Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eggs Anybody?

You can tell a lot about a person by the type of eggs that are sitting in their fridge.

Are they free range? SPCA approved? Organic or barn raised, battery/cage? Or, these days, even vegetarian (funny, I had always though that chickens ate a diet of grains and cereals but when you think about it, free-range chooks eat worms, insects and other small creatures in their habitat).

Mass-farmed chickens will also be fed certain amounts of fishmeal, bone meal or animal byproducts (don't ask too many questions), so it all depends on what side of the chook yard you sit.

New Zealand exports more than 2 million free range eggs a year and has just developed a technique to differentiate free range eggs from cage eggs by using isotope analysis, ie the difference in the carbon and nitrogen found in the hens' diet which makes up the isotope fingerprint of the egg let's keep it simple.

Now this is really interesting stuff because we will soon be able to buy a gadget that sits on our kitchen bench, which we can use to test our eggs, green for free range eggs and blue for battery or cage eggs.

This will be extremely useful and will sit beside the other great kitchen inventions of the 21st century, including the pizza scissors (for cutting the perfect pizza slice), the frozen ice tray smiles (yes, they do look like granddad's dentures in your glass) and the portable toaster (that fits in your handbag).

Yes, I do look forward to the day that my kitchen bench has in place an egg isotope analysis machine. Until then I will just have to keep buying my eggs from my trusted local egg man whom I look in the eye each week when handing over my cash, whom I know produces the best eggs a chicken can lay, whose reputation relies on good old person-to-person contact that can only be done by buying direct from a trusted food producer.

Try this, the perfect skiing breakfast, for when a hard day on the slopes requires a protein-packed start to the day:

6 eggs, well beaten

2 cups milk

1 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper



6 slices cubed wheat bread

1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (grated)

Chopped meat or veges (optional)

Spray an ovenproof pan well with oil. Lay cubed bread in the pan and any meat or veges you like. Add egg mixture, then sprinkle cheese over egg. Cover casserole and place overnight in the fridge. Bake covered at 350 degrees Celsius for 45min, then 10min uncovered.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Going Nuts in Marlborough

When you start scratching the surface of what is in your back yard you come across some hidden talents, and that was the case last week at our monthly slow food event.

Our group of intrepid Marlborough Slow Food foodies were privileged to visit Uncle Joe's hazelnut and walnut factory (I won't even mention that they won Oil of the Show Canterbury two years in a row or a top 10 Artisan Cuisine Award) and Annies Marlborough, followed by a hot glass of mulled wine at the Grovetown Country Hotel.

While I knew that squirrels hoarded nuts over the winter, I had no idea that Malcolm and Jenny's Uncle Joe's orchard would produce such a multitude of nuts, and that their gathering skills would see them become the caretakers for many tonnes of nuts in their Grovetown premises, for eating and cooking as well as for processing into walnut and hazelnut oils and pastes.

The fact that Uncle Joe himself is the legend that sat around the fire cracking nuts with a hand cracker conjures up product integrity.

Leaving the warmth of the nuttery, we travelled in convoy to Annies, where Graeme Giles, enthusiastic as ever, talked to our group about the highs and lows of his business as well demystifying the human digestive system.

After 20 years of Annies products and establishing the standard for healthy fruit bars around the world, there is not much that they have not encountered, and it makes you wonder, where to next?

Well, if you know Graham, he is already looking at the next mountain to climb (which is really no different to selling into international supermarket chains do it one step at a time).

It was time for our group to move on to our last location, the Grovetown Country Hotel. Here we were met by the publican and a hot brew of mulled wine that ended an informative and interesting tour of all things foodie in Grovetown. It never ceases to amaze me what is in Marlborough's backyard.

I am now in Palmerston North. Here is another community in New Zealand looking for information on how to establish a successful farmers' market and food network in its backyard. I wonder what its people will uncover when they start scratching the surface in their region.

Recipes from Uncle Joe's:


5 large eggs, separated

Cup caster sugar

250gm Uncle Joe's sliced hazelnuts

125g best-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

250g dried apricots, sliced

125g fresh dates, stoned, chopped

Icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 120 degrees Celsius. Line a 24cm-diameter cake tin with baking the egg whites until they just hold soft peaks and no more. Beat in the sugar a little at a time until all is incorporated Fold in the hazelnuts, chocolate and fruit. Pour into tin, smooth the top and bake 1 to 2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven, cool and serve dusted with icing sugar.  Serves 8-10.


Delicious and super easy


175g ground or chopped Uncle Joe's hazelnuts

100gm sugar

2 Tbsp cocoa

75g melted butter

1 egg

Pinch baking powder

Mix ingredients together and bake 30 minutes at 150C. Just top with blueberries or any other berries (fresh cherries if you are lucky!). Cover with whipped cream and grated chocolate.


Friday, July 3, 2009

FMNZ Update and Chairpersons report 2009

To all Farmers Markets and Food Producers of NZ

FMNZ is pleased  to announce the success of our Buy local Campaign which has seen the majority of Farmers markets in NZ commit to Authenticity  - " An Authentic Farmers' Market is one which consists of at least 80% certified local stallholders".      This includes Feilding Farmers' Market, Farmers' Market Taranaki, Southern Farmers' market, Orewa Beach Farmers' Market, Hamilton Farmers' Market, Cambridge Farmers' Market, Marlborough Farmers' Market , Wairarapa Farmers' Market, Christchurch Farmers' Market, Oxford Farmers' Market, Whanganui Farmers' Market, Parnell Farmers' Market, Nelson Farmers' Market, Waipara Valley Farmers' Market, Little River Farmers' Market, Central Otago Farmers' Market..........just to list a few.

FMNZ with sponsorshop from our new webprovider Marketground we  will soon be going live with our Buy Local milestone 5, that of a national database of Authentic Farmers' markets and food producers of NZ.  For more information on the website development or Authenticity please contact Kerryn directly at

Chairpersons Report FMNZ 09 (abridged below and full copy available from FMNZ website)

Looking back 12 months ago it would have been hard to imagine that the world would have been plunged into economic depression, that swine flu was the animal favored disease of the year and that general  food prices would have increased by 12 to 30%,  and also that Bernadine Prince would want to endure another 17 hour flight to join us on the other side of the world for a Farmers Market forum.  While both large and small countries have struggled with social and economic issues I have yet to hear of a real farmers market in NZ who has not increased in either local food producers or customers, or a real farmers markets who has had to close it doors or pull in its high flying executives and close their expense accounts. 

While the past has been written only by our success and failures we must look forward to the next 12 months and beyond to ensure that what has begun with passion and commitment is now actioned and driven by great business and organisational skills, for passion is something that can not be bought or sold.    FMNZ is a inclusive organisation and we were founded on the belief of sharing information.  We need to share the right information in a manner that emulates what our organisation and individual markets really stand for that.   Value; not just for our farmers who sell their crops each week, but to our consumers who support our farmers each week, rain or shine.  When we  talk about Value we are often confused with what high street does, value in the money sense, therefore we need to promote the value in the social sense, the value of what our farmers' markets do to enliven and make our communities prosper, what the value of children who attend our markets and interact with food and what this does to the culture of our communities and the value of what keeping real money in local communities does for the whole social structure of NZ and beyond. 

No farmers' market organiser or manager would have envisioned that when they had the great idea of putting a Farmers market in their back yards that they would be the catalyst for the way people change their lives as the social values of a farmers markets are felt over a greater area of NZ and the world.  This applies to our smallest markets with just one stall in Diamond Harbour to our largest farmers markets in Southland and Northland and cuts through all boundaries of social behaviour.  The real benefits of Farmers markets are sometimes misunderstood or poorly communicated due to a number of reasons, the main being that we as managers and organises  are in the business of providing a venue for our farmers to be able to sell directly to consumers. This does not mean that we should not be doing everything we can to promote the full circle of the food chain, and we can see this  happening in our communities and markets with gardens in schools, communities gardens plots, box systems, sustainable agriculture programs and localvore awareness

I implore that our members put faith into the executive of FMNZ to enable for them to do what we have been entrusted to do, to promote and to educate the benefit of Farmers markets and local food distribution systems.  I believe that we have the expertise and we are beginning to have the resources available for us to make a real difference in the way the people shop on a regular basis.  While FMNZ can not be held responsible for the weather at your markets each week we do need to be held responsible for the protecting of the words "farmers' markets" and the real value of our markets, that of being a food market where local growers, farmers and artisan food producers  sell their ware directly to the consumer.  Vendors may only sell what they grow, farm , pickle, preserve, bake, smoke or catch themselves within a defined local area.  

Authenticity is our main issue moving forward and  the energies of the buy local contributions and the 6 milestones have all led  to Authenticity and what it means to farmers and consumers. I implore to all people who eat, (which is everybody)  to embrace food as a part of our culture and life, that when you sit at the table that you commuincate, laugh, cry, get angry, be happy, network, negate and most of all support our farmers and food producers as a part of our families and as a integral part of our communities

For any further enquires regarding FMNZ and for prompt service please e-mail or contact



Chris Fortune

Chairperson FMNZ


Chris Fortune
(03) 579 3599 Home

021 935 995 Mobile (marlborough farmers market)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Soup Kitchen

Soup: " is a food that is made by combining ingredients such as meat and vegetables in stock or hot/boiling water, until the flavor is extracted, forming a broth"

If you told me that people would be lining up for soup on the streets of Marlborough 12 months ago I would  have crossed the road and walked the other way.  If you told me that there would be a farmers' market in the middle of the central business district selling  hot soup to promote its producers I would  have told you that you were dreaming as we would only ever trade on Sunday mornings during the summer  and that was that.   Both are now reality and I take my apron off to the consummers of Marlborough for supporting local food producers

Soup is as old as boiling water (clever), and I can still remember being taught how to boil water in a paper bag as a boy scout so that is starting to show my age.  Soup orginates from the word "sop" and was advertisied in early  french market stalls as a antidote to physical exhustion (more commonly known as three thirty ises).    "Sop" recipes started to apprear in cookbooks such as Accomplished Gentlewoman's, The Frugal Housewife and the ever essenetial The Complete Housewife.   While cooking techniques  come and go  there is always the trendy fashions and fads of styles of soup  that appear and dissappear from our dinner tables (what ever happend to the classic consumme soup or the chilled  beetroot soup) but you just cannot beat a good old fashioed pot of slow cooked winter vegetable soup

Cambells soup Company (yes they are trying to register the brand name Farmers' Market Soup and have done so successfully around the world)  sells 2.5 billions bowls of there three most popular soups alone.    The Marborough Farmers' market sells 40 L per week on the streets of Marlborough and will with the support of Farmers' Market New Zealand will be opposing Cambells application for brand registration – yes I can see potato peelers being sharpened now as we sip on our antidote for physical exhustion.

Matt from Highfields Winery Farmers' Market Soup (traemarked and registered version)

 Matt's Leek and Potato soup with Sherrington's feta and cracked pepper (Highfield Estate)

For a full flavoured soup firstly, preferably a day ahead make a court Bouillon, you will need about 3 Litres.
Take 3 carrots, 3 celery sticks, 1 fennel bulb, 3 cloves of garlic, 5 peppercorns, 3 star anise, 6 Bay leaves and a handful of herbs.

Roughly chop vegetables and place in stockpot with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes remove and allow to cool.
The next day sieve off all the ingredients so as to leave yourself the liquid place back in pot and gently reheat.

To make to soup:
2 Tbspoons butter
1 onion chopped
4 cloves garlic crushed
600g potatoes peeled and cleaned, cut into small cubes
200g chopped and washed leek
3 litres of court Bouillon
1 Litre of cream
salt and pepper
200g Sherrington feta
cracked pepper

Melt butter in pot adding onion and garlic, gently brown until translucent, add potatoes and leek and gently sweat.
Add Bouillon and simmer for around 30-45 minutes take soup and pass through a moule or food processor transfer back to pot and gently reheat adding cream and feta. Season to taste and finish with cracked pepper. Yum.