DIY-ing (and a cautionary tale)

I love doing things myself. It makes me feel capable and I get a real sense of satisfaction and achievement from it. When I was teaching Prep, many years ago, my classroom had electric blinds on the outside of the window. We had a recurring issue where one of the wires was loose and the switch for the blind stopped working. Each time it happened we had to get an electrician in. I became really tired of having to wait for the electrician to come, so when he turned up, I surreptitiously watched what he did from my desk. It was a very simple matter and it took about three seconds to correct the problem. So the next time it happened, I took off the switch plate and did what I saw the electrician do. The only difference between what he did and what I did was that I got a teeny tiny little electric shock. When I got myself back together, I put the plate back on and tested out my blinds. They worked. When it happened again, I told the principal and she called the electrician and the whole cycle began again. The moral of the story? DIY is good, but don’t DIY electrical work. That is dumb and you could die. Be patient and leave it to a professional.

Something that I feel great about doing myself (and that isn’t going to result in me getting electrocuted) is making my own food. I love to cook, and I love to make things from scratch. I’m learning to love growing my own vegetables and I’m trying hard to tolerate my chickens. I definitely don’t love my chickens. One of them attacked me when I went in to feed them yesterday and I am still dirty on her about it. They are a both a bit feral.

Today, after 20 days of fermentation, I transferred my Indian-style kimchi* into jars to go in the fridge.

I love this stuff. I have it with scrambled eggs and it makes the eggs so much more interesting. It’s great for the gut, super cheap and super easy to make. When I was working I used to buy it, but a jar like this will set you back anywhere from $7.95 to $13.95 in the shops. I made three and half jars and I think it cost me about $5 in total for the ingredients. I use this recipe and I use this fermenting crock that my awesome Dad gave me for Christmas.

I’ve also started making my own gluten free sourdough (using a recipe from the River Cottage Gluten Free Cookbook). The jars at the back are for Augie’s pumpkin, carrot and quinoa puree that was bubbling away on the stove when I took the photo.

So there you have it. Today’s food DIY, no electric shocks, only deliciousness. Money saving, health promoting and hugely satisfying.

What is your favourite food DIY?

*Now don’t get all mad about me calling it kimchi. I know it’s not legit Korean kimchi. That’s on the cards soon. I just don’t know what else to call it. Feel free to suggest an alternative name if you wish.

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A Change In Direction

Like all good things, life here at Anarchy Road has changed since I last posted almost three years ago. Our values are the same but our circumstances are hugely different.

Our duo became a trio when we welcomed our son, August, to the world in February 2016. We have moved from Melbourne to Geelong, back to the original home of Anarchy Road, back to our vegetable garden and chickens.

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These life changes have also led to a change in direction for this blog. I am on leave from my job indefinitely, and the plan is for me to take the role of looking after our child and home while Tyson works. Anarchy Road is still about good food, but our focus has expanded to making a good home as well. And by good home, we don’t mean an Instagram home. We mean a home that is simple, clean and healthy, full of love and family and good times. We are taking inspiration from simple living advocates, our families, and our desire to live a simple, ethical and creative life.

Tyson and I have always considered the name Anarchy Road to be an overarching title for our joint projects, be they food, home or otherwise.  If you are new to the blog, welcome! You can check out our old posts for lots of stuff about food, particularly ancestral health related content. If you are a seasoned Anarchy Road reader, we hope you will continue to follow us on this journey.

 

 

 

Fig and Lemon Balls

Today is a cooking kind of day.  It’s blustery, rainy and cool outside, I have the day off (because it is school holidays!) and there is not much I need to do. Perfect for firing up the oven and turning some ingredients into delicious meals and snacks.

So far I have made skinless sausages (pork, fennel and thyme), roasted cauliflower, lemon and fig balls and coffee-chocolate balls. Still going is the slow cooked beef and sweet potato stew (in the oven), roasted pumpkin and beef jerky. Up next is grain-free crackers and some pumpkin hommus.

I just wanted to quickly share the recipe for the fig and lemon balls because I just created it, and it is pretty good. I had an Emma and Tom’s Fig and Lemon bar a while ago, and it was ok …but I thought I could do better. So I did.

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Fig and Lemon Balls

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Ingredients

1/2 cup of almonds

6-8 whole dried figs, depending on consistency of the mix

The juice and zest of a small lemon

Method

Put the almonds into the food processor and process until they are in tiny, even chunks. Take the almonds out and put the figs, lemon juice and zest in. Process for a bit, then add in the almonds. Process until it is of an even consistency.

If it is too dry, add another fig and some more lemon juice. If it is too wet, add some extra almonds. You might need to tweak this according to the size of your lemons and figs, but it will taste good either way. The mix shouldn’t be too sticky, it should hold together and mold nicely when pressed.

Roll the mix into balls and store in a container or a jar in the refrigerator.

My mix made about 10 but it depends on the size you make your balls.

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And now to the worst part of having a fun time making a mess in the kitchen – cleaning up.

How To Be A Modern Day Hunter Gather

In an ideal world, I would be the ultimate hunter gatherer. I’d grow all of my own fruit and vegetables. I’d preserve them lovingly and those rows and rows of jars would sustain us until next season. I’d raise chickens, cows, sheep and pigs with care and slaughter them with compassion. I’d go fishing and bring us home a tuna. I’d carry a kick-ass basket. I’d feed us with my skills and general awesomeness.

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But that isn’t the real world. I work full time, with a long commute three days each week. I go to CrossFit. I have a family and friends and sometimes I like to have a moment to read a book or play with my dog or watch Buffy. So the vegie garden is neglected, the last time I went fishing I was wearing jelly sandals (apparently they are making a comeback – ew) and my poor chickens met their untimely end in December 2011. I can’t be a true hunter gatherer, so I have to do it the 21st century way.

On the long drive to work the other morning I was listening to my favourite podcast (Relentless Roger and the Caveman Doctor). I love those guys. They deliver good information in an accessible way … and they are bloody funny. Something that rang true for me in this particular podcast was the Caveman Doctor’s discussion on being a modern day hunter gatherer.

The essence of what he was saying was this. Rather than going to the closest grocery store or supermarket and buying stuff there, be selective. Be a hunter gatherer like your ancestors were. If you can’t get the organic, grass-fed butter that you want, don’t settle for margarine because it is all they have. Get on the Google and find out where you have to go to get the good stuff. Even if you have to spend a little more money or drive a little further to get it, it’s worth it. You are hunting your food like your ancestors did, admittedly, in a different way, but still a valid way.

I’m the hunter gatherer in this family. Tyson hates shopping with a passion, so I do it, because I don’t mind. When we first moved to Melbourne I’d hit the Preston Market. It is just around the corner and have everything I needed … in theory. They have carrots. I eat carrots. So I bought the carrots. Unfortunately, the carrots were crap. So was the meat. After one particularly bad experience, I decided that things had to change.

After a few (disappointing) trips to some other stores, I discovered Terra Madre in Westgarth, and that solved most of my problems. Fresh, organic produce, niche pantry staples, Istra smallgoods and high quality eggs and dairy available seven days a week. Easy.

The missing piece of the puzzle was MEAT. I firmly believe that if your food eats bad food, it in turn becomes bad food. I want my food to eat good, species appropriate, food. I don’t want my cows eating grain or my chickens eating soy. It’s just not natural. I also want to know that the food I eat didn’t die in a pile of poop and agony. If I eat that, I’m effectively taking that poop and agony into my body, and that is not what I want.

My sister, who knows about this kind of thing, recommended trying out meat from Koallah Farm, and when I checked out their website I noticed that one of their stores is about a 20 minute drive away. So I headed down to Rosanna and checked it out and have been shopping there ever since.

So I hunt. I arrange my spare time around getting to CrossFit, the butcher and Terra Madre. I gather what I need from the sources I have found to be reliable. It doesn’t take much to be a modern day hunter gatherer – armed with a little research and a desire to give yourself something better, you can be one in an afternoon. You don’t have to wrestle a mammoth or wait for some seeds to grow. It’s all out there waiting for you.

Just not at the supermarket.

On Bringing Your Own Food (You Weirdo Hippie)

I’m a teacher. One of the questionable perks of the job is the fun activities that you get to do. This morning I am heading off to the funnest of the fun activities – school camp.

Now, don’t be fooled. Despite what our delightful former premier tells you, it’s a little bit more than a normal working day. We are on duty twenty four hours, from the time the kids get to school to the time we deliver them back to the welcoming arms of their parents. If a kid starts vomiting in the middle if the night, we sit up with them. If they have nightmares, or wet the bed, or miss their families, we soothe them. But despite those things, camp is fun. I like camp. And I especially like this camp because we get to ride bikes all day.

What I don’t like about camp, apart from watching thirty prepubescents spend five dollars each on lollies and the shenanigans that follow with the subsequent sugar highs and crashes, is the camp food.

It wouldn’t be bad to most people. Pretty much your run of the mill stuff, spaghetti bolognaise, cereal, toast… But if I ate that, things would go seriously wrong. My energy levels would be all over the place, I’d feel sick and cranky. What’s a girl to do?

When I agreed to go to camp, I kind of forgot about the food. My dear friend Nat is the camp coordinator, and while organising the camp paperwork, she came across the section for dietary requirements. I’m sure she looked at it and thought ‘Oh shit, here we go.’

It got me thinking. What are my requirements? First and foremost, no gluten or sugar. That’s the bare minimum I could cope with. Preferably, no processed food, refined carbohydrates, sugar or low fat anything. It’s a big ask. So I decided to take my own. Two breakfasts, three lunches and two dinners.

Three hours in the kitchen last night and I was good to go. Here’s my camp food…

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Apple crumble and coconut milk for breakfast, zucchini and sweet potato frittata and salad for lunch, Spanish meatballs and vegies for dinner.

Steady energy, steady mood, feeling good – bring on the bike rides!

Super Breakfast

Quinoa Porridge with Banana and Coconut Milk.

For those of you eating breakfast, this is a ripper for the winter months.  Hayley and I started making it a couple of months back when we were first playing around with the Perfect Health Diet.

Quinoa is a seed, not a grain, so therefore falls under the Paleo umbrella (in case you were wondering). Quinoa is a super food, it’s great source of protein, vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids. In combination with the healthy fats from the coconut milk and a few carbs from half a banana, quinoa porridge is a pretty balanced (and nutritious) meal.    

We always cook enough quinoa for a couple of days and leave it in the fridge.  Boil about one cup of quinoa in water until it has opened up but is not fully cooked (bite it, it should be slightly firm but not soft).  From there, strain and lay out on a tray to let cool.  When it’s cool put it in the fridge.   

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When you get up in the morning and are ready for breakfast put a handful of cooked quinoa in a pan with about half a can of coconut milk and about half a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup.  You’ll need to warm it up and let the quinoa finishing cooking in the coconut milk. 

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From there, taste for the right amount of sweetness, put it in a bowl with half a sliced banana and enjoy! 

 

 

Food + Emotion

Food and emotion are so closely linked. Food can makes us feel things, emotions can turn us to food. I’m writing about this because today has been a hugely emotional day for me, from sadness to joy and all things in between.

My dear friend and mentor retired today after 34 years of teaching (I’m a teacher in my other life). This man has seen me through all manner of adult tantrum throwing (me), happiness, excitement, crazy diets, personal crisis, world travels and plenty of great food and great wine. He has handled me with gentleness and grace, often when it would have been very difficult not to just tell me to be quiet and get on with it. I’m so happy and excited for him to get on with this amazing new adventure, but I’m going to miss him terribly.

I have a cold, and have been battling it for a couple of weeks. I’m frustrated, tired and generally feel lousy.

Our beloved fur child, Louis, is sick. She started last night and was so out of sorts when I got home from work at 6pm tonight, so I called the vet and they told us to come straight in. I battled traffic for 40 minutes, cried in a car park when I realised I was at the wrong end of Lygon Street (the poor man in the car park was quite alarmed and let me out quickly and for free, bless him), arrived at the vet clinic ten minutes after their closing time but they were so gracious and kind that I sat down and cried again. Lou is resting in front of the heater right now, she has had a few injections and we’ll find out more tomorrow when her blood test results arrive.

Then, driving home, I had some unexpected but joyful news that I can’t disclose yet. I wasn’t as terrified that Lou was going to die. I was almost home, after a very long day. And I was HUNGRY.

I needed some food that was going to soothe me and make my stress evaporate. Part of the catharsis of food for me lies in the preparation, the care I can put into my food, and therefore, myself. I needed something quick but nourishing, rich but loving. So I made an omelette.

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I pulled out my good knife, and chopped some onion, bacon and mushrooms. While they were frying in some butter, I whisked up a couple of eggs with salt and pepper, then poured them in with the other things, gave them a stir around and let them sit and bubble away while I crumbled some feta and tore some basil and threw it on top. When the egg was almost set, I tipped the pan and flipped the omelette over onto itself so it looked like a golden half moon, flecked with green and white. I tore up some cos and crumbled more feta on it, them drizzled just the tiniest bit of apple cider vinegar over it.

I felt better.

The creamy, silky feta sat nicely with the crunchy cos and sharp acidity of the vinegar, perfect for breaking up the richness of the egg and bacon. Soon, the only thing that remained on my plate was a tiny bit of crispy bacon that escaped, and a solitary chunk of feta. I mashed them together and savoured them.

I felt better still. Nourished, satisfied, content. That’s what food does for me – it heals me, emotionally and physically. I love my food and it loves me back.

Now my day is done, and I’m ready to sleep. Tell me though, what do you cook and/or eat when you are mad, sad or glad? I’d love to know!

Turning 31

Tonight I am cooking dinner and reflecting on my day yesterday. It was my 31st birthday. I was overwhelmed with texts, emails, cards, phone calls and Facebook messages, sent with love from near and far. I went to Crossfit in the morning, and my abs are reminding me that I worked hard on my GHD situps. I’m glad I didn’t do them the day before my birthday.

My mind drifts to the food I am cooking, and I realise that most of the vegetables I am preparing are from the organic box my parents gave me as a birthday gift. I am roasting potatoes in the beef tallow that came from the bio-dynamic beef bones we use for stock. I am cutting up tomatoes from my family’s organic farm using the Mac Mighty knife that Tyson gave me yesterday morning and remembering last night’s special birthday dinner at Rockpool.

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I show love to myself by eating as well as I can and making my body strong. I make my body strong so that I can have the energy and strength to show love to others. Food and love. Love and food. What else is there?

It’s Here!

It’s Here!

I’m so flippin excited! I’ve wanted to read this book for months (after hearing the author, Paul Jaminet, interviewed on the Underground Wellness podcast) and it arrived in my mailbox this morning. I’m sitting at the kitchen table, slurping homemade … Continue reading