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Posts from the ‘Food’ category

How To Make Nasturitum Capers

Nasturtium capers (aka poor man capers) is an easy (so easy) way for us folk in cool temperate climates to grow “pretend capers”, as the real ones need more heat than our climate can offer.

Eating local is an effective approach to tackling a range of environmental issues including food miles. Food miles tracks how many miles (or kilometres) your food’s travelled to reach your plate. The more miles, the more energy (more fossil fuels) is required in transportation. So instead of buying capers from the other side of the country or world, we make these punchy nasturtium capers – and we love them!

This is the 18th video in our Good Life For All series. I’m going to break from making these for a while over summer while I go camping, play with my daughter and garden. The occasional blog might pop up, but no promises!

PS – I had to film this mostly by myself – sorry about the sound/bumpiness etc. Good thing it doesn’t really matter :-).

More resources

  • You can also read this older blog I wrote on how to do the whole process.
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Pink Pickled Eggs – Video

Back in 2014 I did a blog on how to make pink pickled eggs (so long ago!), and have recently made a little video to go with it to show the full process.

Learning how to preserve your harvest from your garden and chooks) is a key skill that will help extend your season and eliminate any waste. Making pink pickled eggs is also quite fun.

This is the 16th video in our Good Life For All series. Each Monday I’ll pop up a video to help inspire folks in building climate resilience for their homes and communities.

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How To Make Yoghurt (video)

Making your own yoghurt doesn’t have to involve buying new machines/gear. It just involves your existing pots and pans, time and some mature yoghurt to get the party started!

The latest video in our Good Life For All series shows you exactly how – I love making these little videos as a way to support people to build home and community resilience – especially in the face of the climate emergency.

How does making yoghurt build climate resilience?

  • In times of disruption (i.e. covid, climate change), food outlets have approximately only 4 – 7 days of food stocked on their shelves. When we learn more skills around how to make some of our own food, we become less dependent on shops to provide it to us.
  • Making your own yoghurt can help prevent food waste. You can make yoghurt from slightly sour milk which you’d normally avoid eating. The more we eliminate food waste the better… In Australia alone, around 40% of landfill is pure food waste. Once there, it’s buried and compacted with mixed waste where it becomes anaerobic and produces methane gases. A toxic gas which is up to 25 x more harmful than Carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • Making yoghurt can contribute with resource resilience, i.e saving some $$$ and reduce the amount of plastic being used in your home.

You can watch all about it below and also read an older blog I wrote about it here.

BUT FIRST: I made a significant typo in the vid captions. When I talk about heating the milk, it should say 80 degrees Celsius (not Fahrenheit). Sorry! I blame it on late night editing!

This is the 10th video in our Good Life For All series. Each Monday I’ll pop up a video to help inspire folks in building climate resilience for their homes and communities.

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How To Cook & Preserve Globe Artichokes

Globe artichokes (Cynara scolymus) are part of the thistle family – so in the right climate, they grow like weeds. Beautiful, delicious (non-invasive) weeds.

We’ve planted a lot of them amongst our edible forest garden as a stunning (and tasty) perennial. When it comes to eating them, it can initially be a tad confusing about how to cook or preserve them. When I first started trying to eat these plants, I remember boiling them for far too long and then kind of just mauling them – and being super disappointed and baffled – but friends, times have changed. Here’s how we most commonly eat and preserve them – I hope it helps you avoid the baffled mauling I initially did!

How to eat them…

  • We harvest the flower buds when they’re young – before their petals have opened, or are only just slightly open.
  • We either boil or steam them in a big pot of water and cook them until you can easily stick a fork or butter knife through them.
  • We then serve them up like that with a side bowl dipping sauce – I like to use olive oil and lemon juice (there’s many variations to this dipping sauce).
  • Simply peel the petals one by one, dip them into the sauce and using your teeth, scrap the fleshy bit of the petal off.
  • Eventually you get to the squishy heart – which you can can whole.
  • You end up with a big bowl of half eaten petals (you can’t eat the tough bit) which you can then compost.

But there’s only so many artichokes you can eat, which is where preserving comes in handy.

How to preserve them…

  • Harvest the buds while young (as described above) and bring them into your kitchen.
  • Top and tail them and seen below.

Top and tail the artichokes.

Then remove the outer (tougher) petals as these won’t soften and are mostly not edible.

I then chop them in half as this is the size I like to eat them in once they’re preserved. It’s also helpful to make all the pieces a similar size so they cook at the same rate.

For some of the larger flower buds they may have developed a spiky fur inside. The younger buds can have a softer (non offensive) version of this which you can see forming above (edible and delicious – don’t worry about it).

But for the older buds – you want to get rid of all the spiky stuff you can see below…

I use a spoon and scoop it out. See before photo above and after photo below.

The same heart can be seen below – just chopped in half ready to be cooked. You can see the spiky fur stuff I’ve scooped out to the right – compost it.

Hot tip

If you’re preserving LOTS of artichokes, have a bowl of water and vinegar (or lemon juice) you can soak them in while they wait for you to be ready to cook them. This will stop them from going a yucky brown colour.

Once you’re ready, pop them in a pot with water and a steamer and cook until their soft enough for a fork to go through them easily.

The vinegar bit…

While they’re cooking, it’s time to make a vinegar solution which is what will actually preserve them on the shelf. You’ll need:

  • Apple cider vinegar – enough to fill the jars you’re planning on stuffing with artichokes.
  • Rosemary (to taste)
  • Garlic (to taste)
  • Bay leaves (to taste)
  • Peppercorns (to taste)

Mix them all into a pot, bring to the boil and then let it simmer while the artichokes are cooking.

Once the artichokes have finished

Pop them straight into sterilised glass jars and pour the vinegar solution over them so every bit is covered. Either screw the lid of the jar on, or use a fowler vacola lid system* and store on the shelf until your’e ready to eat. I recommend leaving them for at least a week so they have good flavour.

One more thing. I get a lot of people saying to me – why do you even bother doing this? You only get such a little product from a huge plant – isn’t this wasteful?? True. Like many delicious food things, it takes effort, time and the actual globe artichoke heart is approximately 1% of the plant that you grow. I grow/eat/preserve them because they’re so prolific in their growth (remember they’re related to thistles) and so abundant in their yields that it makes it very worth while. Also it’s just so yum!

*This isn’t compulsory, we just happen to have lots of these jars so are using them. 

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Grow Your Own Immune Boosting Tea

For week 7 of our Crisis Gardening series we’re covering how you can grow (and make) your own immune boosting tea, or “immune-a-tea” as I like to call it.

Right now the whole world is trying to stay healthy, or get healthy – fostering a strong immune system is something we can all do to help this. This can happen in a range of ways, including drinking daily cups of this herbal brew. You can watch the whole process here, and read about it below.

The 5 herbs you’ll need are…

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

Peppermint (Mentha × piperit)

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

Can you use dried herbs instead?

Yes! If you’re not able to grow your own, you can buy them from a shop :-).

How to make the tea?

  • Pick equal amounts of the above plant, specifically the leaf of lemon balm, thyme, peppermint, the flower of the calendula and the leaf and flower of the yarrow.
  • Put them all in a large tea pot, add boiling water and cover it with a lid to steep for at least 10 minutes.
  • Drink one – three cups per day for maximum benefits.

How are these plants good for you?

  • Thyme leaf – lung tonic, anti-bacterial, antispasmodic (for coughs), relaxing expectorant
  • Peppermint leaf – digestive, anti-bacterial, anti-spasmodic, diaphoretic (induces fever)
  • Calendula flowers-  anti-inflammatory, wound healing, immune stimulating, anti-bacterial
  • Lemon balm leaf – anti-anxiety, antiviral, digestive, mood uplifting, diaphoretic (induces fever)
  • Yarrow leaf and flowers – diaphoretic (induced fever), tonic, adaptogen

How do I know this?

I consulted with local naturopath Moncia Fancia who provided this recipe (thanks Monica) – you can normally find her working with the renowned Goulds Naturopathica or with Hobart Herbalists Without Borders. Monica and her colleagues have a wealth of knowledge and skill – can’t recommend them enough!

We wish you all good health!

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Live Sauerkraut Demonstration With Sandor Katz!

The world is a big and interesting place full of uncertainty right now. Perhaps it always is – but we’re *all* just being personally impacted by it right now due to the global spread of coronavirus (covid-19). Because of this rapid spread, a lot of people are now choosing to self-isolate in their homes as a preventative measure for their own health and to help slow its spread, and we support them.

So much so, that this weekend we moved our “real-life” fermentation workshop and talk with Sandor Katz online to prevent any possible community transmission of covid-19. We were sad to do this, so much time, energy and love goes into planning these events. But we would be more sad if people got sick as a result of us not making this call. So in an effort to still deliver some Sandor fermentation greatness, we streamed a fermentation demonstration to the world via our kitchen. Thanks Sandor, you’re a gem.

You can watch it all below and find more information and resources (including his two books) at his website here. And please excuse the filming quality – it’s just me on my phone, standing in the corner of my kitchen – just focus on the content!

Live "Kraut-A-Thon" with Sandor Katz!

Posted by Good Life Permaculture on Saturday, 14 March 2020

 

 

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How To Cook & Eat Globe Artichokes

Globe artichokes (Cynara scolymus)… They’re a strikingly beautiful plant to grow and, when starting out, strikingly confusing to eat. This little blog’s for all you folk wondering how to wrap your mouth around this thistle – without the thistle experience.

If you’re wondering how to grow them, you can read Peter Cundall here and Sustainable Gardening Australia over here. We’re just going to write about how to eat them.

Originating from the Mediterranean and central Asia these beauties are member of the thistle family – the edible part of the plant is the flower bud.

If you are growing them in your garden, then timing the harvest is critical to ensure you don’t end up with a mouthful of prickly thistles. You pick them when they’re quite young and undeveloped – this ensure their heart (the centre) is still soft. The image below shows a cluster of flower buds that are nice and young and good to eat.

Young artichokes ready to be picked. 

The image below shows a flower bud in my garden which is a bit too far gone – I won’t pick and eat this one as it will have already developed central prickles. Instead I’ll let it flower for the bees and for some eye candy.

A more mature artichoke which will have some prickly thistles inside.

By the way, the flowers are glorious and look something like this (not my garden, but from the internet with unknown source).

If you’re sourcing them from elsewhere than we can crack with how to eat them….

First, you need to take off the outer petals as these are quite tough – you’ll end up with a small flower bud in the middle as seen below.

Do this with all of your artichokes…

The easiest way to cook them is to pop them all in a large pot and add water.

Bring them to the boil and then simmer them until soft. They’ll look like this…

They’re now ready to eat. We make a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, pepper and a nice vinegar and drizzle it over them or dip each one into a small bowl of dressing as you eat it. It’s delicious.

You’ll see below that once they’re cooked, you can easily pull them apart. On the left you have the heart and some of the stem (which is also delicious). On the right you have some petals – most of these are edible too – the tips will be a bit tough, just compost those.

We eat our artichokes with everything, last night I had scrambled eggs and artichokes for dinner – I’m a simple cook, Im sure you can do better!

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Charcoal & Cheese

As the seasons turn, we are changing our cheesemaking.  Over winter our outside “cheese room” (rodent proof metal cage with a towel over the top) worked quite well.  But as the weather warms, the hard cheese wants a cooler life and have migrated to the fridge. We’re now finding that our home is the perfect temperature for making soft cheese, including a few types with a funky white fur coat.

We’ve been turning a basic curd or a long acid set Chevre cheese into these fluffy little pillows of joy  (they call these Crottin in French , another name for little turd).  And to up the anty, they are coated in our own charcoal from this years fruit tree prunings… lets see what we did.

The Curd

We make cheese from our goat’s milk and are making this particular cheese like our feta (see here for details).  We are also adding some white cheese culture Penicillium candidum as the milk ripens.  After the curd has set, ie reached the “clean break” stage, we ladle the curd into little moulds.  The remainder of the curd we turn into feta or whatever cheese we are making.  The P. candidum will only thrive in the correct moisture, temperature and Ph, so it wont effect other cheese styles

The curds are turned a few time as they drain.  This takes around 24 hours and 4 flips/turns.  The more they are turned, the less likely they are to stick in the mould.

Each little cheese is covered in 1 teaspoon of salt and air dried for another 24 hours

The cheeses are covered in a thin layer of charcoal (often referred to as ash, but really its charcoal).  The charcoal is sifted over the cheese.  Its purpose, once upon a time was to stop flies, but nowadays it adds a funky stripe in the finished cheese, a pinch of crunch and some smokiness to the flavour

We then cover the cheeses in a glass bowl and leave in a shady part of the house for around 3 days.  Over this time you’ll see the white mould (P.candidum) colonising the cheese.

The Charcoal

Here’s how we prepared some nice, even and tasty “food grade” charcoal.  The first step was collecting some wood.  We used our fruit tree prunings because (a) they are fruit trees (b) they were handy and in a clean pile of relatively same sized year old growth.  The wood was chopped with secateurs’ into a “camp oven” (that’s what they call them around here anyway).  It’s a cast iron pot with a close fitting lid, used for cooking dinner or bread over an open fire

We used some varied sizes, but in the future I will try to stick to branches of a consistent dimension, around 7-10mm diameter works well

Then I put the whole pot in the fire place before going to bed.  As you can see the coals were well burnt down.

Overnight the wood undergoes a process called “slow pyrolysis”.  That is the wood is heated in a “low oxygen” environment and all the water and volatile organic compounds are removed in the process.  The end charcoal is close to pure carbon.  This process is the same as making biochar, and this simple method could make those winter fireside evenings a little bit more productive if I made 10L of biochar an evening

As you can see the charcoal still has the wood characteristics, shape and even growth rings and “carbon buds”

To make the cheese ash we smashed it in the mortar and pestle.

And sifted out the chunky bits and then stored in a dry jar for later use.

The cheese

Here’s one crottin in the photo to the right about 2 weeks old (with our friend Thea’s home made salami).

These little nuggets get eaten pretty quick.  Fun fact:  The standard curds develop a runny center like a brie cheese.  Those made with a Chevre (acid long set curd) stay smooth and creamy.  Enjoy this cheesy magic!

 

 

 

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How To Make Bees Wax Wraps!

We’ve been using beeswax wraps for quite a while now and like them so much we decided to start making our own.  We’ve tried two approaches, the first just 100% beeswax from our beehives and the second with beeswax, pine resin and olive oil.  The wax and resin makes a  better wrap, albeit with a bit more work… Tally ho, here’s what we did.

Beeswax is harvested from our bees.  We melt the harvested wax with water then sieve through a sieve then muslin.  Let set and drain off the water, This leaves fairly clean beeswax. You can also just go buy some.

That yucky wax and cappings and occasionally dead bee turns into clean wax, ready to be grated.

Frida – getting in on the action 🙂

100% Beeswax Wrap

We experimented with simply grating beeswax on some cloth and putting it in the oven.  Simple, a beeswax wrap.

This works, however it’s not as sticky as we’d like it, being unable to mould and stick to complex shapes.  That said, its good enough to keep a blue cheese in a carefully colour-coded blue wrap.

The Pine Resin (rosen) Wrap

Enter the beeswax and resin wrap.  Mixing beeswax, pine resin and a bit of olive oil creates a superior wrap.  The method is fairly strait forward.

  • 5 parts beeswax
  • 5 parts rosin
  • 1 part olive oil (or jojoba oil)

Pine Resin is  the sap of pine trees that is used as part of its healing process.  You can harvest your own which we tried by visiting various pine trees in the hood and scraping dried globules of wax.  It was pretty slow going for me (not that many pine trees around here) and harvested around 50 grams in an hour.  At some point, I decided to go and buy some from the art supply store for $50 for 500 grams. Enough to last us a loooong time.

The wax, resin and olive oil is is placed in a jar or saucepan in a double boiler (another saucepan of water).  It takes a few hours for the whole mass to incorporate.  The pine resin forms a toffee like texture for a while before dissolving into the wax.

Once the mixture is melted and combined it can be used immediately or stored for later, simply re-melt at a later point.

Fun Fact – beeswax and pine resin makes ….pine salve, apparently good for wounds and abrasions

The fabric.  We searched the material box and also scoured the tip-shop for nice cotton scraps (thanks to our friend Tom who works there).  We washed the cotton and dried each piece of material.

To apply the wax mixture we used a paint brush to paint onto the cotton.  Under each section of cotton we put some greaseproof paper to stop it sticking to the table.

On some materials the wax mixture did not penetrate the material.  We placed each wrap in the oven at 100 degrees C for around 5 minutes.  This let the wax mix fully into the wrap.

Afterwards we trimmed the rough edges of the wraps to clean them up a bit

How cool is this stuff.  Its tacky, its sticky, it moulds to shape and holds in place.  Oh, it smells kinda nice too, a bit like a sauna 😊  Maybe we should make some for christmas presents?

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