All posts by Celia

Valley Cheesemakers joined by Slow Food Saddleback members

Date of the Event or Workshop: -

Happy Saddlebackers creating fetta
Happy Saddlebackers creating fetta
Judith, Mary and Steve
Judith, Mary and Steve

Last Sunday, 27 August, Celia Wade, Judith Ball, and Steve and Mary Anderson attended a wonderful Basic cheesemaking workshop held by the Valley Cheesemakers at the Kangaroo Valley Hall. We all collected at 8.30 am on a cold morning wearing aprons and hygienic caps, and bringing with us draining containers, wooden spoons and cooler bags to prepare to make and take home our product from the day.

The teachers including our member Jan Watson, were professional and very informative. Delicious morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea kept us going while we measured, tasted and cooked up our basic cheeses. Everything needed to produce our cheeses was provided, milk and starters, hoops and other equipment.

We achieved delicious results – feta, haloumi, chèvre and ricotta, with generous portions to take home. Tastings were also included – marscapone, sour cream, quark and labneh, and an assortment of more advanced cheeses made by our teachers as part of lunch.

A very professional and rewarding day that will lead to home production of these wonderful products using local milks, and a desire to attend more advanced classes in the future.

Celia at the haloumi pan
Celia at the haloumi pan

Citrus festival at Gerringong Public School

Date of the Event or Workshop: -

The original school orchard was planted on National Tree Day in July 2015, sponsored by Slow Food Saddleback (SFS). The trees are thriving and at the celebration of a year on held 5 August Slow Food donated another tree, and joined the primary school community for the tree planting, followed by sampling of many things citrus!! Cakes, biscuits and marmalade topped the tasty list of goodies.

Carolyn Evans from SFS put together a citrus recipe collection that will be a great guide when all those trees are laden with nutritious fruit. Michael and Beverley Blythe presented the School’s Acting Principal Lisa Morris with a grow your own fruit and vegetable reference book for the library.

The partnership between SFS and the school is valuable and promotes Slow Food principles. The School Gardening Grubs will continue to work with us to promote good eating habits and community participation in food production.

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What is happening at the national level – Celia Wade Slow Food Saddleback Convivia leader

Date of the Event or Workshop: -

Slow Food Australia formed a working group at the last Conference in Ulladulla late last year. The aim is to increase membership, provide more information both for members and the general public, and streamline and encourage the Ark of Taste process.

The group has been hard at work with monthly telephone meetings, and communication and working party meetings in between.

As leader of Slow Food Saddleback convivium, I am on that group and am amazed by the amount of information we have dealt with, and the work involved with preparation for the 2016 Terra Madre Salone de Gusto in Turin, Italy later this year. Obviously trying to budget for web site development,  membership kits and getting both product and Chefs and producers to Turin in September is upfront at present.

I can only congratulate the chair of the group Deb Bogenhuber from Mildura for keeping us on track and moving forward. Of course she is also heavily involved with planning for this year’s Conference in Mildura in November – I would recommend you attend if possible, it will be a stimulating, fun and good eating event. More details later, so follow the web site for updates.

I don’t want to bore you with detail, but I am aware that some of our members are very keen to know more about the International body and its purposes. In my next post I will update you on some of the International activities.

But here is how the Australian organisation works!

Slow Food Australia governance structure

Members

  • Paid-up members of Slow Food – elect national working group and leadership group membership at national conferences.
  • A portion of membership fees remains with the local convivium, the majority goes to supporting international projects and activities, and a portion goes to national activities, through Slow Food international.

Working groups

  • Elected by members at national conferences.
  • Between conferences, responsible for working on particular areas specified by the leadership group at a national level to progress the aims of Slow Food in Australia.
  • Some working groups include representation from Slow Food International or are concerned with international aims/projects, others are focused on Slow Food in Australia.
  • Report to leadership group.

Leadership group

  • Elected by members at national conference.
  • Between conferences, responsible for setting strategic direction of Slow Food in Australia, including for national working groups.
  • Report to members.

Australian Councillor

  • Nomination process unclear; elected at international congress. The leadership group is progressing this at present.
  • Between international congresses, act as conduit between Slow Food matters and activities in Australia, and international direction.
  • Report to leadership group on relevant Slow Food international matters.
  • Report to Slow Food international on Slow Food activity in Australia.
  • Represent Slow Food Australia at international events.

International Liaison

  • Employed by Slow Food international.
  • Point of contact between Slow Food International and Slow Food Australia, through the leadership group.

Ark of Taste Commission

  • Appointed by the leadership group.
  • Responsible for assessing nominations for Ark of Taste products in Australia, which are forwarded by Slow Food international.
  • Responsible for providing advice and feedback to the nominating person/convivium to assist in getting nominations approved.
  • Report to the leadership group through the Ark of Taste national working group.

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2016

This event is Turin later this year will have about 25 delegates from Australia, with food and other activities represented each day. I will update you on the plans in my next letter, but it is exciting to see Australian farmers and chefs being sponsored by local Slow Food convivia and able to bring Australia to this prestigious event.

 

 

What’s news with Slow Food Saddleback, in the garden and using fresh seasonal produce

Date of the Event or Workshop: -

WHAT’S IN SEASON – April 2016

As we move towards the end of summer, there is still the abundance of summer vegetables available, masses of different varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, zucchinis, as well as so many greens – lettuce, kale, silverbeet and chard. The cooler weather is bringing delights such as some delicious Berlotti beans, fennel and golden as well as red beetroot, celeriac and fennel. Many are coping with masses of basil at the end of the season and still there is an abundance of chillies and herbs. New season very early local ginger and Jerusalem artichokes are just appearing In our area, while any olives which the birds have left, are ready to pick and pickle for later. New season potatoes such as Dutch creams, Kiffler, Sebago and Maranka are now available. Look out for the first pine and other types of mushrooms as the days get cooler.

There are now many varieties of new season apples appearing, including the later Pink Lady and Granny Smith and various heritage varieties. Nashi pears, pears and quinces as well as crabapples and strawberry quavas, will keep us busy making delicious jellies and tarts. It is prime season now for juicy figs, which will finish shortly but also for rhubarb, pomegranites and custard apples, all of which have a short season. All types of melons are delicious at present. The first early season mandarins are available but thankfully limes and lemons are much cheaper than a few months ago.

Autumn is a prime time for seafood with fish such as slimy mackerel, King George whiting, tuna both yellow fin and albacore being especially abundant and delicious at present. Even sea mullet is good and can be cooked and smoked to give a delicious reasonable meal, high in omega 3 oils Southern calamari and oysters from Merimbula are available as well as a variety of crabs from South Australia.

Pork, ham and bacon are the best buys at present of all the red meats, with both lamb and beef remaining expensive as farmers have reduced stock as the pastures dry following long dry spells. However after many lean years, farmers are realising good prices for their animals. Free range chicken is reasonably priced and a variety of game birds are available now.

The summary below gives some information about Meat Standards Australia and their means of assessing beef and lamb so that the consumer can be sure of the quality of the meat and buy the right cut for the dish they wish to prepare. Check it out and look for the logo when you next buy beef or lamb, those butchers selling these products will have them clearly marked.

The recipe below is delicious and easy and uses several ingredients in season at present.

Pepper and fennel-crusted tuna with figs

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 720g sashimi-grade piece tuna fillet
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 small figs, quartered
  • 5 cups mizuna* or wild rocket
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

Method

  • On a tray, combine fennel seeds with 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Trim the tuna and halve lengthways to create 2 long logs. Coat pieces all over in the fennel mixture, then cover and leave at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frypan over high heat. When very hot, add tuna and cook for about 3 minutes, turning to brown all over. The tuna should be seared on the outside and very rare in the centre.
  • Combine the figs and mizuna or rocket in a bowl with lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of oil.
  • Slice tuna thinly and toss through the salad. Serve with lemon wedges.

BUYING MEAT

The summary below gives some information about Meat Standards Australia and their means of assessing beef and lamb so that the consumer can be sure of the quality of the meat and buy the right cut for the dish they wish to prepare. Check it out and look for the logo when you next buy beef or lamb, those butchers selling these products will have them clearly marked.

MEAT STANDARDS AUSTRALIA

Meat Standards Australia (MSA) is a grading system proven to take the guess work out of buying and cooking Australian beef and lamb. All products identified with the MSA symbol have met strict criteria to ensure they achieve consumer expectations for tenderness, juiciness and flavour. A cut of beef or lamb meets the MSA standard it is cut to, or labelled with a recommended cooking method which confirms that cut has achieved the standard for eating quality, when prepared by the recommended cooking method.

How the MSA grade is calculated

MSA certified graders collate information provided from the producer with a number of attributes measured on each carcase, for beef cattle these include; meat colour, marbling, fat depth, carcase weight, maturity and ultimate pH. This information is entered into a hand held data unit containing the MSA grading model which generates an eating quality grade for each cut based on a specific cooking method.

Integrity of the system

All participants in the supply chain from the producer through to transport, abattoir and butcher, are licensed to use the MSA symbol. There is a complete traceability from paddock to plate. If the symbol is used at the point of purchase the retailer or restaurateur must have an approved Quality Management System that meets requirements set out in the MSA Standards Manual. Licensees are subject to a random audit for compliance to the standard, while the MSA standards are audited against the AS/NZS ISO 9001/2008 Standard.

Production of MSA graded beef and lamb

Production and management practices are key factors that influence the eating quality potential of cattle, sheep and lambs. Below is a summary of these key factors, their impact and how they are measured to identify consistent quality beef and lamb.

Breed

All breeds are eligible for MSA grading.  However, research shows that breed can impact the eating quality of certain cuts.  An assessment of breed content is made prior to processing.

Nutrition and growth

Cattle and sheep must be finished on a rising plane of nutrition to ensure adequate growth and sufficient muscle glycogen levels prior to processing. Glycogen is a measure of an animal’s energy reserves.  Adequate nutrition and minimal stress during handling results in high muscle glycogen which leads to optimal pH and meat colour compliance at grading.

Handling and Transport

Livestock must be handled in a manner that minimises stress during mustering and transport. Stress is a major contributor to a condition that results in dark, tough beef.

 Grading a Carcase

Production inputs are combined with carcase attributes to develop a MSA grade for a specific cut of beef or lamb. Specific carcase attributes and they importance are summarised below.

Meat Colour

The colour of the rib eye muscle is assessed and scored against a nationally approved standard. Meat colour is a leading indication of meat quality as dark beef is known to be tough and unacceptable.

MSA Marbling

Marbling is a measure of intramuscular fat and a lead indicator of flavour and tenderness. The rib eye muscle is assessed to calculate the amount and distribution of marbling against the MSA standard.

External Fat Distribution

An even fat coverage assists uniform carcase chilling which influences tenderness. The thickness of rib fat is measured at a standard location; it must be at least 3mm to meet the MSA standard. External fat must also be evenly distributed over the loin, hind and forequarters.

Ultimate pH

pH is the measurement of lactic acid in the muscle. It is a key indicator of eating quality and is measured by inserting a pH probe into the eye muscle. Only carcases with the optimum pH level achieve an MSA grade.

Maturity

Maturity is measured in beef cattle by assessing the amount of cartilage that turns to bone along the spine. It describes how quickly the animal has grown and is a lead indictor of beef tenderness. A lamb is determined by the AUS-MEAT classification based on the number of permanent teeth it has at the time of processing.

Reading Carton labels

All MSA graded beef and lamb is identified on the carton end panel with the prefix MSA. The label must state;

  • Cooking method
  • The MSA Grade – MSA 3, 4 or 5 star for cattle and MSA for sheepmeat
  • and ageing requirement in days e.g. MSA 3 roast @ 5 days

MSA product must not be sold to consumers before it reaches the MSA ageing requirement shown on the carton label. To do this check the date it was packed on or the carcase ticket for the date of processing and calculate forward for a release date. All MSA products require a minimum ageing period of 5 days. The MSA standard for beef can be met by a number of ageing requirements up to 35 days. The ageing requirements for beef change depending on the cut.

How to Identify a MSA Primal

All MSA vacuum packed beef, lamb and sheepmeat products must be identified with either a heat printed MSA logo on the bag, an MSA insert or approved  MSA brand insert. In the absence of an approved insert or bag logo the product cannot be sold as MSA.

Carolyn Evans

 Autumn In the veggie garden.

To prepare for the coming autumn, start clearing the veggie beds of the summers flagging tomatoes, eggplants, cucumber and zucchinis, however if you have  pumpkins not quite ready to harvest, work around them!

The beds will then be refreshed with some compost, chicken poo, soil and mulch and be ready to plant the next crops after the next local markets where you can obtain healthy seedlings. Thanks to http://www.gardenate.com Helen will plant the recommended selection below over the next 3 months.

Plant Garlic March/April in well-drained soil with good organic matter and manure, keep watering through spring, harvesting in summer.

(with the exception of Strawberries which should be planted in April these can all go in over the 3 months of autumn) beans, broad beans, green beans, beetroot , broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, endive, fennel, garlic, kale, leeks, lettuce, onions, peas, radish, rocket, shallots, silver beet, english spinach, turnips & swedes.

May planting: The warm temperate climate on the South Coast allows us to grow a variety of vegies over the winter months. Vegies to plant in May are asian greens, asparagus crowns, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, garlic, kale, leek, lettuce, onion, peas, radish, silver beet, spinach & turnip & herbs such as coriander, oregano, rocket, sage, thyme, and of course sow some more strawberries.

Happy Planting Helen Attwater