Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turn taters into tempting treats | Stuff.co.nz

Turn taters into tempting treats | Stuff.co.nz

According to Potato New Zealand, 2.85 billion were grown in New Zealand last year and more than 7 million serves of hot chips were handed across the counter each week, which easily puts the humble potato right at the top of the food chain.

In November we are able to purchase potatoes freshly dug in Marlborough, although it pays to know your ilam hardy's from your moonlights and red rascals.

You need to be prepared to change your cooking method to match the type of potato you have at any particular time of the year. No matter how clever you are as a chef or cook, if you have a floury potato it will not hold together when boiled and will not give you a good salad. Similarly, if you try and mash a waxy potato your mash will be gluey.

Obviously personal preferences come into play. For example, if you prefer your mash to be less fluffy, just select a potato that is less floury. But the key is to use the right potato for the right job.

My favourite way of using potatoes is to keep it simple, purchase direct from the grower or plant some in the backyard. Even the most novice gardeners can reap the rewards of just a few plants. Know what you are buying, as there are many different varieties, so it pays to ask the best cooking method, and at this time of the year the little earth gems are best just boiled or steamed with the skin on, a little salt, olive oil or butter to glaze and served hot.

While potatoes are best eaten fresh in New Zealand, the locals in South America produce "chuo" as they have done since the time of the Incas. The potatoes are spread on the ground on frosty nights. During the day they are covered with straw to protect against the sun. This way the potatoes go completely white.

After exposure to several nights of frost, women and children trample on the potatoes to get rid of moisture and wear away the peel. The potatoes are then put in a stream with running water for a few weeks in order to wash out the bitter taste. Finally they're dried for about 14 days and can be stored without problems for up to four years.

While this may not catch on here, is was essential for the Incas to preserve the harvest so it could sustain the villagers through the harsh winters and hot summers.

FOUR EASY NEW SEASON POTATO VARIATIONS

Remember to salt your potato boiling water well (the water should taste pleasantly salty) – this a necessary step on the path to tasty taters!

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Dill or wild fennel new potatoes: (Gather the herbs from the roadsides around Marlborough.) Boil up some new potatoes and then toss with freshly chopped dill or fennel and butter, and salt to taste.

New potatoes with rocket or basil pesto: Toss boiled potatoes with a few spoonfuls of pesto and a little salt to taste.

Olive oil potatoes: Dress boiled potatoes with a little Marlborough extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, garlic and fresh herbs of your choice.

Stock potatoes: Potatoes boiled in a light chicken or vegetable stock instead of water gives them a less-ordinary and great flavour.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Humbled by Earth gems


Humbled by the potato

2,855,000,000 potatoes were grown in NZ last year with over 7 million serves of hot chips being served up across the counter each week to hungry mouths, this easily puts the humble potato right at the top of the food chain
Novembers means that we are now able to purchase potatoes fresh dug in Marlborough, however it pays to know your IIam Hardy’s from your moonlights and red rascals.  You need to be prepared to change your cooking method to match the type of potato you have at that particular time of the year.  No matter how clever you are as a chef or cook, if you have a floury potato it will not hold together when boiled and will not give you a good salad. Similarly, if you try and mash a waxy potato your mash will be gluey.   Obviously personal preferences comes  into play, for example if you prefer your mash to be less fluffy, just select a potato that is less floury but the key is to use th right potato for the right job
My favourite way of using potatoes is to keep it simple, purchase direct from the grower or plant some in the back yard as even the most novice gardeners can reap the rewards of just a few plants.  Know what you are buy, there are many different varieties so it pays to ask the best cooking method and at this time of the year the little earth gems are best just boiled or steamed with skin on,  a little salt, olive oil or butters to glaze and served hot to the table
While potatoes are best eaten fresh in NZ,  The Spuds in South America  prodcue “Chuño” as they have done so since the time of the Incas. The potatoes are spread on the ground on frosty nights. During the day they are covered with straw to protect against the burning rays of the sun, this way the potatoes go completely white. After exposure to several nights of frost, women and children trample on the potatoes to get rid of moisture and wear away the peel. The potatoes are then put in a stream with running water for a few weeks in order to wash out the bitter taste. Finally they're dried for about 14 days and can be stored without problems for up to 4 years."  While this may not catch on here is was essential to preserve the harvest so that it could sustain the villages through the harsh winters and hot summers.  Something tells me that 7 million serves of chips per week means that “Chuño”  is not exactly going to be the next fast food of NZ

4 Easy New  Potato Variations
Remember to salt your potato boiling water well (the water should taste pleasantly salty) – this a necessary step on the path to tasty taters!
Dill  or wild Fennel  (gathered from the roadsides around Marlborough) New Potatoes – boil up some new potatoes and then toss with freshly chopped dill or fennel and butter, and salt to taste
New potatoes with Rocket or Basil pesto – toss boiled potatoes with a couple of spoonfuls of pesto and a little salt to taste
Olive oil potatoes – dress boiled potatoes with a little Marlborough extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, garlic and fresh herbs of your choice
Stock potatoes – potatoes boiled in a light chicken 

The Rise of the Lazy Locavore - WSJ.com

The Rise of the Lazy Locavore - WSJ.com: "By KATY MCLAUGHLIN

There could hardly be a loftier culinary class than that of the locavore, a movement whose members eschew food grown outside a 100-mile radius of their homes. With copious outputs of money and labor, locavores earn bragging rights (we put up 50 jars of beets!), complaining rights (we went without wheat all winter!) and the right to believe they are doing their part to save the planet (we support local farms by paying $10 a pound for cherries!).

'So much space, so little time. Wish I could grow a green thumb.'

'In my other life, I'm a brilliant gardener. My apartment just doesn't know it.'

'Where have you been all my life?'

'I'll whip this barren lot into the Garden of Eden in no time!'

Illustrations by Jason Lee for The Wall Street Journal

'Farmer's market, scharmer's market. This is eating local.'

But James Lucal in Seattle has them all beat. He not only brings home the local produce, he got a local to grow it for him directly outside his home. And yet he spent almost nothing for this luxury, and lifted not so much as a trowel to make it happen.

Welcome to "urban sharecropping," the hippest, most hardcore new way to eat local. In the latest twist in the farm-to-table movement, homeowners who lack free time or gardening skills are teaming up with would-be farmers who lack backyards. Around the country, a new crop of match-makers are helping the two groups find each other and make arrangements that enable both sides to share resources and grow their own food.

Mr. Lucal's tenant farmer Michaelynn Ryan is a mother of two and homeowner in the charming Seattle neighborhood of Wallingford. Though Ms. Ryan is a certified master gardener, the yard of her Craftsman house isn't up to farming—it's too small and shaded, Ms. Ryan says. So, the summer before last, she posted a want ad for a garden plot on Urban Garden Share, a website started by a professional gardener as a good-karma producing hobby.

That's how Ms. Ryan found Mr. Lucal, a builder who had terraced a steep slope next to his house, but discovered through frustrating failure he lacked the patience and expertise to make it bloom. Finding they lived within five minutes of each other, they agreed Ms. Ryan would farm the lot and Mr. Lucal would harvest his family's supply.

The season was a bounty of candy-sweet strawberries and tart, pie-ready rhubarb. Carrots emerged from the ground in a rainbow of orange, yellow and red hues, and crookneck squash grew giant-sized under fuzzy elephant-ear leaves. The juicy tomatillos and pungent cilantro were so abundant, Ms. Ryan made 24 jars of Mexican salsa verde. Her 3-year-old daughter Fiona ran between the raised beds, popping brilliant green sugar snap peas into her mouth.

But even the most utopian and cost-saving of food systems has its price to pay. Ms. Ryan, like generations of tenant farmers before her, had to hand over half her hard-won crop to Mr. Lucal. Some in the movement might label him a "lazy locavore," a new designation indicating one whose diet is beyond reproach, but who has found a way around the hard work. Mr. Lucal says he's more "ignorant locavore" than lazy: After all, he watered.

The beauty of urban sharecropping is how neatly it halves the commitment required by local eating, providing honored roles for both the landless and the lazy. Homeowners look out on to their backyards—in many cases, under-used, water-sucking lawns or weed-chocked lots—and see lovely kitchen gardens that can often feed not only their own families but several neighbors', too. The farmer drops by, weeds, sows or harvests, then often leaves a basket of perfectly ripe produce on the owner's back porch. Gardeners get to skirt the notoriously clogged community-garden system in cities, where long waitlists and vegetable poachers are a looming threat.

Of course, the ultimate satisfaction for both sides is in the eating. No other local food can compete with the taste of fruits and vegetables harvested only minutes before. And there's the unique joy, hard-wired into the human psyche, of growing one's own food. A growing number of services helps landowners and gardeners connect. Sharing Backyards, which launched in British Columbia in 2004, has programs in Portland, Ore., Duluth, Minn., Washington, Berkeley, Calif., Boise, Idaho, Houston, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Missoula, Mont., as well as international locations. The website currently contains over 1,000 listings from landowners and potential farmers. In the near future, the volunteers behind the program plan to post a sample contract that sharecroppers can use to iron out arrangements.

Illustration by Brian Stauffer for The Wall Street Journal

In Brooklyn, BK Farmyards secured its first farmland last year when founder Stacey Murphy, a former architect, stood on a street corner shouting she wanted to farm someone's yard. Adrienne Fisher, a foundation grant manager and mother of three with a three-story Victorian and large backyard in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, took her up on her offer to share costs and plant a large garden. The harvest was divided among six neighbors, who each paid up front.

Some urban sharecroppers are finding another outlet for their wares: restaurants. In Los Angeles, the restaurant Forage opened nine months ago with a unique concept: Chef Jason Kim barters dining credits at the restaurant with people who hand him food grown in their gardens. In April, the health department stepped in, telling Mr. Kim he couldn't serve food that didn't come from certified farms. So Mr. Kim helped five of his best urban farmers get licensed, and now they provide him with a bounty including blood oranges, heirloom Italian chicory and a fruit called black sapote."I realized there are so many people doing this and they just don't want it to go to waste," Mr. Kim says.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Settlers' delicious legacy lives on | Stuff.co.nz

Oil
Good oil: Jenny Horwell celebrates Uncle Joe's Walnuts & Hazelnuts winning gold at the Canterbury A&P Show for the fourth year in a row. In the background are her staff, from left, Louise Best, Antoinette Jones, Carla Crane, Julie Nicholls and Gisele Coura.

Rural

Dry summer likely for MarlboroughLegislation not `silver bullet' for fishingNo action on widely sprayed bankSettlers' delicious legacy lives onMussel man wants egg farmStock truck drivers asked for bull safety ideasMerino man checks out the KiwisEnvironment award entries inA&P Show results 2010Seddon winery gets top award

The legacy of Marlborough settlers is the key to an award-winning walnut oil, say the owners of Uncle Joe's Walnuts & Hazelnuts.

Jenny and Malcolm Horwell own the Grovetown company, and their walnut oil has won gold at the Christchurch A&P Show for the fourth year in a row.

Mrs Horwell said the walnuts come from two "huge" trees on their property as well as others planted all around Marlborough.

They collect about 100 kilograms of walnuts from their two walnut trees, which they believe are about 100 years old. The rest are bought from people who gather walnuts around the region.

"There are so many lovely old [walnut] trees around Marlborough. Lots of people, when they settled here in the early 1900s, planted trees and they are still there," Mrs Horwell said.

She was sure that the range of walnuts from different parts of the region was the reason for the great flavour of the oil.

Uncle Joe's paid a good price for walnuts that had been properly dried, she said.

It was important to gather walnuts as soon as possible after they had fallen, especially when there was wet weather, because moisture affected the kernel, she said.

Uncle Joe's shells and grades the nuts at Grovetown, and sends them to a specialty company in Ashburton that produces the oil.

The company sells the walnut and hazelnut kernels straight from the shell, and also makes nut spreads.

The Horwells planted a hazelnut orchard in 2000, adding more trees each year until 2003.

The orchard covers 2.5 hectares and produces about 25 tonnes of nuts a year.

The company sells nuts, spreads and oils to specialty shops, New World supermarkets and other businesses.

The North Island was a large part of its market, especially Auckland, Mrs Horwell said.

"Aucklanders love them because they can't really grow them well up there."

She said Australian companies had approached Uncle Joe's to export across the Tasman, and although the company was looking at a few options, it was not on the agenda in the short term.


Settlers' delicious legacy lives on | Stuff.co.nz

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Part of our weekly shop

“The future is not a place to which we are going; it is a place we are creating. The paths to the future are not found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination “  (John Schaar)

The Marlborough Farmers’ Market is about to enter into its 10 th year Anniversary and part of this celebration is the publishing of our 2011 Calendar that shines the spotlight on what we have available in our bountiful region.    The growing popularity of Farmers’ Markets is something being seen worldwide and for a host of reasons.  The awareness (or concern) of what’s in our food and growing demand for regional, unadulterated natural produce, climate concerns and the investment into local resources, sustainable agriculture as well as influential television chefs pushing fresh seasonal ingredients combined with good old nostalgia and supporting community ideals are just a few of the influences causing Farmers’ Markets to flourish in New Zealand.   Whatever the reasons, the benefits are tremendous for the communities involved and can now  be enjoyed by everyone.

 A lady came rushing up to me one day to ask me how could I bring myself to  eat animals that i know and have raised all of their lives, having fed them, raised them and cuddled them, given them cute  names (Salt and Pepper and  Minty ).  How could i possible bring myself to eat these cute little heavenly creatures with four legs and a tail ?   My reply to her : How could you eat something that you did not know where it came from and how it was raised ? 

The 2011 MFM Calendar features the sumptuous and engaging photography of our own local photographer,  Jim Tannock artfully collated on the page by local graphic designer by Alex Lloyd.  This first edition of the MFM calendar is now on sale at the Marlborough Farmers’ Market, Marlborough’s cellar doors and selected shops and business’s throughout the region.  .  It is tasty  asset of our food producing region to be hung in the kitchen or parlour, hallway or den – remember that ten years ago we did not have the same  opportunity to openly  support local food producers in such a united way, today we can do this at one of the any 50 Farmers’ Markets now operating right around NZ from Bluff to Bay of Islands.  Marlborough should be proud, we were the second in NZ to showcase the best of our region, the key to its success is ensuring that it remains a food market where local growers, farmers and food producers can sell their wares directly to the consumer.  

‘Great communities don’t just happen! – They are created, nurtured and sustained by caring, connected and involved residents and service providers.’    (Peter Kenyon)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Taste Farmers Markets New Zealand Awards 2011

Taste Farmers Markets New Zealand Awards 2011: "Objectives of the Taste Farmers' Markets Award

The FM movement is about building and strengthening local communities, supports local businesses. The brand is environmentally sustainable and projects fresh, seasonal, quality. Customers are interested in their health, knowing where their food comes from and are well read and educated people. They’re also looking for social interaction and learning more about food

Objectives of the Taste Farmers’ Market New Zealand Awards 2011

• To celebrate Farmers’ Markets and their regional food producers

• To support regional food producers and networks through celebration of achievements

• To stimulate additional business for Farmers’ Markets and food producers of NZ"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Whats that on your face ?

There is a large organ strapped to your face that kind of  gets taken for granted these day, some are big and wide, others small and toity, pointy or blunt - but  what ever your distinguishing  feature is, by comparison it  leads a simple life (unless you are a wine maker of course), pretty laid back relaxing and along for the ride

Your nose lets you smell things in the first instance and it's a big part of why you are able to taste things.  Freshly baked cookies coming out of the oven, Sunday roast being carved at the table with minted peas, fresh bread and then food that is past it best.  Before refrigeration the smell of food would have been the most important way to tell if it was spoiled or fresh, edible or inedible, of course now we are in the safe hands of the corporate food producers who deliver us our homogenised, sterilised and patursied and plasticized food substance portions that effectively removes the need for us to use the septum (nose) as much.

Your nose has a secret weapon, the  olfactory epithelium, this  contains special receptors that are sensitive to odor molecules that travel through the air.  These receptors are very small - there are at least 10 million of them in the nose sending signals to our brain that interprets signals  recognizing any one of about 10,000 different smells that will also untimely define your taste in what you like and dislike

Seventy to seventy-five percent of what we perceive as taste actually comes from our sense of smell. Taste buds allow us to perceive only bitter, salty, sweet, and sour flavours. It’s the odro molecules rom food that give us most of our taste sensation - this is way you have very little sense of taste when you have the flu.

Cure Kids Red Nose Day is coming back on 19 November this year and it is a great cause,  putting  some focus on a great charity (to raise money for life-threatening childhood illnesses affecting Kiwi kids), this could be the perfect excuse to bring your nose out of retirement and put it to a good use !

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies for Serous nose realignment
Serves 30
Ingredients
125g butter
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
1½ cups self raising flour
½ cup Cocoa powder
¾ Chocolate Chips
Method
Preheat oven to 160ºC.
Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
Mix in vanilla essence and egg.
Stir in flour and Cocoa and  Dark Chocolate Chips.
Place teaspoons of mixture on greased baking tray and bake in moderate oven for 10-15 minutes.
Remove from the oven, stand back and inhale

Where there smoke there is fire !

Tell me how do the Mapua School PTA score these amazing speakers for their annual Garden Gala Evening fundraiser?   What's your secret Ladies?  First they had Lynda, then last year they had Jack Hobbs and this year they've convinced Chris Fortune to come and speak. 

Now Chris, for those of you who don't know him, is a man who can cook and as if that is not enough to recommend him he also gardens, he writes great books about food, he is the current Chairperson of Farmers Markets NZ, is actively involved in the Slow Food movement and has chef'ed in some very swanky restaurants around the world.   Together with his wife Tina, he is currently raising his young family in Marlborough and has more projects on the go than you can shake a stick at.

Chris is a vibrant and entertaining speaker.    He is passionate about food and life and well worth missing Monday night Shortland St. to come out and listen to.

He will be taking us "from garden to plate" and if his latest book on food smoking is anything to go by, be prepared to  have your culinary repetoire expanded.   Chris has a flair for food that is special but doable at home.  His cookbooks are like having a chef over your shoulder.

If you want to know more about Chris before shelling out $25 on a ticket to spend an evening with him then I recommend you visit his website -www.chrisfortune.co.nz

But wait, there's more.  Not only do you get an evening with Chris.  You'll also get a glass of wine, cider or juice and some yummy nibbles, a goodie bag, coffee and cake afterwards and a great silet auction where local folks have donated their goods and their skills.     We've donated a fondue and cheesemaking evening with me at my house and the other donations are equally interesting I can tell you.

Tickets available from all good retailers including, Baku, Jester House, Tessa Mae's, us and the Mapua School.   As with previous years they will sell out so be in quick. 

All of the proceeds from the evening go to the Mapua School so have I convinced you yet?   Monday night in the brand new Hills Community Church on Aranui Road, Mapua.  Doors open at 6.30pm.    Tickets $25.00 at the retailers above.   Buy one, get another one at the same price.   Bring Him too - Chris is a man's man.   He'll enjoy it and get some new tips to rule the BBQ this summer.