Seasons in a Wholefoods Shop?

Everyone knows that tomatoes are a summer thing and cauliflower is a winter thing but most people are not familiar with the seasons for wheat or almonds or lentils or dried apricots. You may drive through the countryside in winter and see enormous green paddocks then you may drive the same roads in early summer and see the harvesters working in paddocks of crisp brown and still not put two and two together to understand what this means for your pantry. Well let me tell you…..

wheat-barley-oats-rye

Glutenous Grains look like grasses (and are grasses) when they are growing. These include wheat, barley, rye, oats and others such as spelt, khorasan and Egyptian Gold. In Australia these are generally sown by the farmers in autumn as the rains begin so they grow through winter, start producing seeds in spring and are dry enough to harvest in early summer or later in colder areas. They are then collected, winnowed (ie have all the chaff and any bits of dirt blown out so that only the seeds are left), graded (ie tested for protein levels, moisture levels, size etc), then trucked to silos to await shipping to mills or overseas.

I get most of these grains from Four Leaf, who are organic farmers and millers north of Adelaide in SA. I do get Tasmanian grown spelt and sometimes oats, when I can. Now and again the previous year’s grain is sold out before the next harvest is done. This happens late spring and into summer, depending on the weather.

If you shop in supermarkets you won’t know when or where the grain was grown, harvested or milled and this gives the illusion of grains (and flours) not being seasonal but grains begin to go rancid the moment the grain is broken, so old flour, rolled oats and others are, in my opinion, dangerous to our health as rancidity is a known cause of cancer. Moreover, rancidity cannot easily be detected in flour, by humans so buyer beware!

millet-quinoa-etc

Seeds…. sunflower, millet, quinoa, buckwheat and more, are grown in various parts of the world but organic Australian farmers grow few of them so I often run out between seasons. I refuse to buy any grains, seeds, lentils etc from overseas as the amount of fuel required to ship all these around the world totally negates their organic certification and all this shipping is a major cause of the pickle we are now in, with climate change. My customers must learn to eat seasonally and this includes wholefoods!

beans-lentils-chickpeas

Lentils, chickpeas etc are the dry seeds of annual bushes (like beans or peas you may grow in your garden and let dry off to keep some to plant the next year). Like with such beans or peas, gardeners will know how long it takes for those darn seed pods to be brown and crisp and the seeds inside dry and hard. So it is the same with lentils, chickpeas etc. Harvest can be mid to late summer or even into early autumn some years.

Thus I currently do not have the new season’s lentils or chick peas in stock and the previous season’s have sold out. This is the life of a small, organic, Australian wholefoods shopkeeper trying to keep her customers both happy and healthy!

Johnston almonds

Johnston almonds

Nuts come next in the year, ripening in early autumn but then requiring hardening off before the flavours develop and the nut inside the shell becomes hard, instead of soft. Many customers do not want to crack open the shells of almonds, for example, so I have to wait for the farmer to have his nuts cracked and, because he grows the special and delicious Johnston and Somerton almond varieties only, he does not want his batch thrown in with anyone else’s so he has to wait until last at the nut mill! Hence I will not have any almonds until July!! Last year there was a total crop failure due to a hail storm just at flowering time so my customers had no almonds at all.

Thankfully there are a lot of walnuts grown in Tasmania so I never seem to run out of them. I have to get hazelnuts from Victoria or SA from time to time but sometimes I still run out before the next season as I aim to sell organic ones or from farmers I know but who are not certified organic.

kevin-and-cindy-organics-drying-apricots

Kevin and Cindy Organics

Dried fruit is a similar story, as I get organic, sundried apricots, pears and sometimes plums from just one grower because I know of no-one else who uses no chemicals, no preservatives and no electricity! I rang her a few weeks ago to confirm my order and she told me there had been a hail storm in November, which had never happened before, and almost all the apricots were damaged! Oh no, I still don’t know if I will get a supply from her. Fingers crossed!

The apricots should be ready soon, then the plums and lastly the pears, some time in autumn.

rainfed-rice

Rice is usually harvested some time in March or April. The rain fed, organic, bio-dynamic, aromatic rice I buy is from northern NSW. The farmer uses no irrigation; only rainfall. In doing so he does not need dams or pumps or electricity but does rely on nature. He may get a smaller crop if things are not right but so far he has not let me down although once he ran out before the next harvest. We both do our best!

murray-river-organics-in-1970s

Murray River Organics in the 1970’s

I get organic raisins, sultanas and currants from a grower in The Riverland who only grows these grapes….. did you know these are all grape varieties? Sultanas (Sultanina, Thompson Seedless, Kish-mish), Currants (Zante Currant, Carina), Muscat Gordo Blanco (Muscat of Alexandria), and Waltham Cross (Rosaki, Dattier, Regina, Malaga). The dried fruit of the last two is collectively called raisins in Australia.

Last year their sheds and offices were damaged in floods but, luckily, most of their crops had been harvested and moved to a warehouse in Melbourne. Phew. I didn’t want to have to tell my customers that even more of my products were not available!

pumkin-seeds

The pumpkin used for seeds

Pumpkin seeds take ages! There is only one pumpkin seed grower in Australia, that I know of and they are in Victoria. They are a small, family group who run a fabulous and very ethical business. It is well into autumn and as late as May before the new year’s pumpkin seeds are harvested and dried. So far, so good. Lets hope it stays that way!

Olives are the last, being harvested for oil in about May and pickled at various times from May onwards through winter. Sometimes the olives have more oil, sometimes less. Sometimes the trees have more olives, sometimes less. Sometimes things go awry with the weather and sometimes it is perfect! Pat and Lina keep us all in SA olives and oils for as long as they can but this year I am going to run out as the oil olives were drier than usual and there were less jumbo olives on the trees; a double whammy.

We are lucky indeed that the floods last year came within about 10cms of the spilling over the levvy and did not burst its banks, ruining Pat and Lina’s market garden and olive trees.What a year for all our growers!

Farming is tough. The people I buy from are real people who grow beautiful, organic food which they hope will survive through the months of growth and produce an income for them. As the climate becomes more unstable, their livelihoods are put seriously at risk. Not only that but I am also dependent on them for my income and we are all dependent on them for our food. All these problems happened in 2016. I wonder what will happen in 2017. Whatever happens, you can now understand why wholefoods are seasonal and how, even though they are dry goods, climate and supply and seasons mean so much.

 

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For Gardeners and Cooks at the June 15th Cygnet Market

New Season’s Organic, Tasmanian Quinoa

It has been an anxious time for me, being out of quinoa and having to wait for the farmer to harvest, sort, pack and send it from Kindred, in northern Tasmania.

Also from Henriette and Lauran, the Kindred Organics farmers, I now have buckwheat flour, whole linseed and rolled oats, all organic and low in food miles.

Other Tasmanian goods: From Callington Mill at Oatlands I have organic, sifted spelt flour, delivered by Smithy straight from the mill. I use this half and half with the Four Leaf rye flour to make excellent sourdough bread. Spelt is wonderful for pastry too. And then there’s the Tasmanian honeys, of course!

1-DSC_0004
Solid brass. Last a lifetime.
Made in Turkey.
I am lucky to have made contact with a Turkish woman who sells these direct from the manufacturer. Her English is a lot better than my Turkish but our email exchanges are difficult and I am often bemused by her answers to my questions.However, she sends me these gorgeous hand tools for the kitchen and I absolutely love them. They all grind beautifully and should last a life time.Two of them have receptacles at the base into which the ingredient is ground. A twist of the wrist removes the base and allows you to sprinkle it into your cooking pot.One is for finely grinding spices, the other is slightly coarser and is perfect for grinding oily grains and seeds, such as linseed.The pepper grinder for the table does not have a base and allows you to grind pepper directly onto your meal.

The coffee grinder has an adjustable coarseness (and is not pictured) and a base. Doing this by hand allows you to grind the beans rather than cutting them (which an electric grinder does). This is similar to stone grinding wheat to make flour, rather than cutting the wheat to make flour (as in a Vitamix or Thermamix).

Books for the Fireside Cook and Gardener

Winter is a wonderful time to dream. I stop work at 4.30pm, bring in the evening’s firewood, get the fire raging then relax for a while. I like to either read something deep and mind bending or gentle and beautiful.

I am always on the look out for new books to sell and right now I have some great winter reads.

Lunch in Paris: A love Story with Recipes is a fun memoir by Elizabeth Bard about the unlikely liaison between an American food novice stationed in London and a gorgeous Frenchman who lives in Paris.

On a more serious note is Chemical Free Kids: Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World which begins by telling us about the chemicals routinely found in and on unborn children today. It is a vivid and important book for anyone with young children.

Gut Feelings, by Dr. Peter Baratosy delves into the foibles of the conventional medical profession, the unrelenting pressure on our bodies of food processing and leads us to some very common sense but not commonly explained conclusions about gut problems in this modern world. If you are feeling not quite right inside, then this could be the book for you.

Dr. Baratosy has recently moved from South Australia to Kingston in Tasmania and practices as a GP at the Kingborough Medical Centre. He and his wife are also regular customers of the Cygnet Market.

Free Range Chicken Gardens leads you through some wonderful ideas for coops and yards, for growing plants that chooks will and won’t eat and gets you inside a chicken’s head!

drying fruits

 

My Home Made Mueslis

 with apple-soaked, sun-dried apricots, peaches and / or pears

I make and sell two organic, raw mueslis. One is gluten free. Both are packed with all the organic, Australian freshly milled grains, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried fruits and nuts that I sell separately. I assemble them every Saturday before the market so they are totally fresh, unlike anything you will buy anywhere else!

If you have special requirements I can also make up supplies for you and your family.

My winter preferred serving method is to soak the muesli overnight in some apple juice and in the morning add some of my special, organic, sun-dried peaches / apricots / pears + currants + Johnston almonds which have been soaked in water or apple juice and stored in the fridge.

It all goes into the microwave to just warm through then I mix in a good dollop of kefir or home made yoghurt.

YUM and I feel great all morning!

The early bird…

Well, it’s now officially December.  And it’s just a few weeks to Christmas.  Avid market fans know that they need to be arriving early to get the best pickings…pretty similar to a garage sale really…. but this time, simply by buying something from our stall, early birds can have some free raspberry canes, dug from my garden a few days ago. They have been kept in a bucket of Seasol, in the shade and are bursting to get growing in your garden.

Directing Traffic

Julie Directing Traffic

What do we have this week?  Organic Sprouting Mix, Dried Figs, Almonds and lots of other snack packs, marinated olives and olive oil (of course), and organic grains including Quinoa.  For Christmas presents, we have gardening tools and beautiful watering cans (but not many left now).  For the person who loves to cook, we have brass spice grinders from Turkey.  It’s not too late to grab some MRO organic dried fruit for the Christmas Cake.  Maybe we will still have a Panforte or two but they are disappearing fast!

Welcome to..

Welcome to GaSP stall at Cygnet Market.

Anyway, by the time you read this, we’ll be on our way to the Cygnet Town Hall to set up and have another great market.  Don’t forget it’s another DOUBLE Market.  See you there folks!

Early birds at the Cygnet Market (9am)

Early birds at the Cygnet Market (9am)

Pumpkin and fetta quinoa risotto with basil pesto

This is a modified version of one of Kate’s favourite recipes.  We think you might like it too.

Pumpkin and fetta quinoa risotto

Pumpkin and fetta quinoa risotto

Cut pumpkin into 4cm pieces and steam it (you could bake it too) until tender.

Bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan and add white wine.  Reduce heat, cover and keep hot.

Heat oil in a large saucepan, cook leek and garlic, stirring until leek is soft.  Add quinoa, stir to coat in oil mixture.

Stir in 1 cup of the stock; cook over low heat, stirring, until liquid is absorbed.

Continue adding stock, in 1 cup batches, stirring, until absorbed after each addition.

Total cooking time is approx 20 minutes with quinoa (approx 35 minutes if you use rice).

Remove pan from heat, gently stir in pumpkin, fetta and spinach.

Serve topped with Basil Pesto.

Bon Appetit!

Christmas Panforte

Christmas is one of my favourite times to indulge in cooking and eating.  I really enjoy making special treats like Panforte.

Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts, and resembles fruitcake.  It may date back as far as 13th century Siena, in Italy’s Tuscany region. Documents from 1205 show that panforte was paid to the monks and nuns of a local monastery as a tax which was due on the seventh of February that year.  Literally, panforte means “strong bread” which refers to the spicy flavour.  The original name of panforte was “panpepato” (peppered bread), due to the strong pepper used in the cake. There are references to the Crusaders carrying panforte, a durable confection, with them on their quests, and to the use of panforte in surviving sieges.

Currently there are many shops in Italy producing panforte, each recipe a jealously guarded interpretation of the original confection and packaged in distinctive wrapping. Usually a small wedge is served with coffee or a dessert wine after a meal, though some enjoy it with their coffee at breakfast.

melted chocolate in the copper pan

chocolate melting in my copper pan

Hughsli Chestnut Jam

Hughsli Chestnut Jam being added to the chocolate

I use mostly organic, Australian ingredients and this first batch has a dollop of son Hugh’s home made chestnut jam added. Sometimes I include leatherwood honey instead, or even blackcurrant jam but always there’s plenty of brandy!

Adding chocolate to the mixture

Adding chocolate and brandy to the mixture

In addition to selling Panforte at the Cygnet Market, I’m taking orders for anyone who would like some Panforte made for Christmas.  

Panforte ready for eating

Panforte ready for eating

Gluten free Panforte (with Quinoa flour) and Panforte (with 85% flour) will both be available.  Panforte will be $9 per half and GF Panforte will be $10 per half.

Last orders for both Panfortes will probably be Friday 6th December for collection on or before Sunday 15th December (the last Cygnet Market of 2013).  Contact me here or ask about Panforte at the next Cygnet Market.

Cooking with Quinoa by Rena Patten

Cooking with Quinoa

Cooking with Quinoa

“Cooking with Quinoa” is the book I consult whenever I want to eat Tasmanian Quinoa, or when I want to make something gluten free.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a grain-like crop grown for its edible seeds.  It is considered to be almost a complete food. It is very high in protein, full of vitamins, gluten- and wheat-free, cholesterol-free and the Tasmanian grown quinoa is organic.  An ancient plant native to the Andes mountains, quinoa is known to have been a staple food of the Incas.  Quinoa contains more protein and iron than any other product.  The quality of this protein has been likened by the World Health Organization as being closest to milk.  Quinoa is also a very good source of manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, copper, zinc, vitamins E and B6, riboflavin, niacin and thiamine.  It has more calcium than cow’s milk, is an excellent antioxidant and is rich in dietary fibre.  Quinoa has the highest content of unsaturated fats and a lower ratio of carbohydrates than any other product plus a low GI level.  The health benefits of this wonderful food are particularly significant.

Now that Quinoa is grown in Australia (Northern Tasmania), it is not only its delicious flavour and the health benefits that make it worth eating, but also its low food miles.

Don’t forget we also sell Quinoa flour.  And at a reasonable price too.

Buy this and other great cooking and gardening books at the Cygnet Market or at the Garden Shed and Pantry, Cygnet.

IYQ2013 – International Year of the Quinoa.  Read more here.