Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The locavore's pleasure: eating garden snails, parasitic honey fungus and making local spelt grain beer with honey

Our two weeks with Maarten and Marlies have been sheer delight. They made many a scrumptious meal, including a locavore's feast of garden snails,


served with Powlett Hill biodynamic spelt, ground, freshly rolled and made into pasta,


roasted salsify root (they look like grasses, don't they?),


and parsnip. Both root vegetables we have successfully encouraged to naturalise in the garden.


The snails were prepared for a few days using the method we videoed Maarten back in Gerringong telling us about. Then they were pan-cooked in ghee, beetroot, carrot, garlic and Patrick's infamous 2013 Library Wine. The parsnip and salsify were roasted in the oven and sprinkled with rosemary. Fresh basil was tossed over the top of the whole dish. The result was delicious!


We've also been enjoying Meg's lovely fresh cheese for our lunches.


But sadly not from raw milk, at least not for now. And not because of the Victorian government poisoning raw milk, but because there isn't any currently on offer around the corner where we usually get it. Huh! The gift economy is unpoliceable! Nonetheless, we joined many good folk on the steps of Parliament in Melbourne to voice our concerns about the State's overreaching hand when it comes to some foods, but not others. Where does the nanny-state begin and end?


Get the government out of my kitchen read one very apt placard.


David Holmgren, Joel Salatin, Tammi Jonas and Costa Georgiadis were among keynote speakers who addressed a packed Collingwood Town Hall later that day, an event organised by the very cool Regrarians.


Back at home, while Meg and Zero worked on Chapter 8 of our book, and Zeph was busy at school, Woody and Patrick rode out to see our own family of regrarians new farmgate store.


Since being home from the road, we've enjoyed a weekly visit from Meg's folks, known in the family as Ra and Bee, bringing the Friday night challah. Thanks Ross and Vivienne!


Patrick has also been in full bread production mode since we returned, making rolls for Zeph's school lunches and daily spelt loaves for home lunches,


and from the same Powlett Hill spelt grain, he has been experimenting with producing a very local beer with the ingredients of just forest honey, our garden hops and dandelion, and the spelt grain. Andrew Masterson's great article recently on eating local food spoke of the dilemma of not being able to find a local brew. Well, we hope this is one delicious response to that call. As for Andrew's exception of coffee to his local diet, we made the switch to dandelion root coffee a number of years ago because it grows in the garden and because, well, it's free! And free is freeing. We're very excited about the making of a very local beer. The only thing not local is the little sachet of ale yeast.


Every Summer our hops grows across our bedroom window, making sleeping a dream.


At this stage Patrick is keeping things simple by brewing in a bag, using 1.5 kg of grain, 1.5 kg of honey, 40 g of hops and about 20 g of dandelion leaf (though he'd prefer to use the flower, when it is available). The brew is currently bubbling away and will do so for a week to ten days before being bottled for several weeks for the second fermentation process. We'll keep you posted on how it turns out.


Another local food we've been eating this week is the Australian honey fungus (Armillaria luteobubalina), an aggressive parasitic fungus that is common in southeastern Australia. It should never be eaten raw and even when cooked can affect some people, as can the salsify root mentioned earlier.


The fungus is also very bitter, something our very sugary modern palette doesn't cope with too well. So we soaked the mushrooms in milk for 24 hours and,


cooked them in ghee and ate them with fresh parsley. They were delicious, although left a bitter aftertaste that could have been remedied with a fruit chutney or some honey. Still, another robust pest species that is free and that you would be doing the environment a favour if you ate more of. Just have a small amount the first time, and see if they have an adverse affect on you. We were all fine.


Well, it is time to say goodbye for now Dear Reader. It is also time to farewell the dynamic Dutch duo, Maarten and Marlies, and thank them for all the knowledge, work and love they brought to our household and community. We will miss them sorely.


Groetjes!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Summer time harvesting, writing, communing

It's been a time of great harvest, probably the best fruit season for a decade. All this food is free from a combination of street trees, neighbours and or our own garden.


It has been a time of writing, bringing our book together for a looming deadline.


A time of getting to know Maarten and Marlies and share skills in the garden as they spend a fortnight with us.


A time of preserving, stewing, fermenting and drying,


A time of making bread.


A time of making plum wine.


A time to work together.


A time to shovel shit. Thanks Mara!


A time to pull weeds. Thanks Ayumi, Maarten and Batiste!


A time to observe those more-than-human.


And a time to be photographed by Jay Town and written about by Rebekah Cavanagh.


Our first month home has been quite a time of adjustment. Although we are loving being back in our climate zone and among our community and all the free food of summer, we still miss life on the road. There is nothing quite like waking each morning and having nothing to think about except the day ahead.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Under the sunshine of the day

We haven't stopped riding, of course. We rode several kms out of town to go and camp with our friends Fe and Ant and their little sproglets Luna and Fabrizio. 


We walked across the road to join more friends for a BBQ and raid their vertical berry patch. Thanks Luke and Kate!


For Meg's birthday we rode out to her sister Kate's family farm for a delicious dinner of home-made pasta and babka birthday cake. The best!


We went to Melbourne to tell our story to national breakfast TV.


They wanted to know what challenges we faced and what it was like to eat roadkill.


Back at home we wanted to know what living in Japan was like post Fukushima. Yae Fujimoto, Rick Tanaka and Hiro Fujimoto gave us an insight into the reality of living with nuclear reactors. Thanks HRN for organising this event.


From our own region's non-radioactive orchards we collected more apples. Some for juice, some for stew, some for cider, some for drying and some more for the chooks.


We've also been busy preserving, dehydrating, brewing and fermenting various stores for winter. 


Meg and Woody experimented with flaxseed crackers,


in the dehydrator. Pretty bloody good!


Zeph and Jasper got the old billycart back up and running,


before Zeph took himself off to religio-military school.


Wide lawns, narrow minds, as one Australian artist recently exhibited. Please keep hold of yourself Zeph, as you venture into this experiment with patriarchal institutionalisation.


Zeph spent his last weeks of home-education hanging out with friends, helping with the gardening, being a big brother and working on his bike.


Then it was time for our first Critical Mass ride for the year.


Followed by a small intimate gig at the Albert Street community garden with this guy,


and his partner Hayley Egan. We archived excerpts from the ride and the gig into this little vid:


We've also been pickling walnuts that we gleaned green from street and backyard trees,


and sowing companion plants, carrots and alliums, in a new raised bed made specifically for winter crops.


Whatever you're making, Dear Reader, we hope it is bringing you nourishment and fulfilment, that you're not working too hard and you have days in your week to lounge and muse and make love under the sunshine of the day.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Mobility and food (our first week home)

Now we are back home we find not all that much has changed. Just as it was on the road, our home-life is also all about mobility and food; how we move around and how we sustain ourselves.


After such a long time on the back of their parents' bikes, the boys were keen to get their own forms of mobility cranking. Zeph made roadworthy one of our old tip bikes and Woody gave his hand-me-down first bike a thorough going over. Thanks Carly!


We continued to bike and walk as our main forms of mobility. Woody now walks a few kms each day.


We pedalled up to the community garden working bee (blogged here), to contribute to the community gift economy going on there.


We painted up some new signs to be put up at two of the growing number of food gardens in our small town.


We helped Peter install the signs,


and we began to organise some music events that will take place in the Albert St garden to simply celebrate life there.


We biked up to our local food co-op to buy what we couldn't freely obtain and to support a more environmentally aware monetised economy.


We walked, bussed, trained and caught a tram to visit Woody's great grandfather (aged 96) in the metropolis.


 We pushed our wheelbarrow over to Maria's, our neighbour, to collect cockatoo-spoiled apples,


to feed to our girls.


We worked in our annual produce area planting some more food. This row: cayenne peppers as food-medicine for the winter.


We welcomed back Yael and Matt, Akira, Essie and Dante, who so wonderfully tended the house and garden while we were away and planted food for us to come home to. Thank you beautiful family!


We got busy in the kitchen making sauerkraut with cabbages that Matt and Yael had planted with the kids,


we revitalised our five year old sourdough starter and have been making bread daily,


we have made music each night before bed too,


and we have made our version of vegemite: miso paste, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Delish!


It is lovely to be home, and so far we haven't got itchy pedals. After so many months of uncertainty, the comforts of home and community life have been both regenerative and restorative. We thank you, Dear Reader, for accompanying us on our journey in settling back into domestic life, and hope you too have both regeneration and rest cycling around in your neck of the woods.