Monthly Archives

January 2014

Today we’re going to make a pie

January 28, 2014

Hi friends,

I hope you had a stellar long weekend, with a barbecue (or two) and a beer (or three) amongst friends. Time to relax with your people. Ours was ace, we chilled with friends and family and made a killer chicken dish, which I’ll share soon. Today I want to talk about a new website. It’s called Tucker, and it’s rad.

Tucker is a place for cooks to learn to become better cooks. Where “lovers of good food every day” can be inspired by buttermilk ice-cream and learn how to smoke food at home. I felt super chuffed to be asked to contribute something for the Summer edition of Tucker. My mind skipped straight to Summer stone fruits, and then promptly to pie – a natural progression…

Here is my pie post. I’m still learning, and am in no way a pie expert (my crimped edges are woeful… unique) but I am a true pie fiend. I adore it, fruity or otherwise. Pondering pie creations brings me insurmountable joy. So I wrote about it, with tips that I have found useful in my journey to the perfect pie crust. I hope you enjoy my post here and on Tucker. Lets make pie…

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Have you made a pie before? It’s one of my most favourite things to do. To me, pie-making is true romance. It’s early mornings with a cup of coffee, Billie Holiday playing in the background, the sun gently peeking through the window with a sweet apron tied at my waist, bare feet, a clear bench and my rolling pin. And the promise of a soon slice of pie.

Making pie is a process. It teaches patience and trickery of temperature. Pie-making forces you to slow down, to tune out head clutter and focus solely on forming tender dough. When making a pie, you’re meditating with butter. It’s a beautiful thing.

People are intimidated by pie. It’s the crust, the fear of flaky failures. I find it’s best to dive into the flour and confront your crust concerns head on. My very first pie crusts were shrunken and, oh, a little burnt, but that’s just part of the learning process. I’m still learning, still perfecting my fluted edges and still striving for my dream base, perfectly balanced in thickness and crispness… It’s a delicious, flour-on-your-cheeks journey. I assure you, once you get to know the process you’ll be making pie from memory. And nothing tastes as good as homemade pie.

So grab your butter, chop and chill it and let’s get started! We’re making a blueberry nectarine pie today, in celebration of Summer fruits. Stone fruit and tender, buttery pie crusts were made for each other. Next on my list? Cherry pie…

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Notes and thoughts:
1. You need to start your crust ahead of time as it requires chilling. I like to make my dough the night before I want to bake and let it chill in the fridge overnight. If using frozen dough I get it out 24 hours beforehand and let it defrost in the fridge. There are multiple chilling periods required in the pie-making process, so read the recipe carefully and allow enough time! Too often I have forgotten a chilling step or two and as a result have rushed the process, ending up with a not-so-flash pie.

2. You also need to let your cooked pie rest and cool before slicing, otherwise it seeps into a spluttering mess. After all your hard work, why rush the finished product and have a sub-par slice? Trust me, make it with enough time to cool properly (usually 1-3 hours cooling time is required).

3. Make sure you have ice cubes ready to help make iced water (required in the crust recipe).

4. I prefer to incorporate the butter into the flour by hand, aiming for broad bean sized chunks (not pea sized, this is too small!). Using a food processor for this part scares me, as I feel less in control of the butter chunk outcome, which is such an important step when aiming for a good, flaky crust texture.

5. It doesn’t hurt to chill the bowls and utensils you use, especially if it’s a super hot day.

6. Sassy Radish and Melissa Clark have excellent tips on making and rolling out your pie dough. Pay attention to the rolling out part in particular, it changed my life. Wait, my pie life. No wait, my life.

7. A good pastry dough scraper and rolling pin make the world of difference, helping you work quickly to get your pie dough rolled out. If you intend on having a pie-full life, they’re a worthy and not even expensive investment.

8. I’m a fan of the blind bake (aka an initial bake without fruit (or other) filling, using baking paper and baking weights), as it allows for a far crispier bottom. Some recipes don’t call for it but I do it any way.

9. I adore fresh berries, but frozen are usually cheaper so usually I go for them (and it means I can have year round blueberry pie). Beware that frozen berries will produce more juice as the mixture sits while you wait for the crust to blind bake.

10. This pie crust recipe makes enough for two pies (using a pie dish that is 18cm in diameter and 4cm deep). If only making one pie, I’ll freeze the one I’m not using and it can stay in the freezer wrapped in plastic wrap for a good few months. Again, simply  allow the dough to defrost in the fridge for 24 hours if using frozen dough.

11. My husband firmly favours a lattice top, so that’s what I tend to make. I enjoy a lattice top as this allows the filling to bubble up and ooze out enticingly. Plus I find it a lot easier to fashion than a flat, covered top.

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Blueberry Nectarine Pie

Makes 1 medium-sized pie, 6-8 slices, depending on how generous your serves are. My preferred pie dish is 18cm in diameter and 4cm deep.

Ingredients

Pie Crust Ingredients
Recipe from Sassy Radish and her excellent pie crust primer tips and Four and Twenty Blackbirds (that salty honey pie? Insanely good).

2 & 1/2 cups Plain Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Sugar
225g Unsalted Butter
1/2 cup Ice Water (with a dash of apple cider vinegar if you have some on hand), added by the tablespoon

Pie Filling Ingredients
Inspired by Joy The Baker

575g Nectarines (5-6 medium)
2 & 1/2 cups (300g) Blueberries, frozen or fresh (I tend to use frozen)
1/2 cup White Sugar (if your fruit is particularly ripe and sweet you can use less sugar)
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
2 & 1/2 tablespoons Cornflour
1 & 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice

For the top of the pie: 1 whisked egg (or leftover egg white + milk, or even plain milk or cream) and extra sugar for sprinkling (you can do cinnamon sugar here but for some reason I prefer a plain sugar sprinkle).

To serve: creme fraiche or cream.


Method

1. Dice the butter into 3cm chunks, place it on a plate and put it in the freezer for 5 minutes. Add some ice cubes to a glass of cold water and place it in the fridge. While the butter is chilling measure out your flour. Using a spoon, scoop the flour out of your storage jar and into a measuring cup, level it out, then place in a large mixing bowl. Do this until you have 2 & 1/2 cups of flour measured precisely. Whisk the flour with the salt and sugar. Add the chilled butter and, using your hands, work quickly and methodically to incorporate the butter into the flour, aiming to create broad bean sized chunks of butter (some will be larger, some smaller and the flour will be grainy like sand). Add the iced water by the tablespoon (don’t add any ice cubes) until the dough is moist enough that it comes together easily and forms a ball (be cautious when adding water, don’t add too much). Turn the dough out onto a flat surface and knead it briefly until it forms a ball. Cut the dough in half and make each half into a flattened disc. Cover in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill (if only making one pie, you might place one half in the freezer at this point). The dough should chill for at least 3 hours, at the very least 1 hour, and ideally overnight. It can be kept in the fridge for up to three days prior to baking. Yay for prepping ahead of time!
2. Unrwap your chilled dough disc and remove a small corner for the topping (re-wrap this and place back in the fridge). Sprinkle a flat countertop lightly with flour, pat the dough with a sprinkle of flour and do the same to your rolling pin. Rolling from the middle of the disc to the edge and moving clockwise, roll out your dough into a large circle. Use your pastry dough scraper to flip every three or four rolls and lightly pat the dough with flour as required so it doesn’t stick. It won’t be perfect, my dough is still wonky and broken in places, but I’m getting faster and am now far more confident in this practice. Read Sassy Radish’s tips and watch Melissa Clark’s video closely and you’ll get there. When big enough (be generous) use the rolling pin to drape your dough over your pie dish, allowing a few centimetres overhang. Trim any big overhanging pieces and add this to your refrigerated corner reserved for the lattice topping. Now flute the pie dough edges in the pan by forming some sort of crumpled pattern. This is the part of the whole pie process that gets me, I cannot create a pretty edge for the life of me. Do your best, the main thing is that you have a high edge so the filling won’t spill out. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour (you can get away with a 30 minute chill here but I find an hour really helps to avoid crust shrinking). You can also chill the crust at this point overnight, and then in the morning you’re that much closer to pie.
3. Once the dough has chilled again and you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius. When your oven is hot, remove the plastic wrap and cover the dough with baking paper or foil (I use two pieces to get even coverage and ensure the edges don’t burn). Place baking weights or dried beans in the centre and spread them out to weigh the dough down. Bake in the oven for ~30 minutes until the base is nicely golden and starting to crisp.
4. Meanwhile, make your filling. Slice the nectarines into thin strips and place in a bowl with the blueberries and the sugars. In a small bowl add the cornflour and whisk the remove any lumps, then sprinkle over the berries and sugar. Add the cinnamon and lemon juice, then stir well to ensure everything is mixed. Leave to rest while the crust is blind baking.
5. When the crust is ready, remove from the oven and remove the baking weights and baking paper. Using a large spoon, scoop the fruit filling into the middle of the pie dish, ensuring you don’t add too much liquid but don’t be too precious about it (too much liquid will result in a soggy crust but a little is fine. Fresh blueberries produces far less liquid). Pile the fruit up high, as it shrinks when cooking.
6. Now roll out your reserved dough and scraps for the lattice topping. Roll out a rectangle and cut 5 long strips. Place these across the pie, lightly joining the ends with the crust. Brush the dough with a whisked egg, and then sprinkle with sugar.
7. Place your pie in the oven and bake for ~30 minutes before covering with foil to avoid it getting too brown/burnt. Bake for a further 30-40 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the dough is nicely crisp and the smell becomes too intoxicating to bear.
8. Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool for 2-3 hours before serving. Slice and serve with a generous dollop of creme fraiche or cream. Fall in love with pie…

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Heidi xo

 

This year we’re ordering a leg of Ham

January 24, 2014

Last Friday we had dinner with the folks. The cool change made itself known as we drove up the hill, grateful with the windows down and arms in the air. Cheers to surviving that week, am I right?

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Dad, in pleasing predictable style, was working on a celebratory cocktail. Because it was Friday and now cool enough to form thoughts. And because we’re here in this life and a cocktail felt right. Correction, a prosecco cocktail felt right.

Dad knows how to cater to my cocktail palate, with citrus. Frozen grapes were an ingenious touch. I have affectionately named this the “chill the f out” cocktail. It’s particularly satisfying when coming down from a 5-day heatwave, but do feel free to try it in other weather conditions with varying pre-drink mental states. Speaking of questionable mental states, Friday evening I though it would be a good idea to allow my husband and I to wear matching outfits.

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Ravenous after a week of feeling pretty ‘ho-hum’ from the heat, we dined on leftover Christmas ham (Dad cares for his leg diligently so it lasts for as long as we can moderate our intake), along with Summer salads, pickled cabbage and cucumber, and mixed grains cooked in stock.

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And for dessert, Dad had made a blackberry and lime sorbet, using some lovely and plump local blackberries. These bulbous beauties are such a culinary caricature, don’t you think? They created a beautiful sorbet that, together with some juicy limes, was superbly tart. I will most certainly be making this recipe again (It’s a David Lebovitz gem). Dad served it with an aperitif of sorts that he felt would compliment it well. I tend to tune out when he describes his thought process regarding food and drink combination, my brother is better equipped at conversing with credibility on that topic. Me? It tasted like yum. And that’s good enough for now.

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Thanks for your cocktail creations, Dad. For inspiring with your sorbet, your drive for drink perfection and your dedication to Christmas goods.

This year we’re ordering a leg of ham too, ok?

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Limoncello and Prosecco Cocktail and Frozen Grapes
(or the “chill the f out” cocktail)

Makes one tall drink. Tailor it to your flavour preferences including how strong you like it. Here’s a rough guide.

Mix the following:
1 part Limoncello
1/2 part Vodka
one thin wedge Lime
2 frozen Grapes
1 sprig of Mint
Add: Ice Cubes (add how ever many you desire to dilute and chill the drink)
Top up: with 2 parts Prosecco (or to taste)
Heidi xo

Banana, Macadamia and Date Smoothie Bowl

January 22, 2014

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I have another frozen banana Wednesday Breakfast Club recipe for you. Are you sick of them yet? I’m sorry for those of you who don’t like bananas, but I am just too addicted to be able to direct my brain to oat or egg land in the mornings.

These frozen banana soft serve meals are refreshing. Most mornings I do some sort of activity, be it a walk or yoga, and as a result I get a little flushed. These bowls are just the thing to nourish and cool my body. What I love about frozen bananas is that they make the creamiest, thickest smoothies. Serving this goodness in a bowl is just a fun way to get all outrageous and eat your drink. If I’m short on time I’ll serve it in a glass like a regular person, but a smoothie bowl is kind of fun.

I’m all about toasting nuts and seeds, they summon the most wholesome, earthy fragrance and flavour and make the perfect porridge, yoghurt and smooth bowl topping. I’ll toast a bunch (adding my favourite sunflower seeds first as they take longer to brown than pumpkin seeds) and scater them my breakfasts and salads or baked goods during the day for extra protein and healthy fats.

Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are my chosen topping here, along with a spoon of coconut oil and sprinkle of sea salt for flavour, but you can go nuts with whatever additions you like. Fresh berries would be a delight, as would a spoon of raw cacao powder if you wanted to go in the chocolate direction. That’s usually always a good idea at breakfast time. Next time I fancy using coconut milk in the puree and chopped mango as a topping. I’ll have myself a joyous tropical smoothie bowl. Yes.

What did you have for breakfast today?

Banana, Macadamia and Date Smoothie Bowl

Serves 1

Ingredients
1 Frozen Banana, sliced (~130g frozen weight)
3 fresh Medjool Dates
Hot Water
15g Macadamia Nuts
~2 tablespoons Milk (any kind)
Toppings: toasted nuts & seeds, a teaspoon of coconut oil, a pinch of salt

Method
1. Slice open the dates and remove the pit. Place the dates in a shallow dish and cover with boiling water (~3 tablespoons worth). Leave to soften for 5 minutes.
2. Puree the frozen banana, dates and date soaking water, macadamias and 1 tablespoon of milk until smooth. Add another tablespoon of milk or so as required to get your desired flavour and texture.
3. Scoop into a bowl and add toppings.

 

Heidi xo

 

Bean Salad

January 20, 2014

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I’ve been craving simplicity.

I suppose I could chalk this up to post-festive season fatigue, all that fancy booze and fruit-studded pudding. Our recent trip to Tasmania (with more booze and, in place of pudding, a sea of cheese) most certainly augmented this craving.

Longing for routine makes me feel like I’m onto something good in life. I adore this brandy-sauce time of year, truly, but I love my days preparing meals for just the two of us, too. And so we celebrated our return with simplicity.

I was so pleased to stand in my kitchen and think on what to make myself for lunch. My vat of extra virgin olive oil and jar of capers were surely required, as were a good handful of recently plucked farm beans and greens, greens, greens. I also called on a few favourite no-fuss essentials in the form of canned beans, toasted pinenuts and marinated goats cheese to bring together this meal. Fresh patriotic beans like these need little encouragement, they’re best when honoured simply. I lightly blanch or steam and then dress them with extra virgin olive oil or butter.

This is the type of food I like to eat every day.

Bean Salad

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 handful Bush Beans, lightly steamed and cut into 2-3cm pieces
1 small Shallot, finely diced
1/3 cup Cannelini Beans (fresh and cooked would be ideal, otherwise use rinsed canned beans. Any legume would be lovely)
1 handful Spinach or Rocket
1 handful chopped fresh Parsley or Basil
20g Goats Fetta
2 teaspoons Capers, rinsed
1/2 tablespoon toasted Pinenuts
1/2 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper and Sea Salt to taste

Method:
1. Assemble both types of beans, shallot, spinach and herbs in a bowl.
2. Drizzle the oil and vinegar over the top and mix to incorporate.
3. Top with cheese, capers and pinenuts. Season to taste.

PS. I’ll be writing recommendations for anyone eager to travel to the cider-kissed region of southeastern Tasmania in the coming weeks.

Heidi xo

Cauliflower Pizza

January 17, 2014

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I didn’t expect Ben and I to like this one, folks. I mean, it’s not a real pizza. It’s a vegetable. As much as we both love cauliflower, it’s just not pizza nor should it ever pretend to be. At least that’s how I felt before tasting this cauli creation.

Now? I’m kinda into the idea. It’s still not real pizza, let’s be honest, but cauliflower does make a super tasty vehicle for sauce and cheese. 

A few thoughts for you:

1) do not think you can eat a whole cauliflower between two people. You can’t. Or if you can, it’s awfully unpleasant for everyone involved.

2) do not leave the tea towel you used to drain the cauliflower in your washing machine, thinking you’d washed it but you really hadn’t. S**t smells funky the morning after.

3) I favour robust sauces to spread over the cauliflower base. A favourite was leftover spiced eggplant stew.

4) anchovies are a marvellous pre-oven topping (work with me here, they’re so good for you!)

5) ricotta cheese is a marvellous post-oven topping, as are capers and fresh basil.

6) the crispy edges are the best part. Be generous with your parmesan distribution to make them even more awesome.

Cauliflower Pizza recipe link.

Let me know if you discover any great toppings for your cauliflower pizza vehicle for sauce and cheese! I’d love to hear about them.

Heidi xo

Acai Bowl

January 15, 2014

I first fell in love with acai bowls when visiting New York City a few years ago. My girlfriends, who had been in town for a few days staying with our friends who were living there, were already bonkers for them. Everyone was! On street corners and park benches I’d see folk eating these weird and wonderful purple purees. Ground up acai berries and frozen fruit were a delicious antidote to the New York City August heat. And last year, at Coachella, determined to stay hydrated I devoured acai bowls on the daily. Topped with sliced banana and granola, they’re just about the most refreshing and filling breakfast. Or post hike smoothie

Back home in Australia we are set for an outrageously warm week. Melbourne in January is either dreary and dismal or disastrously hot. Are you surviving the heat ok, lovelies? Please, stay hydrated. I’m just hanging around my freezer and frequently tipping buckets of water on my head. You know, the usual. I also have a bag of acai powder and a freezer full of frozen bananas to help me get through these stinking Summer days.

Acai berries are a real treat (they’re certainly not cheap), packed full of antioxidants and a vibrant taste. I’m a fan of all berries, really, but I felt such pangs of nostalgia when I saw acai powder in a store at Christmas time I purchased a bag and gifted it to myself. I am so thoughtful like that. Today was the perfect day for a breakfast acai bowl, to help me chill out and try to enjoy this crazy Summer.

I might just live at the beach this week. Or in my freezer. And my diet shall consist of salad, nut butter straight from the jar and acai bowls… Ain’t she pretty?

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Acai Bowl

Serves 1

Ingredients
1 large  frozen Banana (or 2 small, as I used)
1 heaped tablespoon Acai Powder or frozen berries (to get the deep purple colour simply use more powder. As I said, it’s not cheap, hence my pleasantly palid bowl)
1 glug of Milk
1 teaspoon Pure Maple Syrup
Toppings: toasted nuts and seeds, sliced banana, granola to serve

Method
1. Puree the banana with some milk (adding more if your blender is not too proficient) until smooth and creamy.
2. Add the acai powder and puree until incorporated.
3. Taste and add maple syrup as desired.
4. Spoon the mixture into a bowl and add toppings.

What did you have for breakfast today?

Heidi xo

The One Where I Talk About Stuff

January 12, 2014

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Hi there.

Thank you for your warm response regarding my last post. I’m so keen on the topic of getting to know your food, it’s great to hear you found the post interesting and (hopefully) useful, encouraging. That’s the goal, to get the dialogue going. So thank you for listening and responding!

Ben and I have been gallivanting across South-Eastern Tasmania this past week. We’re having a rocking time. There’s been cider and cherries and oysters and hiking. As well as beach days requiring eager evening application of coconut butter, and then more cider as we cook local produce barefoot in our accommodation. It’s finally beginning to feel like the Australian Summers I grew up loving. Sandy toes, salty skin and the smell of fish and chips…

While hiking the mountains and cliffs we’ve had some solid life discussions. It’s a new year, after all. And while I’m not a fan of setting big resolutions, I do appreciate the opportunity to reflect and redirect. Ben and I announced some goals for this coming year, both professional and personal. And then I journalled our gems and he took notes on his iphone.

Since my personal goals largely relate to food, I thought I’d share them with you today (as I did a few years ago). Some intentions for 2014… They start off quite momentous and then appear to teeter out to trivial but do not be fooled, friends, I place true importance on things like cinnamon rolls and indeed I deem them worthy of a place on my 2014 intentions list.

1. Continue to see every meal as an opportunity to try something exciting in the kitchen. During the second half of last year, I tried my best to not get stuck into a rut, especially with week-night meals. And we’ve never eaten so well, consistently. I’d like to keep this up. Even something as small as a new vinaigrette for a salad, throw some capers in there and mix things up.

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2. Challenge myself and my food consumption habits with my intention to continue to find local producers who I can fully support.

3. Be the best granddaughter, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, aunty, wife, friend, food counselor to my clients I can.

4. Throw an Easter party with our families. We will use our spit and make lamb. It will be amazing.

5. Make a cherry pie before the season is out. On the topic of pie, keep that shiz up. There’s always an excuse for pie.

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6. Continue on my homemade ice-cream path. Next up will a berry gelato and something with nuts (almonds? Pistachio nuts?).

7. Practice yoga once a week. I’m new to this yoga life and just adore my solo sessions at home along online videos. In my mind I’m also very good at it and look incredibly elegant in all poses. There are no mirrors in my lounge room, however.

8. Read in bed. Every night. I love to read (and doing so before bed helps me to sleep better) but I struggle to get started. It’s so easy to reach for the computer and watch something on abc iview…No more! Every week night I will read at least 3 pages. It sounds small but I don’t like to set myself up for failure, 3 pages is achievable even when I’m tired. Oh and this ties in with the book club my friends and I are starting. First up is Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food. Guess who picked that one?…

9. Find some more hiking trails near my home.

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10. Perfect my spaghetti aglio e olio skills.

11. Make brioche. Since admiring Leah’s brioche skills I have been super excited to make it myself. I see jolly brioche brunching in my future and it’s exciting.

12. Increase the frequency with which I make cinnamon buns. I adore these soft beauties but they take time to prepare and rise and I tend to revert to familiar breakfast goods such as pancakes. But a homemade cinnamon bun is a beautiful, irreplaceable thing. These are going on the Easter breakfast menu.

13. Try not to get addicted to coffee. Based on my consumption in 2013 I don’t see this ending well…

14. Find the perfect croissant in Melbourne. Since returning from France and even San Francisco, I have not been able to eat a croissant with untaimed glee. I have sampled some but after a few bites have dramatically cast them aside, chastising them for not living up to my buttery flaky crescent dreams *sigh*. Please, dear readers, baseball pitch your croissant recommendations my way. I need them in my life.

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Phew! Such wordy posts these past couple of weeks. I promise to return with recipes and frivolity.

 

Heidi xo

 

 

 

 

Getting to know your food

January 7, 2014

For the past couple of months I’ve been farming one day a week at Transition Farm. Learning how to grow vegetables, what it takes to tend to, care for and harvest them. I’m discovering the importance of good soil, of working with the environment around you, respecting it and nurturing it. And in doing so, respecting and nurturing yourself and your loved ones with the produce you’ve grown.

It’s meditation in soil. It’s a truly invigorating and inspiring practice. I just love it. I’m observing and encouraging the natural cycle of nourishment. I’m getting to know my food.

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with Robin as we packaged the edible flowers gift for the Christmas CSA boxes. We were speaking of the importance of connecting with your food, of knowing where, for example, your meat, milk and vegetables come from. This is the food that nourishes your body and your family’s bodies, that helps it to grow and learn and skip and love. Knowing this is something we both consider to be incredibly important.

I’ve written about this topic before in My Mindful Kitchen. From personal experience, I know it can feel overwhelming when deciding you want to become more selective with your food. We are so used to visiting the Supermarket for all our needs. Where will I shop? How will I know it’s the best option for me and my family?

Personally, I have found connecting with smaller producers to be key when transitioning towards a more “farm to table” lifestyle. And specifically, I like to focus on buying local as well as supporting sustainable practices via buying organic and being smart with my consumption. Let me translate that a little… When I say local I mean buying goods from my region on the Mornington Peninsula as a preference. I’m spoilt where I live, why would I need to travel very far for food? I’m keen on supporting my local community. Though it’s important to note that just because it’s made locally does not mean it will be the healthiest choice, and this is something you need to consider. I do love me some Tasmanian cheese, after all, and I’ve been lucky enough to see first hand how some of these goods are produced. Now in terms of sustainability, I like to preference products that are grown organically and hence are better for the environment (and my own health, too). This may take a little detective work on my behalf, so I might need to call a producer or farm and find out where they source their products or whether they spray their crops with chemicals and their processes. And in terms of animals, I’ll call to ensure they’re not crowding their chickens into poor conditions or that their animals have a proper life and are fed appropriately. Furthermore (this is just so important) the onus is also on me to ensure I purchase and consume these goods in a sustainable way – not eating 300g steaks every second night, for example.

These practices may take time, certainly initially while you set up a list of producers who tick your boxes, but it is worth it. And for a few important reasons…

Firstly, the food these producers make tastes amazing. Better. Best. It’s a noticeable quality difference.

Secondly, this food is more nutritious. Meat from cows who eat grass is more nutritious than grain fed animals. Eggs from chickens who can peck at worms and greens are more nutritious. Vegetables from healthy soil picked at peak and eaten fresh are more nutritious. You get the picture…

Thirdly, I would personally rather support smaller local producers than monopolistic corporations.

Fourthly, by finding producers who employ sustainable practices, I am directing my funds away from practices that are damaging the environment and I am supporting sustainable, environmentally-conscious practices.
These are the four reasons that drive me when I consider where I spend my money. They encourage me to put in the effort to drive around to multiple shops or vendors for my goods, to break away from this culture of convenience and to get to know my food. You just need to make time to do this.

Overwhelming? I think it is.

And so I asked Robin where she’d think it best to start when getting to know our food. Robin suggested finding one producer each month. Search online, ask friends, call around and find a producer who grows and supplies the community with goods. This may be eggs, beef, vegetables, grains, fruit, whatever feels achievable and interesting and important to you. Inquire about their practices – are they sustainable? How are the animals treated? What are they fed? Can I come and visit the farm?… Find a producer you’re comfortable with and figure out a way to buy from them. Where are their goods stocked? Which farmers’ markets do they visit? When and where can I buy from you? And then make the commitment to support them. Incorporate the practice of buying from sustainable producers into your lifestyle. Each week you might make a pilgrimage to purchase goods. This can become part of your routine. Instead of multiple trips to the supermarket each week, take the time out to do one weekly shop from your chosen producer. If purchasing meat, you won’t even need to go weekly.

For January, I’m starting off with vegetables. I still have my own vegetable garden, but this was not enough to sustain Ben and I and our veggie ways, and so I’ll be getting a weekly box of organic vegetables from Transition Farm (where I salute the soil and learn one day a week). Isn’t she a beauty?

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We have been eating their vegetables for about a month and already we feel a difference. I mean, we were always vegetable-loving folk but our passion for greens and potatoes and carrots and beets has just grown beyond belief. Ben cannot wait for me to get home of a Friday with our box of veg. He goes straight for the peas, shelling a handful and delighting in the burst of flavour. The most surprising benefit has been discovering the joy of lettuce. Lettuce! Who knew it could taste so sweet and tender?! A couple of weeks ago we got a bunch of celery. “Oh, so this is what celery should taste like”, I marvelled. My creativity in the kitchen has grown, as I work with what I have in the box, focusing on how to best celebrate this beautiful produce. Yes, we’re rather smitten with our vegetable box from Transition Farm.

What we eat is so personal, it so greatly dictates our health and wellness. And yet somehow we’ve given this control over to big businesses who try to make us eat more processed foods and take two chocolate bars for the price of one. I hope you join me this year in reconnecting with our food. One producer each month. We can do this!

A couple of weeks ago, for our Friday dinner after working at the farm Ben and I celebrated Summer tomatoes with our favourite Caprese salad. Sliced tomatoes, sliced bocconcini, fresh basil leaves, a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Perfection on a plate.

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Here are some links for further reading, the first two keenly supplied by Robin from Transition Farm. Nothing too text heavy, it’s all very readable and encouraging. Helping you to transition in the right direction.

Meat is murder

What you can do

Animal Welfare consumer guides

Humane Choice directory

PS. I did not think to note that Transition Farm only deliver to a portion of the Mornington Peninsula and can only take on a certain number of boxes. Silly me! Send an application in via their website if you’re keen to sign up to their program but do keep this in mind.


Heidi xo

 

New Years Eve at Home

January 3, 2014

Just a couple of crazy kids chilling out, drinking Campari and gin, throwing frisbee on the beach and dancing to 80s tunes whilst frying padrón peppers. We didn’t even make it to midnight. It was awesome.

Come morning we woke early for a jog along the beach. And then, as it began to rain, we dove in for a salty swim. It was magical. I could not think of a better way to bring in the new year.

Back home I made us a mango lassi before gathering with family for brunch and homemade raspberry ice-cream. I’m already in love with 2014…

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Fried Padrón Peppers (recipe link). Cooked whilst listening to this.

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Mango Lassi. Serves 2. 1 ripe mango, 1 & 3/4 cup milk, 2 heaped tablespoons vanilla yoghurt (I used Jalna), 1 handful ice. Blend until smooth. Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

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Homemade Raspberry Ice Cream. It tastes the way pink should (recipe link).

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In the spirit of 2014 and all the promise a new year holds, here’s 14 random things I am grateful for. Because I am terribly grateful.

1. The fact that my niece and nephew (who have been visiting from Hong Kong) have been showing me so much love with very little if any bribery. Let’s hope this lasts. I suppose it will, as long as I can keep giving piggy back rides…oh, boy.

2. Spaghetti and Meatballs (recipe link) with a glass of wine and an episode of Mad Men. This was our new years day dinner and it was so fine.

3. The sound of 6am.

4. My growing love for Campari.

5. Fresh peas. Since getting our vegetables from Transition Farm, I have come to appreciate their delicate brilliance more than ever.

6. Our recent discovery of Parks & Recreation. Both Leslie Knope & Ron Swanson, in particular, make my days so much sweeter. Life role models, right there.

7. The new shampoo I’ve been buying. It’s cheap, organic and it makes my head smell like a coconut. So much good!

8. The fact that I’m off to Tasmania again on Sunday. With Ben. For a week! It’s a work and play trip. I cannot wait.

9. Boiled eggs in salads. Just plain good.

10. Being able to work at the same office as my mum and dad. I love seeing their pretty faces between clients and forcing them to sample the food I’ve made. I so respect their kitchen feedback.

11. Freshly ground coffee beans. Both the smell and taste, equally.

12. Watching Ben learn how to manage his growing hair. He asks me questions about conditioner, hair pins and brushes and I try to take it all very seriously and only reply in a slightly jesting tone.

13. Downton Abbey discussions with my nana. Bring on the next season and more scandal. Will Edith find love again? Time will tell…

14. Having a space to write 14 random thoughts of thanks. Yes, I’m truly thankful for this blog, for the greetings and inspiration, connections and creativity it’s encouraged…

I’m looking forward to making 2014 just as swell. Bye 2013, hello 2014.

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Heidi xo