Tag Archives: sustainability

October Favourites + a Review of Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery

Just two more months to bid goodbye to this year!!!

Where has time flown? But then that’s how I start every monthly favourite post of mine, isn’t it?

But sometimes it’s scary right when time rushes by so fast that you wish you had the power to hold it in your hands and keep it still…..shhh, just stay still till I have caught my breath.

Alas that never happens, and the only option seems to be to flow along with its tide….

At the same time, there is also the excitement and joy of the approaching festive season. While there is so much work to do during this time, both personal and professional, I love the energy, the joyous and festive spirit that’s in the air.

On the professional front, I am planning recipes more suited for the season so if any of you have special requests, do comment below and I will try my best to take that into consideration.

Reading is a very passionate hobby of mine, especially hard copies. I do not like digital books or tools for reading as I think it destroys the very joy of holding a book in your hands. While I do read a lot of books, I do not talk much about it on the blog except when it’s a book related to food.

This month, I got the opportunity to read Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery – a Guide to the truly good restaurants and food experiences of Australia, Edited by Jill Dupleix.

Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery - a Book Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The book is part of a series of the world’s first guides to restaurants and establishments serving truly exceptional, sustainable, organic and ethical food.

Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery has a simple yet elegant design and layout; the photographs are outstanding yet simple and real focusing on the food and nothing else. Published by Blackwell &Ruth, 5% of the publisher’s revenue from the sales of the book goes towards the National Indigenous Culinary Institute (NICI) which is absolutely fantastic.

Food guides like these have always been a part of my library and I actively seek out restaurants suggested – local, regional and international. The restaurants suggested in this book are not just about delicious food; that’s definitely a criteria but it’s more about the care and passion that goes into the sourcing of the ingredients, giving back to the farming community, the attention to detail while each ingredient is prepped and prepared to create the final harmony on a plate.

One of the first things I did on getting the book was going through the ‘Victoria’ section; a curiosity to know the recommendations and how many places I had dined at. To my surprise, there were just 2 restaurants that I had been to from the list – Higher Ground and IDES. Both of these serve exemplary food; while the former is a casual café style setting, the latter is a high end fine dining affair. But yes, the food was exceptional.

Barramundi with garlic and red wine - at IDES, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

One of the spectacular dishes I had at IDES, Melbourne – Barramundi, red wine and garlic

I know for a fact that I will use Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery as a guide, ticking off restaurants and food experiences as I travel along through this country. And I would love to get my hands on the rest of the series that showcases establishments in other countries too. But if you are only interested in knowing about the place you live in, do grab a copy for your country from the series.

Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery is not a book that I will read back to back in a few sittings; it’s a guide that I will keep returning to whenever I want suggestions of an exemplary restaurant, a place where I want to dine at not just for delicious food but where I will be served a dish created out of passion, joy and purity.

There is an exciting giveaway happening on my FB and Insta page. You can win 1 x double pass (valued at $160) to Wine & Symphony 2018, Saturday 3rd November, held at Mount Langi Ghiran.

Spend a beautiful spring afternoon in the spectacular grounds of Mt Langi Ghiran winery in the Grampians. Also treat yourself to wine tastings, a cheese feast, vineyard promenade and sun basking followed by 40 minutes of classical music performance by 4 ace musicians, with a glass of the renowned Langi Shiraz in your hand.

So why are you waiting….head over now to my FB or Insta page to enter. Good Luck!

Wine & Symphony 2018, Saturday 3rd November, held at Mount Langi Ghiran. - thespiceadventuress.com

Now it’s time for all the other favourites for the month;

I had the worst attack of flu and sinusitis this month; this tea was an absolute miracle.

One of my favourite vegetarian snacks using spinach.

I wouldn’t be able to stop at just one bowl of this soup

Absolutely love pumpkin soup; and this one is fantastic.

Another exciting vegetarian recipe; absolutely fingerlickin good!

Lentil and Egg Stew; I have never had anything like this before.

Absolutely stunning food photography!

She inspired me to start a monthly favourites column

How beautiful are these candle holders? Would be perfect for my Christmas table set up.

Need to upgrade my summer wedges

 

Advertisements

Chutney Shenanigans with Eat Me Chutneys

When you open a bottle of Eat me Chutneys, you not only open a bottle of deliciousness but also sustainability, fairtrade and social ethics.

Meet the Chopras – the tour de force behind this epic social project.

Jaya Chopra is Mom and the self-professed chutney queen who along with her husband (who is often dubbed the labelling machine but is actually the herb grower for the project and her son Ankit Chopra, the corporate world drop out turned Michelin trained chef.

Most of you who have been following my blog for a while know how much I appreciate and encourage small local businesses like these. So it’s not fair that only I get to enjoy these gorgeous chutneys; let me share their story with you folks too.

Eat Me Chutneys - thespiceadventuress.com

The logic behind Eat me Chutneys is a simple one. Rescue all those bruised, overly ripe or what-we-call-ugly fruits and veggies from local vendors and convert it into lip smacking chutneys and preserves. But in the process, they manage to do a whole lot of other things which is what makes this company rather unique.

Now you guys know that I will not make a recommendation without trying out the product. So I purchase two chutneys from the range – Tomato + Kaffir Lime and ofcourse, Tamarind + Fig Chutney.

Eat me Chutneys - thespiceadventuress.com

And yes, both of it appealed to the chutney lover in me but I must say I am bit partial towards the tomato one because that’s one of my favourite chutney flavours (can’t help it!). We enjoyed the chutneys in many different ways – with regular Indian meals, as a topping, sandwich spread, on the cheese board etc…

Delicious lamb burger with Tomato Kaffir Lime chutney, veggies and caramelized onions -thespiceadventuress.com

Delicious lamb burger with Tomato Kaffir Lime chutney, veggies and caramelized onions

After school Ham and Cheese Jaffles with Tamarind Fig Chutney - thespiceadventuress.com

After school Ham and Cheese Jaffles with Tamarind Fig Chutney

The story of Eat me Chutneys began when Ankit’s mom decided to kickstart her retirement plan of making and selling her signature Tamarind + Fig chutney. What started as basic research for procuring their raw produce eventually turned into a project for understanding where the ingredients were coming from and who were growing it. And eventually they made the switch to Fairtrade and organic – in fact, their tamarind chutney is Australia and New Zealand’s first and only fairtrade chutney!!

Impressive, isn’t it? Excerpts from my interview with Ankit……

Research for a project like this would have been immense; how did you go about it?

More than research, we’d like to refer to it as following our intuition and exploring things that make sense to us.  Looking for organic alternatives for sugar and spices was not because we wanted to craft organic chutney from the get go.  It was more to do with our belief that organic/biodynamic farming are better alternatives to conventional farming and ultimately better for the planet.  Similarly in other facets of the business, having a core value behind every decision makes us follow through with our research very easily in spite of the time it might take.  Everything just happened organically .

A Michelin-trained chef making chutneys is not the most common sight. Do you think the chef training has helped you in this journey?

The discipline, thought process and techniques that I learnt in the kitchens in Paris especially at the 3 starred Michelin restaurant I trained at is all somehow creeping into the chutney jars.  In addition, the work ethic of the chefs in France is crazy.  Whilst the world around us sees plenty of chefs jump onto book and TV deals some of the chefs I worked for, never left a single service.  Pure poetry!  However, something even more important is the work ethic that mum and dad have instilled in us – that wisdom passed down generations; those old school ways of doing things and the buy once and use it for a long time attitude.  These somehow round up what makes Eat Me Chutneys, the little adventure it is.

‘She is mum and she is the Chutney Queen’ – so how is it working with the queen bee?

In fact, I’ll extend the question to how is it like working with mum and dad, as co-founders of Eat Me Chutneys.  Of course with mum, I’m learning the art of handling spices with restrain.  She’s been passed down our heirloom recipes that I am lucky to learn.  As for Dad, he still grows herbs for our chutneys and so the appreciation for growing our own food comes from him.  These two things easily make it bloody exciting for me and at times downright entertaining.

Are all recipes developed by your mum or do you don the Chef’s hat from time to time?

Most chutney recipes are in development phase for weeks till we settle on something that we all think is epic.  We may start with a French technique for say 30kgs of quinces and end up using one or two spices to go in it.  Or we may start with a style of preservation that mum’s mum taught her and the French training in me will morph it to something quite funky.  It’s all a bit of everything and there is no set process either.  Happy days.

Eat me Chutneys - thespiceadventuress.com

Where do you source the ‘wonky’ yet gorgeous produce from?

We work with numerous farmers that provide all the gorgeous produce for the chutneys – without epic produce there will be no chutneys.  So really the heroes are the farmers.

Fairtrade is a term that we hear quite often these days. But most of us aren’t still aware of what it truly means or its significance in everyday life. Can you elaborate a bit and what makes Eat Me Chutneys a Fairtrade business?

Fairtrade is about stable prices, decent working conditions and the empowerment of farmers and workers in developing nations – it’s about supporting the development of thriving communities and protecting the environment in which they live and work.

Much the same way that we as manufacturers are required by Fairtrade certification system to hold up to complete transparency in our supply chain and annual audits, the Fairtrade farmer co-operatives that supply the ingredients are held to equally high standards of transparency.  This is what makes the Fairtrade movement thrive.

For our Tamarind chutneys since all ingredients were imported we spent nearly a year exploring where the ingredients were actually coming from, how the farmers behind these ingredients were being treated etc.  This research phase allowed us to switch to Fairtrade and organic equivalents and in the process made our Tamarind chutneys Fairtrade certified – only company in Australia/New Zealand with certified Fairtrade chutneys.

What were the challenges that you faced in this journey?

Like any other small business, we’ve had our fair share however one that is worth highlighting is when we started out we called our chutneys, rescued chutneys.  This took some dialogue and conversations with our customers to explain what we meant by rescued.  It’s been a glorious journey and more than challenges they’ve all been learning experiences.

While there are several stockists in Sydney, there are only a couple in Melbourne? Any particular reason for this?

Nope, just that we are a small team and it’s easier to reach out to folks in Sydney and go meet them personally.  We love meeting everyone that is ever involved with our jars of goodness.  We visit all farmers and meet all potential stockists to ensure we all care for similar things.  There’s School of Life, Craft and Co and The Epicurean folks that have our chutneys in their shops.  Yay!

Why is it small local businesses find it so hard to retail at mainstream stores or supermarkets?

Ah, this is a fun one.  Perhaps the big stores are not for everyone.  A company’s ethos will dictate where they might want to head and how.  Some companies are perfectly ok to stay niche and never go to the supermarkets.  Other than that, the sheer scale of fulfilling their orders and working on their terms can be daunting I’m sure .

There are so many unique flavours in your range. Which is your best selling one? And which is your family favourite?

Without missing a beat, it will have to be mum’s Tamarind + Fig chutney!

Eat me Chutneys - thespiceadventuress.com

Could you tell us a bit about your cooking classes and what is the best way to get more information about the same? Are these held only in Sydney?

Education plays a huge part in our tiny company.  Mum’s a primary school teacher by day and she also runs volunteer taste sessions at numerous primary schools whilst I run chutney demo classes with councils here in Sydney.  It allows us to show people how chutneys are one way of converting the season’s bounty (no matter how ripe or wonky it might be) into something delish, it lets people ask questions, debate and discuss the food system with us and even suggest a flavour combination or two.  Such fun!

What are the future plans? More products or expansion plans?

It’s all about food waste and how we can use business to tackle this – lots more chutneys and lots more classes and simply lots more fun.

Words of advice to new and upcoming small business entrepreneurs especially those choosing the sustainable route?

Good things take time and awesome even longer – it took us nearly a year of calling folks around the world, trying to translate from say Singhalese to English using Google translator to finally arrive at a point when we got the tamarind chutneys Fairtrade certified.  Nothing amazing is quick and overnight, ever.

Good Palm Oil vs. Bad Palm Oil + a Recipe for Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake

Today, we are going to have an important conversation regarding palm oil. And even though the recipe might sound like a more interesting read, I would encourage all of you to spend a few minutes and read through this post.

Do you use palm oil? I bet most of you would answer ‘no’ to that.

The truth is that most of us still remain largely unaware of the fact that palm oil is an integral part of our daily lives. Often labelled as ‘vegetable oil’, it is a main ingredient in almost 50% of our supermarket goods ranging from biscuits, cookies, chocolates, margarine, sauces, condiments etc… The raw materials derived from palm oil are also a main component of more than 70% of the cosmetics and household detergents we use.

Surprised? I sure was but what was even more surprising or rather shocking was the fact that many of the everyday products that I purchase for my household was made from ‘bad palm oil’.

Does your cookies have good or bad palm oil - thespiceadventuress.com

Does your icecream have good or bad palm oil - thespiceadventuress.com

Good vs. Bad Palm Oil is not about health; it is more about sustainability and protecting our forests and ecosystems.

And it is my own lack of awareness that made me want to collaborate with RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) and take part in the #GoodBadPalmOil campaign.

This global campaign which was launched on 23rd Sept in Australia aims to raise awareness around good and bad palm oil and why it is important for each one of us to make an informed choice everytime we reach out for our favourite lipstick or biscuit.

To quote, ‘at RSPO, we believe that achieving 100% certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) is not only a realistic ambition but a vital one too. The production of ‘bad’ palm oil is rapidly destroying virgin rainforests and ecosystems causing air pollution to rise and putting many species at the risk of extinction. If grown sustainably, ‘good’ palm oil can benefit local communities with fair working conditions and help protect valuable species and forests.’

Good vs. Bad Palm Oil - thespiceadventuress.com

I was happy to read that there are a lot of companies, both Australian and global, who have pledged to use sustainable aka good palm oil. They are certified RSPO producers and the products carry the trademark so that ordinary customers like you and me can make the right choice. But these numbers are not enough; more work needs to be done and there has to be higher visibility and transparency. And this can come only through our informed choices. It is the consumer’s voice that eventually leads to change, albeit one small change at a time!

Read more about the #GoodBadPalmOil campaign here and also watch Jessica Dance’s knitted food videos which spread this valuable message.

I did spend a lot of time looking through this list of Australian companies to understand more about who are certified and also to find out if my favourite products are indeed doing their bit. There were a few nasty surprises but there was good news too.

And when it was time to create a recipe for today, I chose Arnott’s; incredibly happy that one of our favourite brands believes in sustainability and also exhibits a strong social responsibility. Arnott’s ANZ is not only a member of RSPO but also works with a third party NGO so that they can trace their supply back to the mill. All the palm oil used in their products are sourced from Peninsular Malaysia, regions that are meant for agricultural cultivation and does not result in deforestation, peat destruction or exploitation of workers. You can read more about the company’s corporate and social responsibility here.

And when we think of Arnott’s, we think of Tim Tams – the Aussie icon! And what a delicious icon it is!

Mango flavoured Tim Tams - thespiceadventuress.com

Tim Tams are much loved in our household (I am sure it’s the same for you). Even a non-biscuit lover like me is extremely fond of this chocolicious delight. And now I am relieved that I do not have to feel too guilty about eating these.

So I decided to create a summer treat using these and packed the hubby off to the nearest Coles to get me a few packets. My mind was torn between the dark chocolate and chewy caramel but imagine the surprise to find the new mango flavoured ones. I am guessing these are limited edition for the season so grab a few packets before they disappear from the shelves.

And a few experiments later…..here we have a delicious frozen treat to beat the sunny days!

Mango flavoured Tim Tams with a no churn Vanilla Icecream Cake!

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

Drawing inspiration from the cheesecakes, I blitzed the Tim tams and used it as the bottom layer. And though icecreams are traditionally made using eggs, I used a simple eggless version so that a lot more people can enjoy making this. The texture of this is somewhere between a traditional icecream and a semifreddo.

This is an extremely versatile recipe and just about any Tim Tam flavour can be used. Can’t find Tim Tams where you live, buy your favourite pack of biscuits (just make sure it is RSPO certified). You could also add other ingredients to the icecream for eg: some fresh berries for a more fruity flavour especially if you are using a chocolate flavour base.

Mango flavoured TIm Tams - thespiceadventuress.com

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

An easy peasy summer dessert which is a sure hit with children too; you can get them to help you make this infact. Comes together in no time at all especially for this party season. A very light and delicious ending to any kind of meal.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 pack mango flavoured Tim Tams (use any flavour you wish to)
  2. 400ml full cream milk
  3. 400ml condensed milk
  4. A pinch of salt
  5. 250ml double/thick cream (chilled)
  6. ½ tsp good quality vanilla essence

To decorate:

  1. ½ pack mango flavoured Tim Tams
  2. Dark chocolate shavings
  3. Cake Sprinkles

Method:

  • Line the bottom of a round springform cake tin (20cm) with baking paper.
  • Crumble the Tim Tams in a food processor and add this to the cake tin. Press down well using a spoon or ladle to form a tight base. Refrigerate.
  • Add the milk, condensed milk and salt to a pot; bring to boil and then simmer gently till you get the consistency of a thin custard. Make sure you keep a close eye stirring often or else the mixture can bubble over. Remove from heat and allow to cool down completely and then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Beat the chilled cream to get soft peaks. Add the vanilla essence and then gently fold in the chilled condensed milk mixture till combined well.
  • Pour this over the Tim Tam mixture in the baking tin and freeze for at least 4 hours or till completely set. Remove from the cake tin onto a serving stand.
  • To decorate, I lined the edges of the icecream cake with chocolate shavings. Added 2 Tim Tams to the top and a handful of sprinkles. Just let your creative juice flowing and decorate it however you wish to.

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

Disclaimer – This post has been bought to you in collaboration with RSPO. But all the opinions, recipe, photographs and the decision to use Arnott’s biscuits is entirely mine. 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: