366 days of gratitude

January 3, 2016

I hold canned asparagus responsible for many people’s dislike of the vegetable.

Canned it’s slimy and definitely not the best way to experience a new taste.

But fresh – cooked until it’s just el dente – both taste and texture are sublime.

We’ve been eating it steamed and grilled.

We’ve added it to pizzas, roulades and salads.

We enjoyed it undressed and dressed –  with sauce or cheese (Whitestone Windsor Blue is a particularly good match, although I haven’t got round to making asparagus rolls with it this season).

And now, before our enjoyment in it begins to pall and we start taking it for granted, the season is almost over.

Like a lot of produce, it will be available out of season thanks to producers who manage to extend the growing period, and imports, should you have the desire to buy it but I rarely do.

A lot of the pleasure in seasonal food is it’s seasonality.  It comes, we enjoy it, it goes and is replaced by something else in season.

Today I’m grateful for fresh food in season.

 

 

 


Rural round-up

August 1, 2015

A Free Trade Deal must include Free Trade:

Federated Farmers says the Government must hold firm on a deal for agriculture at the Trans Pacific Partnership talks in Hawaii.

Federated Farmers’ Dairy Chair Andrew Hoggard is adamant that the reason for New Zealand being at the 12 nation talks is to establish free trade in the region, and a trade deal that doesn’t include meaningful access for dairy is not a free trade deal.

“Let’s be clear. Dairy is our largest export earner. It would be like the Japanese concluding a deal that didn’t have anything in it for automotive or technology trade.” . .

 

Like Uber but for dairy – Offsetting Behaviour:

There could be a lot of opportunities for Canadian dairy in opening up their markets to foreign competition, and in having foreign markets opened to their products. But there would be transitional costs.

The Globe and Mail reports on some relevant aspects here. But they miss the supply management angle. One important reason that Canadian dairy farmers oppose changes to the system is that they own a lot of quota rights. Under the Canadian system, the right to milk a cow costs money. And just like taxi permit owners in regulated markets hate Uber, Canadian dairy farmers hate New Zealand. But who can really blame them? If you were sitting on a big regulatory asset somebody proposed wiping out, wouldn’t you object?  . . .

Health and Safety — some way to go – Katie Milne:

The long awaited report back to the Select Committee on the Health and Safety Reform Bill has now occurred.

We don’t totally know what we are getting. The Labour Party will be opposing the legislation.  The Council of Trade Unions doesn’t like it. The Government has signalled a Supplementary Order Paper to amend the Bill before it goes through its final stages before becoming law and there are regulations to be drafted to sit under the eventual Act as well.

Besides this, WorkSafe New Zealand has considerable discretion how it implements the new Act and the interpretation courts put on the sections and regulations will keep a whole lot of lawyers busy for some years to come. . .

Farmers warned to prepare for more milk cuts:

National dairy industry body DairyNZ is warning farmers to prepare for further cuts to companies’ already low milk price forecasts.

It comes as ASB announced this morning it expects Fonterra to slash its forecast by $1 to $4.25 per kilo of milk solids when it reviews its payout next week.

However, the bank is predicting an end of season payout of $4.50. . .

T&G Global strengthens position as asparagus marketer –  Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – T&G Global, the fruit marketer controlled by Germany’s BayWa, has acquired assets from long-term Australian partner M&G Vizzarri, strengthening its position as a major asparagus trader.

T&G’s 50 percent-owned Australian subsidiary Delica will buy Vizzarri Farms, the asparagus marketer founded by Mario and Gina Vizzarri, from its Delica co-shareholder M&G Vizzarri. No price was disclosed.

The joint venture will be renamed T&G Vizzarri Farms and will become “one of the leading asparagus traders in the southern hemisphere,” T&G Global said in a statement. Targeted revenue from the enlarged business is about $40 million in its first year and more than 5,000 tonnes, it said. Currently Delica handles export sales for Vizzarri Farms, which owns 29 properties with a combined 1,900 acres. . .

Treble Cone’s Busiest Ever Start to a Snow Season:

The South Island’s largest ski area – Treble Cone (Wanaka, New Zealand) has enjoyed its busiest ever start to a snow season and has set new records for both its ‘busiest week overall’ and ‘busiest July ever’.

With fantastic pre-season and early season snowfalls the entire mountain including the Home and Saddle Basins, the right-of-passage Summit Slopes, the revered expert only Motatapu Chutes, and the Matukituki Basin were all open from Opening Day.

Over the first week of the New Zealand school holidays Treble Cone enjoyed its busiest ever week of skier visits, with all terrain open spreading guests across the entire mountain enjoying the cold dry snow.

 


Rural round-up

October 14, 2013

Low wool supply puzzles exporters:

Wool industry representatives are trying to unravel the mystery of an unexpected drop in the amount of wool coming forward for auction.

Thursday’s South Island sale had fewer than 8000 bales on offer, which was about 40% below the amount which had been anticipated, while the amount of wool for next week’s North Island sale is 25% lower than what had been rostered.

That’s even more of a surprise, as recent North Island sales have been offering more than the amount forecast. . .

Garden stepping down at SFF – Alan Williams:

Silver Fern Farms will be looking for a new chairman, after Eoin Garden retires from the board at the annual meeting in December.

Garden, a Central Otago farmer, has been chairman of New Zealand’s biggest meat processor and exporter since early 2008.

He was elected to the board in 1998 and is the longest-serving of the current directors. . .

Cricketers to front Indian venutre – Annette Scott:

An exclusive supply contract with meat processor and exporter Alliance Group has set the wheels in motion for fledgling company QualityNZ to build a meat trade with India.

QualityNZ has spent the past three years “under the radar” devising strategy to set up a market for New Zealand sheep meat in India.

Building around NZ and India’s sporting relationships, cricketing stars Brendon McCullum, Stephen Fleming, and Daniel Vettori will play a big part in the marketing and profile of the new meat trade.

All three cricketers have a shareholding in QualityNZ alongside the two major shareholders, former NZ fast bowler Geoff Allott and NZ Cricket Board member and Geoff Thin. . .

Keep it clean:

RURAL CONTRACTORS are being reminded to make sure their machinery is cleaned between jobs to ensure that plant pests and weeds are not spread around on dirty gear.

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) president Steve Levet says dirty machines carry soil, seeds, and organic matter, which could dislodge when it’s next used and spread contamination to new sites.

“Soil-borne pests and diseases can be transferred in wet soil attached to wheels, tracks or parts of the machine that work in the ground. While some pests and disease can also be transferred in dust that can accumulate on many parts of the machine – engine bay, cabins and air intakes,” Levet explains. . .

NZ merino a winner during America’s Cup – Tim Cronshaw:

New Zealand may have lost the America’s Cup, but some consolation can be taken from 5500 meals of merino-branded lamb being served up at a pop-up restaurant on the San Francisco waterfront to diners including film actor Tom Cruise.

The branded lamb meat, Silere alpine origin merino, was a winner among supporters of the race won last month by the United States Oracle team led by Kiwi Sir Russell Coutts and bankrolled by billionaire Larry Ellison.

More than 1.4 tonnes of merino lamb was dished up during the 12 weeks of the America’s Cup at the Waiheke Island Yacht Club pop-up restaurant at the Embarcadero in San Francisco which will remain open until the end of the year. . .

Dairy man jumps on asparagus bandwagon:

THIRTY FIVE years ago Geoff Lewis left his parent’s small dairy farm to seek his fortune in the sheep and cattle industry.

Today Lewis has added a dairy farm to his business, but asparagus growing has propelled him to prominence as a highly regarded grower using technology for maximum profit.

“When Liz and I got married, I went and managed a coastal sheep and beef farm and forestry block north of Foxton. My employer there was keen to diversify. In the late 1970’s the catchcry was ‘diversify’ and there were goats, deer, kiwifruit – all embryonic. 

“MAF had an advisory office supporting diversification by farmers so we investigated and decided perhaps asparagus was a good option for the free-draining sands of the west coast.” . . .


Rural round up

August 4, 2013

Food, drink and stock feed in whey crisis – Stephen Bell,

No Fonterra-branded consumer products are affected by contaminated whey, the firm said this morning.

It referred to the crisis following revelations it had produced 38 tonnes of whey concentrate contaminated with the potentially deadly Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism, as “the quality issue”.

The farmer co-operative’s statement said it had assured consumers in global markets including Australia, Asia, China, Latin America, New Zealand and the Middle East that none of its range of branded consumer products contained the affected whey protein concentrate (WPC80).

In addition to branded consumer products, Fonterra markets a range of commercial ingredients under its NZMP label. These ingredients are sold to other food companies that use them to manufacture their own consumer products. . .

Fonterra botulism scare caused by dirty pipe –  Amelia Wade , Matthew Theunissen:

The potential contamination of Fonterra products with botulism occurred as a result of a dirty pipe at the company’s Hautapu plant, it says.

Fonterra is still refusing to disclose which of its eight customers were potentially affected by the contamination, saying it was up to them and their regulatory authorities to make those decisions.

Managing director of New Zealand milk products Gary Romano said the contamination occurred as a result of a dirty pipe at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant in Waikato. . .

Russia bans all Fonterra products  – Christopher Adams:

Russia has made one of the most extreme responses to Fonterra’s contamination scare so far, banning all goods made by the New Zealand dairy giant, according to media reports.

Russia was not on the list of affected countries released by Trade Minister Tim Grocer yesterday, which included New Zealand, Australia, China, Vietnam and Thailand.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that the country’s consumer-protection watchdog was recalling Fonterra’s products, including infant formula, and advising consumers in Russia not to buy its products. . .

 

Asparagus bred to beat fungus – Tony Benny:

Canterbury plant breeder Peter Falloon has developed the world’s first asparagus cultivar to have resistance to phytophthora, a fungus that eats the plants’ roots and can devastate crops.

“It is exciting and the nice thing is it’s done in New Zealand, so the growers here can take advantage of it,” he said.

“One of the main drivers in food crops is reduced chemical application and this is a major aim of the asparagus industry in New Zealand. So this gives it a jump on the rest of the world.

“We can back some of our clean, green claims with the fact that this is one more chemical that we’re not using.” . . .

New HortNZ head well know to industry – Peter Watson:

Life just got even busier for Nelson fruit and berry grower Julian Raine with his election as president of Horticulture New Zealand.

Raine, who already has roles in other industry organisations, took over this week from Andrew Fenton who has been president since HortNZ’s inception in 2005.

Fenton said Raine was well respected in the industry and the ideal person to steer the national organisation through the next stage of its journey to becoming a $10 billion industry by 2020.

Raine, who was elected to the HortNZ board in 2011, said he accepted the nomination for president because he wanted to make a difference. . .

Organic carrots no hippy operation – Tony Cronshaw:

Rows of carrots spaced with a precision that could not be done by the human eye give the first clue that the Hicks family runs a modern arable operation.

There are no sandals or hippy beads at Willowmere Organic Farm in Hororata.

On the contrary, cultivated rows of carrots and other crops are prepared and planted at the large operation owned by the Hicks family of Kelvin and his parents, John and Trish, with satellite- aligned GPS equipment.

Kelvin says they make the most of advanced technology to push organic production. . .

Meads goes from breeding to beefing up events – Hugh Stringleman:

Performance Beef Breeders (PBB) chief executive Murray Meads has stepped down after 16 years to concentrate on events management and a new restaurant for the centre of Feilding.

Since 1997 Meads has grown the PBB bureau from four full-time staff members to 16, for the needs of 13 beef cattle breed societies and ancillary services and events.

His future role is events and project manager for Hot Wire Events, a new subsidiary of PBB. . .

This beautiful “189 Miles” wool installation by Angela Wright, featured in the Wool Modern Exhibition in Syndey in 2012 and wallspace at All Hallows church, London:

This beautiful wool installation by Angela Wright, featured in the Wool Modern Exhibition in Syndey in 2012. Click on the link to see the original exhibition and the creation process behind it  http://bit.ly/16NprGw
An illustrated explanation of how it was made is here. (Hat tip: Campaign for Wool)

Autumn asparagus?

April 2, 2011

Asparagus is one of the joys of spring and it usually runs out in early to mid summer.

But I’m still seeing New Zealand grown asparagus in supermarkets.

Have growers managed to extend the growing season or has it been stored to extend the selling season?


Asparagus season

November 28, 2009

If there’s one vegetable which persuades me of the sense of eating fresh food, in season, as close as possible to where it’s produced, it’s asparagus.

The best meal of this late spring/early summer delicacy I’ve eaten was espárrago de la plancha – asparagus from the grill – at the Parador de Malaga Gibralfaro, in Spain.

It was cooked fractionally beyond crisp, bright green and its natural flavour was enhanced by a hint of some from the fire over which it had been cooked.

We’ve tried to emulate it on the barbeque but never quite captured the taste and texture.

Another favourite way to serve the vegetable is to steam it lightly then roll it in fresh, thin sliced bread with grated blue cheese.

Lightly is the operative word. I think the reason many people don’t like asparagus is because their first taste is of the tinned variety which is soggy.

It’s also delicious baked with a tiny splash of olive oil and sprinkle of rock salt.

It enhances a quiche or roulade, can be stir fired, barbequed, wrapped in bacon and baked, in savoury muffins or pasta, covered with breadcrumbs and grated cheese and baked, added to a salad, served hot with wholegrain mustard in sandwiches, or in an omelette or frittata.

Or simply steam until it’s al dente and enjoy it by itself.


Yum!

September 26, 2008

The first of this season’s asparagus has arrived.

Grill or steam it until it is al dente then serve with Whitestone Windsor Blue

If you want to go to a little more effort, grate some of the cheese and roll it with the asparagus in thin sliced wholemeal bread – eat as is or toasted.

Add a glass of pinot noir, perhaps Rockburn (thanks to the recommendation of Rayinnz).

The sit back, relax and savour the taste of spring.

 

P.S. Cheese is protein and calcium, asparagus is a green vegetable, wine is nearly fruit – it’s healthy!


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