Cooking from the garden: a Christmas lunch for less than $10 per head

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Earlier this week I invited my team from work home for a Christmas lunch. As it is every year, cooking produce from the garden was the focus for the meal.

In total, I did a three course lunch as follows:


  • home-baked focaccia
  • home-made hummus dip
  • home-made baked beetroot dip

Main course:

  • slow roasted shoulder of pork
  • parsnip and green beans, pan-fried with honey
  • baked potatoes
  • carrots with vinegar and sesame seeds
  • beetroot salad with feta and walnuts
  • home-made apple chutney
  • tomato and tamarind chutney


  • eton mess, with home-baked meringue and mulberries

Other than what we already had in my pantry, these were the only items I had to buy:

  • 5kg of pork ($10/kg from my local meat wholesaler)
  • a 2kg bag of potatoes
  • a tub of greek yoghurt
  • two tubs of cream
  • a block of feta

That’s it! All up, it worked out to be less than $10/head, which I think is pretty good going 🙂

It definitely proves the value of growing what you eat, with the freshness of the ingredients a big extra benefit.

PS. sorry no photos — too busy cooking all day!

Home-made ploughman’s lunch

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This super-simple no-knead bread was the star of the meal.
This super-simple no-knead bread was the star of the meal.

With such a mild winter, it seemed like the perfect time to have friends around for Sunday lunch.

Like all our meals for guests, we try to feature our locally grown produce as much as possible. Today it was a home-made ploughman’s lunch.

Store bought ingredients:

  • deli-sliced ham
  • various cheeses

Home-grown and home-made ingredients:

  • freshly baked no-knead bread
  • beetroot, feta and walnut salad
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • “Australia Day” chutney (zucchini, apple, onion and saltanas)
  • cucumber relish
  • savory pickled cherries
  • pickled burr gherkins
  • freshly-picked mustard leaves

We then followed that up with a steamed marmalade pudding, using home-made marmalade.

This is the life of our inner-city farm… 🙂

The spread of food, laid out on the table, ready to eat!
The spread of food, laid out on the table, ready to eat!

Enjoying some variety

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Rhubarb, white beetroot and new potatoes

Some weeks, it seems like the garden has a one track mind: all cabbage all the time, all silverbeet, all snowpeas.

So it’s nice to be able to pull a mix of things out of the garden, and to cook them all for dinner an hour later. In this case, we harvested three stalks of rhubarb, a white beetroot and handful of new potatoes (ranging from tiny to full-sized).

From these, I cooked:

  • chicken baked with rhubarb (a Scandinavian recipe, odd but good!)
  • grated beetroot cooked with butter (a Stephanie Alexander recipe)
  • baked potatoes


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Over the past few months I’ve been growing beetroot in the herb garden. It has taken a while because the first time I planted them, I didn’t realise there were 2-3 plants clumped together in each mini-punnet which hindered their growth. When I realised, I then separated them out so they each had space to expand.

The label said these were baby beets, but as you can see from the photo below, they grow large if you allow them to!

James pickled four of the beets with vinegar and some spices, yum 🙂

Four beets made three jars of beetroot, which is tastier than the tinned supermarket variety.

The beetroot leaves taste similar to spinach so we’ll be eating that later in the week.