Agrarian Kitchen – the garden tour!

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One of the highly anticipated Tassievore events occurred last week, a tour of the Agrarian Kitchen garden by gourmet gun – Rodney Dunn.  Rodney – an entertaining host and champion of the paddock to plate concept, had a lots say on growing: how and why.  Based on the ‘Oooooh’s’ and ‘Ahhhhh’s of the 35 Tassievores present, a great time was had at the cooking school in Lachlan, just 10 minutes out of New Norfolk.

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Starting in the herb patch (Mexican hyssop, apple mint and shiso cress!), we then got the low down on the smoke house, met the pigs and goats, explored the fruit trees and row upon row of berries, walked through two poly tunnels (tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines and licorice basil all growing well!) and down the rows of planted out corn, beans, beetroot and lovage (aka “Celery on speed”).  Fascinating tales were told: growing tobacco as an insecticide, the Agrarian Kitchen’s former life as a district school and perving on pigs.

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What I was most happy to hear was Rodney’s common sense approach to local eating “I have no problem with eating a QLD mango in summer, but things we can grow here, we should be growing and eating here”.  Amen bro!  After an hour long stroll outside we popped into kitchen and had a sticky beak, checking out the wood fired oven, the cook book collection (650+) and customised rain coats – clearly the weather doesn’t get in the way of cooking school participants getting out and picking their own!

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I had a really great time at the Agrarian Kitchen and can see why the cooking courses are so popular (Tassievore Sarah attended a class in 2011 and still gets dreamy eyed when the topic arises).  A huge thank you goes out to all Tassievore’s who attended, and of course to Rodney and Séverine for hosting!

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Showing off his fast bowling technique

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Under the nectarine

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Tassievore on Tour – Part 2

Back in September I did part one of this post, which was about eating locally while on holiday in Far North Queensland. Happily, I can now do a similar post about camping and touring around Tassie eating locally.  It is actually quite miraculous how similar the two trip were given the vast distance and climactic differences!

In what is becoming a bit of a tradition, I took the few days between Christmas and New Years to go camping all by myself somewhere beautiful in Tasmania.  This year saw me driving up the East Coast, where I got to frolick on beautiful beaches, go bushwalking in Douglas Apsley Gorge and indulge in amazing fresh fruit and Tassie goodness!

Pyengana Farm VisitI found delicious peaches, apricots and cherries at farms around St. Helen’s and Bicheno. And drove a fair bit out of the way to call into Pyengana Dairy.  Pyengana offers cheese tasting and full cafe service in a picturesque setting on their North-East farm. I sampled their fresh scones with raspberry jam and cream and brought home my very own cloth covered cheese wheel of their Matured Cheddar.

Robyn TUDOOn my way back home, I had the pleasure of stopping at The Ugly Duck Out cafe in Swansea.  Robyn, who runs it, is passionate about sustainable food and serving fresh, Tasmanian produce.  She even has a flourishing veggie patch surrounding the cafe and carpark in the centre of Swansea where they harvest fresh produce to use in the cafe daily.

TUDO entryseasonal fruit, manuka honey and yogurt As this trip coincided with breakfast time, I got housemade yogurt with local manuka honey and seasonal fruit.  On a subsequent visit, I got to try out the dinner options and settled on a mushroom burger with quinoa tabbouleh.  Thanks TUDO!

Bushfire – a Tassievore’s tale

My start to 2013 included a week long, family holiday in a house near Port Arthur (Tasman Peninsula). It was a much anticipated trip as my brother and his wife and kids were joining us from NSW and some dear friends had leant us a stand-up paddle-board to play with! We certainly didn’t anticipate the way things turned out.

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The paddle board kept the kids highly entertained

After 24 hours enjoying the usual holiday house luxuries such as flushing loos, cold beer and lights at the flick of a switch, the fires burnt out the power lines that supply the Tasman Peninsula and we were suddenly glamping (camping with flywire screens and comfy beds). Along with other visitors and locals we found ourselves having to haul water to flush loos and wash dishes and use torches and candles after dark. Despite the change to our plans we realised how lucky we were to be safe from the fires and comfortable and the kids (mostly) adapted to the loss of their electronic entertainment.

One side of the fire situation that interested me was the issue of food (surprise, surprise). On a personal level, we had brought plenty of fresh supplies to suit the varied dietary requirements of the family (vegan/coeliac/FODMAP intolerant) but clearly, without access to ice/refrigeration, there was a need to use up as much as possible before it became inedible. The last thing we wanted was 10 people dashing to bucket-flushed toilets due to food poisoning.

We swiftly cooked up the frozen veges, left by the shack owners, into a soup that we figured could be left out for a day or two in the manner of our pre-electricity forebears and spread our sole bag of ice into three eskis with salt water to lengthen the shelf life of our milk/yoghurt/cheese and fresh veg.

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my little one helping to cart water for washing up (we carried up a big bucket but at least he felt useful)

The 40 degree temps rapidly sucked away the residual cold from the fridge and it was ceremonially renamed:  ‘the frantry’.

We were fortunate to have arrived with cars stacked with non-perishable foods, and the holiday house cooktop ran on gas, so we only had to buy extra snacks (muesli bars, tinned fruit, UHT custard), UHT/powdered milk and matches to make ourselves pretty comfortable.

After a couple of days the evacuation centres at Nubeena and Port Arthur were heaving with generously donated food and water, and locals with fuel to spare were turning up on our doorstep with mini UHT milks, bread and fruit for the kids.

Some houses were hooked up to generators, which I suspect were safe-guarding their frozen goods and fridge supplies, but many must have had to throw out a large quantity of spoilt food. In addition the growers on the peninsula who rely on pumps to water their crops would have had to make some difficult decisions as to which varieties to focus their attention on (hand carting water or limited watering with generator support).

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Carnarvon Bay community meeting – information was hard to come by without power and only sporadic mobile reception

The main realisation for me from my experiences during the fire is how vulnerable we are to power/fuel loss in our modern day communities. Without power our perishable foods would only last a day or two and most people, especially in isolated areas without good public transport and shops, rely on fuel to gain access to these foods in the first place. In our Tasman Peninsula scenario people with vegie patches, off-grid solar, gas bottles and water tanks with hand pump back up and header tanks would have been relatively comfortable, as would those who preserve their own food.

At least I am heartened by the knowledge that our Tassievore community is doing it’s best to support our communities to reduce the reliance of our current food supply on carbon by: encouraging home-grown fruit and veg; reducing food miles by linking Tasmanians with Tasmanian grown produce, and providing re-skilling workshops to teach us all how to use and preserve the great foods we have available.

I am also inspired by the amazing work that volunteers and emergency service personnel do everyday and especially when times are tough.

That’s Plumtastic!

That’s Plumtastic!

It’s that time of year, fruit feasting season! The farmers markets and backyard orchards are laden with fruit and Tassievores are spoilt for choice with an abundance of tasty fresh fruits to eat and cook with. Here are some Plum-tastic recipes to help inspire you with your plum picking and fruit feasting if like me you have an overabundance of plums from you backyard orchard and gardens. Many thanks to Tassievores below who suggested the recipes on the Tassievore Facebook page – keep the suggestions coming!

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  •  We love plum jam, plum crumble or just plain old eating them fresh from the tree, Kerry
  • Jam or plum sauce and if you can;t be bothered doing it now… freeze them for a later date whe you have timee!! Also I just made a pie and it worked well (along the same lines as an apple one) ENJOY, Jane
  • My Mum knows a recipe for an awesome sour plum cake/tart thingie. Sublime cake type base with plums cut in half insides facing up pushed down a bit in the base and some other secret bit., Louise
  •  Spicy plum sauce for pork. Worcestershire sauce. I have also tasted some great plum wine, but never made it myself. For the pork sauce, just add brown sugar and stacks of chilli, ginger, kafir lime and garlic. Freeze the sauce in batches to use in winter. Dylan
  • Clafouti with plums! Christina
  • I’m making this recipe now http://whiskflipstir.com/2010/10/24/amelies-famous-plum-cake-kouign-amann/ Amelie’s Famous Plum Cake (Kouign Amann Lili
  • Bottle them and eat them all year with muesli for breakfast, Sally

I hope you enjoy the suggestions and please post if you have any more for the rest of the Tassievores to share.

Guest post by Dr Alice Palmer, CEO of Sprout Tasmania

Hi Everybody!                                                                                  

I am very excited to be a part of the Tassievore Eat Local Challenge! I am the CEO and one of the founders of Sprout Tasmania. Sprout Tasmania stands for Sustainable Production, Research and Training Inc. We are a not-for-profit that assists small to medium sized food producers with marketing their produce and value-added lines of produce and mentoring them about sustainable production techniques. We also provide workshops to the community about growing sustainably in your own backyard.

                                                

Two weeks ago I was very fortunate to spend an afternoon at the Agrarian Kitchen with owner Rodney Dunn and we walked around his garden eating food such as Asparagus straight from the ground. You may be surprised to hear this, but until two weeks ago, I didn’t know that Asparagus was grown as single shoots! I thought that they grew in bunches like you see in supermarkets…. The Agrarian Kitchen is a prime example of growing local and eating local and learning how to grow, cook and eat from your own backyard.

 

Now you may be thinking, how does a person who doesn’t know how Asparagus grows become the CEO of Sprout Tasmania and teach people about food production, but there are two founders of Sprout Tasmania! The second founder is Tony Scherer, part owner of Frogmore Creek vineyard. Tony has a wealth of knowledge about sustainable food production. He grew up in California growing and selling his own produce from the age of seven. Me on the other hand, I have a very off-green thumb! I am a researcher who investigates sustainable methods of food production as well as the effects of climate change on crops. For my PhD, I developed a standardised method for production of compost tea for powdery mildew and bunch rot disease control in vineyards. One of the aims of Sprout Tasmania is to teach people, like me, how to grow your own food in your own backyard, small to medium sized property or balcony but also to provide scholarships to researchers to investigate new innovative sustainable food production techniques.

Over the last few weeks, I have been part of the Tassievore Eat Local Challenge. During this time, I have made every effort to buy local and eat local and grow and eat produce from my own backyard and balcony or my friends or family 🙂 To me, it is really important that restaurants and cafes support local small to medium sized producers. In one acre, you can grow a diverse range of high quality premium produce and with a little manipulation you can also grow over autumn and winter. This year, Tony grew melons, tomatillos and peppers over winter and harvested them in August!

They were juicy, fresh, extremely tasty and local.

In 2013, Tony is going to teach me how to grow food from January to December over summer, autumn, winter and spring. It is my ultimate aim to have a backyard by the end of December 2013 that is full of herbs, vegetables, fruit and natives which are intermingled together creating its own ecosystem.

Luke Burgess is one of our board members, owner and chef of Garagistes. Here is a delicious recipe from Luke utilising Tasmanian lamb! Sprout Tasmania has locally grown lamb available over the next five months – for more information about the lamb or anything we do at Sprout Tasmania, please email us at: info@sprouttasmania.com.au.

Happy New Year every body!

Alice

Celebrating Tassievore Style

Wow, it’s been a busy few weeks!  With Christmas, New Years and my birthday all within 10 days, I have been pressed to develop a series of decadent and delicious Tassievore treats to celebrate the season.

Christmas Eve saw us tucking into an Adzuki and Mushroom Loaf, garden salad and Parsnip Bravas.  Amazing Kanel Bulla (Cinnamon Rolls) were baked for Christmas Morning Brunch at a friends house.  Oh my goodness…who needs sugar when you can make these so delicious with honey and hazelnuts!

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Adzuki and Mushroom Loaf – doesn’t look that pretty, but it was yummy and fit the vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, Tassievore requirements

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Oh my goodness, these were good! butter, flour, milk, cinnamon, hazelnuts, honey and yeast (basically).

A selection of truly decadent cheeses, apricot paste and two types of tassievore crackers were served up for grazing at my birthday party at Cascade Gardens.  Coupled with a homemade Tassie Cream – modelled on Bailey’s Irish Cream…it was pretty special!

Tassie cheddar, wheat thins, apricot and citrus paste and homemade Tassie Whiskey Cream.

Tassie cheddar, wheat thins, apricot and citrus paste and homemade Tassie Whiskey Cream.

Basically, I combined cocoa (judged a spice in this context :-)); honey; cream; cinnamon; cream and a raw egg with some of the Lark Distillery Whiskey Liqueur.  It was pretty delicious!

Now I must confess, I was planning to make my own Tassievore birthday cake, but then my friend offered to make one for me.  She asked, “do you want me to try to make it all Tasmanian?”  And guess, what I said!  “No, make it as decadent as possible, please.”  Bad Tassievore!  But wow, it was a pretty amazing rich, chocolatey extravaganza and I really enjoyed it, but realised that it didn’t take very much of it to satisfy me after 2 months now of having much less sugar and chocolate than my previous life involved.

I did get a chance to try out my idea for a Tassievore Birthday Cake though, when my colleagues persuaded me to bring a cake into work for my birthday.  I was a bit skeptical about the virtues of honey sweetened cake, but I must say that I definitely hit on a winner!  Margaret even said that it was the best cake that she has tried in years!  So below is my recipe for Birthday Bliss Cake.  Enjoy!

Birthday Bliss Cakebday bliss cake

  • 200g Butter
  • 200g honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 100ml cream
  • 200g Ground Hazelnuts (I used about ¼ roasted and ¾ raw)
  • 125g flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • Fresh apricots and cherries, pitted

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Butter cake tin. Arrange fruit on bottom of tin. Combine butter and honey, stir in eggs (1 at a time). Add cream and stir. Add hazelnut meal, baking powder and flour and mix to combine. Pour mixture over fruit. Bake for approximately 1 hour.  Cover with foil if top is getting to brown. Enjoy!

Farm Tours, Cook offs, Paddock Parties, oh my!

The Tassievore Eat Local Challenge is a 6 month adventure in eating locally, aimed at supporting our growers and local businesses. Join the Challenge today by increasing your consumption of Tassie food & drink. Whether it is eating 100% Tasmanian, devoting one day a week or all-Tassie fruit and veg, you decide your challenge. And to make it a bit easier and celebrate the journey, we’re offering a series of exciting events around the state for you.

Coordinated by Sustainable Living Tasmania, we have organised a selection of: re-skilling workshops (to help you maximise your Tassievore experience); farm visits (to meet the people growing our food and see how they do it); cooking demonstrations (to inspire you with Tassievore eating); and even a couple of parties!

To give you just a sample, below are our January events:

Wednesday 16th – Pizza Party @ Source Community Wholefoods Cooperative, Sandy Baypizza

Sustainable food from the Source. Source offers the whole seed to plate experience on a small plot of land in urban Sandy Bay!  Come check out the vibrant communal permaculture garden, do some late night shopping and get into the pizza making and wood-fired oven baking action!  $15 pre-registration for all-you-can-eat organic pizza or just turn up on the night and pay per slice. Ambience free. tassievorepizzaparty.eventbrite.com

Sunday 20th – Farm Tour to Stonecrest Cherry Orchard, SorellStonecrest Cherries

Mick & Jenny will take us on a tour of their 7 hectare cherry orchard and then let us loose to pick the remnants of the summer harvest.  We might even get to sample some unique cherry creations, cooked up to ensure that they can enjoy cherries all year round.  Cost: $5 per person/ or $20pp inc. transport from Hobart. tassievorecherrypicking.eventbrite.com

Tuesday, 22nd – Agrarian Kitchen Touragrarian kitchen garden

Join us on a guided tour of the Agrarian Kitchen Gardens and Farm Animals, led by chef, Rodney Dunn and Severine Demanet. The Agrarian Kitchen is a sustainable farm-based cooking school situated in a 19th century schoolhouse at Lachlan, incorporating an extensive vegetable garden, orchard, berry patch and herb garden, all grown using organic principles. Also in residence are Wessex saddleback pigs, Barnevelder chickens, two British Alpine goats and a flock of geese. Cost: $10 or $25 transport from Hobart. tassievoreagrariantour.eventbrite.com

For more info go to our events page   or download the full Tassievore Calendar