The final day of Local Food Week

What a week, what a challenge and totally pure 100 mile trial of nothing further, and lots nearer except for a cheeky glass of wine and a splash of Aussie olive oil. It was great, eye opening and awesome and shared in purity with some wonderful ladies, oh and Rod and less purity with some great others and their sneaky cherry ripes!. I can’t even remember the day food, but we ended the day, a lovely Sunday involving some  community garden action at Kate’s House in a celebratory feast. We shared best and worst moments of the week and there were some great reflections. Lots of work to be had to make 100% local food less work or “inconvenience food” as Rod coined the phrase! Tinned tomatoes are definitely now seen as a convenience item and lots of inspiration for future local food recipes gained. In retrospect a balance with as much local as possible is the go- but not so pure life is on hold in these remote parts.

So we all cooked our favourite dish of the week. All were amazing, more taro cakes in banana leaves, salads and cassava flat breads and baba ganoush- woweee! I made more fish parcels with more fresh coconut and will now break from fish for a few months to spread the quota! Also the pineapple salsa came out and Kate’s pie was amazing- a cassava and coconut crust, home made pumpkin, coconut cream and honey pudding- incredible. I will soon share the recipe, but for now here is a picture of  the piece I enjoyed the next day in full light!

kare's cake

We are now dreaming up the next challenge- maybe September  when more is in season, maybe only swapped from gardens or community gardens, no markets involved!

final superSo after the feast and midnight did I rush out and eat a box of strawberries or a chocolate bar? Nahh, but I did make a great pasta dish the next night with some not so local pasta and tomatoes and some garden basil and eggplant and some local fish thrown in and it was delicious!. Not sure if I could live without pasta and I do make my own wth our eggs sometimes, but flour- that may be the next challenge. Hopefully I will inspired to continue to grow more local veggies and learn even more.

eggplant pasta


Saturday- Cycle for your supper! (the chicken crossed the road)Day 6

Well the day started with a meeting, and then another meeting (all food and community garden related) and tempted by great fair trade coffee and cakes at the amazing Mulch Pit and Frilies I resisted untiI I got home to make this salad, it turned out be very delicious and made up on the spot- Cucumbers, pineapple, lime juice, star fruit (slightly ripe) coconut shred of course, and a little chili and I reckon that is probably about it- oh I chopped and chucked in a little pawpaw from the garden!

pineapple slad

After that, and lots saved for later and some herbal tea, I was supposed to be studying, but the lure of what else was going on in the local food challenge world incised me! I dropped off some extra cassava to Kate, who seems to be making extraordinary creations with it and cycled over to Rapid Creek, only armed with lemons- from Alawa School tree!

cycle supperSo here I joined the “cycle  for you supper” ride! Ken, Dan, Sarah, Mim and other house mates had started the journey- all on bike around Rapid Creek to collect dinner- it started with the collection of a rooster from Jack’s house on the shore (300m?) then to  Pete the Tree climbers for pumpkins- he has a great garden and right now it is a bottomless pit of incredible pumpkins…


So there is the hunter gather team for this mission! Next to a coconut palm for our essential ingredient! Don’t want to spoil Dan’s moment- but this is a dwarf coconut- on some one’s nature strip!


Next to The Mulch pit, for some great gatherings-

crazy cassava

Crazy cassava


sarah pawpawgreen pawpaw,

sugar caneSugar Cane and then to Cummin Street, to Dan’s Oasis of food, for herbs and chillies and greens. And… with its head! No action shots, but lets just say it was quite quick! A beautiful bird, but this is real food- and this really how meat is made! Not that I eat it often, but like this is better than the unknown journey!

headless chook

And what best to do with all this (after some plucking of bird, and scraping of coconut of course)

pluckinCook it all up in a camp fire below the balcony! Sweet Darwin big yards rock! And for the sauce Dan and Mim invented something amazing in the food processor- red dahkah banana, coconut milk and pulp and herb sauce- into the camp ovens

camp fire pots

And onto the fire (one veggie and one not) and what better way to wait for food on the fire- Doh (oops I did it again, amongst all this purity- one long distance beer. It was the smell of smoke- I just couldn’t help myself!

fire, chook, danWell no finished pictures- it was dark and tooo good, I am probably biased by camp oven cooking- but wow, it was delish, and the chook (the morsel I had off the wee thing) was tender. Bloody good on ya Cycle Supper team! Team work in the kitchen seen below!

dan kitchen

Fruity Fishy Friday (day 5 food challenge)

So Friday was pretty action packed (not cooking and photographing food action). I went out plant collecting on a native re-veg project I am working on in the morning and then had a radio interview about our 100 mile trial in the afternoon. I had not really prepared any food. I had a smoothie for brekkie and headed out bush early. I took boiled eggs and bananas- the snack staple of the remote tropics! No bush tucker that I could see out bush- but we were looking at sedges on the sand sheets! No photos of food either. Luckily I had collected and boiled snack eggs from our beautiful chooks who are very happy- she just moved in this picture!

eggsI popped home for a shower and ate left over fish and more bananas, ripening just in time now from our bunch! Into town for the interview, then a friend collected me to go to an art opening. There were more art openings (of friends) but I was so hungry I had to come home to get food (bananas?) no where in Darwin serves prepared local food, at the Sunday market you may get something with some local ingreients in, but it wasn’t Sunday and anyway we are going 100%. So I popped home for food, no one home, Jon was across the road having dinner with our friends. They were just serving up and it looked so good. It was local seafood and fish barbecued  with some delicious looking non local veg. I joined in and had some fish. This is a bit of fish over ride as usually I will only eat fish once a month max for ethical reasons, but I was hungry, it was ready and super yummy and beat going to our place to boil up taro!

Next though I faltered, a beautiful bottle of South Australian red, that had been bought up on the plane with a mate of our friends and had been a special a gift from their Dad- OK cut the long story- I had a glass. Shit! Well it was Friday night and everything else (except a splash of oil) has been 100 miles or less way. It was good—- and apart from home Brew (which involves far away sugar and other goodies) nothing alcoholic is made in Darwin….and another small glass, it was a magnum!

So here is not a picture of the glass of wine (it went down quickly- Thanks Busta) but the Howard sand sheets,  visited today

sand sheets

Day 4 Food Challenge- Lunch

So, Thursday, working from home again made it easier. I do eat fruit and muesli and toast, but not everyday, I often struggle to find something I fancy for brekkie anyway, so with out those bits and pieces I was not more complacent than usual. I made a tasty juice for Jon (who is painting) and I from the pink  local Grapefruits that I usually buy every week and the lemonade/ orange local citrus that I scored from the market- it was delicious and refreshing with rainwater ice. they were so juicy, for two really big cups I probably used 8 fruit..

Pink Juice I had a banana and pineapple fruit salad (sounds more flash than it was) and then lunch. This involved left over taro and plantain parcels, and some eggplant I picked in the garden.

eggplant pick 2

I grilled them up with the usual suspects of chili, lime and my naughty non local oil and some garlic chives and saw tooth coriander and added Gota Kola which is supposed to be amazing medicinally. It has a bitter flavour- but I really like it with other herbs.

eggplant dish

The salad was an impromptu thing, but it looked and tasted fresh and crisp. Sweet leaf from our yard, rose apples from Dan’s neighbour, cucumber from local growers, coconut shred from our shredding of back yard coconuts, Zinnias from the community garden (to add colour) the last of the parrot beak flowers from the market and a bit of paw paw from the gardenand a stragley bit of local mint…just limejuice and chilli with a touch of local honey as the dressing- pretty good. I love fruit salad, sweet and savoury crunch mixes.

rose apple saladThe taro parcel were great the next day, cracked pepper would have been awesome, but the banana leaf flavour had been absorbed and they weren’t bad.

Taro parcel

So all up a pretty good combo for lunch. But it is tiring stuff, prep, prep. Seriously distracted by food (easy to do)! We make mainly local based food anyway, but without the grains and flours (and bread) the prep of more than usual raw veggies (and many wet season veg need cooking) it is a bit more of a commitment – good fun though…

Thurs lunch

Day 4 Fishy dinner banana parcels

So dinner came around pretty quick and my neighbour did not manage to catch us any fish for namas (booo), so I got the local frozen barra out and defrosted and had in my mind similar flavours to how I would make namas (raw fish cooked in lime, in coconut milk)..

I cut off banana leaves and decided on one of my favourites- thai style parcels steamed fish..using the coconut milk Jon made yesterday. So you cut the fish into fillets and place in the banana leaf and then garnish with chopped chilli, lime juice, lime zest, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, saw tooth coriander and then pour over coconut milk. All the ingredients (except the fish) we have in the garden and the flavours are beautiful!!!Fish parcel ingredientsYou can soften the banana leaf (so they don’t split along viens) over a fire, in the oven or in the sun. We just had the oven, that seemed to work, but one I left in way to long and the process was sweaty, on a steamy “build down” afternoon.

fish parcel

fish parcel too

fish parcel cookedThe parcels brown off when cooked, but inside is a delicious combo of colourful treats,  I took this picture the next day when cold, as it was a bit dark. We made heaps of these. I over estimated the fish portions I think. We had it with salad from lunch and a cucumber yummy Asian salad, I would usually do it with noodles or rice- but this week they are off the menu- from too far away! …

Day 3 of the Food Challenge

Well, there was more of what there was for dinner for lets call it “brunch” again. the meals don’t really fit into a conventional style of what most people think they should be, or when they are eaten. SO I was craving a tea or even a coffee or herbe matte, basically something with caffeine. Amazing what you miss, instead of focusing on the things you do have- too used to having them all, the spoilt product of the Western world!.

So instead of craving a tea, I had rain water and a slice of lemon, herbal tea made with a concoction of found things from the garden- turmeric  lemon grass, hibiscus flower, 5 spice (coleus), thai and lemon basil and parrot beak flowers from the market and lemon. I simultaneously had a garden pawpaw and banana smoothie, and a passionfruit and some tangerines!

tea stuffI spent a while arranging my “brunch” and couldn’t even finish my bowl full, I made so much last night, great more for later!

cassava curry and drinksThe next day this actually tasted much better and the flavours had merged.

After work I was fancying more bananas later in the afternoon, but no more off our ready small bunch are quite ripe, even though I was trying- tomorrow they will be!

me and nanans

Jon prepared some more coconut for dinner possibilities

jon husks and our neighbours brought coconuts to watch the husking, but sadly they were rotten

jon coco huskMuni and Rod and Dan came round for dinner, with baskets of produce from Dan’s garden. In addition to the leftover dish, we made a Kang Kong stir fry with chili and lemon and arrow root from Dan’s place, we had a local leaves, flowers and mustard spinach salad with cucumber (arranged beautifully) and I tried to make mashed plantain and taro (from Dan’s) frittas withe egg binding, garlic chives, rocket, basil, chilli, lime juice and paste. These did not stick together so well, so Jon had the great idea of putting them in banana leaves in muffin tins and having them for lunch as there was heaps for dinner!

day 3 ingredientsAbove are the crazy array of ingredients all over the bench, taro into the “cakes” and arrow root for the stir fry. Galangal and chili for flavour!

day 3 feastDelicious spread above with herbal tea and crazy cakes to follow for lunch, I hope everyone was full enough…

taro bakes

Day 2 food challenge

Well, last night I ended up making a roasted pumpkin, egg, sweet leaf, chilli and garlic chive basil dish with snake beans seasoned with the Nightcliff sea salt- a savoir- I love salty, how could we live without it, especially with all this sweat!. It was pretty good, but I have to admit I already made a compromise. The small amount of coconut oil we made at Muni’s, I left there, and I can’t live without oil, and have not had chance to make more, so I had to choose to use some non local oil. The toss up- Aussie organic sunflower oil (South Australia), Aussie organic olive oil (Victoria) or organic coconut oil from Thailand. Now Thailand is (marginally) further from us, but I think this coconut oil has had a longer trip- via elsewhere in oz, but hey we could be making (more) coconut oil, so potentially could be local, but we would never be able to grow olives! I think the sunflower oil may have won the test until I scrape and squeeze and boil some more coconut oil!

pumpkin sal

So this is what we had for dinner and I had this bowl of leftovers  for brunch. Jon was asleep as he is on night duty! I was pretty hungry and also ate a lot of bananas, mandarins and passion fruits and half a pineapple. Not sure if this is fructose overload, but it felt good! I looked longingly at a caramel chocolate bar in the downstairs fridge and really fancied a cup of black tea with milk (not coconut milk though!)

I have been trying to work, but am absorbed in thinking of what to cook next and how to flavour it! I started to make dinner, but had left my phone in a shade house at uni (when measuring plants) so I went off to get that and walk the dog. On return, less thought went into dinner and I had to make it before Jon started work…

A cassava, bread fruit, plantain curry style dish was concocted. I attempted curry paste with chillies, turmeric, sea salt, garden ginger and then wacked in lots of herbs, including thai corriander, garlic chives and vietnamese mint..

paste fryI fried up the paste and added cut snake gourd,

snake guord frythen the pre boiled bulkies and all the herbs, including drum stick leaf- high in protein and vitamins!


Then added the home made coconut milk and some first grade coconut shred and lime juice and zest for a little zing, I am missing the onions and garlic. Garlic chives will have to do! It is just like boil up we used to eat in Utila (Caribbean island in Honduras) minus the fish…

sall in dish

It wasn’t bad. I went a bit overboard on the bulkies, so the flavours were not as powerful as I hoped, in leu of all the other potential non local spices and flavour additions I need heaps of chilli, herbs and salt and probably should have made more paste. Maybe it will taste better tomorrow after it sits a while, it is going to be lunch!

Oh I am getting hungry already. Tomorrow involves coconut milk making and I went to see my neighbour to see if he could catch a Queen fish while out- for Namas!!! Yummo, if that doesn’t happen I have some local frozen fish and fish cakes are on the cards- thai style but without fish sauce damit!!!!

Over at Kate’s house things are looking yummy!…