Seasonal sides for a Festive Feast

Back by popular demand – Seasonal Sides for a festive feast; plus Gifts from the Garden.

seasonal_sides_and-gifts-from-garden-2016

Are you sweating it out in the Top End this festive season? Well come along and learn how to make the most out of local produce, growing now in gardens or in Darwin region farms and turn it into delicious seasonal sides and gifts from the garden for your festive feast…

The session will be lead by Emma Lupin of Taste of The Top End at Karama Primary School kitchen.

The session will go through delcious ingredients growing now and ideas how to use them and then you will get to prepare dishes in the workshop to share and taste. These will include healhy and tasty side salads and veggies, drinks, tasty root dishes and more. There will also be a session of creating home gifts from the garden using seasonal produce..

The cost is $20 ($15 concession)- bring this along. There are limited spaces. So book by emailing greenbeingnt@gmail.com or phone 0448 214 716

Drinks ideas and more posts about the awesome content of this workshop coming soon……

Herbs for Health and Goodness from the garden

So many people look to store bought superfoods, but we grow so many beneficial foods right here in Darwin. If you don’t grow them yourself we can connect you with where to support local growers..

Learn here how to incorporate the Top 12 into everyday cooking, teas and drinks, and learn more about their nutritional values. 

This is run by Emma of Taste of The Top End and supported by Healthy Darwin.

The 12 focus plants include- Turmeric, Ginger, Rosella leaves (and sepals), Thai Coriander, Sweet Leaf,  Amaranth, Gotu Kola, Mint, Lemongrass, Lime (leaf and fruit), Thai and Lemon Basil, Pawpaw, Snake Beans and Sweet Potato leaves (plus other seasonal fruits and veggies)

Herbs for Health in Everyday Cooking June 2016 (1)

Toad legs- the new delicacy in feral food?

toads in a heapIn the past the GULP team have discussed the various contents of the cook book that will emerge from this wonderful community based local food project.  We would like to set the book out to be produce focused and look at the ingredients that we grow, then from this the recipes are written, and include a ‘star rating’ of how local the recipe is overall. The subject that has arisen a lot, is if we should include meat. Aside from the fact a couple of the team are veggie, semi- veggie, we want the book to appeal to all tastes and reaslise and a lot of people do want to eat meat. The problem is at the moment in the Top End there is no abattoir and the Brahmin cattle that are run in the bush are  (sadly) live exported overseas.

 Many people keep chickens and we would like to include how you can kill and eat these. Many people catch fish and wonderful local fish and seafood is available, so we would love to include this and what ‘sustainable’ seafood is. From here though the two other sources of meat are wild hunted and road kill- unintentionally killed animals, native or not that can make good tucker. In the Territory and Top End there are many feral animals, buffalo, pigs, even goats and donkeys further towards Mataranka- all fair game for hunting and eating (OK- so you need permits, heck out the land you are on etc. but you get the drift). One feral animal that is often overlooked as something to end up on your plate is the cane toad.

Cane toads,  (Rhinella marina) formerly Bufo marinus, are native to South America and were introduced to Australia as another awesome idea at the time, but now disastrous for our biodiversity, introduced by Australian Government in 1935. The department of Sugar Experiment stations  was responsible, trying to keep the cane beetle under control in Queensland. Unfortunately these unfortunately ugly beasties went feral, covering the whole of Queensland by 1980 and reaching the NT in 1984 in South Kakadu, they made it to Darwin by 2004. There are reports that they are spreading further and further and studies show they are more numerous than ever before dispite various programs to stop their spreading and breeding and have just made it over the WA border. These ugly fellas parotid gland produces milky toxic secretion or poison that is dangerous to many species (bufotoxin) and kill other native species such as Northern Quolls, goannas, frogs and snakes. They outcompete other frogs and reptiles and are pretty detrimental to a lot of native animals.

So these guys are pretty easily disliked, adding to that is the fact they are dam ugly too, maybe it is their reputation that adds to the ugliness. People swerve to run over them, get them with spades, you name it, it’s kind of iconic or  ironic (especially in Queensland apparently)

Anyway friends of GULP live further from Darwin, outside Adelaide River and have always been keen on experimenting with the cooking of road kill, including snakes and wallabies and also had an interest in the use of these ugly toads as food.

 

Every year, at a wonderful ‘Fire Party’ social gathering that involves fire management- an early burn off in selected areas to protect later more intense fire, much great food is prepared and is often a bit of a focus. It is great to share food with friends. This year it was encouraged that meaty road kill or feral animals were prepared.Amongst the amazing dishes prepared were buffalo and wallaby stews and an array of toad dishes.

 

There are just so many cane toads it is mind boggling, but they are also surprisingly easy to catch. The most humane way reported is to catch them by the back legs and whip them into a dark airtight canoe bag and freeze them, you don’t want to stress them out, so after you have a few (they only have little legs) pop them in the freezer. After sufficiently frozen thaw these guys out. With a meat clever or sharp knife, cut off their legs.

toad leg cutting Because of the fact these creatures contain poison in their back (and skin) you want to skin them and avoid the upper body. Apparently the more stressed, the more the poison is dispersed, so give them the most calm end possible! Anyway we discarded the body and put it in a hot compost- great blood and bone! Then we skinned the legs- which is really easy.

leg skin one

Several recipes had been made with the GULP team, I tried marinating them in soy, garlic, ginger and chili. marinating legsAfter a couple of hours (in the fridge) I sautéed them in sesame oil and served them with heaps of local (Vietnamese coriander) and random salad greens, including sweet leaf and rosella leaves.

legs on plate

Other recipes include –

 

Salad of toad legs with Kang Kung and galangal (Cole)

8 toad legs with skins removed
4-5 knuckles of galangal, finely chopped
3 leaves of Thai coriander, finley chopped
2 large handfuls of kang kung, washed and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
Splash of soy sauce
Salt and pepper to season

Method

Heat sesame seed oil in a wok on a medium heat.
Fry toad legs for a couple minutes, add galangal and coriander, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes stirring continuously.
Add kang kung and mix with plash of soy sauce until stems cooked.

 

Serve as an entre for 2 people or meal for 1.

Canapés of toad legs in garlic butter (Rod)

8 toad legs with skins removed

2 table spoons of butter
3 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 fresh baguette sliced
Garlic chives, finely chopped

Method

Melt butter in a heavy based sauce pan and fry garlic until soften
Add toad legs and cook in butter until tender
Lightly toast the baguette
Serve two toad legs on a piece of baguette, drizzled with garlic butter and garnished with chives.

mmm on a platter

 

So guys, don’t just get out there and swerve for them or shovel these guys, if you are going to try some pest management, you might as well get some protein from this unwanted visitor. Just remember, allow them to have a quick death and treat them well, it isn’t their fault they were bought here!  Secondly don’t poison yourselves, be very careful with skins and dispose of the body in a closed compost bin, away from other animals.

la cane toad

Oh and what do they taste like- well a bit like gamey chicken.

 

Disclaimer- GULP and members of, take no responsibility for people licking toads, these are cooking suggestions and we are just sharing our story. If you try, well that’s up to you!

Cane toad licking

Catching Rain

As I am writing this the rain is once again pouring outside, and as promised from the last post I will write some useful information about how you can have even more rain in your life, by catching it. With so much rain, not many people do this and rely on damns, and strangely treated water or bores, and often like to then sprinkle this water over their driveway. To me this seems a little crazy as wonderful pure rain water, can be harvested straight from your roof and used there and then, or saved for a bit later when the rains have stopped.

Wet gardenOf course, as it doesn’t rain for a few months , it is hard to save enough to go through the whole dry season, but the less people relying on the mains supply, the smaller the dams have to be, or less need for more dams. As soon as a watercourse is changed like that in our landscape, it is changed forever. The hydrology of our greater landscape is complex and beautiful!

LagoonwarmerBore water is an alternative, but the more people and farmers using this leads the artesian basin drying up, and this basin feeds out somewhere, so there is always a knock on effect. And there are some pretty special places that rely on water not too far away!

Tree house 2Any how I don’t have to bang on about this, the rain falls on us, so with little infrastructure, we can use it right at our house. Fresh rainwater is so good to drink, no added chlorine, fluoride or other odd energy added , just rain and to shower in rain water feels so different, soft and wonderful!

courts and water


Nearly 3 years ago now we put in our rain tank. It is 25, 000 litres, green and plastic- manufactured in Humpty Doo by Practical Plastics. 3m tall, 3.8m wide, now priced at $3100 (at the time there was a moderate rebate, but it has since been scraped). I of course took ages weighing up the pros an cons of the different style and materials of rain water tanks, there were expensive steel ones, made far away and transported in, concrete ones, possibly made in the territory (concrete is not a very sustainable material though!) and the plastic ones made in Humpty Doo. The pros of the plastic one were it was locally made, easy to transport, long lasting, relatively inexpensive and the plastic is recyclable after use. The negative is that there is a chance that even though food grade solid plastic, it may after heat and time break down and seep in very small amounts into the water. Even though there maybe a chance in the 3 years we have had the tank there is absolutely no taste of plastic at all, and the tank is in a very shady protected position, so should last a long time.

raining tankWe bought a pump which maybe was just over $800, but I can’t recall exactly and Jon rigged this up with soft pipe to be able to plumb the washing machine and outdoor shower, that already drain into banana circles, which filter the water and further use it to irrigate the garden. The shower is in fact in a banana circle, surrounded by a bamboo screen and it seems like the best shower in the world! Another bonus is no bathroom cleaning, just bathroom mulching! To find more about banana circles click the link.

Jon sexy shower shotThe tank also goes to irrigation solenoids, so in times of patchy rain we can water the veggie garden with rain. As the dry sets in we slowly go back to mains water over several months, keeping the rain shower and a tap to fill up our little drinking tank as long as possible. Last year we still had rain in the tank when the next rains set in and so drank only rain all year!

Over the dry our ‘waste water’ still runs from upstairs and down into banana circle pits and keep a bit of moisture going on. We do not let kitchen water straight out, as you really need a grease trap.

Washing clothes

Our washing helps the bananas grow all year round- pretty awesome!

Next week we are very excited that at last we have saved and arranged for Mark (The little Plumber) at a very good rate, to come and rig up the upstairs plumbing to our kitchen sink, upstairs shower and toilet, so we can choose to have no mains water over the wet season!

rainwater jar

And a top totally local drink that beats them all- chilled fresh rain water from the roof, a slice of garden lime, herbs from the garden- Thai basil and mint and even a little slither of local cucumber. The best!

Dancing in the rain

I love the rain, I love that this time of year we have so much rain, I love that it brings abundant life and after so much resent rain it highlights the vastness and incredible landscape here in the top end. I have given up pouring out the full rain gauge and reading it. I have enjoyed working in the heavy rain all day, it refreshing my body and mind, I have loved watching it come down across the bush, fall and be blown into the sea and reach into my dreams as the sound of it hits the roof and bananas and greenness outside and I have especially loved dancing in it.

dacin in the rain2The plants are growing, the landscape is so green and alive and of course at the same time the mould is growing too. The mould underlines the impermanence of everything, of life itself, ever-changing, complex relationships cycling into new creations; it questions our values of processions that fade so quickly and our own ephemeral existence….So make the most of this amazing life and live everyday to its fullest, don’t get too precious about the little things and if you get the chance always try and dance in the rain!

daps webOn a more practical note, incase you thought I am off on a poetic path, I will be writing about reducing mould and saving all this delicious rain water for later, as well as some top tips for awesome garden greens that thrive in this wonderful wet very soon.

drop

Eat Local Feed Global- an outdoor delight

As part of our GULP project had a wonderful food share and work shop at the Mulch Pit in Rapid Creek this November for Eat Local, Feed Global Oxfam campaign that highlights the craziness of our food systems and how eating local can help others further away!.

talk crowdThe night was a beautiful twighlight evening and raised money  for a great cause and let us share some food and recipes at the same time as show casing the origins of the food- in the gardens!

Penny tour There was a local food dish bring a dish competition which GULP NT (Bhavini and Emma) were the judges of.  It was hard to judge because all the dishes were so excellent.

We loved the use of local eggs in the great frittata style dishes and will be popping some recipes like this on line and in the book-

FrittataThere were also some amazing curries and of particular note was one that used entirely plants from the garden as the paste- lemon grass, Thai basil, kaffir lime leaves, limes and I think even the green paw paw (the main ingredient) was local and the coconut milk. This was made by Fiona and we decided took the prize- a fair trade food package wit local harvest! (Fiona Left, Emma- GULP- right)

sonya wins prize

Louise also made a great curry, but someone at the market had made the paste for her (mainly local though)

And Lucy’s salad was quite remarkable, the use a typical savoury root veg.  (sweet potato) with pineapple, coconut and herbs and a splash of oil. Delicious!

Pineapple and sweet potato salad

 

A wonderful evening of many in The Mulch Pit….more coming up and recipes to be put at http://www.GULPNT.com

GULP project released!

Image

Our GULP information, in a flyerCheck out the website, face book page or contact us for more details!We starting spreading the word about the project at the food share for Eat Local, Feed Global, a fundraiser for Oxfam, hosted by the Mulch pit! Photos and more info coming up. So get in touch if you want to share your recipes with this community based local produce knowledge sharing project!