Cheesy Spaghetti in Mackay

We are now in Mackay, the sugar capital of Australia!

We were going to just pass through as we were told there wasn’t much in the way of work here at the moment, but I guess we lucked out and checked gumtree at the right time, as we managed to snag three days cash work working a stall at an exhibition at the showgrounds. Awesome! This kind of thing is super handy when you are averaging $70/day in petrol money.

So we will be working here until Sunday, after which we’ll head north towards Townsville.

Mackay seems nicer than the last few towns we’ve stopped in, definitely more lively. The weather is crazy though! I can’t believe we are only a couple of weeks out of winter…it’s averaging 30 degrees every day! My driving arm has got a serious tan going. Also I am too scared to swim because of crocodiles….I’ve never been in croc country before so am super paranoid.


We managed to take a little peek at the town yesterday, visiting ArtSpace, the contemporary art gallery here which was pretty cool. It had this amazing exhibition called Two Islands, One Home: A story of belonging, which commemorated the 150th anniversary of the arrival of South Sea Islanders in Queensland. It was a really heartbreaking history of South Sea Islanders being brought to Australia (either tricked, kidnapped or lied to about their prospects) to work in the sugar fields (under slave-like conditions). After some time of being here, many were subject to the nasty White Australia policy and deported. Those who stayed faced harsh discrimination. This was really educational for me, as while I know a lot about Australia’s history (past and present) of racism and discrimination towards Aboriginal people, the stories of the South Sea Islanders were new to me.

Today we ran some errands and got ourselves organised, used a movie voucher we’d been carrying around for MONTHS (we saw a pretty lighthearted movie – R.I.P.D, it was pretty good. I love Jeff Bridges so y’know.) When we got home, we prepped some hummus for sandwiches tomorrow while we have to work, some brekky for tomorrow and then just wanted something quick and easy for dinner. Enter cheesy pasta!

I’m not really doing a great job of sticking to my theme, although all the salad ingredients bar the red onion were locally sourced (either here in Mackay or on the way here). We bought the nooch yesterday at the health food store, and it was a type I’d never seen before. Most stores here seem to stock the Lotus brand, but this shop had their own packaged nooch so we decided to give it a try. It was much paler and when I tasted it dry it almost had a smokey flavour.


However, when I used it to make cheesy sauce, it didn’t quite stand up to the test as well as the Lotus brand. It didn’t thicken as well, and the flakes didn’t completely break down – there were specks through the sauce. Nevertheless, it satisfied our need for a quick ‘cheesy’ dish.

I just kind of threw this one together…this is my quick cheesy sauce when I want something easy. It’s sort of based on the one in Sarah Kramer’s Vegan A Go-go, as well as the Mac n Trees from AFR. I don’t suppose you really need the recipe, but here goes anyway. I usually use onion and garlic powder, but we don’t have a huge herb/spice collection as we don’t have the spare space in the van.

Cheesy sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp flour
Half a Massel veg stock cube
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a pot over medium-low heat and sauté garlic until golden.

In a separate bowl, mix yeast and flour together. Add water and whisk to combine.

Add liquid mix to the pot, add stock cube, and bring to a boil while stirring continuously. Once bubbling, turn down to a simmer and continue to stir for another couple of minutes, until sauce thickens.

Turn off the heat and add mustard, lemon juice and salt and pepper and stir through. Stir through pasta and top with cracked pepper and smoked paprika (or hot sauce, of course).


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