Kangaroo Pie with a Dash of Straw

When I arrived at the Perth workshop site in Calingiri, Western Australia last week, I was amazed. Before me stood our workshop home, a beautifully built, roughly 5,000 sqft structure, surrounded fully by 10’ verandas, and capped by perhaps the largest residential roof I’ve ever seen. What the hosts had been able to accomplish before the workshop, with some help, was extraordinary. And as though getting the structure ready for the workshop, organizing all of the materials, and preparing their land to host 35 people hadn’t been enough, Geoff and Sarah, the hosts, had decided to ad a couple extra items to their To-Do list:

1. Hand brew copious amounts of beer in several different flavors for the workshop.

2. Hunt and butcher several kangaroos for the menu.

Food is a beautiful thing. There is nothing better than being presented with a banquet of wonderful flavors at the end of a long workshop day. The intrepid souls that cook at each workshop are often treated as demigods by participants and are showered with appreciation. For example, during one workshop, years ago, a good friend of ours did all of the cooking, and received three marriage proposals from single, male participants. Good fortune was smiling upon us at the Perth workshop, once again, and we were gifted by the wondrous cooking talents of Derek and Anja.

Derek and Anja are wwoofers (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms: WWOOF; people that travel around the world and work on organic farms) living and working on Sarah and Geoff’s land. Unbeknownst to the hosts until just before the workshop, Derek comes with a background as a French trained professional chef. To top off the team was Anja, an accomplished baker. Together they created one of the sweetest spots on this planet, Derek and Anja’s Diner. Though the diner was rustic and roofed by the carport, the creations that came out of its walls were rival to those in some of the most sophisticated restaurants on the planet.

I had never seen a wild kangaroo until this March and I certainly had never eaten one. Derek, also, had never eaten or cooked kangaroo meat before, nor received any instruction in his French culinary classes on the fine art of preparing roo meat. However, as a professional knows, sometimes one must jump in with both feet and dare to enter new territory. That night we had a sumptuous feast comprised of grilled Moroccan spiced kangaroo kabobs accompanied by an equally divine vegetable side dish. As the week progressed, the meals continued to amaze me: individual meat pies (5 different gourmet options), kangaroo burgers, fresh garden salads, vegetables and mash, fresh bread, handmade cakes and snacks. And of course, all this topped off with a delicious homebrewed beer garden that seemed to have no end.

When I called Gabriella from the airport in LA, I warned her that she may not recognize me as I had likely gained 30 pounds. Mind you, every single pound would have been worth it but, fortunately, our scale would later tell me that I hadn’t gained a single one. Every workshop is different and I never know quite what to expect beforehand. This Perth workshop was truly amazing; standout participants, generously working hard to get as much done on Sarah and Geoff’s place as possible in a stunning landscape dotted with tropical birds, a full moon and the sweet sounds of guitar playing, singing, and laughter each evening. These are the days…

13 Responses to Kangaroo Pie with a Dash of Straw

  1. Pamela Forward Mon, September 10, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    Hi Andrew,
    Your account of the workshop brought a smile to my dial. Who would’ve thought but the question of food production is factored into my work of house design more and more over time, as I include premaculture design principles into the areas as we step outside the home. I am working on a joyous home for 3 generations at the moment. My clients will be collecting their rainwater, generating their own electricity and hotwater, recycling grey water and growing their own food. all on a 2,000 sq m block of land. Oh and there’s also a music studio cum yoga room thrown into the mix. It is in Margaret River. I would like to think you guys would break your 2 years time thing and soak up the “heaven on earth” environs of Margaret River and include a family holiday in the same breathe. I could easily house you and family, I am a 5 minute walk from their property…….just sayin!’

  2. Stephen Bonsu Mon, September 10, 2012 at 2:47 am #

    Andrews, this is amazing God bless you for your ideals

    You are really my mentor and I am looking forward to meet you my Boss

  3. Zack Ahrens Mon, September 10, 2012 at 3:09 am #

    Hi Andrew,

    I am very jealous that you are in Australia. I was there this past winter travelling and doing some building with Huff n’ Puff constructions. Now that I am back home in the states I am intruged to continue building in a natural way, with fuel costs continuing to rise over time anything built in a natural way is a win in my book. Do you have any suggestions for continuing to build in the natural building community? Are you accepting any interns or carpenters helpers of any kind. I know you are bust but thanks for any feedback.

    Kind Regards,
    Zack

  4. Gabriella
    Gabriella Mon, September 10, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    Thanks for writing Zack! We hear from more and more people each month wondering if we have straw bale builders that we can recommend. There seems to a growing need for well trained bale builders. We are exploring the idea of offering a 2-3 week certification workshop in July, 2013. Participants would be chosen by application and at the end, if they have successfully learned the material, would receive certification. We would offer each certified builder a profile on strawbale.com as well as their contact information so that people can hire them directly. If you are at all interested, please email us at info@strawbale.com.

  5. Gabriella
    Gabriella Mon, September 10, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    We are very sad that the visa was denied. We will be looking forward to the time where we can finally meet you!

  6. Gabriella
    Gabriella Mon, September 10, 2012 at 7:51 am #

    Thank you Pamela! You are a great friend and we really appreciate the offer. I really do love Australia and who knows, I may just not be able to stay away for 2 years! 😉

  7. Gretchen Howard Mon, September 10, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    OH IT ALL SOUND SO WONDERFUL!! Australia again!! Strawbale all over the world YES!!

  8. Gabriella
    Gabriella Mon, September 10, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    We miss you Gretchen!!!

  9. Chris Mon, September 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    Hi Andrew,
    What a great workshop! Thanks for sharing the experience. It brought a big smile to my face.
    Chris
    P.S. Hi to Gabriella, too.

  10. Gabriella
    Gabriella Mon, September 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    Hi Chris! 🙂

  11. Megan Hitchens Tue, September 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    Love hearing about you guys in Australia. I show my children and they realise that anything is possible anywhere. We are designing a house together and hope that one day we can build it. And no wonder you came home no heavier, Andrew, with all the work and the wonderful food. A sustaining diet. And remember, Roo meat is one of the leanest on the planet

  12. Lisa , Paul , Chai and Bindi Fri, September 14, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    Thankyou Andrew you are truely a strawpenter. Your love of working with straw is infectious.Our family had a blast learning skills and gaining confidence in working with straw.Our kids are now pouring over our house plans with interest checking we have it all in order.It’s a shame that poor Paul has had to eat Derek and Anja’s cooking for eight weeks, but it is improving his own cooking when he comes home. Thanks again-it’s amazing to see how quickly things happen when a group of people have the same goal- a great crew to work with and loads of laughs- Cheers Lisa , Paul , Chai and Bindi

  13. Plasterers Perth Thu, September 20, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

    Fantastic Information !! I appreciate your information. ..;…

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