Thursday, 21 June 2012

A figgy co-op

I am desperately trying to reduce our dependancy on the supermarket. It's a particularly soulless experience for me. There's something about seeing the masses of cheap food, sold very cheaply, and people loading it into their trolleys that leaves me feeling empty and a bit alone.

Every single week. I dread it. 

I try and try to make us go two weeks between supermarket shops, but it's always the milk that sends me back. I don't actually know how much we get through, but I'm guessing over 10 litres. Do other families go through this much? (It's why I made this plea.)

Very often I clear the shelves of the organic milk (they very rarely have more than 7 litres on the shelf), and most other times I just can't fit that much milk into the trolley on top of everything else. 

I buy what I have to at the moment. In the back of my head, I'm making plans to make a few things – our own laundry detergent (maybe), mayonnaise, tomato ketchup... I've already made a start on ricotta, except it wasn't quite right, so I must revisit the cheese-making. It's just about getting into the habit – and finding the time!

The garden has been giving us spinach, parsley and (very holey) rocket. The kale is almost ready and Luca picked our first pea pod yesterday. 

Our little Monday box scheme came to an end recently, so I had to find something else. 

I discovered FIG (Food Integrity Group Co-op). Well, the truth is, I'd heard about a co-op on the Central Coast a while ago, but I couldn't contemplate the half-hour drive when Kian was a baby.

I've been going and getting my box for the last couple of weeks now, and I'm happy.

Bit of a dicey drive (have I mentioned I don't like driving?), but it's worth it.

Watching other mums pile beautiful local (proper local) produce into their baskets makes me happy. I'm not alone banging on about free-range birds and eggs; there was a petition here this week along with plenty of information to inform us.

This week, I filled my bags with apples, potatoes, greens, citrus, broccoli and cauliflower. Plus I bought eggs (a member's eggs; $4 for a dozen!), celery, ginger, bananas, beetroot and sweet potato. Last week, there were carrots for $1 a kilo! Organic carrots. A dollar a kilo! 

The celery came home and was quickly sautéed in butter with onion and bay leaves, before joining the broccoli and the cauli together with a layer of breadcrumbs, crushed walnuts and parmesan in a creamy gratin. 

Graeme and I were home alone yesterday. And this is what we rustled up for our lunch. Figgy poached eggs.*

It's Thursday and I'm running out of veg already. That's the trouble when I have really good ingredients in the house. They disappear quickly. More to the point, there's a lot more care and respect that goes into the cooking, so I've been making some lovely meals. 

I made last week's mushrooms the star of the dish in a French chicken casserole. All the potatoes sat huddled next to a roasted lamb joint for yesterday's dinner and tonight, we have soup. 
A soup so good that Kian had two servings. I can't tell you how that made me feel given he hasn't really eaten a proper meal (lunch or dinner) for months. He eats porridge, a few prunes and spoonfuls of chocolate coconut butter.

Until today. 

This is what broke his fast: shallots, carrot and the leftover bunch of celery leaves (see above) sizzled very gently for a little while. Then I stirred in quite a generous knob of ginger and some orange zest. Red lentils next and chicken stock. Left to simmer until I picked Luca up from preschool. A blitz, then Luca added a can and a half of chickpeas ('two cans would be too much, Mummy').** 

Here's a list of other food co-operatives around the country. Another one here too.

More on FIG coming soon...

* I don't know if you've noticed, but this is a pretty good shot compared to most of the food photography on here (I wish I took it!). I've decided now that I've reached this milestone, I'm going to take my food shots a bit more seriously. No more slopping on plates and trying to take something one-handed with the phone (sometimes it's the only way if my little cuddlebug needs his half-hourly cuddle). We have a very good camera and I have a husband who knows what all the buttons do, so the food will start to look good now. (I half toyed with the idea of deleting some of my very dodgy food shots, but y'know what? They're staying. How else can I call it a journey?) Joy, if you're reading this, I'm hoping for some pointers when I see you next...

** I hope I'm not being annoying not giving you an exact recipe. I write lots of exact recipes. It's just that I love to inspire rather than prescribe


  1. I am really loving your posts, I live up at Wyong and your teaching me places about the central coast that I've never known about before! There is also a good organic shop Called Ooomph! at East Gosford:

  2. Hi Jeska, yes I know Ooomph. Have only been there once, but really liked the look of their menu. Thanks for your lovely comment and for stopping by.

  3. Hi Vanessa, thanks for your links on my blog post. I will take a peek at them later tonight. You are blessed to have access to this food co-op and more and more are cropping up all over. It is great for the community and the local growers too. Lovely food pics!

  4. Local food co-op's are the best! I'm glad you've found and settled into a food co-op routine. Enjoy :-)


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