Jun 072017

Mac’s tip of the week

Spring onions: although it’s probably now too cold now for direct seeding, you can still plant them from punnets. Once soaked in water, you can sometimes tease apart as many as 100 seedlings from a punnet. You can harvest tham in the same way as chives: rather than pulling out the entire plant, just cut off about 1cm above ground level, take your harvest, and watch them re-grow. Similarily, you can plant the bases of your store-bought spring onions as well – leave 1-2cm of base stem with the roots, plant out and keep damp; they will be off and growing again in a matter of weeks. Until next time, remember: dirty hands are warmer than clean hands.

Editor’s note: different people mean different things by the term ‘spring onion’. Some use the term to refer to varieties of normal onion (Allium cepa) which don’t form substantive bulbs, whilst others use it to refer to any normal onion which is harvested before it forms its bulb. But the official definition, as set out by Onions Australia, is that it is a different, but related, species (Allium fistulosum). As such, they can also be called bunching onions, scallions or Welsh onions.

Here is a poem about spring onions that I came across during my research:

We’re eatin’ those green onions
We’re eatin’ those green onions
They go great with grunions
And they’re good for puttin’ on your bunions.

Some people call ’em scallions
Some people call ’em scallions
They’re the size of medallions
And we’ve got enough to feed three battalions.

A new, local maker of ice cream and smoothies at Eltham Farmers’ Market: Frisky Mylk & Co

Frisky Mylk & Co, from Eltham, are a new start up whose aim is to re-populate your body with a healthy ecosystem through cultured micro-organisms known as probiotics. The base for each of their products – ice cream, smoothies and chia pots – is naturally cultured milk which is 100% lactose-free. All ingredients are carefully selected to help lower the FODMAP levels. They will be at Eltham Farmers’ Market starting 11th June. Welcome Susan!

In passing, you might find the following potted history of lactose intolerance of interest. Lactose (the sugar in milk) requires a particular enzyme (lactase) to digest it. Young mammals normally switch off the gene that produces lactase after they pass the age of weaning. So, adult mammals are usually lactose intolerant and suffer a variety of symptoms if they drink fresh milk. Before they became ‘domesticated’, all human adults were lactose intolerant. Then, a few thousand years ago, some humans developed a mutation in the relevant gene (MCM6) which kept it switched on into adulthood. Where these humans lived in pastoral tribes, they had an advantage over the others and, through natural selection, lactose tolerance became more prevalent. By contrast, where the humans remained hunter-gatherers, those with the mutant gene had no advantage and lactose intolerance remained the norm. So, for example, the Tutsi of Rwanda, the Sindhi of North India, the Tuareg of West Africa, the Beja of Eastern North Africa and the European tribes from which many of us are descended are mostly lactose tolerant, whilst Aborigines, Chinese, Japanese, most Native Americans, Iranians, Turks, the San & Zulus of southern Africa, the Dinkas & Nuers of North Africa, the Yorubas & Igbos of West Africa, and the Masai of East Africa are mostly lactose intolerant. But, you might ask, doesn’t the Masai’s diet include a lot of milk (and blood)? Well, yes, but they curdle their milk before consuming it and, as with cheese, the lactose is largely removed by bacteria.

A maker of sauces new to the Local Food Directory: Juanita’s Kitchen

Juanita’s Kitchen, from Preston, make Mexican and West African sauces. They also make selected beverages (and, as I can personally attest, their hibiscus tea is divine). All of Juanita’s products are vegan, with no preservatives, dairy, gluten or sugar and you can buy them at their shop cum cafe (219 High Street, Preston, 3072), online or at a number of local shops (Casa Iberica Deli, Alphington; Casa Iberica Deli, Fitzroy; Eltham Deli; Leo’s Fine Food & Wine, Heidelberg; and Leo’s Fine Food & Wine, Kew). Welcome Juanita!

Local food producer news

Weeping Grevillea Nursery, from Kangaroo Ground, currently have lots of ‘chef quality’ limes available. Ring them (0417 143874) and they will do deals whilst the limes are at their best over the next couple of months. They also have new season citrus available, with some of the more exotic species including blood limes, ruby grapefruit and Seville oranges.

Yummy Gardens, from St Andrews, have sent in a picture (see right) of a whopping chook run that they have just built for a client.

Stanbach Blueberries are no longer in business.

Want to buy some Australian native foods?

Whilst most of our newsletter readers live in North East Melbourne, some are from further afield. One such is Julie Merlet, who is from Bentleigh. But in some ways, Julie is actually closer to local food than the rest of us because she sells Australian native fruits, herbs and spices. Her company is called NATIF and she sells her products online on her website. The products include davidson plum, desert lime, kakadu plum, aniseed myrtle, bush tomato, lemon myrtle, mountain pepperleaf, pepperberries, peppermint gum, quandong, riberry/lillipilli, rivermint, saltbush, sea parsley, strawberry gum and wattleseed. She keeps some of the dried native foods close to how they are naturally so that people can see, touch and smell them before deciding how to process them, whilst the rest are ground into powders so that they can be used as herbs and spices. Julie is a qualified nutritionist with a passion for where Australian native foods come from and their connection to Indigenous culture. NATIF supports the work of Children’s Ground, and other organisations that are helping Indigenous communities and culture around Australia. If you want to know more, either go to the NATIF website or read Julie’s interview with Fine Food Wholesalers or contact Julie by phone (0418 125349) or email. Thanks for the info, Julie!

Want to get involved in community gardening in Heidelberg West?

There is a community garden in the making at St Pius X, Waterdale Road, Heidelberg West. They are having their ‘garden stage 2 working bee’ on 17th June, starting 1pm. The planned tasks include: build a chicken run; continue clean up; dismantle hot house; and remove fence. Enjoy a BBQ lunch and chat to other members of the local community.

Live in Darebin and want to show your garden to others?

The 2017 Darebin Backyard Harvest Festival festival will be taking place from Saturday, 18th November to Sunday, 26th November. The festival is built on the local home gardeners who not only open their gardens for tours, but also hold workshops on a wide range of topics such as keeping chickens and quails, water efficient gardens, grafting fruit trees and aquaponics. Other volunteers help as a guide or translator for home gardeners and benefit first hand from the wealth of food cultivating skills shared by gardeners from a diversity of cultures. If you are interested in either volunteering or opening your garden during the festival, fill in the online expression of interest. For further information, contact Lee Tozzi by phone (8470 8392) or email.

Proverb of the month

Revenge is a dish best served cold as per the Klingon proverb from Star Trek II, The Wrath of Kahn (1982) (also, Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Godfather (1969) and Kill Bill (2003) – where you first heard it all depends on how old you are). Meaning: revenge is more satisfying if enacted when unexpected or long feared.

Joke of the week

What did the cheese say to the mirror? Halloumi

Read all of this year’s jokes.

New events

Love food, hate waste

What: Did you know Victorians waste 25% of the food they buy? That’s $40 worth of food a week, or $2,080 per year. Food waste not only wastes money, it also adds to our carbon footprint. Tanya Lewis will share her tips on: how to declutter and eco-organise your kitchen; how to organise your fridge and pantry to reduce food waste, save time and money; how to stop the takeaway takeover; and recycling favourite recipes. Brought to you by Banyule Council and the Greensborough Chamber of Commerce.
When: Thursday, 15th June, 7-8.30pm.
Where: Montmorency.
Cost: free.
Bookings: by phone (9490 4222).
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Winter fruit tree care and grafting with Craig Castree

What: Learn from Craig Castree how to graft more varieties onto your existing fruit trees to increase your picking times and varieties. Also, how the correct fruit tree care over Winter will set up your trees for success and fruit production in the Spring and Summer.
When: Saturday, 1st July, 10.15am-12.15pm.
Where: PepperTree Place, Coburg.
Cost: $15.
Bookings: by email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Permablitz 199 (Montmorency)

What: Claire and her family are keen to grow their own food and live more sustainably. She recently did a lot of research into climate change and was quite shocked by what she learned, so she is hoping to start the positive change from her home by reducing the amount of fossil fuels required for the food production needed to feed her family. Tasks for the day: setting up a chicken-run/orchard system; creating a hugelkutlur bed; and making wicking beds. There will also be workshops on each of the above.
When: Saturday, 8th July, 9.30am-4.30pm.
Where: Montmorency.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Permablitz website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Chocolate brownie jar workshop

What: Who doesn’t love chocolate brownie? This workshop will have the kids making their own layered chocolate brownie jar to take home and bake. They will also learn about the cocoa bean and how chocolate is made. The recipe to bake at home is also included. Children of all ages can participate and an adult must stay to help and supervise their child.
When: Wednesday, 12th July, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Rivers of Yarrambat.
Cost: $28.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Towards a zero waste lifestyle

What: Could you fit your annual landfill waste into a jam jar? Believe it or not, some people can. Coinciding with Plastic Free July, you are invited you to go along to a workshop to find out how. Erin Rhoads – aka the Rogue Ginger – will talk about her own journey towards living a zero waste lifestyle. Focussing on practical tips, Erin will discuss where to shop and what to buy to reduce packaging, personal care and green cleaning products. You can also ‘get your hands dirty’ and make some bathroom products to take home.
When: Saturday, 15th July, 2.30-4.30pm.
Where: Surrey Hills.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Organic gardening for beginners (three sessions)

What: Facilitator: Donna Livermore. Want to grow your own healthy vegetables, herbs and fruits but don’t know where to start? Would you like to improve your family’s food security and increase your skills and garden productivity? Part theory and part hands-on, this workshop will help the beginner organic gardener develop the skills and knowledge to start a thriving edible oasis at home.
When: Friday 4th August, Friday 11th August and Friday 18th August, all 10am-2.30pm.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: $115 for the three days.
Bookings: Trybooking.

Mouth watering sweet and savoury preserves

What: What you will learn: how to bottle fruits and vegetables for future use; how to make jams and pickles; and how to select and re-use suitable jars, and how to sterilise them. What you will get: recipes all of the preserves made; small jars of all the preserves prepared on the day; tastings; and Preserving Basics booklet. Presented by Maria Ciavarella. Learn how to preserve fruit and veggies safely, using a variety of techniques. No matter whether you have a produce garden and want to do something with your excess or whether you want to make the most of the seasonal abundance at its freshest, learning how to preserve extends the taste and value of your home-grown produce. No preserving background is assumed as you go through techniques on how to prevent food spoilage using bottling, jam making, pickling and dehydrating. As well, there will be a hands-on component which will include making jam with frozen berries, a Middle-Eastern inspired vegetable pickle, and bottled seasonal fruit.
When: Saturday, 5th August, 9.30am-midday.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Grafting and tree sales day (Petty’s Orchard)

What: Learn techniques for grafting or budding fruit trees. Select suitable rootstocks. Have new trees grafted or budded by Heritage Fruits Society members. Buy heritage fruit tree scion wood for home grafting. Buy one-year-old grafted trees. Discuss your fruit tree needs. Their current focus is on apple varieties, so lots of 1-y-o trees and scion from all of their trees. They will also have a few stone fruit trees for sale, and limited stonefruit scion.
When: Sunday, 6th August, 10am-1pm.
Where: Pettys Orchard, Templestowe.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

Read some help on how to view the calendar selectively. For example, search for events in a given suburb or set of suburbs. Or search for event of a given type, such as markets).

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