Foodie Friday – Keeping it Local

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I am sure it is still Friday somewhere – my apologies for the lateness of this post – it is Saturday morning here.

How do we feed ourselves?  Food prices keep increasing, labelling laws are ambiguous, processed foods contain unfamiliar additives and food allergies appear to be on the rise.  Add to this, a desire to eat organically-grown food which I believe is better for my health and the health of the planet and it starts to feel a bit overwhelming.  While we are at it, the wasteful packaging needs to be minimised as well as transport costs, both monetary and environmental.  Don’t forget ‘food security’ – the latest catch-cry.  This is the ability for us, as a nation, to feed ourselves in the event of natural disasters or major changes to the world order.

Have you thrown up your hands in despair?  Fear not.  You can begin to solve all of these issues with a single action – grow some of your own food.

The Duke and I have a somewhat neglected but productive garden which sometimes surprises us with its bounty.  We both work full-time and have minimal time to spend on tending a garden.  We try to grow some annual vegetables but the real secret is in growing trees and perennials.  We have an avocado, peach, fig and several citrus trees.  There are blueberry bushes as well as self sown cherry tomatoes and pumpkins.  The clump of parsley has been in one spot for so long that it has a stalk that looks like the trunk of a tree.

It may seem obvious but it is also important to eat (or preserve) what you grow.  Do not let the harvest go to waste.

Keep your eyes open for food producing plants in your neighbourhood that are not being harvested.  Don’t be afraid to ask if you may have some.  There are many reasons that people do not harvest – lack of time, knowledge or health are but a few.

The last few weeks we have had access to the following (either fresh or frozen) from our own property or nearby – corn, blueberries, avocadoes, mangoes, figs, lemons, beans, pumpkins, and pineapples.  At times I have felt overwhelmed by the excess on the kitchen bench but I have endeavoured to make sure it was used or stored for later use.

Last weekend I kept track of what we ate.

SATURDAY

Breakfast – buckwheat blueberry pancakes

Lunch – platter of cheese, cherry tomatoes, avocado, dried figs and mango chutney

Dinner – Salmon with mango salsa and vegetables – everything came from the garden except the salmon and onion which I used in the salsa.

Dinner
SUNDAY

Breakfast – mango and pineapple smoothie

Smoothie
Lunch – Pumpkin soup

Dinner – grilled chicken with cherry tomatoes and mango/avocado salad

We certainly will never be completely self-sufficient but being able to produce at least some of the food that we eat goes a long way to addressing the myriad of issues that I identified in the first paragraph.  Eating local food also gives you an appreciation for what is in season in your area.  I really look forward to the new crop of things such as figs which have a short season.  We eat them constantly while in season then it is but a distant memory until next year.

You do not need a huge amount of space and even though you could not grow some of the thing that we do in your climate, the reverse is also true.  What do you grow?

 

Ticks All The Boxes

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Missy stayed with us last night and this morning we took her to Noosaville to meet up with some friends who are a hiring a boat  for the day on the river.

We debated which way to come home and decided to take a drive along the Mary Valley from Eumundi, through Kenilworth and Conondale and back to Maleny.

Kenilworth is the home of a cheese factory which has excellent products.  We called in and sampled some of the specialty cheeses.  These are lovely for a particular occasion but we really did not need any at the moment.

2012-02-18 01However, I did buy a 2.5kg block of matured cheddar cheese.  We got a discount (not sure why) and it worked out an $10/kg.  That is about the same price as I usually pay at Aldi and considerably cheaper than standard cheese in the supermarket.  This is a rich, full-flavoured cheese made from local milk in an independent factory which is about 30km from our home.  Also, by buying a larger quantity there is less packaging than buying 500g blocks.

2012-02-18 02I used my food processor to grate half of the block and here it is in containers, ready to go in the freezer.  I had a little put aside which will be used in the lasagne I am about to make.

The remainder has been cut into blocks, wrapped and frozen.  I have kept some cereal bags and use them to separate items when freezing.  They can be re-washed and re-used many times.  Here is one flattened out and ready to use.

2012-02-18 03The cheese is wrapped in the cereal bag and sealed in a container to go in the freezer.

2012-02-18 04As the title says, this product ticks all of the boxes:

Locally made
Lcoally produced ingredients
Minimal packaging
Close to home – so minimal transport costs
Independently owned

What are you able to source that is produced close to where you live?

Friday Favourites – Zucchini Quiche

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A friend gave this recipe to me nearly 30 years ago.  It seems to be commonplace now but at the time it was a real novelty.  I use it for main meals, packed lunches and finger food depending on the the serving size of the pieces.  The ability to serve it either hot or cold just adds to the versatility.

ZUCCHINI QUICHE

350-400g zucchini, grated
1 cup grated cheese
1 onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup self-raising flour
¼ cup oil
5 eggs
Black pepper for seasoning

2012-01-20 01Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and combine.  Spread in an ovenproof dish and bake for approximately 45 minutes at 180 degrees.

2012-01-20 02HINTS & MODIFICATIONS

2012-01-20 03I love this recipe for several reasons.  It allows me to make use of the things we produce – eggs, zucchini and onion.  The recipe is one of the most forgiving and versatile ones I have come across.  At various times I have used 1 less egg, substituted milk for 1/2 of the oil, used up to 100 g more or less of zucchini, substituted half of the zucchini for other vegetables such as grated carrot, diced capsicum or corn kernels.  The results may not be perfect but it is definitely edible.

The quiche is usually served with salad here, but the options are almost endless.

2012-01-20 04I am pleased to say that all of the salad is home-grown except for the capsicum.  The eggs, zucchini and onion are also home-grown and even the oil I used is local avocado oil.

Please let me know if you are inspired to try this recipe if you are not already familiar with it.  I trust that you will enjoy the results as much as we do.