Grow Gather Enjoy: food values

Showing posts with label food values. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food values. Show all posts

Quick Dinner Ideas for Kids (that generally get eaten!)

04 October 2018
I've always loved cooking. For me cooking is a creative and relaxing activity. However, preparing dinner for kids is a whole other ball game. Cooking dinner for kids when they are hungry, picky and learning to discover new foods is often anything but relaxing.

Currently my girls are at the age where family dinners are a bit difficult with MrGGE's working schedule. On days when we are all home we eat together but it's not always possible....especially when the kids want to have dinner at 4.30pm.

Pizza pre-cooked and pulled from the freezer - a quick crowd favourite.


Camping Food

02 October 2018
Every October long weekend for the past 15 years my family goes camping. We go to the same spot with the same core group of people and often enjoy the same foods, stories and relaxation year after year. It doesn't get boring though, I look forward to it each year.

It's an opportunity to really disconnect. There is patchy to no service, no mod-cons and three days in the Aussie bush. Just a few tents, a caravan and a fire on the banks of the Lachlan river.

One of the things I love about this weekend is the food traditions baked into it (pardon the pun). I think food is such a great connector to time and place. Some of the foods we eat while on this particular camping weekend are not things I normally make or eat at home. Some foods are reserved purely for this weekend alone. This builds anticipation as well as great food traditions.

I thought I'd share a few pics and stories with you about the food from our camping weekend....

For the past six years I've been making a special baked treat to come along to camping weekend. These are a nostalgic flashback from our 80s childhood in rural NSW.  I searched high and low for an authentic recipe that tasted just like the ones we bought from the bakery back in the day. I was pretty chuffed when I found the right one. Enter the mushroom....

Now, you likely haven't heard of these little guys. Not many people have. But they, along with vanilla slice, were my go to bakery item treats on the VERY rare occasions it was on offer as a kid. These days if you find a 'mushroom' in a bakery it's likely to be filled with a lot of artificial tasting mock cream. But the 80s version was mock cream made from scratch - which is basically sugar and butter = delicious. The pastry is a cross between shortbread and shortcrust, there is a dollop of strawberry or raspberry jam in the bottom and a little sprinkle of nutmeg on top.

Each year I make a big batch to take out and we enjoy it with a cup of tea made on the billy for morning smoko (Aussie bush/farm talk for morning tea).

The other tradition-laden meal of our trip is the camp oven dinner. My dad has perfected cooking a big hunk of meat and lots of veg in the camp oven over the coals. No fancy sauces, herbs or even seasoning - just simple flavours and a hint of campfire taste.

In the early years we enjoyed the camp oven for just one meal over the weekend, but lately my dad has been spoiling us with it twice in the one weekend. Bonus.

Also on the menu is the morning fry up of bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and tin spaghetti on the side. Toast is cooked over the fire and a cup of tea (or 3) from the billy washes it all down. Lunch is usually a BBQ cooked in an old plow disc with some rustic 'chips' served up with a salad or popped between two slices of bread and heartily enjoyed. There is also often a nice afternoon antipasto platter enjoyed with a few glasses of chilled wine and a game of scrabble (or 3) - my sister & I's nod to our appreciation for foods outside of the 'Aussie tucker' repertoire.

It's great now to see the kids really enjoying the different aspects of the weekend too and starting to get involved in the food traditions. This year my 13 year old niece whipped up some damper batter and we cooked it on sticks over the open fire, slathered it with butter and enjoyed it while trying not to burn our mouths. I feel a new tradition emerging....

How about you - any big family food tradtions outside the normal festive season stuff?
Did you get up to much on the long weekend if you had one?

4 Fave Cookbooks right now

25 September 2018
My cooking style and use of cookbooks has changed a lot since I first got interested in food and cooking back at the . I've gone through phases of having lots of cookbooks, then paring right back again. These days I do a lot of recipe searching online, but I still feel that you can't beat flicking through a book. In fact I love nothing more than settling in with one of my favourite cookbooks or a 'new to me' one and reading like a novel.

My current cookbook collection - only taking up 3 spaces in the bookshelf!


A week in my kitchen

28 August 2018
I'm always interested to read about what others are up to in their day-to-day lives. Not in a 'look at me' social media way but more a 'I'm not the only one' kind of way. When I first started on my simple living and values based eating journey it felt a little lonely. Most of my friends were living a very different lifestyle. I don't mind being different, but it's also nice to connect to people that share your interests and some experiences. Thankfully there's the internet!

So, I thought I'd share a week in my kitchen to give a snap shot of what goes on around here and a few of the things we eat.

Hommus and sauteed chard on toast - a quick and tasty lunch.


Values, priorities & excuses

16 August 2018
I've come to believe strongly that values based living is a key element to a content and fulfilling life. This is very evident, for me, in the area of procuring, growing, cooking and enjoying food.

Before I got clear on my values my food decisions were mostly based on price and taste. The price element being a strong carry-over from life as a poor uni student as well as my inborn frugal ways. Clear values helped me to quantify the value of a food or action with a bigger scope than the monetary value assigned to it.

Succulents from the Garden Shed @


Spinach & Cheese Master Mix: my #1 meat free meal base

14 August 2018
I've always enjoyed vegetarian meals. Well, I should say, since my mid-late teens when I was more exposed to different ways of cooking & eating.

I grew up in rural Australia and meals were decidedly not vegetarian. Any vegetables evident were cooked so far beyond 'done' as to not retain much of their original colours. The only vegetarian meal that my mum made growing up was quiche (when my dad was away!).  Unfortunately it wasn't the best rendition being from a 1980s weight watchers cookbook ('shudder').

So, it was a revelation for me to come across fresh tasting, full flavoured meals made from mostly veg.


The Farm, Byron Bay

09 August 2018
On our recent trip up the North Coast of NSW and into QLD I scheduled a few stops based around food. On our return trip I booked us into lunch at The Farm, Byron Bay. Good friends, who knew my approach to food, told me about The Farm several years ago so it's been on my radar for a while.


That's a wrap: Plastic Free July

02 August 2018
The perfectionist in me wants to label my Plastic Free July attempt this year a bit of a failure. BUT of course, nothing is truly a failure just a learning experience (yes, keep repeating it Laura until you believe it!!). There were some wins too but mostly a LOT of learning experiences.

I set myself a few goals this year () and In the interests of keeping things real I thought I'd report on my progress, a few 'learnings' and some goals for the future.

Gratuitous holiday pic but also the reason this is so important - protecting our natural environment.


Making food from scratch: an addictive process

29 July 2018

Yoghurt was the first food that took me down the rabbit hole of making things from scratch. I remember stumbling across a recipe for making yoghurt in a thermos and being completely intrigued. I did manage to botch my first yoghurt attempt by heating the milk a little too far but I didn't let that deter me and have been making my own for seven years now. It's definitely saved me a few dollars but also saved a few hundred plastic containers from the waste cycle, built my food prep knowledge base and increased my ability to 'fend for myself' a little more when it comes to feeding my family.

Salsas, jams, chutneys and all sorts of 'made from scratch' goodies.

Here & Now: July 2018

15 July 2018
This month has been filled with lots of lovely winter enjoyment and the prospect of a couple of weeks in sunnier climes. 


Reducing Disposable Stuff in the Kitchen

12 July 2018
There are lots of products in the kitchen that are disposable. That is, we use them once and toss them out. So many of them are ingrained in our cooking practices and even recipe books.

Over the past several years I've made a lot of small and steady changes to reduce the number of disposables we use. I've also tried to find ways to reuse any disposables so that they at least extend beyond single use items. In the spirit of I thought I'd chat a little about what we do here.

Baking with a greased pan instead of baking paper


Pasta Dough: Plain and Flavoured

10 July 2018
I about my recent pasta making day. I'm aiming to incorporate a monthly pasta making and drying session into my routine so that I have homemade pasta at the ready as needed. Homemade pasta is so much tastier and of course it doesn't come in a packet so one less plastic bag to dispose of.

The other benefit of making your own, which I've talked about many times before, is the ability to adjust flavours and ingredients to your liking. In this instance I was able to play around with different flavours to add a bit of variety and colour.

Herb & tomato fettuccine.


Pasta Day

08 July 2018
I've been meaning to get back into making my own pasta for a while but somehow things haven't been going to plan. In fact, I haven't even used my pasta machine since we moved in November last year. I needed something to get me started and back in the swing of things, and lucky for me motivation came in the form of Plastic Free July.

about how I had decided to do PFJ this year and one of my goals was to start making pasta again to cut out another plastic packaged product. We love pasta around here and it's such a great quick meal to get together for hungry kiddos - but not when you have to make it from scratch at dinner time. Enter pasta day...

Colourful pasta dough.


Baking Bread: no fancy equipment required

28 June 2018
When I first started baking bread I used what I had on hand. However, in the back of my head I was thinking I'd need to upgrade to some 'proper' equipment if I got into the swing of things.

I would often eye off different woven and linen lined bannetons. I researched lames and bench scrappers and all those things. I even looked at different bread bins and the best options to store my loaves.

Homemade sourdough.

Alongside my adventures in bread baking I also started to move towards a stronger connection to my values and how these underpinned my everyday living. A strong value for me is around reducing waste and conscious consumer purchasing. So, I started to question these ideas around what I thought I needed to bake bread. Now many years later I'm still just using what I have on hand.

I thought I'd run through some of the things I use. Hopefully this is useful for those out there doing the same to know that you aren't alone in not owning all the beautiful bread things. And also, for budding bakers I hope this shows that you can start right now, you don't have to wait until you get the right 'insert coveted baking item here' to get started.


Food and minfulness

24 June 2018
In my day job I talk a lot about eating mindfully, being aware of our physical eating cues, the importance of trust in our bodies and enjoyment of food. What I'm finding more and more is that mindfulness can be applied to all aspects of food and eating.

Mindfulness, to me, is about being present, acting with full awareness and removing judgement. As I continue to fine tune the values based eating approach of my life I find mindfulness an important and useful tool so I thought I'd chat about it today.

A cup of tea always provides a mindful moment ()


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).


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.


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.


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.


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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