Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Colleen Duggan, Jaimie Sweetman, Jo Buckle, Lee Hirsh, Liz Morrigan, Maude Farrugia and Monica Ludekens.
The berries of mahonias (by Jaimie Sweetman)
[Jaimie Sweetman is Head Gardener of the Edible Forest located on the Yarra Valley Estate in Dixons Creek. Tours of the Edible Forest, often led by Jaimie, take place on Fridays and Saturdays – read more and book your place on a future tour.]
There are around 70 species of in the Mahonia genus. All have berries which are edible but extremely sour.
Some mahonias, such as Mahonia aquifolium, have the common name of Oregon grape and originated in North America. The Native Americans would probably not have eaten these berries as they didn’t have access to sugar but now they can make a tasty dessert by mashing the berries in a bowl and adding sugar and milk. At the Edible Forest, we dehydrate our berries and put them in tea blends as they are really high in vitamin C.
The mahonia in the photos below is Mahonia napaulensis.
The yellow flower spikes appear in May and early June and their colour they really does stand out in Winter. The berries are ripe in early spring (i.e. now). The best thing about mahonias is the unusual time that they it flower and fruit when not much else is flowering or fruiting.
Mahonia are very spiky. So, if you want a living fence that has the potential to keep out deer or unwanted guests, they are potentially your solution.
Some species reach up to three metres in height but can be contained to a smaller size by pruning.
Read more of Jaimie’s articles about unusual edible plants on our website.
More on hot composting
Last week, Alice Glenn asked for suggestions or offers on hot composting bays at local community gardens that she could visit. Lots of you responded, including Colleen Duggan, Jo Buckle, Liz Morrigan, Maude Farrugia and Monica Ludekens. Thanks, everyone!
Jo Buckle’s response included a number of interesting points:
Jo has kindly sent in a couple of photos of her composting bays. The left hand photo shows the bays running along the inside of her fence, with the hole through which her Sharewaste colleagues push through their food scraps above the right most bay (above the cat, which is apparently called Bertie). The right hand photo shows the hole from the street side of her fence, together with a mural and instructions for how people should push through their food scraps.
Something for you to read
Why do bean plants develop white spots on their leaves, and is it a problem? by Angelo Eliades.
Quattro formaggio pie (by Julia Busuttil Nishimura)
Julia, who is from Fitzroy North, developed this recipe as a way of using lots of little bits of cheese leftover in your fridge as part of Sustainability Victoria’s I Love Leftovers Challenge.
You can use 2, 3 or 4 cheeses. Just make sure that one of the cheeses is a melting cheese, like mozzarella or provolone.
For the filling:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely sliced
3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
3 tablespoons mascarpone or pure cream
2 eggs (1 for filling and 1 for egg wash)
325g mixed cheeses, such as fontina, taleggio, provolone, mozzarella, comte, parmesan
a handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper
For the sour cream pastry:
400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
200g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
100g full-fat sour cream
iced water, as needed
To make the sour cream pastry:
Combine the flour and a good pinch of salt in a large bowl or on a work surface. Toss the butter through the flour to coat then, using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it is pebbly. You want to rub the butter into flatter pieces rather than into something that resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the sour cream and, with a gentle touch, bring the pastry together. Sprinkle over some iced water, as needed, if the dough is a little dry. Shape into a rough square, wrap in baking paper or place into a container and refrigerate for 1 hour until firm.
To make the pie:
Pre-heat your oven to 180degC. Line a large round baking tray with baking paper.
Warm the extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan over a low heat. Add the onions with the thyme and a pinch of salt and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are soft and beginning to colour. Transfer to a bowl.
Whisk one of the eggs with the mascarpone or cream in a small bowl and add to the onions.
Grate or crumble the cheeses into the bowl along with the parsley. Mix well and season to taste.
On a lightly floured work surface, cut the dough in half and roll out in half to a 28 cm round, 3-4 mm thick. Drape the pastry onto the prepared tray. Tip the filling onto the pastry base and spread it out, leaving a 4 cm border. Roll out the second half of the pastry dough, then drop it over the filling. Press the pastry edges together and use your hands to crimp the edges towards the pie, sealing in the filling. Make a small hole in the top of the pie to allow the steam to escape.
Whisk the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon of water and brush the egg wash all over the pastry. Transfer to the oven and bake for 45- 50 minutes, until the pie is golden. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
The Melbourne ‘Local Food Connections’ community radio show
This upcoming Sunday’s episode will feature Virginia Solomon talking about suburban homesteading. Listen on 3CR (855 AM) on Sunday morning, 10-10.30am, by tuning into either the station (855 AM) or its livestream.
Audio recordings of previous episodes are available on their website.
Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?
The most popular link in the last newsletter was The Darebin Fruit Squad’s free citrus tree pruning workshop on Saturday, 14th October, in Bundoora.
Joke (or pun) of the week
A man decides that he wanted to make his own honey, so he purchased 100 bees from his local beekeeper. When he got home ,he counted his bees and discovered that he actually had 101 . Being an honest man, he called the beekeeper back to tell him that he had taken one too many.
“That’s ok,” the beekeeper told him, “the extra one is a freebee.”
(Submitted by Lee Hirsh.)
Read more jokes.
Regular activities over the coming week
Farmers’ and other food markets
- Thursday: Buna (Heidelberg West), Diamond Valley Library (Greensborough), Edible Hub (Hurstbridge), SEEDs (Brunswick) and Whittlesea.
- Friday: Reynard Street (Coburg) and West Brunswick.
- Saturday: Links (Lalor), Macleod and Thrive (Diamond Creek).
- Sunday: Bellfield, Creeds Farm (Epping), Fawkner Food Bowls, Merri Corner (Brunswick East), Pentridge (Coburg), Regent (Reservoir) and West Brunswick.
- Monday: Panton Hill, SEEDs (Brunswick) and Whittlesea.
- Tuesday: Watsonia.
- Next Wednesday: Bellfield, Eltham Neighbourhood House, Macleod, Newton Street (Reservoir), Span (Thornbury) and Sylvester Hive (Preston) .
Not food-related but interesting
Generating one’s own energy for both home and travel; Thursday, 28th September, 7.30-9.30pm; Eltham,
Guy Palmer [Editor: yes, that’s me!] first installed a battery-based solar system in 2013, the main aim being not to use any grid electricity for most of the year. In 2019, he bought an electric car, the main aim being to utilise his surplus generated energy. In this presentation, Guy will talk about the battery, the electric car and how the whole thing works together to minimise his external energy footprint. Organised by Nillumbik Climate Action Team. At Platform 3095, 965 Main Road, Eltham. Just turn up.
Malahang Community Festival; Sunday, 12th November, 10am-4pm; free; Heidelberg West.
Featuring: entertainment by local and First Nations performers; circus workshops; art workshops; face painting; live reptiles; basketball tournament and soccer clinics; tai chi and zumba sessions; scouts rope bridge and sport try outs; food and drink trucks; and a community BBQ. At Malahang Reserve, Oriel Road, Heidelberg West. Just turn up.
Upcoming face-to-face events – not cooking
Reducing food waste at home; 3 occurrences on Wednesdays, 11th October, 25th October and 8th November, each 5-7pm; free; Preston.
The workshop will highlight ways to extend the life of seasonally-available produce and ways to put commonly-discarded parts of a plant to good use. Organised by Oakhill Food Justice Farm.
5 rums, 5 cheeses and 5 beers will be matched together. Jointly hosted by Moon Dog Brewing, Archie Rose and Cheese Culture.
Backyard beekeeping basics; Saturday, 11th November, 11am-1pm; $80 ($40 per hour); CERES.
The session will cover: protective clothing and occupational health and safety; hive components and assembly; bee biology and seasonal management; legislation; diseases and pests of bees; extracting honey; inspecting hive for disease; purchasing hives; and other products from the hive. Presenter: Ashton Edgley-Ashton.
Setting up a worm farm; Saturday, 11th November, 2-3.30pm; free; Edendale.
Learn how to set up a worm farm and the easiest methods to manage and care for these most hard-working of creatures. This workshop will cover both the theory and practice of worm farming in a household setting. It will be useful for those wishing to recycle household food waste in order to produce worm products for use in the improvement of soil in gardens and pot plants. Discounted worm farms will be available for sale on the day.
To be eligible for the government subsidised fee, you need to be either a permanent resident and/or an Australian Citizen/New Zealand Citizen and not enrolled in mainstream secondary school. This practical, hands-on course will give you an understanding of what permaculture is and how it can be applied in both a home garden setting and a commercial setting. Tutor: Justin Calverley. Organised by Living & Learning Nillumbik.
- Beeswax wrap workshop; Wednesday, 20th September, 2.30-4.30pm; free; Doncaster.
- Community meal sharing; Thursday, 21st September, 11.30am-12.30pm; free; Balwyn.
- Irrigation and water management (2 sessions); on Saturday, 23rd September, 10am-2pm and Sunday, 24th September, 10am-3pm; $359 ($40 per hour); Bundoora and Bellfield.
- Watering your garden workshop; Saturday, 23rd September, 2.30-4.30pm; $47 ($24 per hour); Bundoora.
- Introduction to growing microgreens; Sunday, 24th September, 10am-midday; $80 ($40 per hour); Preston.
- Kids composting workshop; Tuesday, 26th September, 10-11am; free; Doncaster.
- Farming for our future (ages 5 to 8); Tuesday, 26th September, 10am-midday; free; CERES.
- Women’s health – how nutrition can improve hormone health; Tuesday, 26th September, 7-8pm; free; Richmond.
- Farm to fork (ages 3 to 5); Wednesday, 27th September, 1-3pm; free; CERES.
- Buzzing around; Thursday, 28th September, 11am-midday; free; Edendale.
- Growing mushrooms at home; Saturday, 30th September, 10.30am-1pm; $135 ($54 per hour); Alphington.
- Growing nutrient dense food; Sunday, 1st October, 10am-3pm; $120 ($24 per hour); CERES.
- Keeping backyard chickens; Wednesday, 4th October, 6.30-8pm; free; Doncaster.
- Keeping chickens with Ella Boyen; Wednesday, 4th October, 6.30-8.30pm; free; Doncaster.
- Diabetes and healthy eating for older adults; Thursday, 5th October, 11am-12.30pm; free; Lalor.
- Urban foraging 101; Saturday, 7th October, 10am-midday; free; South Morang.
- Marketing your product; Saturday, 7th October, 10am-2pm; $125 ($31 per hour); Northcote.
- Queensland fruit fly – what you can do; Saturday, 7th October, 10.30-11.30am; free; Lilydale.
- Edible weeds walk; Saturday, 7th October, 10.30am-12.30pm; $30 ($15 per hour); Coburg.
- Edible weeds walk; Saturday, 7th October, 1.30-3.30pm; $30 ($15 per hour); Coburg.
- Croxton / Marra Guwiyap Community Garden open garden (Northcote); Sunday, 8th October, 11am-2pm; free; Northcote.
- Spoil to soil; Monday, 9th October, 9.30am-12.30pm; free; Brunswick.
- Rosés from around the world; Tuesday, 10th October, 6-8pm; $65 ($33 per hour); Abbotsford.
- Reducing food waste at home; Wednesday, 11th October, 5-7pm; free; Preston.
- Growing food at home (10 sessions); Consecutive Thursdays from 12th October, 9.30am-1pm; $93 ($3 per hour); Heidelberg West.
- Archie Rose x Cheese Culture x Moon Dog pairing experience; Thursday, 12th October, 7.30-9.30pm; $84 ($42 per hour); Preston.
- Urban food gardening (10 sessions); on consecutive Fridays, starting 13th October, 9.30am-1.30pm; $50 ($1 per hour); Brunswick.
- Kevin Heinze GROW Spring Fair (Coburg); Saturday, 14th October, 9am-3pm; gold coin; Coburg.
- Kevin Heinze GROW Spring Fair (Doncaster); Saturday, 14th October, 9am-3pm; gold coin; Doncaster.
- Citrus tree pruning workshop; Saturday, 14th October, 10am-midday; free; Bundoora.
- Growing great tomatoes; Saturday, 14th October, 10am-3pm; $120 ($24 per hour); CERES.
- Edible weeds walk; Saturday, 14th October, 10.30am-12.30pm; $30 ($15 per hour); Coburg.
- Rushall Community Garden open day; Saturday, 14th October, 12.30-3pm; free; Fitzroy North.
- Composting, worm farming and Bokashi; Saturday, 14th October, 1.30-2.30pm; free; Ringwood.
- Edible weeds walk; Saturday, 14th October, 1.30-3.30pm; $30 ($15 per hour); Coburg.
- Your happy vegetable garden memory turned to art; Sunday, 15th October, 1.30-3.30pm; free; Reservoir.
- Unwrapped – food and beverage quick bites; Tuesday, 17th October, 7-9.15am; free; Epping.
- Composting, worm farming and Bokashi workshop; Tuesday, 17th October, 10.30am-midday; free; Bayswater North.
- Awara open garden; Sunday, 22nd October, 10-11.30am; $20 ($14 per hour); Pascoe Vale South.
- DIY mushrooms; Sunday, 22nd October, 10am-4pm; $175 ($29 per hour); CERES.
- Edible weed walk; Sunday, 22nd October, 10.30am-12.30pm; free; Heidelberg West.
- Watch it grow; Tuesday, 24th October, 4-5pm; free; Edendale.
- Reducing food waste at home; Wednesday, 25th October, 5-7pm; free; Preston.
- Urban food gardening (8 sessions); consecutive Thursdays starting 26th October, 10am-2.30pm; $80 for all 8 sessions; Edendale.
- Community garden tour; Saturday, 28th October, 10am-2.30pm; $10; Banyule.
- Home brewing; Saturday, 28th October, 10am-2.30pm; $100 ($22 per hour); CERES.
- Organic vegetable gardening; Saturday, 28th October, 10am-3pm; $120 ($24 per hour); CERES.
- Foraging workshop; Saturday, 28th October, 1-3pm; $10; Ringwood.
- Edible weeds; Sunday, 29th October, 10am-midday; $60 ($30 per hour); CERES.
- Beekeeping workshop; roughly once a month on Saturdays, 1-3.30pm; $85 ($34 per hour); Brunswick East.
- Carlton aperitvio food tour; every Friday, 5-7pm; $139 ($70 per hour); Carlton.
- Classic cocktails; various Tuesdays, 7-10pm; $70 ($23 per hour); Fitzroy.
- Edible Forest tours; every Friday and Saturday, 11am-1pm and again at 1-3pm; $25 ($13 per hour); Dixons Creek.
- Eltham trails (walking food tour); various Saturday mornings and Thursday evenings; $65 ($22 per hour); Eltham.
- Flavours of Coburg food tour; 3rd Saturday of each month, 10am-1pm; $65 ($22 per hour); Coburg.
- Gin making masterclass; most Saturdays, 10am-1pm; $175 ($58 per hour); Nunawading.
- Gin masterclass; most Saturdays and Sundays, midday-1pm; $80 ($80 per hour); Eltham.
- Ratio Cocoa Roasters behind the scenes chocolate factory tour; various Fridays and Saturdays; $20 ($14 per hour); Brunswick.
- Spoon carving workshop; various Saturdays and Sundays, 10am-1pm; $130 ($43 per hour); Coburg North.
- Truffle workshop at Ratio Cocoa Roasters; 3rd Sunday of each month, 11am-1pm; $75 ($38 per hour); Brunswick.
- Wine tasting masterclass; Saturdays, 3-5pm; various prices; Northcote.
Upcoming face-to-face events – cooking
Tasty meals; Sunday, 29th October, 2-3.30pm; free; Ivanhoe.
Julia, from Green Karma, will demonstrate a range of handy hacks such as turning your leftover rice into a veggie burger.
Pasta making class with Piera; Saturday, 11th November, 10am-1pm; $140 ($47 per hour); Thomastown.
Learn how to make the dough from scratch and how to shape the pasta. You will learn how to make orecchiette, garganelli and maccheroncini. You will also learn how to make two sauces (alla norma and quattro formaggi). At the end, enjoy the pasta you have made together with a class of wine. Presenter: Piera Pagnoni.
You will learn how to make mozzarella, burrata and stracciatella cheeses. You will take home what you make. Presenter: Kristen Allan.
Vegan cooking Italian style; Sunday, 12th November, 10am-3pm; $120 ($24 per hour); CERES.
You will be shown a selection of vegan dishes with an Italian flavour and you will finish with a feast. The menu: napoli sauce, gnocchi, ricotta , arancini, risotto, mushroom florentine sauce, bechamel sauce and tiramisu. Presenter: Nase Supplitt.
- Cookie decorating; Wednesday, 20th September, 3-5pm; free; Coburg.
- Preserving and drying citrus; Thursday, 21st September, 11am-midday; free; Greensborough.
- All day art day – feeling fruity fantastic; Friday, 22nd September, 9.30am-3.15pm; $89 ($15 per hour); Forest Hill.
- Family miso soup ball making with Rieko Hayashi; Saturday, 23rd September, 10am-midday; $35 ($18 per hour); Fitzroy North.
- Introduction to fermenting at home; Sunday, 24th September, 10am-1pm; $80 ($27 per hour); CERES.
- Junior chefs – main course; Monday, 25th September, midday-3pm; $5; Hawthorn.
- Mid-autumn moon cakes; Monday, 25th September, 6-7.30pm; free; Brunswick.
- No waste cooking workshop; Wednesday, 27th September, 10-11.30am; free; Bayswater North.
- Junior chefs – desserts; Wednesday, 27th September, midday-3pm; $5; Hawthorn.
- Cheesy stuffed arancini (for children); Thursday, 28th September, 11am-midday; $15; Lilydale.
- The basics of pickling (2 sessions); on Sundays 1st and 8th October, each 11am-2pm; $74 ($12 per hour); Forest Hill.
- Jaclyn Crupi – pasta love; Wednesday, 4th October, 6.30-8pm; free; Fitzroy North.
- The cook program (9 sessions); on Thursdays starting 5th October, 9.30am-1.30pm; $50 ($1 per hour); Brunswick.
- Fermenting vegetables for beginners with Jen Willis; Thursday, 5th October, 7.30-9.30pm; free; Bundoora.
- More than a loaf of bread; Saturday, 7th October, 10am-12.30pm; $51 ($20 per hour); Brunswick.
- Herbal tea workshop with Monique; Saturday, 7th October, 10.30-11.45am; $59 ($47 per hour); Northcote.
- Handmade sobagaki workshop with Rieko Hayashi; Saturday, 7th October, 11am-1pm; $75 ($38 per hour); Fitzroy North.
- Sri Lankan cooking class; Monday, 9th October, 6-8.30pm; $95 ($38 per hour); Surrey Hills.
- Cooking with your grandkids; Tuesday, 10th October, 11am-12.30pm; $10; Hurstbridge.
- Cooking from the pantry (9 sessions); on 9 consecutive Tuesdays from 10th October, 9.30am-midday; $50 ($2 per hour); Lower Templestowe.
- Sourdough basics; Thursday, 12th October, 6.30-8.30pm; $120 ($60 per hour); Collingwood.
- Food storage workshop with Open Table; Saturday, 14th October, 2-4pm; free; Carlton.
- Sourdough bread making; Sunday, 15th October, 10am-1pm; $55 ($18 per hour); Panton Hill.
- Soft fresh cheese making including goats cheese; Sunday, 15th October, 10am-3pm; $240 ($48 per hour); CERES.
- FFS … ferment four staples; Sunday, 15th October, 11.30am-4.30pm; $425 ($85 per hour); Fitzroy North.
- Cooking with your grandkids; Tuesday, 17th October, 11am-12.30pm; $10; Box Hill.
- Jaclyn Crupi; Wednesday, 18th October, 2-3pm; free; Northcote.
- Cooking for one (5 sessions); on Thursdays, starting 19th October, 11am-1pm; $50 ($5 per hour); Lilydale.
- Kombucha / Jun M.O.B.; Thursday, 19th October, 6.30-8.30pm; $150 ($75 per hour); Fitzroy North.
- Warm up with no waste cooking; Thursday, 19th October, 7-8.30pm; free; Thomastown.
- Sourdough; Saturday, 21st October, 10.30am-1.30pm; $130 ($43 per hour); Kinglake.
- Croquembouche workshop; Saturday, 21st October, 1.30-5.30pm; $134 ($34 per hour); Lower Templestowe.
- Vegan chocolate making; Sunday, 22nd October, 10-11.30am; $80 ($53 per hour); Collingwood.
- Three ways with red curry paste; Sunday, 22nd October, 10.30am-3pm; $190 ($42 per hour); Panton Hill.
- Pizza masterclass with Antonio; Sunday, 22nd October, 11am-2pm; $86 ($29 per hour); Eltham.
- Finger foods to make at home; Tuesday, 24th October, 6-8.30pm; $65 ($26 per hour); Hawthorn.
- Cooking for one; Tuesday, 24th October, 7-8.30pm; free; Eltham.
- Nutrition and food literacy (6 sessions); on Thursdays, starting 26th October, 9.30am-12.30pm; $70 ($4 per hour); Preston.
- Croissants workshop; Saturday, 28th October, 1.30-4pm; $64 ($26 per hour); Lower Templestowe.
- Healthy cooking hacks for families; Saturday, 28th October, 2-3.30pm; free; Lalor.
- Tasty meals; Sunday, 29th October, 2-3.30pm; free; Ivanhoe.
- Al dente cooking (Italian); most Saturdays, 9am-1pm; $155 ($39 per hour); Chirnside Park.
- BBQ classes; various days and times; $135-150 ($45-50 per hour); Brunswick East.
- Bread making; various Sundays, 8am-2pm; $230 ($38 per hour); Abbotsford.
- Brunswick Kitchen (many different classes); various dates, times and prices but mostly 2½ hours long and $120; Brunswick.
- Chocolate making and pastry classes for children; various days and times; various costs; Yarra Glen.
- Chocolate making workshop; various Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; $152 ($38 per hour); Blackburn.
- Chocolate making workshop; various Saturdays and Sundays; $125 ($63 per hour); Box Hill North.
- Juanita’s Kitchen (plant-based); various dates, times and prices; Preston.
- Kombucha brewing workshop; last Thursday of each month, 7-11pm; $49 ($12 per hour); Brunswick.
- La Cucina di Sandra (Italian); various evenings, 6.30-10.30pm; $120 ($30 per hour); Richmond.
- Margot & Montanez (alfajores biscuits); monthly on Sundays, 10am-1pm ; $109 ($36 per hour); Camberwell.
- Nonna & Mum’s cooking class; 4th Thursday of each month, 7-10pm; $24 ($8 per hour); Thornbury.
- Otao Kitchen (many different classes); various dates, times and prices but mostly 3 hours long and $197; Abbotsford.
- Rosa’s cooking classes (Italian); various Saturdays and Sundays, 10.15am-3pm; mostly $165 ($35 per hour); Bundoora.
- Sourdough bread workshop; roughly once a month on Saturdays, 9-11.30am; $185 ($74 per hour); Brunswick East.
- Taiwanese cooking; 1st Saturday of each month, midday-2.30pm; $126 ($50 per hour); Brunswick.
- Tea blending; various Sundays; $75 ($60 per hour); Brunswick.
- The ultimate biscuit class; various Tuesdays, 10am-3pm; $162 ($32 per hour); Blackburn.