A Food & Travel Blog

Seasonal secrets and heirloom carrots

26/03/2012 | By

Well folks, I’ve been a little lax on the seasonal secrets front for  a while now, but with Jupiter Creek CSA up and running I’m back on deck for a regular weekly posting of inspired ideas for using up that gorgeous, fresh, local produce.

Photo source – Wikimedia Commons

I was very excited to find some wickedly good looking heirloom carrots in my boxes and couldn’t wait to get them into some dishes.  The apathetic adolescents roused themselves from their customary torpor long enough to express disquiet about the unexpected colour of some of the  carrots and so found themselves on the receiving end of a brief discussion on heirloom varieties, the preservation of biodiversity,  vegetable colours and associated  nutrient values.

The growing focus on industrial agriculture and it’s reliance on limited varieties of plant strains is resulting in both a dangerous diminishment of biodiversity as the older heirloom varieties vanish from the fields and a concurrent reduction in nutrient levels of food crops. Heirloom fruit and vegetable varieties are a reservoir of genetic diversity and continued production of them will help maintain a larger food crop gene pool and help safeguard against possible future food crises.  Add to this the fact that nutritional research has shown that colourful vegetables contain different and essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals – all of which are necessary for optimal health.  As a very loose, general guide it is safe to assume that the deeper the colour of the food, the more nutritionally dense it will be, so the deep purple carrots in my box were clearly edible powerhouses.

One of my very favourite ways to prepare root vegetables is to simply slow roast them.  I just adore the sweetness that they take on as the sugars caramelise in the oven and I love playing around with fresh herbs and different spices to add a flavour kick.  In order to beef up a particularly bland meal the other night (a special request for comfort food – tuna mornay) I bathed chunks of carrot in local olive oil, then sprinkled quite liberally with ground cumin, coriander and Murray River salt, before slow roasting them – heavenly.  Tonight  I think we’ll be taking advantage of the last of the milder weather and enjoying a carrot salad.  I bought myself a nifty julienne slicer and have a big bunch of fresh herbs to use up, too. Carrot salad can be just about anything you like, but this will be our version tonight.

Rainbow Carrot salad
 
Prep time
Total time
 
The fresh summer flavours of fresh herbs and raspberry vinegar, plus nutrient dense carrots and the addition of nuts or seeds, add some protein and you've got a meal, not just a salad.
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4 as a side
Ingredients
  • 1 orange carrot, julienned
  • 1 purple carrot, julienned
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh herbs (I used basil, coriander, parsley)
  • 150 gms feta cheese, cubed
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup raspberry vinegar
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Sea salt
Instructions
  1. Toss carrots, herbs and feta together.
  2. Whisk honey, oil and vinegar together, add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Toss vegetables in dressing, then sprinkle with sunflower seeds before serving.

 

 

 

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Surfeited with honey – Honey Orange Chicken with Ras el Hanout

23/09/2011 | By

Blossom by blossom the spring begins”  Swinburne

For quite a lot of Australians the transition between seasons can slip past without a great deal of notice as the climate in large parts of the country is very mild for most of the year.  Here in the Adelaide Hills this is not the case, though.  Summer is still hot here, but the nights are much cooler than down on the plain, and we slide into autumn with a riot of reds, burgundies and browns as the introduced trees which grow so well up here prepare for the coming chills.   Winter is generally cold, wet and foggy, but worth it for the glories of spring.  The blossom trees are breathtaking in their beauty and the dormant gardens start to kick into a life that is teeming with activity.  The slightly warmer weather rouses all sorts of living things, not all of them welcome – brown snakes come to mind, from their repose and the atmosphere comes alive with birdsong and the satisfied buzz of what I like to think of as my own, personal bees as they go about the business of pollination and honey making.

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Seasonal Secrets – September

17/09/2011 | By

I guess most people who read this blog are in agreement with me that to eat as locally as possible is a good thing.  The reduction in the use of fossil fuels needed to move food across long distances is  good for the planet, the injection of funds to regional growers and producers is good for the local economy and food that is consumed as close as possible to it’s source of production is fresher, with less deterioration in the available nutrients, making it more beneficial and healthy to eat.  So – it’s all good!  However, trying to eat an exclusively local diet, depending upon what climatic region you live in, will probably lead to tears of boredom before bedtime.  Here in South Australia there are a wealth of foods that we grow, and grow very well, but there are plenty that, for economic or prevailing local weather condition reasons, we don’t.   I love good food and am not really prepared to go without a lot of the goodies that I can’t source locally, so when I’m choosing what food my family are to eat I look at local produce first and then fill in the gaps with the next nearest available source.

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Seasonal secrets 27 August

27/08/2011 | By

The sun is shining on our hill – at last – bringing with it all the hope of spring, and a flurry of blossoms in our orchard.  The plum is out and the quince is budding, it won’t be too long before the apples and fig follow.  Standing in the middle of the orchard the other day, my ears were filled with the blissed out buzzing of a zillion bees – a very happy sound.  While we are all doing a bit of a happy dance around here, it is necessary to keep in mind that winter has probably not finished with us just yet, though, and the sight of some absolutely gorgeous parsnips at the market yesterday reminded me that there is still plenty of satisfaction  to be had from the winter produce.

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Seasonal Secrets – 12 August

12/08/2011 | By

This week I have an exciting announcement for those of my readers who live in or near Adelaide!   While it is great to read about how using fresh, local and organic produce and ingredients is best for both ourselves and our communities, sometimes we need to take in some facts and figures and be able to ask questions to get a full understanding of the issues.  When it comes to preparing food, we often fall back on the same methods which we have  always used without realising that we may be inadvertently compromising the nutrient levels in our meals and there are things we can do to avoid this.  If you are interested in learning more about local, organic, seasonal cooking and eating and how it will benefit you and your family then I’d like to suggest that you come along to a special evening Local and Organic Workshop hosted by experienced Nutritionist and Chef Mel Haynes and myself at Homewares Direct, 91 Unley Road, Unley, on September 6 at 6.30pm.

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Seasonal Secrets – 6 August

06/08/2011 | By

After some unseasonably fine days earlier this week, when peering despondently into my wardrobe caused me to struggle to remember just what it was that I wore in the warm weather, icy rain has descended on our hill again and my thoughts have turned to comfort food.  Coming from bog- Irish stock, there is nothing I find more comforting that potatoes (oh, and chocolate of course) and while they really are a versatile, all-seasons type of vegetable they lend themselves well to calorie rich, rib-sticking winter dishes.

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