everyday, homegrown, seasonal eating, winter

Preservation time

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We’re a few days away from the shortest day of the year – Winter Solstice and I’m trying really hard to slow down, preserving this time and preserving the orbs of sunshine* (aka – lemons and limes) currently in abundance.

It really should be sleep season to totally recharge the batteries and dream about things to come. I’m trying to be a grown up and also take this time to review what’s worked over the previous growing season, accept feedback and grow from there.

Putting something away for later makes absolute sense. It could be dehydrating some of the citrus haul for when you’d love it’s zingy freshness mid summer. It could be going all out on pumpkin recipes, since they went crazy earlier in the year. How about dusting off an indoor skill (handwork like embroidery/ drawing/ baking) ? They may sound a little out dated, but you know what ? It’s such a treat slowing down enough to enjoy the process, being totally in the moment rather than watching the minutes disappear and racing around trying to fit everything in.

Try it out sometime, it is so worth enjoying those pockets of light.

*HOW TO DEHYDRATE LIMES

Preheat the oven to 95oC. Slice limes into 5mm rounds. Space them out on a cooling rack over a baking tray. Pop in oven and rotate/ check on them hourly. Should be done in 2 -3 hours. Let cool completely on tray before storing in a jar out of direct sunlight.

Can be used in soups and stews, drink garnishes, decorations.

Don’t forget by dehydrating, you’re concentrating the flavour of the lime – so it may be a bit of a shock to start chewing on one. Other citrus can also be preserved in this way, the times may vary.

autumn, biodiversity in the garden, diversity, everyday, explore growing, seasonal eating

The more I grow the more I cook (or at least play in the kitchen)

IMG_1186.jpgAnother awesome adventure in abundance !!!

Knowing where to go for your seasonal best is imperative for good health. Better still is learning what on earth to do with it once you’ve got it.

Citrus are care of our backyard – just in time for the vitamin C boost as the seasons shift, cabbage are from a friend who had the patience to watch them grow long enough (think he said 15 weeks) – soon to be turned in to sauerkraut and workshopped, mushroom grow bags are from a recent workshop at a community centre and apples are care of a local farm growing the most incredible fruit (and making cider on site!). – these are just eaten straight, added to porridge & I’ll soon attempt to make vinegar from the apple scraps. Sweet potato were bandicooted from under the fig tree.

So this incredible produce is abundant only at certain times. If you pick 12 kg of limes, it’s a good idea to know how to use them !! In juice, store in the fridge, juice & freeze, freeze the whole fruit, preserve them in salt & trade a few ūüėČ Time invested in growing throughout the year pays dividends,

So lunch yesterday – sprouted broccoli in¬† the pan with steamed pumpkin (basically the pumpkin turned itself to soup), fried egg from a friends place, pesto made with parsley, rocket, basil, preserved lime, olive oil & almond meal.¬† I’d never buy that stuff – but learning to make do with what you’ve got certainly expands your culinary horizons. It’s a bit of being curious, a little brave a fair amount of rational and a whole lot of resourcefulness.

Likewise, letting growers play to their strengths has obvious rewards, the subtleties and knowledge to produce consistently is so under rated.¬† Once you start on your own growing adventure –¬† your appreciation of everything considered vaguely edible grows exponentially.

everyday, seasonal eating

Real food is happy food

There’s a fair amount of talk around what type of food to eat, how to eat it, when best to eat. Fresh is best, especially when it’s seasonal and if you can access relatively locally produced food – fantastic.

But like many kids ask – WHY ? My definition of real food is produce grown by people with care of the soil as their number one priority. This extends into care for their environment, care for people working with them and doing what’s right, not wasting resources but looking at the whole picture, not merely one tiny detail. It’s about nurturing and putting hard earned knowledge and skill into growing really fabulous tasty produce. Soil that is loved is nutrient dense and alive. You’ll find biodiversity above and below your feet. You can see it. You’ll tap into a life force rather than entering into commodity trading. (Which I reckon a lot of big box retailers do – they have different goals to your independent grower.)IMG_0642.jpg

I actually did this the other day – purchased a ‘commodity’ from a big box retailer for our dinner – my brain had stopped working after a particularly big day and the cogs had jammed. The packaging looked pretty and I knew the family would eat it. I¬† snazzed it up with home made sauce to make up for the nutrient deficit. There were clean plate rangers – but I could taste what was missing – life force. Not the end of the world I know – but I missed what I take for granted when I do put the energy in.

Food grown in season gives us what we need for that season. Who’d want to gorge themselves on watermelon in winter ? Or feel the desire to sit down to a big roast dinner when the evening temperature is 27 C?

Remember we’re living beings, not just machines requiring fuel. We need good energy, diversity, light and good water to stay vital – so does our food.

harvesting the yield, seasonal eating, spring, start from seed

Growing full circle

Seeds are amazing little packets of potential. A handful could grow into a forest. There’s so many you can store in jars in the kitchen for eating later down the track. Heirloom ones that tell a story.

They complete their own magic tricks. Soaked overnight, they double in size – you’ve¬†woken them from hibernation. Soak and rinse, soak and rinse – watch them sprout into edible vegetable tadpoles.

Some seeds you pop into a little growing medium & once they’re just above the ground ¬†– ready to eat. (aka – microgreens) Then there’s other seeds developing into plants that ¬†you can nibble on their tips (like snowpeas), some flowers are edible too (like snowpeas) – but remember – if you eat all the flowers, they won’t complete their cycle by setting fruit. In the the case of snowpeas progressing it’s so worth waiting for a few of the most amazing crunchy delicious garden snacks in the universe (NOTHING can beat the flavour of these little spring gifts – try eating only one….) snowpeas - end Aug 17

So around these parts, we love playing outside. We love to eat our microgreens. And the flowers (never fear – there’s plenty on offer for the insect life).

Just remember to do some homework to see what varieties are good for people. Extend that research to make sure you’re not eating chemically laden ones too.

So may options ! So many textures. So much diversity from a little handful of potential.

produce, seasonal eating, winter

Seasonal offerings

Admittedly – my brain stalled a bit this morning as the rain poured down, saturating my every thought. There’s a special list of jobs I save for days like today – things that don’t seem as much fun when the sun’s out. Couldn’t remember a single one of them or where that list was. So I made it up. Cooking is right up there – thinking a chocolate brownie would be appreciated by all & show that I’d been productive. (Yeah – big tick next to indulgent procrastinating )

Also going for a quick wander through the market garden checking out what’s popping up and what’s happy. Peas – this year I’ve opted for bushing ones, the lower they grow, the less work for me. Super tasty, flowers taste heavenly too. There’s one little tomato plant I’ve left in a protected pocket – still very happy and coming up with the goods – it spraws all over the shop, birds get some, humans get some. I’m afraid if I try to stake it & tidy the tomato plant up now, I may jinx it & no more tomatoes, so for now it can wander to it’s heart’s content.

Salad mix goes year round, each batch is a little different to the previous, as that’s life. Now we’ve got more the the astringent & peppery flavours – mizuna, red veined sorrel, raddichio, rocket to boost digestion …with hints of summer – flowering lemon basil, sweet mint to counter the sharper notes & whispers of springtime with the fresh flavours of chickweed.

The garden and experiemnting keeps me on my toes and I’m keeping my fingers the carrot seeds will actually germinate this time in the cooler weather!

 

 

seasonal eating

Where’s the value ?

It’s a tricky one – grow your own food, whether it’s sprouts on the sink, a few herbs in pots or an array of plants taking over your outdoor space – it all takes a little effort.

Food needs to be shown a little more respect and respect for the people growing it – yourself included ! Shop at a local organic store, food co op or market. As a general rule of thumb, they will be supporting local growers, supporting local and independant businesses. they will be supporting organic growers who focus on nourishing the soil as much as growing tasty, nutritional, seasonal produce.

Sure, I could buy as punnet of red tomatoes for a few bucks, but how awesome finding a plant loving the sunshine offering up little rubies? (FYI – green ones are edible too, just a little tart. They also make an incredible green tomato chutney.) I found self sown dill along the path, chickweed growing crazily and pesto made in the kithcen from basil and parsley to top my vego curry.

Leftovers rock. Batch cook, enjoy that night, keep some lunch in the fridge and stick the rest in the freezer for another day.

Sure I could go out and buy a curry for somewhere between $10 – $15, have it presented to me in single use plastic (which will take approximately another 500 years to break down) OR I could put my super tasty lunch in a glass jar, top it up with fridge and gaarden foraged toppings, wrap it in cloth and sit somewhere amazing in the sunshine getting my vitamin D too. Hey presto – no waste lunch.

Yes it takes a tiny bit of planning, a little bit extra to carry and a quick wash up at home Рseems way smaller than ($10 per day x 5 = $50 per week x 40 weeks = $2000 in shop bought lunches !!!)IMG_9135.jpg

So the value is in a little planning ahead, repect for the food you’re eating¬†and really thinking how every element of a shop bought lunch reaches you. Make a party of it and invite your friends. Or just treat yourself to a little lunchtime holiday and explore the neighbourhood.