Category Archives: Uncategorized

“Fresh” food and tragic teens!

The Husband and I had a sudden and unplanned evening out at the movies last weekend, after a phone call from a friend during the day. Not at the glitzy, overpriced chain cinemas with the comfy chairs, but at a small, slightly draughty community hall in the hills. While the seating didn’t quite compare to the big chains, the $5 entrance fee for two movies, a cup of soup with bread and a cup of tea with cake at intermission more than made up for it! Presented by Adelaide Hills Sustainable Communities and the Adelaide Hills Climate Action Group, the two movies were “In Transition” and “Fresh”. The former is a film about what is known as the Transition movement, where a growing number of communities around the world are responding to the issues of peak oil and climate change on a local level and in an enormously positive fashion. Rather than feeling powerless and beaten by the inability/unwillingness of world governments to address these problems, this movement shows that it is truly possible for small groups of people to achieve change and positive outcomes. The second film gives us a glimpse of what the cost of the industrialization of agriculture really is, but focuses largely on some remarkable men and their responses to this. This, too, was a very positive movie which shows that there are real, workable, practical options available to those of us who would like to work towards more sustainable food production. Food Connect will be screening “Fresh” at the Mercury Cinema, 13 Morphett St., Adelaide at 7.30pm on July 7th – a great opportunity to see the film and listen to a couple of local speakers share their ideas on the same subject!

While Himself and I were out sipping herbal teas and kicking up our heels we left the teenagers palely loitering around the house for the evening. Contrary to my conviction that they were just trying to appear interesting, it has since become evident that they were actually sickening for whatever the latest viral lurgy is that is going around and have subsequently spent most of this week home from school. I have been stepping over their prone bodies as they clutter up not only the house, but my headspace too, reminding me of the days when I had very little time to myself! In an effort to get them well and out of my hair back to school I have been trying to feed them up with maximum nutrition coupled with – as ever – minimal effort. Our lovely hens are still laying very well, despite the shortening days, so eggs are still a popular standby for me. Looking for a way to use up some leeks and half a pumpkin, I came up with this easy, but very tasty little number – a frittata. These are so very simple that one barely needs a recipe, just some ideas and whatever is lurking in the bottom of the fridge and this recipe would just as easily make a very nice quiche instead. This recipe makes up a big pan of frittata and would happily serve 6 adults, but could be halved if desired. Served with a fresh green salad, this is just as nice cold or hot.

CARAMELIZED LEEK, PUMPKIN AND THYME FRITTATA

4 leeks, rinsed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
750 gms pumpkin, peeled and diced approx 2cm square
60 mls olive oil
8 eggs
200 mls light cream
bunch of fresh thyme, chopped
salt
black pepper
100 gms grated parmesan

Steam pumpkin until almost cooked through, drain, set aside.
In a large pan, saute leeks in olive oil, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes until golden and caramelized, adding the garlic for the last 2-4 minutes of cooking. Add cooked pumpkin and mix together gently.
Beat eggs together, add cream and season with salt and pepper, add chopped thyme and whisk through.
Pour eggs over vegetables, then cook over a gentle to moderate heat until the egg is set around the edges, but still quite moist towards the centre.
Preheat grill, sprinkle the top of the frittata with the grated parmesan and place pan under the grill. Cook until the top is set and starting to turn golden brown.
Let stand for 15-20 minutes before carefully slicing and removing from pan.

Printable recipe CARAMELIZED LEEK.

Chocolate 101!

Looking back over my previous posts, since the very beginning of this blog, I feel I have been admirably restrained. While alluding to my fondness – ahem, passion – for chocolate I have resisted the urge to include a mention of this fine foodstuff in every post. There are no rambling paragraphs about the sensual texture and seductive mouth-feel of great chocolate, the soothing psychological effects it has, the medical benefits of the anti-oxidants in good dark chocolate or the many and varied ways in which chocolate can be prepared and presented.

As I said – admirably restrained!

Chocolate is a product of the cacao bean, which originated in South America. The earliest indications of it being included in human diets go back as far as 1100 B.C. Cacao beans were used as currency throughout Meso-america and the consumption of chocolate was limited to the elite in Mayan and then Aztec culture. The Spanish discovered it during their aggressive romp through South America and took it home to Europe in the 16th century, where it became the fashionable drink of those upper classes. Cacao was laborious and time consuming to process into chocolate, thus it remained the almost exclusive pleasure of the wealthy until the industrial revolution brought about the development of mechanical grinders and processors. As a consequence of this, chocolate production became economically viable and soon it was available to just about anyone who wanted it!

Cacao production is now one of the world’s most important cash crops, with beans currently selling for well over $3,000 (USD) per tonne. Of course, cacao beans vary in quality and the exclusive chocolatiers of Europe and America guard their sources of prime beans jealously, using only the very best to produce chocolate of complex flavour and exquisite texture. Makers of mass-produced chocolate merchandise source cheaper beans grown largely on the Ivory Coast of Africa, but these beans come with a hidden cost. In order to keep their production costs down and maintain their position in a very competitive market, these growers will frequently use child labour on their farms. These, sometimes very young, children are often stolen from their families or sold into what is basically a form of slavery by extended family members. They are expected to work for long hours performing dangerous tasks and are given no access to education. Organisations have been set up to try to prevent the use of children in this way, but unscrupulous growers and buyers frequently find ways to circumvent the rules set in place.

So, the next time you are out shopping and decide to buy chocolate, I would suggest that you think about these hidden costs before you make a purchase based solely on the cost of the item. Higher quality chocolate has virtually no additives to make it more “chocolatey”, contains more anti-oxidants so is better for you, is more satisfying meaning that you are likely to eat less of it and tastes infinitely better. Worth paying a little more for, surely!!

The following recipe is one that has become a great favourite in our house. Watching the television one evening, I saw Nigella make these. They were so seductively lovely and easy to make that I scribbled down the recipe and raced into the kitchen. Brilliant for a dinner party, they can be prepared in five minutes and put aside until you are ready to pop them into the oven – equally, the kids can knock them up for a quick, indulgent dessert. The original recipe made four puddings, but I often eke it out to make five with no-one feeling short changed. I use Lindt 70% chocolate to make these and serve with a dollop of very thick cream.

MOLTEN CHOCOLATE PUDDINGS
125 gm butter
125 gm dark chocolate
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
3 tbsp plain flour

Grease 4 or 5 ramekins. Preheat oven to 210C.

Melt chocolate and butter carefully together in microwave. I usually put it in at about 80% for 1 minute which melts the butter, then stir until all the chocolate is melted.
Beat eggs and sugar together well, add the flour and whisk it in.
Add chocolate and butter and stir to blend well.
Pour into prepared ramekins, put in oven and cook for 10-11 minutes.

In memory of the unknown chook

Today we had to face one of the ugly truths of our idyllic, bucolic lifestyle – it’s a cold hard world out there and bad things happen to good chooks.
Last night we put 6 hens to bed, but only 5 made it out this morning, to scratch another day. I can only guess that a fox was the culprit – we are left with no clue as to where the missing girl went, with not even a pile of feathers to mark her passing. If the remaining ladies were deeply traumatised by the terrifying events that occurred during the night they have managed to put a very brave face on things, carrying on their scratching, laying and pecking business as usual. However, I did notice that they put their heads down and solemnly observed a moments silence to mark the loss of their sister.

She was a good layer.