Vanilla Plum Jam

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Making Jam || cityhippyfarmgirlOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Vanilla Plum Jam. It’s my all time favouritey-favourite kinda jam. It’s tarty, has vanilla tones and dollops particularly well onto, well anything that I match it with really.

Lucky for me I like it a lot as I’ve made batch after batch of these babies. It’s that time of year. Vanilla Plum Jam time.

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Have a read here if you are new to jam making or are a bit hit and miss with your jam making methods. It really is a wonderful skill to be able to preserve the season and have even just a little of that knowledge under your belt.

Go on, give it a whirl. Try your hand at jam making.

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Pumpkin and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup- ELC #6

pumpkin and jerusalem artichoke soup || cityhippyfarmgirlOn a weekend out of the city recently, there was talk of visiting a local farmers market. I quite like talk like that, even if I’m the one who initiates the talk (ahem).

So to market we went. Buying up on some lovely locally grown organic vegetables, a succulent for $2, and a chopping board. Now I’d been on the look out for a little board quite awhile now. Time was passing, calendar pages were changing their years and still, I hadn’t found quite the ‘right’ board. I knew they were easy enough to make, but I just didn’t have access to any decent wood.

Then I came across ‘The Man at the Markets’, a man who who knew his chopping boards, and every tiny piece of the different woods behind them. After a general chit chat about the weather and the local area, we started talking about the boards he had for sale. Giving each one a run down on the type of wood it was and how to look after them, and what I was going to do with it.

It was this little one that caught my eye though, asking him about it, it turns out it was from an old skirting board from an equally old house just a short distance away from the markets. You can still see the nail holes if you look closely.

It seems I had found my board. It was locally made, recycled, looked good and seemed to fit pretty well with the pumpkin soup I had planned to serve with it. (What type of wood it is, I’m embarrassed to say I have no idea. The man did tell me, but it seems I forgot as soon as I stepped out of the market area….lovely wood I think it’s called now.)

pumpkin and jerusalem artichoke soup || cityhippyfarmgirl

Where is my food coming from?

Pumpkin- Red Bank, Eurobodalla

Jerusalem Artichoke- (Crave Natural, Apple Tree Flat)

Creme Fraiche- (Pepe Saya, Sydney)

 Interested in taking the challenge?

Just how local is local? Well this depends entirely on you. Only you know how you and your family eat. Raise the bar just a little from what you already do. If making sure the majority of your meal includes solely food produced in your country, than make that your challenge. If you want to make it a little trickier, go for produced in the same state…trickier still within 160km.

My aim is to really know where my food is coming from for at least one meal a month, (where I will be posting here in the last week of the month).

Eat Local Challenge #5

Eat Local Challenge #4

Eat Local Challenge #3

Eat Local Challenge #2

Eat Local Challenge #1

eat local challenge || cityhippyfarmgirl

tomatoes, a tart and just a smidge of pride

tomatoes || cityhippyfarmgirl

The quietening effect of looking at the tomatoes on the bench even surprised me a little. Eyes slowly scanning over their little green surfaces, searching for that hint of red that would soon burst through. Their tiny foliage hats slowly shrivelling as their connection with the plant in which had shoved them into their small tomatoey glory was now gone.

Unceremoniously yanked out, their yellowing leaves and and wilted limbs telling me it was time. The caterpillars had also moved in, my vigilant watching had wavered and they had seized their opportunity. A greedy multilegged stampede towards the prize line- launching themselves on to the not yet ready fruit. With green tomato stuffed through out their squishy bodies. They would seemingly wave to me in indignation and a last hungry effort as I plucked and squished them off in annoyance.

It was me or them, and I had no intention of it being me. This was my biggest crop this year. No easy feat growing from those small pots in the midst of the concrete city courtyard. No easy feat.

tomato tart || cityhippyfarmgirl

So it was with a smidge of growers pride I made this tart. A simple one, with onions, mozzarella, fetta and those sweet little tomatoes.

Home grown little tomatoes…I salute you.

tomato and fetta tart || cityhippyfarmgirl

Tomato, onion and Fetta Tart

Pastry

200gms cold butter

2 cups plain flour (300gms)

110gms natural yogurt

In a food processor pulse flour and butter until resembles bread crumbs. Tip out into a bowl and add yogurt. Mix through, a quick knead until a smooth consistency and then roll out pastry on a lightly floured board. Roll to the thickness you want (I find this amount is enough for two large sized tarts, and adding it to a greased tart tray.

as many cherry tomatoes as you have

half a finely chopped spanish onion

about 100g of mozzarella

one small block of crumbled fetta

one sprig of rosemary

Lay all ingredients in a layered fashion until it reaches the top of the pastry sides of the uncooked pastry shell and bake until it smells delicious at 190C.

ripening tomatoes || cityhippyfarmgirl

Food for Thought- the ethics of rather a lot

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I recently wrote a quite lengthy post on eating meat. Of which I got to the end and then just quietly, deleted the whole lot. All 852 words of it.

I felt like I was justifying my own meaty actions. Which is something I didn’t feel like I really wanted to do or needed to do. I was more than happy to engage in an amicable conversation with anyone who cared to listen. I was also more than happy to pass on any food information that I’d come across in my readings. Informed decisions on any level is an empowering thing, especially when it comes to something as important as food.

We all need to eat, it’s how we go about it that’s important.

So will I be made to feel guilty for eating a little meat here and there?

It’s the basis of many heated debates, but at this stage of my life? No. No I won’t.

I believe strongly in a diet based mostly on ‘real’ foods. Food that comes in as natural a state as possible. Keeping processing to a minimum, packaging to a minimum and being able to identify the food in front of you are top of my lists.

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I also believe different bodies require different foods. Some people can exist happily as a Fruitarian and others strongly advocate they feel healthier on a Paleo based diet. I wouldn’t like to base my diet on either of these, but I respect the fact that they feel happy and healthy eating as such. I remember sitting in the audience of the His Holiness the Dalai Llama once, and his comment on the fact that he ate meat. Shocked I wasn’t, but happy yes, as he had obviously made an informed decision; and decided he functioned better with a small meat intake.

As meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans, raw enthusiasts, sugar free, gluten free, locavores, we all have choices to make and ethics to consider when we are preparing that dinner plate in front of us. (Unless by chance you are a city-living-raw-vegan-sugar free-gluten free-locavore AND on a family budget, in which case holey moley I would love you to comment and please share your story!)

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Some links of interest on the ethics of eating….

Meat Eaters– Where has the meat come from? How was it raised? American Meat-film, Fast Food Nation– film

Pescatarian– love eating canned tuna? Have a look at this snippet on what line and pole fishing actually is, and the value of paying that bit extra for your can of tuna. Also read here on GoodFishBadFish– sustainable seafood, what’s it all about or Slow Fish– and it’s campaign.

eat seasonally-cityhippyfarmgirl

Vegetarians Do you eat seasonally? Food Miles, have you considered them, how many do you clock up?…this site is so very humbling.)

Quorn– What do we know about this myco-protein? Made from mushrooms it isn’t.

Eggs– In what condition hens have your eggs come from? Caged Eggs

Are your meat substitutes highly processed coming in excessive packaging and have a full paragraph of odd sounding ingredients?

Soy products– How processed is this product, is palm oil being used within it? Palm Oil and Indonesian rainforests

Vegans

There are an array of options for cow milk alternatives- soy, almond, rice. Is there vegetable oil in there. Does this vegetable oil contain palm oil? Sunflower Oil? Added sugar? Food miles on your soy milk? where has the alternative milk been grown. Was it processed in the same place or somewhere else altogether?

Quinoa- Is it local? Where has it been grown? Slow Food- Questioning Quinoa

Sugar Free- 

Are you using sugar substitutes such as agave syrup. Have you considered the food miles (unless you live in Mexico) and extensive chemical process that is needed in order to obtain this yield?

Responsible Cafes Poster A4

1 billion takeaway cups and lids each year… {image credit to Responsible Runners}

Coffee– Got a coffee habit- Is it fair trade? Food miles? Excessive packaging on your daily take away coffee cup? Keep Cup– reusable coffee cup

Chocolate- Is it again fair trade? Does it have even more excessive packaging? Does it have an extraordinary amount of food miles? Was it harvested using slave labour? (Despite popular belief the cocoa bean is not produced in Belgium.) Slavery in the Chocolate Industry

There is always an impact on our food choices, regardless of what food types we mostly eat. Pretty much every choice we make has an impact. If more and more people make informed choices about what they are eating and passing a little less judgement on those that eat differently perhaps we would make some sort of head way in our food environment.

farmers markets-cityhippyfarmgirl

Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants…[Michael Pollan]

Our family meat intake is really quite small, we eat a mostly vegetarian diet, and bought meat is always considered; where it has come from and how it was raised. Fruit and vegetables are eaten in season, vegan and gluten free meals are becoming regulars, I try to make as many things from scratch as time allows and we eat on a family budget- keeping things as locally produced based as possible.

This doesn’t make me a sainted eater, it makes me an informed eater and at this stage, that’s the very best I can do.

So, to the next person that gets on their high horse about me making a conscious decision regarding what I have chosen to eat, please don’t. As I might just eat that high horse… I hear they’re quite delicious.

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Thoughts? Input? Ideas? Everything up for discussion in an unbiased nonjudgemental fashion.

Creamy Mint and Broad Beans- Frugal Friday

broad bean and mint-cityhippyfarmgirlbroad beans- cityhippyfarmgirlzucchini

I had broad beans and zucchini. Outside, a pot full of mint that was threatening to take over the entire courtyard if I was to let it. Cream that had been sitting on it’s lonesome for far too long and a little fetta that really, really needed sorting out.

What to make, what to make?

Creamy Mint and Broad Beans

A couple of good slugs of olive oil

pop some some new season diced garlic in

some grated zucchini

as many double peeled broad beans as you could be bothered

cook it down until soft

add a few good slurps of cream

salt and pepper to taste

then add some roughly chopped mint

crumbled fetta

and serve with brown rice or spaghetti

Eat with gusto

frugal friday- cityhippyfarmgirl

how to make sauerkraut

sauerkrautcityhippyfarmgirl

I felt pretty satisfied looking down at my kitchen bench. Sure it looked ridiculously crowded, and if someone had asked for a sandwich at that particular moment, I would have had to point them in the opposite direction…but. There was still that sense of satisfaction.

Satisfaction in the form of my bench tops being full of bacteria, and lots of it. There was the ever-present sourdough starter bulking up and bubbling away, there was the slowly sprouting buckwheat, gaining little green tails. There were kefir grains in the wings waiting, and the new guy who only speaks a little English… Herr Sauerkraut.

I’d finally taken the plunge, and had jumped in. I had been put off by pictures, wafty smells and stories of mouldy cabbages. Also the length of time to do it and having no bench space or proper pot to make it in. Saskia and I had talked of it awhile ago and then there it sat. A suggestion, a hint, sauerkraut were you going to happen?

sauerkraut

first day

I looked up lots of recipes and decided that a quick and easy version using sugar, and vinegar seemed like a good option. Twenty minutes cooking no problem!

But I held back. I make sourdough, I make yogurt, I sprout things, I wanted to try kefir, was I really going to be content with a twenty minute version or should I try and do it properly?

Well, put it like that and there sat my answer…get going girl.

Half a cabbage cut as finely as possible. In a bowl with two teaspoons of salt and crunch it all up in your hands. Breaking it down, releasing the juices. (Unless you have arms of steel, I crunched it a bit and then left it, going back and forth over the next half an hour or so.) Then in a clean glass jar, squash it all in with the juices sitting at the top, (it breaks down a lot.) My half cabbage was quickly nothing in size and I wished I had more to put in there. Lesson learnt for next time. I’d kept one outer leaf to put over the top of the cabbage mixture and then some muslin and a rubber band over top.

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a few days in, and the colour has changed

Now the waiting. One week to 6 months is how long you can leave it. Due to teeny tiny kitchen bench spaces, I was not going to be waiting 6 months. Projects were lining up on the bench tops and a week was all I was giving it.

Taking the muslin off, the outer cabbage leaf out and sticking my nose in, what do we have? Bless my birkinstocks if we don’t have sauerkraut.

That was ridiculously easy, and now I’ve got a lovely batch of sauerkraut sitting in my fridge ready to be teamed up with…well pretty much everything, (including the reuben sandwich.)

sauerkraut

 How about you, have you made sauerkraut? Does the fermenting world entice you or scare the pants off you?

Smoky Roasted- Frugal Friday

cityhippyfarmgirl The last of the seasons locally grown hot house capsicums, were to be roasted and blitzed. Then teamed up with some smoked paprika and pretty much anything else I threw at it.

I’ve made this a few times now. Thick and chunky, teamed up with some crumbled fetta as a soup. Drizzled over pasta, added chilli and some other steamed vegetables worked through with it. Or lastly slow cooked with a chunk of pork neck. The sauce slowly gets cooked into the meat over a couple of hours and then gently pulls apart ready to be eaten with rice, entwined in a wrap, spread over the base of a ripper of a pizza. Or as my favourite so far, with a mix of sauteed beetroot leaves and stems, mushrooms, sprouted buckwheat, chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, kalimata olives, crumbled fetta and a squeeze of lemon juice, (quite the bowl full doesn’t it.)

What I like most about the basic smoky roasted capsicums, is that I can pin point exactly where everything that’s gone in there, has come from. Plus, there are hardly any ingredients.

cityhippyfarmgirl

cityhippyfarmgirl

Smoky Roasted Capsicums

roughly 8 large red capsicums halved and seeds taken out (farmers markets- grown just out of Sydney)

a couple of tomatoes, quartered (again from the same local market stall)

a couple of slugs of olive oil (grown and made in NSW)

roast it all down (210C) until they are soft

(if garlic is in season and locally grown I’d be throwing that in too.)

Add some water, about 500-750mls (or stock if you have it) if you want it as a soup and blitz with a hand held mixer (or blender.)

Add a teaspoon of sweet smoked paprika (the only non local product)

If adding meat, I have used a pork neck (from a happy pig) and cooked on slow in the sauce for about two hours. Cool it down and gently pull apart.

Salt to taste, and using River Murray Salt

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Not really a recipe today, more of a suggestion of what to do. Basically, just roast and blitz!

In my kitchen… lie honey and spelt

 The kitchen floor is strewn with flour, my nails have dried dough embedded round the edges, and there is a softly residing smell of something that had vanilla in it from the oven.

My kitchen, where breakfasts, lunches and dinners begin and dishes mount with heady regularity.cityhippyfarmgirl

 Tomato and olive oil flat bread headed for a party in the park. Easy to make and easy to take.

DSC_0070 copyWon Berenberg products.  I was VERY excited to hear that I had won a Berenberg hamper of goodies from the lovely Amanda at Lambs Ears and Honey. Beerenberg is a lable that you probably recognise from grocery aisles. Why would you pick a jar or bottle up? Because, it’s locally made (SA) with local ingredients. Do you know how increasingly rare that is on supermarket shelf these days? (Expect rant post to come soon, as this truly drives me nuts.)

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Farmers Markets goodies- $30 this cost. Locally grown just out on the edge of Sydney. Chemical, and spray free, and picked just a couple of days before. The farmer who lovingly grew all of this, predicted I would have a girl. She’s so busy with her market stalls at various farmers markets around Sydney I haven’t had a chance to tell her…that she was right. Instead, I show her my love by choosing where my vegetable dollar goes.

Honey and wholemeal spelt (oh and not to forget buckwheat) are probably my two most reached for ingredients in my baking at the moment. They both feel honourably wholesome and I’m loving the results they both give out. Old recipes are being switched round and new recipes are being tinkered with.

honey spelt

These biscuits are another version of the honey biscuits I’ve been making for quite awhile now. Easy, healthy, no sugar and flexible. More butter will make them crisper, more honey and they will be chewier, don’t squish them down and they will stay as little round domes. Easy

Honey Spelt Biscuits

150g softened butter

200g honey

1 tsp vanilla

375g wholemeal spelt

Mix it all together, roll into balls, squish them down slightly onto a lined or greased tray. Bake at 180C until golden.

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For more kitchen action, have a peek into Celia’s kitchen and some of the others linking up.

Inspiration with The Sourdough Baker, Newcastle



cityhippyfarmgirl

thesourdoughbaker

There is a heady smell of freshly baked bread in the air as I close the little gate to the garden. The nights dew still sticks to the grass, making a soft squeaking noise underfoot. Following the sourdough signs, the incredible smell in the air confirms that I’m in the right spot.

garden

kids club

I’ve come in search of The Sourdough Baker in Newcastle. Currently baking at the Croation Sports Club in Wickham. Nestled in next to a community garden- sourdough and a community garden? It’s already making me smile and I haven’t even tasted the bread yet.

the baker

The Sourdough Baker is Warwick Quinton, who has been baking in all sorts of formats for the last few decades. I first heard of him through the wonders of Instagram, but several friends and family members had been telling me of delicious sourdough tales well beforehand. With his gorgeous partner Ginnie by his side and a handful of trusty helpers, the bread is woodfired and baked in “Bertha” the hefty black oven.

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Watching the beautiful loaves come out of the oven, lined up the table, and sit in the early morning sunlight. I can’t help but feel a huge amount of bread happiness. It’s these sort of people that I find incredibly inspiring, making a business work out of something that is so obviously dear to their heart.

Any artisan work is a labour of love, and sourdough bread really is a wonderful example of that. That love is certainly here, as I bite down on my thickly sliced bread a little while later. I scrutinise the crumb and take in the taste. So different to my own loaves.

It’s good, really good.

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Talking with Warwick on all things sourdough, I find out his methods are also completely different to my own. Reading The Sourdough Baker’s site days later and there were audible pops as my brain explodes just a little.

I knew sourdough was a flexible beast, with many variations on how to do things, but some of his methods I hadn’t even considered. Seventy two hours from beginning dough mixing to end, desem dough sourdough starter and slashing hours before going in to the oven, were just some of them. All bready tweaks that I think I would definitely like to play with down the track.

For a wannabe bread nerd I still have a lot to work on, so visits like this just fuel that wanting to learn. So many variations, methods and ingredients to play with. All things which after about three years of baking sourdough I still find incredibly exciting. As I sat later, chewing on sourdough and musing on all kinds of bready possibilities, ideas began to form. Mental lists of what to play with next and how to go about it were made.

And next time I’m in Newcastle? Well, I know where I’m getting my bread from.

cityhippyfarmgirl

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For recipes, sourdough tales, bread making classes and general information, have a peek at the…

The Sourdough Baker

the colourful season

radishes

beetrootrosemary chilli

So many good things are in season at the moment-summer really is the season of colourful plenty.

Delivered vegetable boxes are colourful and full of things that challenge my culinary skills, (yes, that still includes beetroot…)

My window boxes are cheery, and garden growings include an abundance of chilli this year. My teeny tiny potted garden is happy to grow chilli, and I’m happy that it’s happy to do that! The rosemary is also happy, which really does make a difference to a pan of roasting potatoes. (Also makes a well scented haven for any critters that decide to take up residence.)

Tomatoes, look I still get ambitious but they really don’t work for me in pots. Needs a whole lot more sun than I can offer them and when they finally do decide to give it a crack, some overly confident grub usually marches in at the crucial moment.

Some other seasonal goodies to look out for at this time

* plums, peaches, passionfruit

* broccoli, basil, beans

*potatoes, peas and onions

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Where ever you are, what are you enjoying this season?

flowers