I was driving on the freeway towards the city. A mobile sign, electric-powered, by the side of the road read: 'Offset your car today' with the website of a company that would take your money and plant a bunch of trees somewhere.
My brother-in-law recently finished planting 10,000 mountain ash seedlings - yes, 10,000 - in an attempt to return his property in deepest South Gippsland to its pre-European settlement rainforest state. Had he waited, he could have geared his planting to a carbon offset scheme and made a fortune. I did suggest to him a few weeks ago that he maybe should attempt to sell retrospectively planted trees as a carbon offset scheme that is superior to the mere seedlings planted by other companies - 'while their trees will not produce oxygen for years, ours are ALREADY issuing valuable oxygen into the atmosphere on your behalf and offsetting your carbon emissions RIGHT NOW!' He laughed a little too hard and held his back. He has a bad back. Well, you would, wouldn't you?
Then I got to thinking about other kinds of offsets. People are obsessed with food miles right now. (Why miles? What happened to kilometres?) So let's set up a food miles offset plan. You visited a restaurant last night? For shame. Not only did you show scant disregard for the fact that restaurants get their supplies from all over, but you piled food miles on food miles by travelling to eat! Unless you walked; in which case, given the weather last night, you froze to death on the way home.
So let's try and offset some of those food miles with an innovative way to eat guilt-free, wherever you like, and not have to fret about destroying the environment.
Here's how it works: simply examine the packaging of every food item you purchase, or check the origin of fresh items on the supermarket shelf. Based on Kitchen Hand's easy food miles calculator, you simply send me money and I will plant a turnip in my backyard for every payment received. Don't want to make calculations? Kitchen Hand's easy all-you-can-eat annual subscription - let's say, $2000 - gives you all the food miles you want.
I just saved the world. Now let's eat, starting with something from very far away.
Make a marinade: whisk two tablespoons of lemon juice, a tablespoon of vegetable oil, a minced garlic clove, a small knob of minced ginger and a dash of salt.
Cut the tops off four red capsicums. Place them in a baking dish and brush the marinade both inside and outside the capsicums.
The filling: heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add half a teaspoon each of cumin seeds, turmeric and chilli powder. Add a chopped onion and a chopped garlic clove. Stir about five minutes. Now add a diced (small dice) potato, the same amount of sweet potato, a couple of tomatoes (or drained canned ones if out of season), two tablespoons each of sultanas and chopped roasted cashews. Stir around for a minute or so then cover and cook on low until vegetables are soft.
Now stir in a handful of chopped fresh coriander and a cup of finely cubed paneer. (Fry the paneer in ghee first for extra flavour.)
Spoon the filling into the capsicums, replace the tops and bake for half an hour, medium heat, dish uncovered.
Use the whole can of tomatoes including juice otherwise it will be too dry.