Monday, 20 August 2012

Having Fun with Food

As I mentioned in my last post, we attended a dinner on the weekend which called for us to use local ingredients.  It wasn't a high pressure affair - the request was that our meal 'feature' local ingredients.

Well I threw myself into the challenge!  We always put a bit of thought into trying to reduce our food miles anyway and this was the perfect opportunity for me to test how well I could produce a completely local meal.

I had a ball!  An added benefit was the adventure that I enjoyed while sourcing my food.  Firstly I contacted a vineyard in Trawool.  I know the owner but have not been consuming his wine.  It is a bit more expensive than I would normally buy (I'm a cheap wine gal ) but...... oh my goodness, it is lovely wine!   I used some in the casserole (which I prepared on Friday) and had the discipline to resist tasting the remainder until our Saturday night dinner.  It is certainly a wine I would consider purchasing for a special occasion or as a gift.

When I mentioned to John that I would be posting about my purchases, he said he would offer his wine for $20 per bottle.  He has 2008 Cab Sav or 2010 Shiraz available.  So if you would like to take him up this offer mention this post when you email him.  His email address is

Following that, I purchased our meat at a farmer's market.  I wasn't even aware of this wonderful farm in Clonbinane!  I did know that someone was raising Belted Galloways (rare breed) because we see them as we drive past on the highway, but didn't realise they were selling their meat through farmer's markets.  They sell in Melbourne, Castlemaine, Woodend, Bendigo, Riddells Creek and Lansfield.  It turned out that Hubby knew these folk because his brother used to show Belted Galloways a number of years ago.  Hubby and I decided to visit their farm and it was great!  Pumpkin was keen to see some calves so Allen took us out to the paddock full of Mums and Bubs.

I don't know if you can see it, but the calf on the left has a milk moustache.  Very cute!
We found out that they use every part of the animal 'Nose to Tail'.  Yay!  They even sell some of the manure to Melbourne restaurants with rooftop gardens.  So if you are interested in a sustainable choice for your meat, check out Warialda Beef.  I was a bit in love with the gorgeous hides but forgot to ask how much they were.  I reckon they'd be worth a lot..... but aren't they beautiful!

Warialda Beef also make a lot of traditional smallgoods.  All in all it was a fascinating visit and I was impressed by their ethics and their meat!

I tell you what!  I never enjoy shopping in the big supermarkets AT ALL!  I see them as a necessary evil, hate the marketing hype, packaging etc.  I will be doing more local shopping from here on in because it was FUN!!!

Doesn't this look more fun than shopping with a trolley!
So.......  I ended up with a casserole made with the beef and wine.  I was very pleased (and surprised) to discover that I had enough veggies in the garden to complete the meal.

*Oh my goodness!  This is an addendum!  I forgot to tell you my extra ingredients.  I also used some flour to coat the meat, some paprika and some pepper.  Sorry, didn't mean to pull the wool over your eyes.*

My olive oil is also from a local source.  I buy it at the Black Market.

The night itself was fantastic and the quality and range of food laid out on the tables was incredible.  To top off my night, not only was there food fun but David Holmgren and Su Dennett did a presentation for us on re-localisation of food.  For those who may not know, David is a co-founder of the permaculture movement and is a man of great passion and vision.  There is so much to be learnt from him so have a look at his website.  The comment that most hit home for me was that, even in the supermarkets, it would be great to see people buying the foods that are in season, rather than behaving like 'spoilt brats' and having food such as strawberries carted all the way from Queensland to Victoria.  I love the 'spoilt brat' analogy!  I can imagine some people stamping their feet and demanding what they want, when they want it!

Su is David's partner and has done a lot of work around the re-localisation of food.  She would love to see people buying food near their homes rather than allowing the wasteful process of transport.

If we are to be truly sustainable, we must consider where our food comes from.  Food is the basis of sustainability.  It is the largest area that we waste energy.  Yet it is such a basic need.  It sustains us, keeps us healthy and is such a pleasurable and sociable thing to enjoy.  I loved how just a meal became such a fun journey for me.

I encourage everyone to do a bit of research into the businesses around them.  You'll have so much fun doing it!  I know we will be doing more of this form of shopping in the future and hey, if you read this post and are a local business, send me an email because I'm very interested in who else is around us.

I would just like to add that I am not connected with either of the above businesses but wanted to give them a plug because they were great!


Kathryn Ray said...

What a great discovery with that beef.

I agree with you about the supermarket. I hate shopping there, but right now find it necessary. Though, much less so in the summer. ;-)

farmer_liz said...

Oh wow! I LOVE Belted Galoways, so cute, AND you got to hear from David Holmgren (did you meet him as well??). I wish I could have gone to that dinner!!! Congrats on sourcing all your ingredients and having the vegs in your own garden :) What a wonderful event. I'm always surprised when people bring packets of biscuits to our permie meetings, wonder if they have missed the point... but then I never have time to bake either! If you go back and ask about the hide, can you ask them if they tanned it themselves or if they sent it somewhere? We have been tanning our own and I'm very interested to know what other people do with them. PS still knitting the socks, haven't got the heal yet, slow progress, need to start taking them with me to work on while waiting for things, see if I can get some funny looks too :)

Linn said...

How lucky Linda to hear David and Su speak! I absolutely hate shopping at supermarkets too in fact it makes me cringe at the thought of going but there are some things that I can't source from anywhere else. I am always on the lookout for produce that is local. Some fruit and veg is available and beef but I can't seem to find a local dairy.
Love the sound of a community getting together for a local dinner. Wish we could have something like that here.

purplepear said...

Sounds wonderful Linda and as you said so much nicer than supermarket shopping. We are trying to get to our local Farmers Market a little more often. We picked up cheese, avocados and apples on the weekend. Wonderful.

Busy mum of 3 said...

That sounds wonderful Linda!

Linda said...

Sorry guys! I'm halfway through dinner and just realised I left out the non-local ingredients. I've made the changes in the post and I'll be back later when I get a chance!

Lois said...

I need to do something like that here. We eat plenty of local foods, but don't make a point of specifically requesting a meal be from local sources. My oldest son just bought his first home for his family and will be putting in a garden, in addition to what I grow we should be able to make plenty of meals for the family of fresh foods. For now we supplement with the farmer's markets where the little ones eagerly await being able to attend each week. It's now their favorite place to go.

Linda said...

Hi Kathryn, I'm with you on the supermarket shopping. I'm so glad spring is on the way because, you're right, it is so much easier when you have variety.

Hi Liz, I know. Aren't they gorgeous! I was lucky enough to do my PDC with David as one of the speakers so I've enjoyed a few talks by him. They just salted the hides, then sent them somewhere for processing. Oh yes, must tell you about that heel before I forget what I did. Will get to that soon? Are they going ok so far?

Hi Linn, Yes I know how you feel. We dream of our own milk but the time is not right for us yet. Good on you for checking out local sources.

Hi Kate, I loved the whole process. Our farmer's market is a lovely day out but I often impulse buy because I get carried away with the atmosphere. Pumpkin came home with a $25 beanie after the last market! I know THAT wasn't on my list!

It was great Busy Mum. (Can't believe I don't know your name after all this time!) I had a wonderful time and felt like it was how life should be.

Hi Lois, Between the farmer's markets and your family's green thumbs I imagine you'll be eating heaps of local food. Isn't it great when little ones love the markets. Two of mine hate going but Pumpkin, at five, never misses one.