Freshfield Grove

Tales of Tasmanian Adventures in Olive Oil


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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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How to Cure Olives at Home – Part 1 – With Water

This is a multipart series of posts to give you the confidence and know-how to cure yummy olives yourself at home. You’ll obviously need fresh olives in order to even get started, and for some people this will be the trickiest part! I know some greengrocers in Australia stock them, for example the Harris Farm stores in NSW, so keep your eyes open. However, if you have the good fortune to be in Tasmania during olive season, then get in touch with me and arrange to come and pick some of ours!

Manzanillo olives

Olives are too bitter to eat straight off the tree, and must be cured in some way to make them palatable. Several methods are described, 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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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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My Most Used Recipe Book

I want to share with you what has rapidly become one of my most used cookery books. And I have many! Mrs Beeton remains my go to for when I want to know how to make, well, anything (jugged hare anyone?) But for when I want a quick, inexpensive, and healthy meal, that I already have the ingredients for, then this is the one! It’s quicker to cook most of these meals than get a takeaway. And if you want to count calories, or use a meal plan, then it’s all there.

So what is this book? Well, it took me a while to track it down. I’d come across publications by Mary Flynn, a prominent American nutritionist based at Brown University (and Associate Professor of Medicine (Clinical)), and kept seeing mentions of her plant based olive oil diet (PBOO). Yes, it was the olive oil bit that caught my eye! The book is called “The Pink Ribbon Diet”, and it’s based on her research study of women who were overweight and had undergone treatment for breast cancer. The study found that this higher fat, olive oil-based, Mediterranean diet resulted in more weight loss than the low-fat or low-carb diets. It also showed health benefits not seen in the low-fat diet, with improvements in blood lipids, blood sugar, and insulin, which are all biomarkers for breast cancer.

Pink Ribbon Diet Mary Flynn PBOO

I’m in the fortunate position of not seeking out this book because I have cancer, but I am interested in how what I eat affects my health and wellbeing. I’ve also got a busy life, and I’m always on the lookout for recipes that make it easy to eat a healthy, tasty, filling meal.

I’d love to share some of the recipes in the book, and I emailed Dr Flynn to ask permission, but she replied that permission rests with the publishers, and unfortunately they haven’t replied to my emails! So I’ll give you a quick description of some of my favourites which I hope will whet your appetite (and not get me in trouble!), and a top 7 of reasons I love this book.

Porridge with walnuts and raisins: Mix rolled oats, water, brown sugar, and a little salt in a dish and microwave on medium until cooked. Add milk, chopped walnuts, and raisins and stir in. One of our neighbours has a walnut farm, so it’s easy to get yummy fresh walnuts 🙂

Tomato, zucchini (courgette), and potato casserole: Gently fry sliced tomatoes and courgettes in extra virgin olive oil. Add flour and milk to make a white sauce. Layer in a dish with sliced potatoes, and bake until cooked and golden. Love this in the summer when there’s a glut of tomatoes and courgettes. (For some reason WordPress won’t let me put these photos in chronological order, but I expect you can figure it out!)

Baked pasta with chickpeas: Gently fry fresh or frozen peppers and spinach in extra virgin olive oil, add chickpeas, a can of tomatoes, and cooked brown pasta. Transfer to a baking dish and bake until bubbly. This can be prepared as far as putting it in a baking dish, and then baked at a later time. As can the tomato-zucchini one above!

Black bean, corn, and tomato salad: Mix black beans, canned sweetcorn, chopped pepper, chopped fresh tomatoes and chopped red onion. Dress with extra virgin olive oil and lime juice. This is beautifully colourful, and doesn’t wilt on hot days 🙂 But I forgot to take a photo, so you’ll have to imagine the colourful bit!

My top 7 reasons to love the recipes in this book:

  1. They’re easy, quick, filling, and healthy.
  2. They can often be made from store cupboard ingredients,
  3. But I can also use fresh, and could grow a lot of the ingredients myself! If I ever actually planted a veggie garden, instead of just planning it…
  4. They can be adapted with different herbs and spices,
  5. They can be prepared in advance and made in bulk,
  6. They’re great on their own but also make fantastic accompaniments for a barbeque (one of my husband’s favourite hobbies!)
  7. And they use lots of EVOO!!

Happily, Mary has her own website with several other recipes, and I’d encourage you to take a look (http://medfooddiet.com/recipes/). There’s also a ton of information there about basic nutrition and the concept of food as medicine. Alternatively, seek out the book itself, on eBay or Amazon (click for links). I don’t think you’ll regret it!

I’d love to know what your favourite recipe books and go-to recipes are. If you’d like to share, please tell me in a comment. FFx

 


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Star Wars – Food Wars

This is well worth the 5 minutes for a few laughs, although there’s a serious message behind it! FFx


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Question: Who Am I, and Why Am I Here?

Answer: Because I LOVE fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil!

I’ve enrolled in “Blogging101” to try and give my blog a little extra oomph! And this is my first assignment… My first ever post on here was “A Short Introduction”, and covers some of the background in how my husband and I got here in the first place. I’d been thinking of updating it, so this has been a helpful push!

I wrote that first post in February this year, when we bought our olive grove in Tasmania. I have to admit I started it because everyone tells you that you have to have an online presence in order to do anything these days, but I’ve found an unexpected pleasure in blogging. I enjoy writing ours, and have discovered a mind boggling range of other sites. I began with a fairly vague idea of blogging about our journey into extra virgin olive oil production, but it’s expanded to include posts about food and cooking too. I’m enthusiastic about Tasmania and food in general, and Tasmanian food in particular.

In future posts I’m likely to waffle on about:

Olive grove and olive oil stuff:

We get asked lots of olive related questions and I aim to answer as many as I can. Please ask away – I’ve got lots to learn too, so if I don’t know, I’ll do my very best to find out. I’m also intending to start posting summaries and links to some of the published research on EVOO and its uses and health benefits.

Some previous posts cover stuff like – Are your olives green or black? How do you harvest olives? How many olives does it take to make olive oil?

Us hard at work on a day with a chilly wind.

Working hard at harvest time!

Cooking and food: I share recipes that I’ve found to work well, particularly things that are easy to fit into a busy lifestyle. I’ve always cooked the vast majority of what I eat from scratch. I’m not very good at taking nice photos of food, but bear with me and it might get better… Lots of the recipes include extra virgin olive oil, because that (and butter) are the only fats I have in my kitchen.

I think people should be able to make informed choices about what they eat. We may choose to eat the cheapest or most convenient available, but we should be able to find out what’s in it and where it came from, if we want. We should be able to be confident that we’re getting what we think we’re paying for.

Dogs: We’ve got two Lakeland Terriers who will make an occasional appearance.

lakeland terrier beanbag

So well behaved when they’re asleep…

Tasmania: I’m British, but Tasmanian by marriage! Luckily I’ve loved the place since I first set foot on it.

View towards Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park, Tasmania.

View towards Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park, Tasmania.

Sustainability: I’m increasingly interested in sustainable living, but still learning and figuring out what this really means! It’s been suggested that I’m becoming a hippy. Is this a good thing?! I like this quote by John Marsden (Australian writer, teacher and school principal.)

“Live as though you’ll die tomorrow, but farm as though you’ll live forever.”

I would love to connect with other olive oil producers and enthusiasts, farmers, gardeners, permaculturalists (is that a word?!), and food lovers, to exchange ideas and information. But this is by no means a comprehensive list! I’ve got lots of other interests and I’m looking forward to discovering some awesome new sites. FFx


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Chicken Wings and Cast Iron

So today I’ve got a food based post for you. Want to know how to make sticky, tender, juicy chicken wings? Then read on…

Also this week I’ve come across what looks like a fabulous Australian made cast iron frypan. I have to admit I’m still a bit dubious about how social media activity translates to actual hard sales, but I found this project on Kickstarter when I was browsing tweets with the #AustralianMade hashtag after my post last week about using Australian made bottles, so maybe it does work. Or am I an easy target? Hmm…

These pans are called FONTE ‘Tough Love’ and will be “Made in Australia”, creating a new line of business for a foundry here. I think the price is really remarkable – $99 each, including delivery within Aus (but extra for elsewhere), and a donation to the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation. There are lots of “non-stick” frying pans around which are far more expensive than this, but in my experience anything with a non-stick coating doesn’t last forever, maybe 5-10 years if you’re lucky (and careful). I’m telling you about this project just in case you’re in the market for a new frypan. I’ve been after something like this for quite a while, so I’ve pledged my money for one and will be very disappointed if it doesn’t get funded! Click here to find out more here, or on the picture below.

FONTE Tough Love Made in Australia

Now onto the cooking… Although our olive oil isn’t quite ready for sale yet, we’ve been experimenting with it in some recipes. It’s not an oil for the faint-hearted, as I’ve mentioned it has a very definite pungent and peppery taste with noticeable bitterness. These characteristics are associated with high levels of the antioxidant compounds in EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) that go hand in hand with the health benefits – the polyphenols. But they do mean that if you’re after a delicately flavoured oil, this one isn’t for you. It’s the rugged, wild, beautiful Tasmanian landscape in olive oil form! Do you think you can handle it?!

View towards Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park, Tasmania.

View towards Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park, Tasmania.

So, chicken wings – they’re something I associate with North America. I don’t remember eating them as a child in the UK, but I spent a couple of summers at the start of uni doing Camp America and BUNAC in the USA and Canada respectively. For some reason I was intrigued by those chicken wing nights some places do. It seemed like you could get a million chicken (or buffalo?!) wings for a couple of dollars. I’d tried cooking them at home over the years, but never had a great deal of success. I always found that in order to be confident they were cooked, and preferably a bit charred and crispy on the outside, the meat tended to be dry.

Then a while ago I found this recipe for “Sweet Chilli Chicken Drumsticks” in an Australian Woman’s Weekly book, that recommended cooking the chicken first by boiling, then marinating, and then cooking on the BBQ. I find it works really well, resulting in delicious juicy morsels of chicken without the worry of undercooking bone-in chicken. The original recipe was for drumsticks, but works just fine with wings too.

Australian Womens Weekly Best Food book

You can boil the chicken just in water, but I often add stuff like a roughly chopped carrot, an onion cut in half, a bay leaf, salt, and a few peppercorns. Put the chicken in a big saucepan or casserole dish with a lid. I can fit 2kg of chicken pieces in one of my big pots, but it needs a bit of room to move and cook through so don’t cram it in too much. Add any seasoning or veggies you want, and cover with cold water. Put the lid on, bring to the boil, and then simmer for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Then, and I think this is important, leave the chicken to cool completely in the water / stock. This seems to help retain the moisture in the meat. When it’s cold, drain the chicken (keep the liquid if you think you might use it for soup), and either freeze or refrigerate, or move straight on to marinating…

Because our oil is robust, I wanted a full flavoured marinade to complement it. I found a half eaten jar of harissa paste in the fridge so I decided to look for a harissa marinade recipe. Having started writing this post, I’ve realised that I didn’t save the one I used anywhere. Sigh. And I can’t find it again. Anyway, it probably doesn’t matter too much because there’s such variation between different types of harissa, that what worked well for me might need tweaking for you!

Harissa paste

So my marinade involved roughly:

  • 1/3 cup harissa paste
  • 1/3 cup robust fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil, preferably Tasmanian 😉
  • 1 tbsp white balsamic (or apple cider) vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • juice of a lemon
  • salt, to taste.

This was for 1kg of chicken wings, but would probably stretch to 2kg. Mix the marinade ingredients together, pour over the chicken pieces and stir around to cover the meat. Leave it all in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. Then cook it on the BBQ until sticky and a bit charred, or in the oven – space out the pieces on a baking sheet and cook for about 20 minutes at 200ºC, turning once if you remember. Finger lickin’ good!! We had some oven baked potato chips (fries) to go with them this time.

I’m a rubbish food blogger because I forget to take photos, so this one’s after most of them were gone! (Do ‘proper’ food bloggers have little food studios in their kitchens so they’ve got nice backgrounds, accessories, and lighting?)

I wish you a week of happy eating, and maybe you could think about buying a new frypan too*, just to help me out. FFx

*(PS Not sponsored or anything, just really, really want one!)

I think I need a new roasting tray too, although this cleaned up fine after soaking in hot water!

I think I need a new roasting tray too, although this cleaned up fine after soaking in hot water!


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Knob Throwing in Dorset

dorset knob throwing poster

If you have the good fortune to be in Dorset, UK this weekend then there’s a pretty unique day out waiting for you. I’m actually extremely disappointed that I didn’t know this event existed when I lived in the UK. Yes, it’s Dorset Knob Throwing Day. Happening this Sunday, 4th May, and combined with a food festival.  If you’re not British, and perhaps even if you are, you may be unaware of the existence of this unbelievably hard, crispy, crunchy, savoury biscuit.  Continue reading