Kitchen Garden Guides

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Humans are 90% bacteria…. but which bacteria are you?

It is so obvious really, but sometimes breakthroughs and discoveries are like that. We all know that probiotics are helpful bacteria that live in our digestive system and many people buy certain yoghurts and supplements that contain a very particular range of probiotics.

It is also well known that an acidic diet, one high in sugary foods for example, is not friendly to these bacteria….. hence people try adding them to their diet (instead of removing the sugar!).

But, take this one step further and ask another question “What other bacteria live in our bodies and what are they doing?” Well, it seems that the answers are quite amazing and many diseases and conditions are being linked to the absence or presence of certain bacteria. Moreover, it is the food we eat that feeds these bacteria, so if we eat a good diet, our range of bacteria stays in harmony and we stay well. If we have a poor, highly processed diet then this feeds a different range of bacteria which upsets the balance, our immunity is compromised and our health suffers.

You can listen to a brief explanation here. Another study looked at fasting or calorie restriction and found that this promotes beneficial bacteria. Read more here.

So, get out there and grow mountains of delicious greens!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wonderful Winter Edibles from My Garden

It has been freezing outside today and I have spent most of it inside, cooking. About an hour ago, between showers, I took my basket out to pick a salad…. then I took some photos of what I had picked because it just oozes with vitality; so vivid are the colours, so shiny are the leaves, so crisp and so juicy that I just had to share it, even if only on a blog! (Actually most of it is for the local family I cook for on Tuesdays, but a little bit of everything is for me.)

I could go on about bad food choices, bad agriculture, bad governments, bad, bad, bad…. but I am too happy, looking forward to dinner, to think negative things. Nearly everything I picked today was self-sown, requiring no work from me. If only I could help people get to this point; if only they’d want to come to my “Cook with me from my garden” workshops where I could show them how easy, healthy, worthwhile and delicious it is to live this way. 

imageSandra’s vegan rice way! imageMiners’ lettuce, radicchio, hakurei (Jap turnips), spring onion, mizuna
imageToday’s garden greens and eggs imageSuch shiny parsley….
imageJuicy, crisp, delicious fennel…. imageWinter chicory….
image…and scuplit, Asian greens, etc, all bouncing with vitality. image
Baked pasta, layered with garden veg, topped with home made yoghurt, today’s eggs plus cheese.
imageTasmanian quinoa with snow peas, carrots, lime juice and herbs etc imageMy famous sourdough bread …. that everyone comes to learn to make, in my workshops!

Bon appetit!

ps. You should watch this 6 minute video, to see why I am sooooooo passionate about what I do. And no, I am NOT vegetarian but I only eat meat from animals that once lived in a paddock near me, on land I can see and cared for by people I know.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

When the end result is only half the benefit….

Its been a busy kind of day, in a really nice way. More about that later! This is about sitting down with a drink at the end of the day; fire lit, rain bucketing down outside, dinner cooking.

I was really thirsty and felt like something refreshing, in the most natural sense of the word. I don’t drink sweet fizz; I don’t like it and I don’t see the point of it. Of course, there’s limoncello and other home made alcoholic concoctions and I do love good gin and a dash of tonic plus a squeeze of fresh lime juice but somehow that was not what I craved today.

Just before dark I nipped out to my tray of wheat grass in my little green house…. oh no…. its all yellow and finished really but next to it, self-sown and growing madly is the most amazing crop of miners’ lettuce. Sure, I have been eating it in salads for months, but I was looking for something to drink. Hey, I can juice that, I thought, plus some of the parsley growing next to it. So I cut a good handful of each…. and a few fennel stalks and fronds on my way back to the kitchen, too.

Back inside I looked in the fridge and took out some purple carrots from Terry’s then grabbed 2 oranges from the fruit bowl as well, before heading to the hand juicer I mentioned in the last post….. the silent juicer…. and my gorgeous, old green glass orange juicer…. also silent.

I love the soft, crushing sound of the fennel as the auger grabs the stalks, then the smell rises and already I am smiling! Next, in goes in the miners’ lettuce and then 2 carrots. I am always amazed how easily the auger grabs the carrot as I slowly turn the handle, without having to cut it up at all.

Once this is all poured into the glass, I squeeze enough orange juice to fill it up then take a sip….. ahhhhh…. that hits the spot straight away. It tastes wonderful (or I wouldn’t bother with it!).

Picking the greens, choosing the fruit and making this drink with my lovely hand tools had the effect of taking my focus from the busyness of the day to the detail and pleasure of a very small act. This is all part of doing things from scratch; the end result is only half the benefit.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Making holes in an old bench for a new tool….

I am not anti-technology at all; otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here at my laptop writing this! I have all kinds of nifty gadgets and as many cables cluttering up my life as everybody else….. BUT there is a craze at the moment that I don’t like. It is the noisy kitchen machinery craze.

Everyone has a fan-forced oven and a rangehood and everyone is getting vitamixes and thermomixes, which whizz up everything in a matter of seconds and will even cook it for you. But these things are all soooooo noisy, even if only for a few seconds or a minute or two. I do not like noise. I love peace and quiet, especially when I am enjoying myself preparing food in the kitchen. I really love the gentle sound of grinding spices in my stone pestle and the hands on action means I can get the spices just how I want them, whilst getting some small amount of arm exercise too! Why go to the gym when you could be grinding spices instead?? (Looking at that photo I have now found the washer I thought I had swept up with the sawdust I created whilst drilling holes in my old bench to bolt down the new addition….)

Moreover, neither the vitamix nor the thermomix GRINDS things, it just cuts them up really small. Grinding has some health benefits, over cutting and the result of grinding is a much more natural food for our gut to deal with.


I also have a fruit, vegetable and wheat grass juicer which lives permanently attached to my kitchen table. It is really solid and an absolute delight to use. Being always there means I can grab an apple or 2, a couple of carrots and handful of wheatgrass and in a couple of minutes I have a fresh juice. It is really easy to clean too.




Well, now I have something new! A Retsel Little Ark seed, grain, coffee and spice mill. I am not going to grind kilograms of grains to make flours but rather do smaller jobs, like make fresh oatmeal, grind and blend spices for the market…… and grind coffee.


I am planning on doing all kinds of exciting things with this mill so stay tuned!!

And it makes a pleasant, natural sound as I turn that very long handle, well designed for human use. Again, it is  also excellent upper body exercise and the results are gut-friendly!

So, while I cook, whether I want to listen to wonderfully interesting podcasts or hear the birds outside the window or a friend knocking on the front door, it will all be lovely and quiet in my kitchen.

Life is yours to define. Get there fast then take it slow.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Is this what “inner transition” means?

What kind of brain do you need to make these? And how about the bird; she is definitely thinking outside the square! Thanks, Sally, for the email full of these ideas and more.

boot as nest

    jeans with plants


ladels with plants


watering can fountain

Today I listened to a wonderful podcast about curiosity; who has it and why, what it does to our lives, our brains and our children. You can listen to it here.

‘Daily Good’– providing solutions to the ‘news’

Local, Australian news services have become the lowest of the low, in terms of providing factual, real news. There is rarely anything worth mentioning as it is all cheap and easy daily details on rape, murder and political unrest, at home and overseas. Where has intelligent journalism gone?

I know there are terrible things happening in the world but seeing children covered in blood in Syria or a man being taken to court for rape or one politician slinging off at another is not telling me anything NEW and doesn’t NEWS mean something new? For every bad piece of news, they should show one of the millions of people who are trying to do something about it, thereby adding hope and education to the very poor presentations.

I get my news elsewhere. One place is Daily Good which inspires me to get out and do more to change the way things are and puts me in touch with so much NEWS that is really happening, in every corner of the world where people are endeavouring to overcome the horror of what our local news keeps telling us is there.

Like with Jamie Oliver and his passion for school lunches and children knowing and growing food so they can be healthy, there is a link between how children play and how children behave. Creating green spaces for the poorest and most disadvantaged children, often living in big, grey cities, has the chance to stop some of those horrific American shootings we are told about. The excerpt below is from “Daily Good: news that inspires”

….Charlotte, 4, has two 20-minute recess breaks each day. Her teachers wish they could spend more time outside with their young charges, but they have to rotate usage with other teachers, and the playground is also small and somewhat unwelcoming. It's surrounded by eight-foot chain link fencing and features standard-issue swings and monkey bars on blacktop. When she doesn't feel like chasing her friends, Charlotte sits with her back against her school's brick fa├žade and watches cars pass on an adjacent freeway….



….Ivy's preschool recently added an outdoor classroom. Fencing created from natural materials conceals a hidden wonderland divided into intentional learning and play areas. In one part of the classroom, Ivy and her friends can get their hands dirty with "messy materials." Across a mosaic stone path, they can snip samples of organic greens grown in their own raised beds. There are weatherproof marimbas for the musically inclined—and really, aren't all preschoolers musically inclined?—and "tree cookies," rough wooden building blocks, for use in elaborate building projects…..

Creative, hands-on outdoor experiences like those Ivy is exposed to are an essential piece of the child development puzzle. Research reveals that contact with nature may be as important for children as good nutrition and sleep…..Most children have more options for solitary play provided by electronics and child-targeting technologies. This lack of time outdoors contributes to childhood obesity and increased reliance on behaviour-regulating medicines. While many educators recognize these connections, they may not possess the tools or resources they need to actualize nature-based learning in their schools.

“Nature Explore” can help bridge this gap. In outdoor classrooms, children develop a sense of wonder and respect for the natural world. They solve problems, experiment, engage, and explore. Globally, there are already 170 certified Nature Explore Classrooms, with many more underway. Based on field-tested guiding principles, these spaces have been developed for schools, early childhood centers, domestic violence shelters, military bases, parks and museums. While each design is unique, the underlying philosophy remains the same: Connect kids with nature and amazing things happen.

Want to introduce the kids—or educators—in your life to a Nature Explore classroom? Visit for virtual tours of certified classrooms, details on upcoming workshops, an overview of the design consultation process, and other resources that can help you launch a Nature Explore space in your community.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Inner Transition, the next stage of CIVIL-isation

Many towns and villages in the UK are already well progressed in their transition endeavours. You can explore the fabulous world of Totnes and Incredible Edible Todmorden, where whole populations have embraced a change of lifestyle which will enable every one of them to live comfortably and participate fully in a world with less stuff and more connections.

But what happens inside people when their external lives are transitioning? What internal state do we need to achieve in order to even begin contemplating transitioning? How do those who are ready help those who are not, to get ready? Is there something inside us, beyond transition, that will help us maintain and adapt, into the future?

These are some of the questions now being explored in some of the more advanced transition towns of the UK, in particular by a woman called Sophy Banks.

People who are stressed or displaced or faced with trauma all display a similar range of characteristics. This has been known for a hundred years or more. What is disturbing is that research shows that a great number of people worldwide are showing these symptoms even though their lives are not typical cases. It seems that just living a consumer lifestyle and working for a large corporation brings out the fight or flight mode in many people; making them defensive and argumentative. Moreover and even more worrying to me, is that when people are in this hectic lifestyle situation, their brains are actually incapable of broadening and their range of thoughts actually shrink. Decisions and opinions become black and white and their focus narrows.

For any change to happen peacefully, creatively and quickly people need to be open to all ideas, able to discuss and converse without animosity and to be able to see beyond today and themselves, to the future for humanity and the earth. The longer it is before the majority of people are participating in transition movements, the harder it will be to get the attention of those people still at the narrow, protective, argumentative, power-hungry stage. Their brains simply will not accept anything outside what they already have to deal with and they often feel threatened and unable to take action (which sadly seems to include members of most governments, who increasing are behaving in a very uncivil manner and refusing to take much needed action).

I think inner transition is akin to the Dalai Lama’s notion of inner peace and to the calm of meditation. When your brain ceases to be full of anxiety, worry, trauma and anger it is like a sponge, ready to soak up new ideas, ready to look outward and you are then ready to put your shoulder to a good cause. When the good cause actually reduces your stresses and makes you feel happy with your future, it is a win:win situation.

Life is good; get there fast then take it slow…. and don’t argue with those who say otherwise!

Food…. its the future….yours and your children’s!