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Community Cook - Dimity Foster

THE BENEFIT OF COOKING in Lakeside Drive Community Garden was that Dimity Foster, our local chef, could source a lot of her ingredients straight out of the ground.

by Kim Yates

Within minutes, after a quick rinse, the produce wound up in the heavy cast iron pot. What Dimity didn’t get to gather from the well-stocked pantry of the Community Garden for her camp-cooked version of French classic Ratatouille, she sourced from her own produce garden in Palmerston.

Dimity has always enjoyed the garden, and attributes working there to her keeping good health. She has suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

“Gardening helps me forget. Years ago, I spent far too much time stressing, so I sought help. I wish I had done that sooner,” she says. 

“I found someone professional away from my inner circle who was easy to talk to. Through a process of honesty, trial and error, I changed my thought patterns. Particularly, I found the medicinal benefits of eating a healthy, fresh and organic diet has certainly played a big part on who I am today.’ 

As the Ratatouille ingredients simmer in the pot, Dimity shares that cooking for her started with her mum at a young age. She learnt a lot about gardening, swapping seeds and experimenting with growing lots of passionfruit, pineapples, pumpkins, cucumbers, and over 60 varieties of tomatoes.

Her bounty of fresh produce often ends up in pies and chutneys, including the delicious banana chutney she shared with us. I wish I could have tasted her homemade tomato sauce. Ratatouille is a staple in her family, her kids never got sick growing up, and her daughter still loves to take the leftovers to work for lunches.

As the day comes to a close, we all sit and enjoy the nourishing meal and sip on freshly made lemongrass and ginger tea. I feel motivated to understand more about the abundance of fresh healthy produce available to all of us, thanks to Dimity.

My young son enjoys a second helping. I feel gratefully topped up with goodness for my mind, body and soul. Especially for my mind.  

Ratatouille manger à l’extérieur  A classic French dish, camp- cooked with a twist

1/3 cup olive oil  (not required in a non-stock pot)
7-8 large tomatoes (add to boiling water for 5 minutes to easily remove skins)
2 med. onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Small knob of ginger, chopped
2 large eggplants cut into  
3/4 inch cubes 
4-5 medium zucchini cut into cubes
Coarse salt and ground pepper 3 yellow or red bell peppers ribs and seeds removed, cubed 
2 bay leaves – fresh is best
1/2 cup chopped Brazilian spinach or similar
Lemon thyme and basil to taste

In heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in eggplant and zucchini, season generously with salt and pepper. Add 3/4 cup left over tomato water and simmer until vegetables are beginning to soften, stirring once, about 5 minutes. Stir in peppers, simmer, until softened, 5 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, spinach and thyme, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in basil. Serve!

If you know a community cook in Darwin who would like to share their recipe, GULP NT can organise a gathering with their small team. $100 plus ingredients can be offered to the participating cook for hosting and sharing. Get in touch today and share your stories and food love. | gulpcommunity@gmail. com

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