It was also where brother-in-law Phil turned out a fine lamb roast in the cooking gizmo, made from an old gas bottle in the Maryborough suburb of Granville. It roasts, grills and fries and would probably make you a nice cup of coffee if you asked it nicely.
It’s a versatile cooking arrangement particularly useful for areas where you are not allowed open fires – or when it would be unwise to light one.
“Slap Ya Mama” is a Louisiana brand of chilli mix that Ed and Rita bought with them from the States to treat us on the track. The result was divine (see recipe below).
With margarita sundowners and tostados, following the next night by lamb roast, we might have been close to the routes taken by old drovers but we were a long, long way from sharing their privations.
Tom Cole in his superb book Hell, West and Crooked devotes a chapter to describing the diet of the drover and explaining why those men who lived in the saddle were usually lean. Weevils were in the flour used for damper, the meat was either too fresh or going rotten and there was not a lot else. They ate only enough to survive, not enjoy.
We ate to enjoy. The tostadas, made with other authentic ingredients Ed and Rita had brought with them, were perfect.
We had another traditional snack for breakfast: tortillas fried with white cheddar filling.
Ed presented me with the rest of the “Slap Ya Mama” chilli powder that I am learning to use carefully. Very carefully. They wrote out the recipe:
Ingredients: Corn tortillas (pronounce the “ll” as a “y”) or tostadas shells; ground beef (mince); chopped onion; chilli powder (If you can’t get “Slap Ya Mama” eat your heart out); cumin, garlic powder; salt and pepper; guacamole; refried beans; salsa; chopped tomatoes; shredded lettuce; sour cream.
Method: Brown mince with onion and add spices. Saute tortillas in oil until slightly crisp. Spread refried beans on tortillas, sprinkle a layer of mince on top and then layer guacamole, salsa, tomatoes, lettuce and sour cream.
Enjoy! And if you have any tortillas left, sprinkle them with cheese and fry them for breakfast.
ABOVE: We take it easy while Rita and Ed from San Diego conjure up a Mexican feast.
BELOW: Phil does a magic lamb roast on his magic gizmo.