Tag Archives: vegetables

The Green Grocer

8 Jul

Shopping Day. Not the supermarket chore it used to be. Now it involves buying up bulk at the peaceful bulk food shop, then popping next door to the family-owned green grocer. The great thing about the green grocer, is that I know their eggs come from happy chickens near Mt Somers in Canterbury. They also give away big bags of fruit and vege scraps – ideal for chickens or to boost your compost. You get to chat about the state of the nation and the weather for free too.

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Winter Pasta Sauce

25 Jun

The bottom shelf of the pantry is looking a bit empty of preserves. We’ve exhausted our supplies of homegrown tomato sauce and relish. Sadly, the midwinter garden vege supply is not very forthcoming. My solution is to make a massive batch of pasta sauce from tinned tomatoes. I’ve done this before in the summer, but below is my winter recipe.

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  • Buy the biggest tin of chopped tomatoes you can find, or use a whole bunch of tins (6-7 if you only have regular size tins)
  • Saute 6-7 roughly chopped onions until clear, in a dollop of whatever oil you have
  • Add fridge remnants like half a dozen anchovies, some preserved peppers, capers, spinach, broccoli etc
  • Add a good couple of tablespoons of sugar and salt to taste, and a few bunches of herbs (I used parsley, rosemary and thyme today)
  • Simmer the whole lot for half an hour or so
  • Whizz up with a stick blender if you have one (bit tidier than transferring it into a food processor), then pour into hot sterilised jars and seal

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You can see my ingredients list and measurements are pretty relaxed. The sauce is good with pasta, in casseroles, with rice and veges and all sorts of bits and pieces.

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Snow Prep

18 Jun

Apparently it’s going to snow lots over the next few days. Christchurch as a city gets a bit panicky in the snow. We’ve had snow in the city every winter for the past few years – not a whole lot – but it’s still a big novelty. Most things shut down. Which must be hugely entertaining for the Canadians I think.

I thought it best to get the garden ready this afternoon. The thing about gardening though, is that weather happens. You can only do so much to help the plants. Sometimes they die. That’s life. ┬áMy task list was pretty small:

  • stake all the large broadbeans (a couple of months ago it snowed and they got hammered). They look a bit wonky in the pic below. That’s because I ran out of tights to tie them up. I will have cold legs.
  • pick all the ripe limes, lemons and mandarins
  • tuck the seedlings away in their house
  • put the shovel and secateurs close to the garage entrance
  • admire my winter garden while it still looks good . . . because next week it may all be under water
  • open the doors of the house to give it a big dose of fresh air before we hunker down

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What’s quite good about this Sustainability Wench bizzo, is that if the shops shut, I can:

The hardest bit will be keeping the small fry entertained.

Christchurch-Style Pumpkin and Choc Muffins

14 Jun

Last night I mashed up a whole lot of extra pumpkin with dinner, so I could make these pumpkin and choc muffins today. I’m not the biggest pumpkin fan, so need to find interesting ways to cook the ones we’ve grown over summer.

A big motivation for this project was nostalgia. When I was in my teens, there was a cafe at the Arts Centre in town that served these muffins. Sadly, the Arts Centre has been closed since the earthquakes. Happily, I found the secret recipe on the internet.

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Put the following in a bowl (I am too lazy to sift):

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • 1.5 tsp cinammon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 cup choc chips

Melt 100 grams butter, whisk in 2 eggs. Add this mixture to 2 cups of cold mashed pumpkin.

Add the butter/egg/pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and stir gently together. I used medium size muffin thingies, and cooked for about 20 minutes at 180deg Celsius, which is a tad different to the original recipe.

These muffins got the thumbs up from the Friday Arvo School Mums and Dad today. One of them went home and cooked up some pumpkin in preparation for muffin-making tomorrow. My 6 year old was clearly shocked that something as ‘gross’ as pumpkin, could feature in something so tasty as these muffins.

Free Food in the Christchurch Red Zone

24 May

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Today’s sustainable adventure was a trip into one of Christchurch’s earthquake-devastated suburbs, Bexley, to forage for forgotten fruit and veges. I was in two minds about the project. I didn’t want to disrespect or offend previous residents, but I didn’t want good food to go to waste. Though this practice is increasingly common, there is no clear protocol around foraging in the red zones (areas that are no longer inhabited, or inhabited by very few due to the land and/or houses being so broken). I made up my own protocol:

  • Take bottled fruit in case an opportunity arose to barter or thank residents.
  • Completely avoid homes where people were still living.
  • Plan to make a swift and respectful retreat should I be asked to.
  • Pause and reflect (not difficult).
  • Not strip entire trees or gardens of fruit and veg.
  • Go with a friend to be safe (today I went with my friend Janine).

It turns out there wasn’t much to be worried about. There was nobody around. The only person who walked past gave us a thumbs up as we dug potatoes.

Pretty much everything we found was from empty sections where houses had been removed. Although nature is taking over the properties, you can still see the trees and shrubs people had planted. There are beautiful roses and climbers, an abundance of native gardens, garden ornaments and wheelbarrows. Some of the plants will have been birthday presents or grown painstakingly from seed. Most will have been grown with green thumb love. Mother’s will have buried their baby’s placenta under some of these plants. It’s impossible to separate the human element from gardens, no matter how wild they’ve become. But such was the chaos, mess, and frustration of living in the red zone, that you can see people just left their gardens without looking back.

I came home with a bag of lemons, apples, potatoes, and lots of rainbow silverbeet for the chickens. Which, it turns out, they don’t like.

On the way home Janine and I stopped off at Willows Cafe where the chef gave us some free berry brulee treat and we gave him some of our free lemons.

An interesting day.

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