Taking the sting out of beekeeping

Taking the sting out of beekeeping

The buzz on bees is not all it's made out to be. Firstly, you can host a hive in your garden and not get stung (thanks to the native stingless bee) and Australia is playing an important role in bee preservation and cultivation. But we need to help! Brendan McCool reports.

Easy as A, Bee, C

Easy as A, Bee, C

The FoodFaith community flocked like bees to honey to learn all about native stingless bees from Meliponist (stingless beekeeper), Dan Smailes. It is important to encourage bees for pollination and biodiversity. Albert Einstein said; 'If bees were to disappear from the globe, humankind would only have four years left to live'. Needless to say, they're important little insects. Read about some important facts and source some websites for more information. Photo: Julian Watt.


The next big celebration?


By Stephen Blaxhall

And next... Another wonderful celebration in Chinese New Year, on January 28th, 2017. Also known as the Spring Festival, it is based on the lunisolar calendar and the phase of the moon. 

Chinese New Year is a festival of eating. One of the most popular dishes, for the Chinese of Singapore and Malaysia, is the multi-coloured and viscerally impressive Yusheng, or raw fish salad.

Yusheng (鱼生), originally thought to have originated in China’s southern Guangdong region, not only translates into “raw fish", but when pronounced in Mandarin, also sounds like, an increase in abundance (余升). And in Guangdong, where the local dialect is Cantonese, the term of lo hei (捞起) is used, which also sounds like rising abundance.

Auspicious wishes are said out loud when the ingredients, usually fish and raw vegetables, and condiments, such as plum sauce and sesame oil, are added into the base. The salad is then vigorously tossed by those participating in the meal, in the hope of bringing about ample abundance, prosperity, and good fortune in the year ahead.

Yusheng is usually only found during the Chinese New Year period, and is traditionally served on ren ri, the seventh day of New Year. The dish can be found in almost every Chinese restaurant and coffee shop on the Malaya peninsular.

A quick Yusheng recipe: Mix raw fish (salmon is a good choice) with radish, carrots, cucumber, capsicum, pickled ginger, parsley & chopped nuts. Dress with plum sauce and lemon juice, water and sesame oil.

Why does Chinese New Year move around?

By Lilli Barto

In short, because it is based on the moon. Although, officially, China uses the Gregorian calendar (the same one used in Western culture) the traditional calendar is still used to calculate the dates of festivals and celebrations, as well as the luckiest days to hold weddings, move house, or start a business. It is a lunisolar calendar, which means that the date gives an indication of the season (as with a solar calendar) and the phase of the moon. Basically, it takes into account both where the earth is in its rotation around the sun, and where the moon is in its cycle.

Unlike the Gregorian calendar, years are not numbered sequentially continuing forever. Each year is assigned an element (water, earth, fire, metal, or air) and an animal (one of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs). There are five elements and 12 animals so the entire cycle repeats every 60 years. The cycles themselves are numbered, but not the years within them.

The multi-coloured Yusheng dish, a favourite on Chinese New Year

The multi-coloured Yusheng dish, a favourite on Chinese New Year



The 12 days of Christmas - in the spirit of sustainability!

Some inspiration from FoodFaith for the 12 days of Christmas… In the spirit of goodwill and sustainability, in all its many positive meanings.


The 12 Days of Christmas


On the First day of Christmas my true love sent to me… a pickled pear recipe (cooked with brown sugar, wine and cider vinegar, cinnamon and cloves)

On the Second day of Christmas my true love sent to me… doves to wish greetings of peace to all faiths

On the Third day of Christmas my true love sent to me…  a coq au vin recipe. How about making a meal for a friend?


On the Fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to all… calls to my friends (as in actual voice communication). Better still, why not organise to meet for a real-time conversation?


On the Fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me … pledges of eternal love as a symbol of the circled ring

On the Sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me… brunch for friends and family with scrambled eggs – try goose eggs, rich in antioxidants!

On the Seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me… support for a wetlands regeneration project and organization. Let’s help the swans-a-swimming!

On the Eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to me… a milk purchase from a farmer’s brand dairy!

On the Ninth day of Christmas, I sent to my true love… dance lessons – healthy and fun!

On the Tenth day of Christmas it was suggested to all… to make the leap to a renewable energy company!

On the Eleventh day of Christmas I amazed my friends by… piping a cake and serving it with the best tea!

On the Twelth day of Christmas I and my true love sent to all… the beat of my heart!





Latkes and lights for Chanukah

The Jewish festival of Chanukah starts on Dec 24 and finishes on Jan 1st.  The eight-day “festival of lights” is celebrated with nightly menorah lighting, and special prayers and foods. The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication,” and is named because it celebrates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple. The festival celebrates the miracle of one day’s supply of oil lasting for eight days to light the Temple's Menorah (the seven-branched candelabrum). Here is a special Chanukah recipe (thanks to C. Giberstein and “Secrets from our Kitchens” published by Capricorn)

Potato Latkes

6 large potatoes, peeled & grated

1 large onion, peeled

2 eggs, beaten

2 tbsp plain flour

1 tsp salt

Chopped parsley (optional)

1 cup vegetable oil


Combine all ingredients, except oil and mix well. Heat half the oil in a frying pan and add mixture in large spoonfuls. Fry until browned on one side, turn over and fry on other side. Add additional oil to the pan as needed. Place latkes on kitchen paper to drain and keep warm. They are best prepared before serving. Serve with sour cream or apple sauce. 


But why the turkey?


But why the turkey?

Why are those foods “Thanksgiving foods”?

Although Thanksgiving is seen as an American holiday, it really resonates with our values here at FoodFaith. You may be surprised to know that it is officially celebrated in many other places around the world,  including Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island is an Australian territory, originally settled and populated by the mutineers of the H.M.S Bounty and their Tahitian captives. In the 1890s an American trader named Isaac Robinson came to the island and was granted the position of Registrar of Lands. He instituted Thanksgiving as a holiday, and began the continuing tradition of decorating the All Saints Church by tying corn stalks to the ends of the pews and piling the altar with flowers.

But the history of Thanksgiving is far older than that – and its story features themes that we can all appreciate no matter where we’re from. At the heart of it Thanksgiving grew from the good old fashioned Harvest Festival. Although the idea of a harvest festival or feast and days of thanks for all the Earth provides is not unique to any religion, the modern American version takes it’s lineage from the Protestanttradition of holding Days of Fasting and Days of Thanks. These did not have to happen at any particular time of year. One particular feast of thanks if often cited as the First Thanksgiving, and is the reason that modern Thanksgiving happens in November.

Tisquantem, a Wampanoag man

Tisquantem, a Wampanoag man

Of the roughly 100 Pilgrims which survived the journey on the Mayflower to the New World, about half did not survive the first winter. The Europeans knew nothing of the new climate, the plants that would and would not grow, and despite many previous European expeditions to that part of the world had not yet worked out that the American North-East is colder than England even though it is further south. Those pilgrims became the Plymouth colony, and they would not have survived if not for the knowledge shared with them by Native Americans. One native man in particular, named Tisquantem, had previously been captured and brought to Europe to be sold as a slave. On arrival some Catholic monks who disapproved of abusing Native Americans in this way commandeered the cargo of the ship and began to instruct the Native Americans in Catholicism. It is unclear whether Tisquantem ran away or was allowed to go freely, but eventually he found a ship bound for the New World and made his way back to his home. Nothing could have prepared him for what he found.

90% of the population of his entire region had been wiped out by small pox due to contact with the Europeans. His people, the Wampanoag, had always had an uneasy but largely non-violent relationship with the foreigners. They traded some goods, but their relationship was on thin ice. The Wampanoag had a long history of conflict and hostility with the people to the North of them, the Narragansett. As the Narragansett had comparatively little contact with the Europeans, their numbers had not been decimated by disease to the same degree. The Wampanoag now faced European invasion on one front, and possible domination by their long term enemies on the other. This, rather than altruism, forged a strategic alliance between the Wampanoag and the pilgrims of Plymouth. Tisquantem comes back into the story as an interpreter, as in his time in Europe he had learned English. This made him an important man given the context. He taught the pilgrims how to farm corn, fertilize it with fish from the waterways, and companion plant it with squash and beans which can then climb the cornstalk. It cannot be stressed enough that the survival of the colony is owed to the Native Americans who shared their knowledge of the land. The first harvest after receiving their help was a bumper, good rain at the right time meant that they had plenty of all that they needed. They held a feast of Thanksgiving in the English Harvest Festival tradition. Massoit, the leader of Tisquantem’s people attended the feast. In fact the feast was attended by some ninety Wampanoag and fifty-something pilgrims. It is from the accounts of this feast that we draw our modern day Thanksgiving fair. The accounts state that they had fish and wild fowl in abundance, and in that part of the world the wild fowl could have only been – you guessed it – Turkey. Peace between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag lasted for 50 years.

The First Thanksgiving 1621 , by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899)

The First Thanksgiving 1621, by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899)

So there you have it, that’s why we eat turkey, corn, green beans, pumpkin, etc. It’s also why we don’t mind that its an American tradition – because it represents the things we stand for at FoodFaith. It’s about thanking the land for providing for us and thanking your god (whoever that might be) for everything you have.

And even though I know I have romanticised it, and the alliance was forged out of opportunism rather than a desire for unity, I still like the idea of 90 Wampanoag sitting down to dinner with 50 pilgrims to share the spoils of the earth.

Happy Thanksgiving!

This article is based on information from the following sources:




Giving thanks around the world


Giving thanks around the world

Thanksgiving across the world

Across the globe whole communities give thanks for a range of reasons, although the most common are those festivals celebrating the gathering of crops.

Thanksgiving in America is a huge event, and is thought by many there to be as significant as Christmas. Family members travel from all over the country to be together, with food being central to the day’s festivities. The holiday can be traced back to the 1621 celebration at the Plymouth Plantation, where the religious refugees from England, known popularly as the Pilgrims, invited the local Native Americans to a harvest feast after a particularly successful growing season.

There are numerous ‘harvest festivals’ around Australia, and while apples, grapes, hops, oranges, cane and lavender all have their own individual set of celebrations, at different times of the year, it is perhaps the thanksgiving on Norfolk Island, celebrated on the last Wednesday of November, that is closest to it’s American cousin, and for good reason.

This holiday was brought to the Island by American whaling ships, specifically tradesman Isaac Robinson, who organised dressing he local church, American-style. They adorned the church with palm leaves and lemons, although after Robinson passed away this then became corn stalks on the pews, and flowers on the alter.

St Barnabas Chapel in Norfolk Island

St Barnabas Chapel in Norfolk Island

Further afield

In China harvest celebrations are over 3,000 years old, originating during the Shang Dynasty, although a mid-Autumn Festival didn’t really gain popularity until the Tang Dynasty, nearly 2,200 years later. As with America, the Chinese use this holiday as a way to reunite with friends. Celebrations include the hanging of paper lanterns, and eating mooncakes, while watching the moon.

Holi, an Indian celebration, dates back to the fourth century and usually occurs in March. Starting with a bonfire the night before, the real craziness begins the next morning. Participants try to color everyone else with powders and colored water, using water balloons and squirt guns, and everyone is a target. Holi is in fact the Carnival of Colors and following the mayhem, in the evening, everyone settles down, cleans off, dresses up and visits family enjoying delicious meals.

In late December, Swaziland’s men journey to the sea to gather water, so Incwala can begin. Branches from the sacred lusekwane tree are woven into a bower for the king, and only when he eats the first fruit can his people partake of the harvest.

Rice is Bali’s staple crop and Dewi Sri, the rice goddess, is venerated as a matter of course. Villages are decorated with flags, and simple bamboo temples dedicated to the goddess are erected in the upstream, most sacred corners of the rice fields, during the harvest. Small dolls of rice stalks representing Dewi Sri are placed in granaries as offerings.

Sukkot celebrates Israel’s harvests, remembering when the Israelites wandered the desert living in temporary shelters. Families build makeshift huts, or sukkah, with roofs open to the sky. Here they eat, and sometimes sleep, for the next seven days. Wands of willow, myrtle, and palm, together with a citron (a kind of lemon), are shaken every day in all directions to honor the gifts from the land.

sukkot lights.jpg

In the 1780’s Barbados was the world’s leader in sugar production. A celebration, the month long “Crop Over” festival, would be held every year to signifying the end of another successful harvest, the. Once the sugar industry in Barbados declined, so did the festival, and in 1940 it was shut down completely, however in 1974, it was revived, adding more aspects from their culture and becoming the colourful festival it is today.


photo credit: dview.us <a