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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Kiwi Tucker Test

In my travels on the foodie blog trail, I've frequently come across the Omnivore's Hundred, and recently spotted the British Hundred. The first is a list of things that every good omnivore should try to eat at least once in their life, while the second is in a similar vein but covers only British food. Doing these challenges, I felt somewhat diminished by how little of the stuff on those lists I've actually eaten. I'll be honest, I've hardly even heard of a lot of these things. And I've spent a reasonable amount of time in the UK, though admittedly I was on the bones of my @$$ and could barely afford to eat, much less engage in far-reaching gastronomical endeavours.

So here's my challenge to the Brits, and anyone else who would like to see how much good New Zealand food they've really eaten: Take the Kiwi Tucker Test (the New Zealand One Hundred, shall we say?) and see how much Puha, Hangi and Kina you've eaten! Also open to Kiwis, Ozzies, and anyone else willing to give it a try.

I came to realise something while writing this list. Since I tried to exclude recent multicultural influences that feature strongly in local cuisine (such as Turkish, Chinese, Indian, Thai and Japanese, for example) but made an effort to include Maori and Pacific foods and local regional delicacies, it became clear that our British and American (or in my case Canadian) influences tend to lean towards the staid and not terribly healthy unless there's a huge swathe of veges on the side of the plate. So it's jolly good that Chicken Chowmein, Lamb Korma, Sushi and Beef Kebabs have made their way into our tummies and livened up what must have been a pretty bland palate for our parents' generation. With that in mind, I've avoided including those influences on this list in an effort to represent the taste of New Zealand as I remember it as a kid, before things got so flash and tasty. Would I go back to only eating food that features on the Kiwi Tucker Test? HA! No way.

My rules (just like the others):
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment at linking to your results.
  1. Sausage sizzle
  2. Puha
  3. Watercress
  4. Whitebait Fritters
  5. Train Smash (luncheon and sauce rolled up together)
  6. Kina
  7. Marmite
  8. Weetbix
  9. L & P
  10. Watties' Tomato Sauce
  11. Muttonbird
  12. Yams
  13. Taro
  14. Weta
  15. Huhu grub
  16. Roast Chicken
  17. Pavlova
  18. Mince & Cheese Pie
  19. Fish & Chips
  20. Hokey Pokey Ice Cream
  21. Milo
  22. Hokey Pokey Ice Cream with Milo
  23. Terakihi
  24. Manuka Honey
  25. Gisborne Oranges
  26. Potato Top Pie
  27. Anzac Biscuits
  28. Mr Hutton's Double Cheese Sizzlers
  29. Pipis
  30. Oysters fresh off the rocks
  31. Weka
  32. Spaghetti from a tin
  33. Watermelon from a roadside stand
  34. Kumera
  35. Rewa Bread
  36. Samosas
  37. Rhubarb Crumble
  38. Vegemite
  39. 'Tasty' Cheese
  40. South Island Apricots
  41. Hawkes Bay Chardonnay
  42. Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
  43. Mac's Gold Beer
  44. Bell Tea
  45. Golden Syrup
  46. Mixed Grill Breakfast (Sausages, Bacon, Eggs, Hashbrowns, Toast, Tomato)
  47. Sausage Roll
  48. Mince on Toast
  49. Packet Macaroni Cheese
  50. Chip Butties
  51. Smoked Eel
  52. Cookie Time Cookie
  53. Watercress
  54. Pork Boil-Up
  55. Vogel's Bread
  56. 2 Minute Noodles
  57. Corned Silverside
  58. Rabbit Stew
  59. Blackberries picked from the side of the road in February
  60. Homemade Plum Jam
  61. Any Burger with a big slice of beetroot in it
  62. Toffee Pops
  63. Marinated Mussels
  64. Hundreds & Thousands
  65. Twisties
  66. Wine Biscuits
  67. Gingernuts
  68. Foxton Fizz
  69. Leed Lemonade (you'll have to be at least as old as me to remember that one)
  70. Cream Donuts
  71. Rasberry Buns
  72. BBQ Steak AND Sausage AND Chops (all at once)
  73. Coleslaw
  74. Cold Potato Salad
  75. Christmas Pudding
  76. Sherry Trifle with fruit
  77. Jaffas
  78. Fresh Snowpeas eaten straight from the pod
  79. Moro Bar
  80. Tip Top Trumpet
  81. Cheese, Pineapple & Onion Toasted Sandwiches
  82. Coromandel Smoked Mussels
  83. Fresh Coconut
  84. Greggs' Instant Pudding
  85. Crayfish
  86. Summer Salad: Lettuce, Tomato, Cucumber, Beetroot, Cheese
  87. Honeysuckle Nectar
  88. Bluff Oysters
  89. Raro
  90. Chicken Roll
  91. Cheerios (Not the cereal - little red sausages)
  92. Mallowpuffs
  93. Wild Pork
  94. Red Lamington
  95. Feijoas
  96. Kiwifruit
  97. Summer Strawberries
  98. Chokos
  99. Pineapple Lumps
  100. Whittakers Peanut Slabs

And for anyone who's interested in how I did on the other two, read on:
The Omnivore's Hundred

Here are the rules if you would like to play along…
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche (caramel)
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed
50. Sea urchin (Kina)
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone (Paua)
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

The British Hundred, at Food Stories

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Link back to Food Stories, if you would be so kind.

1. Grey squirrel
2. Steak and kidney pie
3. Bubble and squeak
4. Spotted dick
5. Hot cross buns
6. Laver Bread
7. Toad in the hole
8. Shepherds pie AND cottage pie
9. Scotch egg
10. Parkin
11. Welsh rarebit
12. Jellied eels
13. Stilton
14. Marmite
15. Ploughman’s lunch
16. Cucumber sandwiches
17. Coronation chicken
18. Gloucester old spot
19. Cornish pasty
20. Samphire
21. Mince pies
22. Winkles
23. Salad cream
24. Malt Loaf
25. Haggis
26. Beans on toast
27. Cornish clotted cream tea
28. Pickled egg
29. Pork scratchings
30. Pork pie
31. Black pudding
32. Patum Peperium or Gentleman’s relish
33. Earl grey tea
34. Elvers
35. HP Sauce
36. Potted shrimps
37. Stinking bishop
38. Elderflower cordial
39. Pea and ham soup
40. Aberdeen Angus Beef
41. Lemon posset
42. Guinness
43. Cumberland sausage
44. Native oysters (Well I've had native NZ oysters straight off the rocks - does that count?)
45. A ‘full English’
46. Cockles
47. Faggots
48. Eccles cake
49. Potted Cromer crab
50. Trifle
51. Stargazy Pie
52. English mustard
53. Christmas pudding
54. Cullen Skink
55. Liver and bacon with onions
56. Wood pigeon
57. Branston pickle
58. Oxtail soup
59. Picalilli
60. Sorrel
62. Chicken tikka masala
63. Deep fried Mars Bar
64. Fish, chips and mushy peas
65. Pie and mash with liquor
66. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (with gravy)
67. Pickled onions
68. Cock-a-leekie Soup
69. Rabbit and Hare
70. Bread sauce
71. Cauliflower cheese
72. Crumpets
73. Rice pudding
74. Bread and butter pudding
75. Bakewell tart
76. Kendall mint cake
77. Summer pudding
78. Lancashire hot pot
79. Beef Wellington
80. Eton mess
81. Neeps and tatties
82. Pimms
83. Scampi
84. Mint sauce
85. English strawberries and cream (I've had strawberries and cream...)
86. Isle of Wight Garlic
87. Mutton
88. Deep fried whitebait
89. Angels on horseback
90. Omelette Arnold Bennett
91. Devilled kidneys
92. Partridge and pheasant
93. Stew and dumplings
94. Arbroath smokies
95. Oyster loaves
96. Sloe gin
97. Damson jam
98. Soda bread
99. Quince jelly
100. Afternoon tea at the Ritz

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I just can't help myself

Firstly, a big hug going out to Off-Black and Fish. The offer of a big lasagne to go in the freezer and get you through this most unbelievably difficult of times stands. Just say the word.

Has anyone noticed how the price of meat seems to keep rising? Even beef mince is costing $12.95/kilo now, which makes a lot of our economical meals suddenly less affordable. How is one supposed to react to this? Well, we've continued to patronise the Wai-ora Lamb stall at the Hutt Market, and I'm consistently impressed by the quality and the price of their product. I've posted about it before, and I just can't keep myself from going back.

For the first time ever, I bought Lamb Rack. This cut cost $7.50, which was a treat for us as a single meal, but cheaper than you can find a similar cut for at the supermarket or the butcher; and the meat is just divine.
I prepared these with my favourite lamb dressing: Garlic, fresh chopped rosemary and mint, freshly grated parmesan, freshly ground salt and pepper, and olive oil. Then I cook them on my special Pizza setting on the oven, which mainly roasts the meat from the bottom while gently grilling the parmesan and oil on top.
I cooked it for about 40 minutes, which was a bit too long, and the lamb is a teeny bit overdone for my liking, but its how Dessert Chef likes it, and the meat is so damned good anyway that it still tastes gorgeous. It's a bit hard to get the timing just perfect when you're cooking on a weeknight with an almost 2-year old running about under your feet.
I served these up with roasted onions, steamed veges fresh from the market, and fettucine with alfredo sauce.
The following week at the stall I found three little lamb steaks for $3.50! These were delicious; I encrusted them with fresh picked oregano and mint, and cooked in hot olive oil very quickly in a pan.
So since the price of our old friend mince is shooting up, why not spend the money on good free range meat instead? Nice work Wai-ora Farm. Keep it up.

(No, this is not a sponsored post. I just rate this lamb, and support small operations who are doing it right)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Now, about buying local...

I keep going on about this, but it seems that every day I find another reason to bang the drum about growing your own food and buying locally if you can. Apologies in advance to my offshore readers: this might hurt a bit.

I've already had my say about NZ Garlic vs Chinese. Now it seems that we have even more reason to be wary of food imported from China. The scandal involving Chinese dairy company San Lu - 47% owned by NZ dairy giant Fonterra - which has left four children dead of melamine poisoning and thousands more seriously ill, brings to light the differences in food production standards between NZ and China, with whom we are the first country in the world to have a Free Trade Agreement. (Apologies to the family connection - I promise that I only raise this issue to make an important point)

While the impotent NZ Food Safety Authority sits on its hands about the issue of Country of Origin food labelling (the basic gist being that if it's not obviously from another country, ie, "Made in Thailand", then the redundant "Made from local or imported ingredients" is all the information the consumer needs to make a decision, whether those ingredients are from Australia or China), we find that there is indeed a Chinese product on our market that has been confirmed to be tainted with melamine, the same contaminant that has killed four Chinese babies. While we don't buy White Rabbit Candy, obviously enough people do to make it worthwhile importing here. Nor, you might say, do we eat candy like babies drink infant formula. But the question has to be asked, if we found it in the candy, what else is going to turn up that we don't yet know about?

The rhetoric coming from Fonterra as this crisis has escalated largely concludes that due to the scale of the operation, ie, the Chinese marketplace, it's virtually impossible to rule out every source of poison or contamination in the supply chain and to guarantee the safety of the product generated thereof. And lucky old NZ is the first country in the world to allow a free flow of Chinese goods - foodstuffs included, under the half-lidded eyes of the FSA - over our borders.

So, should we be happier to hear that the US has now opened up negotiations with our Government regarding a Free Trade Agreement? The farmers sure are, just like they were happy to know that Fonterra wanted all that milk powder to send to China. Now, I have nothing against farmers of any kind, but would we all be so happy if our own market was suddenly flooded with cheap food from the US? I only ask this with dire hesitation because of a few things I've been following in the news lately.

One of those things is the concessions that the US is likely to expect us to make to enable this FTA. They take issue with:
  • Restrictions on GM crops;
  • Our current pathetically weak labelling scheme for GM products (informing consumers is a barrier to trade!);
  • Import restrictions on potentially diseased food (stopping people from getting BSE is a barrier to trade!);
  • Sane copyright law which recognises the rights of customers;
  • Voluntary local content quotas for TV and radio (customer preferences are a barrier to trade!);
  • The Overseas Investment Act (requiring that investment actually be beneficial is a barrier to trade!);
  • Pharmac.
(Hat Tip: Idiot/Savant - quoted in full, even the non-food related stuff)

But it gets better. For the past few weeks I've been watching with growing disquiet the American FDA (Food and Drug Administration) pushing to have all salad greens and other veges that might carry bugs or other harmful living things like bacteria "pasteurised". As far as labelling that the food has been "pasteurised", they want to place only this innocuous symbol on the produce packaging:
What they don't want people to know is that "pasteurisation" is a synonym for "irradiation". Is that what this image suggests to you? Kirk James Murphy, MD, gives a concise scientific rundown of how NOT GOOD it would be to expose food to massive doses of radiation, while Jeff Fenske sums it up in a few short sentences. Butnerblogspot gives us a rundown on how the FDA plan to pull the wool over the American public's eyes regarding the "Irradiation/Pasteurisation" sham.

I shook my head and wondered where it was going to end when I first read these stories, but it wasn't something that I, all the way over here in clean green New Zealand, might ever have to worry about.

Until now. And so, as I was saying, there is no better time to think very hard about how much effort you might want to go to to know that the food you're buying isn't going to be poisoned or irradiated or whatever else might be happening to it out there before it gets to you.

At least my lettuce will only be irradiated if I microwave it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Lemon-Garlic Chicken

This meal follows on from an absolute travesty that was committed against a poor innocent chicken the night before. I do like to branch out and try new things, and after seeing a few recipes for Poached Chicken and scoffing at it, I suddenly had a change of heart and decided to try it out.

What a terrible idea. My heartfelt apologies go out to Liz E. Bear and Dessert Chef C for that one. I think I need to research the concept a bit more thoroughly. Suffice to say that if anyone ever tells me that they like their chicken rubbery, I'll know exactly what to cook for them. I'm sure that it all comes down to technique, but it'll be a while before I give that one another crack.

Thankfully, I had jointed off the legs, thighs and wings and put them aside for another meal, and my spur-of-the-moment Lemon-Garlic Roast Chicken Pieces more than made up for the previous night's sad debacle. I dare say this one will make it up there with Slow-Cooked Paprika Chicken and Zesty Crumbed Chicken, except that its quicker and easier than both of them.

Lemon-Garlic Roast Chicken Portions

(Serves 4)

In a pestle or large bowl, grind up the following to make a rough paste:
Zest and Juice of 1/2 a Lemon;
6 Cloves of NZ Garlic;
2T Soy Sauce;
Freshly Ground Salt and Pepper.
Score the Chicken pieces (I had 2 Leg quarters and 2 wings - increase your quantities accordingly to serve more) and press the garlic mixture into the skin and meat. Place the dressed chicken in a bowl with some olive oil and sprinkle with semolina flour. Toss gently until coated.
Place in the oven at 220C, on a rack to allow the fat to drain, and cook for 1 hour, turning twice in that time. Baste if the chicken looks like it might be crying out. I used my oven's Pizza setting, which gently grills the chicken from above while the bottom element does most of the work from below.
Serve with roasted onions and kumera and steamed veges fresh from the local market.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Apology and Update

Sloppy stuff Dan! To put up a link and not check it, I ought to be ashamed.

Anyway, Whiteboard Guy Video Link is here.

I also updated yesterday's post with the correct link.

Take the 5 minutes to watch it. It's well worth the time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I promise, this isn't a rant. When we hear the arguments on either side of the Climate Change fence, there are two voices: The believers and the deniers. Those who believe that Climate Change is real and happening say Yes, we (people) have some degree of responsibility for this and we can do something to make it better. The deniers say Climate Change is a natural process that the planet goes through every so often and is absolutely unaffected by the amount of carbon that has been released into the atmosphere over the past hundred years. The deniers invariably fail to account for the fact that the "normal" changes to our planet's boisphere have taken place over the past 100 years, since the start of the Oil Age, rather than over the thousands of years that these processes usually take.

OK, so it's pretty obvious where I sit. But here's the thing: When faced with the prospect of a looming crisis that may or may not be real, and which may or may not be affected by what we do, there are two things that we can choose to do:




This is a complex argument which is best summed up by WhiteBoard Guy, [EDIT - THIS LINK SHOULD NOW WORK] but the basic answer is this: If we do nothing about it, we deserve what we get. If we do something about it, it can only be better than if we do nothing. And if nothing happens, we've still done something good.

So we're doing something. We're getting things growing in the ground, which is an awfully good place for that to happen. And rather than bang on about Climate Change any more, I thought I'd just take you on a quick tour through our very early Spring Garden.

Tomato shoots coming up

The sole surviving Brocolli

The Potato seedling goes wild

Strawberry seedling - this is one we bought, mind you...

And below, the only thing I've ever managed to keep alive for years on end, I think because they're just glorified weeds that you can eat: my herbs.



Monday, September 22, 2008

Bacon & Leek Risotto

Where does the time go? Every time I turn around it seems to be a bit later than it was before. Of course, maybe if I just stopped turning around, I'd save a bit of time and not be quite so dizzy.

Yes, Spring is upon us, and there seems to be a million things to do. Suddenly the days have gone by and I haven't posted on my blog since Friday! I can see this is going to become more frequent as the days get longer and the appeal of sitting at the computer is overridden by the desire to sit out on the deck with a glass of wine instead. Everything in moderation, I say. The garden is also going to take up more time now that the Spring growth is getting underway. Ah, how I wish that weeds were a part of my culinary repertoire. Alas, they are not, so I must weed and find things that are edible and beautiful to grow. Keep an eye out here for lovely green pictures of the few wonderful things that are indeed cropping up in pots and piles of compost around our place.

Anyway, I know why you're here. You expect me to get your mouth watering with more delicious recipes and foodie photos. Ah well, I won't disappoint. My topic today: Risotto. Mmmmm.

The risotto I'm going to post today is, IMHO, the best I've ever made. OK, so I've made about 3 (here, here and here), but with this one I really nailed something. It would probably be helpful if I could remember what that something was by the end of the post. I suspect it has something to do with practice, but I'll keep on believing it's a kind of magic.

Other Risotto news:

Hmm, somehow I thought there was more to that. Well, onto the good stuff...

Bacon and Leek Risotto

(Serves 4)

Trim the fat from 4 bacon rashers and put these into a pan. Heat moderately to grease the pan (and keep looking while you're cooking!)

While the fat is crackling, slice up a leek into rings, dice an onion and slice a carrot. Remove the crispy fat from the pan and add the veges. Sweat them in the bacon fat until they just start to soften. (Sounds a bit too healthy, I know, but if you feel you're not getting your share, just have ice cream with extra ice cream afterwards - No, National Heart Foundation, I didn't really say that...). Remove the veges from the pan and add a splash of olive oil to reheat.

When your significant other isn't looking, eat the bacon crackling and slip little bits to your almost 2-year old, who also really likes it (No, NHF, I didn't really say that either).

Chop the bacon into bite-size pieces and add to the hot oil. Brown the bacon and then add 2T of concentrated tomato paste and mix through well. Turn the heat down a little if it seems that the tomato paste might burn. When the liquid has absorbed (1-2 mins) return the veges to the pan. Mix through thoroughly and allow to sweat for a couple more minutes.

Warm up 1C of vege stock or beef stock.

Add 1 Cup of Aborio rice to the pan and mix well. The rice will crackle, but don't let it burn. This will crisp the rice slightly and get a lot of heat through it before you start to add the liquids.

Add 1/2C of white wine to the pan. Allow the alcohol to burn off and the liquid to be absorbed before starting with the stock. I would make wine recommendations here, but it would be a load of bull. If there's wine in the fridge, it'll get used. Assuming I don't have to moisten my own throat first, because that's important when you have to stand over a hot stove for half an hour cooking dinner.

I don't know who said that Risotto was easy, because it's not. It's one of the most demanding dishes I know how to cook. Give me a roast or a stew any day, thanks. But I digress.

Start adding the stock a ladelful (about 1/4C) at a time, and let it absorb into the rice before adding the next quantity. Continue with this until you have used up all your stock AND the rice is cooked - about 17 minutes. If the rice is not cooked when you run out of stock, just use water. During this time, you MUST keep stirring the pan. This is why it's a pain to make, because you simply cannot walk away from the stove. Not that I'm trying to discourage you from cooking risotto. If it wasn't so darned delicious, I wouldn't keep coming back to it.
Remove the cooked risotto from the heat and add 1/4C grated fresh parmesan and 25g of butter. Stir these through the pan and dish immediately, with more freshly grated parmesan, extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Just like your Tuck Shop used to make, only better.

Righto, back to the food.

Like any red-blooded kiwi lad, I like a nice pie. Especially when you can pull some leftovers out of the freezer , grate some cheese and roll out some pastry and away you go.

Ok, I'll be honest. Dessert Chef C made this one, and the filling was actually from Liz E. Bear's Bolognaise. I even think that the cheese was pre-grated! So given all those conditions, I'll try to represent as accurately as I can how to whip up a luverly Mince 'n' Cheese Pie from scratch. Of course, if you too have Liz E. Bear's leftovers in the freezer then you can just use them!

Mince and Cheese Pie

(Serves 4)

For the filling, fry up an onion and some garlic, then add 400g of Beef Mince. Brown and cook well. Add a handful of chopped mushrooms and courgettes towards the end. Add about 400g of pasta sauce, preferably a thick one. Heat through and reduce until the sauce is nice and thick. In other words, make up a Bolognaise sauce and thicken it. Put aside to cool.

Grease a 30cm pie dish, then sprinkle it with flour. On a floured bench, roll out a sheet of flaky puff pastry. Drape the pastry over the dish and ease into the corners of the dish without tearing it. Roll out a second sheet and stand by.
Spoon in the filling. Grate 1 1/2C of cheddar cheese and a 1/4C of parmesan cheese over the mince, followed by a few twists of freshly ground pepper. Place the top sheet of pastry on the pie and press the edges into the base firmly with a fork. Brush lightly with milk. Trim away the excess pastry and poke the top with a few airholes to let the steam escape.
Place in the oven at 200C on the centre rack for about 40-45 mins. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for at least 5 mins.
Dish with care. Filling will be hot and delicious.

Isaac doesn't seem to do too well with mince, so Dessert Chef C made him little bacon and egg pies instead. Lucky Boy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Urban Driftwood and other Wordy Stuff

Time for another Urban Driftwood update. Read here and here for earlier posts on this most exciting of topics.

The first four copies ever arrived last weekend, and this afternoon I dropped off Steve's copy to him for a look. I'm meeting Jane on Saturday to give her her copy, right after we've been to the market. And while our dinner date with Morgue seems to keep morphing between dates and times I'm sure we will touch base very soon. I'm giving the above-named artists a chance to look over the book and give me any feedback they might feel necessary before we open it up to the public. My deadline is September 30th, which means that on Wednesday October 1st Urban Driftwood will be all go. That's how quick the Internet can be, folks. For a project whose title I conceived in 1994 and which I began developing in 1999, October 1 2008 is a significant date.

Are you as excited as I am?

Anyway, a link will be posted as soon as Urban goes live.

In other writing news, I reached Chapter 38 of 43 in the redraft of my novel today, page 1035 in fact, which means that I must be almost done. I'll be happier when I get to write that I've just completed Chapter 43, and that I'm done, done. That will be a fine day indeed.

I'd also like to plug a VERY FUNNY book, written by a kiwi chap whom I've never met, but is apparently quite famous. His book, The Bible II:Rick the Chosen One, is a hilarious, mildly ribald piece of off-the-wall humour. Clownwings sums it up like this:

If you like Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, you'll love this book. Not really informative, not much of it even makes sense, but very *expletive* funny. If you want to laugh, without knowing why, this book is for you.
RTCO can be found at the Kiwiwriters' Storefront, where Urban Driftwood will be available in two weeks or so.

BTW, at the time of publication the link to "Clownwings" above actually takes you a virtually blank page. This person, whom I also don't know, obviously joined Lulu but has not set up a storefront. We may or may not learn more about this mysterious "Clownwings" in the future. And Clownwings, if you're reading: Who the h#@k are you?

Just cos I'm nosy. ;-)

Sweet Mash

Following on from yesterday's steak post, I wanted to push the veggie side too. I also posted an edit regarding the gravy, noting the Tomato Paste that I add to the pan during deglazing to give the gravy its body and colour.

The other winner on the plate was the Sweet Mash, which will go brilliantly with just about anything, and is another way of getting more veggies on your plate.

Sweet Mash

(Serves 4)

Peel and cube 2 Potatoes, 1 Kumera and either 1/8 of a large grey Pumpkin or a whole Butternut Pumpkin. Boil rapidly in salted water until soft. Mash up with a fork, adding a little milk and butter to make the mash creamy and frothy. Beautiful stuff.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Steaking it Out

After London Mayor Boris Johnson's little outburst about reducing our meat intake, I felt it was time to talk a little bit about meat. The write-up was carried by the Dominion Post last week, who, to their credit, made a somewhat ironic point of the title, "A Load Of Bull." Which is what it really was. Morgue has paraphrased this little diatribe quite succinctly, and to borrow his words directly:

"Some UN chappie says I should forgo meat one day a week to cut carbon emissions. But the world is overpopulated! The end."
The point is not that an excess of people on the planet drives up demand for beef, therefore people are the problem. The problem is that people demand it in the first place. Now, I'm no vegetarian, nor do I pretend to be. But life is about balance and moderation. Johnson's bellowings about "vast Homeric barbeques" of "chops and sausages and burgers and chitterlings and chine and offal," smacks of the typical Western arrogance and overconsumption that shames us all in the eyes of the rest of the world, even if he is making a wildly weak attempt at humour. Whick-Whack was funny, Boris. Quit while you're ahead.

Would it really hurt to not eat red meat every day? We certainly don't. We've been making an active effort in our house to reduce the amount of red meat we're eating and to eat vegetarian at least once a week. We also prefer to buy quality meat in smaller portions over big dishes of cheaper meat.

The point that Boris Johnson misses is that his desire to feast on red meat purely to spite Dr Rajendra Pachauri of the UN comes at a huge cost, both in terms of the environmental damage being done to the planet to farm the millions of cows and sheep and pigs that we eat, and in the food miles racked up to bring it to the market. Is Mr Johnson a fan of New Zealand Lamb? Does he plan to offset his carbon footprint by planting a few native bushes in our backyard? Probably not.

We're not perfect. We recycle, reuse,and compost; we use cloth nappies, eat all our leftovers (most the time), and have made a conscious effort to only eat produce grown in NZ whenever we can. But we still drive about 600km a week and we still eat meat. So what can we do about that? I say, we respect the meat. We outlaw huge barbeques of sausages that won't get eaten, and we make it a criminal offence to overcook a steak. We legislate for serving sizes, and we educate the masses on how to make the most out of less meat.

Where am I going with this? Perfect Steak. Yes, after all that invective, I'm going to write a post about cooking the perfect steak. We got this steak on special and so it was a bit of a treat. We eat steak about once a month, and we always appreciate it. So we make sure that it's cooked well and that it tastes delicious. The cow deserves no less (apologies to any vegos out there - I admit I have my weaknesses, and steak is one of them).

Steak (It's That Simple)

(Serves 3)

Take 300-400g of good frying steak, either Porterhouse or Scotch Fillet. With the blunt side of a heavy knife, tenderise the steak in a crosshatch pattern. Finely chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and spread this over both sides of the steak, along with freshly ground salt and pepper and olive oil. Leave to rest for at least half an hour if possible.
Heat 2T of olive oil in a heavy iron pan until almost smoking. Slice an onion and put aside. Lay the steak in the hot oil and spread the onion over the top. Keep the heat high for the first 3-4 minutes, lowering slightly when the steak is ready to turn.
Here's the secret that can make the difference between a steak and a perfect steak: Only turn it once. Lift the steak and peek underneath to see if it's done and ready to flip. Once you turn it there's no going back. Follow this rule and your steak will always come up well, whether you like it rare or well done. Remove the onions to the pan and turn the steak over, then replace the onions on top of the steak. Cook the steak for a similar time on the other side, with the heat a wee bit lower. If you want to know if your steak is done, don't cut into it - this will just undo all your hard work. You can judge the done-ness of a steak just by prodding it. If the steak feels as soft as your cheek, it's rare. Soft as your chin, its medium. Soft as your forehead, its well done. Ah, all the secrets are coming out now!
Remove the steak to a warm plate, leaving the onion in the pan. Add a little water to the pan and scrape all the good stuff off the bottom to make a gravy.

EDIT: Also add about 2T of tomato paste to give the gravy a bit of texture and colour - Just found my notes on this!

Reduce the onion gravy rapidly and spoon over the steak. Serve with mashed kumera and pumpkin and steamed greens. Perfect.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Birthday Pancakes... Sort of

Today was LBS's birthday. I got up and made her our favourite pancakes, with whipped cream, banana and home-made pancake syrup.

Unfortunately for her, LBS lives in Canada, no less then 20 hours flying distant, so she missed out. But as they say, it's the thought that counts. She can be assured that her Birthday Pancakes were very much enjoyed by Isaac, Dessert Chef C and myself.I increased the recipe this time, using 4 eggs, 150g of self-raising flour and 190mls of milk, and I had to go hunting for a recipe for pancake syrup as we used the last of ours a week or so ago and haven't replenished the stocks. This is the recipe I used. It came out a bit crystally, but I think that if it was to cook for longer those crystals would break down and it would be smoother. The recipe I used as a basis called for Corn Syrup, which we didn't have, so that would probably have made it a lot smoother too.

Pancake Syrup

In a small pan, melt 25g of butter. Add 1/4C of brown sugar, 1/4C of white sugar and 1/4C of water. Heat to a brisk simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat and stir constantly to thicken.
Serve warm over pancakes or icecream.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Birthday Pizza... Sort of

Firstly, my little Statcounter tells me that yesterday I passed the "1000 views" mark on Freshly Ground. Cripes. Thanks very much for the support, everyone. It keeps me coming back, probably when I should be doing more practical things. But that's another issue which I might take up later. If you're lucky.

Moving right along, yesterday was Dessert Chef C's birthday. It was her request that we have pizza for dinner for her birthday, and I was most happy to oblige. Aunty A and Uncle I came over again, as did Liz E Bear. Uncle I brought the next step up in the beer department, this time a Trappiste Dubbel That went down very well indeed.
We've been making individual pizzas instead of big ones lately, just for a change. All was going well last night until I had the third round in the oven and I went to prep a couple more, and I found that the bases I had so carefully pre-rolled by hand had all decided to merge back together in a glutinous mass. So you learn things. A pizza takes 15 minutes to cook, but only 2 minutes to roll out the base and only a couple of minutes to dress. Next time I won't give myself a back-ache rolling out 15 bases at once, only to have them fall in love again and enjoy a little family reunion once my back is turned. Instead I'll keep the dough in balls and press each one out as it's needed.

I did pretty well at saving them from complete disaster - theoretically at least. When we were done eating, I took all the leftover toppings and sauce and spread them down the middle of the merged bases and rolled them all together. I grated parmesan over the top and baked it, and what I got out of the oven after 22mins looked absolutely divine.
Unfortunately, I had put in the last of the chicken, and because we care about our health, and no-one was still hungry, we had to put it out for the birds (and the cats, and the hedgehogs, and the worms...). Which raised a discussion about wasting food (which I deplore, as you will know), to which I argued that feeding the birds was not a waste of food at all. Certainly not an ideal use, but definitely not a waste.

Anyway, the star performers on the pizza front for the last two weeks have been a classic Chicken, Camembert and Cranberry, which I made last night for C and Liz E Bear; and my current favourite pizza of all time: Chilli Mussels. I've only ever seen seafood pizza done as if it might be your last chance to ever eat shellfish. These pizzas are laden with shrimps, mussels, fish, squid rings, surimi, and whatever else some crazed pizza chef thinks will be required for a customer to buy a seafood pizza and feel like they're getting thier money's worth. Well, the old quality versus quantity argument wins again, hands (or fins) down.

If you like seafood and you like spicy, this is the one for you. If you don't, like our birthday girl, stick to chicken and cranberry or salami and cheese. As for me, I now have a reason to make sure that there are always mussels in the fridge...

Chilli Mussel Pizza

(serves up to 6)

Place 3 plain marinated mussels per pizza you intend to make (single serve pizza, that is) in a bowl. Add in the grated zest of 1/4 lemon, 2T of Sweet Thai Chilli Sauce and 1 finely sliced clove of NZ garlic per 3 mussels, and add a generous seasoning of freshly ground black pepper. Allow to marinate, stirring occasionally, while the dough is made.

Make up 1 quantity of
pizza/bread dough.

Take 1 serving of
Top Secret Pizza Sauce and warm in a small pot on the stove. (Yes, you might've been LYAO when you read that post, but this stuff is fantastic. Sure, it could be better, and perhaps I could've created less of a fire hazard in the process, but it has turned out to be a brilliant base for pasta or pizza sauce. I used the last of it yesterday and I'm a bit upset about that.) Next, finely chop a ripe tomato and half an onion and add to the pot. Squirt in 1T of tomato paste and 1T of tomato sauce and heat. Allow to simmer vigourously without boiling for about 5 mins, then blitz with a stick blender or in a bench blender. Put aside.

When the dough is done, divide into six balls.

Preheat the oven to 230C, with your
pizza stone on the centre rack. You want the pizza stone to be piping hot every time you start a new round of pizzas, so pop the stone back in the oven between sessions. You won't regret it.

Roll a ball of dough out flat on a floured bench, using your hands to press the dough out towards the edges. I use Semonlina flour as it doesn't dry the dough out.

Brush a drizzle of olive oil over the base, followed by about 2T of Pizza Sauce. Slice the mussels into thirds and place around the pizza, then drizzle on some of the marinade. Finely slice 1 clove of NZ garlic and sprinkle on, along with a scattering of finely sliced onion. Add a few small blocks of feta cheese, then grate over lemon zest and add a grind of pepper. Dress with a small handful of mozzarella cheese, followed by a little grating of edam cheese, and a shaving of fresh parmesan.
Pull the hot pizza stone from the oven and slide the pizza onto it. I cook 2 of this size at a time. Listen for that satisfying sizzle that tells you your base is guaranteed to go crispy. Bake for 15 mins. If your oven doesn't have a pizza setting, then flick the dial over to grill for about another 3-5 minutes until the cheese browns. Remove (carefully!) from the oven and slice, then dish.
Enjoy with a dash of good Pinot Gris. You have to admit, its not often that you can match wine with pizza, can you?

Some of the keen-eyed among you will notice that the pizza on the final picture seems to have capsicum on it. That is indeed the case. In fact, it also has pepperoni and absolutely no mussels - those things that look like they might be mussels are actually mushrooms. It seems that the mussel pizza was too good to hang around long enough for a photo to be taken, so the plain old "supremo" will have to stand in as best it can.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nothing Addictive About It

Uncle I and Aunty A turned up for dinner tonight. It was three courses, and no photos were taken because I'm already so far behind that I don't see the point in creating more work for myself. Instead of a bottle of wine, however, we shared a very pleasant blond.

No blogging or writing work got done, due to naughty Uncle I showing me this site.

We got up to level 10 before Dessert Chef C kicked everybody out. But I managed to post this.


More foody stuff tomorrow, hopefully.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

That's a Wrap

Well, 8.30pm came and went, and the world did not end. As a mad sci-fi fan, I had sort of hoped in a dark and violent way that turning on the Particle Accelerator thingy at CERN might have in fact created a black hole and sucked the whole planet up, just to prove to those ever-so-sensible scientists that sometimes the crazy sci-fi writers can get it right. But they didn't. Oh well. Thankfully, courtesy of Morgue, we can all be kept fully up to date on these developments. If you're at all worried about whether or not the world has been consumed by a greedy man-made black hole, just check this link.

Or take a look out the window. If you still have a window, then its probably OK.

So, even though it would seem that our planet is not on the verge of calling "it's a wrap", that's exactly what I'm going to do. Still playing catch-up from dinners a week or so ago, here's a quick and healthy favourite from our chemical fusion chamber (read: kitchen) to yours.

Easy Mince Wraps

Couldn't be easier. In a pan, fry up a chopped onion and a few sliced garlic cloves, then add about 400g of mince (ground beef, for my growing audience across the Pacific). Brown the mince and add some soy sauce, freshly ground salt and pepper, about 3T of tomato sauce (ketchup), and cook until the mince holds together.

Meanwhile, grate a carrot, some cheese, dice a couple of tomatoes, and finely slice some capsicum (peppers).
Warm a couple of wraps in the microwave (20s on medium - you don't want them to get hot or they'll fall apart) and lay each on a plate. Spread about 1/3 of each wrap with sour cream and chilli sauce, or tomato sauce, or aioli, or chutney, or whatever you like. Spoon the mince onto the sour cream and spread your salad on top. Fold up the bottom section and bring the sides over to form a nice burrito shape. Eat immediately.
Another option which we have really enjoyed is to slow-cook a chicken and shred the meat instead of cooking mince (that's for you, Patrice). Give it a try, you crock-pot fiends out there.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sweet & Sour Chicken

I must be quick tonight, as I have other very VERY important things to do (No, not more X-Box. I must continue with the redrafting of my novel, for the year is growing late and, alas, it is not yet finished). The other night I wanted to make a sweet and sour sauce to go with some leftover chicken, and I wasn't satisfied making the usual out of the cookbook. So I used the Foodie Googlie bar and got the following result from I modified it ever so slightly to suit, but I was impressed with how well the search bar worked. Try it yourself sometime when you're stuck for ideas.

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Pineapple

In a small pan, mix up 2 T cornflour, 4 T brown sugar, 3 T cider vinegar, 2 T soy sauce and the fruit and juice from a 230g can of pineapple chunks. Cook over a moderate heat, stirring frequently, until thickened. Add the shredded meat of 2 cooked chicken breasts and heat thoroughly. Serve over long noodles with fresh steamed veges.

Now I've dallied long enough. Time to go do some work!


2008 is the International Year of the Potato. Over these two days (September 8-9), in Paris, France, the International Conference on Potato Issues and Prospects is being held. No, I have nothing to do with it. I'm not even in Paris. The closest event we have going on in NZ is the 7th World Potato Congress, in Christchurch, March 2009. Which isn't even the Year of the Potato, but that's the Kiwi Way. Even when it comes to honouring the noble Potato, we're fashionably late.

Had we been just across the ditch, we might have had the opportunity to attend the Pinaroo Spudfest in South Australia (April) or the Unveiling of Potato Sculptures in Trafalgar, Victoria (June). Trust the Aussies to give credit where its due.

By not being in Slovenia two days ago (and why not? you might rightly ask) I missed the 8th World Festival of Sauteed Potatoes. That would've been good to be at.

No, here in NZ the best we can do is eat our spuds with pride. Following on from yesterday's Pioneer Potatoes, today we present a Russian dish, Draniki, or Potato Pancakes. For some unknown reason, except that our eyes must have been bigger than our stomachs at some point in the not-too-distant past, we had a tray of frozen mashed potato in the freezer, which served our purpose perfectly. If you don't have pre-frozen mashed spud on hand, feel free to make yours the old-fashioned way. If anyone really needs the low-down on whipping up top-notch mashed spuds, leave a comment to that effect, and I'll gladly oblige. Either way, I suspect that it's best to let the mash cool before adding the rest of the ingredients.


Basic Recipe:

200g cold creamy mashed potatoes
2 Eggs
Freshly ground Salt and Pepper to season
1 Finely chopped Onion
2-3 T Flour
Olive Oil to loosen as required

Mix these all together until you have a dough. Add a little flour or olive oil as necessary.
The Draniki can be rolled into patties and cooked at this stage, or you can add more ingredients to make them tastier, or to upgrade them from a side dish into a main. We added whole kernel corn (from a tin), finely chopped red onion, and grated cheese. But you could add pretty much anything that will be ok with the 10 mins or so that it takes to cook them in the frying pan. Tuna, capsicum, tomato, cooked bacon, whatever.
Melt some butter in a small non-stick frying pan until it's bubbling, then add the patties to the pan. Cook until brown on the bottom, then flip and cook until brown on the other side.
Just like that, you have Draniki. And to think that we didn't even know that's what they were called when we made them (I recall I was bathing Isaac while Dessert Chef C whipped these up after a long day on the road, so any mistakes are mine). Serve with a crisp green salad and your favourite sauces.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Father's Day Fuzzies

Yesterday was my second ever Father's Day, and I think that's worth making a big deal over. So what did I get for Father's Day?

I got to have a little sleep in. That's always good.

I got brought breakfast in bed, French toast with bacon and banana and maple syrup. Nom nom. No photos though, as I was still in bed, of course.

I got a Father's Day Gingerbread from Our Emma who came for a visit, which was really nice.

I got to pull the leaking guttering apart and repair it (fingers crossed).

I got to plant the aforementioned potatoes. Mmm, the fragrance of compost.

I got to go to the hardware store on my own - usually not allowed as it can have a devastating effect on the family finances. But to my credit I only got what I needed for the guttering and a strawberry plant for Dessert Chef C, since she cooked me such a yummy breakfast.

I got to go to the butcher's shop and talk cuts of roast beef with an expert.

I got to put all the leftover wood from the fence-building project under the house.

I got to split up some more firewood, because despite all the promissory notes being issued by Spring, its still pretty darned cold here.

I got to take the chainsaw to the pohutukawa tree and trim it up a bit. More sun for the lawn!

I got to cook dinner. But that's another story.

I got to play X-Box.

And that was Father's Day 2008.

Now as promised, here's the Smashed Potato Recipe from last week. I'm so far behind on posting dinners that it's not really funny anymore, but I'll do my best to catch up this week. The inspiration for these potatoes came from Pioneer Woman, who has a great series of photos and detailed steps for making these her way. I improvised a bit with what I had on hand.

Pioneer Potatoes

Boil a pot of potatoes, cooking 1 - 2 per person as required. When cooked, toss lightly in olive oil. On an oven rack, place a piece of baking paper and brush oil on that, too. Place the potatoes on the paper and gently crush with a potato masher, so they look like so: Dress up the potatoes with a generous dose of freshly ground salt and pepper and olive oil, then add your favourite toppings. I used onion, parmesan, Italian herbs, and finely chopped garlic. Place under the grill and brown.
Serve with pretty much anything. We had ours with steak, chorizo sausage, salad, boiled kumera and a gorgeous Pinot.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Barbeque for Breakfast

Last Friday was Uncle I's birthday, so we decided - based on the noonday almost-spring sunshine - that we might have a BBQ. Ah, folly. By 5pm it was cold and blowing, threatening rain, and what made it worse was that lo and behold, there was no gas for the BBQ anyway. So we used the electric BBQ instead, and it was great.

The biggest problem I usually have with BBQs (besides the occasional hangover) is dealing with the leftovers. In the past I've been guilty of cooking too much, which leaves us with more meat sitting in the fridge than we're able to eat in a week, so it ends up getting thrown out. I'll be making a serious effort, in line with my wider concerns regarding food wastage, to reduce that excess this summer. I think we managed that with Friday's meal, the highlight of which was the garlic steak and the Squashed Potatoes - I'll post that next.

Meanwhile, Saturday morning dawned and there was a tray of leftover steak and sausages in the fridge which I decided would not be wasted. Bring on the...

Breakfast BBQ Fritatta

So simple.
Slice up leftover BBQ meat: we had steak and chorizo. Toss a handful in a bowl with an egg, some chopped mushroom and capsicum, a grating of parmesan and some freshly ground salt and pepper. Heat some olive oil in a non-stick pan and add the egg mixture. When its browned on the underside, slide the fritatta out onto a plate, flip the pan on top of the uncooked side of the fritatta and invert the whole caboodle (with a tea towel or two). Pop the pan back on the heat and cook through.
Serve with sweet chilli sauce or whatever brightens up your post-BBQ Saturday morning. Hot coffee also highly recommended.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Where's the Food?

I didn't get to post yesterday, mainly because our house is a shambles due to the ripping up of carpet and flooring in the kitchen and dining room. The process of putting the new stuff down has, for some reason, not happened as quickly as it came up. Why do you think that is?

We also watched a doco which deserves a mention, but I'll come back to that or I'll be here all night.

On the writing front, things are looking good. For a start, waiter has elucidated to me why it's so hard to write both a blog and a book at the same time. Here it is in a nutshell, for anyone who is trying to do just that and can't figure out why the two don't seem to go together:

Quite simply, blogging didn’t prepare me for the emotional ferocity of writing a book. It didn’t prepare me for the claustrophobia and fear, the exhausting concentration coupled with tedium, and the isolation compounded by occasionally crying like a little girl. (How embarrassing!) Psychologically speaking, writing a book is like getting into a knife fight with yourself in a phone booth.
As for my own projects, yesterday I officially passed the 3/4 mark in revising my novel. I'm presently up to the start of Chapter 35, on page 926 of 1229. I didn't even see the critical page 908 go by. But I'm seeing lots of scrawled pencil marks on the coming pages, so I might have a bit of slog ahead.

After 9 years of inception (detailed here), the first four proof copies of Urban Driftwood have been printed and shipped by Very excited about that.

In other news, Freshly Ground has made an appearance on the Cooking Gadgets website, mainly by dint of me pushing them into it. Yip, those are really my hands.

Over at Culinate, it would seem I'm not the only one encouraging folk to really get the most out of a chicken.

On the Zero Waste topic, Barbara at winosandfoodies has some tips on not letting food go to waste, while Treehugger reports that a staggering 50% of all food produced worldwide is wasted, and that the same goes for water. Aside from water lost in irrigation systems and through leaking taps:

To produce the $48 billion in food that is wasted each year in the United States took ten trillion gallons of water.
That's a lot of water. It's hard to fathom how there can be a global food shortage if there's so much food and water being wasted across the planet. I've made this point before, and it's something we all need to take a bit more seriously.

And it seems that there are a lot of people out there taking this very seriously. As well as reducing, reusing and recycling, there is a growing trend (particularly in the States but I'd love to hear about any local efforts) towards the Urban Homstead. It seems that no matter how small a bit of land you have, be it rural or suburban or even urban, you can grow! The Dervaes in California are a shining example of just how successful growing in limited spaces can be.
The family harvests 6,000 pounds and more than 350 separate varieties of fruits, vegetables and edible flowers annually. They brew the biodiesel fuel that powers the family car. Solar panels on their roof reduce energy bills to as little as $12 a month. Goats, chickens, ducks and two rescued cats are in residence. Red wiggler worms turn the kitchen and garden waste into compost, which is then recycled back into the garden.

That's impressive.

So I really have no excuse not to have stuff on the grow out the back and down the front. Which brings me back to my original question: Where's the food?
Righto. It's Spring, its getting warmer, and this weekend, these bad boys (being sprouting potatoes) will be nestling down in a lovely pile of compost somewhere in the vicinity of the pumpkin seeds that I rather eagerly but probably quite prematurely planted way back in May. I still have faith that they'll sprout. Pumpkins seem to crop up everywhere I use compost whether I want them or not!