A couple of interesting web sites

In my meandering around the sustainable parts of cyberspace, from my seat near the fire on a damp and overcast day, I came across a couple of web sites that may be of interest.

The first was on urban farming.

MY HOME HARVEST copyAs the header says, My Home Harvest is about providing motivation and inspiration to the urban farmers of Australia.  But from what I’ve seen of the content it is going to inspire a wider range of people interested in sustainable food production that just urban farmers.

For example, the Expert Advice and FAQs tab currently leads to posts on:starting your own food swap; preserving kale, silverbeet and chard, a factsheet on edible weeds, and a pest-profile of the cabbage white butterfly.  There’s also a library of articles and resources, a range of discussions on the forum, and much more – including a diary of upcoming food, seed and produce swaps (ranging from Victoria to the Margaret River in WA.

This web site first launched as Swap Shuffle Share in January 2012 and the change to My Home Harvest was undertaken in April 2013 to better reflect the purpose of the project and to take into account the feedback received from members during the project’s first year of operation.  So it’s relatively new in this format and content is being developed and expanded all the time. Well worth registering to become a member and being involved in the journey.

The other interesting find was on the Liverpool City Council’s web site – two very good tutorials, one on composting and one on worm-farming.

TUTORIALS copyThe tutorials are arranged in a series of simple steps, with each step presenting fairly detailed information, but in a format that makes it easy to take in.  Whoever designed these on-line tutorials really knows their stuff in terms of designing instructional materials.

Gluten-free muesli

P1050860_muesli bins_webOne of the difficult aspects of discovering that one has celiac disease or is intolerant to gluten is dealing with the sudden disappearance from the menu of a whole lot of types of food – no more bread, pastry, cakes, muesli – that most of us take for granted as part of life.

What can be a surprise is the difficulty of finding a substitute for a favourite breakfast cereal.  Clearly things made from wheat, oats, rye and barley are off the menu, but the nasty surprise is that so many cereals that don’t appear to be made from these ingredients contain gluten in one guise or another.  Things like glucose syrup – often made from corn, but might equally be made from wheat, sometimes changing from one month to another depending on which source is cheaper at the time.  Or caramel flavour – yep, often made from one of the gluten-containing grains.  Maltose – barley.  And on and on.

The nice thing nowadays is that a very significant market in gluten-free grain products has developed to meet the need, unlike even ten years ago when there was little available.

The ordinary supermarkets have some products from which we can make muesli, but it is a limited range, and often quite expensive, and supply can be uncertain, apparently depending on whether the shelf-space is wanted for some higher-profit line.  The ready-made gluten-free cereals are one of these higher-profit lines, often being ridiculously expensive.  They are of course “delicious”, probably mostly because of the sugar and salt they contain.

Health-food stores are another source of gluten-free grains and ready-made gluten-free muesli, but if you thought the supermarkets were expensive you’re in for some serious sticker-shock in most health food outlets.  I’ve long ago given up shopping there.

In Southeast Queensland we are lucky in that over the last few years Wrays# organic food outlets have been multiplying rapidly.  These franchises are committed to providing organic food at realistic prices – just as one example, we often buy very good organic potato varieties from Wrays cheaper than the no-name potatoes in our local Coles.  Wrays have a wide range of gluten-free products, including many potential muesli ingredients.

Ingredient Brand # In Lockyer Region area
Brown rice puffs Abundant Earth Coles (package says gluten may be present)
or Brown rice puffs Good Morning Cereals Wrays (more flavour)
Millet puffs Good Morning Cereals Wrays
Buckwheat puffs Good Morning Cereals Wrays
Rice flakes Lowan Wholefoods Coles
Quinoa flakes Coles Coles
Corn flakes Norganic* Coles
Shredded coconut Coles Coles
Dried fruit**, e.g.:
Any nuts you like

I found initially that if I just added one ingredient after another to a large mixing bowl, it was difficult to duplicate the proportions when I found a mix that we liked and wanted to make it again.  Then I hit on the idea of making it up in several two-litre clear plastic bins as in the photo above, so that the proportion of one ingredient to another was obvious from the visible layers.  Then it wasn’t too hard to more or less match the mix next time from memory.  Once the bins are full I pour them one at a time into a large bowl and mix thoroughly (by hand, it’s too loose to mix with a spoon) before pouring them back into the bin.

Be warned that this mix is pretty boring without the addition of the dried fruit, nuts, and/or fresh fruit, milk, yoghurt, honey.  But with them it’s as good as any commercial gluten-free muesli in my opinion, and you’ve been able to control the proportions of ingredients and the amount of sugar and salt in it.

You can also make a “porridge” from this mix by putting equal amounts of mix and milk into a saucepan and heating.  It’s an acquired taste.

Good luck with your muesli experiments.


# my mentioning a brand or business does not constitute a recommendation, or a guarantee that the items do not contain gluten or are more suitable than an alternative brand.  As with all ingredients for a gluten-free diet, you will have to check the packaging, contents list, prices, etc. and make your own decisions.  These are the items that I use, and I am not aware of having experienced any adverse effects from eating these products.  Businesses selling these products are mentioned only because I know that the products are regularly available there in the Lockyer Region area (including Toowoomba).  I may be willing to mention other locations where these products are available provided prices are comparable to the locations listed here.

* contains sugar and salt

** be aware that many dried fruits contain preservatives such as sulphur dioxide.