One of the best things about moving to Ballan is the new-found family connection we have already formed. It’s just wonderful. We have come closer together and enjoy spending time doing activities all together. I intend on taking a LOT more family outings over the year and I’ve already earmarked a few activities for us. I am hoping to be able to go somewhere new with the kids at least every 2 weeks, although I may be biting off more than I can chew with that plan. We will see.
Anyway, I love fresh fish, trout in particular. There really is nothing like the taste of a freshly caught, cleaned and cooked rainbow trout in my opinion and I’ve been keen to take the trip to Tuki Trout Farm in Smeaton for some months. However, the trip from Ballan is about 45-60 minutes so adding on another 45 minutes would have made it quite a long trip for the kids.
So on Saturday, with a packed lunch, kids whining about being STAAAAARVING in our ears (please tell me that all 4 year old boys are just an empty stomach on legs like mine is) and the esky with the ice packs in the boot we headed off. We took the scenic route via Daylesford rather than driving to Ballarat then out to Smeaton and it was just lovely driving down the narrow roads with nothing but paddocks and open spaces. It’s all looking so dry although I guess we are still viewing the grass with city slicker eyes. I’m sure it’s not yet all that dry really, just golden in colour. Either way, it was a brilliant drive. As a distraction when I’m driving and Jasper is doing his usual 20 questions thing I sometimes tell him to look for a white horse. So far he’s not seen one… Until Saturday! I hadn’t mentioned the white horse thing for at least a week or more when suddenly he yells out “A white horse! I saw a white horse Mummy!” I can’t believe the memory of this kid sometimes!
As we drove into Tuki the views were magnificent. There was this fantastic hill which was the highest in the nearby area over which the driveway meandered nearly at the top and we could see for miles all around. Spectacular! Then down the other side into the farm itself. The prices are quite reasonable – $8 for adults, $4 for children although our children all got in free given their ages (4 and under), a family pass is $30 for 2 adults, children and 2 rods and rod hire is $5 which includes a large net to help you land your fish. Bait is included too (sweetcorn thankfully. I am NOT picking up insects, let alone sticking a hook into them!) There are 6 ponds, 2 of them heavily stocked which is great for kids who don’t have the patience to sit and enjoy the beautiful peace and quiet. We started on a lovely pond near the top of the hill but had no luck. We moved up to the 2 top ponds, the heavily stoked ones after we had nothing more than a small nibble as the kids were getting bored. We eventually ended up on the smallest pond which is the most heavily stocked where we had nearly instant success. The look on Jasper’s’ face as he caught his first fish was priceless! He went in with Daddy to have it weighed and cleaned and he certainly learned a few things about where our food comes from. Maybe not the easiest lessons to learn but vitally important in my opinion. He came back out with a lot to tell me whilst Allegra and I caught a fish together. She too was ecstatic to catch a fish although the life lessons were lost on her at this stage. All in all we landed 5 trout, each around 200-250 grams but with a fractious Orik in his pram (the ponds are all quite deep and he’s a liability around water at this stage so he had to stay put sadly) and getting on to dinner time we asked for 3 more trout from the staff there who were trawling the pond for trout to smoke and make into pate (they sell it through their shop and serve it at the restaurant). At $15.50 a kilo for the trout, all cleaned and ready to cook we took home nearly 2kgs of them!
The trip home was via Ballarat with sleeping kids in the back seat and then I had the task of getting dinner sorted quickly for 5 hungry people and then getting 3 into bed quick smart as it was getting late. The trout were far less interesting to Jasper by now although he did admire their beautiful rainbow colouring. I spread some butter inside them, beheaded them before cooking (heads went straight into the stock pot) and sprinkled with dried dill inside too. Martin barbecued them whilst I cooked some brown rice and that was dinner done. It took seconds for Jasper to decide he liked it and he demolished 3 helpings whilst Allegra took some heavy duty convincing. Sadly Orik wouldn’t have a bar of it. Glad I cooked up 2 of the larger fish though. Best of all, no bone mishaps. 🙂 I took out most of the bones before serving them up and Marina and I triple checked what the kids were served. The bones also went straight into the stock pot. Cooking the fish up though was a thought provoking experience and the experience was different for me this time than it has been in the past. I’m a lot less blase about the choice to eat an animal than I have been in the past. The ethics of food I guess.
Now as I write this I have my fish stock in the freezer alongside my duck stock, both of which I eagerly anticipate using (it’s like getting double the bang for your buck so to speak – check out these blogs here and here on the benefits of bone broths or bone stocks) but I’ll need to check up my book Nourishing Traditions for some good recipes I think. I also know we will return to Tuki some day but for now I have 6 more trout to cook at my leisure. 😀