There is no place like (the food) at home

Yes it clichéd and probably sounds a bit daggy. But as I flew back into Launceston after 24 hours in transit and close to three months (on and off) away for work, that’s the thought that went through my jetlagged little mind.  And then, where is my bed!

Unfortunately, I’d arrived too late in the weekend to catch the Farmers Market or Evandale markets – and the backup Young’s Vegie Shed was closed on Sundays. However pulling into the driveway I was super excited to see the progress in the vegie garden while I’d been away. Leafy greens nearly a metre tall (and a bit seedy), spinach and silverbeet ready for harvesting, and the ‘orchard’ blooming in flowers ready for summer. Excellent, this Tassievore Challenge is going to be easy!

First dinner home was Saag Paneer with spinach, silverbeet and fresh herbs from the garden.

Saag/Palak Paneer

  • Lightly wilt some fresh spinach/silverbeet leaves from the vegie garden in an uncovered saucepan (this maintains the green colour) with some last seasons dried chilli and garlic, once cooled blend in blender
  • Add Fenugreek and Cumin to frypan, with chopped onion and paneer (homemade using Tassie dairy products) or local Haloumi cheese
  • Once onion is translucent, add diced last season tomato from the freezer, and then stir in blended spinach, more chilli and garlic to taste
  • Stir in fresh coriander or curry leaves from the herb garden
  • Instead of basmatic rice, serve with Kindred Organics Quinoa, or homemade roti or naan bread (using Oatlands flour).

After many years of renting with various successes with vegie gardens, it is pretty exciting to come home to see the garden is surviving, and now actually feeding us! I lost track of the amount of vegie seedlings demolished by our resident peacocks and wallabies at our old rented house in Trevallyn near the Launceston gorge. Who knew that peacocks would eat brussel sprouts seedlings? Or wallabies would love, well anything we planted and tried unsuccessfully to shelter from them! We’ve still got a long way to go with making ourselves self-sufficient, but with vegies and fruit trees surviving in our own backyard, we’ve made a great start.

My successful foraging during the week continued as I eagerly eyed all the fresh Tasmanian labelled produce in the Vegie Shop – a far cry from the imported, wilted and sometimes suspicious looking produce I’d been exposed to over the previous few months. Memories of wilted $11 turnips and “fresh” produce streaked with pesticide residue rapidly faded as I jumped around excitedly like a child in a lollie shop (embarrassing but true!).

With such great local food (and drinks) available in Tassie, why would you want to live anywhere else? Bring on the start of the Eat Local Food Challenge in two weeks time!

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Spring is Here!

Hooray for Spring!  Not only do you get beautiful sunny days, lots of rainbows and more daylight hours, but it also marks growth spurts in the garden and a return to the happy days of being able to walk outside and decide what’s for dinner just by walking around the garden!

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I love being able to cook complete meals without having to step foot into a shop…there is a real sense of accomplishment and appreciation, when eating things I grew myself.  It is quite magical really.  It never ceases to amaze me that putting a few seeds in the ground, a bit of love over the following months and then wha-la, I suddenly have delicious food to eat.

So looking around the house today thinking about what to cook and not finding much on hand, Avian and I headed out to the garden to see what we could find.  The greens are prolific at the moment, so we harvested Red Russian Kale, Rainbow Chard, Giant 1000-Headed Kale (see photo) and asparagus. 

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I still have some pumpkins left from last autumns harvest so we roasted some of that as well and added some haloumi that we had in the fridge (how exciting that Elgaar Farm now does Tassie Haloumi!!) I added some lentils sprouts (sadly we don’t grow lentils in Tassie, but they needed to be used and I did sprout them myself so they are almost Tasmanian).  Then we mixed it all together and drizzled with a dressing made with juice from our lemons, coriander and garlic from the garden and honey from our bees!  Ahhh, spring bliss!

Spring is Here Salad

  • 8-10 spears asparagus
  • 2 bunches of garden greens (kale, chard, spinach, etc), roughly chopped
  • Chunk of pumpkin, cubed
  • 1-2 tbls Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 150g haloumi, sliced and pan fried over medium high heat (serve immediately)
  • Bunch coriander, chopped

Dressing

  • 1tbls honey
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  1. Drizzle pumpkin with olive oil and sea salt and roast for about 30mins @180o
  2. Sauté asparagus and greens for 3-5 minutes in a tsp of olive oil
  3. Mix ingredients for dressing in jar and shake well to combine
  4. Mix pumpkin, asparagus, greens and coriander together in a large bowl and top with dressing.
  5. Cook haloumi over medium heat until soft and brown on both sides.  Add to salad and serve immediately as haloumi is at its best when still warm and gooey!
  6. Enjoy

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You can grow your own way…

With less than two months to go, and inspired by the SBS Harvest and other gardening activities, it was time to get our first Tassie Vegie Garden sorted. Old wooden onion packing crates for raised garden beds, plastic 20 gallon drums cut in half for small planters, check. Dog proof fence, check. Fleetwood Mac song blaring in my head, with words conveniently changed to suit the project, check.

As of today, we now have garlic, leeks, spring onions, onions, lettuce, silverbeet, spinach, sweet corn, potatos, asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, beetroot and an old bathtub filled with mixed herbs and spices. The tomatoes and chillis will go in when the cheeky frosts have finished up – though in Tassie you never really know when this will be.

For those contemplating a new Vegie Garden ready for the Challenge, check out the following photos I found online below for some inspiration.Post your photos of other unique Vegie Gardens you’ve found online, or your own garden to inspire Tassievores to grow their own fabulous produce, we’d love to see them!