This photo is the perfect representation of the winter months, dark, cold and mysterious. A time for bringing warmth to the core of our body to help us manage the colder weather. Any northern hemisphere reader might scoff, thinking that Australia never gets that cold. It is all relative and the 17˚C in my room today see’s me bundled up beside the heater!
I made Oden yesterday, Japan’s answer to winter warming nourishment; eaten on the icy winter streets and in bars. For those who have a copy, there is a recipe for this fabulous dish, in my cookbook Nourish. It is a very simple broth with these ingredients at least, mirin and tamari, kombu, shiitake mushrooms, daikon, carrots and tofu; all long slow simmered into a deeply delicious meal. This broth looks somewhat like the photo above, unfathomable, watery and dark.
In Chinese 5 element theory winter is a representation of the water element, dark red and black, saltiness and it is the season that requires we give attention to our water organs, the kidneys and the bladder. Cooking styles that best suit the season include long slow simmering, braising roasting sauteeing and preserving. It’s a great time for the slow cooker, the stock pot and the oven but dont forget, and I suspect you wont, we all love something sweet to eat and winter provides us some fabulous fruits. The quince above were transformed from rock hard yellow to meltingly soft, deep red sweetness by long slow simmering with only a very small amount of maple syrup. They were dense and toothsome. Top tip… just cut them in half and wait to core them after they have cooked. This makes it very easy to extract the hard core without leaving any behind and it saves the risk of a knife wound.
The recipe for these is included in my Refresh, Restore & Nourish in Winter 4 evening or 4 day course. The course provides the fundamental skills of cooking in this season with many supportive easy winter recipes and a menu plan that offers a broad range of breakfasts, lunches dinners and snacks. I ran this course in Rozelle a couple of weeks ago and got the following fabulous feedback.
Zoe said… Thanks for a great 4 days of cooking, eating and learning. I’m just about to qualify as a Naturopath and found 4 days with you to be more valuable and useable than all the nutrition classes I’ve done! You make it real- let food be our medicine, and medicine be our food.
Gabriella offered this…”Thank you again for such a wonderful four days of learning, cooking and discussions. You left me wishing I could bring you home and tuck you away in my kitchen. The amount of knowledge you have on eating nourishing, seasonal foods and healing with whole foods is incredible and I only wished we could have had more time.
I am running this course again, over 4 Tuesday evenings starting tomorrow, Tuesday 12th June, in Bilgola. There are a few places for the quick and keen. Send me an email asap if you want a spot. I will be running it in Melbourne at The Green Grocer in Fitzroy North, at the end of July. Please help me spread the news to Victoria. More details of this and this months Capturing Cultures classes and more can be found here
cacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacacaca These crab apples, opportunistically gathered after a catering job in Bowral, were way too sour to be edible when picked but with a slow simmer, the addition of a little spice and sweetness they have become deep red ‘roadside crab apple jelly’ which will last the winter long and beyond, though I have gifted half of it to friends already!
Here’s what I did, so you can too. There is something deeply satisfying about producing food from ‘found’ ingredients.
Recipe for roadside crab apple jelly
3 kilos fruit, washed but otherwise untouched, tipped into a large stew pan
covered in cold water and brought to a gentle simmer, pop in a split vanilla bean and a couple of cinnamon quills
simmered until the apples soften, about 30-40 minutes
the fruit and liquid are poured into a colander lined with two or three layers of muslin, over a large pot. Don’t press the fruit, allow it to strain overnight
Measure the juice and add the pulp to the compost
use 500gms light muscovado sugar or raw sugar per litre
simmer the juice and sugar until the temperature reaches 105˚C at this point it will gel beautifully
contain in sterile glass jars, cool and pour a layer of liquid bees wax over the jelly to seal, lid and store until you are ready to use- i’ll give you 3 hours max…
Something new. Exploring Winter Wellness Workshop. Yoga by Gwynne Jone, food by Holly Davis
Where I have been, a request and an offer; to celebrate the tawny colour, sweet flavour, crisp air and round ground fruits of Autumn
A month ago family needs sent me rushing back to London. As a result I had to postpone the March 29 Capturing Cultures class. My thanks to those of you that had booked and paid for this class for your understanding and flexibility. New dates are online now, see the May-September tab and let me know which dates suit you best.
In London I was met by blue skies, crisp air and warm loving arms. Twenty eight years in Australia, with most trips back over Christmas, caused me to forget the thrill of Springtime in the Uk. I was surprised and delighted by the effect a little sunshine has on the British public, while I layered up with cashmere, scarves, a borrowed coat and boots, London folk stripped off and got about in summer frocks and sandles and the news was of trips to the beach to enjoy the heatwave of 20˚C! I squeezed in a few fine foody experiences, the quality of food in England has changed, so much for the better. Good food, real food is on offer all over the country. Artisan producers abound and I was thrilled by some fantastic produce. I went to this fantastic winebar under the railway arches in Maltby Street, Bermondsey in London’s east end, this is a neighbourhood to visit and watch for fab food and excellent ales.
I also visited The Welbeck School Of Artisan Food on The Welbeck Estate in Nottinghamshire this is an extraordinarily well set up cooking school where traditional baking, cheese making and butchery are taught. I went to suggest that they might like to have me visit next year, as a guest, to teach the art of lacto fermented foods and drinks. There are also small producers on the estate making Stichelton cheese, this is similar to Stilton which comes from this area of England but Stilton is no longer produced from raw milk, Stichelton is and I can tell you it is damn fine cheese. The Welbeck brewery produces a small range of excellent ales too which are sold locally.
Now I am returned to the delights of Pittwater in Autumn, my favourite season here, where skies are brilliant blue, the water is crystaline and it seems to me now, as I gaze at the beach and many eucalypts, that everything has been outlined with a 4B pencil.
Growing Healthy Children Seminar was opened by a potent totem to remind us all how exciting life can be!
The Growing Healthy Children Seminar was declared a huge success. Over a hundred participants came to hear Dr Rosalba Courtney, Jude Blereau and me speak at Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School. It proved to be an excellent venue, albeit that the wildlife moved in on the action as we were about to get started. A beautiful green tree snake wound its way into a camera bag at the front of the room and after I asked everyone to move away, it was resptfully returned to the bush.
During the afternoon Dr Rosalba Courtney from Breath and Body Osteopathic and Natural Health Clinic discussed the fundamentals of growing a healthy child, including the difference it makes for children to have a secure parental bond, attention paid to correct breathing patterns, the immense and theraputic effect of time spent in nature and much more. Jude Blereau from Wholefood Cooking covered what, how and when to feed children, with food that will heal nourish and delight them and I expounded on the virtues of lacto fermented foods, what they are, how to include them and ‘hide’ them, some of the variations on the theme available to us and of course, I encouraged everyone to come to one of my in depth classes, to learn how to easily and safely make their own range of fermented foods. Check out latest programme on the Classes May to September page.
For those who prefer to purchase these therapeutic vitals, we had Dominic Angelucci there, to sell his just launched ‘Life In a Jar’ Organic cultured vegetables. These were offered as part of our afternoon tea and soon sold out after that. Keep an eye out for them, Feather and Bone are a stockist.
Honest to Goodness provided us with fabulous helpers and offered some of their most relevant dry goods for sale. Our heartfelt thanks To Karen and Matt for their ongoing efforts in supplying Sydney with clean wholesome foods and to Lilli, Lauren and Emma for their work on the day.
A Request and an offer
If you have not yet liked my facebook page please would you? I am out to spread news of great whole food, whole food ingredients and of course my latest wholefood cooking class program
For new FB Likes this month, I will email you a delicious recipe. Just email me your preference for pumpkin, walnuts or chestnuts, or that you like them all? I will send you back the recipe that reflects your choice.
These ingredients grow together and certainly go together deliciously. Pumpkins below, fit for several feasts, well grown by my friends Antonio and Camilla who run Olive Green Organics. Chestnuts and walnuts collected by me at the beautiful Kookatonga Nut Farm in Mt Irvine in the Blue Mountains.
Put a trip there in your diary for next March.
“Bacteria are not germs, but the germinators – and fabric – of all life on earth… In declaring war on them we declared war on the underlying living structure of the planet – on all life-forms we can see – on ourselves”– Stephen Harrod Buhner The Lost Language of Plants
Lacto fermented foods are extraordinary and they have the power to restore to us rude health! These live life enhancing foods and drinks foods have been a passion of mine for many years now. My interest in Macrobiotic philosophy and food led me to start fermenting things back when I was just 14 years old! That’s a good long relationship with good bugs. My first cultures were Japanese Takuan radish pickles that stank and jars of miso and then there was a dairy kefir ‘plant’ I got from my cousin Greg. He christened his S.C.O.B.Y, that’s a Symbiotic Collection Of Bacteria and Yeasts ‘Jim’ he gave me what became and still is known to me ‘son of Jim’. Along the way, there have been intense periods of regular contact and periods when son of Jim has spent time dormant, in the freezer. When I am culturing using son of Jim I get a fresh, drinking style yoghurt that provides a wide range of beneficial probiotic bacteria and yeasts and I can also use him to turn sweet coconut water into a refreshing effervescent mineral rich drink. I can use the dairy kefir product as a drink or turn it into fresh cheese and even a very delicious all raw, all food cheesecake! I now grow a range of scobys, I have a Kombucha ‘mother’ which thrives on green, black red and or white tea and raw sugar, water kefir which produces a fabulous sparkling gingery drop. With these helpers at home I always have the makings of other fermented foods, using the product itself or by utilising whey from my dairy scoby. These can be used to make, amongst many other things, digestible nutritious deliciously light pancakes, pikelets, muffins and fruit compotes and vegetable pickles and by employing their probiotic powers they can be used to turn otherwise hard to digest foods into faster cooking,digestible nourishment.
There is something quite magical about vegetable pickles where you take a fresh ingredient and turn it into what equates to medicinal food; using naught but itself and a little salt.
I am including an article I wrote for Notebook magazine it might be of interest and could encourage you to get friendly with fermented foods. This month I have 2 classes I call ‘Capturing Cultures, get the good bugs’ where these foods can be seen and tasted and you learn the what, why and how of growing them safely and inexpensively at home.
Read my article on Probiotcs, written for Notebook magazine
Our Sourdough christmas cake is still on offer, with tea of course, to welcome in this new year. May yours be as deliciously, naturally sweet and nutty. I am currently unlaxing in Northern NSW, home of the macadamia, it’s beyond beautiful here, the perfect place to rest and remember the value of time alone. Yesterday I walked through rainforest to a secluded beach a few bays from Byron, but with 5 people to Byron’s 5000! On the way I ate a fabulous breakfast at Harvest a charming cafe offering excellent local produce made with care. All the staff were unusually committed to offering fantastic service; with warm smiles, this is not common in these relaxed, hippy environs. Harvest is at the site of the old Newrybar bakery, which was once run by my friend and sourdough baking teacher John Downes. I made my sourdough leaven in his class in 1983 and I share it with all who come to my baking classes; it makes extraordinarily fine fare. I have some dates to finalise before posting my next term of Sydney classes, apologies to those who are keen to make bookings. I am teaching a two day Sourdough Bread, Pastry, Biscuits and Cake Baking Workshop in Brisbane at Mondo Organics March 24th and 25th, bookings via their site. If you have friends or associates in Queensland who might like to come to this class, please help me spread the word. What whole food cooking classes and workshops would you like this year? I will be teaching in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth and I am hatching a plan to be teaching classes in the UK mid year. I have added a Like me on facebook button, Like away please!
Please respect Copyright Holly Davis, these notes and recipe are for personal use only
Why might you make and eat lacto fermented foods?
The lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli preserves the vegetables or fruits and increases their digestibility. This also puts beneficial microorganisms in the digestive tract, which promotes the growth of healthy digestive flora throughout the intestine. This aids digestion and the absorption of other nutrients.
The fermentation process can increase the vitamin levels by as much as 100 times!
Useful enzymes are produced in this process.
Antibiotic and anticarcinogen substances may also be created.
Eating a little fermented food with every meal can aid digestion, particularly of fats.
Eating lacto fermented foods can also reduce the desire for refined sugars.
Oh and they taste fabulous and are a great meal enhancer!
Here is the basic recipe to lacto ferment vegetables
There are many variables when making these foods, always begin with the best quality freshest foods and avoid contaminants.
To make a batch of pickles you will need:
A good board and very sharp knife and / or a food processor with vegetable chopping attachments
Sterile glass jars with airtight lids.
Fresh vegetables clean and dry, chop according to your preference. Root vegetables and cabbages are ideal but softer veg can also pickle well.
Celtic Sea salt approximately 1% of total weight of the vegetables. (If you prefer not to use any salt make sure you add the whey or culture. The presence of the salt prevents putrefying bacteria growing while the beneficial bacteria increase their numbers) personally I prefer the flavour with salt.
Lemon zest is a favourite addition of mine, finely sliced
Spices of your choosing (optional) i.e.chilli, cumin, coriander, fennel seeds.
Home made whey, to introduce lacto bacillus more consistently and rapidly.
Plantarum bacteria culture (‘Culture’ is available from Donna Gates Body Ecology Stockists online at www.bodyecology.com )
Or my preferred method : With no addition of a culture, allowing for the capture of organisms present in your kitchen. Often this works well and occasionally you might lose a batch due to having caught some putrefying bacteria. (You will know if this has happened because your pickle will smell awful and possibly also have become slimy, there is no danger you will want to try them!)
Lacto fermented vegetables can be kept many months when stored correctly and in a cool dark place.
Red Cabbage lemon and ginger pickles
Copyright Holly Davis
1 large fresh organic red cabbage, sliced finely
1 knob organic ginger, grated
1 organic lemon, zest only
Sea salt (1% of total weight of cabbage)
Chop the vegetables
Add the salt and rub in a loving but vigorous manner; until the cabbage has released plenty of liquid
Mix very well with the other ingredients
Contain completely covered in liquid in sterile glass jars, push vegetables down firmly so they are tightly packed and covered in their own juices
Ensure there is a good 5cms between the top of the vegetables and liquid and the lid of the jar as they expand a little during fermentation.
Lid tightly and leave on the kitchen bench 4-7 days depending on the weather. 18-20˚C is ideal (fermentation takes longer when the weather is cold)
The mix will bubble and if you were to open it, it would smell rather unpleasant for the first few days, don’t open the jars now as the process is anaerobic and oxygen at this stage may cause them to spoil. With red cabbage you will notice it turn from purple to bright pink, this is due to the action of the acid produced by the lacto bacteria.
On about day 5 you can place the pickles in the fridge and store there as you use them. Be sure to use only spotless utensils so you dont contaminate the mix.
The flavours continue to develop over several months but these can be eaten any time after the fermentation process has completed, say around 5 days
Note re something course participants are often confused by: Lacto bacillus are not dairy food; though they grow happily in milk products. Lactose is the sugar in dairy food it is not present in lacto fermented vegetables unless you add a dairy product such as whey.
Summer in Australia is bejewelled with cherries. Christmas cake, upcoming classes, Christmas catering and probiotic cultures
Naturally leavened Christmas cake in the making, one for tomorrows class and one for the pantry.
If you are keen and very quick, there is a place in my Sourdough baking, including cake class tomorrow November 6th. The class is being held in a private home, an intimate event with only 6 participants and lots of time to get your baking questions answered. It runs from 11-4 at Coaster retreat, access is by ferry from Palm Beach wharf, give me a call if you are interested to join us. I ran this class while in Perth last and it was a massive success. Using a natural sourdough leaven and slow fermentation ensures that the delicious sweetness of organic fruit is supported by the most digestible organic flour. My Chistmas cake gets its light, moist texture and rich flavour from the addition of Coopers stout and a little unpasteurised white miso!
The November 9th class, Quick Spring Delights; wholefood meals in 20 minutes is full to bursting. Jude Blereau was just here in Sydney, lucky us, she coined this The Little Black Dress Class!– Due to the rush of interest Michele and I have opened a new date for this same class on Wednesday November 30th from 11am-3pm, cost $125. Michele’s Balmoral address is provided after booking. Places are already being snapped up so if your interested or know someone who might be, please contact email@example.com at your earliest convenience.
Christmas Catering I have already taken a few bookings for Catering jobs leading up to Christmas. You might like to consider having me cook you a range of delicious wholefood canastables for stocking your festive fridge. If you are planning events prior to December 20th or during January please be in touch soon, to assist me in planning and to avoid disappointment. Here are a few ideas for the sorts of things that keep well, which I could deliver to you to make your Christmas delicious and a little easier. Beluga lentil salad with assorted mushrooms, Gravlax King fish (a more sustainable and healthier option than farmed salmon), Organic Mushroom and chicken liver pate, Organic cucumber, ginger and mint salad, Star anise and ginger roasted organic pork neck for slicing cold, Mirin and vanilla poached organic summer fruits, Gin and orange pickled organic cherries-these are fantastic with cold meats or summer fish dishes, Cultured organic red cabbage pickles, Organic Kim chi pickles, and of course an organic Chrissy cake and so much more… The price for such home delivered treats? The food costs plus $70 an hour to shop, cook and depending on your location, to deliver.
I have Probiotic cultures and cultured vegetables for sale too, these are fabulous to have on hand to prepare your digestive system for the festive times ahead and to aid recovery afterwards. I have Kombucha, dairy kefir and water kefir SCOBy’s, to give away if you come to Palm Beach or for sale when posted to you. I charge $25 for one $35 for two or more; they come with instructions for maintaing them. I also make and sell a range of cultured vegetables which make a fabulous addition to many meals, these valuable foods help to reduce sugar cravings whilst also supplying vast amounts of beneficial bacteria, vitamins and live enzymes. Red cabbage, lemon and ginger is a favourite of mine. I will post the basic recipe for making your own soon. Many people who have not been to a Capturing Cultures Class, and actually also many who have, prefer to buy these pickles; rather than make their own. The cost when collected is $25 per 750 mls glass jar or $40 per 2 litre glass jar. It isn’t difficult to make these pickles but many folk fear the B word!
Lightness of being and stunning light itself makes Spring into Summer a glorious time. Enjoy every moment…
Winter on Pittwater is beyond glorious. We spent a lovely sunny day with our friend Lucienne and her generous mother Cherie at Cherie’s home in the bush. It is a short ferry ride from our home to hers but it feels like a world away, no cars to be seen or heard in this stunning, boat access only, bay. It was a day of shared cooking, festivating and feasting together with visits from unexpected and opportunistic diners and tea drinking friends. A day that reminded us all of the pleasure it is to be alive and able to share our selves. It certainly helped that Cherie’s home is exquisite and that every direction you look your eyes are met with beauty, be it a tray of sparklingly clean glasses, a wall of fine art, her Chinese red leather chair or beautifully framed outlooks onto nature, days like these make me very grateful for life and loved ones.
A native Firewheel tree provided these spectacular flowers and since the bush abounds with ravenous wallabies, possums, bush rats and goanna fruiting shrubs must be contained; hence the beautiful bird cages. Below are a few of Cherie’s beautiful botanic watercolours and her colourful palette.
Lucienne and I took to the kitchen and while she made silky linguine India and I made side dishes. Together we cooked cockles and muscles alive alivo and the meal was delightfully shared.
This insistent goanna muscled in too and caused a fair bit of a stir before the sun began to sink and it was time to pack up, return the shells to the water and take tea on the deck and a boat ride home.
Photo © Cloudy Rhodes
A maturing free ranging cockerel offers deeper flavour and a coarser texture than a hen, it makes for a superb flavoursome meal. Cook in plenty of good stock for extra flavour and sound nutrition. The acidity of the wine also helps to soften the meat and sinews while the low temperature and a long time cooking ensure the meat is not too dry or tough. I like to cook this dish in a roomy enamelled casserole pot, it makes the perfect stove to table ‘one pot’ winter meal. A ceramic (lead free) slow cooker is another option.
3 tablespoons ghee or duck fat
1 truly free range cockerel, rinsed and well dried inside and out
12 eschalots, peeled
1 head purple, new seasons garlic, peeled
4 carrots, in bite size wedges
1 fennel cut in wedges
1 cob of corn kernels (optional)
1 large leek, cut in medium dice and then well washed
10 white peppercorns
½ bunch thyme
½ bunch flat leaf parsley
2 bay leaves
1 bottle of biodynamic shiraz
1.5 litres gelatinous chicken stock (check seasoning before adding salts)
Sea salt and or fish sauce, to taste, this dish cooks a long time and the liquids reduce so don’t over season at the start, adjust towards the end
Add lots of freshly chopped thyme and flat leaf parsley at the end of cooking
Heat the cooking pot and add the fat
Sauté the eshallots until they are starting to brown all over
Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes
Turn these into a bowl and set aside, put the pot back on the stove
Brown and seal the cockerel then sit it breast bone up
Add back the eschallots and garlic and the remaining ingredients
Bring to a gentle simmer
Turn the heat down, place a lid on the pot and simmer very gently for 2-2½ hrs
The meat will be falling from the bones
Remove and discard the cooked herbs and add the fresh
Serve with plenty of the cooking liquor, barely wilted greens and boiled kipfler potatoes,
naturally fermented (cultured) vegetables and a glass of delicious red wine
Give thanks for the bird that feeds you so well
I am moving slowly and it seems that Easter came and went too quickly and so these beautiful eggs hang before me still, to be enjoyed a few more days. I spent lots of easter cooking, not a great surprise to any who know me. I spent time cooking for us and for friends and did a wonderful catering job that challenged my ‘real’ foodiness. The menu included four dozen freshly shucked Pacific oysters, three Eastern rock lobsters; hand picked on Saturday and killed on Sunday, and three rock cod that were speared at Palm Beach in the morning and brought to me to kill. By days end I was done with death and chose to use the experience to take note of and value the life I am surrounded by. Once dispatched the lobsters were halved and cleaned the meat loosened from the tails and tarragon butter poured beneath them before they were placed to grill on the barbeque and served in the shell, there were plenty of happy noises and not a morsel to discard later and so, I think they were appreciated and did not die in vain. At home the fare was simpler cooked at low temperature for longer, which suits this season and the produce on hand.
This slow cooked Potti Morran pumpkin made a memorable and delicious meal. I stuffed it with lamb mince I cooked with quinoa and pomegranate molasses. Antonio, who features in my last post inspired the filling and he and Camilla grew the pumpkin. Look out for small dense fleshed pumpkins to fill with whatever delicious thing you can think of. I have made them with a filling similar to the Millet recipes from a previous post and mushrooms are seasonal and go wonderfully with pumpkin. It works best to rub the outside of the pumpkin with a little duck fat or ghee, cut the base so it will sit flat on a baking tray, cut off a lid and remove all the seeds. Spoon in a fairly wet, pre-cooked meat, vegetable or grain based filling, replace the lid and pour a little stock or water into the baking tray, cover loosely with foil and bake at 140C for an hour or two, depending on size. Remove the foil and continue to bake until a small sharp knife passes easily through the flesh at its thickest point. Rest a few minutes, transfer to a platter remove the lid and sprinkle with freshly shucked pomegranate and lots of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley. This is a truly Autumn offering that will help keep out the chill. Then there is the Coq au Vin recipe I promised you…
I turned Camilla’s gift of one of her much loved cockerels into my version of a Coq au Vin. The secret to delectability here is lots of good organic red wine and thyme and time and looong low slow cooking. A free ranged cockerel whose time has come, is quite a different beast to the young chooks we are used to buying. The meat is stringy and much drier and so the wine provides more than its delicious flavour, it helps to soften the sinews and ensures it does not dry out, adding lots of eshallots and sweet root vegetables also adds great texture and flavour and the addition of a litre or two of gelatinous stock ensures fabulous, easily digested nutrition. You may wonder, why eat a stringy older bird, when sweet juicy hens abound, its all about the amazing flavour and fabulous texture and making the most out of a life well lived scratching in the dirt. Since you may not have a cockerel to use, you can make this with a regular chook, reduce the cooking time to an hour and a half but none the less, keep it low and slow and serve some fresh raw fermented foods and a lightly simmered side dish to ensure there are plenty of live enzymes to aid digestion of the fats and proteins in the dish.
I’ll post a recipe for this dish…soon, in the meantime I am off to spend four days with 11 women at Seal Rocks. There will no doubt be tails to tell.
The photo’s above were taken by my much loved friend Cloudy Rhodes. Cloudy is a well recognised surfing talent and an up and coming young photographer. Clouds has a delicate yet quirky eye and many of her photos express a painterly sensibility I love. Watch her space at http://cloudyrhodes.tumblr.com We spent a lovely day shooting a range of dishes; the results will be available soon.
Oh and who is coming to class? I have a fabulous sourdough baking class coming up May 22nd in Bondi, see Bondi Programme tab to the right here. Please tell whoever you feel might like to know how to make and active leaven so that this ‘No Knead Fruit loaf’ is at their fingertips and so much more besides, naturally leavened cakes and pastry to eat with divine cultured cream and ….
In my book, growing real organic wholefood and friendship go hand in hand. It takes tenacity and hard work to grow real food but the rewards are many fold. I count my daughter and I incredibly fortunate to have such foodie friends, whom we adore, who are committed to growing free range organic food, at home in the country. ‘The country’ fits the Sussex like area they live, where hills roll and European trees proliferate, this is not really ‘the bush’. We spent a fabulous wet weekend prior to Easter, at Glenquarry, a magnificent rural haven; not far from Bowral, two and a half hours from home. Antonio Ramos and Camilla Mahony are the proprietors of ‘Olive Green Organics’ their life is about providing Australians with the best packaged organic produce,sourced in Italy and South America. They sell many great products including the best gluten free pasta I have ever tried and traditionally farmed high altitude Quinoa and Amaranth from the Irupana collective in Bolivia. They and their truly divine nippies Paloma and Maximo live on the land in harmony with the elements growing most of their fresh food. This family is committed to developing nourishing soil in and on which to raise nutrient rich produce, to feed themselves and many of their friends. Maximo and Paloma are learning about respect for life and death and real food through their inclusion in everything it takes to grow your own. These are happy free roaming children who are a delight to be with, they are well nourished with love and the best the land can offer. All the animals growing here are destined for the pot, in their right season but while they live, they are much loved and carefully tended.
In the past couple of years we have cooked and feasted on incomparable home grown pig, sheep, duck,cockerel and a wide assortment of vibrant mineral rich vegetables. On this Autumn visit, we came home with large Queensland blue and French heirloom Potti Marron pumpkins, onions, carrots, eggplants, fat bunches of just picked herbs, yacon (a South American tuber to eat raw or cooked) and a Cockerel; not much makes me happier than having fine produce to create with. Antonio and Camilla share the many tasks but it seems to me, he is lord of the four legged beasties, Henry the dog and the soil, while Camilla devotes her time to raising the two legged creatures including the most fabulous collection of heritage breed ducks and poultry, however, the lines of work are fluid. Camilla is breeding poultry with function as her goal, there are 40 or more chooks and we were fortunate to arrive the week 14 young cockerels met their maker and thus the cooking pot, that was a delicious sadness, pics of a most delicious Coq au Vin to come.
Camilla’s free ranged chooks provide eggs in the extraordinary array of colours, seen in the photo below. The grey blue birds are Arucana they lay the light blue egg, this breed, like Antonio, hails from Chile. I am sure Antonio’s heritage is a contributing factor in his magnanimous come one, come all, lets eat together nature. Camilla quietly embraces and engages the many and ensures peace and order have a home too, they are a special family and India and I always leave with full hearts and fuller stomachs. Together we all cook and chat and plant and reap and laugh and walk and bake and cook and eat… This trip we ate hot cross buns from ‘Flour, Water, Salt’ Bowral’s Sourdough bakery, definitely worth a detour to go here where the bread and cakes reflect someones careful attention and passion. We made a range of delicious meals that included one of the Potti Marron pumpkins stuffed with home grown minced pork, garlic, onions and whatever else it was Antonio added to what he called his ‘porkognese’, this dish inspired me to make something similar when I got home but I used lamb and pomegranate in mine, photos will follow. These pumpkins have a dense flesh, they are not very sweet but they are totally delicious and look gorgeous. India and I made a fig and chestnut tart and Camilla wowed us all with her cockerel casserole and roasted rack of home produced lamb. I left them with a monster loaf of freshly baked sourdough bread, which Antonio told me he was still eating a week on. Above are photos of the poultry, the magnificent French ‘Moran’ cockerel is top left, his feather footed missus lays the chocolate brown eggs below, on his right is a Dutch Barnevelder chicken, she lays the medium brown breakky. The ‘Silver Laced Wyandotte’ is an American breed, she lays the cream coloured eggs. The white eggs belong to the large showy five toed, top-knotted French heritage Houdan, she refused a photo; the French once considered Houdan to be the best birds for eating, today they are mostly bred for their looks. It seems then that egg colour has to do with breed, not feed as I had previously thought. These impressive looking eggs are all utterly delicious. I am keen for my own heritage breed chickens but for now I make do with tending my neighbours two free roaming Isa browns, reliable layers who provide us with a delightfully brown egg each, each day they are away. Collecting eggs from free ranging hens is somewhat like finding hidden treasure and is, I believe, a pleasure not to be missed by anyone. That eggs from truly free ranging hens are also a perfectly balanced package of easily digested nutrients makes them a gift of nature not to be taken for granted.