Tomatillo Salsa

31 May 2018
I first came across tomatillos in a Diggers catalogue and I was intrigued. Being a sucker for a novel vegetable in the seed catalogue I quickly ordered a packet and gave them a go. I can happily say they've been a great addition to the garden and the preserving cupboard.

Tomatillos come from Mexico and you'll come across them in many Mexican recipes. The most well known use is Salsa Verde (not to be confused with the Italian herb based sauce). They can also be added to raw salsas or, according to my daughter, enjoyed like an apple straight off the vine (generally when they are on the riper side of things like the front fruit in the pic below).


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Spreadable Butter made at home

29 May 2018
I stayed with a friend recently and we discussed many things food while enjoying many things food. There was much cheese and wine shared. I took a loaf of home made sourdough and she baked a delicious roast lamb in her wood fired stove (swoon).

We both share a passion for making our own and tips flew back and forth rapidly. She showed me her fermented chillies and pear vinegar that she was working on. I shared how I blended my own spreadable butter. She was intrigued and so I thought - perhaps people don't know this is a thing you can do, so I thought I'd share (please ignore if you are already enlightened).


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DIY Chai: blending and brewing your own at home

27 May 2018
It will come as no surprise that I enjoy making things from scratch at home. Over time I've slowly built up the list of things I make myself and one of the most enjoyable (and easiest) has got to be DIY Chai tea spice mix.

I've mentioned that I'm a little partial to a pot of tea. As the weather cools I really enjoy the process of making a traditionally brewed chai tea (which I'll outline down below). It becomes a touch point in the day, a way to slow down and connect to the present moment - a little mindfulness if you will.

Aromatic and warming chai.


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Goings on in the garden: May

24 May 2018
Activity in the garden definitely slows down as we get closer to winter. It's nice to potter around and watch the change of the season though. Things grow much more slowly of course but over a month there is definitely change to be seen.

Unidentified brassicas getting bigger

Cauliflower seedlings.

The two pics above are of my space out behind our back fence. Previously housing pumpkin and tomatillos. You can see the edge of the pumpkin vine that I've left to die down and compost back into the soil. I'm still yet to dig up the sweet potato vines here, I'll wait until they get hit by a big frost. I'm happy to see the brassicas at various stages of growth as hopefully it'll mean I don't get inundated! The cauliflower seedlings above wont do much over winter but will hopefully fill the space of the spring hungry gap nicely.


Sprouting broccoli in a pot - nearly ready to flower.

Here is a mix of kholrabi, purple cauliflower, mangel wurzel and parsley.

More broccoli.

Super exciting to see the first signs of a potential harvest of broccoli. Sprouting broccoli first puts up a larder head in the middle and then continues to put out the smaller flowers as you harvest. I'm hoping that I'll be harvesting some across winter. Most of the other plants wont give me much love I don't think until the weather warms at the other end.

Berries and pomegranates losing their leaves. Guava in the background.

The deciduous bushes and trees in pots are starting to lose their leaves. The subtropical plants - guavas, feijoas and loquats, are still green. I'll keep my eye on these as the frosts start to get heavier and move them as needed to keep them protected.

Down at the community garden the digging continues.

Strawberries and globe artichoke.

Digging progress - getting close to half way!

Broad beans looking happy.

Lots of digging still to be done but definitely getting somewhere! I planted the strawberries out last month and they are going ok, although I've lost a couple. I've inter-planted with some lettuce that one of the other gardeners was giving away and scattered out some rocket seeds. I'm planning to make this a bit of a perennial bed within the larger garden bed over time. The broad beans and garlic continue to grow strongly. I'm so glad I was able to get these in as it's heartening to turn up to the patch and see some progress on the plants and not just be faced with weeds and more weeds.

No planting planned for the coming months as we move into winter and heavy frosts...at least I'll be able to keep warm with all the digging yet to be done.

How are things going in your garden?
What are you harvesting, planting or changing?
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Make ahead mirepoix

22 May 2018
Do you start off countless dishes with a mirepoix, a soffrito or the 'holy trinity'? Not sure what I'm talking about? Read on....

In many cuisines there is a common thread of starting a dish by sauteing particularly aromatic vegetables in oil or butter. This step begins the flavour foundation of a meal. The French use a Mirepoix: onion, carrot and celery. The Italians use the same and call it Soffrito (although technically this refers to the combination after it's been sauteed). In Cajun and Creole cooking they sub out the carrot for capsicum. What they all have in common is a mix of highly aromatic vegetables that lift the background flavours of seemingly simple dishes.


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Recycle: Food Waste Part 4

20 May 2018
Some food waste is inevitable. Even if it's just the bits of your food that you can't eat and can't reuse for another purpose. Realistically though, things get lost in the back of the fridge, plans change and our best intentions are just that.

Once you get to this point of the life cycle of your food you can still reduce waste. Personally I think food has only gone to waste if it ends up in the garbage bin. There are plenty of ways that you can use the resource that is inedible food.

Hello ladies.

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Reuse: Food Waste Part 3

17 May 2018
Now that you've got your food home, after planing and shopping with some food waste awareness, it's time to eat it. But what to do if the plans go awry? What extra steps can we take to keep food waste to a minimum?

Confession time: finding useful ways to use up bits of leftover food is a bit of an obsession of mine. I'm always saving random bits of food in the fridge or freezer to reuse at a later date.

The tips below cover using up food that is not going to get used up in time and also using up the bits of food that sometimes get left behind. Please share any other ideas in the comments below - I'm keen to learn a few new strategies myself.


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Here and Now: May 2018

15 May 2018
Autumn is definitely my favourite season. As a child I think it had to do with the fact it was my birthday season, but over time it has maintained its place as number one season in my book. 

There is a grounding and calming about autumn that I really enjoy. Things naturally slow as the weather cools and the days shorten. The changes in nature provide a visual prompt to pause in the moment and savour the here and now. To connect with this time and place. To slow, to turn inwards and to reflect.



Loving // The amazing colour show that is Canberra in autumn. There has been lots of rustling walks through the leaves and leaf collecting happening around here.

Eating // Warming soups and cheesy sourdough toasted sandwiches. I'm hoping to try out a few new soup recipes this winter (if you have any recommendations on a soup that is a little different please feel free to share).



Tea in the sunshine, enjoying the autumn show.

Drinking // Tea - no surprise there. Getting back into making chai now the weather has cooled.

Feeling // A little under the weather with a cold at the moment but overall feeling content with a sprinkling of inspired. I'm working away on re-building my 'day job' business and it feels nice to use my brain for different things.


Harvesting and preserving the last of the tomatillos.

Making // Lots of baked goods lately - trying different breads, experimenting with sourdough starter in things other than bread and keeping the snack jar full. The last of the preserves.


Thinking // About so many ideas for my business. On the home-front I'm thinking about lots of weekend jaunts and day trips to discover the food and wine places that have emerged while I've been interstate.

Current library book pile.

Dreaming // Of a winter holiday up north to warmer climes. I'm enjoying the change in season but I know a little holiday where it's warmer will help to break things up. Also, one of my lovely sister in laws moved to Brisbane at the beginning of the year so we are looking forward to spending time with her and hopefully a few others along the way as we road trip up.

What's been happening in your world? Fancy updating us all in the comments below or on your own online space. Head on over to to check out what others have been up to and to join in if you can - you'll also find some pretty inspirational knitting to enjoy.

P.S I'll be back on Thursday with Reuse: Food Waste Part 3.

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Reduce: Food Waste Part 2

13 May 2018
Many decisions we make around purchasing, storing and using our food can help us to reduce food waste. This is kind of like our first line of defense - a little planning and awareness here mean less to deal with down the line.

The statistics I shared the other week showed that one out of five shopping bags of food go to waste. Sometimes life happens, our best laid plans go awry and things get lost in the back of the fridge - but the more awareness at this stage the better.

Today I want to talk about planning before we shop, storing food and share a few food safety points.

Pantry storage.

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Food Waste Part 1

10 May 2018
Food waste is full of startling statistics as I shared in a. Sometimes statistics don't tell the whole picture, sometimes they can be overwhelming and leave us feeling a little helpless. There are many parts of the food production cycle that we can't impact on directly. However, there are many things that we can do at a household level.

Reducing food waste is something that we do around these parts pretty regularly. The reality is that there will be some food waste - even if it's just the inedible bits of food. So, we are all about aiming for less waste not necessarily no waste.

Over a series of posts I'd like to dig a little into food waste - where it happens in the household and what we can do about reducing it. I'll also dedicate a post to utilising any food waste that we do have so that it is turned into a resource rather than a waste (shout out to Chris from for highlighting this very important point on my  on food waste).

I thought I'd break this series down into three main areas:
  • Reduce - what steps can we take to create less waste?
  • Reuse - if food needs to be used up or repurposed what can we do with it?
  • Recycle - how can we turn food waste into a resource?
Lettuce and coriander (gratuitous garden pic)

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Red cabbage sauerkraut

08 May 2018
Like many things, I never much liked sauerkraut until I tried homemade. I happened to be in Germany at the time, so that probably helped too. It did take me a little while to build up the courage to take the plunge into fermented foods but I haven't looked back.

Making your own sauerkraut is super simple. At its most basic it involves just two ingredients: cabbage and salt. You can change up the flavours by adding spices such as caraway, dill, celery, coriander or fennel seeds. You can also vary the vegetables and make kraut out of many things. I've experimented with carrots and kohlrabi in the past and both made a tasty alternative.

My stock was starting to run a little low and I thought I might experiment with a little more colour for my next batch, so I picked up a red (although this is probably closer to purple) cabbage.

Shredding up the cabbage.

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Making food decisions

06 May 2018
I haven't always been as conscious of my food buying choices as I am now. As a poor uni student my choices were definitely dictated by my budget. As a young professional there was a budget and time balance - I mostly needed things I could make with little time so I could fit it around my lifestyle. As I moved towards a more value driven, simple living lifestyle things shifted again.

When it comes to making food choices there is no easy 'how to' or one size fits all. I believe (but you don't have to) that firstly it's important to be clear on your values. What are the things that you think are important when it comes to food and the bigger picture. For me I'm aiming to balance the following overarching factors:

  • Nourishing meals for my family and friends (and me of course)
  • Reducing environmental impact
  • Supporting local and alternative food systems

Also in this mix is the fact that we are a single income family in a high cost of living city. So, while budget isn't the driver it has been in the past it definitely still plays a part.

Local food system - my Adelaide food garden.

So what does this look like when it comes to making food choices? I generally use a series of questions to help me make choices that fit within my values. I say generally because I'm not perfect (shocking, no?). I make the best choices with the resources and information available to me at any one time. And sometimes I knowingly make a compromise choice because of, you know, life.

I do want to emphasise that this is what works for me, we are all different and therefore how we make choices will reflect that. I offer this up out of interest and maybe a way to spark a conversation and I'm in no way implying that this is the way things should be done.

Ok, now that little disclaimer is out of the way. Here are the questions.

Can I grow or make this myself?

This is a big one for me. I find that a lot of the conflict I feel around making food choices to balance values is greatly reduced when I grow or make it myself. It also ticks all of my value boxes - it's nourishing, reduces environmental impact and supports an alternative food system - mine! So, I try to grow and make as much as I can. Of course this varies due to resources, particularly time. When I've been in the trenches of new motherhood or recently when we moved interstate I definitely cut myself some slack in this area. If I can't grow or make it then I consider....

Neighbourhood foraged peaches from the summer.

Can I source it from someone who is making or growing it locally?

This may be as simple as a friend or neighbour's garden or even a local food swap. When I lived in Adelaide I attended a great monthly produce swap. It was so lovely to connect with people growing their own and a great way to swap my glut for someone else's. More recently I've been the recipient of some excess produce at my community garden plot - hopefully I'll be able to return the favour when I manage to get some things growing. Local farmers or growers market can be a good option too - although I know in some areas these can be a little on the style over substance side of things. Since moving to Canberra I've embraced the farmer's market again and am lucky that there are some great down to earth growers there to connect with. If there is nothing locally....

Is there an option grown or made in Australia?

I think it's really important to support our Australian food systems. If the proverbial really hits the fan when it comes to the environment and food supply then it feels reasonable to infer that a strong local food system will be useful. Despite the fact that food miles may only be a tiny piece of the picture when it comes to sustainability it just seems logical to me to source my food from Australia where I can.

Loquat sauce - BBQ sauce substitute made with foraged loquats.

Is there an alternative I can use?

If I get all the way here then I like to consider if there is an alternative. Could I substitute something else? Sometimes no - coconut cream/milk is an example that comes to mind as well as many spices. But a lot of the times I can. Fruit and veg are easy to substitute - I just use what's in season. I can swap fancy grains with cous cous, cracked wheat, or barley. Sometimes, I just go without that thing.

And sometimes, I buy what I need. If I've gone through this process then I'm happy that I'm making a conscious choice either way. For me, I think that a lot of it comes down to not being a mindless consumer. In particular not complaining about the big supermarket duopoly and the state of our food system on one hand while making choices on autopilot with the other. As I said above, I'm not perfect and I don't claim to be. I just try and make choices with my eyes wide open.

How about you - is this an area you are working on?
Do you use any kind of decision making system/lists/questions around your food choices?


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Food waste: the Australian picture

03 May 2018
Something a little different today. I was doing some research on current statistics into food waste in Australia and I found this interesting infographic. So, I thought I'd share it with you.

There is a lot of information in the pic so I'll leave it at that today. I am planning to write a little more on this topic so consider it a teaser....

Update 29 May 2018: Here is the full food waste series


Reuse: Part 3



Do Something About Food Waste
Do Something About Food Waste infographic by lunchalot

Do these statistics shock you?
No one's perfect of course but do you struggle with food waste or feel you have it pretty in hand?
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Making your own herbal tea

01 May 2018
When I jumped down the rabbit hole that is 'making your own from scratch' I analysed everything. I tried so many things and techniques to find a way to make things myself that would work for me and my lifestyle. One thing I was stuck on for a little while was tea.

I'm a big tea drinker. I'm talking pots of tea a day not just mugs! It was a big part of my pantry that I couldn't really impact on as I didn't live in a climate where I could grow it. I swapped to tea leaves to reduce waste but that was it for a while.

Mint ready to be dried for tea.

I've never been a big herbal tea drinker. Frankly I find most commercial herbal teas or 'infusions' pretty uninspiring. However, home dried herbs are a whole other thing. The trigger to give homemade herbal tea a go was receiving a delicious T2 blend that, when I looked at the ingredients, was all dried herbs and spices. I still drink my pot or two of black tea a day but I also mix it up with a few herbal teas largely made from things in my own backyard.

Now that we are coming into the cooler months I know I'll be reaching for the tea pot a little more frequently and I thought you might be too. So here are a few ideas to get you thinking about making your own blends.

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