Cooking & Eating with Integrity

I'd love to know what you think, so let me know via email at whatithink@laurafaire.co.nz - most informative email will win a box of local seasonal vegies.

As a member of a society privileged enough to have choice in what I consume, I try to work with and write only about food that I have researched and thought about.  I understand that I am lucky to be able to do this.

Therefore from the position of known privilege I would like to offer my gratitude to companies in my community who are fighting the good fight for sustainability, transparency in packaging, place of origin, ingredient authenticity and a little bit of love.

Having worked in the food industry for many years I realise how hard it is not to buckle under the pressure of adding preservatives to give products longer shelf life, increase volume or just make things look and taste a little brighter than they should. Whenever I feel lost in the jungle off modern food I like to think of what esteemed food writer Michael Pollan says in his book In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto "Eat food, not too much", and to paraphrase him if I may  - if it doesn't rot - we shouldn't eat it.

Local Companies I Admire:

Kokako
Chantal Organics
Huckleberry Farms
West Lynn Butcher - 440 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn, Auckland 09 3761439
Epicurean Supplies
Allpress Coffee
Koanga Institute
Weleda NZ (not  truly local but they have gardens here)
Olivado Oils

Not all of the products supplied by these guys are grown locally, but there is so much more to great food ethics than dogedly buying local food. When I researched the concept of local food for my work with SHOP LOCAL EAT WELL, I came to understand that speciality growing regions around the world are of huge value to a world market just as New Zealander export is obviously important to our economy.

It is vital to support our local businesses, to encourage diversity in our growing and to choose not to support cruel, or unsustainable practices with our wallets, however not having access to international inspiration would be a travesty and for many emerging nations (see reports from G5 summit) an insular purely local model would spell disaster for many in our one world.

In saying all of that, where the concept of local food is of immense value is with fresh produce, eating an orange that is flown in from Australia seems ridiculous when the one next to it (if in season) is cheaper, tastes better and most likely arrived more recently from Northland, Auckland or The Bay of Plenty.  Personally I only eat seasonal food, the upshot of this is that although I will have to wait another fortnight for a NZ Tangelo when the Australian ones are already in the shops, when I get it, I will savour it,  I can be assured that I am receiving the goods (nutrient wise) from the soil at the time of the year my body needs it, I am not paying for outlandish av-gas and my few cents of levy go back into my local citrus community.

Thats it really, thats what I think about it all.  I'd love to know what you think, so let me know via email at whatithink@laurafaire.co.nz - most informative email will win a box of local seasonal vegies.

Caramelised Pumpkin & Leek Lasagne and a raw salad



This months Good Morning appearance was more of a comedy of errors than a straight cooking slot, although it was great fun - for those of you who would actually like to cook the recipes, here they are:

Homemade Wholemeal Lasagne Sheets 
Time: 20 mins
Makes: enough for 2 lasagnes (20cm square dish)
Costs: $3.70 per batch using organic ingredients

Tipo "00" is a fine-grade wheat flour used for pasta making it is lovely and soft. It has a high-gluten-content that helps it to bond and form the pasta dough. It is possible to make with a plain flour but for the best result buy Tipo "00" and store in the fridge for all pasta making forays. Rather than using wholemeal flour, the best result comes from adding wheat bran to the tip 00 flour.

Ingredients

  • 175 g tipo "00" flour or white stone-ground organic whole-wheat flour 
  • 25g wheat bran 
  • 2 whole free-range eggs, lightly beaten 
  • 2 tbsp vegetable stock or water 
  • 1 tbsp cold pressed organic olive oil 
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg (optional but compliments the spinach) 
  • 1 pinch salt 1/2 cup flour extra for kneading and rolling 

Method:
  1. Make a pile with the flour and wheat-bran on a clean bench top (you can use a bowl if you prefer) use a fist to form a large well in the centre and add all remaining ingredients. 
  2. With a cutlery knife using a stirring motion incorporate the liquids into the flour until a sticky dough is formed. Knead until the dough is firm and smooth, it will bounce back when pressed.
  3. Chill for at least 10 minutes, preferably 30. 
  4. Cut dough into four quarters and knead briefly before rolling each segment through a pasta machine from the widest setting to the narrowest setting. 
  5. Prepare a clean tray dusted with flour for the rolled pasta. Cut each strip into 20cm lengths to fit your lasagne dish. 
Caramelised Pumpkin and Mozzarella Lasagne 

Time: 1 hour
 Serves: 4-5
Costs: $7.40 per person using organic cheese or $5.70 per person using non-organic cheese

Ingredients:
  • 1 small pumpkin, skinned and chopped (approx 1.2kg) 
  • 1 small leek, white part sliced thickly and washed 
  • 2 tbsp cold pressed olive oil 
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup 
  • 1 tsp mineral salt 
  • 200 g spinach leaves, washed and chopped 
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped 
  • 1 stalk rosemary, chopped 
  • 150g organic mozzarella* 
  • 70g ground almonds
  • 6 sheets fresh wholemeal lasagne 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220degC. 
  2. Toss the pumpkin and leeks in combined olive oil, maple syrup and mineral salt. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. 
  3. Brush a 20cm by 20cm ovenproof dish with olive oil and line with lasagne sheets. Top with half of the prepared pumpkin and leek, spinach, parsley, and mozzarella. Grind over some fresh black pepper and sprinkle with half of the salt. 
  4. Add another layer of pasta and repeat. Sprinkle with ground almonds and then bake covered with foil for 40 minutes. 
  5. Remove the foil and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. 

Raw Salad with NZ Spray-free Hazelnuts 

Time: 5 mins
Serves: 4-5
Costs: $1.30 per person using organic ingredients

Ingredients:
Dressing:
  • 1 tsp miso paste (preferable blond/shiro miso) 
  • 1 tsp manuka honey 
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated  or crushed
  • 1 lemon, juice only 
  • 1 tbsp cold pressed olive oil 
  • 1tsp mineral salt 

Salad:
  • 1 beetroot, grated 
  • 1 large carrot, grated 
  • 1 small handful of mung-bean sprouts 
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds 
  • 1/4 cup NZ spray-free hazelnuts 
  • 4-6 large spinach leaves, shredded 

Method:
Place dressing ingredients in a small screw-top jar and shake vigorously. Toss through salad ingredients.

Laura in the Garden

Check out this little movie of me in the garden with the Ding!