Eat Local Maitland challenge finishes on November 16

CREATIVITY: Ashtonfield mum Renah Nelson holds two of the dishes she made for the Eat Local Challenge. She is pictured with some homegrown produce and mystery bag ingredients. Picture: Belinda-Jane Davis
CREATIVITY: Ashtonfield mum Renah Nelson holds two of the dishes she made for the Eat Local Challenge. She is pictured with some homegrown produce and mystery bag ingredients. Picture: Belinda-Jane Davis

Cooks across the city are turning up the heat.

There’s less than a week left until Maitland’s first seasonal food challenge draws to a close and cooks who put their hopes on a mystery bag are bus preparing their final dishes. 

Ashtonfield mother-of-two Renah Nelson has almost finished cooking from her bag.

It offered a variety of locally-grown vegetables and fruit, along with Hunter flour and olive oil, to help kick start those cooking vibes.

FRESH FOOD: Some local produce with two of the dishes Renah Nelson has created.

FRESH FOOD: Some local produce with two of the dishes Renah Nelson has created.

Among her creations are a potato, kohlrabi and leek soup; a beetroot and chocolate brownie, and a pumpkin lasagne with onion, spinach and sage sauce.

“It’s been so much fun, it’s a chance to be creative and it challenges you to think outside the box,” she said. 

“It’s also an opportunity to support the farmers and the producers at the market; the more we support it the bigger and better it will get, and that can only be good for the rest of us.”

Ms Nelson said it was important to be flexible because there are times when dishes don’t go to plan.

DELICIOUS: A close-up of the beetroot and chocolate brownie. Renah Nelson served it with ice cream and strawberries.

DELICIOUS: A close-up of the beetroot and chocolate brownie. Renah Nelson served it with ice cream and strawberries.

“Sometimes it’s a bit of a trial and error,” she said.

“I was going to make roast pumpkin ravioli and my ravioli weren’t sticking together when they went in the pot so I ended up making roast pumpkin lasagne with onion and spinach and sage sauce and it tasted really nice.”

Her dishes have been a hit with her two children, aged 11 and 12. They gave her raging reviews after a three course meal last week.

“They had the potato, kohlrabi and leek soup for the entree, the roast pumpkin lasagne for the main, and the beetroot and chocolate brownie for desert, it was a lot of fun,” Ms Nelson said. 

Slow Food Hunter Valley leader Amorelle Dempster rallies the city’s cooks

The Eat Local challenge is part of the Slow Food International’s Menu for Change campaign, which entices shoppers across the globe to buy local and be aware of the impacts of climate change.

It also encourages households to think about the food they waste and devise solutions to combat it.

Slow Food Hunter Valley leader, and chef, Amorelle Dempster and her team will choose four finalists who will each receive a $50 hamper from the Slow Food Earth Markets Maitland.

Then an overall winner will be declared.

That lucky cook will dine in the comfort of their own home, with six guests of their choice, and have Ms Dempster prepare and serve a seasonal menu. 

Ms Dempster said photos of the dishes had started flowing through on social media and she was very impressed. 

“The inventiveness of people in using the ingredients to make things has been amazing,” she said.

The challenge finishes on November 16.