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

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Food for Thought- the ethics of rather a lot

carrots-cityhippyfarmgirl

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.

chooks-cityhippyfarmgirl

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.

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.

Sydney Sustainable Markets

A hot sun is out, city traffic is building, and bleary eyed Friday night clubbers are slowly making their way home. It’s Saturday morning and Taylor Square has been transformed to it’s weekly sustainable markets. It’s not the biggest market around, but it has plenty of options for creating oodles of deliciousness for your dinner table, (and your it sure beats doing your Saturday morning shop in a supermarket.)

Seasonal, local, sustainable, organic…it’s all there.

 

Each stall holder has a sign showing who they are where they are from and how far their food has come.

A communal space to meet friends for a coffee, eat a little bakery goodness, read the paper and then go home with all your fresh food.

This rice is delicious. If anyone thinks that rice is rice, and there really isn’t much of a taste difference. Well they are wrong. I’m hooked on the Koshihikari rice at the moment. Yes, it’s more expensive than your supermarket rice, but it’s fresh, grown within the same state, hasn’t been stored for lengthy periods, it’s organic, and all from a family run business. That’s quite a lot to like isn’t it.

Stall holders change a little from week to week, and this week The Urban Beehive was back again. The taste comparison between a general commercial honey and this stuff is rather big. There are hives dotted all around Sydney, and within those hidden hives they make the most delicious honey. It really does wonders for my soul, drizzling some of the golden good stuff on to toast, knowing that this was created so close by. I can’t have my own backyard hive, so this really is the next best thing.

Sydney Sustainable Markets

Taylor Square

Saturday 8am-1pm

Hobart how I’ve missed you so

Tasmania.

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it twice… actually I might have said it three or four times already. Fifth time?

Tasmania, I love you a lot!

This trip was just a quick one. A conference for me and the baby girl. Hitting the town for Mr Chocolate and The Monkeys.

From the conference, I came away inspired by a wonderful bunch of strong and beautiful women. Seeds have been planted and now I just need to tend to them and hopefully watch them grow.

I also came back with some delicious goodies to be played with. Fudge and walnuts from the farmers markets. Some lovely locally grown spelt, which I’m excited to being playing with. And… a truffle. The smallest truffle in the glass jar. After walking very, very fast (before it closed) to get to the little shop under the stairs where I had first smelt them last year, I got one. Seven grams of black fungus, that I’m still trying to work out exactly what it smells like. Earth, death, and sex they say. It’s a smell that I have trouble likening it to anything else I’ve ever smelt.

So what shall I cook it with?

I’m thinking a truffle sourdough, and perhaps a few truffled eggs to go with it. I’m a little unsure of how to go about the bread though. Shave it, grate it, when to put it in? Would the flavours be lost?

Planning what to do with it though, that’s half the fun isn’t it?

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If you have any wonderful truffle ideas, please tell.

a farmers hands

Her hands gently held my wrists. Feeling for my pulses, she was working out whether I would be having a baby girl or a boy. While her touch was gentle, and the contact and meaning behind the check I found fascinating, it was her hands that struck me the most.

A farmers hands.

I’m lucky enough to be able to get the majority of my vegetables straight from the source. No middle man, no super market. Just my lady with her stall, selling what she grows. I love this.

I love that I can choose what to buy, its spray free, and the taste doesn’t even come close to anything else I could buy at a regular chain supermarket.

The tomatoes may look a little gnarly, the lettuce still has some dirt on it, and the cucumbers sometimes curl around a small child’s wrist.

Perfection.

This is what I want. This is how I want to choose to eat. Knowing my money is going back directly to the person growing it and toiling the soil to fill my dinner plate. If I’m not sure how to cook with something I’ll ask. Purple carrots not in this week? She’ll try to bring me some next week. Having that contact with someone who produces such an important part of my family’s life is invaluable.

If more people supported farmers markets such as these, I think societies would change. How could they not?

You would have contact with the person that was producing a large proportion of your food. You would be eating healthier, a higher proportion of your diet coming from vegetables, rather than pre packaged food. Money would be spent and going directly to the local producer, knocking out that chubby middle man, and not to forget that social contact. That wonderful element of connecting with someone and talking to them about what they do. This is just to list a mere few wonderful positives on shopping like this. Buying your vegetables in a supermarket what are the positives? Convenience?

Maybe convenience is overrated…

the weekend that was


 

weekend away

blue skies

blue water

bluebottles… ouch

family catching up

lots of lovely wonderful food

giggles from cousins

giggles from grandparents

happy farmers market visit

brimming bags of local produce

making sure that circle of happy wonderful food continues

goodbyes

exhausted Monkey naps

Newcastle City Farmers Market

What have you been up to this weekend?

Bonjour, my little brioche

The Monkeys and I were on a mission. Early to the farmers markets and then home again before it got too hot.

With Monkey Boy on the scooter, Little Monkey in the pram and me running, we actually got there in reasonable time. The sun was out, the sky was blue. Talks about turtles and all their merits while we ran and scootered along. A good start to the morning.

I had chevre on my mind, so once at the markets I set out for the Willowbrae stall. Eeeek, it wasn’t there! I scan again, sigh, there will be no goat cheese to be had this week for us.

To my right I hear a cheery “Bonjour”, it seems I have paused outside the French Patisserie stall…these things happen sometimes. The very friendly Malik entices Monkey Boy with a brioche. His eyes light up, eyebrows raise, as he starts to nod enthusiastically.

Actually Mama, Little Monkey can have that one, I’d like a chocolate croissant instead.” He says eagerly.

It’s hard to resist all the delicious looking pastries…

If I half close my eyes and breathe in deep perhaps I can be magically transported away to a French countryside village. A small curb side table, my back to the warming autumn sun. My cafe au lait is being carefully brought out on a little tray accompanied by my still warm from the oven brioche. Pierre my waiter, pauses for a second first to ensure that everything is ok, his gentle old hand lightly touches my elbow. His eyes follow to where mine have drawn, we both gaze out over to a field of sunflowers on one side and rows of grapes on the other. Oui, oui…tres bien…

ACTUALLY, I want that one Mama!

Snapped back to reality I am back in the markets, Monkey Boy is pestering me for his croissant and Pierre, his brioche and cafe au lait are gone.

I do instead have the very friendly Malik. Malik has a cake or pastry for every palate that comes through the markets I’m sure of it. Starting his family run business 8 years ago, he saw a gap in the market for really great French patisserie goodies. He divides his time between 3 lots of farmers markets within Sydney, as well as supplying various retailers throughout the city. He is also soon to open a shop in Abbotsford, that will  include some of their organic range produce as well as those dream enducing brioche.

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he’s a bit shy…

 

Locavoring @ Fox Studios Farmers Market

A morning spent at Fox Studio’s Farmers Markets. My wallet a little leaner, my fridge a little fuller and my locavore selection criteria for the day, well and truly ticked.

Shopping list

Free Range Ham– Bought from Quattro Stelle, a small Italian family run business that runs out of  Kingsgrove . All products are made from Berkshire free range pork. The Berkshire pig is a heritage breed, ( like a heirloom tomato). This ham was sooo tasty. When you compare the taste of normal shop ham and then this one…. phew! No comparison. Thumbs up for this one for sure.

Fetta– Bought from Small Cow Farm. Located in Robertson, Southern Highlands. This company also runs cheesemaking courses- which sound fantastic. Taste wise, pretty good too. There are two fetta wheels in the little bucket, and priced at $14.50 for 400 grams. Monkey boy couldn’t get enough of this stuff.

1 kilo Sausages– Bought from Spring Hill Beef. Located in Burrawang, Southern Highlands. A company that farms grass fed Black Angus cattle.

1 large bag of assorted vegetables– Bought from family owned business located at Horsely Park in the Sydney basin.

Freshly ground coffee- 3 Amigos/Cafe East Timor, is my favourite coffee. At this stage they are only selling it at the markets, or you can call up and they will post you out some. Grown in East Timor, roasted in Sydney, and ground when you order it. 100% Arabica beans are used, organically and fairtrade produced. This is a lovely fresh coffee. I get a little antsy when our stock is running low, until we buy up again. I have tried a lot of different fairtrade coffees available and this one consistently still sticks out.

Farmers Markets- a love story

Farmers Markets. Oh how I love you all.

Good ones that is. The ones where it really is locally produced food. Food that has been made with love and care. Food that isn’t mass-produced and tastes divine.

Be it a crispy celery picked the day before, a hand crafted cheese, some aromatic fair trade coffee, an organic free range piece of meat, a back yard grown punnet of strawberries or some lovingly tempered chocolate.

I love it all.

There is nothing that gets me happier than a morning spent in a great Farmers Market. I feel like a kid in candy store. The promise of all things delicious. I try not to clap my hands with glee, but I tell you, when its a specially good one. A little clapping with glee may happen.

Good food miles- check.

No unneccessary additives- check.

Different ideas- check

Supporting small businesses- check

Super fresh- check

All looks delicious- check

Having recently travelled north for 10 days, I was lucky enough to go to 3 lots of farmers  markets that were just beautifully timed for our holiday. (and yes, I may have planned our holidays around one of them..)

Getting to see what the locals are producing is wonderful, and it’s certainly not long before my purse is hemorrhaging money,  my fridge is looking bountiful, and my tummy is looking rotund.

One of the markets was in Port Macquarie for the Hastings Valley Markets, when a stall caught my eye…

Goat Meat. Now this red meat I had been wondering about for some time. The taste, the cost and where to buy it, as it sure as eggs isn’t bought any where near where I live. So whacked it in the freezer and to be cooked at a later date.

I was also was very happy to see some locally produced garlic. Why is it the beginning of April already and I’m yet to see any Australian garlic in the local shops? It’s the garlic season people! Come on. I don’t want my garlic to be chemically treated and come from Argentina, China, and Mexico if it doesn’t have to.

Some gorgeous tomatoes were bought. Tomatoes that actually taste like a tomato, and has not had the taste bred out of them in order to look good. These were knocked back as quick as I good get them out of the bag by the monkeys.

I love buying things that I’m not sure what they are, or have heard off but not eaten or cooked before.

Its the taste sensation possibility factor that I love the most.

I didn’t get any great sour doughs. They didn’t seem to be happening which was a bit disappointing as they are a firm favourite with us. However, I did get some knock out individual sticky date puddings the size of tennis balls. Even I, had to pause mid way through eating one of these little beauties that had a grand total of 57grams of fat in each serve. Oh sweet mama!….best not to think of it really. I didn’t, and bravely soldiered on.

I can see all our holidays planned in times to come, planned around when the local foody markets are on.

Farmers markets and possibly where to get a great massage… two very important things when thinking of ones next holiday.