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The 2013 Challenge – Food to Share

hot mango chutney, garlic white beans, marinated snake beans, marinated tromboncino and eggplant, labne, cherry tomatoes and cucumber

There have been several disparate themes mulling around vying for attention as my focus for 2013.  I’ve been thinking about packaging, and the processing that goes into making food that can be bundled up in triple layers of plastic and cardboard to survive the ordeal of trial by retail, and I’ve considered making 2013 the year of no packaging.

I’ve also been thinking about community, and how sharing food is so central to caring and nurturing and creating the relationships that hold in good times and bad, and I’ve considered making 2013 the year of parties (and barbeques and picnics and potlucks) – treat food that isn’t quite junk food.

And I’ve been thinking about the conversation that is surfacing in permaculture circles lately about the misconception that permaculture is about self-sufficiency.  The three ethics of permaculture are  care for the earthcare for people and share fairly. The first two are easy to understand, if not always to do.  The last is a bit more opaque.  It’s a mixture of the standard care-giver axiom that before you can care for anyone or anything else, you need to take care of yourself, with a warning that hoarding takes you backwards.  And it’s led me to thinking about a glut of tromboncino (again) and the realtive merits of preserving them, versus offloading them in the mailbox at the corner, versus turning them into party food to share.

Then last night I made this platter for dinner, and the three themes merged in it.  At least once a week, most weeks, dinner for us is a platter to share, in these hot summer days on the verandah watching the sunset with a cold beer to go with it.  Most weeks too, there is some occasion to share food with others –  family, friends, community. I thought I might share with you a platter each week, party food for just the household or to share, based on what is fresh, in season, and in glut.

So here’s the first of 50 platters. (I wonder what I have taken on!)

Served with Seedy Sourdough Crispbread triangles, there’s

  • sliced fresh cherry tomatoes and cucumber
  • olives from last year’s crop
  • snake beans now in glut, cut into finger food lengths, blanched, and dressed while hot with a simple balsamic-olive oil-tamari-garlic-honey dressing (we can eat an awful lot of snake beans like this)
  • labneh balls rolled in dukkah – just strained greek yoghurt, rolled into balls in oiled hands, then rolled in dukkah
  • hot mango and tomato chutney made with our ripening glut crop of mangoes
  • Lebanese Marinated Zucchini et al made with the now officially in glut tromboncino, and eggplants just because they are so good in it.
  • garlic white bean paste made with the first of the season’s mature Blue Lake beans.

Recipe – Garlic White Bean Paste:

Soak the beans and cook them. I used my Blue Lakes, but cannellini beans work fine too.  Bean Basics has the details about cooking dried beans if you are not used to it.  The quick method is to use fresh beans, bring  to the boil in water, soak for half an hour (or all day),  change the water, add salt, then boil for half an hour or so, or pressure cook for 10 minutes or less.

Drain the beans and save a little of the cooking water.  Blend them with some garlic, a couple of spoonfuls of good olive oil, and enough of the water to make the right consistency. Taste and add some salt if it needs it – beans need a bit of salt.

This makes a smooth, fluffy, spreadable paste that is perfect as a base for other ingredients.  Spread on a biscuit or toast and top with as many of the platter ingredients as you can fit. Or take to a party as a dip with biscuits or crudites.


{ 14 comments… add one }
  • farmer_liz January 6, 2013, 4:30 pm

    yum! And lovely idea. I hadn’t realised how important community was to permaculture until I started reading more. Husband and I were just talking about how we should offer to help our neighbours so we can comfortably call on them in future when we need something. By the way, I planted trombocino and am still waiting for that glut, I have spotted one fruit only so far!

  • Tracey January 6, 2013, 5:30 pm

    Yum! I love a good sharing platter and those labneh balls look just perfect to me! You’ve given me a plan for tonight too – I have just the stuff to make my own platter, and a cold home brew to go with it – thanks!

  • Linda January 6, 2013, 7:44 pm

    love to hear what’s on yours Tracey.

  • Linda January 6, 2013, 7:44 pm

    Be careful what you wish for Liz!

  • Pat Machin January 6, 2013, 8:32 pm

    I shall certainly follow this series. We often have ‘small plates’ which are known as Tapas or Mezze on the Mediterranean. Putting them all out on a platter would be easier than individual dishes and looks so good – and saves washing up as well.

  • Liz January 6, 2013, 9:07 pm

    What a lovely idea – I’m looking forward to lots of fabulous ideas. I particularly like the dressing for those snake beans.

  • Fiona January 6, 2013, 11:47 pm

    We love platter eating and I find it is a great way to use up any small bits and pieces of food left over. I have been making my own feta and dukka which usually end up on the platter.

  • alison January 7, 2013, 8:08 am

    I love this idea Linda and will be devouring your ideas. Thanks and happy new year. Alison

  • Sandy January 7, 2013, 10:34 am

    I couldn’t agree more Linda. I spent many years living in Africa and it teaches you that community is all about sharing, especially sharing food. These simple acts of taking care of each other builds such strong social support networks and help people find their way through difficult times. So I love the theme for this year!

  • Linda January 7, 2013, 4:26 pm

    I’ll be reading with interest! I love the community aspect. One of my personal decisions for this year is to extend our circle. With my youngest starting school, I want to spend more time with local groups. (Spinning, local environmental group etc.) I love what people can achieve when they work together!

  • Barbara Good January 7, 2013, 10:13 pm

    Linda this is fabulous. What a great way of eating and what a great philosophy about sharing and building community. You’ve inspired me.

  • dixiebelle January 8, 2013, 10:53 am


  • MeganK January 11, 2013, 9:49 pm

    I love the 50 platters theme, Linda.
    It’s one if my goals this year too, to share more meals and all the better when I can add something I’ve grown myself.
    I’ve been re-reading your book lately – it’s so good. I know it might seem like so long ago since you wrote it, but thank you for writing it!

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