Tag Archives: family meals

The Ultimate Lunchbox Solution…Chook Rissoles with Buried Treasure.

I swear if I find one more lunchbox with the kids’ sandwiches untouched, I’m going to combust. Go stark raving mad and absolutely bonkers. Bonkersbonkers!

Sensing and perhaps identifying with my overall frustration, you’ll understand that this isn’t a rare event. Our son usually eats his sandwiches but our daughter is an unrepentant recidivist. She is 8 years old and if I’m lucky, she might eat half a sandwich. More commonly, however, I’ll find that tell-tale “mouse” bite out of one half of otherwise untouched sandwiches. Most of the time, however, they’ve been left completely untouched. That’s right. We’re talking pure neglect! (Of course, we all know that neglecting to eat your school lunch should be a criminal offense. I’m not sure who makes the laws or whether it is worth marching to Parliament House over this issue but my bag’s packed. I’m halfway out the door!)

Day after day, month after month, this little scenario continues. Mum dutifully makes the sandwiches each morning. Child ignores or refuses to eat said sandwiches. They come home. Prior to his visit to the vet a few years ago, the dog was getting the leftover sandwiches and I swear that two years later, he can still identify a lunchbox. My children barely eat and our dog barely stops! His ribs still bear testament to those uneaten lunches.

Anyway, now that I’m getting back on my feet again after my recent health setbacks and have been teaching the kids how to cook, I’ve revisited the school lunchbox. This afternoon I spotted some chicken mince in the supermarket and with fresh resolve, I adlibbed chicken rissoles for the kids lunchboxes tomorrow and my husband even gets some to take to work.

These rissoles were made with what I had to hand at home. I didn’t have any coriander at home today but I think that would make a wonderful addition. The whole idea with this recipe is that you add the veggies you like and then add some breadcrumbs, eggs and cheese to the chicken mince. As this combo will be a bit slushy, just thicken it up with flour until the mix forms a fairly solid lump. This took at least half a cup of flour when I made them, although I was pouring the flour straight in and judging by feel when the consistency was right.

A word of warning concerning food safety when cooking using raw chicken. Raw chicken is a breeding ground for Salmonella bacteria. Please ensure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after touching raw chicken and before touching something else. It’s all very well to spread your love around but you need to keep bacteria contained. I also wear disposable gloves while mixing the mince and make sure I have all the ingredients ready to go in so I’m not tempted to grab ingredients with contaminated fingers.

When sending the rissoles to school, it would be a good idea to send them along with a freezer brick or frozen drink, again to reduce the risk of food poisoning.

I’ve called this recipe: “Chook Rissoles with Buried Treasure”. “Chook” is what we Australians call chickens and it was my nickname back at school so it seemed appropriate. The “buried treasure” is, of course, all those hidden veggies although if your kids help with making the rissoles by perhaps grating the veggies, they’ll know they’re in there. However, I’m sure when they smell these tasty rissoles, they’ll just “2, 4, 6, 8…Bog in. Don’t wait”.

chicken rissoles

Chicken Rissoles with Buried Treasure

Chook Rissoles with Buried Treasure


1 kilo raw chicken mince, preferable organic

¼ cup oil

1 onion

3-4 mushrooms

1 zucchini, grated

1 carrot, grated

1 cup grated tasty cheese

1 cup approx fresh bread crumbs (a good use for left over bread!)

2 eggs, beaten

Splash of soy sauce

Dash of sweet chilli sauce


Disposable gloves

Could also add coriander or other fresh herbs and some red capsicum would also taste great.



  1. When it comes to making the rissoles, you will be pan-frying the onion, garlic and mushrooms and the remaining ingredients will be going directly into a large bowl with the raw chicken mince.
  2. Taking a chopping board and sharp knife, dice the onion and mushrooms, keeping them separate. They will be heading for the frying pan.
  3. Grate the zucchini and carrot. The cheese can be bought pre-grated or you can grate it now. Add the zucchini, carrot and cheese to a large mixing bowl.
  4. Turn the hot plate onto medium to high heat. Using a large, heavy frying pan, add the oil and heat until it is starting to sizzle.
  5. Add the diced onions and garlic and fry until slightly browned and then add the mushrooms. Fry until light brown in colour. Then add to the mixing bowl.
  6. Using a blender or other device, pulverise a few slices of bread to make breadcrumbs. I probably added about a cup full although I didn’t measure them precisely. Add to the mixing bowl.
  7. Pour about half a cup of flour into a cup and keep to hand. You don’t want to be touching the bag of flour with chicken mince hands. Remember, you do not want to be spreading those raw chicken germs and the potential for Salmonella all around your kitchen.
  8. Crack two eggs into a bowl and whisk with a fork and keep to hand.
  9. Add the chicken mince to the mixing bowl.
  10. Add the beaten eggs to the rissole mix along with sauces.
  11. Put on a pair of disposable plastic gloves and start kneading through the mix making sure all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. The mixture will be quite sloppy at this point.
  12. Add plain flour until the mix thickens up and gains a solid, dough-like consistency.
  13. It is now ready to cook.
  14. Heat the oil.
  15. Take handfuls of the chicken and veggie mix and roll it in your hands to make balls and add to the frying pan. When the pan is full, place the remaining rissoles on a large dinner plate or plastic chopping board. You can now remove the gloves and wash your hands thoroughly.
  16. Return to the frying pan. With the hotplate on medium heat, fry the rissoles until they are well browned on both sides. I put the lid on over the top. Cook thoroughly.


We had a sample for dinner tonight and my daughter loved them. She seemed very keen. I can only hope she is equally enthusiastic when she opens her lunchbox tomorrow.

I would like to try making these again with some fresh coriander and even some chopped macadamia nuts. You could also add frozen peas or corn kernels to the mix. It is very flexible but you do need to ensure all the ingredients can bind together.

This recipe certainly received a big thumbs up at our place!

Bon Appetite!

Xx Rowena

PS I’ll give you a little laugh at my expense. I forgot to pack my daughter’s lunch this morning after going to all the trouble of making the rissoles and running very late with last night’s dinner. A friend drops the kids off on Fridays so I can rest and so I was fully in lounging round the house in my PJs mode and I needed to apply a cattle prod to go out. I thought she had netball this morning and so went via school off to the local netball courts and back to school again. It was quite a tour for that very precious lunchbox.

So if my daughter doesn’t eat her lunch today after all of that effort, I’m going to…Well, I’ll surely think of something. Dear me! How long can I blame the chemo for what my elderly grandfather used to call his “good forgettery”?





A Brief Trip to Ireland

Last night our family celebrated what I’ll call a brief trip to Ireland.
Unfortunately, we were still very much at home in Australia. However, we did the next best thing. We cooked ourselves an Irish Stew and some Irish Soda Bread, listened to Riverdance and instead of our usual grace, we said an Irish Blessing. We even had green serviettes.
While it wasn’t St Patrick’s Day, we had a special Irish celebration of our own. You see, yesterday marked the 160th anniversary of the arrival of the first Curtin in Australia. His name was John Curtin and he was my Great Grandfather’s Grandfather. John Curtin came from Cork City, County Cork and he was an Able Seaman arriving in Sydney on board the Scotia on the 4th April, 1854.
As I’ve never been to Cork City, County Cork, I did the next best thing and went their online via Kieran McCarthy’s blog. I recommend you pop over for a quick visit yourself. Like me, you might find out it extends into quite an extended sojourn!

Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find a picture of John Curtin or the Scotia but the Scotia was one of those beautiful Tall Ships with white sails like tea towels billowing in the wind. These were the sorts of sailors who no doubt shared many, many yarns about their time at sea, especially stories about “Crossing the Line”, which referred to crossing the equator for the first time. These ceremonies were quite theatrical and sailors dressed up as King Neptune and his bride and the unfortunate initiates called “Johnny Raws”, were usually shaved with a very nasty, rusty implement and dunked. I will elaborate more on these ceremonies in a subsequent post. It is no wonder I’ve been so lost in my research. It’s riveting stuff!
Of course, the journey itself wasn’t my only entertainment. Their arrival in Sydney didn’t go unnoticed by the local water police.
On the 10th April 1854, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that John Eatough, Edward Wall, William Ferris, Stephen Malone, Henry Franklin, and John Grur, six seamen belonging to the Scotia, were charged with obstructing a constable in the execution of his duty. It appeared from the evidence, that constable Cassidy, of the Water Police, went on board the Scotia, at the request of the captain, for the purpose of apprehending a man on the charge of drunkenness, and that whilst so engaged the prisoners combined to prevent him from executing his duty, that several of them struck him, tore his clothes, and otherwise ill-used him.
At the trial, it appeared from the evidence of Captain Strickland that the assault was a most cowardly and unprovoked one, nearly the whole of the men having assaulted and ill-used the constable, who at the time was endeavouring to perform his duty in the most inoffensive way possible, and who was not in a position to command assistance. As there was no material evidence against Eatough and Greer, they were discharged, and the others were sentenced to pay a fine of 20s, each, or be imprisoned for fourteen days.
This wasn’t the only incident which ended up in court. On the 29th May 1854, The Sydney Morning Herald on page 5 again reports:
Daniel Carlos, a Portuguese seaman, belonging to the Scotia, was charged with desertion. The evidence showed that he had been apprehended on board the American vessel Revenue, on board which he had managed to obtain an engagement through the Shipping Master’s office by means of a false discharge. This document represented him as being a man lately discharged from the Jane. Captain Strickland stated that the prisoner had shipped as an able seaman on board his vessel some months previously, but that he had since been disrated for incompetency. The pri denied, amid much laughter, that he either knew Captain Strickland or his vessel. The case was ultimately remanded until Monday (this day), for the production of the articles, &c.
Another man, belonging to the Scotia, named Engine Depouta, was also charged with desertion. Like his shipmate, Daniel Carlos, he was discovered with a false discharge in his possession, bearing the name of Robert Ripley. Having pleaded guilty, he was sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment with hard labour, his Worship remarking that he considered this a case in which the full term of punishment ought to be inflicted, in consequence of the aggravation which the offence received from the possession of a false discharge.
Never a dull moment, there was even a death onboard the Scotia:
SUDDEN DEATH.-Yesterday morning a very melancholy and unexpected occurrence took place on board the Scotia, whilst that vessel was being drawn off from the wharf, for the purpose of being placed in a position to proceed to sea. The business was entrusted to the management of Captain Barnett, one of the harbour pilots, au old and respected public servant connected with this port. Whilst releasing the vessel from the wharf, Captain Barnett was one of the most active in hauling on the ropes, and it is feared that he exerted his physical strength to an undue extent, for in about two minutes after he had relinquished his hold of the rope, he fell down on the deck and expired instantly. Medical aid was immediately sent for, but, unfortunately, too late. It appears that the deceased gentleman had been suffering for some time past from a disease which had worked very perceptibly on his frame, and which was generally attended with spitting of blood. The immediate cause of death appears to be the rupture of a blood-vessel[1] SMH Tuesday 30 May 1854 pg 2

So while we do not have a great many details about John Curtin himself, we are slowly putting together some kind of jigsaw of his life or milieu.

After looking at a selection of paintings depicting Cork Harbour and Sydney around 1854, we had our dessert. I thought it was only fitting for us to finish our trip to Ireland with an Australian pavlova oozing with cream and topped with sumptuous kiwi fruit, strawberries and banana. After all, although John Curtin wasn’t born in Australia, he did become an Australian. Actually, he wasn’t technically an Australian because he died in 1882 and that was 18 years before Federation. Let’s just say that he was an Australian before his time who still had a chunk of Ireland lodged in his heart.
I really recommend you do something similar to share your cultural heritage with your family. Bring some of your assorted ancestors out of the closet and celebrate who they were and indeed what is a part of ourselves our very flesh and blood. You never quite know who you will meet once you start digging beneath the surface.
I have posted the recipes separately to make them easier to print out.
Just one note about this menu. It is best to make the pavlova the day before. This allows the pavlova to cool properly and it also allows you to juggle the use of your oven better if you only have a single oven. Pavlova is fairly quick and easy to make but it does need that hour to rest in the oven after cooking and can tie your oven up if you are trying to bake the bread.
I don’t know how to wish you a Bon Appetit in Gaelic but there’s always 2,4,6,8 bog in, don’t wait!
Xx Rowena

An Irish feast

An Irish feast