Posts tagged ‘permaculture food’

Hey Pesto! Winter Greens Pesto Yum

While the winter crops come to an end and the spring crops are busy growing, one of the biggest crops coming out of the garden are around a hundred different types of green things. Coriander, rainbow chard, rocket, silverbeet, kale and the leaves from brocolli, cauliflowers (yes, you can eat them too). Plus a plethora of wild greens like dandelion, fat hen, chickweed, nettle, to name a few – they’re all delicious and nutritious.

There are a couple of ways I like to make sure I eat as many as possible – kale chips are a big winner and so is pesto. Contrary to what some people might think, you don’t need basil and pine nuts to make pesto – in our cool temperate climate, things things don’t often come in abundance. We make vegan pesto out of any greens that happen to be thriving in our garden – here’s how.

IMG_6330Rainbow chard, curly kale and coriander – a few of the greens in our pesto

Pick a range of greens from your veggie beds (or some of the edible weeds growing on the edges) chop them up nice and fine and pop them in a large bowl.


When you make pesto – garlic is your best friend, we’re firm believers that more is better. So get as much garlic as you can, chop it up roughly and add it to the same bowl as the greens. Our garlic has the vague name of Tasmanian purple garlic – we’ve got a whole bunch left over from two seasons ago and it’s only now just sprouting. Perfect for pesto.


The only other ingredients we use are olive oil, sea salt and sunflower seeds. We also use almonds or pepitas – whatever is more available at the time.


Add all the ingredients into the bowl and find a way to pulverise it – we use a bar mixer thingo which works ok. Other people use a food processor or smash it up in a mortar and pestle.

You may need to add more olive oil as you go to get the right consistency – don’t bother skimping on the oil and no, water is not a good replacement for oil – I’ve tried that and it just isn’t pesto.



I like my pesto a bit chunky and “stiff” so it holds its own shape on a spoon (see below). If you want yours more runny, add more olive oil. You’ll notice we don’t add any cheese, we’ve found that its the garlic that really gives the ‘pesto’ taste and that cheese is just a bit of ‘bling’ that you don’t need – in our humble opinion.

IMG_6344That’s it, pop it in a jar and store it in the fridge or eat it fresh. I like to eat it with carrots, on home made pasta or olive oil crackers. Right now I’m just eating it with a spoon for a late breaky, it’s darn tasty.


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Conscious Catering

We’re lucky to have a Source Community Wholefoods as our local food co-op in Hobart – it’s a beauty.


Built on university land by students and community members, it was born as a thought around 10 years ago and has been in operation for around 6.



The building is made from local timber, straw bales and clay light straw and the small community garden around it includes an espaliered apple orchard, pizza oven, vegetable garden and a stage for music gigs.



These days it functions as a food co-op, cafe, community garden, a meeting place and as a *kick-arse* catering enterprise, providing ethical, simple food with minimal packaging and serious yum factor. One of the key drivers for this enterprise is Lissa Villeneuve.

IMG_5931Lissa in the Source kitchen

Lissa has a long history with good food – growing it, cooking it and eating it – she’s a good one to have on your side when you need to feed many mouths.

IMG_5949Organic carrots heading for the oven

12814065_239328299734799_3736113899814905060_nPotato salad 11143101_239328066401489_1922842870526842006_oCucumber with minted beetroot

IMG_5941Bulk dry wholefoods at the Source food co-op

She sources wholesome fresh produce from both the food co-op and the community garden for her meals, meaning all food is generally in season, local and therefore at its best.


IMG_5943Grapes in the Source community garden *pumping*



IMG_5939Fresh produce sourced mostly from local farmers (bananas not included of course)…


The “truth window” inside the co-op where you can see the straw bales and some of the pictures showing the garden design (designed by me) and evolution of the space.

As well as catering for events, Source also do a great food stall for festivals and parties….

12778721_239329023068060_6826903074164236758_oDrea and Lissa at the Koonya Garlic Festival.

We regularly book in Source Catering for some of our workshops and events. They’re our number one choice as we have complete peace of mind knowing their food will be ethical, healthy and darn tasty every time. We’re lucky to have them – you can track them down and book them in here and by emailing Lissa at

12650946_10153941771839626_9110369626417763598_nA sweet gig taking place in the community garden

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Pasta From Scratch

Despite what some people think, making pasta is actually really really easy. All you need is egg and flour, sure you can add herbs and spices, but you don’t need to. I love making it because yes, it tastes good but also because it’s plastic free, no packaging at all – which is how food should be. Here’s how we do it at home.

Crack some eggs into a bowl, use as many eggs as there are people who’ll be eating – we’ve got two people eating, so we use two eggs.


Roughly mix them up.


Start adding flour and mixing it in until you have a good dough consistency. We don’t use actual measurements, just keep adding until it feels right. We mostly use white or wholemeal wheat flour (sometimes a mix of spelt and buckwheat), however you can use most – some gluten free flour will have trouble and fall apart, there a re lots of recipes out there, like this one.



Towards the end of the mixing, ditch your mixing tool and use your hands to finish it off.


Make sure there’s a nice layer of flour on it so it’s not sticky to touch.


Wrap it in a plastic bag and pop it in a cool place or the fridge for at least 20 minutes. You can actually leave it there for days if you like, it’s simply helping it to ‘become one’ so it stays together nicely for the next steps.


I got given a pasta machine around 10 years ago for a birthday present – it’s tops. We use it to make pasta (surprise, surprise), lasagna sheets and ravioli. However, you don’t need it, you can use a rolling pin (or a bottle of wine if you haven’t got one of those) and a knife.


Get your dough out of the fridge and shape it into a sausage and then cut it into pieces to make it easy to roll out.



Using just your hands, roughly massage each piece into a basic small oval.


Now you’re ready to pop it through the pasta machine (or roll it out), start at the ‘thickest’ setting to give them the once over. You can then jump straight to the thickness you want to make it as thick or thin as you desire. I never go to the thinnest layer as it can sometimes fall apart (depending on your flour).


IMG_4111My long and strong sheets and little Frida in the background, wondering when I’m going to go play with her.

You need to make sure you add more flour onto each sheet before you work with them so they’re never sticky, otherwise they can easily clog up the pasta machine and rip easily. You can now choose your style of pasta (flat or skinny worm is what I call the options) and pop the sheets through as below.


Perhaps the best hot tip I ever learned was that from here you can just throw them in a bowl of flour (so they don’t stick together). You don’t need to sting up clothes lines everywhere in your house to dry your pasta. This was a bit revolutionary for me and adds to the easiness of the whole process.



Usually I cook it straight away, however if you need to dry it out for later, just throw it out onto something like a cake rack so air can flow around it to dry it evenly. Once completely dry, you can pop it in a paper bag (so it can breath) and store it for a few weeks and probably months in cooler climates (it never lasts that long for me).


When you do cook it, make sure you hang about. Unlike stuff from the shop, it’ll only take a couple of minutes in boiling water so don’t walk away from the stove, otherwise you’ll end up with something resembling clag glue.


And as you can imagine, it tastes bucket-loads better than anything you’ll buy from the shop… Enjoy!


Experiments In Cheese Making

So we have a little baby, right – and at the moment I have so much breast milk I have to occasionally express it to avoid my boob’s exploding.  Once I got over the social norms which imply it’s weird to consume your own breast milk (heaven forbid) I’ve been drinking some, adding some to yoghurt (which is based on cows milk) and this morning thought I’d experiment with making 100% breast milk cheese – as you do early on a Monday morning.

I used the same old ‘farm cheese’ recipe I always follow (in my head) when making cheese with cows milk as it’s super quick, easy and tasty. Here’s how I do it…

The first step is to bring the milk up to just before boiling point – around 80 degrees.


Then, take it off the heat and add either lemon or apple cider vinegar. How much, you ask? I start with small amounts (i.e. half a lemon) and then add more until I see the milk curdle – which means the curd and whey separate which looks like milky snot globs forming amongst watering substance. Nice description, I know.

IMG_2294Alas, the 100% breast milk just did not want to curdle, I added more lemon, and then a touch of apple cider vinegar to see if that would make any difference. But it was beginning to taste super sour, so I surrendered to the fact that perhaps cheese made from 100% breast milk doesn’t work.

Some research suggests that breast milk has only 2.5% protein when compared to cows around 8% and goats 8.7%.  Apparently breast milk also has a bit more fat than the others but not my much.  When making cheese it is the proteins that react to form the characteristic curds.  The more protein the thicker the curd and higher the cheese yield.

In the name of a good science experiment, I also made a small batch of 70% cows milk and 30% breast milk cheese to compare the two. Below you can see cow/brest milk on the left which has been heated to 80 degrees and had 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar added to it (I ran out of lemons). Straight away it has curdled, which is what you want. Compare this to the 100% breast milk mix on the right where I had put the juice from a whole lemon and a few teaspoons of vinegar into it with a whole lot of nothing happening.

A bit more research reveals a chef called Daniel Angerer caused a bit of a stir making cheese and blogging about it  in 2010.  His recipe involves a 50% cow and 50% breast milk mix.  He also uses true rennet (derived from animals) rather than an acidulant – like lemon juice. You can also use vegetarian rennet made with microbes or from thistle plants, microbial rennet is usually fermented from bacteria but can also be genetically modified. You can can vegetable rennet online from websites like this one – I’m sure there are others as well.

IMG_2298Cows milk on the left and breast milk on the right


The next step in cheese making is to strain the curdled mix through some cheese cloth – I put mine into a colander with a pot beneath it to catch the whey.


You can simply leave it here while is slowly drains, or you can hang the cheesecloth up (as below) to begin shaping it.


Before you walk away and let it drain, you can choose to add flavours at this point. I’ve added salt, pepper and thyme – which is herb of the moment in our house right now.


Just pop in your flavours of choice and mix them through


If you don’t hang it up, I encourage you to ‘press’ it with a bit of weight to speed up the draining process and to form a firm shape. I do something different every time, this morning I used a collection of bowls and plates to form my highly sophisticated press. IMG_2313

5 minutes later (I’m impatient) you have a soft mold of cheese ready to rock and roll. Of course you can leave it longer to get a firmer cheese, but technically you can eat it straight away.


But what happened to the pot of failed breast milk cheese? I used it to cook a batch of brown rice – in the past I’ve also used it as a base for making a curry or stew instead of stock or water. It’s a pretty amazing resource which has major health giving properties and there’s no way I’m tipping it down the sink.

You can read more about the benefits of breast milk on the Australian Breastfeeding Association.