Freshfield Grove

Tales of Tasmanian Adventures in Olive Oil


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Recipes From My Kitchen – Farmer Fi’s Banana Bread

This is the quickest banana bread recipe I know – the ingredients are really easy to mix together and you can have it in the oven in under 15 minutes. The tricky bit is not eating it as soon as it’s baked, because the aroma is amazing! I eat it as it is, but you may like to toast and / or butter it. It’s a great snack or breakfast on the go – try a piece of fresh fruit to go with it.

There’s already a good dose of healthy fats with the extra virgin olive oil and walnuts, but try making it with wholemeal flour and brown sugar to increase the fibre content, and reduce empty calories further.

Calories: 232 per serving

Farmer Fi's Banana Bread

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Incredibly quick and easy banana bread recipe - a perfect snack or brekkie on the run.

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 50g chopped walnuts
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 125g sugar
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • grated rind ½ lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g raisins

Directions

  1. Mash bananas.
  2. Mix with all other ingredients and beat ‘til smooth.
  3. Pour into greased or lined loaf tin (23x13x8cm).
  4. Bake at 180°C for approximately 1h 10minutes. You can check for done-ness with a skewer 5 minutes before time is up.

Possible substitutions and additions:

  • You can substitute wholemeal flour in place of all or half of the self-raising. If it’s not self-raising wholemeal flour, add 3tsp baking powder per 200g flour (in addition to the baking powder and bicarb that’s already listed).
  • Sugar can be granulated, caster, or brown. Flavour and texture will vary a little.

Other tips:

  • Bananas freeze well, just place them in a plastic bag or other container. Either buy when they’re ripe and put them straight in, or buy them unripe and pop them in the freezer when they ripen. This means you avoid the scenario where you want to make banana bread, but all the ones at the shop are green! They’ll be a bit wet and floppy when they come out, but it’s no problem for this recipe!
  • You can do things to ripen bananas faster. I’ve never tried, but this site covers the different methods… https://food-hacks.wonderhowto.com/how-to/ripen-bananas-faster-with-these-3-simple-tricks-0167554/
  • Grated lemon zest can be frozen.
  • If you don’t have a loaf tin this size, then other size tins will work, but the quantity or cooking time and temperature may need to be adjusted. The mixture should only come about half to two thirds up the pan to best allow the loaf to rise and cook through.
  • Alternatively, bake as 12 muffins (approx. 20 mins at 160°C).
  • Lining the pan with greaseproof paper or baking paper can make the loaf easier to remove.
  • I slice the cooled loaf and freeze as individual portions – grab one on the way out of the door and it will have defrosted by the time you get to work.


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Habits for Health and Happiness

Do you feel as if you don’t have time to look after yourself the way you want? With my background as a doctor I know both how important our health is, and how difficult it can be to look after ourselves when we live busy lives. I’ve been making some changes recently to increase my activity levels, and decrease the number of calories I’m consuming while raising my fruit and veg intake. And you know what? It doesn’t take long at all to start feeling the benefits 🙂

Read on to find out more, and for some ideas you can use to make your lifestyle healthier and happier without too much effort…

Cooking with Extra Virgin Olive Oil improves the nutritional benefits of vegetables, by increasing antioxidant-rich phenols. So, stop steaming and start sautéing!

I’ve started running again, something that had largely fallen by the wayside when I had a tendinopathy affecting one of my hip muscles a couple of years ago. And I’ve signed up to WeightWatchers to help me get rid of a pesky surplus 5kg that I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to shift for about the same amount of time! I don’t necessarily agree with the way WeightWatchers deals with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), or other healthy fats, but I find their system pretty slick, and easy to use, and it does work for me. So, although a huge number of my points seem to be derived from EVOO, walnuts, avocados, full fat milk, and the occasional glass of wine, I’m going to stick with it!

The reason I’m eating so many of these healthy fats is because the evidence for including them in our diets is really strong. There’s a large, and seemingly ever increasing, number of studies supporting EVOO and the Mediterranean diet in particular, which show a reduced risk of various diseases and health problems, including:

  • Reduction in blood pressure (1).
  • Reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and strokes (2).
  • Reduction in risk of invasive breast cancer (3).

I contributed to this recent article titled “7 Habits to Make, Not Break” on exactly this topic, and I recommend including at least 2 tablespoons of EVOO in your diet every day. Take a look at the article for some other great, sensible tips – a lot of things that contribute to a healthy lifestyle are common sense, but it definitely helps to be reminded of them from time to time!

I’d love to hear your health and happiness tips, whether it’s for food, fitness, or general lifestyle – do let me know yours in the comments. And if you’re wondering how to get more EVOO into your everyday food, keep an eye out here for recipes and suggestions, or just ask me 🙂

Get outside – you never know what you’ll find! I met this female leopard seal resting on the beach when I went for a run this week. (I know it was a female leopard seal because I rang the Tas Wildlife Marine Mammal hotline to report it, and they told me they were keeping an eye on her ❤ )

REFERENCES

(1) Flynn M, Wang S. Report. Olive oil as medicine: the effect on blood pressure. December 2015. UCDavis Olive Center.

(2) Estruch, R et al. Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet, N Engl J Med 2013;368:1279-1290

(3) Toledo E, et al. Mediterranean Diet and Invasive Breast Cancer Risk Among Women at High Cardiovascular Risk in the PREDIMED Trial: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med.2015;175(11):1752–1760

 


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Interview – Tasmanian Country Hour – 28 June 2017

I get so excited about olives and olive oil, and I love opportunities to share this, so I was thrilled to have Nick Bosley-Pask from ABC Radio Hobart visit again last week.  I was even more excited when I paused for lunch a couple of days later to hear myself on the Tasmanian Country Hour show! I find doing that sort of stuff pretty nerve-wracking, but I try to think of it just as a one-on-one conversation, so I don’t freak out!

I’ve attached my segment here so do listen to find out more about the harvest timing, modern olive pressing, how it feels to wait for the first oil to flow out of the press, and my experience of hiring casual employees.

 

 

Do get in touch if you’ve got any questions about anything discussed. I’d love to hear from you 🙂 FFx

 


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How to Cure Olives at Home – Part 2 – Ferment in Brine

In part 2 of this series I’m dealing with brine cured olives. 

If you want to read about water-curing olives, then go my previous post here.

This takes the longest of all the methods, but is also the easiest. The lack of contact time is a huge bonus for me, and although the months, and months, and months of waiting seem impossible at the start, if you hide them in the back of the pantry you’ll forget they’re there! Until, one day, you remember, and it feels as if someone’s given you a super special yummy gift! And if you do this every year, you’ll always have a supply of these little treats to hand anyway, so it won’t matter that the new batch can’t be touched!

Brine curing relies on a natural fermentation process. Basically, you put the freshly picked olives in an acidified brine solution which creates a selective environment Continue reading


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Recipes From My Kitchen – Colourful Roast Veggie Pasta

Cooking veggies in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) increases the antioxidant-rich phenols of the vegetables. Phenols are known to be anti-inflammatory and have a preventative effect against cancers and chronic illnesses. They’re present in vegetables and EVOO, but cooking them together by frying or baking increases their availability. Cooking veggies like this obviously increases the calories, but EVOO has been shown to keep us feeling full for longer after meals, so it reduces calories from snacking!

These veggies can all be grown in the area where I live in the Coal River Valley region of Tasmania, but my vegetable patch is still in its infancy! I’m lucky to be able to find many of them at local markets when they’re in season though.

This recipe takes a while because of the time for the veg to roast, but the chopping is the most difficult and time consuming part! I scale this up or down depending how many people I want to feed, Continue reading


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Pick Your Own Olives

We grow two varieties of olive in our grove in the Coal River Valley; Picual and Manzanillo. Both are Spanish varieties (which is why if you “Adopt An Olive Tree”, your tree will have a Spanish name!) They’re both happy in our cool climate, and they help to pollinate each other. Traditionally Picual is an oil variety, and Manzanillo is a table olive, but you can eat the Picuals, and press the Manzanillos. The Picual olives are smaller than the Manzanillos, and the two are slightly different shapes, with the Manzanillo being rounder – they look a bit like plump cherries when they turn black. (For more on green and black olives, read this previous post.) Manzanillos tend to have a higher moisture content too, which makes them harder to press into oil for technical reasons that I need to find out more about!

Can you spot the difference between Picual and Manzanillo from the photos below?

In the longer term, we’re planning to make table olives as part of our range of products, but at the moment we’re still getting on top of the extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) side of things. I’m going to pick some of our Manzanillos to do a few preserving experiments with, but there’ll be lots left on the trees. So, we’ve decided to offer “Pick Your Own Olives” days at our olive grove in Campania. Dates will be announced towards the end of May, when we have a better idea of when they’ll be ripe, but it’s likely to be in early June this year. This time of year is always exciting in Tasmania, because the Dark Mofo winter festival is on around then, so there’s tons going on.

I’ll be writing more on how to cure olives in some following posts, but the basic principle is that the bitterness needs to be removed. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried biting into an olive straight off the tree, but it’s not a pleasant experience! This can be done using water-curing, brine-curing, or lye-curing (=caustic soda – yuk! Which is how most commercially available olives are produced because it’s very quick.)

If you’d like to be first in line to find out when our “Pick Your Own Olives” days are on, then watch this space, or sign up to my mailing list and I’ll send you an invite so you don’t miss out!

CLICK HERE to sign up to my mailing list.


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Recipes From My Kitchen – Cauliflower Cheese Pasta Bake

This recipe is like a cross between cauliflower cheese and macaroni cheese, and it’s perfect comfort food! The weather’s picked up again in Tassie and we’ve got some beautiful sunny days as we head into autumn, but it was getting a bit chilly for a while and I dug this recipe out! Make this to enjoy on its own, or pair it with some BBQ food. It’s great as a veggie dish, but chicken or bacon are tasty additions. I sometimes add a bit of broccoli too, for a little more colour. It can also be prepared in advance, Continue reading


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Newsletter – February 2017

Click here to read the February 2017 Newsletter, with news of my adventures in and out of the grove…


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Recipes From My Kitchen – Spaghetti with Beans, Walnuts, and Mascarpone

I created this dish as a way to use some of the beans that are currently cropping really well in my new veggie patch. These borlotti beans (aka tongue of fire) are so pretty with their red streaky pods (although this colour disappears on cooking). I’ve picked these young and am eating them pods and all. Regular green beans, or French beans, would also work really well in this, but the ones I’m growing aren’t quite big enough yet!

I wanted to make a quick meal for dinner, and a rummage in the pantry and fridge revealed walnuts and mascarpone. I had a vague idea of what to do and found something similar without the beans in this great pasta sauce book by Dianne Seed (a fab gift from my Mum!) Mascarpone cheese can be frozen, so if you don’t use the whole tub, you can pop the rest in the freezer til next time.

Spaghetti with Beans, Walnuts, and Mascarpone

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Use this recipe combining fresh beans in a creamy pasta sauce with the lovely added texture of walnuts, to make a speedy light dinner for 2

Ingredients

  • 100g spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • a handful of beans, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 4 tablespoons of chopped walnuts
  • 80g mascarpone cheese
  • 25g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Cook the spaghetti in salted water, and while that’s happening…
  2. Pour the extra virgin olive oil into a frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the chopped beans, crushed garlic, and lemon zest, and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chopped walnuts and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat, add the mascarpone and stir to combine.
  6. Return to the heat, add the grated parmesan, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce a little (use boiling water from the kettle if you’ve already drained the pasta).
  8. Drain the pasta, tip it into the sauce, and combine to coat the pasta with the sauce.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

Possible substitutions and additions:
– A variety of different beans would work well here – French beans, young runner beans, double podded broad beans…
– I think double cream could be substituted for the mascarpone, and this would give a more decadent, creamy result.
– The parmesan could be increased to make it cheesier, or perhaps substituted for a blue cheese, in which case I’d omit the lemon and garlic.
– Spaghetti works well with this creamy sauce, but other pasta shapes would be just fine. Wholewheat pasta could be used to increase the fibre content.

Other tips:
– Make sure the walnuts you use are fresh – old rancid ones will ruin the dish. Fresh walnuts tend to have a paler colour, while old ones can be rather darker.
– You can freeze any leftover mascarpone cheese.


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Interview on Tasmania ABC Radio Drive Show

I was interviewed by the lovely Helen Shield for Tasmania’s ABC Radio Drivetime show, broadcast just before Christmas. It was a fun experience, if a bit scary! If you’ve got 7 minutes, have a listen and find out a bit more about what we’re doing at the moment, how we got here, and what the future may hold!

 

Want to get involved and be able to try our fabulous, fresh 2017 harvest oil later this year? Find out how to adopt one of our trees by clicking HERE.

Fiona and Glenn at Freshfield Grove, Campania, Tasmania