Hannah is here WOOFING in our kitchen and garden until she does her Permaculture Design Certificate in January, She is a wonderful young, creative cook who has taken on board everything here at Fair Harvest. I asked her to write a blog about her experience so far, a beautiful story…….thanks Hannah, love your journey!
My passion for food started in my late teens while working at an European style restaurant in my home town Beechworth, Victoria. I was very fortunate to grow up in a beautiful area full of local produce and wine. I learnt a lot in those years about many different styles of gourmet food. At 18 I went to an MS health retreat as my mother’s carer. This week really opened up my mind to the effects of what we eat have on our mind, body and soul. After the retreat I turned aquatarian (eating no meat besides seafood) but also had no dairy and 100% no saturated fat. I was determined to stick with this diet not only for my own health but to support my mum. I was not educated enough in alternative foods to hold variety or interest, I struggled along realising this was not only a diet change but a change of life. I grew bored losing motivation to cook and chose to listen to my body and my tastebuds. I stuck to being an aquatarian but chose to eat cheese in small amounts but still cut out other dairy products. While working at an organic, healthy foods café that focused on vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diets, my knowledge of GOURMET HEALTHY food grew and so did my passion for it.
Arriving at Fair Harvest years later I was creating balanced, wholesome and nutritious meals. But like a lot of people that still meant draining trips to the supermarket and countless dollars. Taking after my perfectionist father in the kitchen I would not make a meal without having every specific little ingredient. Living on the farm I got more and more drawn to growing food. Being someone with an almost ridiculous love of vegetables this was the perfect environment to learn. I didn’t want to go to Coles and buy vegetables wrapped in plastic not knowing where they were grown and only caring about the price. I wanted to be involved in the whole process from seed, to garden, to kitchen to plate. I wanted to get my hands dirty then wash them off and create amazing soul food.
So you can imagine my enthusiasm when Jodie wanted to open for lunch with a salad all from the Fair Harvest garden. We began making our own sourdough and halloumi cheese from our fresh cows milk. That seemed pretty easy but she definitely threw a loop into the works when she decided to make the lunch complete Localvore. To be honest when she first mentioned the word ‘localvore’ I had no idea what she was talking about. I was familiar with the Slow Food Movement but a localvore was a new concept to me. You want me to create a menu using only our and local produce? My first reaction was excitement, then it started dawning on me what that actually meant. No more trips to Coles for sure (gladly) but then I started to think about all the little essentials I use in everyday cooking religiously. First salt and pepper. I’ve learnt to season continuously through out cooking a meal. What the flip am I going to do without salt and pepper?! Next one : vinegar. We are making salads which need dressing….My love for balsamic vinegar is nearly as ridiculous as my love for vegetables. No butter? That will make pastry interesting… How can I make a chutney localvore? No sugar, no vinegar, no spices. NO SPICES??
Before I completely start to freak out we go through what we do have. The obvious: eggs, milk, olive oil (thank god), honey, a huge array of leafy greens and herbs, fruit from the orchard, lemons. We wonder through the garden and Jodie and Do show me what else we are growing and what can be eaten. My favourites: mustard and acacia seeds, purple beans and feijoa petals. I was taken aback when Do first wanted me to eat a flower. The hippy in me thought no way! I can’t eat a flower! The light peppery flavour of the nasturtium flower was even more a surprise. I got over the guilt of eating a flower, they are now one of my favourite ingredients and I use the beauties to garnish nearly everything.
Next is what we know we can source locally: Atta flour, goats cheese, macadamias, avocados, heavenly sea salt, a variety of different vinegars. Then my mind starts ticking over what we can substitute things for. With help from Jodie and Do I get over my perfectionist recipes and realise pastry CAN be made with olive oil instead of butter. We can ground dried nasturtium seeds to replace pepper. I don’t need to serve savoury tarts with chutney, we can make a delicious pesto or chimmichurri. Sugar is over rated, honey is the bees knees!
I find myself thinking on a whole different level. Not what I NEED to make this but what we HAVE to create something delicious. Not only will it be delicious but we know personally where it comes from. I can say I harvested everything for this salad THIS MORNING! Do planted nearly everything from our garden from a SEED, we harvested and sifted Acacia for HOURS so Jodie could create Dukkah, Sari milks at 6AM so we have fresh milk and can make halloumi. Who wouldn’t get excited about what is now on a plate in front of them after hearing that? This is soul food at its best.