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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 favorite 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! 

 

 

 

FOGO bins

‘It doesn’t require a lot of effort’: Sydney council’s food recycling trial extended

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Our team have been promoting Food Composting Programs for multi-unit dwellings for such a long time, and are really excited to be working with local Sydney Councils, who are proving how easily it can be done!
This article was originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Pictured is our Kitchen Caddy customised specifically for the trials, and Australian Certified Compost-A-Pak® liners. This Kitchen Caddy has been made in part of Recycled Material (Milk Cartons, food containers etc)  collected in Council Roadside Recycling programs.

When Erin Clay moved into an apartment, the last thing she wanted to do was contribute to landfill by throwing food waste into the rubbish bin.

So Ms Clay, of Potts Point, was quick to join the City of Sydney’s kitchen recycling trial.

Erin Clay recycles her food scraps under a City of Sydney program. 
Erin Clay recycles her food scraps under a City of Sydney program. CREDIT:JACK CROSSING

“We’ve never really had compost solutions for inner-city living, so I think it’s good when you don’t have a backyard and can’t do it yourself,” she said.

She was familiar with the trial, having initially joined while living in a share house.

The city’s food scraps recycling initiative would be expanded to more than 21,000 households this year, a City of Sydney spokesperson said.

The council provides a small kitchen caddy, a supply of compostable caddy liners and a food scraps bin to residents.

Lord mayor Clover Moore said: “An average Australian family throws out an astonishing $3500 or more worth of food every year, amounting to about one tonne of food waste.

“With approximately 8 per cent of our total greenhouse gas emissions generated by waste, it is vital that we divert as much waste from landfill as possible.”

While other Sydney councils have a combined food and garden organics waste service, the City of Sydney said this option was unworkable given the city’s large proportion of apartment dwellers. In 2021, the council will be assessing more permanent food organics recycling solutions.

“Preliminary results indicate the trial is on track to success, with good recovery and participation rates, low bin contamination, high customer satisfaction, and delivery of multiple environmental benefits,” the council said.

In Woollahra Council, residents can get a free kitchen caddy and caddy liners. “Our residents can create compost simply by placing their scraps into their green-lid bin,” a council spokesperson said.

Woollahra operates under the Food Organics and Garden Organics system facilitated by the NSW Environment Protection Authority. It allows for the disposal of food and garden organics in a combined system that converts food waste to compost and fertilisers.

Penrith City Council has been part of the program for 10 years and Randwick will join in 2021.

 

“It doesn’t require a lot of effort, but you’re still doing something good for the environment,” Ms Clay said.

Having experienced a more specific waste disposal system while living in Japan, Ms Clay believes it’s a matter of education just as much as an issue for councils.

“I think that Australians have a really limited knowledge of where things go … people put coffee cups in the recycling,” she said, calling for more education and accountability, as well as consistency across councils.

The City of Sydney continues to recruit apartment buildings for the food scraps trial.

Nana’s Pickled Cucumbers

I remember vividly standing on a stool to reach Nana’s kitchen bench as I ‘helped’ her with preserves. Nana and Pa loved Christmas. Presents were ready for us to investigate in secret months before, carols played throughout December and rather than writing names on tags, Pa would create rhyming poems about each person so we had to guess who the gift was for.

They are memories I treasure, and I love to find time to make preserves for the Christmas period to continue such family traditions. This recipe is my favourite! To confess, that’s mainly because it is so quick and easy that I can either involve the kids, or do it quietly in the limited time after they go to bed. It also works really on platters when entertaining before Christmas, and it is amazing with left over Christmas Ham!

Pickled Cucumbers

  • 1kg Small Cucumber (I like to make a few large jars)
  • 1 Bunch Dill Leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon Peppercorns
  • 1 Teaspoon Yellow Mustard Speeds
  • Between 1/2  – 1 cup White Wine Vinegar*
  • Between 3 cups – 6 cups water*
  • Between 3 – 6 Tablespoons Sea Salt*

 

Four Easy Steps for Pickling

Before you start you will need to sterilise your jars. I used to two 850ml Glass Jars. To sterilise, I find it easiest to simply place the jars into a deep saucepan, cover with water and then bring the water to the boil as I prepare everything. The jars are obviously very hot, so take extra care when removing, and filling the jars.

  1. Wash your Cucumbers, dry and cut. I like to quarter mine longways, as I think they look their best, however you can cut into slices for a more traditional result if you prefer
  2. Combine 1/2 cup White Wine Vinegar, 3 cups water and 3 Tablespoons Salt into a saucepan and bring to boil*
  3. Layer the Cucumber, Dill Leaves,  Peppercorns and Mustard Seeds into jars
  4. Pour the hot mixture over the jar contents and seal the jar immediately. *The amount of Vinegar, Water and Salt you require will vary dramatically depending on the jar size and design, and how closely packed the cucumbers are. If your jars don’t fill to the top, simply boil extra Vinegar, Water and Salt to the same relative quantities until you have enough to fill the jars to the brim.

Your Pickles Cucumbers will be ready to eat after a week, and will continue to get better for up to 6 months. Store the jar at room temperature until opened, and then once opened in the fridge to stay fresh. The jars will last up to 6 months unopened, and a few weeks in the fridge once opened. (Although they never last that long in our house!)

We would love to hear your favourite food traditions for the festive summer period.

We will be spending the season enjoying Nana’s Pickled Cucumbers and Matt’s Chill Jam,  as we gather together under our native Christmas Tree, and for the first time, share presents we have wrapped with our Handmade Reusable Wrap. I can’t wait!

Matt’s ‘borrowed’ Chilli Jam Recipe

A few years ago, one of our gorgeous team members Natasha missed our Christmas Party, and so she came to visit with her family over holiday period so we could celebrate the year together. Natasha arrived with a festive cheese platter, including a bright red jar of her husband’s Chilli Jam. I was addicted immediately, and eventually managed to get my hands on the recipe. Since that Christmas, Matt’s Chilli Jam is always in our fridge. It’s so easy to make, that you can do it while cooking dinner, and it transforms cheese platters, meals and my Sunday Eggs into a feast!

With permission, I’ve listed the recipe below.

Matt’s Chilli Jam

  • 5 large Red Capsicums (Seeded and Chopped ready for blending)
  • A handful of Chilli’s (Homegrown if possible) Matt recommends 3 Bird eye Chilli’s and 1 Habanero.
  • 8 Garlic Cloves (Peeled) Aussie Grown if Possible
  • 12cm Ginger Root (Peeled and Chopped ready for Blending)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
  • 2 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 1 1/3 Cups Organic White Vinegar
  • 2 Bay Leaves

 

Four Easy Steps

  1. Placed the Capsicum, Chilli’s, Ginger and Garlic in a food processor and blend until finely chopped.
  2. In a large saucepan, combined this mixture with the Sugar, Salt, Vinegar and bar leaf. Bring to the boil.
  3. Simmer for approx. 40-50 minutes, stirring regularly and removing any surface scum. To check if it’s ready, you can lift the mixture with the back curve of a spoon to see if it has thickened.
  4. Remove the Bay Leaf. Pour into sterilised jars and seal immediately.

Once cool, I then store these jars in the fridge waiting for visitors!

We would love to hear your favourite recipes or any tips you have for catering for unexpected guests over Christmas without risking an increase in food waste if people don’t drop in.