Keeping it real

tomatoes || cityhippyfarmgirl.com

It was the array of vegetables quietly lying in their own individual plastic that finally broke it for me. I felt deflated, defeated and pretty bloody miserable to be honest.

Moving cities was always going to have its pockets of turbulence, I knew that. It’s a transition period where you have to nut out what’s what, who’s who, where’s where and build up from that right?.

I knew that, it all takes a little time.

So why was I feeling like I was carrying round a basket full of sad, looking down at my plastic encased vegetable dinner options?

Because I forgot. I did have options.

While I had been trying really hard to keep things as uncomplicated as possible, while I nutted out a seemingly endless supply of other issues that needed attending, packed a household, unpacked a household, grappled with a grumpy oven, the weather defied all odds, new garden beds were created and I mostly single parented the summer school holidays. For those reasons, I resorted to supermarket vegetables, some bought bread, and more plastic encased food than I cared to think about.

Except I did care, and combined with the transition of moving, it made for a pretty sad face round here.

Shopping had turned into being surrounded by an endless supply of uninspiring temperature controlled chain stores, empty conversations, enough plastic to make you shudder and all filled with people who I seemingly had little in common with.

It all felt so false. The mass-produced shopping, the plastic on plastic, the convenience of it all and the questionable happiness that people seemed to get from living like this.

Is that how it really is? Was this really my chosen road, the inevitable living that was bound to happen at some point, just because we moved?

Staring at those vegetables again, and something gently clicked back into place.

Hell no. This isn’t me, this isn’t us. I Don’t. Want. This.

Readjustment, realignment, and a good rethink.

organic feast || cityhippyfarmgirl

And so slowly I’m catching up. The local transport system was nutted out, travels further afield were taken. Local organic vegetables got delivered to the door which gave me some breathing room when I couldn’t get to the farmers markets, independent health food stores were located, the toilet paper came in bulk, the huge shopping centres were bypassed and I found the beginnings of a list of a few mismatched seated cafe’s that served coffee in cups the size of my head, (and from which I danced in caffeine fuelled happiness.)

While I didn’t want the plastic vegetables, and the convenience of everything being at my door step, I do acknowledge that I needed it for that transition period, (and not being sainted) may dip back into it in small amounts over the coming few months as needed.

While we are all still very much finding our feet and it really will take a while to set down new roots, I feel a hell of a lot more grounded knowing that there has been a bunch of bread just baked, there’s kombucha on the bench top, I’ve found places that I can buy basics in bulk, joined the local library, traded cucumbers for black soldier fly larvae over the back fence, made jam, made kasundi, roasted pumpkin’s and with a contented exhale, have once again sourced our families every day vegetables bought without a single, sheet, of plastic.

For me, it feels a whole lot better to be once again, keeping it real.

herbs || cityhippyfarmgirl.com

 

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a bowl full of sushi

It’s quiet.

Not a murmur, not a word. Just the rhythmic sound of two forks being taken from bowl to mouth.

The Monkeys are eating two bowls of sushi. This is their favourite dinner at the moment. Not daintily rolled between a sushi bamboo mat, instead carefully constructed by their own little hands. I get it all out, prepare the ingredients and then they assemble what they would like to go in there.

Healthy, looks good, they get to help put it together and most of all they love to eat it.

I can’t help but feel a teeny bit pleased. Pleased and proud of my vegetable loving children. Sure they won’t touch zucchini, mushrooms, sweet potato or spinach. Eggplant also isn’t getting a look in any time soon, but what they won’t eat- they make up for. If that means a bowl full of sushi, with a selection of raw vegetables in there, I’m more than happy to give it to them.

I know kids can be picky little things, but if you plant the seeds of eating healthily from the very beginning and get them involved it sets them up for later on. Once a week, the Monkeys wrestle over who gets to bring in the vegetable box after it’s been delivered to our back door. Carefully sorting what’s in there and what exactly it all is. We don’t get to harvest a great deal from our (rather pathetic at the moment) plant pots, so this along with going to farmer’s markets is a second best. Sorting, learning, preparing and then eating it.

As a child, the idea of sitting through an eggplant or mushroom dish set me up for an hours worth of good solid gagging. These truly were horror vegetables that were put on this earth just to torture me. A few decades on and funnily enough what are two of my favourite vegetables?… Eggplant and mushrooms. The seed had been planted, the palate had already been explored, and then it was just a matter of finding out how I liked to eat those two little vegetables.

So that’s what I’m doing with The Monkeys. Expanding their palates and planting seeds. No, they don’t have to eat handfuls of mushrooms, broccoli, and zucchini. They can try a little bit each time though, just so to remember what it tastes like and then they can move on to what they really love. Vegetables like peas, capsicum (peppers), tomatoes, cucumber, corn, avocado, lettuce, pumpkin and carrot. Pop it all in a bowl of rice, with some shredded seaweed and a little line caught tuna, (Good Fish.)

There they have, a bowl full of sushi.

the community garden

Our local council is trialing a new community food foragers garden. I really love the idea of this and hope that it takes off,  just getting bigger and bigger.

Imagine city living where on each high density living block there was a community kitchen garden readily accessible for all the locals. An attached community compost bin, for all those to access that didn’t have backyards. Seasonal food grown within a hop skip and a jump of where you live, with composting scraps being used for the same garden while decreasing all the food scraps being sent to land fill.

It doesn’t seem like a big ask, does it?

It just makes sense. Cutting back on waste having to be collected by council. Making more efficient use of space. Encouraging a community spirit. I’m sure on each block there would be at least a couple of willing people who would love to regularly tend the small edible space. If people are living in a high density living area, green spots are hard to come by and the chance to actually dip your fingers in to some soil and tend a little foliage would be incredibly appealing to a lot of inner city dwellers.

More green spaces in the city are needed. Whether it be roof tops, street corners, reclaimed concrete areas, where ever they may be. However,  first people need to ask for it, and be encouraging when trials are put into place. Be vocal, spread the good word. Whispered words of encouragement is what gets ideas moving. Spoken words and acts of enthusiasm keep them there.

If everyone’s local councils started up just one food foragers garden in their area, it was successful, and people respected the space. Surely this could mean the start of many more to come?

The benefits of a nation wide scheme like this?… Oh can you imagine.

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Do you have any community gardens or food foraging gardens in your area?

bok choy stamps

I always wanted to make a potato stamp as a kid.

I had a crafty-making-stuff type of book. Which I would scrutinise for hours and hours looking at each and every page, planning what I would try to make next. Things like walking stilts, a phone from two cans and string, and those enticing potato stamps.

I made them once, and was fairly underwhelmed by the cross I had carved out. I did a few pages of painted crosses and that was about it. Back to scrutinising the next page as to what I could make next.

Far too many years to count later, and it’s time to revisit. Although this time it’s away with you potato stamp and hello bok choy. No carving necessary this time. Just chop off the leaves, (a little stir fry for dinner I think) leaving a one inch or so stump for your stamp. Give it a generous lick of paint and there you have it, a bok choy stamp.



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.