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Winter Gardeing

Winter Update

Compost-A-Pak

It’s the middle of winter and our family has finally succumbed to the flu. After carrying on and fighting it for a few days, we have surrendered to days spent sleeping and relaxing with hot lemon tea. A few days stepping out of ‘life’ is always a good chance to reset.

The next few months are going to be busy with an increased focus on the waste industry.

It’s Plastic Free July at present, which hopefully results in more people again picking up their reusable cups and trying to limit plastic packaging. At times modern convenience seems to be in direct opposition to sustainability. As the new ordering apps grow in popularity, I seem to be the odd one out, lining up to order my coffee from a human as everyone jumps the queue and picks up their single use cup. Small changes make a difference and choosing to start my day without plastic feels like a win.

How to be sustainable at home

The War on Waste is also back on our TVs. The last two series were watched by over 3 million people, and studies suggested that 68% of viewers reported behavioural change in response to the program. That’s about 20% of the adult Australian population choosing to make changes to live more sustainable, which is simply remarkable. Imagine the difference this kind of momentum can have! This series there is a focus on ‘fast fashion’ as well as reducing food waste. Hopefully, the emphasis is on personal responsibility for the waste we create. We can never simply throw ‘away’ waste, it has to go somewhere, so the focus needs to be on sustainable purchasing.

There is a lot of talk about consumers being only focused on costs at present with inflation and interest rates impacting, rather than considerations such as sustainability. I really believe living more sustainable can be part of the solution. The actions our family and business make to be more sustainable assist with our expenses.

When shopping we try to choose what’s in season and so abundant, sometimes buying in bulk to preserve. We use glass containers rather than plastic wrap, so we can still see leftovers but don’t have the waste. We choose to make some items such as our Laundry Liquid which is much more cost effective and more sustainable. Our small veggie garden also helps.

Now it’s established, I find we are even relying less on buying seeds as some of our most popular produce, such as tomatoes, rocket and basil self-seed. Although I am constantly replanting tomato plants. I don’t know if it’s possums or birds but there is someone constantly planting tomato seeds in my garden hedge rather than the veggie patch, and it must be the perfect place to kick off seedlings.

Hopefully the upcoming focus will see a further shift towards Australians living more sustainably. I would love to hear any tips you have.

The Farmers Wife Distillery

I’m off to make another dehydrated lemon and honey tea, with the aim to be well before the weekend.

This weekend we are off to a friend’s farm to join a Winter Gin Festival at their distillery. It’s so exciting to see friends follow their dreams and achieve success, and The Farmers Wife Distillery is such a triumph. Kylie makes it look easy, however behind the scenes she has spent years painstakingly testing the distilling of native botanicals, many of which can be found on their farm. There have been many sleepless nights as she left her successful career to follow her dream to make gin and to build a distillery. Her determination to innovate and do things always her way is inspiring, and it’s reflected in her gin with unique botanicals such as her sustainably sourced the native bee honey. It’s so great to see her unique product recognised with so many international spirit awards. It just shows what commitment and passion can achieve.

Stay well and enjoy the winter months.

Mel

 

P.S. I’m excited to add that our new 5 litre Kitchen Caddy is now launched. Like our entire Kitchen Caddy range, it’s made in Australia from Post-Consumer Recycled content, such as discarded yogurt cartons, milk bottles and food packaging.

The clever compact design makes it perfect for smaller spaces such as kitchenettes, retirement and lifestyle villages and Multi-Unit dwellings. Suitable for use with our popular 8 Litre Compost-A-Pak bags, it means even the smallest households can conveniently collect their food waste for composting, as more City Councils offer FOGO programs. If your Council has not yet embraced FOGO reach out to them. Many City Councils are running trial programs presently, and the more community momentum for change there is, the better chance these programs have of thriving.

5L Compact Kitchen Caddy

Autumn Sauce Making and a visit to our local FOGO facility

I’m already sleeping better with the soft chill of Autumn coming through our window.

In simpler terms, this Autumn breeze signaled the start of the harvesting season, when the community prepared for the colder winder months ahead. It was a season to celebrate so much fresh produce ‘available’. We now live in a world modified by globalisation and technology where everything is ‘available’ all the time, however there is nothing better than eating fresh local produce which has been naturally grown during the season in which it thrives. You can taste the goodness.

 

We have been doing our own harvesting and preserving, to mark the start of the season, with a full weekend dedicated to making Grandma’s Tomato Sauce. Pete grew up helping and then indulging in this sauce during school holiday visits to Grandmas.

Our kids have now been involved in this ritual since they were tiny, and so it’s now built into the traditions of our family. Peter even inherited Grandma’s wooden sauce spoon. I’ve been told that’s because he used it the most, however there is a lot of speculation that this was because he needed more discipline than his other cousins. Grandma used to shake the spoon drawer whenever anyone was cheeky.

Be warned, this recipe is certainly a time commitment, however the process is fun, and the resulting sauce lasts for months. (Fresh tomatoes stored for winter). It also gives the gift of a slow family day at home where we can reminisce about Pete’s childhood and his gorgeous Grandma.

Of course the best thing to eat with this is Grandma’s pasties, however I can never get the pastry quite as good as hers. She did have a lot of practice. These were always made to be sent for lunch with the working men, who would have dirty hands, so could eat the pastie and then throw away the end corner. Convenient fast food without the plastic wrap… what an innovative modern idea!

 

On a different topic entirely, recently our team were fortunate to get an insider’s tour of our local FOGO compost processing facility. It was absolutely inspiring! The team arrived back at the office feeling even more motivated having seen the scale of difference FOGO is making in our community alone. It’s genuinely exciting to be a part of.

Whilst the technology is impressive, with finely tuned inputs and scientific monitoring, the processing plant is essentially allowing nature to take charge and do its magic, just like it has for millions of years.

The first step is a manual one in which contamination is removed. Be kind and check your FOGO bin for plastic bags and contamination, as there is a person like Larry at the other end who manually searches through and removes contamination. If in doubt about an item being compostable, choose the landfill bin.

Then after just one week in the tunnel, which accelerates the composting process, there was hardly any sign of the huge volumes of Compost-A-Pak bags which entered, nor many evident food products, apart from a few pieces of bone and sticks. After another 6 weeks finishing in rows, rich luscious compost is ready for farming and local community spaces. Nature really is magic!

Enjoy Autumn. I hope you get to enjoy a few slower days enjoying fresh seasonal produce.

Mel

 

Rocky Road Christmas Trees

Christmas Festivities – Our Rocky Road Trees Have Been Delivered

As we do each year, I’ve just spent the morning packing up our homemade Rocky Road Christmas Trees and dropping them off to all the people who have made our life both manageable and very memorable this year. From amazingly dedicated teachers who take so much time out of their own family life to support our kids, band leaders, neighbours, suppliers, logistics partners and team members.

Rocky Road Christmas Trees

They say it takes a village to raise a child, however it also takes a community to successfully run a family business. It’s uniquely a consuming, challenging and rewarding experience. We are so blessed to have an amazingly dedicated team, who have so much passion to see ‘our’ business thrive. We also ask a lot of our partners and suppliers. Deliberately, most of our suppliers are other Australian family businesses, and they consistently always embrace and deliver on our crazy new ideas.

I love coming to work each day to be emersed in the amazing community we have built, and I hope everyone knows how much Pete and I appreciate their contribution. We simply couldn’t do what we do without them.

Em and Indy Christmas Photos

 

So… it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Everyone has embraced Christmas dressing as a new work uniform, and the Christmas tree is up. Ellie also has Christmas Carols playing across all the speakers, although the warehouse speaker does seem to be getting ‘accidently bumped’ back to the radio station every so often! ?

At home we are busy preparing our traditional Christmas foods. We have our preserved baby cucumbers in the fridge ready for platters and Matt’s sweet chilli jam made for Christmas ham. We have also pulled out our gorgeous reusable wrapping paper for a third year in a row to wrap presents. It’s such a lovely tradition and a great way to help avoid the piles of single use paper associated with Christmas morning.

Re-usable wrapping paper, Chilli Jam and Pickled Cucumbers

We will be closed from 23rd December and reopening on 9 January to kick off another amazing year. We know it can be an inconvenience to have orders take a little longer, however this is a unique chance to give our team a break to spend this special time of year with their family and friends. I’m certainly planning on making the most of some really slow days relaxing by beautiful Lake Macquarie.

I hope you have a fabulous festive season however you choose to enjoy the sunshine it promises, and a happy and healthy 2023!

Thank you for your support of our special team and extended business community!

Mel

Home made Christmas Decorations

Spring Herbs

Spring Update

It’s spring! I’m always tempted to say it’s my favourite season, but the truth is, I love most the promise of change that each season brings, with new things to look forward to.

As the weather changes, so to does our family’s lifestyle with the shift from being rugged up on the soccer field cheering, to enjoying the fresh breeze as the kids learn to sail on the lake. Spring also brings the promise of entertaining, and a shift in cooking to fresher salads with raw ingredients.

This year I’m feeling particularly inspired by the herbs which are thriving in the spring garden. After hanging over the pot last year, our oregano has now escaped into the garden, with the mint and thyme not far behind. We even have basil re-emerging out of the compost where it flourished last year, and rosemary elegantly stretching down our rock retaining walls.

 

Spring Herbs Climbing in the Garden

 

If you are limited on space, or time, herbs are my favourite plants, with the biggest reward. I love cooking, and a few fresh herbs can transform the look and taste of simple produce.

My current seasonal favourites…

  • Fresh Minted Peas. Mint transforms frozen peas into a delicious bed for roasts.
  • Roast Pumpkin with Rosemary and Dukka. Amazing in salads, this even sneaks into kids’ salad wraps for school.
  • Creamy Thyme Chicken. A midweek favourite with the kids because of the flavour, and with me, because it’s so quick, I can help them with homework before bed.

Shallots… I just put this on everything. Peter jokes that nothing can leave the kitchen without “the green”. It just makes everything look and taste better!

You can read the full recipes here.

 

FOGO Kitchen Caddy and Liners

 

Speaking of change, it’s been a turbulent time for the compostable and FOGO (Food Organics Garden Organics) industry over the last couple of months. The NSW EPA has recently banned all food packaging from FOGO Programs, limited programs to Garden Waste, Food Scraps and Compostable Bags only. This surprisingly quick decision came as a result of testing which found elevated levels of PFAS and contaminants in compost in many commercial facilities. Contamination is perhaps not surprising when you consider how many green-washed products have flooded the market, often containing harmful chemicals and micro-plastics.

If you are composting at home, you can be a little more flexible with your included products, however I would recommend always checking for the Australian Certified compostable logos. In addition, even if items seem to be made of organic material, such as cardboard, avoid products with lots of colour and dye, or if they feel waxy. For now, those pizza boxes may be best in the Landfill Bin, as protecting your compost from contaminants will protect your precious garden soil.

Enjoy spring and happy composting as the weather warms up!

Mel

PS. Thank you to everyone who recommends our products. We have many new customers supporting our Australian Family Business, which has meant we have even employed two new trainees. Don’t forget, if you are recommending Compost-A-Pak, the code ‘friends’ provides a small discount to anyone who hasn’t ordered before.

 

Compost-A-Pak Herbs in Spring

Spring Gardening

Cooking With Spring Herbs

Spring Herbs Growing in the GardenI love cooking with fresh produce particularly when it’s been grown in our little garden.

Herbs are certainly my favourites! Even if you have limited space, or time, given the right spot, herbs can thrive without much care, and then when it comes to cooking, they can completely transform a dish.

I’ve included a few of my seasonal favourite recipes below. They all have a herb as the key ingredient, usually one which needs pruning at this time of year!

 

Minted Peas

This recipe transforms frozen peas into delicious, mashed bed for roast meats. I love the balance of flavours between the freshness of this dish, and the full flavour of the roast meat and vegies.

Ingredients
  • 400g Frozen Baby Peas
  • Half of a Brown OnionSpring Gardening and Cooking wtih Herbs
  • Tablespoon Butter (Or Nuttelex as a dairy free substitute)
  • Generous handful of Mint chopped well (Approx. 1/2 cup)
Method
  • Soften the Butter in a pan and add the Onions, cooking over low heat until translucent.
  • Add Baby Peas. Heat over low heat for 5 minutes, with the lid on to retain the moisture.
  • Then blend the mixture, or mash if you want a coarser appearance, and then stir through the chopped Mint leaves just before serving.
  • Generously season and serve.

 

Roast Pumpkin with Rosemary and DukkahRoast Pumpkin with Rosemary and Dukkah

This is a recipe I often cook on a Sunday afternoon in Spring, just to have in the fridge for the week. It’s amazing as an accompaniment to meat dishes, added to salads, and I even sneak it sliced into the kids’ salad wraps for school, making them more filling and tastier.

Ingredients
  • ¼ Pumpkin (Tip –  I usually purchase whatever is on sale, as when it’s plentiful it’s usually in season and fresher. Butternut and Queensland Blue pumpkins are favourites.)
  • 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 4 Cloves of Aussie Garlic
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • Bunch of Fresh Rosemary. (Set aside one sprig and finely chop to ½ Tablespoon)
  • 2 Tablespoons Dukkah
Method
  • Preheat your oven to 180.
  • Crush the Garlic to release the oils, and then place this into the Oil to fuse.
  • Cut the Pumpkin into chunks. I like to leave the skin on. It’s delicious and eliminates unnecessary food waste.
  • Place a little Oil on the bottom of the roasting pan, and add your Rosemary and Pumpkin, skin down. Sprinkle some Smoked Paprika overRoasted Pumpkin with Rosemary, Dukkah and Goats Cheese the Pumpkins. Use the remaining Oil and Garlic to coat the Pumpkins.
  • Roast at 180 degrees for approximately 40 minutes. I usually re-drizzle the Oil in the pan onto the Pumpkin after 20 minutes. (Tip – If you want me make this quicker, simply cut the Pumpkin into smaller cubes, shake in a little more Olive Oil to coat and cook at 220 for approx. 20 minutes, or until each cube is golden brown and soft when pieced with a fork. Taste testing recommended!)
  • Finely chop the remaining Rosemary and mix through the Dukkah. Sprinkle the pumpkin with the mixture when it’s still hot. The Rosemary sprigs on the tray infuse the Pumpkin with a lovely woody flavour. The small additional to the end adds a fresher flavour.
P.S. Studies have shown this woodsy scent helps with concentration and may boost moods! Perfect before the kids homework duty! ?

Added to a bed of greens with Goats’ Cheese and a splash of Red Wine Vinegar, this is my favourite salad!

 

Creamy Thyme Chicken

A midweek favourite with the kids because of the flavour, and with me, because it’s so quick I can help them with homework before bed.

IngredientsCreamy Thyme Chicken
  • 2 Large Chicken Breast
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter (Or Nuttelex for a dairy fee option)
  • 1 Onion
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • ½ cup Chicken Broth (Or White Wine if you have an open bottle ?)
  • 2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice (Freshly squeezed if possible)
  • 2 Teaspoon fresh Thyme Leaves and handful of sprigs to garnish
  • ½ cup Thickened Cream
  • Optional Parsley or Chives to garnish is you have them in the garden.
Method
  • Slice each Breast into serving pieces. I usually cut thirds however the key is to keep the even thickness. Coat the breasts in the Olive Oil and season.
  • Melt 1 Tablespoon of Butter over a medium-high heat and then add the Chicken in batches. Cook for approx. 3-4 minutes per side, so that it’s aCooking Creamy Chicken with Thyme lovely golden colour and cooked through. If unsure cut open one of the thicker pieces. Remove from pan.
  • Over medium heat, add extra Butter, Onion and Garlic until the Onion is translucent. (Approx. 3 minutes)
  • Add Chicken Broth (or wine), Lemon Juice and Fresh Thyme Leaves and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Stir regularly.

Tip – I remove a little of the sauce at this point and set aside with a chicken portion so I can feed the dairy free member of our family. It’s delicious even before the cream.

  • Over a low heat, add the Cream, stir well and add back in the Chicken including and juices which has escaped as they rested. Heat gently (low) for another 2 minutes and it’s ready to serve.
  • Garnish with the left-over Thyme, and any leftover Lemon pieces. Parsley or Chives are also a lovely addition for garnishing if they are handy.
  • I usually service this dish with rice, or mashed potato and some greens such as broccoli or beans.

 

ShallotsSpring Gardening and Cooking

 
So, this is not a recipe, but Shallots are certainly my favourite herb to grow. It looks gorgeous in pots and is easy to grow if you have sunny spot.

I just put this on everything… steak, salads, noodles, rice dishes and scramble eggs. Peter jokes that nothing can leave the kitchen without “the green”. It just makes everything look and taste better! Plus, it turns out shallots play a role in removing toxins from the bloodstream…. What’s not to love!!

Winter Update & Tips for a Busy Family Life

I’ve just arrived back in the office after a few days away with girlfriends.

After months of planning to coordinate the calendars of five busy working Mums (a near impossible process), we had a few days in the beautiful, chilly Blue Mountains. Huddled around the fire we shared stories and wine, comparing parenting adventures as we start to embrace the teenage years with kids, and encouraging each other as we spoke about our evolving lives.

Old friends are so precious, and after a few days, I feel completely reset, relaxed and ready to take on the world.

My life as it has evolved as a mum and business owner is certainly what Pete and I have designed, however in truth, it’s currently far busier than we would choose. Pete has been spending most winter weeks living away from home in Melbourne as we assist councils to kick off their FOGO programs. It’s really rewarding to see our composting programs for food waste expand across Australia. I would encourage you to contact your local council to discuss if a program is not yet in place.

Back in our Newcastle office our little team have been busy as more and more people and organisations make the switch from plastic bags to compostable bags, often prompted by the changing state legislation. I strongly believe the answer to our single use plastic challenges is not thicker plastic bags! Instead, we all need to make the switch to more sustainable options. As FOGO Programs expand, Australian Certified Compostable Bags are an even more compelling solution, with Singlet Bags and Produce Bags able to be re-used for food scraps before they are thrown out for composting.

At home, life with two kids often independently has its own set of challenges, however there are three tips that are keeping us all on track, our Sunday food prep, building in slow moments, and ensuring we accept letting some things go.

  1. I actually enjoy our Sunday Cook Up, and it means that even after the busiest school afternoons, we always finished the day with a lovey homemade meal, which in reality is simply a quick reheat. Winter cooking is perfect for prepping and freezing with soups and curries, however one of our current favourites is a Lamb Ragu which basically cooks itself. You can find the recipe here

2. Building a few slow moments in the busiest of days is also important. This season we had an abundance of lemons on our trees, which we dehydrated to preserve. I’ve been simply dropping a few of these in warm water each morning to kick start the day. It’s a comforting ritual as I start to wake up and plan the day, and I would like to think the vitamin C is boosting my immunity through the colder months.

3. Letting some things go… While, the kids do need consistent feeding and love, I do have to confess that my vegie garden is not looking its usual vibrant self. Every time we plant, the rain is so excessive that our little seedlings flood, which is disheartening, especially for the kids. We have temporarily let it go, although I do have a stash of leafy greens which we have grown in terracotta pots. These pots are quite inexpensive, drain really well, and can be moved, so are a little more versatile for the current crazy weather. The increasing prices of fresh greens when purchased is also a motivating factor. You can read our tips for growing leafy greens here. We source all our seeds from Greenpatch Organic Seeds & Plants who are passionate about preserving heritage / heirloom varieties and organic farming. The resulting produce is as tasty as what I remember being harvested from my grandfather’s vegie garden!

And with those thoughts, I’m feeling a little more motivated and may plan to get stuck into the vegie garden again this weekend… that is if any sunshine manages to sneak through the rain clouds.

Enjoy winter

Mel

Lamb Ragu

Every Sunday afternoon in winter, you will usually find me standing by the stove with my wooden spoon, large cast iron pots, and often a wine, engrossed in cooking. It’s a routine I really enjoy.

This year winter has been really busy for our family, and so our Sunday Cook Ups have been more important than usual. Being so prepared to kick off the week means even on the busiest of school nights, we can finish the day with a home cooked meal, even when it’s essentially just a re-heat! Luckily, winter cooking with soups and curries is perfect for cooking in bulk and freezing.

One of our favourite recipes at present, which the kids have been negotiating into our cook up nearly every week is my Lamb Ragu. It’s even more popular than spaghetti Bolognaise, and the best part, it basically cooks itself!

Ingredients

    • 120ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • 2 Organic Garlic Cloves
    • 2 Carrots, Finely Chopped
  • 2 Celery Stalks, Finely Chopped
  • 1 Onion, Finely Chopped
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 500g Boneless Lamb Shoulder, Trimmed and Cut into cubes
  • 2 400g Tined Tomato
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Garden Herbs, chopped finely (Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano)
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese to garnish
  • Shallots to garnish (optional)

Ragu Recipe

  • Heat the Olive Oil in a large pan over Medium Heat, and then add the Garlic, Carrots, Celery, Onion and Bay Leaves. Sauté for about 5 minutes until every thing softens. Remove this from the pan.
  • Turn up the heat and brown the Lamb. Then remove this from the pan as well.
  • Add a little water (Or juice from the Tinned Tomato) and boil.  This will deglaze the pan and release the flavours. 
  • Add everything back into the pot, including the Tomato’s and Herbs. Season, mix and bring to the boil.
  • Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Stir regularly for approximately 2.5 hours.

I’m terrible with timing so I simply check it each time I stir. You need to make sure that nothing sticks to the bottom, and that it remains moist, so you may need to add a little water if it has evaporated and looks likely to stick, or take off the lid if you think it’s too runny. It’s ready when the meat is really tender and easily falls apart. Definitely taste – test! 

Storage Tips

If you are freezing, make sure your Ragu is quite moist. Once cooled, simply place in some glass containers and freeze.

Ragu ‘Reheat’ Dinner

  • Cook pasta to the packet directions. Drain and then stir into the hot Ragu.
  • Serve with Grated Cheese and a sprinkle of Herbs and Shallots.

On our busiest school nights, I get the Ragu out in the morning if frozen, and let it defrost during the day. Then simply reheat in a pan while cooking the pasta in another pan. Then simply combine, add your garnish, and dinner is ready faster than ordering in! 

 

 

 

Garden Pesto

Garden Fresh Pesto

Garden PestoOur early Autumn Harvest this year has included an abundance of gorgeous shiny green basil. Inspired, we have tackled Pesto, and it has quickly become a favourite for family dinners. It’s the perfect meal for this time of year, when an early dinner means we can eat on the deck and enjoy the last of the warm afternoon sunsets.

It also means our abundance of Fresh Basil can be preserved and enjoyed throughout the next season.

Ingredients

  • 50 Basil Leaves. The newer small ones have the best flavour! 
  • 1 Large Organic Garlic Clove
  • Sea Salt
  • Tablespoon Pine Nuts (Roasted)
  • 3 Tablespoons of Freshly Grated Cheese -either all Parmesan, or if available 1 Tablespoon of Mild Pecorino and 2 Tablespoons of Parmesan
  • 3 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pesto RecipeFresh Pesto

  • Preheat oven to 180°C. Spread Pine Nuts over a baking tray and bake for a few minutes until lightly roasted. Once lightly roasted, remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 or so minutes. Toasting the Pine Nuts enhances their nutty flavour, however you can skip this to save time and simply add them fresh.
  • Gently wash and dry the Basil Leaves
  • Pound Garlic and Salt in the Mortar and Pestle using a circular motion
  • Add the Basil Leaves and continue pounding
  • Add the Pine Nuts, Cheese and a Tablespoon of Olive oil and continue pounding until everything is mixed and a nice creamy consistency. You made need to add another Tablespoon of Oil at this stage to get the right consistency.

Making Pesto in a Mortar and Pestle crushes the leaves of the basil and garlic cloves releasing the flavoursome oil. It also creates a lovely organic texture….. However, if you are making a large batch, or are pressed for time…I had an Easter Hat to finish for the parade… simply use a hand blender, following the steps in the order above. The results are similar.

Storage Tips

Place the Pesto into small glass containers and flatten the top, then add the additional Olive Oil. This acts as a seal, keeping the trapped pesto fresh.Food Storage Tips

We use recycled glass bottles such as caper bottles. Having the Pesto in a small jar which is essentially a family dinner serve keeps it fresher for each meal. The Pesto will stay fresh for up to a month in a fridge.

Pesto Dinner

  • Cook desired pasta as per the instructions on the packet.
  • Mix the pesto through the pasta once cooked and gently stir until combined. There is no need to add extra heat at this stage.
  • Serve with salt, black pepper, a squeeze of lemon and lots of freshly grated parmesan.

 

Fresh Produce

Winter Gardening

Winter Gardening – Three (well four) tips for Leafy Greens

Running a small business with a young family can be challenging; add in a major renovation and it’s chaos. As a result, months after the building dust has settled, it’s only now we have found time to establish our family vegie garden…. Yes, just in time for winter unfortunately!

My priority for our family vegie garden is always leafy greens. Lettuce and spinaches are a favourite to smuggle into sandwiches and meals. You can really taste the difference between fresh and store bought, which is probably linked to the fact that fresh produce such as spinach can lose up to half of its nutrients within a week of being picked. I also think the ‘modified atmosphere’ bagged greens use to keep items fresh sounds terrifying ?

My top three tips for Winter Leafy Greens

  • Mature compost, or worm tea is the secret ingredient, particular for a winter garden. This year having only just established the garden, we are still working to improve our soil, without the usual help from mature compost. I can really notice the difference with our young garden void of compost, compared to our previous patch, particularly in terms of soil nutrients and water retention. We eat a lot of fresh food, and so generate a lot of food waste. Composting is such an easy process and it means our food waste isn’t wasted as the nutrients all go back to nourish the soil for new crops. I usually add mature compost when the plants have approx. 4 leaves.

 

  • Spacing is really important. Planting seeds, particularly with kids, is a chaotic random process. Once the seeds have sprouted and have at least two small leaves I spread them out in our beds, to approx. 12 cm apart if possible. If they are overcrowded, you will end up with a smaller harvest overall, so if you have too many seedling, share with friends.

 

  • Mulching helps retain warmth and moisture in the soil and it also great at suppressing weeds. This is important as spinach in particular tends to have sensitive roots, so it often doesn’t like the soil being disturbed as weeds are pulled out nearby.

 

  • Actually one more tip!  When harvesting leafy greens, cut the outside leaves first right to ground level to get the most out of your season-long harvest.

 

This year’s harvest for us is not going to be a bumper crop, given we are still working on our soil quality. Even our carrots look quite…. unique, having being planted during flooding rain which compressed the newly filled planter beds.

Regardless, of the harvest, the benefits of getting into the dirt with the kids is significant. In fact, scientists have even discovered that the mycobacterium found in soil can improve brain function while boosting moods. Gardening with the kids, and enjoying our fresh food certainly makes me happy!

Winter Gardening Tips

Our Kitchen Caddy is now made of Recycled Bottles and Food packaging

Placing items such as milk bottles and food packaging into the recycling bin is something nearly all households now do in Australia, however I wonder how many people consider where their items will go next…

It is an important question, and one that our team, and family, are passionate about. The idea of treating our ‘waste’ as a ‘resource’ seems quite logical, particularly when you consider the impact sourcing virgin materials has on our environment. Purchasing mindfully, reusing and recycling is critical.

After significant investment, trials (and errors) and hours of research, we are really excited to announce that we are now contributing towards Australia’s Circular Economy, by making our Kitchen Caddies from our old milk bottles and food packaging.

Our new caddy is now made in Melbourne from 100% Post-Consumer Recycled content.

We have always used a proportion of recycled material, however like many businesses, the material often came from commercial sources and was mixed with virgin material. The traditional thinking was that this mix was required to ensure quality.

With deliberate sourcing through council MRFs (Material Recovery Facilities), we are now diverting items such as milk bottles and food packaging which are collected in roadside yellow bins in Melbourne, processing the material, and then using this material to manufacture new Kitchen Caddies. Saved from an endless life in Landfill, these products now have a second life helping people divert their food waste to compost, as FOGO (Food Organics + Garden Organics) rolls out across Australia.

After thousands of production runs for council FOGO programs, we are excited to say that the quality of our products is as fabulous as usual, and the only disadvantage is that depending on the batch, we can’t always achieve the bright white finish. With a gorgeous new Woodland Grey Caddy now available that hardly seems a concern. Let’s hope more businesses make the switch to Post Consumer recycled content, allowing Australia’s circular economy to continue to expand.

You can purchase the new Woodland Grey Compost-A-Pak Caddy on this link.