Recent Posts

21 July – First sowings of tomatoes and chillies for 2018

21 July – First sowings of tomatoes and chillies for 2018

Now that I have my heated propagation area in place (eek, so excited!!!), I’ve put in a few of the first tomato and chilli seeds for my 2018 garden and for sale at the markets later in spring and summer. Just love it when a…

21 July 2018 – Flowering Now

21 July 2018 – Flowering Now

It’s not a floriferous time in the garden for most things, but if you look closely, or plant smartly, even mid winter can be a flower show in the garden. I don’t garden with many flowers just for their prettiness – in my mind they…

13 July 2018 – New Moon, New Beginnings

13 July 2018 – New Moon, New Beginnings

It’s New Moon in July. It stirs my blood. Even as cold winter clouds hang low, and the midday temperature outside battles to lift from the low teens, I feel eager and excited: Spring is coming. Exactly 50 days to 1 September. And even then… even then, I’ve come to realize that true Spring in New Zealand actually only happens much later. And every year it is different – are we in for a long and dry spring, a cold and wet one… what do the weather gods have in store? Better go have a look at MetService Monthly Outlook

Still… the new growing season beckons, like a lover, half hidden in shadows.

Of course commercial seed growers know this, and the seed catalogs are starting to come in fast and furious, building the dreams of summer harvests to come. There’s always the old favourites, the must-grows, and then a few new things that you just have to try. Earmarked pages attest to this.

This also means the electronic garden planner is being fired up today. Putting my dreams to digital paper. I love the subscription based one Rick bought me two years ago on Mother’s Day – Growveg.com.au It has everything I need, or at least I can configure it to have everything I need, even the really unusual lot of herbs I grow. It’s even got design elements for chicken coops (not that I’m allowed chickens in my urban rental), and pergolas, compost bins, and an array of hardscaping. Best of all? It is Southern Hemisphere (the .com.au one at least) and has important-to-me planting ideals like ideal plant spacing, crop rotation and companion planting, and it e-mails reminders of what to sow, or do, to make your garden plan a reality. FYI – I don’t get affiliate kickbacks from this endorsement, but can’t keep something that good just for myself!

So today and tomorrow I dream and I plan. Perfect gardening tasks for the first few days after New Moon according to my Moon Calendar.

And then, the big sow-down will begin.

Edible Flower Cookies

Edible Flower Cookies

No secret I love edible flowers. No secret I love baking. And in our unschool-homeschool, Friday is baking and gardening day, so 1 + 1 + 1 = kids making edible flower cookies today! Extra points scored for our science experiment on which flowers will…

How To – Roast Garlic

How To – Roast Garlic

Garlic everywhere and garlic in everything! We’re a household that loves to cook with garlic, and naturally, I also have a few special garlic medicines ready to dispense for a variety of ailments. Garlic, Allium sativum, is truly an amazing ingredient to always have on hand…

Newsletter – June 2018

Newsletter – June 2018

Brrr! Cold and wet weather set in to most of the country over this past long weekend. Metservice published their June outlook, saying we’re swinging between cold and warmer-than average from week to week through the month, with rainfall predicted to be quite volatile as there’s a shift between easterlies and southwesterlies.

Generally winter signals a calm period as plants (and people) tend inward, but the good gardener knows there’s always tasks to be done – even if you’re slogging through muddy lawns to get to your garden beds. And for the person using their herbs for food and medicine, this season brings bountiful opportunities to work with plant materials to create delicious and nutritious meals, or relieve ailments associated with colder weather.

 

For some thoughts on winter gardening, and a look at Lovage, Peas, and Abutilon, and other ideas, browse through my latest newsletter – Newsletter for June 2018

As always – feedback much appreciated.

Crystallized flowers

Crystallized flowers

Crystallized flowers! These candied flowers are a favourite of my little girls to make. Here’s how you can also make the most of the pretty edible petals in our garden by making Victorian style flowery delights! A glorious project to get into on a rainy day…

Chimichurri – Argentinian Green Sauce for Grilled Meat

Chimichurri – Argentinian Green Sauce for Grilled Meat

The first time I made chimichurri was out of necessity – I had harvested handfuls of gorgeous Italian parsley, and after drying some, freezing some, and making a lot into parsley pesto, I had to do something else with what was leftover. A quick search…

Rose Panna cotta with rose jelly and a cardomom-pistachio biscuit

Rose Panna cotta with rose jelly and a cardomom-pistachio biscuit

I love combining rose with cardamom – it is a lovely Middle Eastern combination and puts me in mind of all the exotic places I visit \vicariously through the internet and travel books.

Actually, the first time I combined these particular flavours, it was when I developed a cake idea for a competition – the winner would get enough prize money to see them on their way to open the café of their dreams… I still remember the picture I painted with my essay of what it would be like to visit my café – and it pretty much has been unchanged since then – who knows, one day the dream might just come true! The cake I entered with my ideal café, was a flour-less pistachio and almond cake which was lightly flavoured with rose pelargonium and rosewater, and served with a cardamom Crème Fraîsche and crystallized rose petals… perhaps I’ll make that soon too.

But for now – the panna cotta. Essentially a milk-and-cream jelly, panna cotta is a delightful dessert from Italy and the name translates to “cooked cream”. It’s very elegant when served, and easily infused with almost any flavour imaginable.

 

 

Rose panna cotta

Ingredients
  • 1 cup (250ml) full cream milk
  • 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 cup (250ml) cream
  • 2 teaspoons rosewater
  • pinch of salt
Method
  1. Pour the cold milk into a saucepan and sprinkle over the powdered gelatin, leave for about 5 minutes
  2. Add the sugar and stir it all together until mostly dissolved.
  3. Gently heat the milk mix over a low heat (make very sure the milk does not scald or boil), stirring to make sure all the sugar and gelatin is dissolved.
  4. Take off the heat, cool down and mix in the cream and rosewater.
  5. Pour into molds and let set in the fridge for about 2 hours

Rose jelly

Ingredients
  • 1 cup (250ml) water
  • 1 teaspoon powdered gelatine
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater
  • raspberries, beet powder, or food colouring (optional)
Method
  1. Pour the cold water into a saucepan and sprinkle over the powdered gelatin, leave for about 5 minutes
  2. Add the sugar and stir it all together until mostly dissolved.
  3. Gently heat the water until all the sugar and gelatin is dissolved.
  4. Add the rosewater and chosen colouring.
  5. Cool before pouring a thin layer on top of the (mostly set) panna cotta in the molds.
  6. Leave to set in the fridge for about an hour.

 

Cardmom-pistachio biscuit

Ingredients
  • 2 cups (300g) flour
  • 75g pistachios, roughly chopped
  •  250g unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (125g) sifted icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom, ground
  • pinch of salt
For sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped pistachio
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar
Method
  1. Pulse the 75g pistachios with the flour in a blender until the pistachio is finely mixed with the flour, be careful to not create a paste.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in your stand mixer until light and fluffy
  3. Add the egg yolk to the butter and sugar and mix well.
  4. Add the pistachio-flour to the batter, add the cardamom, salt, and blend until combined.
  5. Form the dough into a ball, and refrigerate for an hour.
  6. Roll the dough to about 1cm thickness, use a cookie cutter to cut to your desired shape, sprinkle with the raw sugar and pistachio.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at 175C for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Cool before serving.

To plate, take the rose panna cotta from the fridge about 10 minutes before serving, slide a knife around the edge of the mold to loosen, upend onto a saucer or plate and dish up.

Fire Cider Tonic

Fire Cider Tonic

Baby, it’s cold outside! Winter definitely has come a-knocking…  And with it, I’m already seeing an upsurge of colds and flu all around. Luckily, I’ve come into the season fully prepared – beating cold with hot! Ice with Fire! Fire Cider Tonic, to be exact.…