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Posts from the ‘Food’ category

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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How To Make Goat’s Feta

We’re lucky enough to have a milking goat on our property – a splendid toggenburg called Gerty and her daughter Jilly Love Face (who we don’t milk). You can read about our urban goat system over here. When you have milking animals, thoughts rapidly move to….what do I do with all this milk.  For us (and most others) the answer is cheese.

I’ve (Anton) only been seriously making cheese for around 6 months and finally feel comfortable about sharing our approach to making feta – watch this space for other cheese recipes in coming months. We use raw goats milk as we believe it’s healthier and definitely tastier than anything the shop can provide. Gerty currently milks around 2 litres per day.  So over a week we drink/make yoghurt on around 5 litres and the remainder we transform into cheeses.  Currently we alternate between making a batch of feta one week and then a batch of a harder storing cheeses the next week.

Here’s how I make feta…

Clean the kitchen and get materials together

We try and clean the kitchen before starting.  This gives you access to surfaces to put stuff on, as well as reducing the chance of contamination.  The key utensils I use are a saucepan, large spoon, thermometers, measuring spoons, muslin/mesh, kettle.  I also use milk, rennet, culture, and acid sanitiser.

Clean the pot

We clean all the materials that will be touching the milk and cheese.  We use both boiling water and/or acid sanitiser.  The acid sanitiser is pretty handy because you don’t need to re-boil the kettle all the time.  It effectively kills the bugs from 2 minutes of contact.  I generally mix up around 1 litre of sanitiser (uses around 1 ml of the acid solution) and it is enough for the days cheesemaking action.  I get mine from the local homebrew store.

Measure the milk

Its good to know how many litres of milk you are using, as this effects how much culture to add as well as how much coagulant you use.  This batch uses 11 x 750ml bottles of milk – around 8 litres.  From this 8 Litres of milk I get around 1.4 kg of Feta.  If I was making harder, pressed cheese the yield would be lower, between 800g-1kg of cheese from this much milk.

Add the culture

Cultures are used to “ripen the milk”.  Effectively it acidifies the milk and makes it ready for the effect of the coagulants. I have experimented using natural aging and pre-packaged cultures.  As a beginner cheesemakers we have had more success with the prepacked cultures but look forward to learning more about using natural cultures.  That said, we use raw milk and there is undoubtedly a lot of extra microbial action occurring, which helps on improving flavour and aging.

In this case we are adding two “dashes” of “Flora Danica” culture.  We stir it in the milk with a clean spoon.

Yes we have funny little spoons with words like “dash” and “pinch” written on them.  Handy when you are using measurements like 1/8 of a teaspoon.

Warm the milk

The milk is heated up to around 32 degrees C.  To do this, I put the saucepan in the sink and add very hot tap water to the sink (around 60 degrees C).  Over the next twenty minutes this tends to bring the milk up to around 32 degrees and reduce the temperature of the sink water as well.

Use any pot you have, it doesn’t have to be a particular type of pot. 

I keep the milk in the sink at 32 degrees for 30-60 minutes.  I add or remove hot water to the sink to keep the temperature moderated.  It helps to have two good thermometers.  I have one in the milk and one in the sink.  I can monitor the temperature difference and add the right amount of hot water.

Add the coagulant

I use calf rennet, mainly because we were given a jar of rennet to use (waste not want not).  Maybe in the future we will try some vegetarian DIY coagulants such as thistle or fig.  I carefully measure the rennet using a little 1 ml syringe and some cooled boiled water (to remove chlorine).  For the 8l of milk we use 1 ml of rennet.

The rennet/water mix is added to the milk.  I gently add the rennet and stir with a “gentle up and down motion”.  This is so the milk and rennet gets mixed, but does not maintain momentum.  This will stop the curd tearing as it forms.

Clean break

After around thirty minutes the milk starts to coagulate.  This is the classic “curds and whey”.  At a point where the curd cleaves in a sharp line is called “clean break”.  How long it takes to achieve the clean break will depend on how acidic the milk has turned and how much and fresh the rennet is.

Cut the Curd

The curd is cut into as even sized cubes as possible (around 1.5cm cubes).  This is done by cutting into strips, then columns.  Finally the knife is turned diagonally to cut sideways.  The curds are very delicate at this stage so take it slowly and gently.

Curd “strips

Curd “columns”

Curd “diagonals”

 

Rest

The curds are left to rest for around 10 minutes.  As this happens whey drains away from the curd and the curd shrinks a little.

Stir

The curds are gently stirred for around 15 minutes and rested for another 5 minutes.  Any curds that are not “cube” shape can be broken with the edge of the spoon.  I am trying to make the curds a fairly even size.  As I stir the curd it will shrink to around half of its original size.  Many hard cheeses use a similar process up to this point, however the curd is slowly heated and stirred for some time (maybe another blog)

Strain

Pour the curds and whey through a muslin mesh or a cheese cloth.  I use “grain bags” that are also used for homebrewing.  They have a tight effective weave, perfect for this job.

The curds are hung to strain for 6-10 hours.  If I am making the cheese at night I leave it overnight, and during the day I drain until just before bed.

Brine

The cheese is now cut into strips around 1 inch thick and placed in a saturated brine.

The Curd strips and then placed in a saturated brine.  A saturated brine has all the salt it can absorb in suspension.  I salt the cheese for around 4-6 hours, any exposed pieces are sprinkled with course salt.

Storing

The cheese is then transferred to a container with around 40% brine and 60% whey.  The container is stored in the fridge and pieces are removed as desired for eating – yum!  The cheese can be stored in the fridge in brine for months, although each batch lasts us around 2 weeks

Texture

The texture of the end feta is influenced by many of the steps taken along the way.  For a smoother “Danish style” feta, I stir the curd less, drain for shorter periods and salt with a less salty brine.

Want to know more?

  • We have been reading Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking by Gianclis Caldwell, Chelsea Green Publishing  (Thanks to our mate Sam Cramer for the lend).
  • We’re looking forward to reading “The Art of Natural Cheesemaking  by David Asher!
  • We have purchased materials and cultures from Teros.eco in Hobart and cheesemaking.com.au
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How To Make Ravioli

Home made ravioli is wonderfully simple. Ignore anyone who tells you that you need fancy equipment or ingredients – seriously. They are not helping you live your best life.

This is how we make ours. 

First we make a pasta dough – read how we do this other really simple process here. 

Pasta dough is simply eggs and flour – these days we use 100% buckwheat flour. 

While the dough’s resting in the fridge we make the filling. This can be pretty much anything you like. For this batch we made the filling from roast pumpkin, goats fetta and wild greens – all from the garden.

Importantly, we whizz the ingredients all up together as this helps them bind and the whole package is less likely to fall apart.

Some people do a meat based filler, others vegan – anything will work as long as it has good moisture content and isn’t too bulky (hence whizzing it up).

Put the mixture to one side while you get the pasta dough back out of the fridge (where it’s been resting for at least 20 mins).

Roll the dough out until its around 2mm thick (or thinner if your dough can handle it). You can roll it through a pasta machine if you have one, or just roll it by hand with a rolling pin (a wine bottle also works brilliantly).

Lay the sheets of pasta out on the table and cut them into rough sections with a butter knife. They don’t have to be exact at all – in fact the roughness of the shapes is part of their beauty.

Next up, put a big teaspoon’s worth of filling onto each section as shown below.

Have a cup of water nearby so you can dip your fingers in and gently moisten the edge of the pasta around the filling – not too much otherwise it’ll desolve into a bad mess.

Then you can fold each pasta section in half and press down the edges with a fork so it binds together – and looks pretty.

Now you’re ready to cook them. Bring a big pot of water to the boil and plop them all in. They’ll automatically sink when you first put them in, once they float (after a few minutes or so), they’re ready, Strain the hot water off them and eat immediately with your favourite tomato or herb sauce.

And that’s it!

Yes, it does take a bit longer than buying instand pasta or ravioli, but the taste will ensure you never go back. Life is too short for crap food.

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