LS: Share a little bit about yourself!
SH: I’m a food writer, farmer (or at least married to one) and mum to two small people. My husband and I farm deer on our property four hours west of Sydney and sell our Mandagery Creek Venison at farmers markets, butcher shops and some pretty great restaurants. Before moving to the country I worked for a range of lifestyle magazines and spent three years in Italy working in the editorial house of Slow Food International. This experience really cemented my love of fresh, seasonal food and I feel very lucky to have been exposed to so many international food producers, writers and personalities through that job. I started Local is Lovely as a way to showcase the incredible produce and producers of our region so essentially, the blog is a collection of recipes and resources for people who love farmers and eating locally. Because it’s lovely.
LS: What are some of your favourite local produce?
SH: Well venison is definitely my favourite local product! After that, I really adore the hazlenuts grown in this region and of course all the beautiful orchard fruit.
LS: Any tips for how you take advantage of seasonal fruit & veg?
SH: If you can, try to buy a good chunk of your fresh produce from a farmers market. Not only are you sourcing seriously fresh food but (usually) buying it from the person who grew/produced it so don’t forget to pick their brains for favourite recipes and cooking tips.
LS: What does ‘local’ mean to you, your work and your family?
SH: Everything! Our entire livelihood depends on our farm and our product and we are very involved in our regional food community. Plus of course the farmers markets are a big part of our business. More recently we started a Farm Kitchen here on the property and invite guests here for lunches and farm tours every month. For these lunches we rely on the beautiful local produce to compliment our own venison and guests are always blown away by the freshness, colour and quality of the produce on their plates!
Venison rack with pink peppercorns
1 x Mandagery Creek Venison rack
3 tbsp pink peppercorns
2 tbsp sea salt
Remove the rack from its packaging and let sit for a little while to come up to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 200C. Crush the peppercorns lightly in a mortar and pestle and massage into the rack, with the salt. Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and seal the rack on both sides; it should need about a minute on each to really caramelise each side well. Pop into the oven for 15-20 minutes (our rule of thumb is to cook venison for 20 minutes per kilogram at 200C so please weigh your piece and work on that). Let rest under a tent of foil for 10 minutes then serve with creamy mashed potatoes and a nice, sweet chutney (warm).
Beetroot, apple and walnut salad
5 beetroot (cooked, cooled, peeled and cubed)
2 cups walnuts (toasted)
4 tart new season apples (we used Somerset Pride picked by the Nashdale Fruit Co)
For the dressing: 5 tbspns extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp honey.
Combine all ingredients on a bed of peppery rocket. Then whisk dressing ingredients together and toss to combine.
Note: Crumble over some aged goat’s cheese or fetta to bump this salad up into ‘light’ meal status.
Local is Lovely