!
    Is there still room on the hunt the 19th??ReplyCancel

There’s no doubt that it’s winter in the Central Highlands. I’ve installed woollen boot liners into my Bean boots, and made the most important purchase of the month, thermal socks. These are the few months out of a year that can pin a man down. The days are wet, cold, typically grey and often end before you expect them to. Secretly I love them. I love that winter slows life’s momentum to a snails pace.

I’ve worked hard for this time, for winter that is. I’ve stowed away many provisions. I’ve stored, cured, dried, bottled, frozen, jared, pickled and sauced. All in preparation for these few months of winter. As much as I’d like it to be a time of prolonged comfortable reflection by the fire, there is, as always, still chores to be done. There just isn’t that sense of urgency like there is in Spring to Autumn. This time of the year I consider to be a gift from the family of seasons. It’s breathing space to collect yourself.

Food is an integral part of survival at this time. I’m not being literal here, I’m referring to the mental health benefits that winter soul food provides. In this last week I’ve twice cooked a recipe of deer where I slow cook the beast for an entire day. The legs of deer gently bubble away in a cast iron dish, the aromatics blessing the kitchen with sweet promising fragrance. Mouths begin to salivate, a reaction to the intrigue of what may materialise at the dinner table.

Light is different this time of year. If you take the effort to notice you will enjoy a softness of light that is, often mistaken for bleakness. Shadows contrast and detail all seem to manifest a seasonally specific mood. Fire glows deep red, orange and yellow. Nights are long, frigid but mellow. Blankets become treasured items, as do friendly bodies that warm you with embrace.

Meals are hot, full of steam and sizzle. Warming flavours where spice is no longer sparingly applied. Chilli, Cayenne and mountain pepper are added to most meals. The last of the fresh chilli from the patch is a delight, with that unmistakable pepper flavour reminding us of warmer days.

Before the ice, frost and maybe snow arrives, we take advantage of the last of the forest mushrooms. The field mushrooms finished up months ago as soon as the frost arrived, when they retreated until the following year. The forest floor however is still very active, with late season mushrooms starting to peak out from rotting leaf litter.

Rain taps heavily on the roof, the hot oven hums and the hardwood crackles in the fireplace. The smell of fluffy pastry fills the room, that buttery aroma promises a perfectly cooked crusty pie. Steam erupts from cracks in the pie, escaping into the cold air of the kitchen, only to disappear like ghosts in the night. Steel breaks open the pie, the smell of slow cooked deer meat and wild mushrooms is as warming as a cuddle from your grandma.

Roast vegetable soups, pastas, stews and casseroles dominate the evenings dinner prep. Food that was frozen in summer finally gets pulled from the ice box, cooked with a wintery twist. ‘Yab Chow’ a yabbie (crayfish) chowder with fried potato and yabbie dumplings seems right at home on a winter table. The chilli and spices bring spark to the table, like a flare gun in a football stadium. These small things are happiness to us when our bodies are telling us to be miserable because its grey days and buckets of rain.

How can you be miserable when you have so much beauty surrounding you? These elements of nature, the cold wind, the endless sideways drizzle, pure clean water drops gathering on green leaves, these are all beautiful things. They wash, cleanse and renew, just like it’s written on a bottle of shampoo. The seasons are broken up into four very different personalities, all having their trademark quirks. I love them all, but I reserve the softest spot for winter.

 

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  • June 29, 2014 - 8:51 am

    Donna - Finally someone who gets winter. The light is not gloomy; its soft. I adore it. The heat lasts so long into Autumn now. I treasure these months.ReplyCancel

  • June 29, 2014 - 8:59 am

    Dad Berry - Winter gives you something to look forward to.ReplyCancel

  • June 29, 2014 - 9:09 am

    Paul - hey Row, what are those grey mushrooms? They look great. I have been stacking wood, warmed three times from the pile so far, getting it into the trailer, cutting/splitting it, stacking it and in two years burning it. I love winter too. CheersReplyCancel

    • June 29, 2014 - 9:49 am

      rohan - Wood Blewitts! I’ve seen them in books before but never in the forest! It was a real treat to find something new to pick!ReplyCancel

  • June 29, 2014 - 9:18 am

    Charlotte Houston - drool. and double drool.
    A resolution to stop moaning about the cold and relish every minute of what’s left of winter.
    Cheers, CharlotteReplyCancel

  • June 29, 2014 - 9:38 am

    Alacoque - I’ve always loved winter. The wood fires, the rich comforting food, snuggling up with loved ones, curling up with a good book and a glass of red wine (when I’m not pregnant, of course). I love (short-ish) walks in the invigorating crisp air followed by a rewarding/restoring cup of hot tea or chocolate. Food seems to be such a cure for the cold. It’s like the season gives us an excuse to retreat to our families and do less. Treat ourselves well. Add rain on a tin roof and I’m in heaven.ReplyCancel

  • June 29, 2014 - 10:24 am

    Fraser from Old Mill Rd - Winter comes a close second to Autumn in my books. Definitely a time of rest and reward. Sleep and solace. Spring is hard work, Summer is draining but so much gets done. Autumn is for enjoying. Winter is reflection and looking ahead. As you say, they all have their own personalities and how flipping beautiful is that?!!!ReplyCancel

  • June 29, 2014 - 11:55 am

    Jane @ Shady Baker - I love everything about this post Rohan. Winter rocks.ReplyCancel

  • June 29, 2014 - 12:16 pm

    Simone - A magnificent post. I am deeply in love with Winter, and I’m drawn to anyone who also celebrates it. Fabulous! Off to drink more red wine by the fire. Thanks.ReplyCancel

  • June 29, 2014 - 12:46 pm

    Cindy Ricksgers - Beautiful reflection on the blessings of winter!ReplyCancel

  • June 29, 2014 - 9:43 pm

    Deb - Another great post, Rohan. I can almost taste that delicious looking pie.ReplyCancel

  • June 30, 2014 - 12:43 am

    lemmiwinks - Aaaaaand now I’m hungry! The Yab Chow looks especially delicious.ReplyCancel

  • June 30, 2014 - 1:30 am

    Justin - Nice one Ro. Very evocative. I’m with Fraser – autumn is still my favourite season but winter is close run second. I love it more and more the older I get, and I secretly get a kick out of hearing people complain about the cold. They can have summer, and leave winter for the rest of us.ReplyCancel

  • June 30, 2014 - 1:40 am

    Lou - Just beautiful …..reading your prose today makes me glad to be alive. And that is a MIGHTY fine looking pie !ReplyCancel

  • June 30, 2014 - 3:20 am

    debbie lee - how nice to read such a cosy and warm post.ReplyCancel

  • June 30, 2014 - 5:22 am

    Dale Morgan - lovely!ReplyCancel

  • June 30, 2014 - 8:53 pm

    So This is Winter - The Veggie Mama - […] like this blow my mind. You like this kind of weather? I mean, I see its charm. I think it’s a nice […]ReplyCancel

  • July 1, 2014 - 12:10 am

    natasha - Hi Ro,

    As a new fellow central highlander your comment “If you take the effort to notice you will enjoy a softness of light that is, often mistaken for bleakness” completely summed it up for me. Thanks for reminding me about the ‘silver lining’. Its all in how you perceive things that provides another opportunity to make the most of it. I’ve been loving walks in the pine forests more than I could have ever possibly imaged these last few weeks.

    Thanks againReplyCancel

  • July 3, 2014 - 10:54 am

    Jessie - Burgeoning time. A time to gather oneself together before the onslaught of madness known as Spring. I too look forward to winter. The alliums and brassicas take care of themselves, the garden doesn’t need any watering and althought the weeds need some maintenance, I treasure the times between the shouwers when the sun shines in lemon yellow to go and pull some weeds.
    Your meal sounds delicious and we too are into the meaty slow cooked meals. Nothing like a nice heavy stodgy meal to warm your insides whilst the fire toasts your derriere.
    I’ll raise a glass of mulled wine to snow this winter. We should see it according to all the locals in Ballan. :) ReplyCancel

  • July 5, 2014 - 5:14 am

    Winter: it’s all about the food | collette beck - […] authentic. You can feel it through his velvety prose and his beautiful photos. Specifically, the ‘Buckets of Rain’ post sent me directly in to my kitchen with the intention of cloaking myself in the warm comfort […]ReplyCancel

  • July 5, 2014 - 5:44 am

    look see. by naomi fenton - Love these bits of winter – but I have to tell you I struggle with the whole getting up in the dark thing! Other than that, everything else about this time of year is amazing. I love rugging up, heading outside in the cold and then coming back to a warm house and warm cuppa.ReplyCancel

  • July 5, 2014 - 8:38 am

    Parkesy - Nice read, Rohan! It’s good to be reminded of how we should appreciate the seasons for what they bring and mean to us. I love winter. It’s definitely a chance to relax and catch up on the previously hectic months. And by the time we’re sick of the cold, spring comes and we look forward to what that brings. That’s what I love most about Victoria. The seasons and weather are so varied you can never get bored!ReplyCancel

  • July 6, 2014 - 6:47 am

    Rach - Winter over here in the West is seemingly fleeting some years and no where near cold enough for my liking. We have wild storms but the chill, down to the bone, the kind that turn your cheeks pink? No, we don’t get that and for me that’s what Winter is all about.

    And so, with the heat clinging onto Autumn for longer and longer each year, when the ‘cold’ does arrive, I cherish and revel in it.

    Your food looks delicious and just the kind of hearty, warming food you need in your part of the world – so jealous of your cold winters!ReplyCancel

  • July 8, 2014 - 3:09 am

    yvette - As always, so beautiful….
    As always, many thanks…

    xoReplyCancel

  • July 9, 2014 - 10:12 pm

    Ami@naivecookcooks - First time here but I must say I am in love with your writing. It makes me feel I am experiencing it all as I read every word of yours. BRILLIANT is all I can say in humble words!ReplyCancel