April 13, 2017

Falling In Love and Daydreamin No More

Falling In Love and Daydreamin No More. Anna Johnston - https://shenannagans.com

Today is a sombre day as those of us who called Daydream Island home, received our termination and redundancy packages, thanks to Cyclone Debbie. There are well over a hundred staff all coming to grips with not just the loss of our jobs, but also the loss of our beautiful little slice of paradise that we, (just 2 weeks ago) called home. If there are any positives to this whole devastating debacle, it is that the next time we see Daydream Island in mid 2018, she will have undergone a complete refurb.

Falling In Love and Daydreamin No More. Anna Johnston - https://shenannagans.com

So, what’s next for Anna I hear you ask? The truth is…. I don’t really know exactly just yet, but I do know that somehow I’ve fallen even more in love with the Whitsundays and it’s people, so, I’m stickin’ around! For now, this is my home.

Falling In Love and Daydreamin No More. Anna Johnston - https://shenannagans.com

Home is where the heart is!

These tough North Queenslanders have experienced their fair share of destructive storms and developed an admirable resilience about working together as a community to mop up and rebuild; and they also have an incredibly healthy attitude and acceptance towards the downtime and grieving process after disasters like this. They don’t deny it or keep it hidden, they do something really rare – they talk about the malaise and necessity to be still, to be quiet, to regroup emotionally, to be close to family, to sit in the sun and have long meaningful conversations with loved ones; to rest and to cook and to eat LOTS of comfort food. It’s truly been a beautiful healing time and a fine way to get back on our feet.

Falling In Love and Daydreamin No More. Anna Johnston - https://shenannagans.com

Life is returning to normal – first cruise ship back to the area post Cyclone Debbie

There are lots of memories I’ll take with me as life post Cyclone Debbie resumes to full speed again, but the long chats while cooking with my Momma is certainly one of them. Hearing the simple story of a family spaghetti recipe we’ve taken for granted all my life is a memory I’ll treasure. It’s crazy, but I always thought my Mum invented Mums Spaghetti, but it turns out it’s literally generations old. My great grandmother first presented it to her family, (a bunch of burly sheep farmers) with mixed reactions nearly 80 years ago. There are even rumours that an old Italian grocer would do the rounds of the properties back in the 1940’s who shared the pasta recipe! Apparently meat and 3 vegetables was the order of the day back then, so this new fangled pasta business was not an overnight success as you can imagine, but the kids loved it, so the recipe stood the test of time. My grandmother changed it around a bit using tins of Campbells Soups and dried pasta, all the rage in the 1960’s I’m told, and my mother tweeked it again with fresh vegetables and lots of sharp vintage cheese.

So, now it seems the onus is on me to maybe one day soon create this much-loved recipe with a little organic gluten free twist; who knows!

But, for now, lets just stick with my go-to comfort feed, “Mums Spaghetti”.

Falling In Love and Daydreamin No More. Anna Johnston - https://shenannagans.com

Happiness is…. Eating Mums Spaghetti

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • 500 grams pork mince
  • 500 grams veal mince
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large brown onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and diced
  • 2 cups corn, blitzed or whole
  • 4 cups mushroom, blitzed or sliced
  • 2 cups tomato, diced
  • 1 tin cream of tomato soup
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharpe vintage cheese
  • 500 grams spaghetti
  • Seasoning to taste
Falling In Love and Daydreamin No More. Anna Johnston - https://shenannagans.com

Grans spaghetti recipe – note the tins of tomato, mushroom and corn

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan and allow to melt.
  2. Saute onion and garlic until translucent, add mince meat and cook until brown.
  3. Add tin of tomato soup, diced tomato, blitzed mushroom, corn and Worcestershire sauce and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Boil water in a large pot. Salt the water with at least a tablespoon—more is fine. The salty water adds flavor to the pasta.
  5. Add pasta, stir the pasta and allow to boil for 7 – 15 minutes.
  6. Pour the pasta through a strainer. Shake it to remove excess water.
  7. Add pasta to minced meat mixture.
  8. Add cup of grated sharp vintage cheese and stir through.
  9. Serve with more grated sharpe vintage cheese and parsley garnish.

Tell me dear reader, what comfort foods do you make or eat when you are resting and recouping? And do you have a family recipe like Mums Spaghetti that has been passed down generations?


shenANNAgans is Anna Johnston, a 30 - something Aussie gal with an unwavering passion for the Hospitality industry. I love the quirky and unusual, designing events, travelling far and wide and eating food from all around the world. I am coffee blooded, a craft beer enthusiast, wine drinking yogi who enjoys writing about her adventures.

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The Untourists - June 17, 2017 Reply

So sad about the fate of the island. Resilience is what keeps usgoing ahead, I guess..

    Anna - June 17, 2017 Reply

    Yes, it’s true that resilience allows us to keep going and so sad Daydream Island truly got done by Debbie.

Divyakshi Gupta - June 13, 2017 Reply

This struck a chord in my heart.
More power and strength to you girl. Keep going and facing it all with a smile .
Sending love and hugs from India. Your mum’s recipe is a winner. Looks super delicious and I am sure it tastes awesome too! 🙂

mjskitchen - April 29, 2017 Reply

So glad to read that you are sticking around. When you are in love, it’s hard to leave, no matter what. I had to laugh when you said “…Campbells Soups and dried pasta, all the rage in the 1960’s…” Having grown up in the 60’s, I remember this so well. My mother had lots and lots of published recipes with some type of Campbell soup as an ingredient. 🙂 My mom made something very similar to this pasta dish which was true comfort food. Your mother obviously knew what you needed.

Tim UrbanDuniya - April 26, 2017 Reply

Nothing like good old comfort food! I really can’t believe how things have turned out for Daydream Island – like you say, just a matter of weeks ago it was a paradise! But even more amazing is how well you are coping with all of this. I know this is a cliche, but it’s inspiring – and good for you! All the best, my friend. Really proud of you.

    Anna - May 1, 2017 Reply

    I still have days where I am absolutely blown away about the way things have panned out, it is devastating to find how quickly so many lives were flipped in just a matter of days. :/
    Thanks for believing in me, for your support and friendship Tim, I am blessed to have you in my world. Hugs. xo

Serina aka Ms Frugal Ears - April 20, 2017 Reply

Food really is medicine and is so important for healing. Loved this post. You stay strong there:)

    Anna - April 21, 2017 Reply

    Couldnt agree more my lovely friend! 🙂
    Glad you enjoyed the post, and staying strong I am. xo

Evelyne CulturEatz - April 20, 2017 Reply

I thnk the best part is when you say “they talk about the malaise and necessity to be still” I am so sorry this happened to your and many poeple’s home. I am also not surprised you are staying for now, I think you can contribute grately. And you can have all the Mums spaghetti you want xoxo

    Anna - April 20, 2017 Reply

    Thanks Evelyne, the healing we are doing as a community has been something I have never ever experienced, its amazing, definitely a big reason to keep us here for now. And Mums Spaghetti has always been a favourite. 🙂

John/Kitchen Riffs - April 20, 2017 Reply

So sorry to hear about this! Although I was wondering — such a horrific storm, and I can imagine how much damage it did. Good luck in your next adventure! And for now, thanks for the recipe — no spaghetti like mum’s. 🙂

    Anna - April 21, 2017 Reply

    I am sorry it has happened too, it’s been one hell of an ordeal to wrap my head around, but there have been positives too, and that we need to focus on. 🙂 Thanks for the luck, I appreciate it. And you are so right, there really is no better spaghetti than Mums.

Renuka - April 18, 2017 Reply

I guess travel and food go hand in hand. Your mum’s spaghetti looks delicious!

    Anna - April 20, 2017 Reply

    Mums spaghetti is totally delicious! 🙂

Elissa - April 18, 2017 Reply

What a crazy turn of events, not what you were expecting when you moved there! So glad you are finding ways to heal and recharge after such traumatic times. Comfort family food is always good for the soul. Actually I’ve been experimenting with my mum’s meringues, which featured often in my childhood.

    Anna - April 21, 2017 Reply

    Nope, never even came into my mind that I would be someone that would go through a cyclone when I arrived in paradise. Crazy!!! But the time with my Momma and pooch and cooking and eating delicious comfort food is very healing, so I am blessed to be able to do that. 🙂

    Would love to learn your Mums meringue recipe.

Jem @ Lost in Utensils - April 17, 2017 Reply

Sending you nothing but good vibes Anna. These are traumatic events for all involved. I’m glad at least everyone is physically ok. Take all the comfort you can especially in food such as Mum’s spaghetti x

    Anna - April 20, 2017 Reply

    Appreciate the good vibes so much Jem, and the advise to give our plants/garden coffee ground too. 🙂
    Lots of comfort in being with family and enjoying amazing meals like Mums Spaghetti being had. xo

Sue - April 17, 2017 Reply

Anna I am so sorry to hear everything you have been going through. Hopefully when the refurbishing happens you may be able to restart with this beautiful place. Your Mum’s recipe sounds like just the thing to bring comfort. Sending hugs across the miles.

    Anna - April 20, 2017 Reply

    Thanks Sue, it sure has been a rough couple of weeks, but we are staying positive and enjoying the time to cook and enjoy delicious meals like Mums Spaghetti. 🙂 Appreciate the hugs from South Africa, think that’s where I saw you were. xox

Liz - April 15, 2017 Reply

Oh, Anna, I had no idea you were going through so much! I’m so sorry, my friend. It’s the perfect tim to turn to comfort foods and a recipe that’s survived through the generations is perfect! I know there are better days ahead! Xoxo

    Anna - April 15, 2017 Reply

    It has been wonderful indeed to spend the time with Momma and eat all the delicious comfort foods. Thanks for the well wishes, hugs to you. xox

Momma Bear aka Queen Suebah - April 14, 2017 Reply

I’ve really enjoyed all the Anna & Momma time too, adversity does indeed bring opportunity. Having the time to cook & walk to the beach every evening is a rarity & it’s great to have all this special time together before “real life” intervenes. Great post – I had no idea you had never heard the story of the old Mum’s spaghetti, you make it sound so exotic. xx

    Anna - April 15, 2017 Reply

    It’s been incredible to be able to catch up, chat about life and generally just enjoy being in the moment. Wont be long I am sure before real life kicks in and we have to get back to it. Thanks for being the most wonderful Momma around, I love you. xo And, Mums spaghetti is seriously one of the best feeds around, especially now I know the story behind it.

Denise Browning - April 14, 2017 Reply

Anna, I am so sorry for the loss of your job. But I am glad that you are alive and well despite of the destruction of your dream island. Nature can be quite harsh sometimes.
I wish I was there to have a taste of your Mom’s spaghetti. I am pretty sure it is comfort food for you. Wishing many blessings come your way! Take great care of yourself. Love you! xx

    Anna - April 14, 2017 Reply

    Thank you my beautiful friend, I appreciate your thoughts and well wishes very much. 🙂
    I’ve never known such destruction, but have been impressed with the way the community have united and are rebuilding.
    You should totes come over for a bowl of Mums Spaghetti. Haha.
    Love you right back. xox

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella - April 14, 2017 Reply

Anna I have no doubt that the next chapter in your adventure will be just around the corner. I can’t wait to hear what you do. In the meantime, please take care of yourself and I like your idea of turning to comfort foods. They’re a great fix.

    Anna - April 14, 2017 Reply

    Fingers and toes are crossed that my next exciting chapter will begin very soon, I cant wait to share what it may be, too. 🙂
    All the care is being taken, its nice to be back in the kitchen preparing delicious snacks and the time with Mom is wonderful.

Liz (Good Things) - April 14, 2017 Reply

There’s definitely something comforting about a mother’s treasured recipe. Stay smiling, Anna. This storm will pass. xx

    Anna - April 14, 2017 Reply

    There really is, huh?! I have loved that I had my Momma here with me through this whole devastating experience. And agree with you, it will pass, it is passing. 🙂

Nadia - April 13, 2017 Reply

I admire your resilience. How precious to have those recipies which are passed down. Would you believe my grandfather three out all of my grandmother’s handwritten recipe books (full of passed down recipes) when she died because he couldn’t understand that my mother and I might actually want them. I have shed tears over losing those recipes…

    Anna - April 14, 2017 Reply

    Thank you my friend, it sure has been one heck of an experience.
    Oh NO… that is awful. Nooooo, that stinks, and I completely understand your tears over losing all those recipes.

Mabel Kwong - April 13, 2017 Reply

So encouraging to see you being so positive despite all that has happened. I am sure when the time comes, you;ll whip up and recreate that homemade spaghetti of yours. Who knows, maybe you will open your own restaurant some day 🙂 I’m rooting for you and know that you will come out tops. My mum loves putting raw tomato slices over spaghetti that she cooks at home. That always adds an extra zing to the dish 🙂

Lots of hugs and kisses your way xoxo

    Anna - April 14, 2017 Reply

    Thanks little sis, I love that I have had your love and support through it all. I appreciate you! 🙂
    Ha, maybe I will open my very own restaurant or B&B, I do hope you’ll come and celebrate with me when that happens.
    Raw tomato on spaghetti, I’ve heard of that actually, its a cool idea.
    Lots of love and hugs and kisses headed back at you. xox

Kirsty - April 13, 2017 Reply

It truly sounds like you’ve found a lil piece of Australia that makes your heart sing, and given time it will be back to full stride, more beautiful than before. Your community’s resilience and strength will shine through, and I have no doubt that doors/shutters/archways will open up with new paths and opportunities for you. All the very best my dear to you and your mum. And yes your mum’s spaghetti looks da bomb.

    Anna - April 13, 2017 Reply

    Yes Kirsty, from the moment I walked off the ferry at Daydream Island 6 months ago (yesterday), I felt like I was home. Everything about this little piece of paradise speaks to me and makes me feel alive (cyclone not included – that was just plain scary). I have never ever experienced such community spirit, love and the sense of belonging like I do here. All my fingers and toes are crossed for the doors/shutters/archways to open the new paths and opportunities for me/us too. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kindness, love and care. We are incredibly grateful for you. xoxo

    And YES… Mums spaghetti is totally tha BOMB! Haha.

Krista Bjorn - April 13, 2017 Reply

Oh luv, I’m aching for you all, and sending you the biggest hug. I’m so glad you have had such beautiful experiences of community and solidarity, and I’m wishing you a beautiful job soon that meets your needs until you’re able to return to this place you love so much. XO

    Anna - April 13, 2017 Reply

    Awhhh, thank you Lovely One, one big fat hug right back at you. Yes, we did have a beautiful experience of community and solidarity, your so right. We are down to just one island that has survived the cyclone & is operational, Hamilton Island, so fingers crossed something comes up. XO

Elizabeth - April 13, 2017 Reply

Oh Anna… this made me cry because that is what my whole blog is about…
I used to love those wonderful chats about food with my mum, so treasure them as they a precious and when you don’t have them anymore you really do realise how precious they are… when I finally get back to blogging, I’m going to feature mums favourite recipes because they are even more treasured now that I’ve lost her
Liz xxx

    Anna - April 13, 2017 Reply

    Liz, I want to give you big warm hugs loaded with love. <3
    Cant wait to read all the blog posts with recipes from your Mum, I bet they will be wonderful.
    All my love to you friend. xox

Gary Lum - April 13, 2017 Reply

Your Mum’s writing looks just my Mum’s, almost the same looking notebook for writing recipes.
It’s great to read that you’re sticking around. Queenslanders are wonderful people and they’ll look out for you.

    Anna - April 13, 2017 Reply

    Gary, you’ll totally have to share one of your Mum’s or Grandmothers recipes with a photo from the recipe book. I found so many fantastic and fun recipes to try, particularly cool that many have been handed down generations. 🙂
    And all the YES to Queenslanders, we have been blown away by the community and the way they have all supported each other to rebuild, we’ve made so many wonderful friends too. I’m pleased we are staying too.

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