Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sustainable agriculture: eating the 'Third Plate'

Martin recently came across a fantastic interview about sustainable agriculture.  In it, chef Dan Barber talked about what he's come to call 'Third Plate' eating.  He thinks of what Americans have been eating since colonisation as the 'First Plate' - basically a large piece of meat with a few other things on the side.  More recently, he's seen the rise of the 'Second Plate' - the development, inspired by sustainability concerns, of swapping locally sourced and/or organic meats and vegetables for the conventionally grown ones.

Dan Barber was essentially serving 'Second Plate' food at his New York restaurant when a visit to the organic farm that grew his wheat radically changed his outlook.  He visited in the off-season and was startled to see the entire farm covered in unfamiliar crops: no wheat in sight.  What he was seeing were the cover crops, without which the land would be unable to produce wheat later in the year.  They were also mostly human-edible, but were all either sold for animal feed or ploughed under.  No one could be found to buy them as human food.

That eventually turned him into an ardent advocate for a much more sustainable 'Third Plate'.  On this new plate, instead of finding the same foods simply grown differently, you find food that is served in the kind of ratios you need to grow it in order to sustain productive land.  In his region, that means eating a lot of legumes and buckwheat in place of much of the more familiar meat and bread.  Listen to him expanding these ideas here.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Some surprising visitors

This afternoon I heard a bird fly past my window - it was loud and looked, from the corner of my eye, to be large.  I assumed it was a kereru that had been feasting on our guavas. and eagerly craned for a better look. To my surprise, I saw this on the neighbour's porch:


A pukeko!!  A pukeko had flown past my window!  We get them on the lawn sometimes, as we live near Te Auaunga/Oakley Creek, but a flying one is something new!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Moth orchid excitement!

Last October, I was given a moth orchid.  It was a gorgeous plant and I was delighted - but also a little daunted.  Orchids have a reputation for being fussy plants and I felt pretty sure I would kill it.  I had to keep reminding myself I was under no responsibility to keep it alive - I should just enjoy it for as long as I had it and leave it at that.

Moth orchid at the left - it's a truly stunning plant

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Your yoke is easy and your burden is light

As I mentioned earlier, it feels like there's a lot of big stuff going on around me right now.  I've just been doing my Lent reflection and I felt God guiding me into His truth as I prayed.  I'm writing down the chain of thoughts I had - as much to remind myself of them as anything.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Hazelnut chocolate Easter eggs

No one seems to be selling fair trade Easter eggs in New Zealand this year, so last week my friend Anna and I again got together to make our own.  We use fair trade chocolate: this way we can be confident our Easter treats are a blessing not only to those who receive them but also to all those involved in their production :-)

Over the years we've developed a number of home-made Easter egg recipes.  We first learned how to make marshmallow chocolate Easter eggs.  Last year we added creme eggs to our repertoire: both classic creme eggs and vegan peppermint chocolate ones.  This year we made hazelnut chocolate Easter eggs: a milk chocolate shell filled with a paste that tastes a lot like the filling in Guylian seashell chocolates.  Click here to jump to the recipe.

Hazelnut chocolate Easter eggs

Monday, April 10, 2017

The violence inherent in the system

I've never been quite sure where I stand with respect to violence and the use of force.  Instinctively, I tend towards non-violence.  Yet I am aware that, regardless of what I my personal preferences, my whole way of life is daily supported by very serious state-sponsored violence.

I was reminded of this the other day as I listened to this excerpt from one of my favourite podcasts, This American Life.  It features US border guard Francisco Cantu reflecting on his experiences guarding the US Mexico border.  It's not pleasant listening, but I recommend it.  It's 26 minutes long.

In New Zealand, we're surrounded by ocean, not desert.  We're so far from the nearest neighbouring landmasses that the only practical way for a desperate person to come here is by air.  So, instead of border guards with guns, we use Advance Passenger Processing at foreign airports.  We carefully decide who it will be to our benefit to allow in and rigorously deny entry to all others.*  I don't know how often guns are used in this process, but I'm certain they're brought out whenever necessary.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Aquafaba for glazing pies

Today I discovered another use for aquafaba*: glazing pie pastry!  People use aquafaba as an egg or egg-white substitute in meringues, marshmallow, baking etc., so I thought it might work for glazing, too.  I'm really pleased with the result :-)

* the water in which chickpeas or other pulses have been cooked

Blackberry and apple pie for today's Sunday celebration.  The blackberries came from friends from church and the apples from our neighbours' tree.  We ate it with home-made yoghurt and it was delicious :-)

I simply brushed aquafaba over the top before baking and, as you can see, it came out a lovely golden colour.  Aquafaba is something we generate at least once a week, so I'll definitely be using it in the future: I'd much rather use something I'd otherwise throw away than use half an egg and be left wondering what to do with the rest!