Breathing in spring in Japan – eating celeriac in Sydney

16928107658_c9635c5e2e_cThirty four years ago I spent nine months living in Tokyo. I consider that this has had the greatest and most lasting influence on my life, how I cook and how I treat food. I studied macrobiotic cooking in Tokyo and revelled in all aspects of their exquisite culture. Tomorrow I shall return to Japan, just in time to celebrate with millions, the first day of spring and the start of the cherry blossom season. Whilst I will be essentially on ‘holiday’ no chef is ever truly at rest; with every bite I eat, every ingredient I glimpse and each waft of a scent that wanders my way  I will be looking for, what is ancient and what breaks new ground; to inspire who knows what creations to come? I have a very special interest in Japan’s many ways with fermentation and I will returning with whatever I can, to put to good use in the book I am writing on this topic.

Fair warning my Instagram followers, bountiful blossoms and drunken daikon in barrels a plenty, will be coming your way.

When I return I will be head down and into the book, except for a quick trip to teach in Perth in early May. Inspired, as I expect to be, I have included a workshop for making ferments that fit everyday life and of course, a couple of Japanese cooking classes, I am also running a two day workshop for how to cook for the intolerant at your table, this is sadly become the norm at so many tables. I have just added the details of these classes to the online booking page here. These are classes hosted by my compatriot and dear friend, Jude Blereau of Wholefood Cooking and all bookings can be made through her.

I will keep a diary whilst I travel and make note of anything I think you might just love, I hope to see you here or there anon.

I’m rushing but before I go, here is a very quick pickle recipe, that if you don’t already know, you might just love? It is celeriac season in Sydney, they are coming in as large as your head. You can cook them in many ways and they are divine but you might try this, peel them carefully (then make a cut, to create a flat area to sit it on its side, so it can’t roll) slice in thin roundish disks, sprinkle with sea salt, a little lemon zest and some pepper, rub those in and leave to sit an hour or a few, use these now flexible, crispy disks, as a wrap or as a platform or vehicle to transport a delicious topping or two.

 


2015 wholefood cooking classes in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane and a catch up

 

Last year was extremely full. The images in this post depict happy moments, spent here in Australia, in the UK, on my first trip to Italy and a speedy visit to Chicago. Above see, ‘Campo Di Fiori’, one of Rome’s fabulous markets which offered an abundance of screamingly fresh produce such as these zucchini flowers, while the real ‘fresh food people’ called loudly; with well earned pride. The Italian Muma on view is in fact me, shot by my sister whilst wandering cobbled paths on a medieval hillside village in Tuscany. The eggs were gathered in Ilford NSW on easter Sunday and the Western Australian sardines express the full force of their proximate sacrifice.

 

I spent spring and summer in the UK and was very fortunate to attend a short course ‘Exploring the Microcosmos’ at Schumacher College; part of The Dartington Hall Estate in the Transition Town of Totnes  in Devon. The course was led by ecologists and scientists Dr’s Stephen Harding and Phillip Frances with Eva Bakkeslett and Sandor Katz providing the artistic and practical components of the week exploring all aspects of fermentation. After over 30 years of my own exploration of lacto fermentation, I deepened my love and understanding of beneficial bacterium and was invigorated by the many collaborations. Eva utilises fermentation through her art works and installations and encouraged us all to do the same. I ‘painted’ using an alive sourdough starter! Schumacher college is unlike anywhere I have been, it runs as a cooperative with everyone contributing to all facets of the colleges day to day running. After a few simple rituals and a thorough induction, I found myself a part of a very beautiful and harmonious whole. Everything got done, fun was had, friends were made and I felt reluctant to leave. The kitchen produces fabulous vegetarian meals to look forward to and recreate. We ere formed into small teams, with names reflecting the course topic, this was charming and very amusing when the team ‘E coli’ was put in charge of the clean up! After attending a short course, anyone is eligible to apply as a longer term volunteer; something I would leap at on my next trip to the UK. There were 1000 origami birds hanging in the great hall where everyone on campus gathers each morning, these were an installation as part of someones thesis. Some of us took the opportunity to go to one of the very few remaining authentic cider houses, where you will not find beer. “Ye Old Cider House” is in  Newton Abbott in South Devon and well worth travelling to; to sample a wide range of naturally fermented ciders and fortified wines. This was somewhat of a highlight and though I drank in sips alone, my voice was raised and my legs were as jelly upon leaving.

Jude Blereau’s Whole and Natural Foods Chefs Training Program runs yearly in Perth WA. Details and applications for 2015 are available through Jude’s site, in the link above. This is a selection of images taken during our visit to Balingup last year; where we take students to meet biodynamic and organic producers on working farms. We are hosted by Katrina Lane from Taste of Balingup. The 2014 students were incredibly fortunate to participate in an event Katrina organised with Simon Bryant and Sam Ward. Both chefs generously imparted their expertise and provided extraordinary feedback to and about these women.

I continue to teach the lacto fermentation, sourdough baking, meat, fish and poultry sections of the program. I am extremely grateful to Jude for the continued opportunity to work with her in co creating a program to inspire and educate the next generation of wholefood chefs and related entrepreneurs.

The 2014 cohort were a very special group of women, committed, cohesive and hungry for everything they could learn, they will go far, look out for them. An internship is part of the WNFCTP, Buena Vista Farm in the Southern Highlands took another of our students, one is soon to spend four weeks at Matt Wilkinson’s restaurant ‘Pope Joan’ in Melbourne and a student who came to the course a primary school teacher, after her internship, is employed at The Mary Street Bakery in Highgate Perth, learning the art of commercial sourdough baking.

 

I will be back in Perth and in Balingup next month and I return to Mondo Organics in Brisbane, to teach two weekend workshops in May. You will find the details and booking information on my class program here.  

If you or someone you know, is interested in hosting a wholefood cooking class or course at home, please check the information here

 

 


Spring and early summer teaching, in Perth WA

Sprouted Walnut and Citrus Rye Berry Salad

I am about to head off to Perth, where I will be rejoining Jude Blereau and Jean Martinez for this years Whole and Natural Foods Chefs Training Program (WNFCTP) hosted by Jude and her company Wholefood Cooking. Whilst I am there, I will also be teaching a variety of Wholefood Cooking Classes beginning with a three day course Wholefoods Everyday of Your Busy Life, this course provides a solid foundation for living a wholefood life this Spring and Summer in Perth. The image above ©Sam Mackie, is a sprouted walnut and citrus rye berry salad, which featured as part of a long table lunch in Sydney, it may well make a reappearance in Perth, using Peach and Co’s wonderful sprouted grains. There are places in several of my classes, if you or someone you know in Perth might be interested, please direct them here to download a pdf of the full class program, there are also a few public events where our WNFCTP students showcase their skills and provide you a delicious wholefood breakfast or dinner.

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I write recipes and information for LJHookers sustainability web site Liveability.com.au this month and for the next few posts there are recipes and information about Wholefood Condiments, starting with the basics of Culturing vegetables at home. If your not yet a home fermenter, I suspect, when you see how simple it is, you soon will be? The satisfying flavour of garlic chive with the crisp crunch of lacto fermented celery and beets, seen above, is enough to warrant learning more. Happy reading, making, eating. I’d love to hear how you go and what combinations you come up with…?