Wonderbag

Sometimes, simple things are completely wondrous. Like the Wonderbag, for instance. While the fabulously coloured shwe shwe creations so popular right now are new, the concept isn’t. Remember Hay Boxes and hot bags? Cooking in flasks and heb coolers? The idea is exactly the same, but food prepared in a gorgeous, plump green and red bag (or purple or turquoise) seems a lot more special than a polystyrene box lined with old towels. Of course, the real point is saving energy, but a dash of style never did the green cause any harm.

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Ideal for soups and stews, rice, beans and curries – food that usually cooks long and slow. Prepare your dish as you would on the stove top, add less liquid than usual as none is lost during cooking, bring to the boil and after a few minutes (you will learn how to judge the right amount of time – longer for chicken, less for a veggie curry), pop the lid on and place into the Wonderbag on top of a dishcloth, put the cushion over the pot, draw up the sides and tie closed.

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Now you can go off gardening or dancing or visit a neighbour without having to think about food burning or overcooking. It retains heat for up to 12 hours – fabulous to come home to a warm meal perfectly cooked after a long day in the garden.

“The Wonderbag has become the microwave for me, I don’t need to reheat food anymore. It saves so much energy.” Lindiwe Mkhize

Nyasa Makena’s Wonderbag Stew

  • 1 onion
  • 1 leek
  • 1/2 cabbage
  • 4 potatoes

Heat oil in a pan and fry onions and leeks with a teaspoon of curry powder. Add the chopped cabbage, potatoes and a little water and cook for 15 minutes. Put the pot into a Wonderbag to finish cooking. Serve with macaroni.

Wonderbags are available in the PlanetPellet hut the Community Garden.

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Terra Madre Day

We love picnics.  We don’t need much excuse, but Terra Madre Day on 10 December is perfect to celebrate local food with communities around the globe.  We invited friends, customers, neighbours and family to a bring along some food grown and prepared with love to share.

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Terra Madre Day is Slow Food’s annual day to promote the diversity of food traditions and production, and show how on the Slow Food network is using its creativity and knowledge to build a better food future.

r terra madre mpop penzSince 2009, each year on December 10 – Slow Food’s anniversary – food communities and Slow Food convivia around the world celebrate eating locally and sustainable local food production in hundreds of events: collective meals, community festivals, protests, workshops for children, excursions to producers and much more are held to promote local food traditions and demonstrate the Slow Food philosophy of good, clean and fair food to communities, media and decision makers.  Organic Farmer, Rob Symons, joined us “It was a pleasure  to attend. I enjoyed myself. It is always uplifting to connect with people who are intimate with the soil and have a love for all life.”

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“Terra Madre Day has continued to play a key role in addressing challenges by sensitizing communities and reminding them of the importance of sustainable agriculture, traditional food and biodiversity conservation,” says John Kariuki, Slow Food Foundation Vice President and coordinator of Slow Food activities in Kenya. “The event has also acted as a platform for bringing communities together and strengthening their local economies as a united force.” Read about last year’s picnic when the Mpophomeni garden was really just beginning.

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The Community Garden has become a pivotal spot for urban farmers to gather.  Nhlakanipho Nzimande is in the process of helping a number of people set up home gardens. He enjoyed chatting to veteran Mpop gardener Tutu Zuma about her successes and challenges.  Everyone shared their knowledge along with their food.

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Rob suggested to Ntombenhle Mtambo that comfrey tea was a great way to get good root growth on seedlings.  Kate Chantunya brought along some Baobab juice and told of it’s many nutritional and healing properties – pity we can’t grow a tree in Mpop.  “A fun ‘Slow Lunch’ with friends – an array of delicious food, freshly plucked and dug from backyard vegetable gardens. So inspiring!  This garden illustrates shows what can happen in a suburban setting. Grow your own, no matter where you live!” said Kate.

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This celebration of local food does seem to be a truly important moment for local communities across the African continent. Edie Mukiibi, Slow Food International Vice President, tells us about one event in Uganda: “At the Nama Wellness Youth Centre in Mukono, the national SFYN network will organize an evening dedicated to local and traditional products. The Forgotten Vegetables Party will be a unique opportunity to get to know foods from regions and cultures around the country, with traditional recipes. We hope to get young people curious about these often-forgotten foods and bring back to the table products that can often play a fundamental role in food sovereignty.” Jesse Chantunya from Howick brought just dug potatoes from his grandmother’s garden and enjoyed the pumpkin leaves and amaranthus cooked with peanuts most of all.

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“Terra Madre Day is a the celebration of our traditional, indigenous and local foods. A day to showcase our food biodiversity with pride and gratitude to Mother Earth. The size of the event should not matter, but what matters is the willingness to come together and celebrate our food heritage and biodiversity”. Hleziphe Mbajwa enjoyed the beetroot and herb salad most of all, Nelly Makanya loved the free range eggs with homemade mayo and Thobekile Shezi tucked into the carrot, orange and fennel salad.  Between them they collected all sorts of fresh veggies and herbs from the garden to create a colourful chopped salad.

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Mbali Mlambo made everyone’s favourite – ijece – steamed bread.  Nathi Adam arrived a bit late because he was busy preparing scrumptious fresh spinach. Rutendo Zendah and Sam Govender arrived with masses of seasonal fruit – just perfect for the hot summer day. Three Gogos passing by, spotted the gazebo and joined in the celebration, sharing the phutu, cabbage and beans they had prepared for their own lunch.

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Yvonne Munk had a most  interesting and inspiring day.  “Wonderful to see what can be done with commitment and passion,” she said. Yvonne made the most of the opportunity to stock up on fresh veggies, a Wonderbag and Isistofu.

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Garden Goddess Ntombenhle was delighted with the event. “I love having so many people in the garden, everyone sharing and learning and trying new things. All the colourful foods make my heart sing. We must eat like this everyday.”  Pam Haynes brought gifts of organic dried bay leaves for everyone. “A most inspiring day – sharing food and meeting new people,” she said afterwards.

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Are you a member of Slow Food?  Membership is just over R100 per year if you live in Africa. Should you share the Slow Food vision of a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet, you really should join. email Renee Gordge:  slowfood.imifinokzn@gmail.com  for an application form. Learn more: http://www.slowfood.com/  r terra madre mpop 047