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On Fil-Aussie relations, a backyard barbie, and food  

By Norma Olizon-Chikiamco, The Philippine STAR Published Nov 30, 2023 2:00 pm

Philippine-Australian relations are at their highest point now, but there’s still more room to make this relationship stronger and deeper, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines HK Yu PSM said recently.

The ambassador was addressing a group of journalists during a recent reception held at the embassy residence. 

As proof she cited the September visit to Manila of Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to discuss with President Marcos Jr. ways to elevate the two countries’ cooperation in a strategic partnership. It was the first time in 20 years that an Australian prime minister has visited the Philippines.

Australian Ambassador HK Yu PSM: Elevating Philippine-Australian relations to a strategic level.

“It’s two countries working together in a deep and meaningful way to make a better world,” Ambassador Yu added. 

This strategic partnership encompasses cooperation and aid in climate change, maritime security, law enforcement, trade and economic relationships.

Economic relations is one area where there’s huge room for even more improvement, Ambassador Yu said. As a result, the Australian government is setting up investment teams in Southeast Asia. “We want to see more Australian investments coming to the Philippines,” she added. 

There has also been increased trade between Australia and the Philippines. Several months ago, the embassy presented to the media some of the Australian products that are now flooding the Philippine market, from Australian cereals, oats and cookies, to canned goods, wines and dairy products. 

Having visited Australia several times, I am partial to Australian goods because they always live up to my expectations of excellent quality, freshness and taste.

In true Australian fashion, at the end of the ambassador’s speech, there was a backyard barbecue, or as the Aussies would call it, a barbie. The tempting repast included Parmesan corn on the cob, rosemary garlic potatoes, fresh vegetable salad, steak and grilled salmon with dill butter (Australia is known for its Tasmanian salmon). For dessert there were bars like lamington (sponge cake rolled in desiccated coconut), and another popular Aussie dessert, fresh fruit Pavlova.

Inspired by Australia’s unwavering commitment to the Philippines, I developed over the weekend a recipe using Australian honey and orange juice. These honey orange cookies are easy to prepare, and they make a great pick-me-up snack. Serve them with coffee, tea or chilled orange juice. 

Honey-orange cookies: These soft, cake-like cookies are easy to bake. Serve with coffee, tea, or chilled orange juice.
Australian Honey Orange Cookies 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup melted butter (let cool before using)
  • 1/2 cup Australian honey (available in supermarkets)
  • 1/2 cup Australian-brand orange juice (available in supermarkets)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange rind
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs then stir in the melted butter, honey, orange juice, orange rind and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and stir together until well blended. 

Lightly grease two to three cookie sheets or spray them with nonstick cooking spray. Scoop the batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the cookie sheets, about two inches apart. 

Bake in the preheated oven for nine to 10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool in the baking sheets for one to two minutes. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 24 cookies.