Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Food and wellbeing series: Stirring Change (part 2)

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This comes a little later than I had planned, but the change in season brought with it, amongst other things, a few bugs that we had to fight off (in Luca's world, we fought them internally with swords). As I sit here relishing the sound of raindrops falling on my wee little green seedlings, I'm going to pretend that there aren't dozens of chores that need my attention. Instead, I will finish off telling you about Georgia's last workshop, and bring you the recipe for her cultured mayonnaise that so many of you have been asking for.

Cultured condiments is Georgia's favourite workshop and it was mine too. Because while I enjoyed learning more about lacto-fermenting milk, making healing tonics and turning vegetables into gut-loving preserves, they still are relatively new to me and my family. It's about turning something unfamiliar into familiar and that takes work, especially with children and, erm... husbands who aren't always willing to try new things.

But condiments? Who doesn't already love mayonnaise, tomato sauce and mustard? I for one was very excited at the thought of putting a cultured ketchup on the table for the boys to scoop at their will, and getting rid of the store-bought variety.

Once a tomato paste is made by blitzing very-slow-roasted tomato halves with a splash of water, it's whisked into a sauce with maple syrup, dijon mustard, lemon, cloves, paprika, salt and garlic. Adding a few tablespoons of whey is what loads this sauce with nutrients. Best of all, though, it tasted better than the main brand we all know. A spicy barbecue sauce was made in a similar way.

A seeded mustard was very hot but I know someone who will love it – and fascinating too to discover mustard's medicinal properties.

Cultured butter, like the kind you buy in France, was simply made from a tub of crème fraîche; delicious spiced chutneys combined fruit and nuts; a pineapple, ginger and basil salsa was fresh and summery; and cashews were blended until silky smooth and made into a cashew cream cheese with miso, garlic, lemon and chives.

I've left the best till last. The mayonnaise* made us forget all etiquette. We swooned, double-dipped and hogged the jar that was being passed around. That's what I loved about this workshop. It was real food that tasted like real food that everyone recognises as everyday food – but made better for our bodies.

Now, it's all very well to get hyped up at these workshops and leave feeling inspired but do nothing afterwards. So I'll share with you what I've managed since. It's been over four weeks and in that time I've been making milk kefir every other day or so. I've been buying bags of organic tomatoes for the tomato ketchup – the first batch was sensational and we all love it (the boys can't tell the difference).

I'm sipping my own kombucha tea from the fridge and yes, we've had the mayonnaise a few times.

It may sound like an awful lot of effort, but I assure you it's all pretty effortless.

Do one thing at a time, get comfortable (cocky even) and try something else. I'm not cocky (am I?!), but I do like that if I notice the milk kefir is ready as I'm pottering about, I quickly strain it and top it up with fresh milk. It doesn't warrant going onto any to-do list, nor does the kombucha.

When I can't get hold of tomatoes at my co-op, I'll be looking for bottles of organic passata. That will make it easier, of course. With a little whey saved from the kefir, I can have the tomato sauce mixed in seconds and ready to spoon into jars.

If you can make it to Georgia's cultured workshops in Sydney, she's running the next series in October. In the meantime, join her for Rediscovering Traditional Foods on 1st May. She'll be talking gut health and promoting simple but creative approaches to eating well. Her events sell out fast. Tickets are only $35 and a light supper is included.

I wish I could make it. But for now I'm happy making my way through the fabulous notes we were given and slowly exploring different foods, tonics and sauces. I make no promise to myself about trying everything – rather, I'm thrilled to be where I am, knowing more about real food that nourishes our bodies and keeps my family healthy.

*Georgia's mayonnaise

2 raw eggs yolks (room temp)
1 whole raw egg (room temp)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
70g mild extra virgin olive oil (approx 1/2 cup)
80g refined coconut oil (approx 1/2 cup) (refined means you don't get a coconut-flavoured mayo)
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp whey**

Beat the eggs for 1 min, then add mustard, salt and pepper and continue to beat for another 30 secs. Very very slowly drizzle the oils, one by one, into the mixture as you beat (either by hand or in a processor). If you add too quickly, the mixture will split.

Beat in the lemon juice and whey. (To make into a herbed aioli, stir in 1 grated garlic clove and a small handful of finely chopped herbs.)

Pour into a clean, air-tight glass jar and leave on the counter, away from direct light, for 7-9 hours. Transfer the jar to the fridge – it will last over a month as a plain mayo, or a week if garlic is added.

Further reading: How to make perfect mayonnaise and **how to get whey from plain yogurt (if you don't make kefir).


  1. These all seem totally do-able and I will be on to that mayo, mark my words!

  2. What a wonderful workshop! I am so glad that people are starting to teach these skills, and it is very affordable. I am working my way through Nourishing Traditions, but it would be much easier with a demo, some of the recipes have ended in disaster and I haven't quite got the mayo right yet. Will have to wait until next spring when we have plenty of eggs (seems a shame to waste them at the moment). I love your blog, especially seeing how you cook what you grow in your garden.

    1. Thank you Liz. The first time I tried mayo several years ago it split - I was mixing by hand in a bowl. Is this what has happened with you? I've never failed at making it in a food processor. I make it in a Thermomix (just as Georgia does above) but you definitely don't need a Thermomix to make mayo - as long as you have the blades going as you gradually drizzle in the oil.

      Yes I love demos too. Books are wonderful of course, but there's nothing like watching someone make something before your eyes to inspire you and give you the confidence. x

  3. Can I ask where she holds the workshops? She says that the address will be provided on the receipt but as we know in Sydney - some places are just too far!
    Have loved stumbling across your blog, it's a lovely little space you have here. :)

  4. Hi Casso,

    The hands-on workshops are all held at Sydney Cooking School in Neutral Bay. I'm in the process of overhauling the website so there will be more info provided once that's up :)

    The next Cultured series is scheduled for Sept/Oct so keep an eye on FB or newsletter as the date is still tbc.

    I second your sentiments about Slow Heart Sing! xx


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