Slow Food Saddleback News

Lunch at the Schoolhouse with Dr Pia Winberg

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Earlier this month 36 members and friends were treated to a fabulous lunch created by Kirsten McHugh of the Gerringong Schoolhouse using Dr Pia Winberg’s Phyco Food Co. Seaweed products produced in the Shoalhaven. Pia uses a bi-product from the Manildra plant to grow the seaweed and explained how pre-biotic fibre and Omega 3 is very beneficial to our gut health and how gut health is instrumental  in our general health. Pia gave a very informative talk on her recent Bio Belly research and these results are in the process of being written up for publication in scientific journals.  She also talked about the research she has undertaken with the Nowra Prison inmates and the Omega 3 deficiencies she found in this study.  She has now branched out into a commercial venture marketing Phyco  Food Co.* products online The seaweed pasta was nominated at the National Food Awards in Melbourne recently.

Jack, Kirsten and Pia
The Schoolhouse at Gerringong is a great venue for this type of event.
The Schoolhouse at Gerringong is a great venue for this type of event.


Kirsten’s imaginative house made menu included Phukka* dusted grissini and crackers with Phycotein*spiced Schoolhouse Haloumi for starters, then the most delicious entree of eggplant and wakami wontons in a spiced wakami broth.  The main course consisted of a tasty nori and nettle gnocchi and served with a nori-enriched beef ragu (beef from Helen and Bernard’s Eagleview Farm at Foxground) and a crisp salad of cabbage, fennel, lemon and Australian Ulva.  Dessert was Schoolhouse Yoghurt Pannacotta with Davidson plum syrup and delicate seaweed dusted meringue. It was a very busy day for Kirsten, however she managed to introduce us to each dish.  Kirsten’s cheeses and yoghurt products are available through Greenbox each week at



It was wonderful to share this event with the orignial founders of Slow Food Saddleback, Kirsten McHugh and Jack Timbs. Oh! and I almost forgot, (kidding) Jack gave a  well researched and very entertaining introduction to Pia on the day.

Thank you Pia, Kirsten and Jack, we hope we can share another event in the near future.


Kiama Community Garden – Soup Kitchen

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Keep Saturday 30th July FREEEEEE.

Slow Food Saddleback will join forces for a day in Kiama’s Community Garden.  We will enjoy hearty soups made fresh from the garden and hopefully some freshly baked bread from the pizza oven.

This event supports the Community Garden’s fundraising  for a toilet at the garden. We will be asking for donations on the day.

Kiama Farmers Market – Seniors Week Cooking Demo

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Kiama Farmers Market invited Slow Food to participate in the Seniors Week festivities on 6th April. We decided to focus on “end of summer corn” We prepared lots of corn on the cob and corn fritters  from Bill Granger’s recipe served with an avocado and finger lime salsa and a tamarillo chutney.

Look for the recipe in the recipe section.

(Corn is a particularly good example of the importance of the Slow Food Movement. After reading the Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, his description of GM corn and its impact on farming communities in the USA inspired me to join Slow Food Saddleback. He describes the importance of diversity, thinking and questioning farming methods used in food production today) Its worth the read to help you grasp the  SLOW in the Slow Food Movement.


Celebrity Chef James Reeson of WIN TV Alive and Cooking entertained the crowds by cooking a selection of market produce during the afternoon.

cooking demo crowd

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

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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


  • 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

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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


  • 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


  • 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.


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 (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.


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 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 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




Earth Hour Pizza Night

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Twenty members and friends enjoyed a fun evening at the Berry home of Judith and David Ball on March 19th. We shared the evening with their grand daughter and her friends to celebrate a belated 13th Birthday.  It was a fun evening and the pizza concoctions were amazing.


Judith and David guided us through their secrets of pizza making from the dough, topping and cooking process. David walked us through his productive vegetable garden and we sampled his home brewed beer that he has perfected over many years.


This was a very special evening and we hope we are invited back. We could maybe have a pizza competition.  Judith and David could be the judges.


Thank you Judith and David from all who attended.

Paella Fiesta

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Slow Food Members and Friends enjoyed a tasty seafood paella day on February 28th, to see in the end of summer.


Daniel and Margarita from Oscars Deli at Warrawong guided the group to make the paella from beginning to end.  It was a lot of fun especially when Murray’s sangria and the tapas were passed around the busy workers.  The tapas included some chorizo and spanish style jamon produced in Sydney. Helen made a tasty marinated fish tapas dish as well.  Beverly did a great job setting the Spanish theme in the Gerringong Town Hall.  Dessert was  delightful spanish cream pots with slices of locally grown tamarillo.

Trisha Ashelford, the coordinator of the Kiama  Farmers Market gave an informative chat about the workings of the Farmers Market, the growth in the two years its been operating and it’s success in pulling the local community together each Wednesday afternoon was applauded. She works really hard in her role and it is good that Slow Food Saddleback can help with special events like the up coming Seniors Week Market on the 6th April where we will showcase locally grown produce.

A  day full of fun and learning for everyone.


Looking forward to our next event EARTH HOUR at the home of Judy and David Ball for homemade pizza on 19th March 2016


2016 Slow Food National Meeting – Mildura

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The National Conference in Mildura will be a fantastic event if you can organise a few days in this very interesting food area of Victoria, amongst the grape vines.

Save the Date – November 17 – 20,  2016  more details soon

Good Food Month Market Day

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Celia and Ronnie had lots of inquisitive people visit the special Sunday Market Stall.  Once again the Warrigal  Greens Pesto was featured as a local foraged treat for visitors to sample.  The  Kiama Market  supported SMH Good Food Month  as a special regional event.

Slow Food Saddleback Stand at Kiama Farmers Market

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Celia and Vicki had a stand at the Kiama Farmers Market on Wednesday.  It was very successful and lots of people questioned what Slow Food Saddleback is about?  We enticed locals with a small sample of a Warrigal Greens (NZ Spinach or Cook’s Cabbage)

Bush Tucker  Pesto.  Here is Vicki’s recipe!


Take 1 prepared cupful of Warrigal Greens (prewashed, dipped in boiling water for 1 minute and quickly cooled in a bowl of iced water then drained/squeezed well) It’s very important to cook it first!

1 generous cup of any garden herbs (washed and drained) I used garlic chives, coriander, parsley and rocket.  Basil would be nice too.

Place greens in a food processor with 1 or 2 cloves of garlic (I like to precook in boiling water for a few minutes to take away the bitterness) and process with

1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 cup of walnuts (any nuts ok), a pinch of salt and or sugar to your taste and juice of lemon.  Capers are a very nice addition too. Parmesan is another alternative.

I serve it on pasta, toast, potatoes or a cracker. Delicious!


Green Going for Local Kids

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Gerringong Public School will share in $35,000 for sustainability projects thanks to the Jemena Junior Landcare Sustainability Grants. The idea behind funding was to support schools and youth groups projects in making a positive difference to the environment and educating young people about energy safety and efficiency.  The school had to put forward a creative proposal of how they would use the money under the theme of living, growing and exploring sustainability. The Garden Grubs are purchasing a native bee hive for their garden.

GPS watering garden (1)GPS oranges flowering

Penny Rushby-Smith designed this garden. She and her father Leon Sadubin have an exhibition ‘From the Tidal Zone’ featuring Penny’s artwork alongside furniture made by her father.  Check out the exhibition 31st October to 8th November, 10am-4pm at unit 7/11 Bergin Street, Gerringong .

Celeriac – Carolyn’s recipes for the most ugly vegetable!

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Celeriac is related to the celery and parsley family though it is much bigger. It looks like a root but it is a corm or enlarged stem with brown warty skin, white flesh and a pungent flavour. It has long been used in French and Middle Eastern cuisines but is not widely widely used here.

Cut celeriac goes brown quickly so add pieces to acidulated water as they are prepared. Thickly peel off all the warty skin and cut into suitable sized pieces and place in the water.

Thick slices can be baked, roasted or made into chips.

A delicious salad can be prepared by cutting into thin julienne slices, then tossing with a dressing and some creme fraiche and parsely. Similarly it can be shredded into mayonnaise and parsley added to give a delicious dip.

Celeriac makes a delicious puree to serve with pork or chicken. Cut into slices and cook in butter until soft. Add cream and simmer gently till cooked, Puree the mix. You may like to add some truffle oil or shave truffle to serve.

Carolyn Evans

Gerringong Public School Food Orchard

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What’s a Panama Berry?”Where do we plant it?’ ‘How big does it get?’What does it taste like?’ Such were the questions we heard as we visited Gerringong Public School on 24th July, National Tree Day.

The Food Orchard was the brain-child of parent Penny Rushby-Smith and Slow Food Saddleback, with the aim to encourage students to find out where their food comes from, how it grows and to experience growing and nurturing their food, ideals in keeping with Slow Food’s ideals of educating people in using good, clean, sustainably and ethically produced food. The site chosen was on a north facing slope at the back of the school. Penny and a team of enthusiastic parents, had previously held a working bee, following her carefully managed plans, to weed and dig holes and prepare for the planting with manure and mulch as well as constructing a partial fence to protect from wayward playground balls.

Each class is to care for a particular plant so on National Tree Day, throughout the day, classes came to the orchard to plant their tree which was then labelled with tree name and class name. In the afternoon, representatives from each class and members from Slow Food Saddleback, who had purchased the plants, joined the headmistress as she declared the orchard open, followed by afternoon tea.

Slow Food Saddleback members hope that this will be a sustainable project and appreciate the opportunity to work with children in our community.


Penny Rushby-Smith (L) and her happy band of helpers.