17.4.14

MOST AMAZING BRAISED OXTAIL

I'm not afraid of animal appendages, or innards for that matter. Tails, trotters, cheeks, stomachs.... bring it on I say! These are the underrated star cuts of the meat world; tasty, sustainable and uber cheap. You can be grossed out by them, or you can give 'em a go. I reckon there's no better introduction to that world than this hearty, fragrant, warming and nourishing braise, perfect as we head into cooler weather.




MOST AMAZING BRAISED OXTAIL

extra virgin olive oil
1 oxtail, cut into chunks (I bought a pack of oxtail pieces for $9 from a local butcher)
1 onion, finely diced
3 Dutch carrots or 1 large carrot, finely diced
1 leek, finely diced
1 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
6 pimento seeds, crushed
1 dried chilli, crushed
sprig of rosemary
1 cup good quality red wine
salt and pepper to taste
a few sprigs fresh oregano, leaves picked

1.4.14

WHEN LIFE DOESN'T JUST "GIVE" YOU LEMONS, IT HURLS THEM SQUARELY AT YOUR HEAD

via faithhopetrick

Oh boy, I've been hurled a few lemons over the past few years.

The heftiest one has been my husband's chronic pain and all its associated fall-out effects (which, if you've ever had the displeasure of experiencing personally, are no tiny matters*).

Also thrown into the mix has been a veritable fruit salad of anxiety, depression, body image issues and, to bring 2013 to a spectacularly challenging close, a pregnancy loss at 12 weeks (quite literally, the day after Boxing Day).

Fun Times.

No doubt, there are moments in which I've felt like a small girl wanting to curl up into a tight ball and be held by her mother and told everything will be alright. But mostly, I put one foot in front of the other and get on with my day. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not, but on with it I get.

What helps during these times? What enables, what makes life feel bearable, do-able, approachable when life serves up a whole lot of bleak shitfulness? I don't have all the answers (there's no such thing really) but I do come bearing a bagful of soothers that I wish to share on this blog, in case there are fellow humans going through some bleak shitfulness of their own.

I don't pretend to know what will work for everyone, but this 'bag of tricks' does help me. It really does. So here I go:

14.3.14

A FREE VEGIE-FULL ECOOKBOOK FOR YA



I adore eating meat as much as the next person But I abhor the thought of it coming from an animal that's spent a miserable existence in a closed shed with no access to the outdoors and no ability to perform its natural behaviours. Which, sadly, is the case for 90% of the pork and chicken products we eat in Australia today.

So the way I see it, the clincher is this - if we don't like something but change nothing about how we act, then nothing will change. Non? So, I changed how I acted. I stopped buying meat produced in that manner. I started buying meat from farms that I knew where A-OK, that I knew were farming in a way that aligned with my own ethical standards and values.  They do exist. They do.

The catch? Price. Costs a little more to buy the kind of meat I'm OK with. Which is fine. It costs the farmer more to produce. They pass the cost on. Fair, I say.

To adjust to the price difference, I adjusted the way I eat. I started eating less meat and eating it less often (once or twice a week, not every day). I started eating more vegetables. Way more vegetables. And I bloody love it. It's really the best way to eat. I've written about that before, here and here.

Don't know how to eat less meat and more veg? (If not lamb chops and mashed potato for dinner, then what?) Monday 24th March marks the start of Meat Free Week in Australia and is The Perfect Opportunity to learn how to do just that. I did it last year and you can read what I learned from the experience here.

4.3.14

A GOOD DOCUMENTARY TO WATCH (WASTE LESS, LIVE MORE)

Granted, I bang on a bit about waste (see my post here for kitchen waste and here for reducing plastic waste) but for very good reason. Waste, be it food in our own kitchens, plastic waste left on the beach or waste at the supermarket end of the scale, is one of the biggest environmental and social disasters we face today.

Yes it's THAT big.

This is why the team at Sustainable Table (including moi) have produced a short doco about it, called Waste Deep. It's not in-your-face in the way a big hefty beer-swigging bloke can be when he's chatting to you at the pub. It's a gentle gentle nudge in the right direction. For the most part, the doco points at what we can do, as individuals, to make a real difference. And the message is clear. We - you, me, our friends, families, everyone - can make a difference.

In fact, we're really the only ones that can.

Watch the doco here (and if you're at work, tell 'em you're doing your bit for Australia and they should watch it too):


Some salient points:

  • Our farmers are doing it very tough. Consumers have been responding to low prices and perfect produce, so the big supermarkets push our farmers for those two things. But it's hurting them. Many have walked off the land and continue to do so. They have the highest rate of suicide in the country. In the country. Without our farmers, we're screwed. To put it bluntly.

  • Imports are contributing massively to the above. Yet technically we can produce more than enough incredible quality produce to keep us happy. More than enough.

  • 1 billion people are obese at the same time as 1 billion are going hungry. So you know, there's something wrong with the way we're doing things, no?

There are things each of us can do to make a big difference to the situation. And they're really bloody simple. Apologies if I get a little didactic here, but keep in mind these are also things I do my best to do every week:

22.2.14

A SLOW FOODIE ROAD TRIP TO DAYLESFORD + KYNETON

The boat house on the lake sadly burnt down a little while back. I took this photo during my last trip to Daylesford.



























Needing a few days of doing not much else but eating, eating, drinking and eating? I've just had those few days and here is what they looked like, in case you'd like to indulge too. Here, my slow foodie guide to Daylesford & surrounds:

P.S This is not a sponsored post, just places I thoroughly enjoyed and therefore want to share.

Tip: Pack lotsa warm layers, it can get nippy up there!

DAYLESFORD
One of my favourite weekend getaways only 1hr out of Melbourne. Beautiful environment, friendly locals, superb food, fresh clean air, etc etc.

Wombat Hill Cafe 
In the Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens, it's a must. Go there for breakfast. They serve house-made crumpets!! with cinnamon poached rhubarb and local honey. You can eat your meal amongst their vegie garden. If you have the lungs for it, climb the lookout tower for a bird's eye view of the ranges.

Larder, on the main street (Vincent St)
Go here for a rustic wholesome lunch. Think locally farmed pulled pork and slaw in a brioche bun. The hush puppies are moorish but are for the brave (who doesn't love fried cheeseballs... until they hit your IBS belly).

Frangos & Frangos
On the main street. Indulge in dinner at this joint, you won't regret it. Stunning interior and courtyard, equally stunning cuisine and local wines. I felt like I was in a dining cellar of a rustic restaurant somewhere in the South of France (which in fact I have been to and this place did remind me of). I had one of the best meals I've ever eaten (here and there).

Ocean trout, pearl couscous, saffron and other beautiful bits at Frangos & Frangos

Koukla
This is Frangos & Frangos little cafe cousin, just next door. Very cute rustic interior design, the exterior is covered in grapevines. Go there for woodfired oven pizza and scrumptious Greek-style sweets.

The Perfect Drop
Before dinner, head over to this little gem, just past the main street on Howe Street, for a glass of local wine. I sat but a smidgen away from Diver Dan, for all those Seachange fans ;)