Grow Gather Enjoy: seasonal eating

Showing posts with label seasonal eating. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seasonal eating. Show all posts

A week in my kitchen: early spring

30 October 2018
A couple of months ago I shared what went on over a week in my kitchen (). I thought I might continue it seasonally to show how things shift and to share a snapshot into our eating here.

Smoked trout and spring veg pasta.

Sunday

This was a big bake up day for me. In an effort to maximise the oven energy use I generally get a little crazy once the oven is turned on!!

Baking/making: everyday sourdough loaf, 2 sourdough fruit loaves, sourdough bagels, two pizzas, croutons, roasted up pumpkin for mid week meal and (adapted to include peanut butter and choc chips - so probably not really muesli balls anymore!).

Lunch: Bagels with bacon, mayonnaise and lettuce (the first harvested from the garden)

Dinner: slow cooked lamb inspired by a

Monday

Picked up fruit, veg and supplies for the week. I actually did my meal planning Sunday as I'd planned to go the markets but that turned into afternoon drinks with friends instead ;)

Lunch: leftover stew.

Dinner: Smoked trout, broad bean, asparagus and chard pasta in a creamy lemon sauce.

Tuesday

Baking/making: vanilla ice-cream to have with my daily iced coffee and some chocolate ice cream pops for the girls.

Lunch: chard & hummus on toast

Dinner: Roast pumpkin, avocado, crouton & lentil salad with a hummus and mayonnaise dressing.

Tuesday night dinner.


Wednesday

Baking/Making: pre-cooked beans for Thursday night dinner. Testing out my SIL's thermal cooker to see if we might get one for our travels. Accidentally made enough beans to feed a small army...or at least a month's worth of bean dinners once a week!!

Lunch: sharing platter with the girls of vegies, crackers, hummus, cheese and other bits.

Dinner: Beef Stroganoff (from the freezer) with pasta.

Thursday

Fed my sourdough starter tonight to mix dough in the morning and bake in the evening.

Lunch: leftovers.

Dinner: Mexican beans with rice, and chilli

Friday

Baking/Making: everyday sourdough with a some rye flour added in, 2 loaves fruit bread, bagels, pizza (see dinner) and . And while the oven was on - a batch of marmalade based muesli balls and classic chocolate slice ( without the icing).

Lunch: Nachos - fully loaded. I like to add a heap of extra things on top of my nachos - this instance was leftover beans, coriander, avocado, salsa and . Also, because I'm a fan of the crunchy chip over the soggy chip I melt my cheese directly onto the chips to form a protective layer and then add the toppings - game changer!

Dinner: Pizza - tomato sauce/prosciutto/cheese and kale/preserved lemon/cheese

Nachos.

Saturday

Lunch: Sausage sizzle at my niece's 3rd birthday party

Dinner: Roast pork belly, hasselback potatoes, asparagus and broccolini, served with spiced rhubarb paste on the side. I forgot to take a pic of the amazing looking pork belly! I had a friend over for dinner so went all out....plus a few glasses of chardonnay.

And that was a busy spring week in our kitchen. A few lighter meals coming in as I was chatting . I'm also currently trying to use up the freezer stockpile and all the other random bits and pieces before we move out of our rental in a few weeks.

What's happening in your kitchen this week?
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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!

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6 ways to Preserve Oranges

20 September 2018
When we lived in Adelaide we had an amazing Washington Navel orange tree. It was a prolific fruiter and the taste, when the fruit was left on the tree until late in the season, was amazing. Both my girls loved sitting under the canopy of the tree and eating them just like they would an apple. 

The fruit would ripen around late May - early June but would hold on the tree until late September getting sweeter and juicier as it hung around. This made for a great staggered harvest across the whole winter, which was great.

However, after a winter storm or particularly windy day we'd often have a big drop onto the ground. And of course towards the end of the season we were often left with quite a large harvest to deal with. So, I had to build my repertoire of orange uses and ways to preserve them.

Orange tree with potential harvest.

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Meal Planning

13 September 2018
Meal planning can be a divisive topic. There are those who love them (hands up over here) and those that aren't too sold.

I think the key, for me, is flexibility. If I viewed my meal plan like a 'must do' then it would not work. The way I find it works for me is thinking of it like an optional guideline - there if I need it but no worries if I want to 'go rogue'.

Cookbooks for inspiration if you need them.

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Here & Now: September 2018

11 September 2018
This week has marked the arrival of true spring weather in Canberra. We haven't had the heater on for a few days in the morning, no frosts and no biting icy wind. I'm sure there will be a regression at some point, but I'm calling it: spring is here!

Spring brings with it such a feeling of pent up energy for me. I think all the things I've thought about and reflected on over the quiet slow of winter are ready to break forth. It sounds a bit trite really but I've really noticed as I take time to cue into the seasons and how I respond I do feel a little like a spring bulb ready to pop out of the ground.

A bush full of spring colour.

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How to Preserve Lemons

06 September 2018
This time of year is citrus season. If you are lucky enough to have your own tree or know someone with an established tree, you can guarantee a glut of lemons at some point over the citrus season. Once established lemon trees are quite prolific.

I was the recipient of a lemon tree for Christmas which is currently growing in a pot and has not reached glut-harvest levels as yet. However, once people know you like to take excess produce off their hands it does have a way of finding you. Enter a fruit bowl full of lemons needing some attention....

A mix of lemons.

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Signs of Spring

02 September 2018
Today marks the second day of spring and I'm happy to report that it actually feels a little like spring here in Canberra. The breeze is still on the fresh side but doesn't have that icy edge today. The sun is shining, skies are blue and signs of spring are popping up all around.

Spring brings with it feelings of anticipation and hope for me. After the hibernation and stillness of winter there is a wound up energy that starts to make it's self felt. The warm weather makes me long for time in the garden and outside in general. It also has me looking to dig into tasks and projects that I've been reflecting on over the quieter months.

Unidentified spring blossom at the community garden.
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Ham congee

30 August 2018
I first tasted congee on a flight to Europe with a Hong Kong stopover. As is sometimes the case, I was left with no option for breakfast and was served congee. I was a little worried I must admit as several years earlier I had been served Bibimbap in the same situation on a flight and it was a very poor imitation of what is actually a lovely dish. In this case however, the dish was delicious. Which had me thinking - if an aeroplane version of this dish is this good I must give it another go on land. So, on our return flight when we had a few hours stopover in Hong Kong we ventured out for Yum Cha. I was happy to enjoy my second serve of congee and happily found it even better.

A delicious bowl of comforting congee.

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Goings on in the Garden: August 2018

26 August 2018
So close to spring and yet still so far really. I skipped my garden round-up last month as we were away and to be honest, there wasn't much going on. Canberra winter is not conducive to garden happenings. However, this month I'm happy to report a bit of growth and also a few signs of spring...yay!



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Seed Sorting and Spring Plans

07 August 2018
Before each main planting season I try to take some time to check out my current seed situation and make plans for the season ahead. I must admit I get a little excited about choosing, buying and planting seeds. I always do too much of all three!

So, on a nice rainy winter day I sat down to take stock and make plans.

Purple podded peas saved late spring 2016.

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Queen St Farmer's Markets Brisbane & Epicurious

31 July 2018
When travelling I'm always keen to incorporate some foodie related activities. I love checking out markets, cruising through botanic gardens and eating out at places that showcase regional produce.

On our recent trip up the North NSW coast and through to Brisbane I was able to take in markets, some gardens and enjoy some local produce and products. I thought I'd highlight a few on the blog.

Farmer's markets are a pretty common sight in most cities and towns across Australia these days. The quality varies of course and some are more markets, less farmers but I'm always keen to check them out. So, I was very pleased when I found a mid week market in Brissie - the .

Fresh market produce.

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Mid Winter Happenings

05 July 2018
Each morning we wake to frosty grass and chilly temperatures. My morning walking ritual has not been as frequent and the urge to stay in bed cozy under the doona is strong. We are in the middle of winter.

On the flipside, the sun shines brightly most days and I have a special afternoon sun soaking spot to relax in (kids allowing!!). We took our girls to see snow for the first time a couple of weeks ago and they were enthralled. The visual seasonal contrasts is nice to appreciate. And the weather is just perfect for warming, comforting foods. Also, different seasonal foods leads to experimentation in the kitchen.

Kale and carrot slaw.

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Garden Harvests

10 June 2018
Over the last couple of weeks I've been harvesting the last of the summer planted crops. As the weather shifts into true winter the harvests will be very few and far between so it has been nice to gather a few lingering provisions.

Here are a few pictures of what I've been gathering from the garden:

Single white carrot and chioggia beetroot.

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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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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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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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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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Pickled eggplant

19 April 2018
For my 30th birthday I went on a food and wine road trip with my sister and a group of good friends from Canberra to Adelaide via Rutherglen and Lanhorne Creek. At one of the many places we visited we sampled some pickled eggplant. It was delicious. I'm pretty sure we all took a jar home.

Of course the jar eventually ran out and I was forced to investigate how to make this myself or face a future without it. The research wasn't too hard. Turns out the Italians have been making this for a long long time - Melanzane Sott'Olio. I too have now been making this for the past six years (I just turned 36 on the weekend - officially late 30s now).

Pickled eggplant with hommus on crackers - perfect lunch.

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Fermented tomatoes and tomato salsa

30 March 2018
I interrupt my normal broadcasting schedule to bring you a bonus post. If you've found your way over here from Rhonda's blog I'd just like to say hi and extend a very warm welcome. I hope you enjoy perusing my little space on the interwebs.

I generally post Tuesday, Thursday and once over the weekend, but as I knew there might be a few new readers coming over I thought I'd put up something new. Also, I thought an extra post to check out over the long weekend might be welcome to those with a little time on their hands. And speaking of time - I wanted to put up this post before all the tomatoes disappeared so that if you get inspired you still have time to give it a go.

The bulk of my tomato preserving is straight up in the bottles as I talked about k, however I also like to put up salsa, sauces and chutney if I can source enough tomatoes. I have dreams of one day being able to grow enough for all my preserving needs but alas I'm not there yet so I just source them from the markets or independent fruit & veg shops as I need. But I digress...

I've been intrigued by fermenting tomato salsa. Ever since my success with I've wanted to start trying out other veg to see what I like and what gets eaten. So this week when I saw bags of tomatoes at a good price I thought I'd have a little dabble.

After a lot measured amount of researching recipes and how to guides I was ready to start.

Ingredients washed and ready to go.

For my batch I used about 6 tomatoes, half an onion, 1 green capsicum, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 chillies, 1 teaspoon coriander seeds and 3 teaspoons of salt. How much you use will depend on the size of your jar and the ratio of the ingredients you want. There is no right or wrong. I obviously went for a more tomato dominant salsa but you could add more onion or capsicum if you like. If you want a hot and spicy salsa feel free to add more chillies. You could also use fresh coriander leaves but I just had seed on hand so went with that. The only ingredient you want to be careful about changing is the salt - you need a certain amount of salt to get the right mix of bugs in your ferment to do the things you want and stop the things you don't want.

Colourful layers in the jar.


I decided to chop my ingredients up and layer in the jar but you could mix in a bowl and then stuff in - whatever works for you. Once you've got it all in the jar give it a good squish down with the back of a fork. This pushes the solid bits down and lets the liquid float to the top. You want to make sure all the 'bits' are submerged under the liquid. If your tomatoes haven't produced enough liquid top up with some water or lemon juice if you want a bit of a zing (you could even add this in the mix either way).

After a good 'squishing'.

And that's it. Now you just need to place your jar in a spot on the bench where it wont get disturbed and is out of direct sunlight. Cover with a cloth or lid on top loosely to allow gasses to escape and keep things out. I generally leave my ferments on the bench for 3 days and then pop in the fridge, but it's really up to you and your own taste. The great thing about ferments is you can just taste them each day until you are happy with the flavour, just use a clean spoon each time to avoid contamination. As an aside I think one of the biggest benefits of making things yourself is the ability to tailor things to what you like and what's available. Once ready pop in the fridge. Most of the info suggested the salsa would keep well for up to six months.

After 3 days - you can see bubbles around the edge and a couple in the middle, the liquid is a little cloudy and nothing 'suspect'growing on top - fermenting win!

While I was going I decided to have a go at fermenting a jar of whole tomatoes, and because I had it on hand I popped in some capsicum too. For flavours in this batch I added a clove of garlic chopped and a teaspoon of fennel seeds. I did need to weigh these down a little to keep the tops of the tomatoes submerged. I generally use a circle of plastic that I've cut up from a container lid as It's flexible enough to get under the jar rim but easy to remove.

Whole tomatoes and capsicums ready for the bench treatment.

I've popped both these ferments in the fridge today after a sneaky taste test. Delish. I look forward to using the salsa to add a bit of a lift to Mexican dishes through winter. I think the other veg is likely to end up on a few lunchtime platters.

I think I can safely say that I will be adding both these fermented tomato goodies to my  preserving list for next year. And, if I spy any further well priced bags of tomatoes before the season ends I might just snap them up and put away a few more jars. I think I need a preserving fridge.....

Have you been preserving much as summer winds down?
Ever tried fermented tomatoes or salsa?
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Seasonal eating

29 March 2018
Eating seasonally has been a big part of connecting to where my food comes from and ultimately my food values.

With our current food supply system you can pretty much get any food you want at anytime of the year in most parts of the developed world. The only seasonal changes in what lines the supermarket shelves seems to be when they are trying to thrust holiday foods in our faces three months out from the actual event (I'm looking at you hot cross buns).

Tomatoes fresh off the vine - you can't beat that taste.


There are so many choices we can make around what we eat - organic, local, free range, fair trade to name just a few. Seasonality is just one factor when it comes to food, but for me it was an easy place to start. I've focused on seasonal eating of fruit and vegetables but there was a time when most of our food supply was affected by the seasons.

I must admit I didn't really think much about food and seasons before growing my own. Sure, I knew certain fruits grew in summer and tasted better then. I also knew that fruit and veg would be cheaper when in season but it didn't stop me from necessarily buying out of season. I'd buy zucchini and capsicum all year long for dishes and munch on apples right through until spring. The reason I didn't buy something had more to do with price (which of course carried some element of seasonality) or it not being on the meal plan that week.

Basil thrives in the summer sunshine (frost, not so much)

Seasonality was an easy marker to use as I started to connect more with food and make more conscious choices. Buying in season increased the chances that what I was buying was coming from somewhere near me (no guarantee but a good first step on my journey).  Farmers markets were a great place to build my knowledge of what was in season and what actually grows in my area. I didn't always buy everything I needed from the farmers market but it helped to increase my awareness.

Growing my own took that awareness to a whole new level. Plants just wont grow when they aren't meant to (and sometimes they wont grow for a whole lot of other reasons too!). Looking at planting and harvesting guides was a great way to get a feel for what grew when. Even if you aren't into gardening these guides can give you a good awareness of what's in season. If it's not the right time of  year for something to be growing in the garden, and you see it for sale locally, chances are it's come from a long way away or been grown using more resources.


Strawberries are definitely a seasonal delight

Once I had a little knowledge under my belt it was easy to make choices around only eating what was in season. And once I started eating seasonally there was no going back for two key reasons: taste and anticipation.

Regardless of food ethos or values I think most people would consider taste and enjoyment of what they eat as being pretty important. And really there is no comparison between something grown in or out of season. Have you had strawberries or tomatoes in winter? How about grapes or pumpkin in springtime? They're generally flavourless and sometimes even have an unappealing texture. Now, think of a piece of stone fruit enjoyed straight from the tree in summertime or a crisp autumn apple. I'm sure you can conjure memories from your own experiences of eating food at the height of its season. It really was a no-brainer for me once I got started.

Anticipation was an unexpected benefit. When you eat seasonally some foods are off the menu for certain periods of time. The anticipation of foods coming into season and the anticipation of the enjoyment of these foods was heightened. In turn the actual enjoyment of the foods was also heightened because I'd been looking forward to them (Science nerd alert: there is even on the positive emotional impact of anticipation).

These days eating seasonally is second nature for our family. My oldest daughter even associates certain seasons and months with certain foods which warms the heart of this food connection focussed mamma.

If you haven't already, I'd encourage you to think about how seasonal eating could fit into your food choices if only for the amazing difference in taste and enjoyment that you'll get to experience.

Do you have a favourite seasonal food memory?
Do you eat seasonally? If so, what are the main benefits for you? If not, are you game to give it a go?

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