Tuesday, May 26, 2009

day #7

Today was the final day in my seven day week on the Live Local Challenge. You can see all about the challenge at http://www.livelocal.org.au/

Life is full of surprises and the opportunity to participate was a blessing indeed. The benefits I gained from this challenge were many, and I problem won't relate them all. For a start, I personally have benefited from new friendships and stronger bonds. In particular, to my co-challengee Kate Carruthers http://katecarruthers.com/blog/about/kcarruthers-on-twitter/ travelling this journey together we were each others support, supply of knowledge, shoulder to lean on and source of encouragement. In fact, it was Kate who supplied one of my highlights of the week with her "Free Hugs" sign!

As someone who is a slow and regional food advocate as par for the course, I was delighted by even cleaner stronger flavours as all the food was the freshest of fresh, mostly received or purchased on the day of picking. I really enjoyed stretching myself to think about what I was cooking, and the ways to work around missing some of the pantry staples that I was doing without (oil, salt, pepper, and all condiments). By virtue of the fresh food I was eating (and the food I was not eating) the week was what can only be described as a cleansing process. And, I now have a renewed sense of vigour.

Outside of the food benefits, was the changes in transport. Combined with finding local food this was a bit limiting as my friends and family and work are not local (walking distance). There was also a blessing here however, as on Sunday instead popping off to another neighbourhood to visit, I took a Sunday stroll in the area around my home. My neighbourhood, though in the heart of Sydney, has a village attitude. A local walk is taken too infrequently. Waves, smiles, hellos and other greetings from each person that I encountered, reminded me too well of this.

There was lots of participation from friends, some joined the challenge, many helped in my education, and some just provided encouragement.

It was a little bit tough at times, particularly early on in the week. I'd cleaned out the fridge. Started the challenge with no food, no preparation. And, that is one of the keys.

A key to this challenge is understanding food, seasonality of produce, and definitely being a confident and experienced cook was a big help. I'd encourage everyone to spend more time cooking, feeling the food, understand flavour combinations, knowing about seasons.

I don't think I'd embark on this again without preparation, and in hindsight the first few days were more difficult than necessary for doing so. For example, if I'd have thought about it I wouldn't have gone without salt. I would have evaporated off seawater and made my own.

At this other end of the challenge, I take with me new knowledge and greater awareness. This is not an end though, but rather a beginning for a new outlook and awareness of walking slower on the earth, and taking more time to smell the roses.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

day #6

Kate Carruthers (my co-challenger) day #6

and here's my day too

7.30am and its watercress soup - a large fresh bunch from Darling Mills Farm purchased at Eveleigh markets on Saturday and the last leaf or two of spinach, maybe a little herbs on to simmer then blended to puree for warm heartening sustainenance (and still all exclusively from produce within a 100mile radius of my home)

7.00pm last ferry home and the deckhand was the same girl as this morning - all smiles - as she asked me how my celebrations went today on the launch of new food blogsite http://www.insidecuisine.com/ - thank you Matilda cruises for the friendliest staff around

5.00pm an interview that was scheduled for tomorrow arrives - the other person who should have been conducting the interview with me was away at other meetings - I get started but have to bring him back in tomorrow for 8am

3.00pm visit to Mirabelle to meet up with Angela (owner of BambiniTrust) and to discuss a social gathering for our team - cocktail food and drinks on an upcoming Friday night (for 60)

1.00pm it would have been delicious had I cooked it at home but alas the limited kitchen facilities (microwave) and lack of seasoning (I should have brought herbs due to not eating salt during the challenge) meant the omelette was fine but not as delicious as it could have been

12.30m local produce from home to make lunch spinach + tomato + 2 eggs = omelette

9.10am in the office and starting the day after my morning scramble with hot water with lemon - where is everyone? all but one late on this Monday morning

9.00am walked past the coffee stand outside the Radisson hotel and I sure have a hankering for it - feeling good though

8.25am just got the last morning ferry, with dripping wet hair, and no makeup, but remembered my home prepared lunch from local produce, and half a lemon to slice in how water in place of coffee or tea - not sure if was a good idea in crisp autumn weather but I sat outside to let the wind sweep through my hair as my hairdryer - and arrived at Circular Quay with my new windswept look

Saturday, May 23, 2009

day #5


Sunday night rest and relaxing in the most local of my communities: home.

6.00pm early Sunday night dinner with the left over beef and capsicum from yesterday - sides are new additions from the Eveleigh market purchases dry roasted pumpkin with sage and lightly steamed sugar snaps

4.00pm and the afternoon has got away with those tasks that keep a home running - always mindful of my impact on our world, I try to make the best choices - eucalyptus oil for cleaning, don't spin if I am using the washing machine and reuse the last rinse water for next wash

2.30pm late lunch after the neighbourhood walk - its always hello and a nod in my neighbourhood - and a few of the weekly chores (washing hung on the line as it always is for me - I don't even own a dryer) lunch was all 100mile region produce: mesclun (lettuce) and edible flowers looked pretty sitting outdoors with two poached Hawksbury River eggs on the side

11.00am I know all my immediate neighbours and many in the area, and thinking I might just take a stroll to enjoy the weather. I love my suburb's natural beauty and in spring I call it my purple village when all the jacarandas are in bloom. I'll have figs for breakfast before I stroll out the door.

10.30am Sunday sleepin - well I was awake much earlier and decided just to lie and enjoy the softness of the covers - hot water with lemon (from yesterdays Eveleigh market purchases) on rising - its such a glorious day!

Friday, May 22, 2009

day #4


delighted with this morning's shopping expedition to Eveleigh markets http://www.eveleighmarket.com.au/farmers.html where I found at least four stands of produce that fit within the 100mile radius for the challenge

the day was taken up at the markets then cooking and eating (and tweeting and blogging) plus a few chores at home and some work on the new food site

wonderful purchases included watercress, edible flowers, mesclun, pumpkin, rhubarb, lemons, sage, parsley, tomatoes, snap peas, zucchini flowers and a tray of figs

there was so many other delights too that I can't wait to try, and to see what the changes in season will bring to the available local produce

and I even brought home a recipe sheet from the local Sydney grower of Zucchini flower with recipes for Steamed, Baked, Stuffed, Crumbed as well as Zucchini Flower Omelette and Deep Fried Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Crab and Ricotta

friend was with me taking photos for my new site, and he reminisced with the grower about nonna's Italian cooking - zucchini flower stuffed in the dumpling which I hope to one day try (and be shown how to make) ... apparently, stuffed zucchini flowers are not at all traditional whereas stuffed eggplant and stuffed capsicum are ...

breakfast was taken as I walked around the market, first one, then two of the delicious figs and completed with fresh orange juice from Wisemans Ferry Road

at home I made a two course evening meal from this (and the earlier windfall produce) for a farm to table dinner:

Entree: Steamed Zucchini Flowers with Tomato and Zucchini Ragout
Main: Braised Beef with Green Capsicum

Thursday, May 21, 2009

day #3


Lesson: day #3 - most venues (restaurants, cafes, bars) not aligned with a focus on local produce and also a lack of awareness there in from where their produce comes - impact is social activities around food in our city are not easily aligned with a regional focus

today more offers of help from everyone - my managing partner will bring mint for my tea on Monday - still though supported in others finding a lack of understanding in why I might be doing this

lasat ferry home and early to bed - finding myself wanting to sleep much earlier in the evening than my normal night owl hours - perhaps a change in body clocks without the prop from the coffee I am very much missing

5.00pm again another social challenge meeting visiting food PR specialist from UK and where to go to fit our timetables and not partake of anything but local 100 mile food - met and organised for my tap water but delighted to find some very local mushrooms and spinach in the kitchen which were lightly prepared

this has been one of my greatest parts of the challenges in that while i often cook from scratch, and I am mindful of using fresh local and seasonal produce, that a lot of the social aspect of my life has been reduced by not being able to eat out with friends - our lives often not planned - just like this spur of the moment gathering - needing an eatery that is closeby - thinking it will be the same this evening that i'll probably forego Friday drinks for the same reason

12.30am ate my two soft boiled eggs brought from home, and as soon as I finished two of the boys asked me to go out to lunch - would enjoy the company although I couldnt eat the food - a first for me to eat out without eating

meetings emails snowed under at the desk

9.30am rhubarb and orange at the desk on a busy day

8.30am introduced myself to the woman sitting in front of me on the boat - we've smiled before but today we exchanged names - and then this prompted another woman to meet introduce herself too - happy - increasing community

8.20am running out the door nearly disaster for the day as I nearly forgot my prepared food

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

day #2


Lesson: day #2 - ask for help from friends and community when you need it - all of my food these two days has been windfall and there are more offers of help on the way - people have truly generous hearts - lots of love

Didnt make the chocolate cake after all as although I'll be using 100mile challenge eggs I am determined to stay pure and the temptation to eat it with the boys at work might just be too great? more than that its too late and I want to hit the pillow ...

11.15pm time for rest, after I put the two eggs I just boiled in the fridge for tomorrow. I decided the spinach was much too young and delicious and will have them as salad with the eggs tomorrow.

10.00pm oh my the rhubarb and orange was good - a little tart due to no sweetening - but even more delightful for being so (hard to leave some for breakfast)

9.00pm rhubarb and orange underway and as always contributions from twitter community ehance life suggestion for rhubarb and orange sorbet will use some of the abundant mixture for variety

8.30pm dinner of a small slice of Nelson perfectly cooked on the rare side of medium rare, with a cup of the lovely baby silverbeet (almost too good to cook but its cold) - rhubarb on now with some of the oranges (no other sweetening or additions) so it stays not only local, 100mile but also windfall - how fabulous is that

6.55pm nearly missed the boat (the last ferry home) - I'm lucky and Lane Cove cruise service waited for me as they saw me running down the ramp - they're great that way

5.30pm coffee meet up with a friend (for me without the coffee) lots to catchup on never get through what we want to talk about - she found out about my challenge at our meeting - offered my chokoes from her backyard - said there is loads of them! more windfall produce for the asking - community - friendship - wonderful!

3.30pm another of the delicious oranges from Dural - not sure I usually eat this much during the day (I normally fill up on coffee) this has got to be better for me: healthier more nutricious and I'm certainly drinking much more water as my only current beverage choice

2pm the boys have convinced me I should cook them a chocolate cake: community spirit part of the living local challenge - yes of course I never say no to cooking for them - its just during the challenge I wont be sharing (chocolate, sugar, wheat not local) - will cook tonight for them to enjoy tomorrow

1.30pm three of us in the office today around lunchtime and discussion reverts to our favourite topic - stories of growing up with fresh produce, how our grandmothers cooked, bottled sauces, homemade sausages, homemade bread, community cooking weekends ... now boys back to your IT work

1.00pm cooked up the acreage ingredients i brought into the CBD - delicious backyard produce of zucchini, spinach, small sweet green capsicum with an egg (when did I forget how the freshest of fresh could taste so good!)

9.30am was local Dural oranges for breakfast - happy and delicious start to the day

9.00am oh withdrawals walking past my usual coffee haunt

8.30am looking at jellyfish at the wharf, and knowing that jellyfish are eaten in Chinese cuisine. wonder how I can find out whether they could be a food source

7.00am delight that fruit and vegetables from Dural have arrived thanks to local shop owner Craig; delighted that they are small sweet fresh produce

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

day #1


Lesson: day #1 - eating locally with (no) or reduced transport options is impossible without preparation

Not used to having a meat only dinner - also my first day of no coffee for sometime so it will be a very early night - very tired

8.30pm dinner was delicious; Jackie tells me that Nelson was a very happy cow that was patted and cuddled everyday and was never scared not even at the end (this is the closest I have been to true source of meat in sometime)

7.30pm dinner is on with the only produce i could get today - the meat and eggs from Jackie - not what i expected - i expected fruit and vegetables and herbs - thank goodness for friends (and my thanks also to Nelson the cow for gracing my table).

6.30pm have had round trip to North Sydney by train for a client meeting - one of the partners agreed to take train with me (instead of usual time efficient taxi) and we got drenched before meeting clients - understanding but maybe the meeting didnt go as well as it should have gone - back in city now time to get a ferry home - meat and eggs in hand and with my umbrella - tired and hungry

3.30pm food parcel from Sydney acreage has arrived - 2 doz eggs and steaks from a cow that was called Nelson... off to North Sydney meeting best option time and environment public transport is a train (not enought time before meeting to walk)

2pm response to yesterday's call for help from Jackie who is bringing me a food parcel - she'll be in the city in the next hour to drop off the food at the office - backyard produce swap this time is bigger than the chokoes passionfruit and rhubarb of my childhood (and the backyard is just a bit further away but totally in scope!)

1.10pm i've walked the radius of my office for more than an hour and have been unable to find any food within the 100mile radius - some fruit stands had no produce for sale from this state - very helpful fruit stand Pitt Street near Martin Place and Rowe Street even got the box out from his van with the postcode for his mostly local fruit but Batlow is outside the 100miles. Fruit in bowl is staring at me as I havent eaten today - as a stubborn Taurus I will not give in. Confirming radius for 100miles friend Rob found link for me - thanks.

11.50am much laughter and I'm so glad I came into the office although I had no appointments today (and could have worked from home) - community of our team - sympatico of spirit - joy and laughter balances skills and focus

11.25am so far I've only had water, with a new start and clean fridge, and no preparatory shopping foraging or other sourcing ... there is no food to eat in the office during business hours that meets my challenge - one more hour and i'll walk the CBD streets to see if I can indeed access any food in my location that is known to be within 100mile region ... walking to tap each glass of my coffee replacement water realise I should have a jug at my desk

10.30am phone Craig at Soul Passion Gladesville as each Wednesday he brings in excess fresh produce from his father-in-laws acreage to the shop - joy he has kept me a bag to pick up this afternoon so I'll be cooking from this windfall for my evening meal

9.30am and usually I would have my coffee by now but will be avoiding coffee all week (not just because of 100 mile region, but also because of all the 'other' issues surrounding fairer trade - this will be my most challenging change I suspect because I am traditionally a big coffee drinker)

8.25am public transport option waiting for ferry with no umbrella (and no protection by awning) ask school child to put his umbrella and keep us both dry - on ferry received smiles from neighbour Frank (I'd planned to be the one who engages in community and smiles at neighbours so delighted) - iPhone not working AGAIN so no tweeting or blogging in transit (withdrawal symptoms setting in)

7am Wake to rain on first day of the challenge. Considering new options as the plan to walk to shop now thrown out the window; all my umbrellas have somehow migrated to the CBD office

12.34am Wednesday its after midnight and i've accepted the Live Local Challenge...

so inspired after tonight's launch dinner for http://www.livelocal.org.au/ where I met so many interesting informed passionate and knowledgable people SO INSPIRING

my challenge to play my part in living locally for a week, rebuilding community, thinking about sustainable choices

food is a major influence on life and environment and community

I've cleaned out my fridge and I'm starting from scratch in my choices for food, water, transport, relationships and interactions ...

Sleep now, then more during each day on the choices I'm making