This week we meet Katie, a singer/songwriter from Australia and the passionate owner behind Olive Wood Vegan. We discuss garden to plate fresh vegan recipes and what exciting things Katie has planned for the future!
We understand that you have had a passion for cooking and food since a very young age, we would love to hear more about your early memories of exploring food and baking.
Yes I have always felt such a natural draw to food, both in the garden growing it and it in the kitchen making it. Both feel very natural to me, it's fairly instinctual and therefor comes with joy. I grew up in the country in rural West Australia so I guess I just observed and learned from what was around me without actually being ’taught’. That is my favourite way of learning. My first memories of cooking are in my mud kitchen, where I would use retired pots and pans etc to make pretend meals out of mud, sand, leaves, etc! I was about 5 when I started this and it was my absolute favourite thing to do. Whilst doing so I would pretend was being filmed and talk to an invisible cameraman explaining what I was doing!
Since becoming vegan at the age of 24, has this changed the way that you view ingredients and cooking?
One of the things I find so hopeful about Veganism in this day in age is that you actually don’t have to change the way you cook, you just replace the animal products for the plant based equivalent. This makes it so easy for people. However if you are a creative like myself there is more to it then that because yes you can learn to work with new ingredients and this can lead to creative ideas. For example, I made a trifle recently featuring raspberry and coconut flavours. They are a fantastic flavour combo but I really thought of it because I had to use coconut cream to make the whipped cream and custard elements of the trifle. So that’s an example of how working with the new ingredients out of necessity can lead to creative ideas too.
Do you grow all of your own vegetables and fruits?
Primarily yes! I grow about 80% of the fresh produce I eat, so all my roots vegetables like sweet and regular potatoes, starchy veg like pumpkins, greens like chard and kale, and a ton of other seasonal produce too depending on what time of year it is. I also primarily eat only the fruit I pick which also changes with the seasons but luckily for me, I have many many avocado trees so pick my own avos, a staple, every week. The only thing I buy in the produce isle is bananas and mushrooms. I do have 3 banana tress but they are still growing and its quite cold where I live so they aren't as prolific as other crops.
Your website Olive Wood Vegan explores recipes that are centred around natural ingredients and utilising the foods which are in season. What inspired you to create a platform dedicated to organic, natural and vegan recipes?
I want to show people how easy it is to live cruelty free. That is the short answer! I really would do anything to create a vegan world so I feel the best thing I can do is make the information on how to eat this way as accessible as possible, hence the web site. I have also used the platform to talk about growing food as well as that’s also a great thing to do! But I believe it comes second to eating vegan, its a bonus if you can grow too because its so pleasurable, healthy, and good for the earth too.
Many of us are now looking to be as self sufficient as possible. What advice would you give to someone who has never grown any of their own foods before?
Start with seedlings not seeds and make sure you give your soil some love before planting them in. They would be two top tips. Seeds are awesome to grow from, but for a first timer seedlings are an easy start as they are already on their way. You need to prep the soil well otherwise the plant won’t have enough nutrients and wont grow as well and then you could be disappointed and not bother the next time. Id love you to feel the joy of seeing the plant grow well and harvesting your food!
For those living in homes without gardens but who want to experience home grown plants, are there any foods which can be grown from windowsills or small balconies?
Yes this is a great question, as obviously not everyone has access to a lot of land. When I was living in London I had a tiny balcony and I had hanging baskets filled with herbs. I would say if you only have room for a couple of things, make those things herbs and greens. I think if everyone ate herbs and greens every day they’d all be A LOT healthier as they are both such nutrient dense foods, and also make you cooking so so much better. Herbs are generally very hardy too, which means you can concentrate on keeping your greens lush! Id recommend hardier greens such a chard over spinach. These do need a bit of room for their roots but one large pot would be fine per plant. Some annual herbs such as basil grow well inside too in small pots so give that a try too.
What is your favourite fruit or vegetable and why?
Avocados. Because they are so so good for you and so so delicious and you never get sick of them.
What does the future hold for Olive Wood Vegan?
This is an exciting question because I have a lot planned. Firstly and probably surprisingly, is I am first and for-most a professional singer/songwriter and have recently recorded 4 animal rights songs and had film clips made to accompany 2 of them. I really feel that these songs could get through to people in a way that no one has before because they are written from the animals perspective and are recorded at high quality, something I haven’t really seen done before. They are heart wrenching but necessary, and I am so excited to see how the power of music can serve the vegan movement. I am releasing them on World Vegan Day November 2nd. I am also writing my Ebook at the moment and am hoping that will lead to hard copy publication soon too. I am also planning a youtube series of cooking shows featuring the Olive Wood concept of garden to plate cooking and living.