Vegetarian taste

“Terroiror the ‘flavour of the land’ is of key importance to a cheesemaker. Where and what animals eat directly impacts the taste and components of the milk, affecting the cheesemaking process and consequent results.

This uplift of minerals and food from the soil is what gives us variety as well. Does where I grow in Waihi have different soil, vegetation and weather patterns than other places in New Zealand? Is the makeup of the milk from my Jersey cows different from my next door neighbour’s Friesian cows? Yes, it is. Land and breeding make a difference. It is what makes the food grown on your land unique.

The potatoes you dig up from your soil have your signature on them. What you have put into the land, you get out of the land. If you starve your land or feed your land the wrong food, it will begin to die. Whether you have a quarter of an acre or 200 acres, it is your responsibility to make sure that land stays healthy and continues to produce. A farmer has a duty to nourish the land, not just in the short term but for the future too. To have land is an honour and a burden, a double edged sword that you must work to protect.

When I run a cheesemaking workshop I always offer my participants a vegetarian option for the cheese they are creating and a vegetarian lunch. I use vegetarian rennet for workshops for the same reason -1 want everyone to enjoy the cheeses that they have created. Vegetarian rennet is readily available from internet cheesemaking ingredient suppliers such as Cottage Crafts (www.cottagecrafts.co.nz).

My tip: if you are strictly vegetarian, don’t use lipase as an ingredient because it is animal-based.

As a meat eater, I find strictly vegetarian meals usually lacking in body and I know I could not last too long without meat, although I can’t go too long without vegetables and fruit either. But well-prepared, high quality vegetables and ingredients can enhance a meal so much that a meat eater won’t even notice the absence of meat.

The huge increase of farmer’s market venues and people patronising them indicates to me that the community is looking for better flavoured, fresher organic produce. Consumers are driving cottage industries and are helping small food producers turn into self-supporting successful businesses.

Our closest farmer’s market is in Katikati and operates every Friday afternoon. From a very tiny gathering it has swelled to a bustling vibrant successful crowd where people line up to gain access to top quality produce. I had quite a wait for my organic bread baked in a brick oven but the wait was worth every minute. Farmer’s markets are all over the country and are here to stay.

A friend of mine who has been on many cheesemaking adventures with me has just opened a café and delicatessen in Thames to supply a growing need for high quality homemade produce. I applaud her drive and ambition. Thousands of tourists and locals going on a nearby rail-trail bike-riding adventure has increased patronage in the area greatly.

Superb food and healthy exercise is a winning combination.

VEGETARIAN BITES

I did an Indian cookery class last year and really enjoyed the vegetarian bhajees (bhaji) and pakoras we made. They were spicy but did not burn my mouth as many hot foods do. I particularly like the flavour and texture of the chickpea flour.

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