Well, two things happened.
- We put our out of office on, closed the laptop and relaxed. The days ticked on, the Ham Day leftover pile got smaller, and we cleared enough head space to do some high quality thinking around the state of the food system and what we reckon 'good' would look like for producers and consumers and farmed animals alike. (And yes, that's our idea of a good time!).
- Then, we came back to the office, excited for the year ahead, started making plans and then Auckland got hit with the biggest rainfall its ever had...ever.
Thankfully everyone is safe and sound, albeit a bit soggy, but it really felt like 2023 was letting itself be heard - "if you thought the pandemic years were something, you just wait...".
But enough of the pessimism. The year is still somewhat new and the water reserves are full. We've had a cup of coffee or two (large, with almond milk) and we can feel that burst of energy coming back. This year has some very exciting and important things in the pipeline for us - and lots of delicious eating!
What we think is important
New Zealand is a pretty small place... if you're not involved in producing food yourself, you almost certainly know someone who is. So you'll also know it can be a pretty hard graft, with long hours, physical work and an income that is largely dictated by a bunch of stuff that is outside your control (like unprecedented weather events!).
As consumers and proud omnivores, you'll likely also know the frustration of watching a lot of the food we grow so incredibly well in this country bypass our own grocery stores as it leaves our shores for international markets. While exporting food will always be part of New Zealand's economic story – feeding New Zealanders matters too.
We reckon that NZ needs to collectively adjust our focus towards ensuring we feed ourselves as well as we feed the rest of the world... and we're committed to starting conversations and action to make this happen. It'll take time (like perfecting the crackling on a pork belly, all good things do) but we're here, taking notes and getting our soap box ready.
Our fave summer eats
We've been retreating from rain and humidity more than the heat, so we've had plenty of opportunity to spend time in the kitchen. We weren't frantically trying to whip up a Christmas feast for the extended fam (that's so 2022) but relaxing, discovering new recipes and enjoyable, easy eats for slower days. Here are some of our regulars:
- Summer ingredients are so flavourful, we love eating them without too much fussing. There's nothing like some chopped heirloom tomatoes, mixed with a little EVOO and chopped basil, served on lightly grilled bread (bonus points for rubbing with cut garlic first) and topped with some mozzarella, burrata or stracciatella and a few crispy bacon shards.
- Great for when you don't want to turn up the heat indoors, we've thrown some sliced courgette, red onion and capsicum on the BBQ along with some halloumi and saussies (any of our Freedom Farms sausages will work here). Slice up the latter once cooked and toss together with some salad greens, EVOO, s&p, whatever herbs you have on hand and a squeeze of lemon for a simple but delightful meal. No one will complain if you serve with some good ol' buttered dinner rolls.
- On those days the sun does make an appearance, we're using the BBQ as much as possible, and whether it's lunch-dessert, afternoon tea or an after-dinner treat, we are loving grilling up some fruit - pineapple, nectarines and peaches being our fave. A super versatile option, you can sprinkle with some brown sugar or maple syrup (as if they need more sweetness...) and even save for a breakfast topping, or serve with ice cream and a crumble topping.
1/ In our last newsy we shared our 2022 reading list, and it focused on a lot of the food and future subject matter we love and are naturally curious about... and which will be a key theme of ours in the year(s) ahead. But we equally love a bit of escapism in a book (because let's face it, the state of the food system can be a tad depressing) and our favourite place to get actual physical books is Bookety Book Books. It's got aesthetic up the wazoo and we love what Mandy is creating with her wonderfully curated selection of reads. Check them out at booketybookbooks.co.nz
2/ Have you heard about the comet? Any day now we'll be able to see a newly-discovered green comet that would have last been seen by humans in the stone age and probably won't be seen again. It's a nice reminder of how teeny tiny we are in the universe, though I can't really think too deeply about it or I'll fall into an existential crisis (just me?). Now we just need the cloud and rain to move on...
3/ Data. It's all around us, there are so many good/great/interesting uses of it. But you can't argue that Liam Quigley has put data visualisation to good use by tracking every slice of NYC pizza he's eaten over the last eight years. Probably for the best that we don't attempt the same with the amount of bacon we've put away over the last 15+ years!
4/ The perfect lazy summer meal, you might have noticed hot dogs are having a moment - and we don't mind one bit(e). We've tried Good Dog Bad Dog, Brooklyn Dogs and the Korean Mighty Hotdog. The Dog Spot in Ponsonby Central is next on our list to try. Costco have bucked the international beef standard and do a $1.99 pork hot dog in their foodcourt.... we love the porky energy... but we're not in any great rush to support this sub $2 offering.
If you're after a happy fakeaways option, you can make a Freedom Dog by grabbing a pack of our Pork Breakfast Sausages and untwisting the link between two sausages and massaging them into one long skinny snag. 🤤
5/ In trying to add calm to my life - but avoiding full woo-woo - I've begun starting the day with 10 deep breaths. It happens before I check my phone, before I get out of bed (before coffee!), regardless of what time I wake up. It's funny how something like breathing 🫁 - we do it all day, right? - can have such an impact. Give it a try!
A debate ensued in the office at the end of last year about the perfect level of doneness/crispiness of streaky bacon. I say debate, but in reality there is only one correct answer - you want the bacon to render some of its fat, and for the rasher to just hold its plank when you pick it up. We're firm believers in cooking bacon properly... so much so that we wrote it on our packs... goes crispy, crunchy and brown... don't you dare undercook me!
If you're someone who struggles with the occasional bacon blunder, especially if you are cooking for a crowd, skip the pan and head straight to the oven. And for the love of everything that is good in the world... please step away from the microwave!!!
Where are all the eggs?!
You may have noticed your supermarket shelves are pretty bare when it comes to eggs - ours and other brands. It's not great for egg fans, but in a strange way, it also kinda is. It's all happened because of a bit of a fustercluck of timing - the battery-caged egg ban finally came into force 10 years after the decision (YAY!!!) so poor-welfare eggs are no longer available. So we have fewer egg producers, and way more demand as the food service industry switched (yay!) en masse (eep!). But more chicks are being hatched, more range being freed and in time, supply will settle down. On the whole it is good news - it means happier hens, and we reckon that means yummier eggs.
Thanks for joining us in our first newsy of 2023 - we promise to be a bit more regular with them this year, and keep bringing you interesting, informative and tasty content. If there's anything specific you're interested in, we'd love to hear from you!
Til next time, stay dry!
Hilary and the Freedom Farms team