A week ago this morning, I woke up in my own bed for the first time since August 29. My head was thick and heavy from travel and a very long sleep, and my body was achy. I stretched, and, comfy in my sweatpants and bare feet, I stumbled into the kitchen to put the coffee on and prepare this:

It was the best bowl of cereal I've ever had.

After 46 days, 19 beds, 17 concerts, 2 sinus infections, 1 busted suitcase, and countless stories, adventures and experiences, it is good to be home.

Shortly after finishing these bowls of cereal, we heard a knock on our door and were delighted to find our 4-year-old niece and our brother-in-law on the other side. She couldn't wait any longer, Jamal told us. It was after lunchtime, after all.

The last seven days have been filled with visits from family and friends, as well as unpacking, laundry, organizing, and clearing the layer of dust that settled while we were away. We've also been getting back into the routine of work and catching up on related details.

That's why it's taken me until now to fulfill the promise I made so many weeks ago: that recipe for meat pie.

We love this dish, and, in my opinion, it's perfect for fall. Try it at the park, on a chilly Friday evening, with friends.  It's also great in winter, or whenever you have a hankering. Pair it with roasted carrots and parsnips, and you've got a meal.

Fall 2009
If you make this dish, please please please tell me about it. I'd love to know what you think.

Chunky Meat Pie
Adapted from Coles

When making meat pie, plan ahead. It's a long process, though largely unattended. Several steps, such as making the crust dough, cubing the meat, even cooking the meat, can be done ahead of time. You can simplify it by buying ready-made pastry crust, but if you have the time and inclination, you should make your own. It's always better. And cheaper. Modify this recipe to suit your own taste by throwing some veggies into the pot to simmer. Next time, I'll be trying it with hearty mushrooms.

About 1 tablespoon oil
750g (about 1.6 lbs) stew meat, cut into small pieces, about 1/4 inch
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
11/2 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef stock
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
double batch pie crust, any recipe OR 2 sheets ready-made pie crust from freezer section
1 egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water

For filling:
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Heat oil in a large wide saucepan. Cook beef in two batches over high heat for 5 minutes, or until browned. DRAIN fat from pan. (I have found this step to be very important. Without it, you'll have a fatty gravy at the end.) Return all meat an add onion and garlic; cook for 5 minutes. Stir in flour for 1 minute. Add the stock, thyme, tomato paste and worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Simmer uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until sauce has reduced to a gravy. Remove to a bowl and cool.

For crust:
Roll out half of pie crust dough or one pre-made sheet into a circle about 1-inch larger in circumference than your pie plate. Trim the edges. Prick base several times with a fork. Stand in the freezer for 10 minutes or in fridge for 30. Cover pastry base with baking paper then top with dried beans or rice and cook for 10 minutes. Remove paper and beans or rice and cook extra 8-10 minutes until just firm and beginning to color.

Fill the pastry shell with the meat mixture and brush edges with egg. Roll other half of dough into a circle and place on top on meat filling. Trim. Pres dough into edges of crust. Cut 2 small slits into the top of the pie. Brush pie with egg mixture. Bake 25 minutes or until browned.


This Journey's End

Our revels now are ended.

As you read this, we are probably out for dinner in Byron Bay, celebrating the finish of the final concert and the successful tour. Or, we may be back at our accommodation, organizing our bags for an international flight on Monday morning. Or, we may already be enroute to LA where we'll visit friends for a couple days before finally landing in Philadelphia on Thursday evening.

Six weeks.

It's a long time on the road, living out of a suitcase, sleeping in a different bed every couple of nights, eating out for nearly every meal. It's a long time for me anyway. There were times when I itched for a routine and for my own home, but it has been both an exciting and a restful time.

I said I wanted to see more of Australia and her contrasts, and to a great degree, I believe I have, from dry and seemingly-deserted country towns to bright and busy capital cities. I have a greater vision of the land that my husband will to some extent, regardless of how long he lives in the United States, call home.

Thanks for coming along with us. I've enjoyed sharing this journey with you.

Though I started this blog just before our trip began, I didn't start it just for the trip alone. As I mentioned in my first post, it's a place to practice the craft of writing, to explore ideas and to appreciate the many pleasures that life holds. It's still a pretty new thing for me, so it's hard to say exactly what you can expect, but I imagine I'll be talking mostly about food and food-related stories.

And I hope you'll stick around.


Australia in Pictures-Part Two

Aldinga Beach


Parliament House in Canberra

Parliament House from the side.
It's built into a hill.

In the Senate.
House of Reps is blue.
View of Parliament from the War Memorial

War Memorial

Shoalhaven River in Nowra

At the Nowra Wildlife Park

A few cute houses

See previous posts for pictures of other destinations, including Sydney and country towns.


Australia in Pictures-Part One

Funky Tree in North Adelaide

Kangaroo in Aldinga

Wattle in the Aldinga Scrub

Fuel pump in a country town
It's right on the street

Elephant Rocks

Graeme and a Giant Tree at
Walpole National Park

The view from the Treetop Walk
40m above the forest floor

Graeme and Me in the treetops

Nick and Graeme on the Pathway of the Ancients

The view from Albany

Natural Bridge

Albany Wind Farm

Kangaroo Paw
King's Park, Perth

Lavendar, maybe? 


Kangaroo Paw



Sydney: Take Two

We managed to get back to Sydney today for a quick look. We ferried to the Harbour and walked along the Circular Quay and through the Domain. 

Take a look:

Ferry from Greenwich into the city


The Rocks--the older section on the Quay

Harbour Bridge
Luna Park in the background

Didgeridoo Player

The Opera House

Me and the Bridge

Graeme checking out the Opera House

Opera House again

The gate to the Domain and Botanical Garden

Is this a Banyan Tree?

I love these trunks

On Mrs. Macquarie's Chair



Government House

Someone dressed up King Edward VII

Another Didgeridoo Player


I love cities at night.