Flat White

Fine dining with Lettuce and Lavender

11 July 2018

5:21 PM

11 July 2018

5:21 PM

Lettuce and Lavender wanted their friends to see their new home nestled amongst the tall gums at the base of Mount Macedon. A small clearing was made (with all appropriate native vegetation management approvals) and, a year ago, their pod house had been delicately placed to catch the view of the towering gums above the streamlet that fed into the Armstrong Creek. It was now time to celebrate the first anniversary of their home, ‘Double L Cottage’.

Over the past year, they had been busy creating a pretty garden using exotic non-invasive and native species, clearing rampant blackberry stands and lantana scrub, planting fruit trees plus all manner of vegetables and installing a locally managed beehive. It was their very own River Cottage minus the farm animals because Lettuce and Lavender were vegans. They did, however, have one animal at Double L Cottage – the old Welsh pony called Nutmeg who was there on a mutually beneficial Airbnb status to keep the pasture in good health.

So they got to work making invitations out of pressed leaves, which they then hand, and bicycle delivered to their friends. They could have used Nutmeg (who would have enjoyed getting out and about) as both knew how to ride but they now realised this anthropic-centric activity would violate his animal rights.

The invitations read: ‘Lunch at Double L Cottage, next Sunday, from 1.00 pm’.

Now to tidy, scrub, sweep, clear, scythe, prune, rake and harvest. They were both so proud of the track from the gate, which they built out of local stone that they named it the “Tread Lightly on this Earth Path”. After five days they were exhausted because of all the physical work and because the vegan diet is very low in energy-giving proteins many of which they considered very annoyingly called ‘essential’ amino acids.

Next job was to decide on the menu and start preparations from the ground up. Lettuce was great with salads while Lavender added the flavours so that their friends wouldn’t accuse their diet of being dull and dour. Of course, the catering decisions would have been easier if they could have used their neighbour’s eggs; the local dairies’ milk, cream, butter, yoghurt, labna or cheeses and most especially if they could have sourced some of the regions speciality of free-range, pastured lamb, beef and poultry.

Lavender had recently read that as grain agriculture was based on broad acre, intensively farmed monocultures that are now implicated in the global decline of the bee population and loss of native species’ habitats they shouldn’t use any cereal or flour products in their cooking. So this left a menu based on their organically grown, home produce (without the use of organic manures as that would be putting animal waste to human purpose).

Fortunately, they had had a good elderflower flowering and Lavender still had some of the cordial left. The figs had been good but so good that they had finished the last of their figs in organic port wine last week. Being novices at farming they had picked the almonds from an old tree on the road near their entrance gate too young, which meant they were soft and very bitter. Perhaps they could make their own Amaretto they giggled. But this meant no almond meal or almond milk. Another thought was to harvest some blackberries but to enjoy the fruits of such an invasive weed seemed just too unethical. There were always the mushrooms that came in all shapes, colours and sizes in amongst the pastures and forests but, as neither were trained mycologists, the risk that they may kill their guests was a distinct possibility. So it was no harvested fungi on the menu, a shame as this was an important source of protein on vegan and vegetarian diets.

But there was the sweet potato vine leaves and the tubers beneath, the Dutch Cream potatoes had been in for months and they had kept the soil up to them so, surely they would be ready by now and there was the very spicy rocket that no bug or slug would go near. Sadly every grasshopper, bug and slug had turned on Lettuce’s lettuces, kale and spinach instead meaning there was hardly anything left above the ground. Such are the difficulties of no pesticide farming!

With the weather now very cold the tomatoes had gone into hibernation so there was no red in the rocket salad but the parsley was still good as seemed the pumpkins, the rhubarb, the lavender and the rosemary. And they had the bucket of organically grown apples from last weekend’s Daylesford Markets.

So the menu was decided. Starters would be a rocket and parsley salad with roasted pumpkin and pumpkin seeds followed by their witty take of a Sweet Potato and Sweet Potato Peel Pie and finished with a rhubarb, honey and apple crumble – sans the crumble. Now it was onto the gathering and harvesting. The pumpkin looked big but when they cut it open it was yellowy green and almost solid in the middle – definitely not ripe for eating. They worked down around the sweet potatoes and pulled up several tubers only to find that witchetty-like grubs had got them first. And when they pulled up the potatoes they were the size of marbles. Lavender did make the rhubarb and apple mush sweetened with their own honey but it looked just like baby food. Yuk.

On the Saturday night, as they popped their daily dose of required protein, vitamin, iron and mineral manufactured supplements they both agreed that it was very hard being Green and Vegan but at least they had plenty of the elderflower cordial and the locally produced organic wines to go with the rocket, parsley, lavender and rosemary salad so it should still be a good party.

Then Lavender turned to their newest bible, Being Vegan, just to check and found to her horror that their organic wine had used albumen (egg), casein (milk) and gelatine (meat jelly) in its ‘fining’ process. So no wine either.

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