Kitchen spy – Rohan Anderson

Author and real foods campaigner, Rohan Anderson, inside his Yandoit home kitchen. Photo: Simon O’Dwyer.

“Over the past six or seven years I transitioned from being a pretty unhealthy, overweight person eating a lot of processed foods and drinking too much booze to somebody who wanted to reconnect with nature and personal health.”

Rohan Anderson was once “morbidly obese”. Over the past seven years he says he followed a “grow, gather, hunt, cook” motto in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, cut out processed foods and found himself happier, healthier and 22 kilograms lighter. Anderson, 40, is passionate about simply eating more vegetables, fruit and a little bit of meat rather than the “bullshit of green-smoothie, magical coconut-power nutrition”. The author of two recipe-cum-food-philosophy books, Whole Larder Love and A Year of Practiculture, he and his partner live in Yandoit, near Castlemaine, with their combined brood of four daughters, all under 12. Read more at his website, wholelarderlove.com

The staples 

My pantry

At the moment it’s full of beans that I’ve grown over summer: Italian romanos, French flageolet and scarlet runner beans, which I make baked beans and bean stews with and put in paellas. Otherwise there are a lot of home preserves, including jalapenos, tomato passata, lots of relishes, and lots of pickled vegetables. I also have plenty of Powlett Hill flour because I make my own sourdough bread and a good array of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean spices including smoked pimenton, my favourite.

My fridge

You’ll find lots of leftovers and my homemade salsa picante, which I make with chipotle and the jalapenos that I grow – that goes on everything from poached eggs to roast vegies. We’re out of milk this morning but Inglenook milk is awesome – the label says “shake well before use” because there’s so much cream in it. I keep all my meat (deer, duck, rabbit and quail) in a separate freezer chest. In a month’s time I’ll start deer hunting; usually we get two deer and by the time we get to Christmas they’re all gone.

Secret vice

My homemade chorizo. I make it June, cure it for nine to 12 weeks and shrink-wrap it. While it’s there it gets eaten all the time. I’m actually cutting it down to half a batch this year because it’s just too much chorizo.

Last night’s dinner 

Roast root vegies with brown rice. My secret is adding dried garlic seeds for extra flavour as a garnish at the end.

I’m drinking

I like wine. There’s a local winery in Blampied called Captains Creek and I do some cooking events out there, showing people what you can do with food off the organic farm, which they have as well. They do beautiful pinot noirs, a great rose, sparkling pinot, a couple of different types of apple cider and a chardonnay. I don’t really drink beer but I don’t mind a good bourbon or a whisky.

My toolkit

I don’t use any non-stick or plastic implements, it’s either wood or steel. All my fry pans are cast iron. I don’t like gadgets. KitchenAid sent us a machine and I hate the damn thing – my partner loves it because she’s a baker – but I think I disappointed them. I should be using it to mix my bread dough but I use my hands because I love the feel of it. I refuse to use the dishwasher – I’m just one of those stubborn old bastards.

My inspiration 

The Unprejudiced Palate: Classic Thoughts on Food and the Good Life, by Angelo Pellegrini. It was written in about 1948 by this Italian immigrant to America who lived most of his life there and realised in the ’30s and ’40s that American food was really bland compared to what he grew up with in Tuscany. I initially found it very romantic and that helped push me along to turn my backyard into a food bowl and start hunting and doing all those different things. It sent me on this magnificent journey.

Favourite 

My wooden spoon. Spoon carving is one of those fads that just come and go and my (furniture maker) friend Greg Hatton and I were having a laugh one day and he chain-sawed this spoon with a hole in it. He called it “The Shit-Stirrer.” I love using it because every time I stir something I have a bit of a giggle.

Most unforgettable meal

A gorgonzola gnocchi that I had in Amalfi in about 2007. It was just mind-blowingly rich and amazing. It was a tiny serving but I’d never tasted anything so rich and powerful before.

Recipe stalwart

In winter it’s roast root vegetables. I roast pumpkin, parsnips, carrots, beetroots and potatoes with garlic, cloves, pepper, salt and olive oil.

Discovery

My .22 magnum rifle. Without that I don’t have any meat. I have six guns in total and they all do different things but this is the one that gets used the most, for things like rabbits, hares and goats.

Read the story and see more pictures on goodfood.com.au.