There are so many excellent people in the world.
I had the privilege of attending Ben Shewry’s WAW Gathering on the weekend, which brought together many chefs, artisans and performers to talk about personal and passionate things. I consider myself a tough old broad but when these people got up to share a piece of themselves with us, the eyes were moist on more than one occasion. How do people get so excellent? how do they believe in what they are doing and not be swayed by nay sayers and wrong doers? Well it’s happening. They are out there – these fervent beings who utterly care about their mark on our planet. You’re sure to read many an article and post on WAW Gathering over the coming weeks and if Ben has the stamina to do it all again next year with his army of loyal people, I will be there in a ridiculous bell suit.
A stand out for me was young Leila Haddad. Leila is an eleven year old girl who BLOODY WELL FORGES KNIVES IN HER SPARE TIME. I can scarcely remember what I was doing at 11 years old, but pretty sure it involved Barbie dolls, mud pies and bitching at my dad’s liberal use of tabasco sauce on everything. Leila was eloquent and proud, she spoke of finding the perfect piece of wood or forest-strewn antler to make the a handle, of polishing and finishing the steel with time and care. She spoke of what she really cares about. Far out. Tissues please.
Leila writes a blog at Tharwa Valley Forgery. Buy some knives and feel blessed that you are now the owner of a your families most treasured heirloom.
Then there was Joost Bakker. Joost is a visionary, a designer, a florist, a business owner many times over, a passionate food warrior and a downright hard-core fox. His talk focused on the ethos behind his newest venture, Brothl; an exercise in zero waste and nutrition.
“40-50% of what is considered organic waste in Australia can be and should be consumed as nutrient rich food.
BROTHL employs some of the most traditional and primitive methods to produce food that should have never been discarded. Industrialisation, choice abundance and globalisation are contributing to the current metabolic disease epidemic. Weston. A Price observed in 1930′s that scarcity and necessity bore some of the most functional and nutritional foods and the healthiest populations of people”
Flick to the menu tab on the Brothl website and you will be google-mapping directions quicker than you can say carrot scraps. Joost also talked about the depletion of Vitamin K2 in our diets, given the feeding process for most purpose-bred animals. K2 is super important to cardiovascular health, brain function and bone health and we aren’t getting enough of it. Farm animals that eat grass (not grain) have K2 and lots of it. Making broths from the bones of these animals gives us natural K2. Rocket science, it is not.
Thanks Ben for such a marvelous and thought provoking weekend. The taxi ride home was taken in silence.
But prior to this day, I was (and still am) in contact with Ivan and Evgenia Levant, the heavenly beings from Australian Wild. This couple are on a mission to preserve Australian native biodiversity one lemon myrtle leaf at a time. Ivan and Evgenia emailed me with this:
“(our) idea for the project actually started from our involvement in Pilliga and Leard Blockade to protect, respectively Pilliga and Leard forests from coal / seam gas mining. We realised there is a wealth of goodness that is being bulldozed, rather than appreciated for what it is. Appreciating the wild is what we are after. Australian Wild is a small scale project – were talking kilograms, not tonnes”.
Awesome people doing awesome things. Everywhere.
I’ve come away from the weekend feeling inspired, knowledgeable and a touch in love with a bunch of new people and on top of that my daily interactions with all manner of beauties is truly breathtaking. Nothing is impossible. Nothing is too hard.
After milling over what I would do with the samples sent to me from Australian Wild – a native spice and some wattle seed, I had a light bulb moment thanks to Joost. What is more restorative and nutritious than a chicken and spring vegetable soup? And mixed together with native herbs and spices? *clap clap clap*.
Here is my little experiment using a whole chicken (you may be familiar with my chicken and risoni soup on this website that uses breasts only – not any more) fresh vegetables and some Australian Wild native spice. Theres also a little wattle seed damper thrown in for good measure.
WAW Gathering photos courtesy of all ’round nice guy and master photo man, Colin Page.
Spring chicken soup and wattle seed damper
1 whole fabulously unhormoned and untampered with chicken
2 sticks celery, washed and sliced
1 large leek, trimmed
1 bunch baby carrots, washed and topped
1 ear of corn, trimmed
2 cloves of garlic, peeled sliced
1 cm ginger, peeled and chopped
1 bunch sorrel (or spinach), washed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme and orgeano
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
4 spring onions, sliced
1 tablespoon Australian wild native spice
1 litre of water
Despite having learnt how to joint a chicken from the darling Gourmet Girlfriend, my knives need sharpening so if like me you have less than perfect knives or you arent a mad skilled butcher, just hack the hell out of the chicken. The point is you will strip the meat off the bones once cooked anyway so there is no need to be all pedantic about perfect portions.
Once you have jointed the chook, fry it in a large pan with the ginger and spices until the skin starts to go brown then LITERALLY peg everything else in the pot except for the sorrel, spring onions and parsley, turn the heat down and cook for 1.5 hours
Remove chicken from the pot and let cool until handleable. You can scoop off the ‘scum’ from the stock now if you so desire. I have to be honest, I left it in and prayed that someone would invent a better word than ‘scum’. Strip the meat from the chicken bones and return the meat to the pot together with the sorrel, spring onions and parsley. Serve in a big old bowl with with extra sprinklings of native spice on top and this:
Wattle seed damper
3 cups self raising flour
60 grams butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of milk
1 tabespoon wattle seed
Rub the butter into the flour until its sort of bread crumb-y. Add milk, wattle seed and salt, and stir until combined. Knead for a couple of minutes then roll into a ball and press down, place on a baking paper lined oven tray. Slash the top of the damper with your knife into a cross shape then bake for 30 minutes. Heaven.