There’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment you get when you grow and make your own food. Many of us have a few herbs in pots, however few have ventured very far along the path of self-sufficiency.
You may not be Julie Child, but if home baking interests you, especially if you are keen to learn more about good food, then we recommend spending a day with accredited permaculture teacher, Elisabeth Fekonia.
Knowledge is wealth, and who better to teach you than someone who is mostly self-sufficient?
Elisabeth has spent the past twenty years living a self-sufficient life, and now she spends her time passing those skills on to people throughout Queensland. She stresses the many advantages of making your own food, including saving on the family food bill, having fresh organic produce available all year round and having food security.
But she also imparts more than that, sharing her wealth of knowledge about the health advantages of homemade fresh and fermented food that aids gut health, at the same time reviving the forgotten skills of the past.
Brie, Camembert & Butterkase Workshop (3 hours)
Aimed at beginners, this workshop teaches us how to make delicious cheese from shop bought milk. We learn which milk is best to use for cheesemaking and why, as well as the role of rennet in turning the milk into curd. The more whey that’s released from the curd, the harder the cheese.
Different cheeses require different temperatures to set and there are slight variations in the method used to make them, however Elisabeth stresses the importance of three factors: temperature, pH and hygiene.
Through the hands-on workshop, we all grow in our understanding of the role of bacteria in making cheese and the importance of this living food in our diet. Brie and camembert will be ready to eat in 4 – 6 weeks, the buttery butterkase maybe even less.
For those who are lactose intolerant or vegan by choice, Elisabeth also runs vegan cheesemaking workshops.
Sourdough Bread & Fermented Foods Workshop (3 hours)
The afternoon’s workshop teaches us how to make sourdough bread from scratch as well as wraps, pasta, crackers, and fermented foods including sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented bean pâté, tomato sauce and fermented fruit paste.
We learn about the essential science of breadmaking using wild yeast culture or starter, the star of the show. Elisabeth teaches us how to begin the process of sourdough by making a sourdough starter, which brands of flour are best to use, and what add-in ingredients make your bread tastier and more nutritious. Next to the quality of the flour, the water temperature in bread making is most important. If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast or starter culture, and if it’s too cold it will not activate the process.
Next, participants make sauerkraut, which they take home to ferment for 2 – 3 weeks, as well as a loaf of sourdough bread dough to bake.
During morning tea, we enjoy tastes of some of Elisabeth’s cheese with sourdough and crackers that we learn to make in the afternoon class. In both workshops, there are cheese cultures and starters for sale, as well as handouts to keep us on the right track when we begin to make our own food at home.
It’s a wealth of information to take in, the reason, Elisabeth says, we should go home and start making one or two of the recipes within the first week.
Highly worthwhile, we leave the class brimming with knowledge about food and nutrition, determined to use some of the skills we’ve learned in Elisabeth’s class.
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast was a guest observer at both of these classes.