Bush Tucker Feed

Transition, a turtle, bush tucker, a minister and some soul…

…are just some of what we experienced on the weekend.

Saturday was quiet - just the Transition Newcastle Ideas cafe.IMG_3718

Sunday was a tad busier. It started with the Koorogang Island Open Day, which included an obligatory face painting..
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...meeting some reptiles, including a Shingleback lizard,IMG_3722

a turtle, and even a crocodile.
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There was also local bush tucker to be enjoyed, including the gorgeous Finger Limes (I've enjoyed these in the past in Gin and tonic - lovely!).
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IMG_3730Mountain Devil (Lambertia formosa) flowers were a treasured childhood bush treat for me. Like the Worimi people, I used to pull off the flowers, and suck out the sweet nectar. I'm keen to try Lilly Pilly berries (Koorabakh or Acmena smithii) soaked in honey as a marinade for Kangaroo meat. We're lucky enough to have a large Lilly Pilly hedge. The gorgeous soft purple Flax Lily berries (Paroo or Dianella) were surprisingly sweet and tasty and i'm keen to include these in a native 'bush tucker' front garden I have planned. IMG_3734These Lomandra longifolia (Karawun or Spiny-headed Mat Rush) fruit were apparently roasted by the Worimi people and used as a snack food or ground to make a bread. Their leaves were also used to weave baskets or make rope. This is another plant I'm keen to include in my garden as i'd love to try basket weaving.

And of course, as i've said a few times before, nothing impresses me more than a compost loo.

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Then there was a meeting in the park with a minister and a councillor announcing a state government contribution of $40,000 towards the development of a new Master Plan for our park. Yay!

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We then finished the day chillin out listening to some

Soul

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But of course.... as payback for all that fun, i've had an absolutely CRAP day today. Dad and I excitingly opened the bee hive to see how they are settling in, and the smoke attracted one of our neighbors. He hadn't even noticed we had bees - but now that he knows - to put it politely - he's not happy (he was raving about me killing people!?). I managed to delay his ranting so that we could finish dealing with the bees and we have a 'back fence' meeting scheduled for 8pm tonight. To top it all off - I then had an absolutely crap bumbling radio interview about the above mentioned funding for our park. I hate radio interviews!!!

Wish me luck for tonight's back fence meeting.

Edited to add: The bees are going. I'm not happy. Not one person was stung and not one neighbour noticed the whole time they were here. Sometimes urban living sucks!


Native Spinach Frittata

I have been enviously reading about other bloggers foraging for free food. Darren of Green Change collected Lilly Pillies from his workplace and made a selection of foods including Lilly Pillies On Horseback and Lilly Pilly Stuffed Chicken Breast. He also recently made a Feral Fruit Filo Pastry from peaches collected from a roadside. Ally and Rich of Happy Earth were lucky enough to be part of a fruit rescue team that collected fruit from abandoned orchards in the Illawarra area and Bel recently posted over at the Simple Green and Frugal Coop regarding her use of edible native plants in her garden.

I have been actively searching for free food to forage for weeks – with no luck. Finally on Monday whilst walking through a local wetland I found some free food - Native Spinach (Tetragonia tetraganoides), also known as New Zealand Spinach or Warrigal Greens. Native spinach is a relatively common ‘Bush tucker’ and was one of the first native Australian vegetables to become popular with European settlers. Looking for ways to fight scurvy, Captain Cook encouraged his men to eat them, and many convicts owed their lives to the spinach-like plant. The plant was taken back to England by the botanist Joseph Banks and became popular summer vegetable known as Botany Bay Greens. It is apparently the only Australian plant to be grown internationally as a vegetable.

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I collected some leaves and ripe fruit. I used the leaves in a Pumpkin, Fetta and Spinach Frittata, simply substituting the English Spinach for the Native Spinach. It was delicious! The native Spinach is really salty – adding a lovely salty taste to the Frittata.

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I learnt after cooking the Frittata that caution should be taken with Warrigal Greens, as the leaves contain toxic oxalates, which can be harmful if consumed in large quantities. You can remove the oxalates by blanching the leaves for 3 minutes or so, then rinsing in cold water. Oops! Something I didn’t do. Luckily we didn’t consume 'large quantities’.

I’m currently drying the fruit and plan to propagate plants to use as a ground cover under our Lilly Pilly hedge. I love the idea of a native ornamental edible garden!