Congratulations Tassievores!

As we begin thinking about the 2014 Tassievore Eat Local Challenge (TELC), I thought it would be nice to reflect on the initial 6-month Challenge that took place from November 2012 and April 2013.

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The Tassievore Eat Local Challenge (TELC) was a 6-month adventure in eating locally. The Challenge was a state-wide behaviour change campaign promoting Tasmanian food producers, stimulating local business, reducing the carbon footprint of food, improving skills and knowledge, and increasing food security within Tasmania.

A team of volunteers from around the State contributed to the success of this program.  233 people officially registered as Tassievores, with a geographical spread of 65% in the South; 26% in the North and 9% in the North-west.

The TELC was launched at the Totally Tassie Picnic at SLF 2012 in November. Over the following 6 months, we kept a blog running with stories from the Tassievore Team, recipes and tips.  With funding from the Tasmanian Climate Change Office, through an Earn Your Stars Grant, we developed a Local Food Directory and ran a series of reskilling workshops and farm tours in each region.

Of the 233 people that participated in the Pre-Challenge Survey the majority of people joining the challenge were motivated to do so to support Tasmanian producer and businesses, reduce their carbon footprint, reconnect with our food supply and live more simply (Fig 1).

Figure 1: Motivation for joining challenge (%)

Why join

  • 97% of Tassievore members surveyed said that they had increased their knowledge about what Tasmanian products are available, and where to get them.
  • 100% of Tassievores said that they planned to continue choosing more local food in the future as a result of doing the Tassievore challenge. One member stated: ”I’m at a point now where I will always look for the local product first as opposed to the way I shopped before the challenge, which was mostly looking for the cheapest product.” 
  • 65% of Tassievores reported an increased connection with farmers and growers after taking the Challenge.

The TELC mark 1 was such a great community initiative and a wonderful reminder of what a privilege it is to be able to live on this beautiful island and indulge in it’s foods! As one Tassievore put it, “Eating Tasmanian is not a challenge – it is an absolute privilege to be able to live and work in this bountiful and beautiful part of the world. Tasmanian producers care about their environment and shopping at farmers markets is a treat.”

We are looking to run a shorter Challenge during March 2014.  Please let us know if you are keen to help out! Call or email Lissa @ Sustainable Living Tasmania – (03) 62819362.

A few more comments from participants about the benefits of taking the Tassievore Eat Local Challenge:

Reported Benefits of the Tassievore Eat Local Challenge:

Sustainability  

“We used a LOT less packaging, less food miles, making everything from scratch”.

A sense of supporting the community

“I knew I was supporting local growers and the local economy through my decisions to eat more local food”.

Health

“I was eating healthier than usual”.

Learning new skills

“I perfected my sourdough routine, and learned to make pasta”.

Saving Money

“I spent less on going out for dinner or getting takeaway”.

Overall impacts

“Some personal changes in how I approach life – In learning to put locally grown above cost and quality I feel like some other priorities in life changed where I now consider community outcomes above personal gain.”

“I feel more in-touch with the agriculture and food production industries in Tasmania and the hard work of entrepreneurs in the food industry!”

“I learned more about where our food comes from, and gained greater awareness of seasonal and fresh produce”

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Special Offer – 12 for the price of 1!!!

Can you believe that our 6 month Tassievore Challenge is nearly coming to an end?!?  It seems to have flown by!  I don’t even feel like I am going to binge on tropical delights when the calendar ticks over.

For those of you who have been hanging out on the fringes and haven’t actually done the formal registration – https://taseatlocal.wordpress.com/join-the-challenge/ – now is your chance!  This challenge isn’t necessarily about eating only Tasmanian food!  It is about challenging yourself to EAT MORE Tasmanian food or to at least consider buying local when making your purchases.  It is about supporting our local businesses by shopping at Tasmanian-owned shops.  It is about connecting with the people growing our food and letting them know that we value them and we value having food that is grown near where we live and that we want farming to be a viable livelihood in Tasmania.

So, if you (or someone you know) is committed to this, but hasn’t registered (I promise it will take less than 10 minutes), please do it now!  Or if you have been thinking about how you’d like to do it but didn’t want to commit….now’s your chance to get in on the glory by doing it for the last 2 weeks!  It’s like getting 12 for the price of 1…now that’s a bargain!!

It may seem pointless, but this small step (registering online) allows us to gauge how many people have engaged with the Tassievore Eat Local Challenge and to show how many Tasmanians care about these issues.

Since the start of the year, we have run about 20 events! These have ranged from a tour of Two Metre Tall Brewery in the Derwent Valley to a gourmet 3-course Living Local Feast to a Preserving Workshop with Sally Wise.  The good news is, that we still have 3 more events as part of the Challenge!  The Tasmanian Climate Change Office awarded us an Earn Your Stars grant earlier in the year, which will fund our Tassievore Tips and Treats Workshops in Hobart, Launceston and Penguin in May.

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Top tips from our Tassievore team will be shared in these experiential workshops.  Learn how to make staples at home, including bread, yogurt, pasta and dips as well as some low energy methods of food preparations and ideas for reducing the environmental impacts of your food.  Eating, learning, sharing and enjoying together – the tastes of Tasmania.

We are in our final weeks of the formal challenge, but we will be continue to promote and support local food production in Tasmania.  We hope that you will too!

 

Food Safari – tastes of the world, made at home.

Last weekend, my friends and I get together for an activity we call ‘Food Safari’. Based on the SBS show of the same name, Food Safari is a dinner party where we pick a different cuisine each month, and all bring along a dish to share. Basically it’s an excuse to catch up, experiment with recipes we haven’t tried before, and then eat until we’re ready to burst.

This week’s Food Safari was Polish. The dishes we sampled this weekend included peirogi (fried dumplings stuffed with potato, onion and cheese), salatka z burakow (beetroot salad), golabki (cabbage rolls) and szarlotka (Polish apple cake). The highlight of the evening was a particularly potent mulled wine called grzaniec galicyjski.

 What impressed me most wasn’t just the fantastic spread of dishes (most of which I had never heard of before) but how many of these dishes were made with fruit and vegetables in season in Tassie right now! Cabbage, beetroot, potatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers and onions all featured heavily, as did apples in the dessert.

I love the huge variety of food we grow in Tasmania, and how versatile it is. I love that we can take food grown down the street and create anything from a Vietnamese salad to an Italian pizza or a Mexican tortilla. We can even make a Polish feast! 

 

We hope all our Team Tassievore members are enjoying autumn, and all the new season delights that the cooler weather brings. While I’m sorry to be saying goodbye to the last of the raspberries, I’m gladly welcoming back the pumpkins and the squash. Mmm soup season is upon us! 

Tassievore tips for the International Day of Happiness

blue buildings

I have to say that the weather in Tasmania today makes it pretty easy to be content with your lot in life. The sun is streaming in the window as I type and the sky is as blue as those beautiful stone houses in Rajasthan.

I spent the morning mulling over the things that have kept me happy in my Tassievore challenge over the past few weeks and I have to confess it is mostly those seasonal changes that bring a bit of zing and inspiration back into your cooking. I should explain that I tend to be a bit slap dash in my cookery – I make something fairly basic from the ingredients in the fridge, pantry and fruit bowl using fragments of recipe and cooking knowledge that I have built up over the years. Needless to say it gets the job done but isn’t often worthy of overly enthusiastic praise from the family.

Anyway my Tassievore saviours for the start of autumn have been, in no particular order: Pirates bay octopus tentacles, sweet corn, new season apples and Japanese ginger.

The Pirates bay octopus is a bit of a treat (ie not super cheap…but cheaper than most fish) but I love it because it is easy to cook and can jazz up a tomato pasta sauce or make a great meal in itself if accompanied with some sort of salad and perhaps some chunky baked potato wedges. To prepare it I just rinse off the legs and then put it in a heavy fry pan or griddle with a bit of olive oil at medium/high heat, slap a lid on and leave it for twenty minutes. Then I turn it off and let it rest for another ten minutes before chopping and adding to the dish/meal. The other fun thing about Octopus legs is that they go a bright pinky red colour when cooked, thus elevating your meal another notch or two above the mundane.

Sweet corn seems to be a hit with my little boy and I have to say that I have enjoyed munching and crunching on a cob or two as well. The other great thing about sweet corn is that it gets me thinking of Mexican things and I have discovered that you can do a pretty good sort of Mexican frijoles (bean sauce) using Tasmanian Aduki beans. I have a ginormous sack of aduki beans in my cupboard so anything that gets them cooked and eaten is a good thing.

malus-coxs-orange-pippinNew season apples are on the hit list because they are just so crunchy and tangy and gorgeously fresh. I am particularly excited by the resurgence in old heritage varieties like Cox’s orange pippin – delicious! New season apples certainly help to ease us out of the declining berry season doldrums and it’s far too soon for us to be sick of pome fruits while eating Tassievore style (that will likely come later in the year…). Keep an eye out for apples ripening in parks and public spaces too – such a shame to see fruit rotting on the ground when it could be chopped up and stewed or crunched on while whistling your way home.

My final pick for the Tassievore saviours list is the lesser spotted Japanese Ginger (Myoga). I grabbed some from the lovely couple at the Little Red Hen stall at Farm Gate market in Hobart and, while no match for the feisty punch of traditional ginger, it was great to have something completely new to try. The ginger looks 2013-03-19_19-20-59_257[1]more like a bulb than a rhizome and has only a delicate ginger flavour and a gentle punch of spicy heat. It works best finely shredded over salads or gently fried and sprinkled over stir-frys. Apparently it has a reputation in Japan for making you forgetful or stupid so perhaps i won’t over indulge (I don’t need any help with forgetfulness and stupidity most days!).

Otto enjoying the new Mathers Lane Park in Hobart

My other non-food cause to be happy today was discovering comfy pink bean bags and fun magnetic words in the new park in Mathers lane Hobart. It was lovely to see such a great use of public space and my little boy loved interacting with the metal sculpture by sticking on and taking off the magnetic letter and words. Let’s hope that they are respected by all the park users and stick around (pun only retrospectively intended) for many months to come.

Have a great International Day of Happiness Tassievores!

It’s harvest time!

Well, it is officially Autumn…not that it feels like it today at 33 degrees!  I love autumn…it is a time of reflection, grounding and harvesting lots from the garden!  Below is a sample of my pickings the other day: necterines, hazelnuts, zucchini, apples (4 varieties), bush beans, scarlet runner beans, chilies, cucumbers, kale (2 varieties), tomatoes (at least 3 varieties) and plums.

IMG_0086While I love the bounty in the garden, how can one household of 1.5 people get through it all?!?  By sharing the fresh produce (my bike basket was overflowing with zucchini’s for my work colleagues this morning); cooking feasts and inviting friends over to share it; and preserving (& fermenting) it!

IMG_0134I have gotten quite into homebrewing this year with Cherry Stout, Rhubarb Ginger Beer and Cherry Mead earlier in the season and yesterday, I racked some Blueberry Wine and Necterine Mead.  The only problem with the wines and meads is that they have to age for up to 2 years before I can drink them…the ultimate exercise of my patience….

The most recent Tassievore event was a flurry of preserving activity at the Sally Wise Cooking School in Molesworth. A half day workshop in which we made: raspberry jam; piccalilly; tomato relish; apricot and raspberry tea cake; hawthorn and mixed berry cordial; plum sauce; preserved plums; apple and rhubarb shortbread; spelt bread and labne.  It was amazing!  you can see lots of photos of the workshop on our facebook page, but here is a couple to whet your appetite

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I will share one of Sally’s recipe’s with you.  It is for Piccalilli, which is great, because basically you can make it with whatever you are feeling overwhelmed with from the garden 🙂

Ingredients:

1kg diced veggies (beans, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, etc)

2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
¼ cup salt
2 cups sugar
2 cups Tassie apple cider vinegar
2tsp mustard powder
2tsp turmeric
2tsp cornflour
2 tbls apple cider vinegar

Method:

  1. Place the vegetables, onions and capsicum in a bowl, add salt and mix well. Leave to stand for at least 1 hour. Drain well.
  2. Combine sugar, vinegar, mustard powder and turmeric in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add veggies adn bring back to boil and cook approximately 25 minutes.
  3. If the mixture is too thin, mix cornflour to a paste with extra vinegar and stir through. Cook two or three minutes more.
  4. Spoon into warm sterilised bottles and seal. Eat immediately or store for up to 1 year.

Sally also made a yummy dip by combining this with sour cream or cream cheese (the only Tassie cream cheese that I know of is from Red Cow Dairy in the NW, but there are several Tassie sour creams available) that we got to dip the warm spelt bread into…yum!

If you are feeling sad that you missed out on this fantastic workshop, don’t worry, there are still several more Tassievore events coming up, including the Tassievore cook-off this weekend in Moonah!  Learn how to use all sorts of Tassie ingredients and try 9 different Tassievore dishes made while you watch and ask questions.  It will be lots of fun and there are still tickets available, so please get your ticket now!

The Living Local Feast is also coming up (13 April).  A gourmet 3-course fundraising dinner for Sustainable Living Tasmania, featuring 100% Tasmanian ingredients.  Below are some photos from the last 2 years feasts.  It is pretty amazing and there are still tickets available, but they are going quick!  Don’t miss out!

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We are also planning workshops in the South, North and North West in May to share some of our tips and tricks for incorporating more Tassie goodness into your daily life.  These workshops have been made possible by an Earn Your Stars Grant that we recieved from the Tasmanian Climate Change Office. Details to be confirmed over the coming weeks.  We also got funding to collate a “where to get it” resource to help finding Tasmanian food easier for people.  Do you have a local shop or market that has a great range of Tassie goods? if so, please let us know about it by commenting below or email lissa@slt.org.au

I hope you are enjoying the challenge!

 

Tomato week

This blog follows on from the interview with Owen and Emma Kate of TomBoys

After our chat they gave me some tomatoes – just over 20kg actually.. A lot. Too much? Nearly! Definitely enough so I could play around with how to use them.

When the Tassievores got together to brainstorm events for the events calendar, a group tomato picking/ bottling event was top of my list for a good reskilling workshop. It didn’t pan out unfortunately, so this blog is about my own experience with a lot of tomatoes.

Straight up I did as Owen and Emma Kate recommended and made a passata/ sugo style sauce from a Fowlers Vacola recipe that just so happened to be all Tassievore (score!).

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Chop.  Cook.  Herbs.  Don’t they look nice!? Here are the proud results of the passata-fest with sexy bottling outfit in the background.

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I have already used one bottle to make a zuchinni-puntanesca style pasta with some home churned pasta – very happy. I’ve given away a few bottles but will hold on to the rest for some more tasty adventures. I worried it would be too watery and bland, but nope! Great flavour.

I gave 8 or so kilos to a mate who made a big batch of tomato sauce with them – the type you’d pour on a (local) snag in bread,

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so after that and the Passata I had 7kg of tomatoes left. I decided to wait a bit for flavour to develop.  The tomatoes were picked that morning so there were no soft/squishy/furry toms in the mix. They didn’t make A grade due to superficial blemishes – a black spot or no little greeny stalky bit.  Checking in on them three days later I was greeted by a half-box of happy, red little fellows still quite firm and nowhere near ‘squishy’.

So I left them a week in a box on the floor.

And then they were how I wanted them, crazy red and getting soft to touch – still no furry ones as none of the skins had split. I made a sauce/ relish combo which turned out great (not as salty/ acidic as a tomato sauce, and not using a bottle of EZY sauce as I probably would if making a relish). The mustard seeds are really only for decoration as they didn’t add much flavour..

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I thought i’d give drying a go with the final kilo.  Unsure how economical this is with power though – especially when you put the dehyrdrater on the wrong setting – repeatedly. (estimated 14 hours of power usage to dehydrate them)

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Anyway – the end result of the drying experience (with salt and rosemary) was this.  They look crazy red huh.

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I can’t believe that’s all of the tomatoes gone!  Now that I know I can make these things I would love a few more batches of passata and some conventional sauce (mate only gave me one bottle, booooo) and maybe try a few types of salsa – I wonder if tomato paste is hard to make or the energy (electrical) put into making it doesn’t make it worth it?  Hmm yes i definitely want to try more.  Good news is that I know where to source TomBoys now (pun!) and they aren’t the only one around growing local toms. *ahem – proud announcement, the first of my own backyard crop are getting some colour on them – Behold the first pick!

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The (unlikely) tale of ‘Ninja’ the workplace Ginger

Ninja the Ginger

A Team Tassievore member (who shall remain nameless) recently noticed that a piece of ginger she had left sitting on her desk at work was sprouting a small but enthusiastic green stem.

Knowing very little about the needs and desires of a baby tropical plant, she made the unorthodox decision to stick it in a pot of soil and leave it in the care of yours truly. I’m not saying this was a bad idea, I’m just saying that it was me who wrote the post a couple of months ago about killing mint which was in a pot on my balcony.

So you will understand my surprise, dear readers, that I was given the (unofficial) role of godmother to our ginger baby. After in-depth research into the needs of tropical plants (i.e. spending 5 minutes on google)  I found out that Ninja the workplace ginger will need a warm, humid atmosphere and good drainage. Instead he gets the arctic chill of an overenthusiastic air conditioner, and no drainage whatsoever. I have no idea how Ninja  is still going, but each morning as I come in to work I find him looking taller and happier – he even unfurled his first leaf this morning!

I’m rather worried about upsetting this tenuous relationship that Ninja and I are developing, so I’m putting out the call to my Team Tassievore friends. Have you grown ginger before? Perhaps you’ve grown some other tropical plant. If you have any handy tips for me, please help!