Sunday, November 25, 2012

Recipe: Hummus

Making your own hummus is very quick and very easy - and what's more it's very good for you.

Hummus is high in iron and vitamin C and also has significant amounts of folate and vitamin B6. The chickpeas are a good source of protein and dietary fibre; the tahini consists mostly of sesame seeds, which are an excellent source of the amino acid methionine, complementing the proteins in the chickpeas - and the sesame is where the high source of iron comes from.

It's a great vegetarian food and like other combinations of grains and pulses, it serves as a complete protein when eaten with bread.

No meal in the Middle East would be complete without a freshly made plate of hummus and passions run high over it's origin and 'the authentic recipe'.  In fact, the 'hummus wars' have been going on for some time between Lebanon (who want to patent the recipe) and Israel (who exports the largest quantities around the world).

This is the recipe I have tweeked over the years to be to my taste and I make it at least once a week - it's the ideal thing to give hungry children after school.

1 400g can of organic chick peas.
Juice of 1 small lemon
2 tbs tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 small clove of crushed garlic
1 small tsp ground cumin
sea salt to taste
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil (approximate)

Strain the chick peas of all their canned liquid.
Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a smooth consistency.
If, at this stage, the hummus is very thick you may want to add a small amount of water to thin it.

Serve on a plate with the hummus fluffed up around the edge.  Drizzle with olive oil and paprika or finely chopped parsley or mint.  This is making me hungry!

Graffiti from a wall in inner Sydney in the late 70's.
"God hates homos". Written underneath - "But does he like tabouli? 
I can never eat hummus without thinking of this and smiling

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mullumbimby Food and Soil Festival 2012

Repeating the great success of last year, we had another fantastic Food Festival in the Mullumbimby Community Gardens - with a focus this year on SOIL, why and how we should treasure and respect it.

There were all sorts of workshops, with everything from Biodynamics to "What Weeds Tell Us", to making a No-Dig bed to a "Bug Trail" and lots more in between.  In just four short years (I bet it feels very long to the extremely passionate and hardworking organizing committee) they have transformed an old paddock into the thriving heart and soul of Mullumbimby.

My grandchildren particularly enjoyed the lunchtime 'Fork in the Field' where they went on a grazing walk through the garden - picked their lunch, cooked it then ate it - then went home with a lovely palm basket they made in a workshop.

I had fun walking round the garden all day with a big silly hat on which said "Ask me a Gardening Question"?  (Of course Murphy's Law says I wouldn't know the first one I was asked and that, of course, was correct!)
Illawarra Flame Tree Brachychiton acerifolium in all it's glory.  The lack of rain in recent months puts  trees under stress which prompts them to put on a more spectacular flowering display.

It certainly is Festival time around Mullum at the moment.  As I write I can hear the loud-hailer from the showground, behind me in the valley, with the Mullum Country Show in progress - with livestock judging, horse jumping and lots of chooks and more folk in big hats.

Just a couple of weeks ago we had the Sample Food Festival in Bangalow - which showcases all the fabulous artisan food makers, chefs and restaurants on the North Coast - and next weekend is the Mullumbimby Music Festival.
'Salumi' local cured meat, sausage and ham makers from Billinudgel at the Sample Food Festival

Golden Penda Xanthostemon chrysanthus.  Another spectacular Australian tree flowering now and namesake of the the street I live in - although a lot of people get it wrong and I get letters addressed to Golden Panda Place! ( It's funny how developers chop down all the trees and then name the streets after them.)

It also serves as a timely reminder that in times of water shortage native plants are going to fare better than many exotics.

These little folk in a different kind of big hat have cropped up around here recently too!  Congratulations to all of my readers in the US who elected Barack Obama for a second term - hope continues!.  86% of Australians wanted him to win too!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Recipe: Any Fruit Tea Cake

This is one of those fabulous recipes that is so versatile - I make it all the time if I have unexpected guests for afternoon tea.  This one is with apple, rhubarb and raspberries.

It's really a chorus of the previous post for 'garden quiche' - "A recipe is a tune that you can sing your own song to".  I make this with any fruit that I have to hand - at the moment that is mulberries, peaches, nectarines, raspberries and rhubarb (lots of rhubarb!).  But, it can be apples, pears, apricots, figs, strawberries, plums, cherries, purple grapes, blueberries - in fact, just about anything.

Preheat oven to 160oC.  Grease a 22 cm round spring-form cake tine.

125g butter at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
11/2 cups wholemeal, self-raising flour (you can use plain)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
1 1/2 cups seasonal fruit (see above)

1.  In food processor, beat butter, sugar and vanilla essence until pale and creamy.
2.  Add the eggs, one at a time, until fluffy
3.  Gently fold in flour, cinnamon and baking powder (you can do this with the 'pulse' button)
4.  Spoon mixture into prepared tin and scatter chopped fruit over the top.
5.  Dust the top with half the icing sugar (this makes it crunchy) and bake in oven for 50-60 mins.
6.  Remove from oven when cooked.  Dust with remaining icing sugar.
This cake is best eaten within a couple of days.

Unexpected and hungry guests for afternoon tea!!