Seasonal Produce

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There are many good reasons to eat what is in season where possible.  Food miles are reduced if you eat local seasonal produce.  It is more likely to have been picked ripe and have better flavour.  An abundance of a particular crop will invariably see the best prices for the consumer.

Most of all though, if you only eat items that are in season you will appreciate the wait for those crops which only bear at a particular time of the year.  Like the first sweet bite of a new season mandarin.  In our climate we pick fruit from our mandarin tree during June and July which are our winter months.

Once the fruit are ripening I have to cover the tree to protect the fruit from the local scrub turkeys.

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You can also see one of the orange trees next to the netted mandarin.

This afternoon I removed the netting and picked the last of the fruit.

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We have picked a lot of mandarins over the past month or so but these are the last 30 of them.

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We will savour these fruit as we know it will be another 10 months before the next crop is ripe.  In the meantime, there will be plenty more seasonal delights as the months roll by.  Imagine if I could eat these all the year round.  They would no longer be anticipated longingly and the delight of that first burst of delicious flavour would soon become ho-hum.

We are fortunate because we live in a temperate climate so many crops can successfully be grown during most months of the year.  However, seasonality still exists for the citrus trees, raspberries, mangoes, passionfruit and avocadoes.

What is in season at your place?

This was our glorious winter day here today.  No, it has not been photoshopped – the sky really is that blue.

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Something from the Garden

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Back to one of my favourite topics – eating what is in season.

Last night we had salmon for dinner.  While the salmon is not strictly local, it does come from Australian waters.  It is farmed in the clear water of the Huon River estuary in southern Tasmania.  The salmon could hardly be considered a budget meal as it costs about $10 for enough for 2 serves.  We always barbeque the salmon and season it with a little salt and some lime juice to enhance the flavour.

Dinner
I served it with pumpkin mash, stir-fried pak choy, balsamic roasted cherry tomatoes and avocado slices.  I poured some of the balsamic/tomato juice over the salmon as a glaze to finish it off.  All of these ingredients came from our garden so you can’t get much more seasonal or local than that.  It also means that a meal of salmon is quite a reasonable price.  What would you pay in a restaurant for a meal like this? $30 – $35 perhaps?

Not every meal contains as much of our own garden produce but I do try to include it as much as possible.  Tonight we are having pizza which will be spread with mango chutney (made from the neighbour’s mangoes) instead of tomato paste and have balsamic roasted pumpkin as the main topping.

We have had a bumper harvest of pumpkins this year so I am constantly looking for creative ideas to use them.  As well as the ubiquitous pumpkin soup, pumpkin mash and being used on pizza topping I have also made some pumpkin scones recently.

What do you have a glut of?  Do you have any pumpkin suggestions?

Tomato Day

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It was nothing like ‘Tomato Day’ as described in the novel, “Looking for Alibrandi” but The Duke and I had our own mini version when we cut up 5.5kg of tomatoes yesterday.

A couple of weeks ago I asked at the local fruit stall if they had any cooking/sauce tomatoes as I wanted to make tomato sauce.  After some discussion it was agreed that they would try to get some from the market if there were any available and let me know.  I had not heard anything so I asked again when we went yesterday to buy our weekly supply of fruit and vegetables.  B then presented me with a box of assorted over-ripe tomatoes which had been sorted from the regular ones rather than specifically purchased.  These were then given to me as they would otherwise have been thrown out.

Back at home, we only had to discard 3 or 4 that were completely rotten and the rest were chopped up and placed in bags in the freezer.  I simply do not have the time to make sauce this week in the lead-up to Christmas and holidays so they can stay in the freezer until I have time to make the sauce.

This is an example of the benefits of eating seasonal produce and also supporting and getting to know your small, local retailer.  I could not imagine this scenario happening at my local Coles or Woolworths supermarket.

Friday Favourites – Zucchini Quiche

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A friend gave this recipe to me nearly 30 years ago.  It seems to be commonplace now but at the time it was a real novelty.  I use it for main meals, packed lunches and finger food depending on the the serving size of the pieces.  The ability to serve it either hot or cold just adds to the versatility.

ZUCCHINI QUICHE

350-400g zucchini, grated
1 cup grated cheese
1 onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup self-raising flour
¼ cup oil
5 eggs
Black pepper for seasoning

2012-01-20 01Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and combine.  Spread in an ovenproof dish and bake for approximately 45 minutes at 180 degrees.

2012-01-20 02HINTS & MODIFICATIONS

2012-01-20 03I love this recipe for several reasons.  It allows me to make use of the things we produce – eggs, zucchini and onion.  The recipe is one of the most forgiving and versatile ones I have come across.  At various times I have used 1 less egg, substituted milk for 1/2 of the oil, used up to 100 g more or less of zucchini, substituted half of the zucchini for other vegetables such as grated carrot, diced capsicum or corn kernels.  The results may not be perfect but it is definitely edible.

The quiche is usually served with salad here, but the options are almost endless.

2012-01-20 04I am pleased to say that all of the salad is home-grown except for the capsicum.  The eggs, zucchini and onion are also home-grown and even the oil I used is local avocado oil.

Please let me know if you are inspired to try this recipe if you are not already familiar with it.  I trust that you will enjoy the results as much as we do.

The Ones That Got Away

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Yesterday I ventured down to the vegetable gardens and found these zucchini.  At 1.8kg and 2.8kg they could certainly be regarded as the ones that got away.

2012-01-15 01The photograph shows them beside the food processor which gives an indication of the size of them.

In keeping with my previous post, there was no way I was going to waste them so I cut them up and and scooped the seeds out.  I then cut them into manageable pieces and fed them through the food processor with the grater attachment.  Since the skin is fairly tough on these large zucchini it did not grate particularly well but my work still yielded 8 x 400 g packs of grated zucchini in ziplock bags ready to freeze.

2012-01-15 02These are now packed away in the freezer, ready for use.  I make zucchini quiche/slice which works perfectly well with previously frozen zucchini.  I also add it to bolognaise sauce and lasagne.

I will post the recipe for the Zucchini Slice on Friday in Friday Favourites.

What do you do when you have a glut of a particular fruit or vegetable?

Frugal and Fancy

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Today I want to share a recipe with you.  It is for a dessert – Passionfruit Flummery.  I decided to make it today since I bought a bag of 20 passionfruit for $2 at the market yesterday.  That is 10c each – I could not believe my luck!  They are large fruit, full of tasty pulp.

I hunted out my trusty recipe folder and found this recipe which has been passed down to me from my mother.  I have made it several times over the years – usually for a special occasion dessert.  I remember having this dessert as a treat when I was a child.  What I did not realise was that it is frugal and relies on seasonal produce.  What a perfect way to impress your guests and keep within a reasonable budget.  Unfortunately, I do not have a dinner party coming up so it will be a dessert treat for The Duke and I which will last all week.

FRUIT FLUMMERY

INGREDIENTS

2 oranges
6 passionfruit

½ lemon
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 dessertspoon gelatine

1 cup sugar
2 cups water

METHOD
Squeeze the oranges and lemon, remove pulp from passionfruit.  Place in a jug and set aside.  Mix flour and gelatine with water in a saucepan, add citrus peel (chopped) and sugar.  Bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes.  Strain through a colander to remove the peels, add juice and pulp and allow to cool.  Beat until stiff and frothy – about 20 minutes.  Place in a glass bowl in refrigerator to set.

I beat the mixture using my Kitchen Aid stand mixer – so much easier than my hand-held beaters and a better result.  The mixture made almost half as much again as it previously has.  I am really looking forward to it as the flummery will be so light and fluffy.

The total cost of this recipe was less than $1 and it has made at least 10 generous serves.

I planned to post photos to go with this post but I am unable to upload them at the moment.  I will post them when everything is working properly.