Little Black Cow Farm

cityhippyfarmgirl

There was a long sigh of utter contentment, leaning against the fence watching the sun come up. The kids were back at the house watching cartoons, and the smallest and her dad were snoring still in bed.

I’d set the eldest two up and then had quietly slipped out of the house. There was a sunrise to be had over those paddocks and I wasn’t about to miss it.

Staying at Little Black Cow Farm stay had been on the agenda for longer than I could remember. I’d often read Kim’s blog and wistfully planned long weekends away. Finally, after a generous invitation, I actually did.

Little Black Cow Farm stay is a 300 acre working beef farm in Branxton, Hunter Valley. Land of vineyards, photo opportunities and good food. The most glorious of foods. I’d set myself up with a little challenge for the weekend, to only eat as much locally produced food as I could get my hands on. Tricky? Stopping off at the local IGA before we got to the farm, I happily didn’t think it so.

In my basket I had Liberi eggs, Udder Farm Fetta, Udder Farm camembert, Udder Farm milk, sourdough from Morpeth bakery and organic wine from Macquariefields. If we only had dairy, bread and wine for the next three days…well, just quietly I didn’t think I would be complaining.

Settling into the farmstay, the kids are riding on the tractors and I get to quietly wander through the farm stay permaculture visitors garden. Kim has set it up so that her farm stay people can pick anything they want, and so I do.

Whenever I am home, my tiny potted garden brings me a lot of joy, but being here? In amongst the sprawling strawberry tendrils, the bushy parsley and the climbing snake beans I can’t help but have a few moments of ‘one day’ thoughts.

Squeals of delight and general loud kid conversation snapped me out of any ambitious garden plans. I was being ordered to jump aboard as the tractor had other people to pick up and the three year old driver couldn’t wait any longer for me.

garden salad || cityhippyfarmgirl

Dinner that night was a salad I had picked from the garden earlier, sausages from a few paddocks away, (Kim and David make their own which you can buy during your stay) and some of the bread and cheese I had hunkered away earlier. For dessert we had custard- made from the local cream, milk and eggs all done in a piece of kitchen kit, that I had often wondered about, but had never played with, (more on this in a minute.)

From a locavore point of view I was super happy. From a foodie point of view I was deliriously happy. From tired point of view, I was shattered… must have been that country air I suspect. Time to sleep.

A new day and there I was contentedly watching that sunrise. There are a few sure-fire things in this world that will always make my heart sing and watching the sunrise, has always been one of them.

eating locally || cityhippyfarmgirl

Back at the house and I start getting breakfast together. As I mentioned earlier there is a piece of kitchen kit, that is quite the rockstar of kitchen appliances for visitors to use, and I was keen to give it a crack. Was it really everything people raved about? Let’s find out.

Last night I had made custard in it, amazingly I hadn’t exploded anything, and the rockstar really had made perfect custard. This morning though I wanted to test it further, so butter was on the agenda with half a carton of cream left over from last night’s custard. Whoosh…done. Um, one minute that took. Hmmm, hard boiled eggs? Yep did that too. Coffee, why yes please. It is a weekend away after all, no coffee would be completely unaccceptable. Would the rockstar sort that one out? Yes, apparently so!

A wonderful day was spent doing weekend away kind of things. The kids got to harass the animals again, the adults got to talk, we went on a farm tour to the ‘top of the world’ and then suddenly dinner time was whispering again. I thought I would put the rockstar to the test once more. Thai Style Pumpkin Soup was on the menu, dicatated by what was in the garden. A simple soup, with all the ingredients (pumpkin, lemongrass, thai basil and a little chilli) being sourced just a couple of metres away.

Last day arrives and we farewell all the animals. We say goodbye to the dogs, goats, sheep, cows, pony, chooks and I peel small gripped fingers away from the guinea pigs, (I’m sure I heard them sigh with relief.)

I don’t think I have ever stayed somewhere that was so accommodating and involving towards kids and adults, every age was considered. Kim and David are the most wonderful hosts. From a welcome plate of homemade biscuits, kids toys, oodles of books, dvds, farm animals, climbable tractors, jeep tour, individual activities designed around your needs and wants. And one of the best things?…a perfectly edible (and encouraged to do so) permaculture garden at your doorstep.

It was the most relaxing weekend I’d had in a long time, and just quietly… I can’t wait to go back.

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Local Hunter Valley connections to be enjoyed

Little Black Cow Farm Stay– accommodation

Udder Farm– milk, cream, cheese.

Liberi Eggs- boiled, fried, scrambled or runny if you are one of those funny people who like runny eggs.

Morpeth Sourdough Bakery– locally baked sourdough…say no more.

Macquariedale Organic Wine- one glass or two?

Little Black Cow Farm Beef– these are happy beautifully kept cows that taste rather delicious in sausage form.

Sacred Tree Markets– on every third Sunday within the township of Branxton. 

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Seasonal Eating and Earth Hour

It’s Autumn here and while I’m still waiting to feel any big seasonal shifts in the weather, there has been a slight change in what’s gracing my kitchen bench. Seasonal changes in our food are one of the things that get me really excited. I love having things in abundance, eat them in everything and just when I really don’t want to eat them any longer, the season changes and voila! A new vegetable to embrace.

Others who are also embracing all things food and farm related is Earth Hour this year. It’s on again this Saturday, and this time they are focusing in on farmers and how environmental changes are impacting Australian farmers and our food they grow. (They’ve also put out a cookbook to go along with it- with all proceeds going back to Earth Hour’s work.)

How about you? Are you doing anything particular for Earth Hour this year? Or enjoying eating any particular seasonal or local foods?

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OOOOBY– a super easy way to get some seasonal goodness delivered to your doorstep if you live in Sydney. If you have been thinking about signing up but haven’t quite done it yet. OOOOBY is offering $15 off your first box if you type in CITYHIPPYFARMGIRL as a referral code. 

Earth Hour

cityhippyfarmgirl

An excellent local drop…Krinklewood

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.

Eat Local Challenge- The End

At the beginning of this year I set out to find out more on my local food and what was available around me, living here in the city. I wanted a little challenge. Not a big one, but something to get me thinking a little differently.

I already supported a lot of local eating. Receive a weekly vegetable box delivered through OOOOBY. Was a frequent lurker at many of the city’s farmers markets, and knew which brands to head towards when in the shops.

So what did I learn from doing this? Well, number one, I would say, catering five sets of tastebuds to local eating is a little tricky. If it was just me, no problem? Two adults? Still pretty easy. Add three kiddos, slightly more complicated, but definitely doable.

Another thing I really valued after doing the challenge, is spices. I love spices, and there are bugger all of my favourite spices grown around Sydney. Sure I can do with out them, but a life long deletion? Hmmm….

Using tumeric, curry leaves, garlic, lime, chilli and salt were really important in the local dishes I made for extra flavour oomph. The Murray River Salt while technically not really local at all, I looked at it as knowing where it came from. 

eat local || cityhippyfarmgirl So what now? Now that the year has come to an end, where do I go from here with my local eating?

At this stage I’m not actually sure, (which might sound rather wishy washy) but I do think to do these things long term a gradual change is better. As you’ll have more chance of sticking by the changes, and that really is what I’ve done over 2014. Gradually introduced more local food options to our family’s meals, gotten to know some different companies and played with some different food alternatives to the tried and true ones I usually reach for.

Ive enjoyed doing it, my family didn’t notice any vast differences to our meals, and now that Pepe Saya has been introduced to our lives…well, there’s no going back now is there.

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Interested in creating your own Eat Local 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 this year was to really know where my food is coming from for at least one meal a month. These can all be found below.  

Eat Local Challenge #10

Eat Local Challenge #9

Eat Local Challenge #8

Eat Local Challenge #7

Eat Local Challenge #6

Eat Local Challenge #5

Eat Local Challenge #4

Eat Local Challenge #3

Eat Local Challenge #2

Eat Local Challenge #1

eat local challenge || cityhippyfarmgirl

Rosemary, Thyme and Zucchini Bread- ELC#10

rosemary, thyme and zucchini bread || cityhippyfarmgirl

rosemary, thyme and zucchini sourdough || cityhippyfarmgirl

I’d tried to keep away from the bread for this challenge, but as I’m coming to the end of my year long challenge, it seemed appropriate that a bread dish slipped in.

This bread has actually been made a few times as it seems to hit the spot and eager mouths make short work of it in this household, (which you can’t really ask for much more than that can you?)

Now a big factor in what I make is really what arrives in my vegetable box once a week. I like cooking, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get completely bogged down with the old faithful line of (and lets face it often relentless) …”what are we having for dinner?” Getting a locally sourced vegetable box, helps make that decision, as you really do just have to use what they give you!

So where did it all come from?

Flour- Demeter Mills, Gunnedah

Salt- Murray River Salt

Zucchini- Rita’s Farm, Sydney

Thyme- my window sill

Rosemary- my courtyard

Olive Oil- Lisborne Grove, Hunter Valley

rosemary || cityhippyfarmgirl

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 Interested in taking the Eat Local 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 #9

Eat Local Challenge #8

Eat Local Challenge #7

Eat Local Challenge #6

Eat Local Challenge #5

Eat Local Challenge #4

Eat Local Challenge #3

Eat Local Challenge #2

Eat Local Challenge #1

eat local challenge || cityhippyfarmgirl

Crackers, pesto and for the love of good honey- ELC #9

Eat Local Challenge  || cityhippyfarmgirl 

Super duper easy rustic style olive oil crackers, with a carrot top pesto, creme fraiche and a little salt on top.

I had a proud moment with this one, all local, easy, seasonal, very frugal and kid friendly. Yes, kid friendly was the ultimate winner for me. They were gulping them down!

Bliss honey- south coast NSW || cityhippyfarmgirl

They were also keen on getting their hands on this honey. Honey is always a favourite staple in this household and local harvested honey always seem to crop up just at the right time, (like when we are about to run out.)

This one will be drizzled on natural yogurt for an easy after dinner dessert, popped into smoothies, spread on toast with tahini and baked with an oaty combination in the oven. Every drop used.

So where did it all come from?

flour- Demeter Farm Mill

olive oil- Lisborne Grove, Hunter Valley

carrot tops- Rita’s Farm, Kemps Creek

lemons- Champion’s Organics, Mangrove Mountain

creme fraiche- Pepe Saya

Honey- Sth Coast NSW (bought when we were visiting the area)

Eat Local Challenge || cityhippyfarmgirl

Interested in taking the Eat Local 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 #8

Eat Local Challenge #7

Eat Local Challenge #6

Eat Local Challenge #5

Eat Local Challenge #4

Eat Local Challenge #3

Eat Local Challenge #2

Eat Local Challenge #1

eat local challenge || cityhippyfarmgirl

Leek and Potato Soup- ELC #8

Leek and potato soup- eat local challenge || cityhippyfarmgirl

leek and potatoes || cityhippyfarmgirl

I’m not going to fancy this one up. There’s no verjuice, cream of, foam, quinoa or chia in there. It hasn’t been slow roasted, caramelised or reduced. It also waves a sugar, gluten, dairy free flag and that’s because it uses super fresh grown with love farmer fresh produce.

It’s Leek and Potato Soup.

Like I said, no fancy pants here. Leeks, potato, a half head of cauliflower for added good measure and water. Cook that all up until soft, blitz it with a hand held blender and delicately drop a little thyme from the kitchen window sill on the top. Add some of my favourite salt and dinner… is done.

leek and potato soup || cityhippyfarmgirl

Where did it all come from?

Potatoes- Naturally Grown Naturally Better, Crookwell, 240km

Leeks- Rita’s Farm, Kemps Creek, 50km

Cauliflower- Rita’s Farm, Kemps Creek, 50km

Thyme- my windowsill

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Have you checked out Give a Fork yet, run by Sustainable Table? You should, you definitely should. They are running a compaign during the month of October on #wastefree meals.

“Share a #wastefree meal with mates during the month of October and raise awareness and funds to help build a food system that is good for the environment, fair on Aussie farmers, ethical and healthy.”

eat local || cityhippyfarmgirl

 Interested in taking the Eat Local 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 #7

Eat Local Challenge #6

Eat Local Challenge #5

Eat Local Challenge #4

Eat Local Challenge #3

Eat Local Challenge #2

Eat Local Challenge #1

eat local challenge || cityhippyfarmgirl

Tipple Time- Eat Local Challenge #7

eat local challenge || cityhippyfarmgirl

Jubilee || cityhippyfarmgirl

I’m not much of a drinker. Half a glass of wine, a full glass if I’m feeling particularly robust and that’s about it. That’s not to say I don’t like it, I do, I love wine lots and lots. Anything more than a glass though and it just gets me sleepy and quite frankly, there is always something else to do. I don’t need to feel extra sleepy on top of my usual sleepy. I can do that perfectly well on my own accord.

Now if I am going to have a glass of wine, it’s got to be a good one. I want organic and or as local as possible pretty please. On our recent trip to St Albans, I hit the local winery jackpot at the farmers markets of Glenorie, just near Dural, (aided by the enthusiastic French accented fellow who got me wine tasting and buying at 9.30am.)

Jubilee Vineyard Estate– I’m not sure there is anything closer if you are looking for a Sydney locavore drop, what’s more it was delicious, (which is why the photos are shown as one down and one to go.)

The White Chambourcin is described as, “clean fresh fruity aromas of strawberry, raspberry & lemon with a palate of raspberries and lingering citrus.” While my wine palate descriptions are restricted to good or not so good. It was definitely on the good side, delicious even.

How about you, do you enjoy a tipple? What’s your favourite local drop?

eat local challenge || cityhippyfarmgirl

eat local || cityhippyfarmgirl

Where did it come all from?

Shallots and Capsicum- Rita’s Farm, Kemps Creek 50km

Mushrooms- Margin’s Mushrooms, Woy Woy 80km

Potatoes- Naturally Grown Naturally Better, Crookwell 240km

Eggs- Port Stephens Eggs

Wine- Hawkesbury River

 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

That’s just not vegetarian- ELC #4

garlic || cityhippyfarmgirl

goat curry- Eat Local Challenge || cityhippyfarmgirl

You’ll probably never find me getting nostaligic over a medium rare steak. It’s unlikely I’ll be looking forward to a dinner of sticky ribs. And just quietly I think roasted lamb tastes like a shearing shed. Meals round these parts are mostly vegetarian, and I like that.

However, just occasionally I feel like something, just a little something on the meatier side- heavily doused in a heady aroma of spices mind you.

Now goat isn’t my normal choice, but I’d made a curry before from it and had really liked the results. My slight, ever so slight issue with making a curry was local spices. Yes, there really wasn’t any. Could I get enough of a curry like taste from the fresh ginger, garlic and turmeric?*

Yes, I could. Combined with the roasted tomatoes and capsicums- which had intensified their flavours in the oven, it really was quite flavourful. The lime gave an added zing to it, and I quietly high-fived myself for keeping it all local, while still making a curry.

One thing that did come about from cooking this dish was my absolute respect for the ancient spice trade. No wonder they were traded like gold. (A new found respect for moderately sized spice rack too.)

*Next time I also know where to source some local curry leaves.

goat-curry-cityhippyfarmgirl

Goat Curry

700g chopped goat leg

(Booma Boers, Dorrigo)

finger of tumeric

(Rita’s Farm, Kemp Creek- 50km)

large knob of ginger

(Rita’s Farm, Kemp Creek- 50km)

10 cloves of garlic

(Keith Hungerford, Bathurst- 200km)

1 diced onion

(Rita’s Farm, Kemp Creek- 50km)

6 quartered tomatoes

(Rita’s Farm, Kemp Creek- 50km)

4 quartered capsicums/peppers

(Rita’s Farm, Kemp Creek- 50km)

cucumber

(Mahbrook Organics, Calderwood-110km)

lime

(Crooked Creek, Palm Grove- 90km)

chilli

(my courtyard)

Finely chop, garlic, ginger, turmeric. Pop into a large pot with the chopped goat meat and brown the meat, then turn the pot off. Meanwhile roast tomatoes and capsicum in the oven. Once these are done and roasted, process them in a hand mixer or something similar and pour the mixture into the meat pot. Add a little water, and slowly cook on a low heat until the meat is soft and coming off the bone.

Serve with local rice, chopped cucumber, chilli and a squeeze of lime.

eat local challenge || cityhippyfarmgirl

Eat Local Challenge #3

corn and chilli || cityhippyfarmgirl

corn || cityhippyfarmgirlCorn, chilli and lime.

It’s a cracker of a combination, and that’s a known fact. But the issue was I needed a little butter or something like it to get the finely chopped chilli to stick onto the corn. I didn’t have any and refused to step outside my Eat Local Challenge so I was left with…

1/ squeeze the lime juice on the corn and nibble delicate little pieces of chilli off at each mouthful…hmmm, not a great idea. I like my food hot but these little chillies are quite beastly on their own.

2/ I could finely, finely chop them and roll the corn in it, hoping some would stick.

3/ I could delicately drape the chilli over the corn, admire the contrasting colours and then push my hot little garnish to the side. Yep, I’ll do that. (On thinking later, I should have cut the chilli and gently rubbed it over the corn cob. It would have given the bites a little zing, but not the kick in the pants that a big one would have given.)

So with the corn sorted, what did I have left? While I do love corn, there still needed to be a little something else to the plate.

Eat Local challenge || cityhippyfarmgirlTo avoid a line up of wrinkled noses and pouty lips I didn’t bother serving this one to the rest of the family. Brussel sprouts is an acquired taste it seems and every one in this household? Well, they haven’t acquired it yet.

So what’s on the menu and where is it from?

Brussel sprouts- Kurrawong Organics, Kirkconnel (175km)

Radishes- Rita’s Farm, Kemp’s Creek (50km)

Granny Smith Apple- from Orange

Sheep’s Curd- Willowbrae, Chevre Cheese– Wilberforce.

Olive Oil- Lisborne Grove, Hunter Valley

Eat Local challenge|| cityhippyfarmgirl

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How about you? 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).

For Eat Local Challenge #1 see here.

For Eat Local Challenge #2 see here.

eat local challenge || cityhippyfarmgirl