Spicy and Fresh Green curry to cool you

Well it is hotting up and what better way to cool down than fresh curries and spicy soups! It seems crazy, when you just feel like putting your head in the freezer, but spicy food originates from the hottest places in the world, like India, Thailand and Indonesia and it cools you down; this is because chili and other spices cause you to sweat, therefore cooling your body down! Chillies contain vitamins A, C and E, clear the sinuses, help digestion and can help relieve muscle pain- watch out though, too many can cause irritation of tongue and bowels! The base of most curries, especially Thai curries are pastes- all the flavour ingredients in a concentrated form, that is usually fried (to release flavour) and then added to with vegetables, meats and coconut milk. The trick in Thai cooking is to balance the sweet (sugar or honey), salty (fish sauce, shrimp paste or sea salt), hot (chili and other spices) and sour (citrus juices). Fresh herbs and lemongrass and ginger or galangal add a further flavour dimension of fragrance and have great health attributes. The amazing thing about Thai curries is that we can grow almost all of the ingredients easily in the Darwin region and all year too. The following recipe is really easy and had chilies, lemongrass, Thai basil, coriander, ginger or galangal and limes which can be grown all year here.

Green curry paste Click here for the home made garden curry paste recipe. This paste can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or frozen. You can use it for any recipe asking for Green Curry Paste. For 4 people fry up 3- 4 tablespoons and in meat and veggies (local zucchinis, loofas, snake beans, pumpkin, eggplant etc) add coconut milk (2 tins) or fresh- 500ml, add more fish sauce and lime juice to zing it up, along with more fresh Asian herbs- simmer for 20- 30 mins! Delicious and so good for you and your sweat! For the full recipe (beyond the curry paste) click this- Green Thai Curry

 Thia green curry

These little pea eggplants are an awesome addition to this curry and grow really easily! Enjoy and stay Fresh.

pea eggplant

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A change of Season

Change is here, the full moon has just passed and today is equinox- the sun has passed the equator and is heading towards us, to pass over us at 90 degrees in a couple of months and then to our South.

Dragonfly

Well we have all felt this, over the last couple of weeks it has been hotting up, there are looming clouds and humidity, piles of cyclone clean up rubbish scatter the pavements and the wind is changing direction. It’s time again for our brain function to decrease and brain cells to slowly drip out of ears until the rains come- well that is my experience anyway. We can try and save our sanity with frequent (banana) showers and fans on full whizz or dip in cool water- if you can find some. I find a little spray bottle of water and peppermint or lavender helps and cycling is better than walking as you make your own breeze, laying around in shade is even better. Hot teas and spicy food is actually great for keeping you cool by encouraging sweating, although a cold beer always tastes pretty good- but does not enhance brain function! Drinking lots of water is a good thing!

Cyclone trash house

It is so important to take notice of the changes in our native environment, climate and surrounds, to be aware of it and feel connected to it and then if growing food use this knowledge to change how we grow plants and what we grow. White fella seasons up in the Top End are really only divided into ‘Dry Season’, ‘Wet Season’ and then ‘Build up’ and ‘Build down’ in-between.  The Indigenous people of the region divided the year into many seasons, all based on indicators in the landscape that changed as the year cycled.KApok

Each language group in Northern Australia has its own words and way of dividing the times of year. In the Darwin region of Darwin, Cox Peninsular, and Gunn Point, the Gulumoerrgin (Larrakia) language is the language group of the traditional owners past and present. At the moment the season is Gurrulwa guligi – Big Wind time. The Kapok is flowering (pictured above and edible too) and coming into fruit and the Kurrajong (below) is flowering, its wonderful bright red flowers on its bear branches. The water holes are drying up and Magpie goose are common in the Mango farms and watered areas. I noticed a lot of trees were getting a new flush of leaves, which happens due to a change in temperature in preparation for the rains.

Karrajongg

The true build up comes a bit later and is called Darlirrgang and cocky apples drop their white flowers. It is so good to get on country and watch the changes, and we are so lucky to even have a lot of native bush near us even in the suburbs and outer Darwin; our native landscape and the vastness and beauty of it really is what makes this region an amazing and special place to live, so we should give the land all the respect it needs. A good website if interested in native flowers in the Darwin region is Top End Native Plants Society. 

 Larrakia seasonsLorraine Williams, Judith Williams, Maureen Ogden, Keith Risk and Anne Risk all contributed to the development of the calendar.The calendar above is copyright of CSIRO and the Larrakia/ Gulumoerrgin language groups contributers, but can be downloaded at CSIRO 

The Gulumoerrgin seasonal year is divided into seven main seasons: Balnba (rainy season); Dalay (monsoon season); Mayilema (speargrass, Magpie Goose egg and knock ‘em down season); Damibila (Barramundi and bush fruit time); Dinidjanggama (heavy dew time); Gurrulwa (big wind time), and Dalirrgang (build-up).

The moon is also vital in our natural cycles and very useful to guide in in planting food. Moon calendars are created for guidance to when to plant, harvest and so much more…

2013 Moon Calander

Food Rules!

eat food mainly plants

It is all very well writing about growing local food and wasting less and posting some delicious recipes and growing tips, but sometimes it is great to step back and be reminded of why we are doing it and why it makes so much difference and is really important to make great food choices (and have fun doing it). I was just reminded of a great Food writer, whose books I have a-many, Michael Pollan. Along with David Susuki, he is one of my heroes in the world of food and sustainability (what other world is there?- well maybe arts!) Michael Pollan is an American writer and tries to make the world of food fads and food science less complicated. He has written many books including my favourite ‘Food Rules’ which simplifies some rules on good food, most of which I totally agree with and they form my food philosophy of healthy real food with least environmental impact.  The book is broken into 3 main categories-

1)Eat Food 2) Mostly Plants 3) Not too much, and includes rules such as  ‘Avoid foods containing more than 5 ingredients’, ‘It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car’, ‘Get out of the supermarket whenever you can’, ‘Pay more and Eat less’ and ‘Have a glass of wine with dinner’

michael pollan food rulesA fun animated film has been made about the weird concepts of our food industry and why we should change, check it out-   Michael Pollan food Rules short film2-foodrules1film

New Produce fact sheets

Just to let you know if you go to the tab ‘Local Prodcue list’ There are some funky looking fact sheets looking like this being added in, just click on the produce you want to find more about…

Snake bean jpSnake bean page 3Slowly I will add more and more, starting with the wet season goodies. Please feel free to use them as resources (just credit the source). Happy growing!

Snake guord

Snake guord2

What the Fruit?- Sour Gooseberries!

 I came across these little fruits at Rapid Creek Market last week, and if there is anything I have never seen before (which is now less and less likely) I always get it and give it a try. This fruit is really sour and although I had ideas of making a pickle or jam, time ran away and most of them were still in the fruit bowl this Sunday- It is Sour Gooseberry, Phyllanthus acidius.

Sour gooseberry

I went back to the stall and Moy who grows this tree at her place in Humpty Doo had made some sweet and Indian style pickles to sell to show what you could do- I tried both and bought the Indian one and it is pretty good- the only down side is that each little fruit has a stone in, which slightly alters the eating experience of it. I did a bit more research and found its origin is unknown, but may have come from South America, but it is now found commonly in South, Central and North America and Asia. It is a medium tree to 9m, and as most trees likes full sun and plenty of water and not to dry out.

sour gooseberry pickleIn India it is used in Ayeverdic medicine and as a liver cleanser, blood purifier and to prolong life in all kinds of ways and improve brain function- Wow I should have bought 5 trays and start growing a forest of it! It has a high content of vitamin C and can be made into syrup to take as medicine! I imagine it is easily grown from seed. OK that’s it- curious fruit of the week mystery solved!

10 Easy to grow wet season plants

While we are enjoying all the bountiful end of dry season climax of produce, we can plan forward to make the most of the rain to come and think about all that free rain and awesome growth…

wet stuff

I made a little fact sheet about 10 great (easy to grow) plants for the wet season for some workshops I am running through Healthy Darwin, I thought I would share it, and there are heaps more to come. Click this-

10 Great wet season plants.

Seasonal Salads in Healthy Darwin

So many great things growing through the dry season, but you can feel the heat building- and it makes me want to share the harvest of the dry season in delicious recipes before they start to wilt and droop and we swap over to the delights of the wet season.

tasting 1Once again I have been teaching the Healthy Darwin cooking and gardening program. This time it is back in Karama and Malak. This program is aimed at people who are not employed full time and/ or have a low income, have signed up for healthy Darwin and would like to learn some basic tropical gardening and cooking for a healthier lifestyle.amber plusOur first session looked at exactly this- Seasonal (mainly dry season) harvest into fresh and healthy salads. It was a hit.

salad

The star of the show was the amazing salad mix from Dan at Aweganic gardens, which I eat heaps of everyday. The mix has mizuna (red, purple and green) lollo rosso lettuce, cos lettuce, darwin lettuce, baby kale (3 varieties) amaranth, baby sweet potato leaves, kang kong, baby radish leaves, ruby chard, baby pak choi, tatsoi, rocket, cosmos petals, marigold petals, zinnia petals, all grown organically with love in permaculture ways on an 800m2 house block in Rapid Creek. If you want to check it out Dan opens his doors on Wednesday Mornings for the next few weeks..His Harvestival is on Friday 13th at 32 Cummins St.

zuc saald 2With this great mix we made a grilled zucchini, rissoni salad with roasted nuts, feta and a lemon honey, garlic and sumac dressing. The recipe is now on the recipe page. This picture I took at home and is minus the rissoni. We also made pumpkin risotto, a puy lentil and roasted tomato salad and roasted green pawpaw with macadamia nuts and these great salad greens.

lentil tom

We made the most of tomato season and the ample harvest growing everywhere including Karama Primary school’s garden and all the local herbs of the cool season- like my favourite- dill! Below is our risotto which includes pumpkin, which can grow all year..pump risottoAnd finally our Roast pawpaw pieces. These recipes and more are now on the Recipes Page. For more info on the program, click the Healthy Darwin link.

raost pawpaw 2