March 30

Published by Panetary Health Initiative on

An Invincible Summer

“In the  midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” These are the words of existential writer Albert Camus, who wrote The Plague, two years after the end of WWll.

Today, on  yet another interminably grey wet day, sunshine arrived briefly (via a dear friend), and I began to plan for its eventual return.

Lyndall from Cliff View Community Farm dropped a bag of beautiful fresh produce at my door – including a piece of Galeux d’ Eysines, a French heirloom pumpkin.



My mother, who lived through the cold winters of war in Germany, would always wax lyrical about pumpkins. She said they captured the summer’s sun and brought all its goodness into the house to brighten up winter and keep us healthy.

Recently one of my students gave me a gift of dried orange slices. She was gathering produce before it was discarded and drying it to ensure it wasn’t wasted. So, my action for today, was to slice up oranges and dry them, to bring sunshine and health into our lives when it’s not here.

I also sat down with my husband to strategise the building of a solar dehydrator so that when the sun does come back we’ll be ready to capture as much of it as we can.

This is Caroline’s dehydrator which is really inspiring us for our design:



PLANT-BASED EATING: Pearl Cous Cous and Pumpkin with Tomato and Star Anise Sauce

I also used the heirloom pumpkin and silverbeet from our garden to adapt Ottolenghi’s  warming spicy Giant Couscous and Pumpkin with Tomato and Star Anise Sauce. I suddenly truly understood what my mother meant about pumpkin. This recipe is a little time-consuming but oh gosh it’s worth it!



And for dessert, poached Community Farm-grown quinces with cream ….


Pearl CousCous and Pumpkin with Tomato and Star Anise Sauce

This recipe is adapted from Ottolenghi's recipe in Flavour
Servings 4


  • 750 gm sweet pumpkin, peeled and cut into large cubes
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 105 ml olive oil
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 ½ tsp caster sugar
  • 4 whole star anise
  • tsp chilli flakes
  • 750 gm plum tomatoes (or two cans)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 250 gm pearl couscous (or giant couscous)
  • 250 gm baby spinach or silverbeet
  • 15 g coriander, roughly chopped
  • salt and black pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 230C fan. Toss the pumpkin with 1 tsp cinnamon, 2 garlic cloves, 2 tbsp oil, 3/4 tsp salt, and a good grind of pepper. Spread onto baking tray and bake for 30 minutes,until cooked through and nicely browned (keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn)
  • Place the onion rounds, keeping them intact, onto another tray and drizzle with 1 ½ tsps of oil. Sprinkle with ½ tsp of sugar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for 18 minutes, flipping them halfway, or until softened and deeply charred. Remove and keep warm
  • While the vegetables are roasting, make the sauce. Put 3 tbspns of oil into large saute pan on medium-high heat. Make sure you have a lid. Add the chopped onion and star anise and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until softened and browned. Add the remaining garlic and cinnamon (2 tspns) and cook for 30 secs more until fragrant. Add the chilli, tomatoes, tomato paste, the remaining 2 tspns sugar, 1 ½ tspns salt and a good grind of black pepper. Cook for 8 minutes stirring often, then pour in 500ml of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes, or until sauce is thick and rich. Measure out 400ml of sauce, leaving the star anise in the pan, into a separate saucepan and keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, add the couscous to the original pan containing the remaining sauce, and mix well to combine. Add 375 ml water and ¼ tspn salt and bring to the boil. Cover with the lid, reduce the heat to medium and leave to cook for 30 minutes (checking to see if it isn't getting stuck to the pan) or until all the liquid is absorbed.
  • Put 1 tbspn oil into a large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add the spinach or silverbeet, 1/8 tsp salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Cook until barely wilted, about 2 mins. Stir in the coriander and set aside.
  • To serve, top the couscous with the reserved sauce, pumpkin and spinach. Finish with the onion rounds. Drizzle with the remaining 1 ½ tspns of oil and serve warm.

It was pitch dark by the time we’d eaten dinner after a long cooking session so I broke my record for the latest seed sowing in my life. I planted two trays of Red Rib Brussel Sprouts because I know, one day down the track, in the dark of winter, I’ll be so glad I did. The seeds are a little old so I planted more than I normally would and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.



Today Meredith bought some toothpowder in a jar to try out as a replacement for toothpaste in the ol’ disposable tube. She’s thinking if it works she might start making her own, and reuse the jar.

Libby’s action was to volunteer to deliver a lecture to Engineering students at the University of Sydney – on sustainability and working with the community.

Ian did research on solar dehydrators and how to build them.



Share your action here:

The theme for World Health Day this year is Our Planet, Our Health – recognising that our health is totally dependent on the health of the earth’s natural systems.

We’re try to reach 365 actions in one day, the action of a whole year in a day, but we really really need your help. Would you consider doing and sharing one or more actions, and inviting everyone you know to join you, so that we can really show how serious we are about turning things around to restore planetary health.

Research by academics at Leeds University, engineering firm Arup and the C40 Cities climate group has identified that 73 per cent of all changes needed by 2030 to keep the world on course to meet the Paris agreement targets need to be made by governments and industry. But private citizens have considerable influence over the remaining 27 per cent. So let’s get cracking!


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