Just outside Mirboo North, at Milly & P’lette farm cottage you will find Mary Germano Smeriglio. Mary has always cooked and shared things we may have thought where weeds for her family. Learning from her mother, Mrs. Paolina Germano, at an early age, Mary’s recipe for Cosce Vecchie has now been past on to her daughters, as well as me.

Mary Smeriglio shares her recipe for Dandelion Greens with Jaci from Jacican

I was lucky to share a meal of Cosce Vecchie, homemade woodfired bread topped with olive oil, home-dried oregano and salt, Mary’s mother’s eggplant parmigiana and slices of fresh prosciutto with her and her husband Joe, when I called around to learn to cook dandelions.

Mary picks the nice tender greens. To pick the dandelion, she puts a knife under the flat weed and slides it across. She removes any dead or yellow leaves and you don’t eat the yellow flower stalks. You will have to wash thoroughly before use.

Cosce Vecchie (Dandelion Greens)

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add salt and the greens, pushing them down with a wooden spoon until they are all submerged under the water

When the leaves are tender, drain in a colander and press down firmly with a potato masher or small saucer to remove the excess water. Place in a large bowl and cut roughly with kitchen scissors. Loosen with a fork.

Place on a serving dish. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt. A squeeze of lemon juice finishes it off nicely.

Lunch at Mary Smeriglio of dandelion greens

You can find this recipe in Nonna's Secret Recipe Book, part of the Mirboo North Italian Festa


Leonie brushtail bush foods digging stinging nettle for lunch

Recently, I spent a morning with Leonie from Brushtail Bush foods. A Boolarra farm growing and suppling native Australian herbs to restaurants and wholesales, fresh and dried.

Walking around her property, which she farms with her partner Terry, there are rambling paddocks of Strawberry gum, native thyme, beds of rive mint and pepper berry. Living outside of town, Leonie and Terry live largely off what they produce and grow around them.

On this day, Leonie shared her recipe for yogurt bread with stinging nettle.

Stinging nettles, Urtica dioica, have stinging hairs on them called trichomes, which will irritate your skin if you touch them. I know I still have an itchy finger from this morning. You need to wear gloves when handling them and soak the stems in a bowl of boiling water before use. The boil water removing the stinging chemicals from the plant.

The soaking liquid can be used as a tea with honey. Leonie uses it in a hot bath. It is said to be useful for inflammation or skin ailments. Stinging nettles are known as the “cure-all” weed.

Yogurt bread with stinging nettle


500 g of self-raising flour

one teaspoon of salt

500g of Greek yogurt

extra flour for dusting

one bunch of Stan needles

Use gloves when handling because if you don’t, you will get stung.

  1. Remove the leaves from stinging nettle and soak them in a bowl of boiling water for a few minutes. Strain then chop finely
  2. Combine flour, salt, and yogurt with blanch stinging nettles. Mix to form a dough.
  3. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide dough into approximately 10 balls. Roll each ball of dough into a flat into a 1 cm thick disk.
  4. Placed on a tray cover with a damp tea towel to stop them from drying out.
  5. Heat a lightly greased griddle pan (or you can use a sandwich press) and cook until golden and risen.


A little while ago, I was lucky to share a meal with Nadine from Wattlebank park farm.  

Winter recipe at Jacican, Cooking School, with Wattlebank Park Farm

Nadine is the owner and operator, let just call her the farmer, of Wattlebank Park farm, located at St Clair, about halfway between Inverloch and Wonthaggi. A mixed farm of dairy, beef, pork, and lamb, Nadine produces a way range of meats and small goods that she sells through her farm gate butchers shop and at many of the local farmers' markets. In a collaboration with Prom Country Cheese, she produces a range of cow’s milk cheese. 

Wattlebank Park Farm roast pork

As you all know that I like to buy direct, where I can, from the farmer and as Wattlebank Park farm offers the whole range, it is one of my first go to shops for beef, pork, lamb and small goods. Nadine makes the best ‘Polish Sausage’ you have tasted. You can find her polish sausage atop many of the wood-fired pizzas, made and served locally.

Wattlebank Park farm roast beef

Not only is Nadine a farmer, and businesswomen, she is a fantastic cook. The day I visited, she was up earlier, stoking ‘Betty the Rayburn’ to slow roast my meal. Her delicious serving of slow cooked lamb, cooked through chicken, melting in the mouth beef and crackle, yes, the crackle crackled, roasted pork, made me want to return to the kitchen and cook up a winter roast feast!


You can find the full version of this article, along with Nadine's recipes in the Winter 2018 issue of Gippsland Country Life Style magazine

Walk amongst the weeds

jacican harvest lunch

Cooking Classes

jacican preserving cooking class

Private Classes

jacican pastry cooking class pasties

Acknowledgment of country

Hello, I’m Jaci Hicken, from the lands of the Brataualung clan, which is where I’ve spent most of my life.

I would like to acknowledge all of us here today to cook together and share a meal.

I love sharing my dream of growing the food this country has to offer and share it with you.

The traditional place that we come together today is on the lands Gunaikurnai people

And I’d like to pay my respects to our elders past, present, emerging leaders, along with all the young people in our community.

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