Sunday, January 31, 2010

Joy and February Arriving

This beautiful photo of a lychee is a lovely symbol of the good things happening at this time of year. 
Firstly, it is the height of Summer and the beautiful Summer fruit is at its best. Lychees, mangoes, watermelon, rockmelon.We get them fresh from tropical Australia and full of colour, juice and taste! If we are lucky we also get good pineapples! This fruit is just the thing in the hot dry weather we get at this time of year.
Secondly this picture was taken by my daughter, who has just begun her final year of school. Photography is one of her subjects. I think it is going to be a great year for her.

But I am also aware of the difficult things at this time of year. The heat can be nasty and effects my health so I can do even less than usual. I need to plan ahead to have easy mezze type food that can be pulled out of the fridge and eaten at ease, avoiding cooking in the heat. This can be such a pleasure to prepare but I need to give myself plenty of time.

I had a very busy January with visitors and a rearrangement of rooms and this always takes longer to recover from than I hope. I am keen to work on my projects, especially the YamDaisy Cafe project, but I must wait until I am healthy enough (or I just make myself worse!).

So I must be patient, eat lychees, and look through my cookery books for lovely mezze dishes to prepare for the hot weather. 

It isn't too hard to be philosophical!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Vegetarian Food at The YamDaisy Cafe

Here is a picture of vegetarian Chilli Corn-pone Pie a lovely hearty dish that could work well on the YamDaisy Cafe menu.

This post is about Vegetarian issues and ideas for the Cafe.
The food in the cafe needs to be DELICIOUS: this is the highest priority, it is what will make the cafe work, and keep people coming back for more.
It needs to be EVERYDAY food. Not the rich wicked delights that are such a treat to have sometimes, but great nutritious food that gives us our health requirements, helps us avoid illness, or recover from it, helps out children to grow into healthy productive adults.
It needs to be ECONOMICAL food; by using local seasonal ingredients, avoiding expensive ingredients and using cooking techniques that celebrate pulses, vegetables and cheaper cuts of meat. (After all, it has to work as a business!)

SO... how does vegetarian food fit into the YamDaisy philosophy?

Disclaimer! I had better let you know that I became a passionate idealistic vegetarian at the age of 14. I call myself a corrupted vegetarian now, because in the last few years I have eaten a little fish, poultry and charcuterie. I have always respected the rights of people to eat meat, especially humanely treated meat and nose to tail respect for the animal. But this post will be much easier than one I might write about meat eating at the YamDaisy Cafe!

Vegetarian Customers
Firstly, vegetarian clients of the YD Cafe will be treated respectfully like anyone else with particular dietary requirements. The structure of the cafe, providing for the local community, means that the chef can work out a menu that suits as many of the clients as much of the time as possible. At least once a week, on a day suiting the client, they should be catered for. But I think it would be easy to cater for vegetarians every day. leaving the ham out of a soup, skipping the anchovies out of the mixed platter, replacing the chicken with marinated tofu in a braised dish etc.

Meatless Meals
This may cause consternation in meat mad Australia, but there are many wonderful traditional and modern meals where meat is simply not necessary. Such meals can play an important part on the YD Menu on account of being delicious, everyday and economical. I wonder if the customers would even notice they were meatless?

What is missing from most modern diets? Veggies!
Health professionals agree! People in Australia, and all over the western world, are not eating enough vegetables in their daily food. The highly respected Mediterranean Diet Guidelines recommend red meat only occasionally. I was fascinated when a Greek friend told me that in his parents village meat was traditionally a three times a year addition to the family diet: a pig at Christmas, a sheep at Easter, and another sheep in Summer. Ofcourse they made these go a long way! And what did they have for the rest of the year? Vegetables, pulses, grains, herbs and fruit, all in the most delicious meals possible.

Vegetarian meals can be part of the YamDaisy Menu!
How often, and how carefully they are introduced will be up to each community and each chef. If people think vegetables are boring and horrible, they will be surprised and delighted when they eat at the Yamdaisy Cafe! How wonderful to get great cooks making meals to introduce new or feared foods! The best way to educate a nation!

Do meatless meals feature in your diet?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Joy's Summer Menu

The idea for the Yam Daisy Cafe is to have a small menu each day, just 4 dishes made from delicious seasonal local produce. Read more here.

Summer Menu
It is hot in Melbourne this week so I am looking for light and fresh flavours. Here is the menu:

Soup: Tomato Brazil Nut Soup with Cheesy Balls
Main 1: Brazilian Dinner: Vegetarian Feijoada with Chili Lime Salsa, Tomato Rice, Steamed Greens and Orange to garnish.
Main 2: Tagliatelle with Arrabiata Sauce and Green Salad
Fruit Dessert: Mango and Cherry with Coconut Milk Sauce.

Soup: Tomato Brazil Nut Soup with Cheesy Balls
Apart from the lovely teaming of a Brazil Nut Soup with a Brazilian Main, I like the echo of Christmas here, because nuts have been a Christmas tradition in my family, and cracking the brazil nut was always the hardest!
Here is the Brazil Nut Soup Recipe:
I would love to serve these cheesy balls with it
But I don't know how easy the tapioca flour is to find. A similar little cheesy bread ball would be nice!

Main 1: Brazilian Dinner: Vegetarian Feijoada with Chili Lime Salsa, Tomato Rice, Steamed Greens and Orange to garnish.
This recipe came from my battered old "Recipes for a Small Planet" by Frances Moore Lappe.
It is quite involved, but each part is easy and it comes together beautifully.
This is how I did it:

Vegetarian Feijoada
Gently fry 1 large chopped onion and 2 chopped garlic cloves in a little oil until soft.
Add 1 cup of black beans that have been soaked over night, a bay leaf, and 3 cups of water. bring to the boil and boil 10 minutes with the lid off. Add a whole clean orange. Cook, or pressure cook, until the beans are half cooked.
Add 2 stalks celery, chopped, 1 tomato chopped, salt to taste and 1/4 tsp of pepper and cook til the beans are soft. Remove the orange and the bay leaf.

Gently fry a chopped onion and 3 minced cloves of garlic in oil and butter, til golden and really fragrant. Add 2 peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes and fry until quite dry and tasty. Take your time!
Then add 1 cup of brown rice, salt, and about 2 cups water. Stir, bring to the boil and simmer until the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked, it takes about 40 minutes. Add a little boiling water if it gets too dry. Turn off and put a clean tea towel over the saucepan and the lid back on so that it soaks up the steam nicely.

Juice of a big lemon or lime, 1 tsp salt, 1 chili, 1 tomato, lots of chives. Chop everything small or blend.

It should be steamed collards (not easily found here). I used cabbage, but it wasn't really good so next time I would use spinach or chard.

Serve the rice topped with beans, topped with salsa, greens on the side and orange segments to finish it off.

I am hoping to have tips and feedback from Brazilians!

Main 2: Tagliatelle with Arrabiata Sauce and Green Salad
Also pictured!
Here is my recipe for Arrabiata Sauce. It is my favourite at the moment!
Fry plenty of garlic in olive oil, don't let it brown.
Add diced, skinned tomatoes, salt, sugar and sliced chillies.
Cook slowly until thick.
Add basil leaves just before serving.

Fruit Dessert: Mango and Cherry with Coconut Milk Sauce.
Mangoes are lovely at the moment and cherries are still here! They look so beautiful together, gold and ruby with a little bit of sauce around them:
Coconut Milk Accompaniment
Combine coconut milk, a split vanilla bean, chopped fresh lemon grass and sugar to taste.
Bring to a simmer, remove from heat. Cool and refrigerate. Strain and serve.

What would you like at the YamDaisy cafe today?

Monday, January 4, 2010

A New Year!

My aim in 2009 was to publicize my YamDaisy project as much as I could, and to get as much feedback as I could. I posted newsletters in key places in my community, I entered the electronic age with a course on web design and then using facebook and this blog.

I set up the Great 2009 Comfort Food Poll to find out about the food people want to eat when they are tired and struggling. (See the results here )

I asked friends to come up with sample menus for the YamDaisy Cafe to illustrate the kind of food that could be served (check them out here ). Thankyou so much to all the people who contributed.

I especially learnt a lot from being involved with blogs and forums that included people from all over the world, it gave me such a good perspective and more and more understanding. I also loved comments that gave me insight and food for thought about my project, and lots of much appreciated support! Thankyou thankyou thankyou kind people who took the time to leave comments on my blog!

It is a fresh new year and another step for my project.
I am continuing my Comfort Food Facebook page to celebrate those wonderful comfort meals.
I will continue to blog the wonderful inspiring (and fun!) menus! Please feel free to offer one!
And I will continue to blog about the ideas, dilemmas, progress and news of my project.

The new thing I will be adding to the mix is
Connecting to the Food/Health Industry: I want to follow up connections such as my local Council's Food Alliance, Community Radios Food Programs, Nutitionists networking etc. This will depend on my health (I find that making such connections can take a lot of determination and persistence), so I will just go one step at a time!

PS The picture here is a kugelhopf, a lovely yeast cake I made for the first time last year and I offer you all a virtual slice to celebrate the successes of the past year and a good year ahead!