Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ful Bit Tewm - Broad Beans in Garlic

Broad beans belong to a list of foods that I hated as a child, but that my mum loved. When I came to love the taste I felt truly grown up! (Coffee and mushrooms are on that list too.)

An extra treat that came with liking the taste of broad beans was the delight of growing them! They grow so quickly, and have such pretty flowers, and then such cute little pods! They were often my first harvest after winter, and especially loved for that. And that soft velvet inside the pods! So lovely!
They are one of the really seasonal foods for me. 

I do eat them smaller than my mum prefers them, she would let them get huge and blue grey. I like them small and tender, but I don't mind that earthy metallic taste of their skins. To me, that is what the flavour of broadbeans is all about.

Since living in my little flat I haven't been able to grow them, but my local greengrocer will sometimes have them fresh and crisp (I don't buy them otherwise) and it is with great pleasure I then make Ful Bit Tewm.

This is a recipe I found so long ago I have no idea of the book it was in, except that I remember it being the first recipe book I read that contained recipes from around the world unanglicised.... or not very much!

900g fresh broad beans
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley (or coriander)
1 1/2 tsp of lemonjuice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
300ml water

Place all the ingredients into a sacuepan.
Mix well.
Bring to the boil.
Simmer until the beans are tender.

How easy is that!

This is my favourite way of eating broadbeans, the flavours come together perfectly.
I have written the recipe as I copied it originally, but I don't follow the quantities any more! I start with however many beans I have and add the lemon, garlic and parsley according to my fancy! It always works!

Ofcourse you could take the skins off the beans for a sweeter flavour and a greener look!

This makes a wonderful side dish, but  I ate them as a light lunch with cous cous and a little chopped salad with tomato and preserved lemon.
I thought it might be my only taste of them this year, but my sister just rang and said they are picking them in their veggie garden, so I just might get another dish of Ful Bit Tewm this year!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What a Week!

It's Anti Poverty Week and Carers Week.
Two really relevant issues for YamDaisy Cafes!

This is just a quick post to outline these issues:

World poverty is a huge issue and the work of wonderful organisations like the World Food Program
(on facebook at ) happens a long way from thriving cities like mine. But there are lots of people struggling in my city, and like everywhere in the world, the gap between the rich and the poor is widening.

My experience with chronic illness has taught me that EVERYONE with a chronic illness gets poorer. If it is a parent the whole family becomes poorer and the cycle of poverty can set in. But any person or family is vulnerable to the cycle: illness and disability, not being able to manage employment, losing housing, and all the time everyone's health becomes compromised.

The role of YamDaisy Cafes are important here because the provision of delicious, healthy, affordable food lessens the burden of shopping, preparing, and cooking meals, and ensures that the meals available are not only delicious but nutritious in the way that helps prevent chronic illness and helps manage chronic illness, and therefore helps break the poverty cycle.

The importance of keeping YamDaisy meals affordable, without compromising the taste and nutrition is central to the model!

More about Anti Poverty Week here 

Mums have already put up their hands for YamDaisy Cafe food:
"Will there be takeaway?"
"Please have drive through!"
"O I would love to be able to pick up food for the family on the way home!"
But think of those families where chronic illness and disability, or just old age, mean that extra caring is needed. Schoolchildren who are caring for their ill mother through their teenage years, breadwinners who have to give up breadwinning for the sake of loved ones who need fulltime care.

If anyone ever needed a YamDaisy Cafe up the road, these families do!
I remember a woman who had a family crisis, and for several months her mum (have a guess, yes! she is Greek!) cooked a full meal for them that Maree could pick up on her way home to work.
YamDaisy Cafes are for all the families who don't have a wonderful Greek Grandmother Cook to help them through the crisis. And YamDaisy Cafe's can keep helping even when the crisis goes on for year after year.

More about Carers week here

I am talking to the local Council about a Pilot YamDaisy Cafe. Fingers crossed! It's needed!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lentil Tomato Soup with Cheese Scones

It's time to go shopping for fresh food, but I am stretching it out for a couple more days, using up bits and pieces and seeing what I can make from odds and ends.
Today I made this lovely lunch, a tasty comfort meal..

1/2 cup of split red lentils, rinsed and drained
3 small onions and 1 big clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp turmeric
pinch cayenne pepper
440g tin of diced tomatoes
1 cup of stock
S and P
chopped parsley

Heat the oil in a big saucepan and fry the onion and garlic gently until just beginning to colour.
Add the spices and fry for another minute.
Add the lentils and water to cover well. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Make sure the lentils are cooked before adding the acid (tomatoes) and the salt (stock)
Add the tin of tomatoes and the stock, get it back to the boil and simmer another 20 minutes until the tomatoes have that rich orange look.
Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper.
When serving add some chopped parsley to each dish and a squeeze of lemon.

2 cups SR flour
pinch salt
125g finely grated cheese
buttermilk (I thin down yoghurt with water)

Sift the flour and salt, mix in the cheese
Add buttermilk to mix to a soft dough - it took about 200ml

Roll it out on a floured bench to 2cm thickness and cut out scones (I got 14 little ones).
Brush the top with milk or buttermilk and top with a little grated cheese.
Cook at 220C for 15 minutes, they should be well risen and golden brown.

Then if you are like me, you can put them on a tray and have lunch in bed with a good book!
(Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I have been so hectic with non blog things!
But until I can get back to my own blogging I can offer you a couple of links to wonderful blogs I have seen today.

the mysterious paper sculptures might have come from this artist::

Sunday, August 28, 2011

On the radio!

How I got my first YamDaisy radio interview:

I follow 'Food Fight' on facebook. It is the food program on 3CR, the long running Melbourne community radio station.
A week ago a link went up about a US report showing how local food systems benefit local economies (see here).
I commented how YamDaisy Cafes would add to the local economy and put a link to my webpage.
Shortly after, 3CR's Food Fight added this comment: Hey Joy, I know it's short notice, but would you want to discuss YamDaisy on tomorrow's show?
And so I wrote: Ooo, I would love to!

In true Hollywood style, a planned story had fallen through, I was able to take the spot! The pod cast is up now, so you can listen to it! Thanks to Jonathan for giving me such a lovely opportunity and so much support.
Look here: Food Fight Podcast and click on the podcast for Food Fight 23.08.2011 that mentions me and my YamDaisy Cafe! 
What do you think?

I did my best!

At the end of the interview I ask people to 'like' my YamDaisy Cafe facebook page, so here is the link to make it easy for you! 
(Thanks to you who already have!)

Yours sincerely, 
almost famous!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Flying Ant Painting

The round circle of loose sand that signals an ant's nest was a feature of life growing up in Victoria. We would watch out for those ants! They bite! The vibration of walking close would bring angry bull ants out to attack us.

I was reminded of them when I visited the wonderful blog Chandler A to Z and saw this post by Therese.So evocative of my Victorian bushland, even though she is on the other side of the world, in Arizona.

But I was also reminded of something closer to home. Something I could just turn my head to look at! The picture above!

When I was teaching in the Northern Territory I met with green ants, and read about honey ants, and then I was lucky to have an insight to flying ants (termites).  I was teaching at Alekarenge, near Tennant Creek and I saw this picture being painted.

The artists who meticulously painted this picture about their country southwest of Warrego, were Fanny Walker and Sarah Holmes. The point of view is that of looking down on the landscape. They explained to me that the doughnut shapes are the ant holes. All the little lines that make up the background are the tracks of the little bird that has seen the ants beginning to come up and is busy catching and eating them.

When the women notice that they take their long wooden bowls: coolamon, those are the bar shapes in the painting. The women sit crosslegged, which makes the horseshoe shapes, and collect the ants in the coolamon, top them with hot ash, which is enough to cook them, and then winnow the ash off... and feast!

I really miss the beautiful Northern Territory, and I am so glad to have this art on my living room wall, that takes me back to such beautiful country.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mystery Box Challenge

This post might win the prize for 'blurriest photoes ever uploaded'! I don't really want to win that prize, but I had to post this story with what photos I had! Too late to go and take some better ones!

Here is my daughter and our friend cooking dinner for four. They were given the Mystery Box after school and had to come up with a main and a dessert using the ingredients within it (We are watchers of Australian Masterchef in our households!).

First we pulled the Mystery Box (read vegetable drawer) out of the fridge where we had been hiding it until it was time to start. The purple sarong was removed to reveal.......

Pumpkin, yellow pepper, beetroot, parsnip, beef mince and green beans!

They had to use at least some of these ingredients, plus whatever we had in the pantry.

We (the mums) kept well out of their way except for sneaking in to take a photo, and finding rows of lovely little meatballs sitting on the bench, all ready to go in the oven, and this wonderful scene:

Soon there was a long row of pasta hanging up to dry.

When we were called to eat we found our appetizers sitting on the table: thin rings of parsnip deep fried and sprinkled with salt. They were SO YUMMY! You will see a few of them in a little bowl in the picture below. Crisp with that parsnip sweetness and the delicious salt sparking them up! Such a yummy way to start a meal!

Next came our main course which included pumpkin ~ used in the pasta! No wonder it was such a golden colour! And beef mince used in the tasty meatballs, Green beans and yellow capsicum adding even more colour to the dish, and a simple tomato sauce to bring it all together.

(Sorry about the yellowness, I hope you can get an idea of how lovely it was, in spite of the photo!)

Now what could be dessert? What dessert could you have made that used an ingredient from this mystery box! Well, I will tell you what the girls made: Chocolate pudding with beetroot cream! Truly! They grated half a beetroot and squeezed out the juice to colour sweetened cream. It didn't taste of beetroot..... but O the colour!

It was even more gorgeous that this photo shows. Such a glorious pink!
An uploaded photo of it to facebook and had 35 comments trying to guess what it was!

What a delicious, surprising and fun evening it was! Thankyou Masterchefs!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Soup for a sick friend

I have a friend who has been battling with 'the dreaded lurgy', those colds and flu's that pounce on Melbournians all through the winter months. This one developed into bronchitis and sinusitis and just didn't seem to shift.
There isn't much I can do to help friends, but being ill myself  I know absolutely what a powerful and tricky thing help can be!
The main thing I have learned is that helping someone is a process. There is the thought, the gift, the feedback, the learning... all leading around (hopefully) to the next gift. All against a background of politeness and appreciation that just might inhibit that process.
Let me explain!

I know that having easy, delicious food on hand can be a real help when you are sick, so I offer to make soup for my friend. She assures me that her husband and daughters have been wonderful at helping to cook while she has been ill.
But I think
a) she is being polite so that I don't feel obliged to cook for her
b) the whole family is likely to feel the strain and would appreciate some help
c) my food is a good token of my care even if it isn't needed
d) and it is good opportunity to learn how I can be an even better friend another time

I plan a soup that can be put in the freezer, or will sit happily in the fridge for a few days, so it will have the best chance of being useful.
Because my friend struggles with IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome) I check up information to work out the best soup to make. The information is so contradictory, I ring my friend to check what things she needs to avoid.

I decide on my Pumpkin soup, see recipe here, with less red pepper than usual. Because of the state of my pantry I used no garlic, and channa dal (small chickpeas) instead of the split lentils. Here are the lovely ingredients!

It is a very easy recipe to make in the pressure cooker. I strained out the sweet red pepper skins because I had an idea that they are hard on the digestive system (not sure about that though). I blended it smooth and then put a container for my friend in the fridge. I had a bowlful for myself ~ to taste test ofcourse! wink! But also because I didn't want to give her too much, so she wouldn't feel so bad if she disliked it and had to chuck it out.
It tasted delicious to me, so I took the gift to my friend.

Here is the tricky bit. I know my friend appreciates my gift, and will want to let me know that. Isn't that lovely!
But for my gift to be most useful, I need to know the bad with the good. I need to know if it wasn't to her taste. If it was too salty. If it gave her stomach pains. Even if she accidentally spilt the lot and so didn't taste it at all.
I have regretted missing this part of the conversation when people have given things to me. Often the first time of trying something doesn't work: the outing is too long, the food too much, the massage too cold. You aren't ungrateful, but you need to find the trusting, respecting place to be able to have that conversation. If that space isn't there, all you can give is gracious thanks.

But I would love the gift that goes on, that grows with understanding, and becomes the most useful gift, the most practical, easy and comforting gift, and that grows a friendship alongside.

I shan't demand a truthful report on my soup! But I will have my eyes and ears open to see if my gift might be a little bit stronger, a little bit longer, than a container of soup.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

About my YamDaisy Project

When I spoke to the people at the Local Food Conversation last Sunday I focused on the local, seasonal food used in the menu at the YamDaisy Cafes (ofcourse) and this was a nice change from focussing on business, health and the delicious menu (not that I mind talking about them!).

I had a list to remind me what I wanted to say, so this post is about the list! and, hopefully, pretty much what I said in my few minutes to share.

1. Isolation, poverty, difficulties with food:
It is an awful thing that as well as coping with whatever awful chronic illness you might have, you almost always have the added burdens of greater poverty, isolation, and difficulty preparing food for yourself and your family. The YamDaisy Cafe idea helps ease these burdens for people with chronic illness, disability, or anyone struggling.
(Yes, I know there are other burdens... housing being a most serious one!)

2. An idea as big as Macca's:
When I had my idea of small local cafe's selling delicious, healthy food at prices pensioners could afford, I thought I only had to let people know, and they would say "Ofcourse!" and get my YamDaisy Cafe idea going.
But no! So I have spent 4 years working on my project with my webpage, my blog (this one!), my YamDaisy facebook page, my Comfort Food poll, and with research.
It is a big idea, I think it could be as big as Macca's! And now it is time to get a pilot cafe up and running.

3. Small menu:
The aspect of my YamDaisy Cafe that makes it different to other Cafe's - and more like mum cooking, is the  soup, 2 main meals and a fruit based dessert on the menu each day. And it is like the BEST 'mumcooking': cooked from scratch with fresh, seasonal produce.

4. Local, Seasonal Food is integral to the idea:
I have entertained the idea of doing a deal with a huge supermarket chain to get this project going, but I rejected it because the Best Practice for a mum cooking for her family has to be the use of fresh, local ingredients. Wanting good health outcomes and deliciousness - as well as convenience- making use of small local producers has to be part of the model for YamDaisy Cafes.

5. YamDaisy Cafes can be good for local producers
As a business that is committed to local ingredients the YD Cafes can be a wonderful support and generator of local produce. This could include backyard producers as well as people running larger or more specialised businesses.

I gave out my little homemade cards so people could look up my webpage and like my facebook page
NOTE: Please everyone! 'Like' my YamDaisy facebook page! It is my best indication of how much support my idea has, and at the moment it only has 27 followers (Precious people every one!)

And I had my presentation folder available for people to look at. (I am working on how to share it here).

I am so pleased to say that there was lovely feedback from people there!
The very first question was "Will there be take away?" (Yes!) Thinking of those busy nights for busy families.
And when I said that my next step was to talk to local Councillors to say if they would get behind the idea for a pilot cafe I would find the money.... And then all I would have to do is find the million dollars! Someone said "How can we help you find a million dollars!"

In the nice chatty bit of the meeting when people were milling around and eating, I had to sit down, but it was lovely that I wasn't left alone and people who came and chatted and looked through my book showed such serious support for my project and gave such good feedback.
It was great to get hear that the model would suit small local producers.I left the meeting so bouyed by the great feeling of good stuff happening and that there was a swell of support for my idea.

(So it has been a bit frustrating that it has taken a week to write this blog, sigh! But slow and steady will win the race!)

The picture above shows the display on the food swap bench last Sunday, and below is my (1st draft) business card! It's onward and upward now!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Gorgeous meeting!

Because of my YamDaisy project I try to keep in touch with all the good community food things that are happening around. So through a mention in a post, that sent me to a facebook group, that put up an event ~ I ended up at Edendale Farm at Eltham on the outskirts of Melbourne for the 'Local Food Conversation'.

I'm always a bit worried going to something for the first time. Will the trip be so hard I get there exhausted? Will I have to park far away and walk long distances.... or worse, have to climb stairs?
Will I find out that the meeting wasn't what I thought it was about at all?

In this case: no, no, no and no! Hooray! Plus it was a lovely sunny morning.

We had a room full of gorgeous people involved in local food projects happening in the North East of Melbourne. It was lovely to see the diversity of people and the common themes.

This post is to let you know about all the lovely things happening around here. I am sure I will have missed out some,  but I have a good long list and I will put the best link I can find to them. Let me know if there is a better one! (And any information to add!)

I wonder if you have heard of any or all of them?

Local Food Connect: Facebook Page

Sustainable Gardening Australia: About SGA

And SGA's Pod Program: SGA PODs (Productive, Organic, Diverse, Sustainable Neighbourhood Gardening Groups)

GM Free Network Nillumbik

Transition Town Bundoora: Transition Towns

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation

Edendale Farm: Local Food Task Group

Food swaps every where and a recipe book being developed to show how to use less common produce!

O, and ofcourse....

I took my (completed!) presentation book and some little cards with web address etc on them, and I had 10 minutes to talk to the group about my project. So next post I will share what I said!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

There and back again!

Today I went to the Local Food Conversation at Edendale Farm in Eltham.
This was a meeting put on by Local Food Connect.
They wanted to hear from people in the North East suburbs who had food projects, so I put up my hand and went along.

I can't wait to tell you all about it! It was wonderful and I think I have a few posts to write as a result of it.
However, YamDaisy activism and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are tricky bedfellows! One of my CFS symptoms is Orthostatic Intolerance, and that means that while I am out and about: (even when sitting at a sociable meeting) my body thinks it is setting out from Everest base camp and trudging steadily up the mountain. I start to develop all the symptoms of altitude sickness.

So I am taking it easy for a day or so and then will post again.  But in between doing all the things that help me recover I am thinking of all the interesting things there are to blog about.

As I was leaving the meeting I
a) didn't put in a gold coin to help with room hire
b) did take some food swap chillies and tamarillos even though I didn't have anything to swap with.
(Going gaga is a symptom of altitude sickness!)
I am owning up now and will remedy the unhappy situation next time I go!

You can see a tamarillo on this meal I made when I got home: Mushroom and polenta bake (ready to go) with fresh avocado, parsley and tamarillo, with some marigold petals to finish. Lovely!

The photo at the top is the huge beautiful picture in the meeting room.
Cheers folk!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Daughters make dinner!

What a treat!
An evening at a friends house, where my daughter and hers were out in the kitchen cooking up a storm.... while we sat and chatted in the cosy living room!
It was a magnificent dinner with chicken stuffed with herbs on a bed of sauce flavoured with red wine and mushrooms, and beautifully cooked veggies to accompany it!

How wonderful it was to come out to the table with the plates presented so beautifully!

And here are the cooks!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Cleaver, A Cleaver, A Pumpkin

See the small cleaver in the middle of the photo? That is my everyday knife. Every day it chops for me!

If I remember rightly (I am going a little Chairman Kaga here), it came from a shared student household on the outskirts of Bendigo. When everyone moved out, I was left with the clean up ~ and this handy chopper!

My friends, that was a quarter of a century ago! And since then the cleaver has chopped my veggies every day. And finally, on Saturday, I took it to a professional knife sharpener, and it is now the sharpest I have ever known it. Crikey it has been blunt the last few years and all the steeling hasn't been able to do much.

As a (mostly) vegetarian, this is pretty well all I need in the way of knives.... except for a couple of things!
Meet Big Cleaver!
Big Cleaver lives at the bottom of the drawer and comes out especially for pumpkins and coconuts! (Sharp side for pumpkins, blunt side for coconuts).

I needed it yesterday when I cracked the lovely Jap pumpkin that has been waiting patiently in the fruit bowl for a couple of months, Thankyou Big Cleaver!

I made a lovely hearty winter soup (we are in the depths of winter here) with celery, pumpkin and split peas and both my cleavers were in such fine form!

Hooray for professional knife sharpeners, for beautiful pumpkins and for all sizes of cleaver!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Beetroot Pasta Sauce!

I have seen a couple of recipes for using beetroot in a sauce, and they were typical, straightforward pasta sauces using beets along with tomatoes.
I couldn't really imagine what such a sauce would taste like: but I loved the colour!

So I made a pretty typical pasta sauce by putting in my blender tomatoes (from a tin) onion, garlic, olive oil and a little chilli, plus the two cooked beetroots (see here) with their skins and stalks rubbed off. I blended them all up and then popped them in a saucepan to cook for half an hour. The sauce spat a bit and made glorious coloured splatters all over my stove, but other than that - it couldn't be easier!
While I cooked up the pasta (big tubes which I broke into thirds to make them more manageable) I also cooked the beet leaves by slicing them thinly and braising them in a little butter and the water left on them from washing them.
The walnuts made a lovely garnish!

Then I ate it. YUM! I couldn't imagine the tastes of tomato and beetroots together, but it was glorious! It was a delicious comforting tasty sauce that was beautifully balanced by the greens and walnuts. Simple and very special! I can't wait to wow some visitors with this dish!

Highly recommended!
(Plate when finished!)

A beetrooty gift!

A friend called in after shopping.
"Help!" she cried! "How on earth do you shop for one?"

I laughed (sympathetically). I have been through that transition too!
When you are cooking for a household you buy in bulk,. When the carrots are all used up and the potatoes are getting low.... you know it is time to go shopping again.

But when there is just you, it is amazing how little food is needed! When all the carrots and potatoes are gone, you can still find meals for the next three days!

"Look, I've bought too much!" said my friend. "Please help me by taking some. Have half the bunch of celery. Half the lettuce. O please take a couple of beetroots! They have their lovely fresh leaves attached too! O and I couldn't resist this bag of potatoes. Take 8!"

So here are the beetroot. I pressure cooked them for a short 10 minutes (maybe 8?) which was perfect. Their lovely fresh leaves were removed first.
What do you think I made with them?

(I'll tell you tomorrow!)

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I was delighted to discover a few weeks ago, that this blog rated on the BIG List of Food Blogs! and It had 6 recommendations!
It was at number 5649 I think! I went back to check the listing exactly ~ and it had gone. O sad face! That's what comes of being such a sometimes blogger and, not to mention, putting up blogs about non food subjects.
O well, fame is fleeting!

But here I am doing a lovely food post to show you my delicious breakfast! Every component was special. I'll tell you what I mean:
The toast is made from my delicious chestnut bread (about 2/3 cup of mashed chestnuts from my friend's trees added to the usual ingredients).
The arrabbiata sauce I made for my sisters visit. It is a pasta sauce with chili in it. My sisters have gone home, but I had sauce left over! I heated a little of it until it was very thick and smeared it on my toast.
The avocado was a gift from one of my sisters. It grew on her farm! It had been sitting in my fruit bowl ripening and when I cut into it it was so soft and creamy!
A friend introduced me to these big fat green olives they have for sale at Cozzella Brothers Thornbury, and gave me a container full!
And the parsley is growing in my garden.

And it all came together for my delicious breakfast! 
Wishing you all delicious breakfasts too!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In love with linen teatowels!

Here are two of my linen teatowels. They are sitting on my purple spotted ironing board! Not the best background, but they have just been ironed!
I am new to the delights of linen tea towels! For a long time I lived in shared households and with hand me down tea towels. When I began buying my own I worked out very quickly I wanted to avoid any polyester in them, and looked for pure cotton.
I knew linen teatowles were cosidered high quality, but I didn't know why ~  I had gone off linen after being exasperated by such easily crumpled clothes.

Recently I have had one friend educating me about patience with linen clothing (which means finding second hand linen clothes is a boon!) and another enlightening me on the quality of linen tea towels. She has just been given a glorious pile of beautiful linen teatowels that are really works of art. And so she kindly passed on to me a couple of the lovely teatowels she had made, as well as a large brocade one.

Now I understand! SO absorbent! Resistant to dirt and stains! (And better for the environment).

I love them.

Well, I am never too old to learn, and how glad I am to learn this one before I begin my first YamDaisy marketing venture. I plan to get teatowels designed and printed with a yam daisy to promote and raise money for my YamDaisy Cafe project. Guess what! They will be pure linen!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cheers for the Childless

We celebrate Mothers Day and Fathers Day because it is so important to appreciate their care and hard work in bringing up the children that are our future.

I would like to celebrate another group of people whose decisions, care and hard work also affect our future.

I know several people who have made the decision to be childless. Two very dear sisters are among them.

Thank goodness for those people who are not having children! 

Whether their decisions were easy or hard, simple or complicated, their decision means the pressure of populations on our dear Earth is that little bit lessened.

When I grew up the common view was that a woman without children was not ‘fulfilled’ not a ‘proper’ woman, not ‘complete’. No doubt men are maligned similarly. Hopefully we have come a long way from that point of view. But we need to go further. We need to say Hooray! We need to celebrate those people for the decision they have made that benefits every country, every continent, every ocean of our planet.
 And I want to include those men and woman who may not have chosen to be childless, but were made so by cruel fate or circumstance. After all, we celebrate Mothers and Fathers who may have had their children as a result of cruel fate or circumstance! Fair is fair!

I have been thinking about blogging this for a while, watching as Mothers’ Days and Fathers’ Days blossom and blink all over the world. What special day could I use to celebrate those childless men and women?

Well, today is the day. It is my birthday, (don't believe the date on the blog! It is Thursday here, and the day began with this lunar eclipse just before dawn!). 
I am dedicating it this way. I really hope that if you are childless you hear me cheering you, and if you know someone who has decided to be childless, please pass on a cheer from me, and give them a hooray yourself!

Thankyou for reading, and a special thankyou to you childless ones!

Monday, June 13, 2011


Our Melbourne paper. The Age, has a Tuesday Epicure section which was dedicated this week to small, specialist producers.
There are a lot of them!
Animal welfare, respect for the best quality, innovative marketing (eg buying a whole lamb at a time) and lots of specialising. Organic, Permaculture... There is even a new shop opening to cater to the needs of bee keepers!
It is nice to think this part of the food industry is growing up in time to be useful for the Yam Daisy Cafes! And, ofcourse, the YD Cafes will be very useful to them.
While the YamDaisy isn't a high budget enterprise, the idea is that it works like a family home. The economy of bulk cooking, avoiding waste, using what is in season, and in plentiful supply, means that there is room to buy beautiful produce.
And imagine what a difference it will make to such local producers when there are lots of YamDaisy Cafes, feeding lots of local families. Lovely!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hug a Climate Scientist!

There has been such a crisis throughout the world as the evidence of Climate Scientists has shown us truths about our behaviour and the likely consequences on the Earth's systems. To respond properly to the evidence we need drastic change in behaviour, and this is threatening to people who hold a view of the world that will not admit the evidence.
We have seen the sad result of this in nasty threats to Australian Climate Scientists, including death threats. These people work to get us the best information so we can make the best decisions, and we need to show our support.
So today has been declared Hug A Climate Scientist Day.
The picture above comes from First Dog on The Moon: See HERE

How can you help?
If you see a Climate Scientist ~ Give them a hug!
Share this blogpost! (Or the one in the link!)
If you are on twitter, make it a world wide trend by tweeting a message #HugAClimateScientist (or even with all lowercase!)
Or you can follow me on Twitter and retweet me! Find joystevenson
Or find your own special way to highlight Hug A Climate Scientist Day!

Best wishes to you on Hug A Scientist Day June 10 2011!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Win! Win!

I am up to the last page of my presentation folio about my YamDaisy Cafe idea, and it is called Win Win!
But really it is  Win Win Win Win Win!

The customers win because they are getting delicious home style food at prices they can afford.
The Chef/Managers win because they are getting fair, satisfying employment.
Communities win because YamDaisy Cafe's can break down isolation and foster community connections.
The Health System wins because access to nutritious food is key to the prevention and management of  so many chronic illnesses. And also because the YD Cafes can be a useful research point.
All levels of government win because better health and community connections save money.
The environment wins because using local produce cuts down food miles, making things from scratch cuts down on packaging, good systems restrict waste, innovative sustainable designs save energy.
Local producers win because they will have a steady, responsive, local market for their produce.

I wonder how many more I will think up before I am finished!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

6 months....

It is 6 months since I cut sugar out of my diet, although it took about 4 months before I got serious enough to research the sugar content of foods. I blogged about that HERE.
And I have just finished a course of probiotics too.
It is really clear that cutting sugar out of my diet as much as I can has been very good for my health, in fact I feel pretty sure that sugar has been affecting me badly all my life. (I am not sure if the probiotics made any difference at all. That's okay, I can do without spending $60 on them again).

As well as all the symptoms that I describe as being poisoned (I still can't think of a better description) that I am SO glad to be without, the by product has been that I am quickly losing the extra weight I was carrying around, and that is a lovely relief too. Sugar was clearly messing around with my appetite, and now I can eat what I like and know that when I am full I will stop.

So I won't put sugar back in my diet any time soon. I will have to play by ear what I will try and how much. I had a piece of apple that seemed to have no consequence, a Chinese meal that surely had some sugar in the sauce, no problem, and a poached pear that might have been a problem.
A little bit of not too much sugar every now and then seems to be the way to go!

~ I have missed sugar though.
Now when I look through the blogs I follow I skip over the cakes and desserts, too painful!
I do feel a pang in the heart when I see a fresh baklava a friend is having with her coffee.
I SO wanted to make Pasteria Napoletana at Easter.
But it is not too bad, and well worth an occasional regret.

I am finding savoury treats! That is a fun adventure. And ofcourse my main meals are still very easy. The one above is a spicy bean stew with potato wedges, cheesey corn chips and salad from my garden. Tomatoes and sweetcorn are the highest sugar ingredients, and they aren't too bad!

So that's my update. I feel so lucky that I worked out something that was making me so crook and what a simple thing to remedy! Life is heaps better! Cheers!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

World Environment Day

June the 5th is World Environment Day.
The first time I responded to it was in 1986 when I did a series of classroom activities about it. The favourite one was where the children picked a card with the name of an animal or vegetable on it. Then we linked them with string between the animal and what they ate, so they could start to see the web of life and all the connections. It was VERY webby by the time we had finished!

Today there are three World Environment Day items I would love to share with you.

My first thought is for my YamDaisy Cafe idea:
Last year I gave a list of the role YamDaisy Cafe's could play to lessen the environmental footpprint. Chick here to see.

Today I would like to focus on the delight that good environmental practice would give to the YamDaisy menu by quoting the wonderful Eddie of Hoos Cooking, talking about the YamDaisy idea of using local seasonal produce:
"The idea of opening places that use local ingredients and is affordable is a wonderful plan, though.  I would say that some places grow certain things while others may not.  For instance, in my area we have a history (even a tradtion) of growing Gravenstein apples.  My problem with the local chains (restaurants and markets) is that they don't carry them and many growers have ripped out their orchards and planted vineyards in their places.  If a chain restaurant offered a Gravenstein apple pie in midsummer when they are at their peak, I would break my rule of staying away from chains and gladly indulge just to support local growers."
Isn't that a wonderful point! To have an area celebrating, and feasting on, their magnificent local produce with delicious affordable meals.
That is what I am on about!

Celebration of Place:
As well as celebrating local produce I recently began a facebook page to celebrate my place of living. Because I spend a lot of time housebound I really appreciate what is around me when I get out. Even though I live in a big city, all around me is the wonder of nature and the examples of people responding to the particular climate, geology and geography of this place.
Would you like a look at my place? Here it is: Fairfield ~ Around and About.
And here is a picture of Darebin Creek, just a few blocks from my home:

And one final World Environment Day link: The Conversation is a news site where the information comes straight from the researchers. It is a great place to look for reputable science and has a terrific section on  environmental and energy research.

Cheers for our beautiful, precious world this World Environment Day.... and every day!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The First Magic Dal

I had tasted dal before. But this was the first Magic Dal!
I was living in a shared student house on the outskirts of Bendigo and we were having friends over, and everyone made an Indian dish for our feast.

I found a recipe using yellow split peas and I made it carefully: I remember how long it took for the split peas to cook, and how careful I was not to let them catch on the bottom of the pan as they got thicker and mushier.

And I remember adding the tarka and having a taste and being bowled over by the delicious addictiveness of it.  So yum!

I carefully copied out the recipe and remade it often. It was several years later that I heard people recommend Madhur Jaffrey's books, and then found my recipe in one of them.

Now I live in a very multicultural part of Melbourne, the ingredients are easy to come by, and I make the recipe with the little chana dal instead of yellow split peas, and I double most of the spices that go in it too!

You can see Madhur's recipe here: Chana Dal

This is how I do it:
I wash a cup of chana dal about 7 times (saving the water for my garden) until the water runs clear.
I cook them with 1tsp of turmeric powder and a teaspoon of finely grated ginger.
(I do use my pressure cooker being extremely careful to skim the pulses when they begin to boil, then adding the spices and a little oil and pressure cooking for 15 minutes. Often they need a little longer cooking after that, but it is SO much quicker than the hour and a half they take on the stovetop.
Disobey your pressure cooker instructions at your own risk!)

When done, add a tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of garam masala and stir to mix.

Now I heat 3tbsp of ghee (yes you really need that much!) in my small cast iron frying pan. When it is hot add in 1 tsp of cumin seeds and then 2 crushed garlic. This browns so quickly in my pan that I turn off the flame as soon as it goes in. By the time I add 1/4 tsp of my chili powder (which is on the hot side) the garlic is golden and the cumin is fragrant. The chili powder (properly cayenne, but here in Melbourne we mostly call it chili powder. And usually spelt chilli!) froths a little.
Now pour this alchemical mixture into the dal and stir it through. Magic has happened!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

For a friend

Best Wishes
Sometimes life is like this:
Wishing you
and everyone
a good month with plenty of hilltops!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This could be a YamDaisy meal!

Pan Fried Fish Fillets with Rockety Salad and Oven Chips

My daughter is staying with me for a short while and has cooked some great meals. When she made this one she said "I think this would be a good meal for your YamDaisy Cafe". And I had to agree.

I am really sorry to say I can't remember what fish it is. I asked the woman at the fish shop and she suggested a few varieties, and I chose the palest. (Yes I am a fish wimp). Rose coated them with a dusting of seasoned flour, a dip in some egg, and then coated with crushed Savoy crackers and corn chips (making do with what was in the pantry).
Oooh they were delicious! Just perfect!

The salad went well with it, based around rocket but with lettuce leaves from the garden, red onion, cucumber and tomato. The lemony dressing was perfect.

And then she finished off with oven cooked chips, but mentioned that potato wedges might be a healthier version and a good alternative for the YamDaisy Cafe. Good point.

And this was our delicious plateful. How I would love to have a meal like this available to all the people who need a homecooked meal tonight, but just can't manage to make one for themselves.

Thanks Rose!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Songs of Freedom

I have been looking forward to this documentary, and it was wonderful to see it on TV (SBS) last night!
Check out the trailer HERE to see why, and I hope you might get the chance to see this sometime!

Friday, May 27, 2011


Let's see if I can embed this video:

Yay I did it!
I am so reminded of my sleeping with my own baby in my arms!

Monday, May 23, 2011

World Turtle Day

This beautiful design comes from a cloth I bought from the women's textile group at Borroloola when I was teaching there.
Borroloola is in the subtropics of Australia in the Gulf of Carpentaria.  These long necked tortoises lived in the lagoons and hibernated in the mud.
But my favourite turtle experience when I was up there was seeing two huge green sea turtles mating (!) in the sea as our boat passed by them.

(I am using turtle and tortoise interchangeable as they mean generally the same thing used differently around the world).

Turtles took on a real importance to me a decade later when I used them symbolically.
I had left work because of my bad health... but I wanted to do something!  I decided to start a community development project for people with CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME/CFIDS) in my area.

But I knew I had to manage it carefully for the sake of my own health and for everyone who got involved.
I thought of 'Slow and Steady' wins the race and decided to call it the Tortoise project. That name would be a continual reminder for me to take it slowly and never to take on more than I could do.

What a difference to most of my community development work! It usually consisted of crisis after crisis and deadlines rushing at me headlong!

I thought I would be very slow and getting things done, and I was philosophical that going very slowly was better than not going at all.

But what I discovered was something quite different!

Tortoise behaviour: going step by careful step, actually resulted with things happening at a very good pace. With no crisis, no rushing to get things done before deadlines, less shortcuts and decisions made on the run, the project developed wonderfully!
Every decision was the best decision that could be made. Holding back and taking time to consider meant we moved forward in the most efficient, productive way!

Noting the same kind of philosophy by the Slow Food Movement I dubbed this style Slow Community Development. I champion it every chance I have! (Like this one!).

Thankyou turtles!