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An Auckland Harvest that looks a little different.
#EatNZKaitaki Michal Garvey of FoodPrint takes a look back at the last few months in Tāmaki Makaurau & the impact on her garden harvest. Yet her feijoas thrived - so she celebrated with a vegan cake!
As we watched the devastation across the city from the Auckland Floods and Cyclone Gabrielle, one thing that really stood out to me was the number of growers affected.
I’ve never seen anything like the onion soup that was running down the streets of Pukekohe. Onions are typically harvested and then left in the paddocks to dry out for a few days before being sent to markets and stores. This year those few “drying” days, included Friday 27th January.
Just two weeks later, we were hit by Cyclone Gabrielle which took out crops including apples, kūmara, grapes, pears and carrots, just to name a few.
Given that I work in food waste prevention, I found the recent losses absolutely devastating. It’s a good reminder that food waste is a huge contributor to the climate crisis, accounting for up to 10% of total greenhouse gases. While our food systems are vulnerable to the effects the impending climate events bring.
Looking into my own backyard it’s clear to see that this year’s national harvest is likely to look a little different. I’m a very amateur home gardener, with a couple of small patches that are usually planted with veggies.
Every year around Labour Weekend, I get the summer crop in. I always have a zucchini, they produce so much fruit, it’s versatile and delicious. Once you know how easy they are to grow and how many you get off a single plant it’s very easy to despise paying for them. Anyone who’s ever grown them will be all too familiar with the overnight marrow mystery. This year, however, I’ve had not one marrow, not a single one. And it’s not because I’ve been super vigilant. Instead, I’ve been eating possibly the smallest zucchini ever. The reason being, if they’ve been left on the plant too long, they’ve started to rot. The culprit is Auckland's never-ending rainy summer. The plant has had way more water than it needs, nowhere near enough sun and the soil that the zucchini are sitting on is wet, rather than the dry bed that lets them grow up. So instead of being on marrow watch, I’ve had to make the call to leave them to get another day bigger and risk them going bad before they’ve even got good.
My tomatoes have also been really badly affected. The rain from the weekend of the Auckland floods, followed by the wind from Cyclone Gabrielle has done no favours to my plants. They’ve been on struggle street all summer and I think what was looking like the best tomato of the season was a casualty of the weather.
The only real star of this year’s home harvest has been our feijoas. We have two trees which usually only give us about 20 tiny fruit. But this year, we’ve already had more fruit than we could keep up with eating. I needed to bake a cake for the office this week so feijoa it was. In recent years I’ve started baking without recipes and did this the other day. To my surprise, one of our team described it as the “best cake I’ve ever eaten” as she took another mouthful. I really did not believe her until I tasted it for myself, it was so light and fluffy. So here’s the recipe (from memory) for you to try at home.
RECIPE: Fluffy Feijoa Cake (vegan-friendly)
200g Naturli Vegan butter (that’s the whole block)
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ cup LSA
½ cup coconut flour
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
¼ cup oat milk
1 cup of feijoa flesh
Start with the butter at room temperature (or I put in the microwave for 15 seconds, don’t let it melt), add it to your mixer with the sugar and cream it up real good. Add vanilla and mix through. Add all of the dried ingredients and mix together. Then add the milk. You might think you want more milk, but the feijoas will be adding a lot of liquid, so trust me on this one. Lastly, mix through the feijoas. Pour mixture into a greased tin (I used a ring tin to cut down cooking time)
Cook at 180°C until cooked through, brown on top and coming away from the sides. Check at 40 minutes and continue cooking checking every 5 if required.
When cool, ice with the following:
2 tsp Naturli Vegan butter
1 cup icing sugar
2 tsp boiling water (add one at a time)
2 tsp vanilla extract
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl either by hand or with the mixer and ice with a hot knife.
Words, images & recipe by #EatNZKaitaki Michal Garvey, Founder of Foodprint - a food rescue App that helps you reduce food waste and enjoy delicious meals at a fraction of the price. See more over on @foodprintnz