Category Archives: Kitchen

In Season: May’s Fruit and Veges

image by donsutherland1

One part of the Lavender Experiment is to

live greener by: buying our fruit and veges locally and in season.

So I’ve decided to do a monthly list of common fruit and veges that are currently in season. This tends to help when you go grocery shopping, as in season produce should be cheaper and definitely fresher than its out-of-season friends (yes, I am looking at you, cherries in May!!) and, generally speaking, greener as you should find it to be a local product. Plus, it really should taste better too!

Ideally, you would buy your fruit and veges from local, organic producers, but really, who has the cash or the time to go on ten different trips to local farms? Not me, that’s for sure. Most weekends Sparky and I do go for a drive to the Hawkesbury and visit a little farm that sells mostly local, in season produce that’s free from chemical sprays, but if we don’t have the time we just shop at the local IGA.

(Just a tip for any Sydney folk reading this, the Hawkesbury Harvest Farm Gate Trail is brilliant, and the website has lots of info on local producers, as well as a search by product function where you can find local prodcuers and seasons.)

Aaanyway, May = late autumn, which in my mind equals two delicious things: apples and rhubarb!! But there are a surprising number of options this time of year, with tonnes of Asian greens in season as well as your root veges which are ideal for soups and stews.


apples (bonza, braeburn, fuji, gala, golden delicious, granny smith, jonagold, jonathan, mutso, pink lady, red delicious, snow, sundowner)
custard apple
grapes (purple cornichon, waltham cross)
mandarin (imperial)
melon (champagne)
nuts (chestnut, hazelnut, peanut, walnut)
pears (howell, josephine, packham, red sensation, williams)


asian greens (bok choy, choy sum, gai laan, wonga bok) 
avocados (fuerte, sharwill) 
brussels sprout


mushrooms (wild, field, pine, slippery jacks) 
onions (brown, spring) 
sweet potato

*This list is for Australian fruit and vege seasons.

I know for me, shopping in season stretches my cooking muscles in sometimes uncomfortable ways, because it forces me to continuously revisit my go-to meals and start to look at ways of using less common (or less commonly used) veges. I think that can only be a good thing, and I’m aiming to this year start to try a few new recipes that take full advantage of all the good stuff we can grow here in Australia.

Meat-free Monday: Hearty Vegetable Soup

The weather here last week was ridiculously cold. Like middle-of-winter cold. And this easy-peasy vege soup came in great handy. Added bonus: you can replace/add extra any veges you like. It’s a good way to use up leftover veges that may be rattling around in the crisper.

This quantity made enough for 2 meals for Sparky, Isy and myself, plus a little leftover for my lunch.

You’ll need:

1 tbsp butter
1 carrot, chopped
1 potato, chopped
green beans, chopped
* in last week’s version, I used potato, sweet potato, zucchini, squash, peas and carrot*
1 onion, finely sliced
400g can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups vege stock
2 tsp sugar
300g can butter beans, rinsed and drained

1. Heat butter in large pan, add onion, stirring starting to soften. Add veges and undrained tomatoes. Cook, stirring until onion is soft.

2. Stir in blended flour and tomato paste, then add stock, thyme and sugar.

3. Stir over heat until soup boils and begins to thicken, then simmer uncovered until veges are tender. Stir through butter beans.

That’s it! And another bonus, like most soups and stews, this one tasted even better the next night. (I love leftovers!)

For other Meat-Free Monday meals, click here.

Meat-Free Monday: Tuna Pasta

I’ve done it again. Fish in Meat Free Mondays. I am living on the edge, I know. Tut, tut.

Facetiousness aside, this Jamie Oliver inspired meal is one of the best, easiest, tastiest pastas going round. Trust me, it’ll find its way into your repertoire in no time!

You’ll need:

large tin of tuna in olive oil
onion, chopped
garlic, crushed
chilli flakes (optional)
basil – stems chopped and leaves torn roughly
bottle of passata (or Dolmio Classic Tomato Pasta Sauce – it’s really tasty, no preservatives, additives etc)
fusilli or similar pasta
salt and pepper

1. Cook the garlic, onion and chilli for a few minutes in some olive oil. Add the basil stems and about 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. Cook for another couple of minutes.

2. Roughly drain the tuna and flake it with a fork. Add to the pan, along with the passata or pasta sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes or so.

3. Cook your pasta, drain and add to the pan. Combine with the sauce, season and throw through some basil leaves.

4. Top with more basil, pepper and parmesan.

Cue mouth watering.

Meat-Free Monday: Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup

image from jiffy cat

So the weather has turned autumny and Sparky and I have turned to soups and stews and casseroles in a big way. The meat-free challenge is really on now, because there’s something super satisfying about a big, hearty beef casserole when the weather’s a bit miserable.

This soup is one of my favourites. I’m actually not a big pumpkin soup fan, but the sweet potato and cumin in this one make it really tasty. Plus, as always, it’s easy peasy.

You’ll need:

1 kg butternut pumpkin, peeled and chopped
300g sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
30g butter
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp brown sugar
3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper
chives and cream to serve

1. Heat butter in large pan. Add onion, pumpkin and sweet potato. Cover and cook on low for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add spices and sugar and cook for about 5 minutes more.

3. Add stock and bring to the boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Using a stick mixer, puree the soup in the pot (alternatively, blend in batches using a blender, then return to the pot). Season to taste and add the cream. Reheat gently without boiling.

5. Top with extra cream and chives.

Meat-Free Monday: The Controversial Edition – Salmon Fritters

source: Food

Now, there seem to be two ways of thinking on this. Some people are vegetarian and eat fish, others believe that fish falls under the meat category and think true vegetarians do not eat seafood. Me? I eat meat and really have no opinion either way, but unless people ask me not to, I may occasionally include a fish dish in my Meat-Free Mondays, simply because I have so many good ones and they are cheap and easy (which is the whole point of these recipes anyway).

These salmon fritters are packed full of vegie goodnes, but please don’t tell Isla because they are hands-down her favourite thing to eat. I make them for her probably once a fortnight, and Sparky and I eat them too. Usually will salad or steamed vegies.

You need:

a 400g tin pink salmon – drained, flaked, bones removed
a large carrot
a couple of potatoes
a zucchini
an onion
an egg
plain flour
vege oil

1. Pop the salmon into a large bowl. Grate up the carrot, zucchini, onion and potatoes and add to the bowl.

2. Combine with the egg and a couple of tablespoons of plain flour. Season and mix well.

3. Take spoonfuls of the mixture and roll into balls.

4. Heat a centimetre or two of vege oil in a frypan and pop the salmon fritters in in batches. Shallow-fry for a few minutes, then flip and cook through on the other side. Drain on paper towel.

Seriously tasty and so yummy on a sandwich the next day too. Hopefully this didn’t offend anyone!!