FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Palmer

Friday Feast covers some diverse foodie topics and thanks to best-selling Australian rural romance author Fiona Palmer this week is no exception.Fiona Palmer - Author pic

It’s always a delight to deal with Fiona. She’s not only a fantastic author, whose stories are adored across the nation, she’s a genuinely warm and friendly country person and I’m very much looking forward to reading her new book, The Sunburnt Country.




TSCJonelle Baxter is a young woman in a man’s world – a tough, hardworking motor mechanic from an idyllic country family. But lately things in her perfect life have been changing, and her workshop isn’t the only local business that’s struggling.

Daniel Tyler is new in town, posted from the city to manage the community bank. As he tries to rein in the spiralling debts of Bundara, he uncovers all sorts of personal dramas and challenges.

The last thing Jonny and Dan need is an unwanted attraction to each other. She has enough problems just keeping her livelihood going and he’s fighting pressures that stretch all the way to Perth. It’s going to take more than a good drop of rain to break the drought and bring change in love and in life.

A moving and heartwarming story about the beauty that’s found in the bush, especially in the most trying of times.


Doesn’t that sound fabulous? How cool to have a mechanic heroine, and one who races too. The Sunburnt Country released last week, and you can buy a copy right now from your local bookshop or chainstore, or, if you like delivered to your door (or ebook reader!) convenience, try home-grown online bookstore BOOKTOPIA. They’re hugely supportive of Australian authors, have competitive pricing and run an easy to use website. Plus they were Platinum Sponsor of last weekend’s Australian Romance Readers Convention, so I’m feeling the luuuurve. Perhaps you should too!

Ooh, Fiona has a booktrailer. A good one. Wanna watch? Just click play. Then, once you’ve been all relaxed by that lovely music, let Fiona reveal a tasty favourite.


A feed fresh from the dam

I’m not the greatest cook and therefore don’t have many favourite dishes.  But today I thought I’d tell you about a meal that comes up in my new book The Sunburnt Country. Actually this dish probably features in a few of myCooked Yabbies books because it is something I did lots as a kid and even to this day we still walk to the dam with our kids to catch them.  I’m talking about Gilgies or Yabbies. We have always grown up calling them Gilgies.

‘Freshwater crayfish are an important part of ecosystems in south-west rivers and dams and are also one of Western Australia’s great delicacies. There are more than 100 species of crayfish native to Australia, and at least seven species are commonly caught by recreational fishers in the streams and dams of southern WA.’

Identifying Freshwater Crayfish, Fisheries Fact Sheet, Department of Fisheries, Government of Western Australia.

Fiona Palmer and family at the damAt the moment we are trying to feed up the Gilgies in the dam just on the edge of town. The kids love walking through the bush to get to the dam when we throw in some nets. Then a few hours later we pull them in and take our yummy freshwater crayfish home to cook.

We have a pot outside on a gas burner, which we fill with water and get it to boiling temp. Chuck in some garlic and chilli to flavour the water and then drop in the Gilgies. The next is pulling the headsYabbies off and peeling the tails.  My 8 year old son loves the Gilgie meat and if you don’t get in and eat some then chances are you’ll miss out. We also keep the big claws are these are delish also.

We eat ours just on their own dipped into a simple sauce. (Hubby loves a Gilgie sandwich!) The sauce is mayonnaise, with a bit of Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce.  Each time I make it, it’s slightly different as I just add the sauces until I like the taste.  But if you want to get more creative with your yabbie meat check out these yabbie recipes from Cambinata Yabbies. It is a family run business on a farm not far from us.


Thanks so much, Fiona. That was fabulous, especially those photos. Sigh. I LOVE yabbies. They’re one of my favourite things and I really don’t understand why we don’t see more of them on menus. The Crown Hotel in Wentworth, NSW, has the right idea. You can buy yabbies by the bucket (when available) and they serve a delicious yabbie chowder. Wentworth has a lot of Australian history but I swear it’s worth a visit just for that chowder!

So, special Feasty Folk, what’s your favourite crustacean dipping sauce? I’m a huge fan of Vietnamese nuoc cham sauce. The freshness and heat seem to work perfectly, but I can just as easily munch prawn tails dipped in old-fashioned thousand island dressing, and I recently tried a delicious paprika and lemon baste for grilled prawns that became an instant keeper recipe. One can never have enough ideas though, so share away!

If you’d like to learn more about Fiona and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.


0 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Palmer

  1. Avatarchristinestinson

    Only had breakfast an hour or so ago and now I’m hungry again…
    Really enjoyed this post, Cathryn and Fiona. Love yabbies, love anything in the crustacean family. Favourite dipping sauce is: half cup whole egg mayo, one and a half tablespoons lime juice, one and a half tablespoons wasabi, good-sized handful chopped coriander. Mix it all together and – yum.
    Congratulations on “The Sunburnt Country”, Fiona – and being number 3 on ebooks download already!

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      That dipping sauce sounds fantastic, Christine. I am so, so trying that one. Jim will love it!

      Fiona’s #3? How cool is that! Wonderful to see our fab Aussie authors being so popular.

      Thanks for dropping by. Lovely to see you here, as always.

  2. AvatarNoelene Jenkinson

    Have been catching and eating yabbies since childhood many decades ago. A great day’s outing and exciting when you catch them flapping in the net. Especially if they’re big. My eating tastes are simple. No fancy sauce – just a sprinkle of salt with buttered bread or maybe a drop of vinegar. Nothing simpler. Love the title of your new book, Fiona. Very Aussie. 🙂

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Sigh. Am very jealous of your yabby eating, Noelene! I love those little critters and I really don’t understand why they aren’t featured more in restaurants. And as you say, they’re fun to catch too.

      The buttered bread idea reminds me of childhood when we used to eat crayfish (southern rock lobster) sandwiches. They were the best! Mind you, we used to eat so much crayfish there were times when we’d get completely sick of it and plea for barbecued sausages. Makes me laugh now when I see the retail price of crayfish.

    2. AvatarFiona Palmer

      Thanks Noelene. Penguin were after a very Aussie sounding title, and put quite a bit of thought into finding that one. I had called it Bundara Skies but was happy with the new title. 🙂

  3. Avatarfitzroylou

    Hi Fiona and Cathryn. Love this post. Unfortunately I’ve only eaten yabbies a few times but I loved them. Living in the city I’m seriously impressed by anyone with a dam or field full of food. And what great fun for kids. Strange (for me) I can’t think of any dipping sauce favourites but all the above sound delicious!

    1. AvatarFiona Palmer

      Thanks Louise. It is great just to walk out the back and drop in nets. It’s as close to fresh seafood as we can get. This far in the middle of nowhere its only available frozen. But we do have all the fresh beef & chicken that we want 🙂

  4. AvatarJuanita Kees

    I’m with Rach on this one. I don’t mind everyone else eating them but I much prefer Chilli Muscles and Lemon Pepper Squid. Crabs, Yabbies, Lobster, Crayfish…I prefer it if my food doesn’t bite back, thank you 😀 Especially with my cooking skills!

    I learnt from the delicious Miguel Maestre (The Living Room, Channel Ten) that they freeze crabs to put them to sleep before cooking or exporting them so they don’t get stressed. Actually, I knew but I still enjoyed Miguel telling me 😉

    The Sunburnt Country is on my ‘favourite rural authors shelf’ right next to Rachael Johns, Cathryn Hein and Loretta Hill!

    1. AvatarFiona Palmer

      Oh Juanita I love squid but not muscles. Fresh caught squid with a light seasoned coating & deep fried for a bit is yum. Your shelf sounds just like mine 🙂 Great collection.

  5. AvatarJenn J McLeod | Come home to the country...

    I’m sorry, I am so not into crustacean dipping sauces! The word crustacean is just… it’s just so …. *shudder* 😉

  6. AvatarNoreen

    As a kid we used to catch yabbies in a jam tin full of holes and a piece of meat tied into the bottom. As the water was clear as soon as they went into the tin we pulled like mad so they didn’t jump out. Now we catch red claw in nets. My husband shells them, then marinates them in garlic, hot sauce, chilli sauce and cooks them in butter in the microwave for several minutes. Don’t cook too long or they are tough.

    1. AvatarFiona Palmer

      Oh Noreen I’ll have to try that (not the catching in a jam tin-the eating part). It sounds tasty. As kids we used to catch them with meat on a bit of string. lol. time waster.