Sustainable Cooking from Garden to Plate


They say you are what you eat, so we want to eat sustainably! Check out these 5 Sustainable Cooking Tips – being sustainable from your garden to your plate!

1. Grow food from scraps

Leftover food isn’t just for composting – if you’re careful about how you cut them, many vegetable scraps can be encouraged to grow into new plants. Much less fiddly than growing from seed!

Onions – cut off the root with a little bit of the onion flesh. Plant this just under the soil in a sunny position. In a few months when the stalk turns yellow you have a new onion!

Celery – ensure the base is intact. Put the water for a week, changing the water every couple of days. Once yellow leaves grow out of the stem plant it into a pot with soil. The temperature needs to be warm, but not too hot!

Potatoes – once ‘eyes’ form, cut the potatoes into 2 inch pieces – make sure each piece has 1-2 ‘eyes’. Leave at room temperature for a few days so the cut surface area dries out. Plant in a pot of rich, moist soil 8 inches down with the ‘eyes’ facing up. When you see roots add more soil to the pot.

Onions – cut off the root with a little bit of the onion flesh. Plant this just under the soil in a sunny position. In a few months when the stalk turns yellow you have a new onion!

2. Companion Planting instead of Insecticides

Pests and diseases can be controlled by planting beneficial ‘companion plants’ with your fruit and vegetables. These plants contain natural chemicals that deter pests or attract beneficial insects and animals that prey on pests – and a biodiverse vegetable patch is beneficial for the soil, for attracting pollinators and encouraging a variety of insects to feast off each other instead of your vegetables!

Marigolds – repels white fly and root knot nematode. Plant plenty with Broccoli, Lettuce and Tomato.

Dill – attracts a wasp that controls Cabbage White Butterfly. Plant with Cabbages, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Lettuce and Zucchini. Keep away from Carrots and Tomatoes!

Chives – deters aphids and prevents Apple Scab. Plant with Apples, Cucumbers, Lettuce, Peas.

Tansy – repels moths, flies and ants. Plant beneath peach trees to repel harmful flying insects.

Sweet Corn – perhaps the most practical of Companion Planting, these work as a living frame for climbing peas and beans!

3. Create your own Fertilizer

Composting and worm farming diverts unavoidable food waste from landfill while producing rich, natural fertiliser for your pot plants and garden. You can use compost, worm castings and worm juice to feed your plants and improve your soil.

Make sure your soil is kept moist with regular watering and a thick layer of mulch. Pots dry out quickly and need extra attention, but make sure they are not over-watered.

Many local councils offer weekend workshops on composting, worm farming, permaculture and organic gardening. Contact your local council to find out more.

4. Preserve your excess Fruit and Vegetables

When you grow your own food you will inevitably find you sometimes have more than you can eat. While it is nice to gift food, you may find your friends are similarly inundated with a similar crop or gifts from other gardeners!

An alternative is to preserve your crop for later use – you can create Pickles and Jams, tomato Sauces for quick pasta meals, even pickle vegetables whole in Brine. Try our recipe for Green Tomato Pickles!

5. Reduce Packaging

Unless you have a very large garden it’s unlikely you can go without buying food from grocery stores. However there is still good work to be done there too – when you buy food, try and buy the variety that uses the least amount of packaging. If you find a brand had more layers of packaging inside the box than you expected, switch brands – but contact the supplier to let them know why you have switched brands to encourage them to use less.

Buy in bulk. Rather than purchase two tins of tomatoes you will use in the same meal, seek out the larger cans – this will reduce packaging by about a third, and likely save you money as well.

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Green Tomato Pickles – Sustainable Recipe


Unlike some tomato preserving recipes, this one makes use of the entire tomato – nothing goes to waste! The quantities in this recipe are easily scaled up or down depending on your tomato crop.


  • 2kg Green Tomatoes, diced
  • 400g Onion, diced
  • 900g Sugar
  • 750ml White Vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of Plain Flour
  • 9 tbsp Salt
  • 3 tbsp Curry powder
  • 1 tbsp Ground Turmeric


  • Replace a third of your sugar with Brown Sugar


  1. In a large saucepan add a layer of 1/3 of the diced tomatoes and 1/3 of the diced onions, add 1/3 of the salt evenly over the layer. Repeat until you have 3 layers.
  2. Cover the saucepan and leave to stand overnight – the salt will draw out any moisture.
  3. Next day, drain off all the liquid.
  4. Pour a kettle of boiling water over the mixture and drain off. Do this a second time.
  5. Add 450ml of vinegar, cover and bring to the boil. Cook for ten minutes.
  6. Add the sugar, stir until dissolved. Turn the heat off.
  7. In a bowl combine the flour, turmeric, curry powder and the remaining 300mls vinegar until it becomes a paste. Add the paste slowly to the tomato mixture while stirring.
  8. When fully combined, simmer gently for another 10 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool slightly before bottling in sterilized jars.
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Sustainability around the house


We all want to live more sustainably, and there is much we can improve in our day-to-day lives. Check out these 10 Sustainable Tips – there may be one or two you’ve been meaning to get around to!

1. Install a water efficient shower head

Standard shower heads can use up to 25 litres of water per minute, but a water-efficient one can get that down to 7 litres saving both water and the power it takes to heat and pump it.

2. Stop hidden heat waste

A litre or more of hot water will end up going cold in your pipes every time you turn the hot tap on, so avoid using small amounts of hot water if cold will do. You can scrape or rinse dishes with cold water.

3. Match your equipment

Ensure your kitchen pots and pans have flat bases that match the size of the cooking element, you’ll cook more efficiently and avoid heat waste.

4. Boil more efficiently

Put lids on your saucepans and simmer them gently instead of boiling vigorously, as each litre of water boiled away is wasted heat energy that can amount to a kilogram of greenhouse gas.

5. Get the right refrigerator

Buying the right fridge is not all about star ratings on the energy label – if your fridge is often quite empty then you are wasting energy by keeping large volumes of air cold that spill out every time you open the fridge door, letting in warmer air that needs to be cooled all over again.

6. Move your refrigerator to the right spot

To run at maximum efficiency, ensure good air circulation around the coils at the back of your refrigerator (if you have no coils on the back ensure the sides have good circulation too). Move fridges and freezers to cool spots out of the sun and away from your oven.

7. Turn your beer fridge off at night

A simple plug-timer can be used to turn your beer fridge off in the cold hours, and back on in the morning to ensure it doesn’t have a chance to warm. Your beer won’t go off or spoil the taste by going warm, but your fridge will use less power maintaining a cool temperature than working hard to cool it down again! Balance is everything.

8. Turn the TV off at the wall

The ‘off’ button on most home entertainment equipment – Televisions, DVD players, Radios – do not actually turn the power supply off, but put the device in a power-hungry standby mode so it is quick to turn on again. If power switches are out of reach, use a power board with individual switches for each plug socket. This goes for the kitchen too – your microwave may be generating more greenhouse gas over the year powering the digital clock than cooking the food!

9. Seal your doors

Hot draughts in summer, cold draughts in winter both force you to use more power to keep a pleasant indoor temperature – closed doors with even the slightest of movement in them can be responsible for a great deal of heat transference. Door seal tape is cheap, easy to install and long lasting – as are sweeping draught excluders attached to the base of your door.

10. Change of Season, Change of Routine

Every morning on hot days, close your doors, windows and curtains to block out the sun – when it cools down in the evening open doors and windows to let in the cooling breezes. You may find air conditioners, evaporative coolers and fans are rarely needed again.

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Avoid Food Waste with our handy guide


We all waste food – often without intending to!

Food Labels

To avoid wasting food it is important to understand the dates on the food labels:

  • “Best-before” date
    Food is still safe to eat after this date, as long as it has been stored correctly and is not damaged, deteriorated or perished. The ‘best-before’ date simply tells you when food is at it’s optimum.
  • “Use-by” date
    Don’t eat food after its ‘use-by’ date. It may contain bacteria and be unsafe to eat, even if it looks fine. Food must be eaten or disposed of by the ‘use-by’ date – compost or worm farm any food you’re not going to eat where possible.
  • “Display until” or “sell-by” date
    These are provided for retailers rather than shoppers, to help with stock control. Look for the ‘Use-by’ and ‘Best-before’ dates which often appear near the other date labels.

Be Prepared

Keep a stock of staple dry foods such as pasta and rice so you can always rustle up meals out of leftovers and food that’s gone past it’s best. Check your cupboards and fridge before cooking to spot foods that need to be eaten up.

Shopping Lists

Before you go to the shops, check your cupboards and fridge to make a shopping list to reduce the risk of buying something you already had. But remember to take your list with you! Smartphones can be used to make lists with their simple note-taking apps that are often already on your phone – some people are much less likely to forget to take their phone!


Incorrect storage is one of the main reasons we waste food. Put new cans and packets of food behind old ones to ensure existing food does not accidentally expire from being out of sight. Keeping your fridge below 5 degree Celsius will help your food stay fresh for longer.

Using your freezer is a great way to make the most of your food, especially if dinner plans change at the last minute. Label and date individual portions in airtight containers, because frozen food will not last forever – this guide from the US Government will help you decide how long frozen portions can be kept.

Portion Control

Correct portion sizes are crucial to cutting food waste – we often serve too much food because we want to make sure everyone will have enough to eat, but end up wasting food – or overeating!

The NSW Government “Love Food, Hate Waste” website has an easy way to get your portions sizes right – their Serving Size Calculator will tell you the weight of food required from dozens of food types to feed the number of adults and children you are cooking for.

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Zuchinni Slice – Sustainable Recipes


This quick and easy recipe can make use of your veggie patch and chook eggs, and your local cheesemaker! For vegetarians, Balsamic Vinegar makes a wonderful replacement for bacon!


  • 375g freshly picked zucchini, grated
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 fresh eggs
  • 1 cup of self-raising flour
  • 1 cup of grated mild cheese
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil


  • 200g rindless bacon, chopped
  • Large splash of Balsamic Vinegar


  1. Preheat your oven to 170°C. Grease and line a 30 x 20cm lamington pan.
  2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, add the flour and beat until smooth.
  3. Add either the bacon or balsamic vinegar.
  4. Add the zucchini, onion, cheese and oil and stir to combine.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan and bake in oven for 30 minutes or until cooked through. The top should begin to show a lovely golden colour!
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Castle Mountain – Open House Day


September’s Sustainable House Open Day near Quirindi was a great success with over a hundred people inundating owner-builders Peter and Lynda with questions about their home built from stone and cypress pine sourced from the surrounding land.

The timber upstairs in the pole framed structure was built using a home-made bench sawmill to cut wood from trees selected while still growing in the ground for specific places in the house based on their overall size and straightness. Even the sawdust was retained and used to mix in with concrete and sand to create a warm, cork-like floor base for the kitchen.

The large roof area of the house ensures an impressive 600 litres of rainwater are caught for every 1mm of rainfall, which is periodically pumped uphill to a large secondary tank that provides good gravity-fed water pressure.

Electricity is entirely generated by fifteen 100 watt solar panels charging a bank of second-hand batteries now many decades old and still going strong. Peter says the secret to their success is not to have a large solar array but a large battery bank, allowing them to always have access to power but avoid continually burning off electricity through a regulator.

In the winter, heat is provided by wood burners and letting the sun in by replacing part of the metal roof with transparent sheeting, allowing the sun to heat the inside tile floor as a heat bank for the evenings.

Peter and Lynda have lived at Castle Mountain for many years, at first farming merino sheep then later inspired by WWOOFers ran the property as a budget farm-stay for backpackers and families. Now planning their retirement, Peter and Lynda plan to sell the Castle Mountain land and property, including the home-built saw mill!

You can read more at their website:

All proceeds from the gold coin entry went towards the Operation Christmas – Shoebox Project.

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100 mile night – Upper Mooki

Over 100 hungry people will turn out to enjoy 100 Mile Night on 27th June 2015 at the Warrah Creek Hall. The event is designed to celebrate the freshness, quality and environmental-friendliness of local food, as part of the 2015 North West Sustainable Program – a series of events designed to encourage, inspire and educate residents of the North West to reduce their impact on the environment.

“The 100 Mile night is an opportunity to share the message of 100 Mile Food with local people – and who better to champion that message than local farmers themselves? This is a great opportunity to celebrate the high quality food and achievements of our local food producers” said Nicky Chirlian, Chair of Upper Mooki Landcare Inc.

Lemonade on arrival & BYO other drinks

Hunter Belle Cheeses, with locally grown persimmon paste balsamic and local olive oil dip
Colly Creek lamb koftas
Dill and Pumpkin Scone Demeter Farm Mill with Arc en Ciel smoked trout pate
The Conscious Farmer Beef Stroganoff with Peel Valley Jersey Yogurt served on pearl cous cous with an eggplant caponata
Salted brown sugar and James Hamilton- Smith Honey Fudge tart

“Most people know that local food is usually in season and full of flavour, and has more nutrients because of the shorter time frame between the paddock and the plate.  But many don’t realise that it is far less likely to have been in long-term cold storage, and that buying local promotes a safer food supply, and helps the environment by maintaining farmland and green space in our community.” Mrs Cameron chair of Sustainable North West committee said.

Upper Mooki 100 Mile Night Dinner

For more information about the North West Sustainable series of events, visit the website at

Tickets are limited to x100 and are available from:
Liverpool Plains Shire Council Visitor Information Centre

Heather Ranclaud: 67 47 17 93

Nicola Chirlian 67 475600

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Rural Women’s Sustainable Morning Tea to inspire

Sustainable North West Committee in partnership with Tamworth Regional Landcare and Local Land Services are hosting Rural Women’s Sustainability Workshop / Information Morning Tea in June 2015.

These will be hosted at;

The Nundle Bowling Club’s clubhouse on Monday 1st June at 9.00am

Smithurst Theatre, Gunnedah on Tuesday 2nd June at 9.00am

Sport Ground – Rugby Club, Barraba on Thursday 4th June at 9.00am

Werris Creek Golf Club on Friday 5th June at 9.00am

Loomberah Community Hall on Thursday 11th June at 9.00am

The purpose is to educate, inform and inspire people to live, work and ‘play’ more sustainably. There will be a 4 x speakers broken into 4 x 30 minute time slots with 30 minutes for morning tea. Entertainment will be provided for children to allow mothers the opportunity to attend:

Key areas that will be spoken on are

  • Grow and prepare your own food
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Energy saving and waste reduction

Included for the kids and bub’s

  • Kids program of craft, activities and play area

Decorations / theming for the event by Emily at One Of A Kind using some stylish upcycling, and catering of coffee and morning tea and where possible highlighting local produce.

The event will offer an opportunity to share both challenges and ideas in working towards environmentally sustainable environments.

The speakers involved are well-respected in their fields, and we’re looking forward to being encouraged and inspired.

For more information on the Sustainable North West program, visit the website at or join them on Facebook at

or Phone Tanya Burke 6766 3832

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100 mile night – Copeton Freshwater Swim

Copeton Freshwater Swim 100 Mile Night – 10 April 2015

Suppliers and Contact Details

Guests arrived from 6pm. Nourish Cafe were situated near the entry to the deck ensuring everyone received a watermelon, lime and prickly pear juice to compliment the beautifully prepared platters of crostini, fresh bread, olives, dukka, spiced yoghurt and cheese by Olives of Beaulieu. The platters were on the tables as guests arrived and were the perfect start to a wonderful evening.

Following the platters, canapés were served. This was a great opportunity to meet people, welcome them to the event and answer any questions from guests. Questions included enquiries about the local ingredients used and how NIRW had come to be involved in the event at Copeton Dam.

As the last of the canapés were brought out NIRW staff welcomed everyone to the event and gave a short talk on the partnerships between NIRW, Local Land Services North West, Sustainable North West and Tamworth Regional Landcare Association and the Love Food Hate Waste message. Guests were invited to collect a menu planner/shopping list at the completion of the speakers, approximately 50 were later given out. Gary Lamrock of the Copeton Freshwater Swim committee responded and thanked NIRW, Local Land Services North West, Sustainable North West and Tamworth Regional Landcare Association for the opportunity to add value to their event by running the 100 Mile Night.

The main meals were brought out from 7:30pm. As they were served, business owners and producers of the ingredients used in the meal were given the opportunity to speak about their products, philosophy and journey to becoming a local food supporter, producer and supplier. Abby Lawler, caretaker at Copeton Dam, then entertained the crowd, singing for 30 minutes.

Dessert was served from 8:15pm and was incredibly well received with platters barely making it out the kitchen door before they were emptied by eagerly awaiting guests.

Abby Lawler performed another three songs before plugging in her iPad leaving some easy listening music playing in the background as guests chatted and enjoyed the evening until approximately 10:00pm.

The night was incredibly successful, the Copeton Freshwater Swim Committee, Northern Inland Regional Waste, Tamworth Regional Landcare Association, Sustainable Northwest and Local Land Services Northwest were very pleased with the quality of the meal and how well the event ran.

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Amazing EnviroRace 2015

Edit: entries are now closed.

Have you filled in your entry form for the Amazing EnviroRace yet? Email it to or post to Forget Me Not Marketing – PO BOX 284 Tamworth NSW 2340, or you can grab one in person from Allsopp Signs 12 O’Connell Street Tamworth (just up the road from Kidszone).

Amazing EnviroRace 2015
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