Three things I love about our fruit and vegetable co-op

One of our friends recently set up a fruit and vegetable co-op. There are five couples, we each put in $20 ($40 for our super nutritious friends) plus a few $ for eggs, and following a roster, every two weeks one couple goes to the growers markets at Flemington on a Saturday morning and buys fruit and vegetables in bulk for everyone. They bring it back to their home, split it up and then everyone comes by to pick it up. We went on Saturday morning for the first time and we will only have to go once again before the end of the year.

Our car full of healthy food!

So far, there are three things I love about the co-op:

1) Building community

All the co-op members are part of a private Facebook group. We communicate pick-up details for Saturdays, make requests for certain items and share recipes with one another based on the produce in all of our fridges. I’m getting to know other people’s cooking styles, visiting friends’ homes and learning a bit more about them in the process. It’s not exactly unique to be bonding over food, but we have to eat. So just like school was more fun with friends, our co-op is bringing a touch of community into our day-to-day meals.

2) Healthy, cost-effective eating

When our small fridge is packed full (and I do mean 3D-Tetris style full) of vegetables and the fruit bowl is overflowing, it’s hard to justify not eating healthy.  We are generally eating less meat and more eggs too. Given that most meals we make create leftovers, we have plenty of food to last for two weeks from the $20.

3) A variety of new meals

Since we started about six weeks ago, I have cooked more than 12 new recipes. In the busyness of life, I easily fall into a pattern of making the same old meals all the time, so its great to be challenged to try new things.

some recent meals (an old family favourite and three new ideas)

some recent meals (an old family favourite and three new ideas)

On Monday I roasted beetroots in balsamic glaze and poached pears – both things I’d been curious to try. Tonight I made my friend’s delicious pumpkin, broccoli and chickpea curry. Perhaps it’s the optimiser in me, or the memory of dad saying ‘waste not, want not’ throughout my childhood in my head, but either way I am simply compelled to put the fruit and vegetables in my fridge to good use!

It’s an early morning once every 2 months, but well worth it so far!

all things christmas #1 – gingerbread

I am a true Christmas lover once again. I have never wavered in my love of the reason for the season, but the season itself took a fair beating during my uni days when I worked at Target.

But let’s not take a trip down that particular red and white memory lane in which poor Christmas music is played on a one hour loop from 1 November…

In my next few blog posts I’m planning to share some of the things I love about Christmas!

Gingerbread houses

This year I made two gingerbread houses in the space of one weekend. I helped organise a gingerbread making night for the women from church and friends. I picked up the kits from Jordans Cakes at Riverstone, which is pretty devoted to gingerbread houses (to the extent that there were only 4 loaves of bread on the shelf). Roofs and walls lay cooling on tray after tray and in the short time I was there two others popped in to pick up their orders!  Well priced kits…will have to find out about the taste from my boss since I gave that first house to her!

On the night I enjoyed hearing my friend Fiona speak. She shared a little history of gingerbread, and also gave a challenge to consider those without ‘homes’ at Christmas – like refugees, and homeless people.  It was also refreshing to be reminded of God’s promise to us through Jesus that He is preparing a place – a home – for those who call Him Lord, for all eternity.

I made my second house at GBHMD (Ginger Bread House Making Day) – a tradition organised by two of my friends who are sisters – and both passionate Christmas lovers. I have been making houses (and one gingerbread train in 2008) with them for a few years now. GBHMD has always been a fun tradition of Mariah Carey carols, catching up with friends, lolly sharing and eating, decorating, and potluck lunch.

my gingerbread house...to be eaten on Christmas Day!

House #2 is currently atop the bookshelf waiting for Christmas Day to ‘smash’ it open – that’s Adam’s job.

Gingerbread biscuits

A couple of years ago, I realised that just decorating the gingerbread wasn’t enough… I wanted to bake it too! My Christmas loving friend (same one as above) emailed me her recipe – complete with an instruction to buy a rolling pin!

In my first batch this year I made some stars, trees, bells and some mini gingerbread men. I then found a bigger gingerbread man cutter and (to my delight) a gingerbread woman! Apart from looking cool, I was hoping that the bigger cutters might speed up the baking process so I could get on with icing and lollies. But the little arms, legs and heads tended to break off easily and therefore required delicate transportation from pastry sheet to baking tray. I learned that the more I kneaded the dough, the more likely the biscuit would stay together after being cut out.

Decorating…is…fun. Piping bag essential!

ginger stars!

gingerbread girl!

Well as much as Adam and I love gingerbread, we couldn’t eat all two batches of bikkies. I bundled some up (as per photo) as gifts for my colleagues at International Teams and sent Adam off to work with a container as well.

gingerbread biscuits gift wrapped for my colleagues

Aside from being tasty, looking fun and being good gifts at Christmas, I really love making and decorating gingerbread for the same reason I like gardening. Whether covered in dirt or dough, my own hands are working to create something new. Something real and tangible. And that’s satisfying! I wonder if that’s my farming heritage on my Dad’s side coming out?!

Next post: the tree!

good friends. good food. two of my favourite things.

Saturday: loving where i live.
It’s Monday now and it took me five minutes to reverse park the car into the one awkward space left in the street. I love it a little less.
I’m thankful I live in Summer Hill. I am surrounded by beautiful parks, diverse and exceptional food, old buildings and generally interesting people. And thats just Summer Hill – not to mention the other neighbouring suburbs with their shanghai dumplings, portugese chicken and authentic Italian pizza.
On Saturday we celebrated a friends’ birthday in Haberfield, just a short walk away (I wish I could say that I walked there but alas no!).
According to  Italian people, Haberfield is the true little Italy in Sydney (not Leichhardt).
I’ve spent time in Leichhardt too and I think it lives up to its claims. Having not been to Italy such conclusions are not overly well-founded. It’s on the to-go list.

We started with coffee and delicious pastries at Papa’s and then embarked on our own little self-guided tour of the shops – we bought fresh pasta (one of the supermarkets had pasta in every aisle), brie and pecorino cheese, olives and cold meats (proscuitto and coppa), tasty crusty bread, quince paste, sicilian olives and strawberries and turkish delight.

happy friends eager for our delicious food!

After such a wonderful picnic feast in the park with such dear friends, I couldn’t help but feel so happy and content  in belly and soul. And when the clouds rolled in bringing with them that crisp smell of impending rain I was ready to chill on my couch sipping earl grey tea. That is exactly what I did!