Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gluten Free Sugar Free Lamington Bars


Back in the 50's, an older friend of mine used to visit the prisoners at the Fremantle Jail with her school; the girls were to cheer up the prisoners. They'd sing and put on plays, and then serve afternoon tea. And they'd play terrible pranks. One regarded lamingtons. The girls would cut up bathroom sponges, bind them together with shaving cream, and ice them as usual. An unsuspecting prisoner would take a big rubbery bite, pause... then roar with laughter. What good sports they were, says my friend.

These days it's very hard to imagine a school sending a group of girls to visit a men's prison bearing cake; and even harder to imagine prisoners roaring with laughter when the best looking bit of food they've seen all year turns out to be a sham. But perhaps it didn't really matter. The 'lamingtons' were iced and coconutted as usual – and as everyone knows, the outside is the only part of the lamington worth eating. The sponge is invariably dry, something to politely mumble one's way through rather than actively enjoy.

Thinking about this, it occurred to me to fiddle around with the date-paste-bar idea and turn it into the outside of a lamington. I admit it's not a local seasonal food, but my justification for putting the recipe on this blog is two-fold. One, it's an incredibly quick, easy and healthy snack food that requires no packaging, very useful for lunchboxes. Two, we are about to move house and I'm cooking my way through the depths of the pantry; this is a great way to use up dried coconut, and date paste!

Unapologetically, then, I present to you: lamington bars. Lovely in a lunch box; delightful cut into squares and served with a short black or a hot tea; and not a bathroom sponge or shred of gluten in sight.

Gluten Free Sugar Free Lamington Bars

- 180g date paste
- 4 tbs unsweetened cocoa
- 2 tbs cacao nibs
- 60g coconut shreds
- pinch of salt
- water, as needed

The date paste should be moist enough to work with; however, if it seems dry and hard, soak it in water for an hour before using. You can use the soaking water to sweeten a smoothie.

Combine the first five ingredients in the large bowl of a food processor. Whizz for several minutes, until it forms small glossy pebbles. If the mixture is struggling to come together, slowly dribble in up to a tablespoon of water, a drop at a time, until it has combined.

Tip half the mixture into a small dish; I use a ceramic dish 10cm x 18cm (4" x 7") bought at an op shop for just this purpose. Using the back of a metal spoon, press the mixture firmly into the dish. Tip in the rest of the mixture, and press the whole into a solid smooth slab.

Cover with gladwrap and place in the fridge for several hours to harden up.

When you are ready to serve, cut using a heavy knife. I slice mine crosswise into ten narrow bars ready for school lunches; or into squares for a sweet little something to share.

(Ingredients from all over the world, but a bought bar would be similar, only with more chemicals and packaging.)

Possum Magic(aka Australian Food Magic)

Friday, November 9, 2012

People's Food Plan

In response to the Federal Government’s proposed National Food Plan, the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance is drawing up a People’s Food Plan. You are invited to contribute by hosting a Kitchen Table Talk with your friends and neighbours!

The National Food Plan is most likely to increase our dependency on GM crops, corporate farms and free-trade imports; the duopoly that already has a stranglehold over our groceries will only increase its power; and family farms and rural communities are at risk of even further decline.

If you value small farms, sustainable growing methods, local food, seasonal eating and anything else that means real food, contribute!

You can find out much more at the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance. There you can download a draft policy document for your consideration and comment; or, if you have less time, you can use the following list of questions as a jumping off point. The AFSA also welcomes your own policy ideas and personal stories.

So get some friends round your kitchen table, serve them a cup of tea and something yummy from the garden, and have a good chat.

If you would like more information, you can contact a member of the steering team; find the reps for your state here. Return your comments no later than early December to Nick Rose at the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance at info@foodsovereigntyalliance.org, or by snail mail to PO Box 3349, St Pauls NSW 2031.


10 Policy Ideas for a People’s Food Plan

Please determine whether your forum agrees, disagrees or is indifferent / undecided about the following statements. Please also indicate which three of these you would rank as the top priorities. If your forum decides that there are other priorities not on this list, please write them down and send them.

• Should agriculture and food policy in Australia support sustainable food sources, by subsidising farmers / growers / processors / distributors of locally grown and raised, seasonal fresh and preserved produce?

• Should Australian citizens have a strong and effective voice in the creation of food and agriculture policy?

• Should Australian governments support young, new and small farmers to ensure a future for family farming?

• Should Australian governments – federal, state and local – support people’s rights as citizens to a healthy and nutritious diet?

• Should the Australian National Preventive Health Agency develop a national health and climate change plan, and resource a national public health campaign with localised food as its focus?

• Should Australia’s prime agricultural land be fully audited and protected from alternative uses, e.g. suburban sprawl, coal-seam gas and other mining?

• Should Australian governments – Federal and State – support Australia’s family farmers by reintroducing publicly-funded extension officers, and publicly-funded agricultural research and development?

• Should Australian governments implement the right to food by ensuring that every Australian has good access to healthy, affordable food; and no Australian has to rely on emergency food sources?

• Should Australia prohibit the patenting of living organisms?

(The People’s Food Plan is supported by many fantastic people, including the very trustworthy Lolo Houbein, author of the fantastic One Magic Square, a call to straightforward backyard gardening and sustainable living. You can read my review of her book here.)

One Magic Square