Simple Home Year: Food preserving and storage — a preserving calendar

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Sally Wise taken by Veronica Youd

We grow sufficient leafy vegetables, tomatoes, herbs to supplement our purchases from markets and greengrocers. Space restrictions limit the amount of fruit we grow to some lemons, the occasional strawberry although we do have some new plants in.

Subsequently I tend not to be aware of when some crops are at their most bountiful so it may only be when a friend kindly hands me a bucket of fruit or I pass a box of discounted tomatoes in a shop that I become aware it’s a good time to preserve. Having a job outside the home also limits my time so I’ve decided to be more proactive about preserving.

This year I am reading the delightful Sally Wise‘s A Year on the Farm. I like that the book is linear in its exposition — month by month and, within that, week by week we learn what is ready to eat on the Tasmanian farm accompanied by many great do-able recipes from Sally.

Of course where Ms Wise lives in Tasmania is considerably south of where I live but there are also great harvest ideas at The Seasonal Food Guide and at My Green Australia

I decided that the best thing to do was bring all of these together so I’m now in the process of combining all of these into a Seasonal Preserving Calendar that will be tailor-made for our needs and food preferences. By combining Sally’s recipes and harvests with Rhonda’s recipes, with what is happening locally and considering what we like best to eat and give as gifts I hope to end up with a custom-made Calendar. I’ll share it with you when it’s done.

It would be interesting to know if you have a solid system for managing your preserving?

 

 

Simple baking: Visitor biscuits

 

Buena Vista Farm is an 18 acre family farm on the south coast of NSW, operated by members of the fifth generation, Adam and Fiona, who run the property sustainably as a venture to support their family. It’s a great model of true sustainability and simplicity demonstrating that while living simply, greenly and well requires hard work and organisation the rewards are incomparable.

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Sandwiched between the escarpment of eastern Australia and the Pacific Ocean, Buena Vista is visually stunning, almost heartbreakingly fertile and bountiful but like all Australian farms at the mercy of the weather and local ecosystem. The skills they have mastered in a few years are considerable.

In 2013 Fiona and Adam introduced Farm Workshops designed to demonstrate and teach the use of homegrown produce in from-scratch cooking. Attending one of these was an incredible boost to my cooking skills, recipe repertoire and cooking technique.

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The biscuit recipe Fiona shared was a simple one, familiar to experienced cooks, what fired it into the realm of special was her flexible approach, using the recipe less as a formula than a concept.

Visitor biscuits

125g butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

 1 egg

2 cups self-raising flour

1/2 cup chocalate pieces. Or more.

Cream butter and sugar with salt and vanilla

Add beaten egg, then flour and chocolate

Ball up into 15 bikkies and bake for 15 minutes in a 180C oven.

Thanks to Fi I’ve made these traditionally, with cranberries and cacao nibs, on spelt flour, with vegan margarine, with maple syrup, rapadura sugar, dark muscovado sugar … the list is endless.

And the jar gets emptied pretty quickly.

Jar