This week we are participating in the Local Harvest Challenge, which gives me a little more impetus than usual to share some of the local food discoveries I’ve made. As part of the challenge, I am trying to include something homegrown in our diet every day of the challenge, which at this time of year, it pretty easy really.
Getting a head start with a light Sunday dinner (technically, the Challenge started on Monday), I put together a salad using a few figs that hang over the fence in the back lane. This went nicely with some of Red Hill Cheeses’ Coolart Soft (Boroondara Farmers’ Market), Go Just Nuts pistachios (Collingwood FM) and rocket from the garden and teamed with some barbecued eggplant from Angelica Organic.
Another highlight was homemade pizza with Peninsula Fresh tomatoes (only $10 for a small box of heirloom varieties at last week’s Boroondara Farmers’ Market), and Fior di Latte direct from Mamma Lucia in Brunswick – made locally. Since embarking on our challenge, I have freqented Mamma Lucia for incredible value, locally produced cheeses, many of which I can’t get at farmers’ markets. We can get a large bucket of fior di latte or boconcini milk cherries for around $15, and the freshest ricotta around – it’s usually still warm if you go in the morning and is only a few dollars.
Tonight we had warrigul greens from the garden in Matt Wilkinson’s baked ricotta recipe (from Mr Wilkinson’s Favorite Vegetables) – it was incredible, even with my own variations to the recipe according to what we had. Apologies if it doesn’t look as pretty as yours, Matt! We ate ours with crispy roast potatoes and a fresh tomato salad.
The kids thrive on porridge most days for breakfast and I have discovered a great source of oats grown in the Western district of Vic & into South Australia, processed in Eastern SA and sold at a nut shop in the Psarakos Market in Clarendon St Thornbury. They are only $5 for 2kg and taste amazing.
The other breakfast staple is homemade muesli, using the oats, dried fruit (I even put some pieces of those figs – oven dried, into the last couple of batches), Victorian almonds & pistachios. I do like it toasted with a little honey and any fruit juice we have on hand from the farmers’ market.
Pancakes also regularly feature for breakfast or lunch – teamed with yoghurt, fruit & honey. Ironically, I have found that I can buy affordable, Victorian (with some wheat from over the NSW border) flour from several local Indian & Pakistani grocers around Brunswick. Golden Mills located near the Murray River supplies the Indian & Pakistani communities in Victoria with whole wheat flour. I buy it in 5kg (around $6-$7) bags and use it for everything (muffins, pizza bases, cakes, etc), which its probably not meant for, but I have to say, for most things it’s been great and the pizza base was fantastic! When I have time, I might try making naan or something that it is meant for….
We’ve also had home made ice cream for dessert – recently this has been strawberry, blueberry, and some fabulous blueberry sorbet. Fruit, cream & milk were all bought directly from Victorian producers.
We are so lucky in Victoria to have such an incredible variety of local food to choose from, much of which we can confidently buy directly from producers at accredited farmers’ markets. In our family, we haven’t for a moment felt like we are missing out on good food, even on our budget – in fact quite the opposite, we are relishing it!