Archive for the 'cooking' Category

It’s always so sad to say goodbye

Even though hardly anyone reads this, I do feel like I should say goodbye on this blog, on the off chance someone finds it.

This is only a young blog, but I started it to record my gardening progress.  However, I feel that now I would like people to use it, to download freebies, to be inspired about gardening.  So I have moved it hook, line and sinker to  a new place called Out from under my hat.  This will mean that it is under the umbrella of my other blog and therefore will probably get more readers.  Which will make it feel less self-indulgent and more useful.

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How I like to eat

I want to eat healthy, planned meals based around what is growing in the garden.  My goal is to inventory the freezer and the shelves every couple of weeks, and stroll around the garden at the same time to see what is ready.  This cuts supermarket costs, but it also means that food ready to harvest doesn’t go to waste, and we are eating fresh, organic, and in season.  Sometimes the overpriced organic food I see in the stores looks like it is days old.  I like eating food the same day I pick it.  It is infinitely better for me, and of course the taste and texture is also beyond compare.

Soon I will be having salads with tomatoes, orach, rocket and cos.  Coriander, zucchini, silverbeet, carrots, onions and leeks.  Dwarf and climbing beans, as well as digging up three different varieties of potatoes, purple, red and white.  Not to mention the strawberries and raspberries.  No cucumbers this year though.  Oh and there is already delicious asparagus.

So I should be able to create something beautiful with that lot.  But still, I want more variety.

Afterword: if you happen to like the image at the top of this post, a blank version is free for download from my artmama blog here.  The font I used for the hand writing is jules-te-reo which is sold in a pack of 8 fonts here at my shop.  And yes, that is my own handwriting.

The charms of silverbeet

I love silverbeet, or is it swiss chard?  Here in New Zealand we call it silverbeet.

I have so much of it in my garden and it just keeps popping up.  Instead of weeding it, I transplant it – I consider them free plants.  I do the same when I notice lettuce plants or other plants popping up.

The problem with silverbeet is that most people don’t know what to do with it, and they may have memories of having it plain and boiled as children.  Understandable then that they don’t find the thought of it appetising.

Besides making a cheese and silverbeet sauce to have with pasta, another thing I often do is grate it in the food processor, mix it with eggs, grated potatoes, some wholegrain oats, salt and pepper and a bit of flour to bind it together and frying them as patties or fritters (the difference is the amount of flour added).  Absolutely delicious.  In fact my daughter made these today for lunch.  She commented that it was so lucky that we have some silverbeet that has grown in the gap between the paving and the wall, because it is so convenient for harvesting.

That scruffy flower? Calendula and what I do with it

calendula tonics

Calendula and marigolds are some of my favourite flowers.  The variety of  common calendula (C. officinalis) that I grow looks like a bright yellow or orange daisy.  Apparently marigold is slightly stronger than calendular, but both are edible, so to put the petals in a salad or on top of a (chocolate?) cake adds a gorgeous appeal, as well as being healthful.

I was told that calendula was used in the American civil war and the first world war for its healing properties.  I make a tonic from it to drink or to use on the skin (after cleansing, before moisturising).  If you want to use my recipe, please do, but note that I am not a medical professional so in other words, take what I do with a grain of salt as the only animals this particular batch was tested on are myself and my daughter (consider that a disclaimer), or you can see how e-how recommend using it.  Also, you may be interested to read some reviews by users of a commercial product and note that there are various reactions to their calendula toner.   Also, I found an article on the interweb that had some interesting information about the beauty and benefits of calendula.

However, speaking of animals, I did make up a batch of calendula moisturiser a few years back, and gave it away to friends as a lip balm for Christmas.  I got a lot of good reports, one person told me they used it on a scab on their dog’s leg which wouldn’t heal, with the result that it healed within a few days once using my calendula balm.  Another friend had a burn on her arm which she used it on – apparently instant relief and fast healing (Weleda mentions usefulness for burns in their info page on Calendula and so does medfinds).  But I’m already a believer.

Besides looking impossibly cheerful despite being discriminated against (the scruffy flower) and rejected by people, calendula is good as a companion plant in the garden, working for us to protect our plants.  Apparently certain parts of it repel insects which want to harm veges like potatoes and tomatoes.

So it is so versatile and useful!  And how about drinking a nice cup of calendula tea when you’ve just come in from the garden?  Or if you need to put your feet up after a shopping expedition at Harrods (check out the price of their calendula tonic and see if you don’t feel cheered after making up some of your own).

If you want to grow calendula but don’t have any seeds, I have lots because I am a seed-saver, (look out for an upcoming post on seed-saving) and I am happy to send you some.  Please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope with a note reminding me you’d like some marigold or calendular seeds.  My address is:

Julianne

PO Box 30048

St Martins 8246

Christchurch

New Zealand

Cooking homegrown kohlrabi at the bach

From garden to table

From garden to table

Remember that patch of Kohlrabi I planted and posted about here?  Well, just before we left for a week at Little Akaloa (we went there the day after school had finished for the year, and noone was there yet – it was like having our own private beach, but that is another story*) I checked the garden of course and saw that the kohlrabi were a bit crowded.  So I thinned them and we took them with us.

Don’t they look funny, like little aliens?  And the salad spinner on the left has the leaves, which I did use in a salad, but also chopped up and made a pasta/cheese sauce dish.  Very nice.

By the way, the font in the image here is one I have just created, and will soon be released at my shop.  Also, the layout, minus the photos and text of course is available as a 300dpi 6×4 png with transparent bits for popping your own photos in hereFree.  It’s a wee brag book page.  I also used it with a photo of my daughter and her sports trophies, that is zipped up with it, as well as a discount coupon for my other fonts (just thought you may be interested).

Anyway, the recipe is a freestyle adaption of one I posted here.  You can do it with whatever you have.  Do let me know how you get on.

* Little Akaloa was where we were over Christmas.  No, this year I did not get to have a traditional Christmas day swim – Felicity did though, with Hambley the pug, but I was too busy gathering heart-shaped stones – so many at Little Ak – and an abundance of gorgeous, coloured, worn bits of glass.  See where Little Akaloa is here.

Purple potatoes and what to do with them.

What to do with purple potatoes

What to do with purple potatoes

I love to grow veges which are a bit different.  They delight us and our guests and give me a new riddle to solve – what to do with them.  Of course recipe books don’t cover the food I have, mostly grown from heirloom seeds, so I have to make up my own.  When I plant something new, half of the fun is thinking what to do with them.  I like plain cooking:

“Suppose you learn plain cooking. That’s a useful accomplishment, which no woman should be without,” said Mrs. March, laughing inaudibly at the recollection of Jo’s dinner party, for she had met Miss Crocker and heard her account of it.  Excerpt from Chapter 11, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

And what is plainer than mashed potatoes?  These beautiful Urenika purple potatoes are divine boiled (the water turns green) then mashed with butter and milk.  So creamy.  And the purple looks enticing on the plate alongside salad greens. 

I love to make Shepherds Pie.  It’s very easy.  In a bowl, I just mix together a bunch of freshly harvested, washed, chopped, leafy vegetables and some cooked ground beef with some chopped tomatoes (I used last season’s tomatoes which I froze in blocks of 400g, lightly thawed, then chopped in the food processor).  When this was mixed together, I put it some pretty oven proof dishes, and the mashed potato was put on the top, under some grated cheese. 

As for the vegetables to put in Shepherd’s Pie, whatever is green and in the garden will work.  At the moment there are a lot of silverbeet, leek, asparagus, celery, parsley.  Just think what vitamin and mineral goodies this combination of vegetables have in them!  Soon there will be beans (here in New Zealand).  So depending on what is available, this dish will always taste different.  And you don’t need to have ground beef.  My 13 year old daughter made up a beautiful recipe with tuna (same principle, but no longer called Shepherd’s Pie, she calls it Tuna Bake).  Or you can put beans in, or lentils.  Or sausages, or not have meat at all. 

This is cooking freestyle, kind of Plain Cooking.  Surprise me!

Silverbeet, baby leek and asparagus with pasta and brie sauce

Yum!!!

Yum!!!

One of the benefits of drinking my breakfast smoothy in the garden, is that I get to see what is happening and what is ready to harvest.  So today I harvested and made up a recipe for what I had.  Click on the image if you want to try it.  Doesn’t that food look so tempting sitting there on my mosaic outdoor table?  YUMMMMMM!

Bon appetit!


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