Early May in our paleo home and organic garden.

Neil (aka pasta man) and I have had a wonderful weekend working in the garden, finally the summer crops are over (actually there are still a couple of tomatoes, 1 zucchini, chillies and some eggplants producing fruit) but we had plenty of room to transplant seedling lettuces, spinach and purple broccoli and plant garlic and shallots. We’re not growing as large a crop of garlic or shallots this year because we aren’t eating that many of them anymore (I mainly use them for flavouring and then take them out) but I can’t imagine cooking without those vital ingredients! I’ve been buying garlic shoots from the asian grocer but wonder what exactly are they? I must look them up on google! The shoots are great as I can eat them without any tummy complaints and they have a lovely garlicky flavour. I made a new batch of kimchi last weekend and it’s just stopped the most volatile stage of the fermentation process (gassy bubbles) today so I can divide it up into smaller jars and complete the process in the fridge. The kraut ferment I made last week has settled down (not overflowing anymore) but it will take a few more weeks before it is ready to bottle up (I need to taste it before I decide the next phase of the process), I like ferments to be crunchy, salty and sour and the best thing about making my own is being able to tailor them to my taste buds. I found the bought ferments overpowering and not fresh tasting!

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Living and cooking the paleo way can be simple and /or complicated and I find I need to plan ahead and cook a little extra so I have some easy options to replace the old takeaway or times when I just don’t feel like cooking. Eggs are always the easy option and scrambled eggs or an omelette are our takeaway these days (or a stir fry). I have always been a big believer in breakfast & I used to be  adamant that my children ate breakfast, after all wasn’t it the most important meal of the day, and how can you concentrate at work or school if you haven’t any fuel on board? Well after eating the paleo way for about 6 months now I find I just don’t want to eat breakfast anymore, so I wait until lunch time to eat and I don’t even miss breakfast or get hungry until lunch time, now that is amazing for me! Anyway, I’ve been listening to my body and letting go of old rules and been surprised by the results, my appetite has changed drastically since reverting to fat as a fuel source instead of carbs or sugar. I’m currently on week 3 of The Paleo Way 10 week challenge and listened to an interesting talk by Dr Mercola on the need to and health benefits of having a regular 16 hour fasting period of which missing breakfast is way to go! What the? I’ve figured this out on my own and now have confirmation that by listening to my body I am making “right” decisions for me. He also bangs on about not eating too much protein and that approx 100gm a day is plenty to sustain a healthy disposition, I’ve been gradually cutting down my protein consumption and if I eat more than 100gm can feel uncomfortable and know I have “overdone” it. From now on I need to watch my protein consumption and eat mindfully.

This leads me to cooking – this weekend (and last weekend too) I made a slow cooked lamb shoulder (is 10 – 12  hours slow enough for you?) and been thrilled with the result, not only is it easy peasy to make but totally delicious to eat! It might not be a pretty dish to serve but my guests have been very happy with the flavour and texture of this meal. I  used the Pete Evans’ Lazy Man’s Lamb shoulder recipe as an approximate guide but put my own slant on it with more vegetables and even quinces in my second attempt! I must say I am a little over lamb at the moment and so we are having calamari tonight!

While foraging for herbs in our garden yesterday (for the lamb shoulder) I noticed that the olives were ready to be harvested, so I picked the two trees we have but then arises the question – what on earth do I do with them? Last year I tried 2 very different methods both of which did NOT work and so after talking to the olive guru – Andy Goddard – decided to do things his way and that is to put the olives straight into brine and forget about them for 6 months. I thought I had enough to do yesterday but managed to get the olives ready for the fermentation process, I must say this is by far the easier option for preserving olives (as opposed to changing the water every day or second day) and I seriously hope it works for  me as this will mean I have enough olives for a whole year. Just how cool would it be to grow and ferment your own olives, the only problem being that they need 6 months or more fermenting to be edible! I mean really? Who on earth figured this out?

I’ve been meaning to feed the vegetable crops and fruit trees with seasol and worm juice for weeks now and today I did it (with Neil’s help), don’t know why I put it off for so long as I get quite a buzz from feeding our garden. We are going to buy some BD 500, it’s a biodynamic fertiliser made from fermented cow manure and is a super powerful growth agent – well it is certainly worth a try! I will let you know how it goes, so bye for now, until next we meet…..

“Change in the weather”

“Change in the weather…change in the weather …somethings happening here..”

It’s the Easter holiday break and the Bellarine Peninsula is busy busy busy with holiday makers enjoying the last of the warm weather. We’ve been busy in the garden pulling up the summer crops to prepare for the autumn and winter vegetables. The pumpkin and zucchini plants look horrible covered in mould and aphids but are still producing so we’ll wait a bit longer to pull them up (I’d like to get rid of them to make the garden look nicer). I haven’t sprayed the aphids (I would have used pyrethrum and soap) as there are a few aphid eating ladybirds around and I definitely don’t want to harm them. There are a few tomato plants still producing but it won’t be long until they come out too. We planted radish (little pink ones and the large daikon), 3 types of spinach, carrot, mixed heritage lettuce, beetroot, turnip, parsnip and purple broccoli seed and kale, cauliflower, romanescu broccoli, wombok, parsley, lettuce (cos) seedlings and flowers as companion plants. It’s not the best time of year for garden beauty, the sunflowers and hollyhocks look ragged and I’d love to pull them out but I want to collect some seeds, so I have to be patient and let nature take its course. The citrus trees are looking really good, loads of lemon, oranges, cumquats, limes and even some mandarines (our first ones) and 2 baby grapefruit which is rather exciting. Oh and we have our first 2 passionfruit on the vine, now that is very cool, I’ve tried to grow passionfruit unsuccessfully over the years and then Phoebe gave me a plant last year for my birthday and it’s taking over the citrus trellis! Neil built another trellis structure for the kiwi fruits (he used the metal poles from the old trampoline), so now we wait for them to grow – in my imagination I see the vines covering the trellis with beautiful golden kiwi fruits hanging down. We used to grow an assortment of berries when we lived in the bush but I didn’t think we had enough room here however the berry scandal (fancy getting hepatitis from eating frozen berries!) prompted me to grow some blueberries. It’s hard to make a choice there are so many varieties,  I chose a Denise and a Northland and they are growing just fine, my goal is to grow enough to eat and freeze – they are seriously good for you.

I’m still heavily into the paleo way of living and my cooking has changed so much! I’ve never really been into the whole chocolate Easter situation – as the usual chocolates are pretty ghastly – and so I’ve not had any trouble saying no thanks BUT I’ve been making a paleo style chocolate nut and fruit slice (using cocao and carob) and that is seriously hard to say no too (it’s still a treat and not to be eaten all the time). We’re eating our way through my ferments so I made another crock of kraut and some water kimchi this week – my kimchi e-book (The Kimchi Cookbook by Lauryn Chun) boasts 60 different recipes which I hope to explore over the next few years – so much fun experimenting with fermentation.

I was wondering what to make for dinner tonight, I had some left over beef koftas and teemed them with a rich tomato and garden vegetable sauce and made some zucchini noodles with my spiraliser (even Pasta man likes the zucchini noodles) and all from the garden! All paleo, nutritious and super delicious!

I am also very pleased to say that at last I can make a decent mayonnaise (I make a fermented one that is light, smooth and delicious) – with my dutch heritage mayonnaise is very much a part of our eating culture but it’s impossible to buy mayonnaise that is chemical or “bad oil” free so I’m pretty happy with my new mayo making skill. As a matter of fact I have to make some right now…..