Aug 032022

Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Allira Haeusler, Ann Stanley, Bev Middleton, Choon yin Yeok, Frances Gibson, Jeremy Mather, Julie Merlet, Karen Crosbie, Rebecca O’Dwyer, Renaee Churches, Rob Body, Sarah Mathers and Sonia Gatti.

Bev’s soil fun fact of the week

[Bev Middleton lives in Macleod and is from Soil Week Australia.]

Humans are way faster at making soil than nature. If we had to leave it up to nature to make up soil at the rate it is eroding, we’d be in a pickle because it can take up to 1,000 years to form 1cm of topsoil! Thankfully, humans can also make our own soil (hello compost) and restore degraded soil through better land management and farming practices. There are already farmers doing this and building the resilience of their land and their production.

Want to be on radio?

Melbourne radio station 3CR is interested in having a weekly Local Food Connect radio show, which will apparently draw much of its content from this newsletter(!). They are currently seeking expressions of interest from people to be part of the team of presenters. Training in radio broadcasting and production will be available. If potentially interested, please contact Ann Stanley by phone (0423 431745) or email (

Pop-up food relief market grants

The Victorian Government is providing $1.25 million in grants to community organisations to deliver free and low-cost food to people in need, through new pop-up food relief markets across Melbourne. Applications close 17th August. Read more and potentially apply.

One of the places where this initiative was announced was Brunswick Neighbourhood House. Watch this 30 second video.

Do you know?

Jeremy Mather has a few of these (see picture right) for covering fruit on trees but does not know where they came from as they were a present. Does anyone know what they are called and where they can be bought? Email me.

More on eating the leaves of Brussels sprouts

From Rob Body: “I grew up in the UK where my mother would often send me to shop at the local greengrocer to buy Brussels sprouts tops and/or Spring greens which we ate regularly. Some time ago, we visited the Brussels sprouts farm located in Coldstream (Adams Farms) where I remember suggesting to the owner that he could have another market for his produce by selling the ‘greens’ in Vic Market.

More on truffles

Last week, I talked about how Eltham residents Frances and Greg Gibson, from Howqua Truffles, have been harvesting their truffles and making them available for sale (if you are interested in buying some, contact Frances by phone (0409 414 325) or email ( As I had never tasted truffle, I decided to buy some from Frances and, over the last week, I have eaten truffle ice cream, truffle scrambled eggs, truffle, leek & mushroom risotto and truffle camembert. Of these 4, my favourite was the truffle scrambled eggs, whose recipe is given below.

Truffle has a unique taste and, as such, it is difficult to describe. My best attempt is to say that it tastes like I always imagined umami would taste like; earthy and a bit like essence of mushroom, if it existed, might taste.

Truffle scrambled eggs

4 fresh large eggs
3 tablespoons of cream
20g salted butter
20g of black truffle, thinly shaved
salt and pepper

Overnight, place the uncooked eggs in a sealed glass jar with the truffle – the truffle aroma will infuse with the eggs.

The next day, mix together the eggs and cream.

Gently heat the butter until melted and add the egg mixture.

Stir carefully with a wooden spoon until the eggs are cooked to your desired consistency.

Plate up, shaving/grating the truffle over the eggs.

Add salt and pepper plus a parsley garnish.

Mitcham Community Meal

I’ve mentioned the Mitcham Community Meal before but it’s such a great example of community that I’m going to mention it again (and again). As they say on their Facebook page, “Mitcham Community Meal provides a free hot meal each Sunday night @ 6 PM. It’s run by the community for the community. Please come and join us on Sunday.” A key point is that a different local club, business, or church group provides, serves and pays for the meal each week and, since they started in 2018, around 100 different teams have prepared at least one meal. During July. for example:

  • On 3rd July, San, friends and others served up pumpkin soup, rice, chickpeas, carrots & butter chicken, and banana & sultana self saucing pudding.
  • On 10th July, Lifegate Church provided and served the meal.
  • On 17th July, Antonio Park Primary School (pictured below) and others treated their guests to pea & ham soup, spaghetti bolognese & assorted pasta bakes and warm fruit crumble with custard & ice cream.
  • On 24th July, Team Costas Constructions, a local building company, and others made sausage and lentil soup, vegetarian curry with rice & naans and sticky date pudding with ice cream & custard.
  • On 31st July, Karinya Counselling Centre, Syndal Community Care and others served up sweet potato & lentil soup, burgers & chips and peach cakes with custard & ice cream.


Newsletter reader website of the week – Julie Merlet

Julie’s company NATIF (N=Native; A=Australian; T=Traditional; I=Indigenous; F=Foods) sells a wide range of native foods online on her website, with the main categories being fruits & fruit powders, herbs & spices, beverages and wellness products.

The native foods used include aniseed myrtle, boab, bunya nut, bush tomato, cinnamon myrtle, davidson plum, desert lime, fingerlime, geraldton wax, kakadu plum, lemon myrtle, mountain pepperleaf, muntrie, pepperberry, peppermint gum, quandong, riberry, rivermint, saltbush, strawberry gum and wattleseed.

NATIF values knowing where native foods come from, the method & ethics of collection, and the rights of the Indigenous people who collect some of this food. All of their packaging is either recyclable or biodegradable.

See Julie’s website.

Go to her online shop. Spend $10 or more online and receive a free native foods cookbook by typing in the word ‘Cooee’ in the discount code upon checkout.

Do you have a website that might be of interest to some of our readership? If so, send me an email and I will include you in a future newsletter.

The results of last week’s competition

There were five entries and the winner is Sonia Gatti for her photo of Sturt’s desert peas (followed closely by Karen Crosbie for her photo of Sturt’s desert peas!).

Choon yin Yeok
Leptospermum laevigatum
(coast tea tree)
Karen Crosbie
Swainsona formosa (formerly Clianthus formosus)
(Sturt’s desert pea)
Photo taken in early July in Broken Hill.
Rebecca O’Dwyer
Hakea laurina

(pin-cushion hakea)
I predict the competition will be a battle of the WA species – they are always so spectacular!
Sonia Gatti
Swainsona formosa
(Sturt’s desert pea)
Photo taken in the middle of town in Coober Pedy, South Australia.
Sonia Gatti
Eremophila maculata
(Spotted emu bush or spotted fuchsia-bush)
Also taken in Coober Pedy.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link in the last newsletter was Jill Brailsford’s online shop.

b33e661f-c100-4ebe-9ffa-847952e0da4e.jpgJoke (or pun) of the week

A neutron walks into a bar.
How much for a beer?” the neutron asks.
For you?” says the bartender, “No charge.

Read more jokes.


Regular activities over the coming week

Farmers’ markets
Food swaps

The folks at Reynard Street Community Garden in Coburg have confirmed that their new Food and Garden Swap will now be a regular monthly event on the 2nd Saturday of the month at 10.30am-12.30pm for at least the rest of the year.

At the Warrandyte Food Swap on Saturday, there will be medlar jelly made by Carol Woolcock, including tastings with crackers and brie.

After the Montmorency Food Swap at the Hub on Sunday, Marina Bistrin will give a talk from 11am to midday on how you can use your weeds. The focus will be on how to compost your weeds to make your compost more nutritious, but there will also be extra information on which are edible and/or medicinal plus you’ll get tips on how to stop your weeds re-growing in your compost. Take any weeds you would like to talk about.

Community gardens

The Panton Hill community garden now has regular meet ups on Mondays, 3-5pm during school terms.

Upcoming face-to-face events – not cooking

Home composting for beginners; Saturday, 6th August, 2-3.30pm; free; Edendale.

What you will learn: how to compost at home; simple to follow composting steps; and common problems and solutions.

Beeswax wraps; Saturday, 20th August, 3.30-5.30pm; $75 ($38 per hour); Panton Hill.

Jenna will show you how to create your own beeswax wraps, which will change the way you store food. You will make and take home a selection of small and medium sized wraps. Organised by Panton Hill Neighbourhood House.

Cheese and beer masterclass; Thursday, 25th August, 7-9pm; $64 ($32 per hour); Preston.

6 cheeses will be matched with 6 beers. Jointly hosted by Moon Dog Brewing and Cheese Culture.

The power of rocket stove technology – demonstration evening; Friday, 2nd September, 7.30-9pm; $25 ($16 per hour); Research.

Hear rocket stove and efficient combustion enthusiast, Joel Meadows, talk about what makes these devices burn so cleanly and efficiently. Joel will also demonstrate a range of clean burning appliances that you can see in action, and then enjoy hot drinks and pizza. Organised by NERP.

The power of rocket stove technology – workshop build; Saturday, 3rd September, 10am-5pm; $75 ($11 per hour); Templestowe.

You can only attended this workshop if you have also enrolled in the demonstration evening on Friday, 2nd September. You will work with rocket stove and efficient combustion enthusiast, Joel Meadows, to build a simple, durable rocket cooker from house bricks and cob. A converted, reclaimed wall oven will be used to sit over the rocket cooker. They will cooking in the oven by the end of the workshop.

Caring for backyard chooks; Sunday, 4th September, 2-4pm; $25 ($13 per hour); Edendale.

Learn the basics of backyard chicken keeping, including the characteristics of different breeds (in order to make a selection that suits your setting and needs), housing and care needs of chickens. This workshop will suit those who are keen to learn the basics. Participants will leave with the knowledge and confidence to begin keeping chickens and producing their own free-range eggs. Presenter: Raewyn Pickering.

Tequila & Mezcal Festival; Saturday, 17th September, 5.30pm-midnight; $27 (general admission) or $79 (includes tequilas and tacos); Preston.

There will be presentations about tequila, mezcal and agave distillates plus 4 tequilas to sample. There will also be food and live music.

Backyard chooks for families; Tuesday, 20th September, 2-4pm; $10 per child (accompanying adults are free); Edendale.

This workshop is for families with children over the age of 8 who are wanting to learn the basics of backyard chicken keeping. You will learn about the characteristics of different breeds (in order to make a selection that suits your setting and needs) as well as the housing and care of chickens. You will leave this workshop with the knowledge and confidence to begin keeping chickens and producing their own free-range eggs. Presenter: Raewyn Pickering.

Mushroom growing masterclass; Thursday, 22nd September, 6.30-9.30pm;$145 ($48 per hour); Collingwood.

You will learn the practical skills to grow a never-ending supply of mushrooms yourself, gaining the knowledge to create a self-sufficient, closed-loop ecosystem. You will also learn the 4 step lifecycle of mushroom cultivation, tips for harvesting and alternative applications for different growing mediums and species. Tutor: Eric Fenessy from Uncle Steezy’s Hot Sauce.

Spring veggie gardening; Sunday, 25th September, 9.30-10.15am; $15 (reimbursable at the nursery); Diamond Creek.

Kate Hall will discuss when to plant your veggies and how to set yourself up for a successful summer harvest. Organised by Nillumbik Nursery.

Produce in pots; Sunday, 25th September, 9.30am-12.30pm; $55 ($18 per hour); Bulleen Art and Garden Nursery.

What you will learn: why edibles fail and how to improve their chances of success; how to choose the right pots, potting mix, additives and mulches; the best fruit and vegetables options for pots; and the best sustainable and organic maintenance techniques, including watering and feeding. Presented by Diana Cotter.

In August
In September
Regular events
Eltham trials (walking food tour); various Saturday mornings and Thursday evenings; $65 ($22 per hour); Eltham.

This tour includes a progressive 3-course meal at 4-5 eateries, with stories about the history behind the foods and flavours of the shops. Wander through the local spice shops, butchers and delis. Visit some local retail outlets to browse through the arts and crafts of the region.

Upcoming face-to-face events – cooking

Sourdough bread making; Saturday, 20th August, 9am-midday; $74 ($25 per hour); Panton Hill.

Learn how to make sourdough bread. You will take home both a crusty loaf and your own sourdough starter. Tutor Jenna Farrington-Sear, who can also give you ongoing support and advice if you need it. Organised by Panton Hill Neighbourhood House.

Kombucha and kefir; Saturday, 20th August, 1-3pm; $55 ($28 per hour); Panton Hill.

Jenna will show you how to make your own kombucha and kefir. Organised by Panton Hill Neighbourhood House.

Turkish vegetarian cooking; Friday, 2nd September, 6.30-8.30pm; $65 ($33 per hour); Balwyn North.

Join Arzu Yilmaz to learn how to make four different vegetarian dishes (e.g. a lentil soup, a meze, Turkish borek and a dessert). Arzu will also talk about her experiences as an Istanbul girl and her Turkish identity. Organised by Trentwood at the Hub

Pizza making masterclass; Sunday, 11th September, 11am-1.30pm; $99 ($40 per hour); Northcote.

Edoardo Nicita, from Shop 225, will demonstrate how to create pizza dough from scratch and you will then make margherita and truffle mushroom pizzas. At the end, you will eat the creations with your new found foodie friends!

Fermentation for beginners; Thursday, 22nd September, 7-10pm; $112 ($37 per hour); Richmond.

Learn the basics of lacto fermentation. At the end, take home three ferments: sauerkraut, fermented onions and fermented carrots. Organised by The Fermented Mumma.

An artisan vegan chocolate dessert class; Sunday, 25th September, 10am-1pm; $154 ($51 per hour); Alphington.

Nidhi, from Cocoa & Chili, will show you how to make ganache, hand rolled truffles and chocolate pudding.

Introduction to fermenting at home; Sunday, 25th September, 10am-1pm; $70 ($23 per hour); CERES.

What you will learn: the basics to successfully start fermenting vegetables at home; ideas about creating your own fermented condiments; and how to use fermented products in day to day life. What you will get: vegetables that you will prepare in class and take home to ferment; samples of fermented products to taste in class; and notes and recipes. Presenter: Monique.

Gnocchi making masterclass; Sunday, 25th September, 11am-1pm; $99 ($50 per hour); Northcote.

Edoardo Nicita, from Shop 225, will show you have to make and shape gnocchi dough plus two accompanying sauces. At the end, you will eat the creations with your new found foodie friends!

In August
In September
Regular classes

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