beverages

stop to smell the rosehips

Wild Rosehip Shrub

I’ll be the first to admit to reaching for my rose coloured glasses whenever the notion of foraging is mentioned, but there really is a lot to be said for gathering what you might otherwise whiz past roadside. Food for the taking. Olives polka-dotting trees, gnarly old quinces hanging like lanterns, and rosehips that announce their whereabouts via your nasal passages well before you spot their perfectly muted red tones in the landscape. How good do rosehips smell?! Such a distinctive mix of sweet and sour. Which is exactly how it tastes. But beyond drying them for tea (which we do), there’s not a lot that I have come across to make the most of a glut of ripe rosehips – until I discovered shrubs. The non-bushy kind.

Shrubs are a perfectly old-fashioned way of drawing out, and preserving the flavours of fruit, into an apple cider vinegar based syrup. Then all that stands between you and your inner mixologist is a bottle of bubbly water and a particularly pretty glass. Here’s how I’ve been making our little ode to Autumn foraging…

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Wild Rosehip Shrub

2 cups rosehips, stripped clean of leaves and branches
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 to 2 cups natural sugar

To make the shrub, simply bring the vinegar to the boil, add the sugar and continue to boil until dissolved. Then remove from heat and put the rosehips into the hot vinegar/sugar liquid.

Pour into a jar and cover, leaving in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks.

Taste, and if the rosehips have steeped for long enough to draw their flavour out to your liking, then strain them out of the syrup and pour into a sterilised bottle. Store in the fridge and add to soda, kombucha or whatever might take your fancy, in the same way you would a cordial.

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big’s the new small

Homemade Verjuice

With all good intentions to be back in blog-land on a regular basis, life got a bit too big over the last month. And mostly because it kept reminding me it doesn’t go on forever. That’s the big bit, the rest I can handle. I’ve said goodbye to some truly beautiful souls this month, and been cheerleading for others who are going through serious illnesses, and in all the moments that my stomach has been flipped with raw emotion, and all the analysing of what could or couldn’t be, the very simplest notion has surfaced, slowly but surely; whether a soul is physically with you or not, you have the choice to keep loving them. So each time my hands dropped from covering my face and slid into place over my heart, I tried to just keep loving.  It didn’t always work, but when you strip everything back, what else is there to do? The sadness is just another way love wraps itself up. The silver lining concept doesn’t always sit well when you’re in the thick of things though, more than happy to be the first to acknowledge that. Silver seems to be the chosen colour of our elusive buddy, perspective.

That hit home in all sorts of ways over the last month too. Not least in what was happening in the garden with the crazy weather we had going on – extreme heat followed by torrential rain for 3 days straight. I was so relieved for all of our animals and the land itself, that I forgot to be upset by what it did to the bounty of grapes we had almost ready for picking on our few vines. When you are surrounded by vignerons though, it doesn’t take long to be reminded as to what that kind of weather can do to an entire year’s worth of work prior to harvest. Agriculture’s a tricky game to play if you try to force your hand. I’ve been working with Maggie Beer for the last 9 or so years and she’s such a great ‘silver lining hunter’, which is why verjuice was the first thing that came to mind when I saw all of our unripe grapes had split. It’s exactly how things happened for Maggie all those years ago too – provenance or perspective, whichever name you give it, rolling with the punches seems to be the best way to honour the ‘bigness’ of it all.  Little things never stay small for long when you remember to leave a seat spare for perspective. I’m so grateful for that. And for intuitive grape stealing puppies who jump into your life just when you need them the most. Little Wolfie had no problem finding the positive in a basket of just picked grapes, ripe or not. God, it made me laugh to watch him.

So, verjuice. You may have come here for a recipe after all! This is exactly how Maggie suggested making verjuice to me, without going through the stabilising process she needs to. This is truly the homemade option, and super simple. You’ll just need unripe green grapes, a juicer and some ice cube trays. And then whenever the mood for risotto, pasta, quinoa, soup, salad dressings, or fancy roasted veggies should strike, you just pop a couple of ice cubes from the freezer and you’ll be banging on about verjuice like you were Maggie herself! It’s really good stuff.

 

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Homemade Verjuice

As many organic unripe green grapes as provenance will muster

Just juice the grapes and pour into ice cube trays to keep frozen for when you need verjuice in any recipe. The freezing process simply halts any fermentation of the grape juice, keeping that wonderful bite to the verjuice. Use it wherever you would use lemon juice or white wine in a recipe. I love drinking it with sparkling mineral water too.

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hiding from summer

Blueberry, Calendula, Orange & Lavender Water

It has been so ridiculously hot here out on the hill. Not the kind of heat that encourages swimming or running through a sprinkler to cool off. Uh uh. This is the kind of heat you do everything you can to hide from. We’ve been getting up extra early to try and make everyone’s days a little easier to bear. The piggies get a new mud puddle to wallow in all day – they really know what they’re doing with mud as sunscreen. The big brown pony gets his summer rug on in the hope the brightness of the white fabric will reflect as much sun in the opposite direction as possible. He also gets a fly veil on for obvious reasons – not just because the whole get up makes him look like the horse equivalent of the Masked Avenger. ‘Cause it does. We set up a sprinkler for the geese and ducks – they love it. The chooks just stand on the periphery shouting out encouragement but never going in themselves, it’s like a stage show musical complete with synchronised swimming by the ducklings who are bobbing around like marshmallows in the ‘pool’. Amusement is always at hand out here, at least that’s never razored by the haze of heat.

We also wander around with a hose attached to the end of our arms for at least an hour each morning, watering anything that isn’t protected by drip irrigation. Once the greenhouse is thoroughly drenched and all the terracotta pots are brimming with their own reservoirs, we head inside to disappear behind the striped light of window blinds and the moments of relief as the fan oscillates past us on its constant back and forth and back again. And then it’s time to irrigate ourselves!

I’ve been making up all different kinds of fruit and flower waters this Summer, letting different ingredients grab my attention while we water the garden each morning. There’s been some really delicious combinations and gorgeous colours with the added bonus of all the vitamins and minerals from whatever fruits, flowers and herbs are swimming around in the jug.

There are so many options with the produce Summer offers –

cucumber / green apple / mint

strawberry / basil / lime

lemon / celery / grape

rosemary / apricot / ruby grapefruit

And because we’ve been making our own essential oils at home, I’ve been adding a splash of hydrosol too. Unfortunately our hydrosol is in the same little brown bottles as our essential oils and I introduced my Mum to some ‘lovely rosemary water’ the other day that she nearly choked on. Yeah, so don’t do that. Hydrosol is the water leftover after the essential oil is separated out, don’t be tempted to substitute on that one, or your Mum may never drink anything you put before her without wincing and sniffing it first.  My poor Mum, no wonder she’s suspicious of my ‘alternative’ lifestyle. Now she’ll have to add ‘normal’ water to her BYO list of instant coffee and cow’s milk when she visits.

Anyway, here’s one of our current favourites and it’s delicious, trust me…

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Blueberry, Calendula, Orange & Lavender Water

1 litre rainwater

10-12 organic blueberries

1 organic orange, cut into quarters

3-4 fresh calendula flowers

6-8 fresh borage flowers

1 tbsp lavender hydrosol

Pour the water into a jug and slightly squash and squeeze the fruit as you put it in along with the flowers and hydrosol. Add ice and hydrate to your heart’s content.

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with love from cambodia

Raw Everything & Nettle Smoothie

Our Cambodian trip was a little while ago now but it’s taken me some time to let any notion of narrative fall into place about what it meant to be there. I still have none. The story will only be a story for you to read, and really, what would be the most amazing thing, and maybe the only real way to talk about this, is for you to go too. Take a totally brilliant friend with you. I did. And while you’re there please, please go to Hariharalaya. It’s where you can dissolve and be held at the same time. My God. And the really, really brilliant part is what you find in your heart when you get home. I’m still unpacking.

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Angkor Wat made me sit down a lot. Mostly because I was trying to stop my brain from figuring out the details. The overwhelming beauty stops all inner chat pretty quickly though.

 

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The view over the balcony from my room at Hariharalaya.

 

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We rode our bikes down dirt tracks lined either side with temples, to the soundtrack of chanting and local kids practicing their English on us, as they rode up to join us like we were old buddies that did this every afternoon.

 

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 Handmade, locally pottered tea cups. No one rides past that kind of magic shop.

 

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We had really great smoothies every morning as part of the Hariharalaya breakfast and it’s a ritual the bounty of stinging nettles has encouraged me to continue since being home. Here’s what we’ve been sipping on after yoga over the last week. It’s helping with my detachment until I can get back to Cambodia.

Raw Everything & Nettle Smoothie

makes at least 4 breakfast sized smoothies

 

3 cups freshly made organic almond milk (or milk or choice)

1 heaped tablespoon organic hemp seeds

1 heaped tablespoon organic raw cacao

1 heaped tablespoon organic mesquite powder

1 heaped tablespoon organic chia seeds

1 heaped tablespoon organic coconut oil

1 frozen organic banana

2 packed cups raw organic stinging nettles 

 

Blend everything together in a high speed blender until completely smooth. Don’t worry about the sting on the nettles, they’ll be dissolved during the pureeing process. Promise. You may want to add a little honey or agave if it’s not quite sweet enough for you.

moonlighting

Whole Spice Cola

With the very first Full Moon Farm Gate happening this Saturday night under not just a full moon, but a super full moon, I figured it would be especially good timing for my buddy Ben to share one of the most amazing recipes that will sit trestle-top on the night. Superfood cola. I can’t be entirely sure my earliest taste of this wasn’t the driving force to create the Full Moon Farm Gate in the first place. Thanks so, so much for sharing Ben, and even more for making this, it’ll be the coolest thing to be sipping on this Saturday night. After reading the epic ingredients list for this, all those heading to Langmeil on the 25th may well want to genuflect at the Moonlight Cola stall prior to purchase.

 

Beautiful pics, witty narration and epic recipe by Ben…

Cola Ingredients bottle and glass

 

 

So, this is a recipe for making cola syrup at home. I can’t remember exactly what started this little project – I suspect there may have been rum involved – but it’s developed into a series of still-running, sticky experiments which take over our kitchen for days at a time. Thankfully, it makes the house smell amazing throughout the process, otherwise I think I’d be making it in the garden shed by now.

A funny thing about cola is that it’s a wholly modern invention – well, late 1800’s anyway – and was made from the start with a lot of chemistry, using essential oils for flavour. Unlike a lot of recipes that are now mass-produced, there’s no ‘original homemade version’ we can go back to if we want the real thing (pun absolutely not intended). The name ‘cola’ comes from the Kola nut used in the original recipes, but Kola nut doesn’t really taste of much on its own – vaguely woody, and a bit bitter – it’s just there to provide caffeine. The real flavours that make something taste cola-ish are vanilla and sour citrus to offset the sweetness.

Anyway, the idea behind my tinkering is to make something that’s definitely cola, but by using real ingredients: whole spices, fresh zest and unprocessed sugars for sweetness. Really, it’s just a big, involved pot of some sort of mutant chai tea, with sugar added to turn it into a concentrated syrup. It keeps forever in the fridge – just add sparkling water whenever you fancy something sweet (yes, you can add rum if you’re a grown-up and/or a pirate).

 

Pestling

 

Whole Spice Cola

 1l water

Round one

3 whole vanilla beans

10 star anise nibs (1-and-a-bit whole stars)

10 green cardamom pods

10g coffee beans

10g cacao nibs or whole beans

5g cinnamon stick

2g long pepper

2g black peppercorns

4 cloves

10g dried açaí berry

 

Round two

24g tamarind pulp

20g fresh ginger

5g fresh turmeric

5g fresh galangal

pinch of saffron

2g lavender flowers

 

Round three

10g whole, fresh citrus leaves (lime, lemon, orange, cumquat are all good)

15g lemon zest

15g lime zest

15g orange zest

 

Round four

75g rapadura sugar

50g raw caster sugar

25g dark muscavado sugar

A pinch of sea salt

2tsp of citric or tartaric acid (taste!)

 

Take all the whole, woody spices (that’s all of round one, except the cinnamon, vanilla and açaí) and gently crack them in a mortar and pestle – we’re just trying to open the pods and seeds, without making any fine dusty bits. Dust is our nemesis, as you’re about to find out! Split the vanilla pods with a sharp knife – don’t worry about doing the famous ‘seed scrape’, for once we don’t need the floaty little specks. 

Starting cold, add the water and all the round one ingredients to a pot, and bring it to just under simmering. We’re really just making our giant pot of tea at this point, so we don’t need to see any bubbles. Keep it at this temperature for 30 minutes, stirring whenever you feel like it.

Lime and cinnamon

Add all the round two ingredients to the pot and give it a good stir. Keep it at the tea-brewing temperature for another 10 minutes, then go fishing for the tamarind pulp with your wooden spoon – it’ll be sitting in soft-ish lumps at the bottom of the pot. Either with the back of the spoon, or with your fingers if you’re feeling heatproof, break up the lumps so they dissolve nicely. Once that’s done, give everything a big stir, and let it keep brewing for another 30 minutes. 

Turn off the heat, then add the round three ingredients. Stir the pot well, cover it tightly, and let it cool completely. Adding the citrus ingredients last, and letting them infuse in the cooling liquid keeps the raw, zesty flavours better intact.

Infusing

Alright – what we’re dealing with now is the base flavour for our cola. Taste it: you should get sourness from the zest and tamarind, big earthy dark flavours from all the woody spices, and some sweetness and a big dose of vanilla perfume. It will taste bitter, too – just like you’d expect an hours-long-brewed tea to. That’s fine, even desirable. The real challenge now is our nemesis – the floatie. I’m going to digress on a little bit of science here (if I don’t bring science to a guest-post on the Scullery blog, I’ve failed) – but if you want to skip this part, be warned. There is filtering in your future. Lots of it.

So, the science. It’s about bubbles. Bubbles belong in cola like, well, like they belong in champagne. The problem with our lovely home-infused concoction is that it’s full of all the little floaty particles that separated from our delicious whole ingredients. Bubbles and floaty-particles are really, really good friends – as soon as sparkling water touches a floaty-particle, a big new bubble springs into being (bonus nerd points – every particle is a potential nucleation site). If there are thousands of floaty-particles in your syrup, then you get thousands of bubbles all at once – which gives your glass a head like badly homebrewed beer, and you a flat drink about 30 seconds later. Incidentally, I imagine this is why the original and ‘clone’ recipes you see floating around for the famous, mass-produced colas all call for essential oils of orange, lemon, neroli – you get some of the flavour without any floaties).

Anyway, presuming you’re going to mix your cola syrup with some lightly sparkling water we need to get our syrup as clear and free of floaty bits as we practically can. Let’s get started:

First, slowly pour off the liquid, through a colander and into a bowl. If you’ve got a fancy conical one, use that. That removes the bits bigger than 5mm or so. Save the vanilla beans, and throw the rest in the compost. Clean your pot, then pour the liquid back into it, this time through a fine mesh sieve. Pour slowly (you don’t want to push bits through the mesh with the force of the liquid), and tap gently on the side of the sieve to encourage things if you like. Definitely don’t rub spoons or anything around inside the sieve – let gravity do its thing. We’re down to soft pieces smaller than about 1mm now, which are still plenty big enough for bad nucleation to happen – we’ve got to keep going!

Set yourself up a clear glass bottle, funnel, and the clean mesh sieve. Pour the liquid gently through the sieve again to fill the bottle. Cap the bottle, and put it in the fridge overnight.

Decanting

The next day, you should find a layer of sediment has settled to the bottom of the bottle. Gently, gently take the bottle and pour off the clear liquid on top, back into the pot. Stop before you hit the goo in the bottom. If you want to save every last drop, pour the goo layer back through the sieve, and into a paper coffee filter. You might also see some yellowish solidified oils around the neck of the bottle – don’t worry, they’re there as evidence we’ve used real, proper ingredients, and they’ll reincorporate once you add the sugar.

Now, if you want super-crystal-clear syrup, you can paper-coffee-filter the liquid at this point. Be warned though – filtering through paper takes hours (or days, as I found out while experimenting). If you’re going to do it, set up lots of funnels and lots of filter papers, to spread the load out as much as you can. If you can’t be bothered with this step, just be gentle when you pour the finished syrup – the last little bits tend to settle out in the fridge over time.

When you’re happy with the amount and clarity of the liquid, gently warm it in the pot, just enough to take the chill off. Pour all the sugar into a clean bottle, add the liquid, and shake and stir until everything’s dissolved (you can be rough with it, it’s cool!). Now’s the time to have a taste test as you add the final two ingredients: the sea salt and the acid. The salt is a funny thing – you definitely won’t taste anything salty, but it really brings out the flavours of everything else. The acid is perhaps a debatable point: with everything else being completely whole and natural, it seems a shame to add it, but it gives the finished drink a sourness and ‘rightness’ that I just haven’t been able to get with any other ingredient. Tartaric acid is my pick – it has the handy benefit of preventing the syrup crystalizing in the fridge, and seems to help the mixed drink hold onto its bubbles better. In any case, both acids are naturally found in fruit: citric in citruses, tartaric in grapes (amongst other things), and if you use baking powder in a cake, you’re using tartaric acid anyway. You can easily, easily overdo the acid, though, so add a little bit, mix up a mouthful with water, then adjust until you have it as sour as you like. My syrup usually has about 3 teaspoons per litre, but you’ll need to adjust depending on all your other ingredients. 

For the final drink, I usually use 6:1 sparkling water to syrup – roughly 1 shot in a tumbler of sparkling water – but this syrup isn’t very sweet, as far as these things go. You can personalise the flavour a lot with the blend of sugars you use: More muscovado will give you caramelly-molasses flavour, and the dark-brown colour people expect from cola. Panela or rapadura brings mellow honey flavours, and lighter sugars (raw or even white) are sweet but very neutral, which let more of the herbs and zests come through. 

All that’s left is to bottle it however you like. Depending on how assiduous your filtering is, you’ll get about 800ml of syrup, and it’ll keep for months in the fridge. Cheers!

Finished

real lemonade

Real Lemonade

I’m not sure I can quite pull the old ‘we’re still recovering from a huge Breakfast Rave’ line now that we’re a fortnight on from the actual event, but hoping you can humour me. It is true. Mostly. It was such an amazing day a couple of Sunday’s ago, the weather was perfect, the location at Chateau Tanunda just gorgeous, great food, music, coffee, tea, green smoothies, and an all round good vibe for everyone’s start to the day. I thought I’d made enough lemonade but Spring came along dressed for Summer and we sold out, so here’s the recipe for everyone I promised it to. Over 2 weeks ago now. Ooops.

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Real Lemonade

 

3/4 cup organic panela sugar (or other unrefined sugar of choice)

1 cup water 

1 cup organic, freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 5 lemons worth)

1 vanilla bean, stripped

 

3 to 4 cups still or sparkling water (to dilute)

 

Make a simple syrup by heating the panela sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely. Add the lemon juice and vanilla seeds and stir through.

 

Remove from heat and leave to cool before diluting to taste with either still or sparkling water.

 

The panela sugar will make this lemonade a darker colour but the flavour is wonderful.

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farm culture

Japanese Water Kefir

There’s a fair bit of life out here on the hill with us. Lots of things that need our daily attention and feeding. And it got just that little bit livelier today. 5 little chicks hatched out and came chirping through the succulent garden with their Mumma this morning. Adorable little critters. Then 3 (and another in progress) ducklings hatched out too. All this new life happening on the 2 minute walk from the house to give Mr Windsor his breakfast of pumpkin and carrots. So cool. On any given day it seems sharing our space with such a collection of brilliant souls is a permission-slip to wonderment. I can’t imagine ever tiring of it.

Then there’s the building obsession with the less furry or feathered kinds of life – cultures. We realised it had turned into a bit of ‘thing’ when we added up all the other growing members of the family. There’s the kombucha. And the sourdough. The sprouts. Mushrooms. Apple cider vinegar. And the Japanese water grains. If there’s something we’re missing please, please don’t tell me what it is. Some women like shoes I’m told.

The lovely thing about Japanese water grains, besides the delicious probiotic, naturally effervescent drink they produce, is that you can share them. In fact you’ll probably have to figure out who’s on your culture list before you even get yourself some grains. They multiply like baby chickens I tell you.

So here’s the recipe to make our version of this amazingly good for you little number, especially for all those people I handed little packages of grains to at the Farmer’s Market last week. Please let me know if you missed out, we’re bound to have spares in a minute or two.

 

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Japanese Water Kefir

makes 1 litre

 

1/2 cup water grains

50g organic rapadura sugar

1 organic lemon, quartered

3-4 organic cumquats, halved

2-3 organic cloves

1 stick organic cinnamon

2 organic cardamom, crushed slightly

1 organic dried fig, halved

1 slice organic ginger

1 litre filtered water

 

The fruit is all optional, bar the lemon, you really need lemon for it to taste great and have the bonus of an alkalising effect. Feel free to mix up the spices, take out the ginger or put lots in if you love it. Add dried apple or pear. Anything goes really, as long as you feed the grains with a sugar mixture to ferment, they’ll be happy. The fermentation results in less that a 1% alcohol rate too, so perfectly safe for little people and pregnant bellies.

To make the kefir, place your grains in the bottom of a 1 litre capacity glass jar (don’t use any other container because the kefir is quite reactive – glass is definitely the best) and add the dissolved sugar mixture. I find the rapadura dissolves in room temperature water but if you’d rather add hot water just make sure it has cooled to room temp before adding it to the grains. They don’t like being cooked!

Then pop in your choice of citrus and dried fruits, spices and fresh ginger.

Top with a square of muslin cloth held in place by a rubberband and leave the kefir to do its thing for 1-2 days. No need to stir in that time. When the sweetness has all but gone and you have a tangy, slightly bubbly drink, strain the fruit, spices and grains and bottle the liquid in the fridge for a day or two more before drinking. The longer you leave the kefir capped in the fridge, the bubblier it will be. Just remember not to leave it too much past 2 days before ‘burping’ the bottle to ensure you don’t have any fridge explosions.

You can use the fruit and grains for 2 batches of kefir, then refresh the fruit and spices and rinse the grains with filtered water. You can then give half away (or if you have chooks, they loooooove eating them and they get a probiotic fix too) or start 2 batches of kefir to meet your increased demand. It’s really yummy, you won’t have a problem getting through it. We drink it straight up, first thing in the morning before juice, or mixed into a green smoothie, or like this morning, poured over a fruit salad of loquats, grapefruit, passionfruit and fresh nutmeg. So good.

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oh, Spring!

Stinging Nettle Juice

Today was a grand day. From start to finish. We did everything Spring had on her request list in the hope she’d finally take centre stage and stop Winter pushing in with encore performances. We planted and mowed, and weeded and planted some more, we bared our skin to the first sunshine of the season, we filled water bowls for thirsty bees, we piled straw high for nesting geese and broody chooks. We fell into silence at the beauty of the first apricot blossom, the budding vines and the dappled light. We remembered to look up midway through a task to absorb the crazy amount of life humming across the hills around us, with crops glistening like the ocean and canola flowers creating an entirely new colour, above and beyond yellow. We were drawn into real life egg hunts finding little clutches hidden under the hedge or on top of the hay stack. We watched the ducks chatting about all the important things in life under the newly formed shade of their favourite tree. We hung clothes in the sunshine to dry, and folded that unmistakable crispness into them, pressing them to our faces like some paid talent in a laundry powder advert before we put them in the basket. We hung out on a blanket and imagined new farm projects, all the while looking up at the bluest of blue backdrops. We patted all the members of our family and were covered in shedding hair. We picked jonquils to put on the table. And we took full advantage of one of our favourite edible heralds of Spring and drank stinging nettle juice. We couldn’t have managed to squeeze another moment of Spring into the day. I hope she’s here to stay.

 

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Stinging Nettle Juice

 

Any juice recipe of mine is never really a recipe at all but more of a nod in the direction of a combination, so please feel free to add or subtract as you see fit. Don’t miss the stinging nettle bit though – such a great way to get a good whack of Vitamins A, K and D, iron and calcium amongst others. Pretty amazing little ‘weed’ really.

 

Big bunch of organic unsprayed stinging nettles (pick them with gloves to save the stings, or go in with intent if you have the skill to ‘grasp the nettle’)

2 organic lemons, peeled

3 organic apples

knob of fresh organic ginger

 

Juice everything and drink immediately. No need to worry about blanching the nettles, the juicer will take care of breaking the protein that forms the fine hairs on the leaves and I promise you won’t have any stinging as you swallow!

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peace & vinegar

apple cider vinegar

There’s that kind of silence that can make you feel a bit panicked. And then there’s the kind of silence that wraps around you and starts seeping into your skin before you notice it. The later usually comes with early morning light, and it’s the very coolest thing. It feels nourishing somehow. Like your insides had been waiting for it all along but didn’t know how to get through your skin to soak the quiet up. It was a soak it up kind of morning out on the hill this morning, and everyone was keen to pass the silence along in foggy puffs of warm breath. It started with the cows, and then passed to a lone sheep, who begged me not to give away his true identity in a bovine dominated paddock, and then it rolled over to Stella, and she wet-nosed it into my hand so I could hang at the back fence holding it for a while. Super quiet in the winter sunshine.

It didn’t last for long. I haven’t figured out how to catch it completely yet, but  I felt like I had packed enough peace into my pockets to get me through the first part of Sunday morning at least. I really try not to have too many plans for Sundays beyond tea drinking and riding of big brown horses. So there was tea. And then there was apple cider vinegar making. Mostly because we haven’t done that before, and because it didn’t seem to taxing an idea for a Sunday.

We were given a box of beautiful organic homegrown fruit from a friend’s orchard a while ago and after munching our way through fresh apples and adding them to our juice every morning, vinegar popped into my head. We whip through apple cider vinegar like no tomorrow, so it seemed like a grand idea to know how to make it ourselves. It gave us the perfect chance to put our finally finished cellar to good use too. And I completely appreciate this isn’t everyone’s idea of a relaxing Sunday, so feel free to skip homemade vinegar making, but give the ‘tonic’ recipe a go if you’re keen. It’s unbelievably good for you because of its alkalising effects, helping issues with fluid retention, cholesterol, memory, PMS, arthritis, blood circulation etc etc. The list goes on. And if you’ve developed any kind of ‘culture’ obsession, like we have with sourdough and yoghurt, kefir grains and mushrooms, then you can just call this good fun!

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Apple Cider Vinegar

 

organic wax free apples

champagne yeast

vinegar ‘mother’ (we got our’s from a friend)

 

 

We used our juicer to juice the apples. This gives a slightly cloudier version of vinegar but it continues to settle over time.

Once you have juiced your apples, put the juice into a large preserving jar and add the amount of champagne yeast recommended by the brand you are using. Don’t use yeast for making bread, they’re two completely different things!

Stir the yeast into the apple juice and cover the top of the jar with muslin held in place by a rubber band. This is the fermenting stage and will result in alcoholic apple cider. Depending on temperature, yeast culture and amount of sugar in the fruit you should have a fermented cider in about 5-7 days. You’ll notice the mixture will stop bubbling and start to settle in the jar.

Strain off the yeast from the cider into another jar as best as you can, leaving a little isn’t a problem, so no need to be too thorough.

When you have the strained apple cider add the vinegar mother culture and recap with a fresh lot of muslin to allow the cider to transform into vinegar as the mother culture works its magic.

Taste the vinegar after about a month and see if it’s to your liking. If yes, strain the mother off and begin a new batch of vinegar, otherwise leave things as they are to continue the process until you have the flavour you’re after.

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Daily Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic

 

2 tsp organic apple cider vinegar

1 cup filtered water

1/2 tsp raw organic honey, or to taste

 

Mix together and sip on throughout the morning. If your tummy is handling the change then you can gradually increase the amount of vinegar to 2 tablespoons in the same amount of water.

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rave fuel

Aloe Vera, Feijoa & Mint Juice

Ramping up for another Breakfast Rave this Sunday, and it seems the ramping up for fresh juice amongst the Rave ranks is happening in parallel. The Rave has been such an ‘onion’ of learning layers and sharing info between all involved. And that’s on both sides of the trestle. It’s the coolest thing that we all came together to create an organic and sustainable breakfast on a Sunday morning and in the background to that has been a table tennis game of food discoveries going backwards and forwards between us all as we find out another snippit of seed saving info, or we gather for a raw chocolate fest and communal screening of the latest Food Matters download, or we figure out the best way to feed our sourdough mother. You get the idea.

 

The latest batting around of knowledge has been juice based. Nothing new in fresh juice and its health benefits, but add in some David Wolfe superfood wisdom and all of a sudden we’re asking ‘would you like marine phytoplankton with that?’, or ‘what’s the best way to fillet fresh aloe vera?’ Love it.

 

Because The Breakfast Rave has always had a bit of an envelope pushing nature, it’s no surprise that as we’ve all been learning and experimenting with ways to make ourselves and the planet healthier, another layer is peeled, and shazam, there’s fresh aloe vera on offer in Rave juice. The marine phytoplankton is waiting to ‘pop up’ next time round – we figure superfood baby steps is probably the best way forward first thing on a Sunday morning!

 

We’ve been juicing fresh aloe for the last 3 weeks or so, and you know that thing that happens when you are blown away by something that makes you feel amazing, you just want the whole world to have it too! We’ll settle for being able to share it with a few Ravers on Sunday morning but if you’d like to give it a go at home, here are some of the reasons aloe is our new superfood hero…

 

Raw aloe contains vitamins A,C and E, along with sulfur, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium and chromium, antioxidants, fiber, amino acids, enzymes and immune boosting, joint lubricating polysaccharides. David Wolfe also talks about how aloe can help you lose weight and gain lean muscle mass, increase nutrient absorption along your intestinal track, aid in stabilising blood sugar levels and kill yeast infections, while at the same time increasing the effectiveness of probiotics such as acidophilus. Who wouldn’t want to swallow some of that for breakfast?!

 

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Aloe Vera, Feijoa & Mint Juice

 

1 fillet of fresh organic aloe vera

3-4 organic feijoas

3-4 organic carrots

1 organic lemon

1 organic orange

handful fresh organic mint

knob of organic ginger

 

To fillet the aloe vera, run a knife down the long sides to remove the spikes. Then lay the aloe flat on the chopping board and very carefully slice the top layer of skin off, then holding the gel with the flat of your hand, put the blade of the knife between the bottom layer of skin and the gel and slide along the length until the fillet of clear gel is free of any skin. A little bit of skin won’t matter but it does have a very bitter edge to it so you wouldn’t want to let too much make its way into your juicer.

 

Put the feijoas and ginger into the juicer first, then the mint, aloe, citrus and  carrots.

 

I put a teaspoon of acidophilus powder into my glass first and then pour the fresh juice on top. Quick stir and you’re good to go.

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