Monday, 17 March 2014

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch & Cruden Farm

Cruden Farm had one of it's open days over the weekend.

We have been wanting to visit for years but invariably we remember to look at Open day dates the weekend just after one has been. Sigh.

Somehow this time we got it right and now with the great road upgrades to get there it was a quick 1/2 hour trip. Amazing.

I have admired Dame Elisabeth Murdoch all my life.
It was really something vey special to wander around the place where she brought up her four children.

Cruden Farm was given to her by her husband Keith as a wedding gift when she married him at 19 years of age.

She lived there until her death two years ago aged 103. An incredible woman.

Around the large property are many many white bench seats.
I wandered around imagining her sitting in them.  It made me smile. We sat in a few of them and I wondered what her life there might have been like.

I'm so glad she was alive.

Quick Asian style Calamari salad:
At the moment I am teaching a series of one on one private cooking sessions with a client.
She has GREAT taste in food.
Lots of great flavours and nutritious eating. Right up my alley.
This week she wanted some help cooking up a Prawn and Tofu salad from a Neil Perry cookbook (not sure which one- sorry!)

As we were cooking it I told her I wanted to come back to her place for dinner too! It smelt so fresh and full of the flavours I LOVE.
I couldn't wait- so on the way home I stopped in at the fishmonger and got a small piece of calamari and made my own version.
Lots of people are scared of cooking calamari- the trick to success in this instance is to heat the pan till almost smoking and flash fry it super fast at high heat until opaque.
It will probably only take a couple of minutes.


  • 300g calamari & cleaned cut into rectangles about 5cm long and scored in a criss cross pattern- do this gently so as not to cut through the calamari entirely.
  • 250g mixed salad leaves
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, roots washed well & chopped coarsely
  • 1/2 bunch mint, chopped coarsely
  • 4 large red chillies (less if you are not a chilli fiend and perhaps remove the seeds & membranes)
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate mixed with 1/4 cup water
  • 2 red shallots
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 250g bean sprouts
  • rice bran oil
In a food processor blitz the red chillies, the red shallots, the sugar and the roots and stalks of the bunch of Fresh coriander.

Remove and place into a jar or bowl.  Add tamarind water & fish sauce. Mix well. 

In a large salad bowl mix together the salad leaves, the bean sprouts, the remaining fresh coriander and mint.

Add 3 tablespoons of the chilli dressing & mix through well with your hands.

Heat a non- stick pan to high heat and carefully add a teaspoon Rice bran oil.
Add prepared Calamari immediately and stir fry till just opaque- a minute or two.
Remove from heat and add to salad.

Toss well and serve immediately.


  1. Calamari is one of my favourite foods. So simple. Will definitely try this salad, it sounds fresh and delicious. Cruden farm is a magical place, Dame Elisabeth is certainly very inspirational x

  2. Alli @ ducks on the dam17 March 2014 at 17:39

    I have done the same as you - found out the day or weekend after. Definitely on my bucket list too

  3. Cruden Farm is just beautiful isn't it? And she was too. I especially love her lemon scented gum driveway....amazing!

  4. What an amazingly gorgeous looking place!! It looks like an ideal place to raise a family :)

  5. What a stunning spot and that salad is perfection.


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