Monday, May 29, 2017

How to Make Your Own Salad Dressing




Well, the rosehip syrup is magnificent! I have been making salad dressing with it. As part of my determination to eat more local I have been eyeing the various condiments in my cupboard and fridge. For years I have been planning to make my own salad dressing, but have never quite got around to it. You know how it is, it always seems easier to just take another bottle off the supermarket shelf than try something new. Well, who knew, salad dressing is ridiculously easy. And, oh, my goodness, this is delicious. I have a thing about salad dressing. It has to be the perfect blend of sweet and tangy, and this is quite marvellous. Did you know that many vitamins require fat in order to be metabolised? This is why a good salad dressing is very important for your health, so spoon it on with abandon, and enjoy your garden greens with this heavenly dressing.

I stumbled upon this recipe and I have used it as a base and substitute all the ingredients at will.

Salad Dressing

1/2 cup oil. Use any oil that tastes nice. I use a Tasmanian olive oil combined with an Australian sunflower oil. If you want to store the dressing in the fridge, you must cut the olive oil with a polyunsaturated oil, or it will go gloopy. That is a technical term for solidifying in cold temperatures.

1/4 cup vinegar. Again, any nice vinegar you have on hand. I am using up a bottle of verjuice I have had for quite some time, and also use apple cider vinegar. Balsamic vinegar would make a lovely dressing, I imagine. Lemon juice would also work.

1 Tablespoon honey or other sweetener. This is where I add the rosehip syrup, which is very sweet indeed.

1 Tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard. I am using a lovely local honey mustard that my mum gave me for my birthday. It has whole mustard seeds in it, and makes the dressing look interesting.

Salt and pepper to taste. Here you can also add whichever herbs and spices seem advisable. Go crazy.

I also add a couple of tablespoons of water to this recipe to thin it out a bit. Because I am thrifty. I make it by pouring everything into a jar with a screw top lid, and shaking. Then I pour it into a bottle, and shake again before serving. I store it in the cupboard because olive oil goes thick and gloppy in the fridge, and because my fridge is already overfull of condiments and bottles of salsa that didn't seal properly. There is nothing in this recipe that requires refrigeration.

There you have it. One more product that gets made in the kitchen instead of travelling thousands of miles to a supermarket shelf near me.

And it makes me think. I know someone who makes vinegar out of apples. And I am pretty sure making mustard is not difficult..

The rose hip syrup to provide the 'sweet'.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Foraging, or How to Not Shop for Food



It has been a week of free food here at Chez Blueday. First, there was a frost, so I picked the last of the capsicum crop. Then, walnuts. There is a walnut tree on the verge at the end of my street. I have kept my beady eyes on this all autumn, and over a couple of weeks I have brought home walnuts in my pockets or shopping bags every time I have been out. I think I have them all now. It is only a small tree.. maybe I will surreptitiously ply it with compost to help it grow..

My mum and I went to City Park to see the baby monkeys. Launceston is in every way a Victorian relic - it even has wild animals in an enclosure in its City Park. After inspecting the tiny new baby monkeys clinging upside down to their mamas' bellies, I dragged my mum to the other end of the park to forage for feijoas under the big old feijoa tree there. I salute the city gardeners who planted a food tree in the park many years ago. I visit it every year for feijoas to dry and add to my morning muesli.


I wanted to make salsa with my capsicums, but didn't have enough tomatoes left, or so I thought - I asked for sauce tomatoes at all the local grocers, and was told I was too late. Oh no, what to do? Well, I went out to the garden and gleaned. It is amazing what you can find if you are desperate (desperate not to pay $8kg for tomatoes for salsa, that is) and I found sixteen cups of tomatoes still on the bushes, enough for two batches of salsa. Happy days.


My friend Katherine came and brought me zucchinis, more tomatoes, some chillies and some adorable little bantam eggs. Friends with gardens :) She was here for a purpose - we were going to help another friend put up a marquee for Agfest, which is, unsurprisingly, a local festival of all things agricultural. Then we were going to visit a wonderful food garden at a drug and alcohol rehab centre. More of that in a later post, but first - we needed to do a spot of foraging.


Katherine makes old-fashioned rosehip syrup for her family to give them a shot of Vitamin C and keep winter ills away. She had spied roadside hips, so of course we stopped to pick. Luckily I always have bags in the back of the car. The roadsides of Tasmania are rich in the old fashioned dog roses that make such wonderfully flavoured red hips. Fortuitously we also found a patch of sloe bushes, and picked some of those too, to make sloe gin. Or maybe I could use Katherine's recipe for Sloe and Cider Liquer. I couldn't find a recipe for that on-line, but I did discover another wonderfully alcoholic recipe for the left-over infused sloes after you strain them out of your gin - sliders. All of these sloe recipes take a year to mature, so I will be doing a review in autumn of 2018, just after picking next year's batch of sloes.

We had such a fun day of foraging. I wish you could have seen us - we were still wearing our neon high vis vests from putting up the marquee that morning, and I am sure we looked pretty silly, but hey, we didn't get run over, and we had a blast. We also found a roadside wild apple tree that we picked some apples from - not very many sadly, as we hadn't brought a ladder.. maybe next year..


But that's ok because this box of apples came from my friend's mother-in-law's next door neighbour's apple tree in Hobart. Did you get that relationship? Six degrees.. These things turn up at my house because I am careful to say yes to all offers of food, no matter how odd, inconvenient or arcane. I figure I can always find something to do with it later. And I always do. So far some of the apples have been stewed, but most have gone into the dehydrator. Some people dip their apple slices into lemon juice and spices before they dehydrate them, but I just slice them and whack them in. Sometimes they go a bit brown, but no-one here cares, we just gobble them up regardless. Apple chips. Yum.


And finally, the potatoes. I planted one bag of seed potatoes in spring. We have been eating them since January. I haven't bought any potatoes in four months, and this week I decided it was time to lift all the leftovers, because I want to do some winter planting in their bed. 14.6kg (that's 32lbs) of potatoes I dug up. That will last us at least another month. That's five months of potatoes for a $5 bag of seed potatoes. Now that is what I call a win. The vegetable kingdom just never ceases to astound me with its generosity. It is the original gift that keeps on giving. Along with bunnies and guinea pigs.

So tomorrow's list. Dry more apples. Dry feijoas. Make rosehip syrup. Buy gin. Ah, it's the forager's life for me..

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