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.…
- 1 packet biscuits (I used Tennis Biscuits from South Africa, Coconut Based)
- 115g butter, melted
- 500g cream cheese (2 tubs)
- 100g caster sugar
- 100ml sour cream
- 1.5tbsp cake flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract with seeds
- 50ml cream
- 1/2 tsp lavender flowers
- 2 earl grey tea bags
- Bash the biscuits with a rolling pin (in the packet) until they come out crumbly and broken-up. You can also blitz them in the food processor, just make sure they’re crumbs, not dust.
- Mix in the melted butter
- Press down evenly into base of prepared tin
- Set aside.
- Infuse the cream with the tea leaves and lavender
- Heat infuse method: heat the cream on the stove top and add the herbs, let brew for a bit. Don’t boil the cream. Take off the heat and let cool. Strain, pressing the solids to extract as much flavour into the cream as possible.
- Cold infuse method: stir the herbs into cold cream, cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours. Strain, pressing the solids to extract as much flavour into the cream as possible.
- Heat oven to 160°C.
- Beat the cream cheese with the caster sugar until smooth.
- Add sour cream and flour, and continue beating.
- Add tea-infused cream, and continue beating.
- Add eggs (one at a time), vanilla seeds and vanilla extract while beating.
- Once everything is well mixed, pour your filling over the crumb base.
- Place your tin into a baking tray filled with boiling water in the bottom of the oven and bake for an hour.
- Switch the oven off, but leave the cheesecake inside to cool with the door slightly ajar.
- Add edible flowers if desired
I’ve been making a lot of my own seedling soil and cutting mix for a few years now. It’s super easy to make, and you can control exactly what goes into your mix. I’m not convinced it saves money unless you make a lot over a long time, but don’t think it is much more expensive either than pre-bagged stuff.
The more you get into your own propagation, the more interested you would be to add things that may promote root growth, or enhance seed germination, or other interesting bits, but at the very most basic, you don’t need more than compost, coir and sand.
While you can change the ingredient ratio around a bit, I have found that the following recipe works really well (I do increase the sand content when making cutting specific mix):
4 parts compost + 2 parts coir + 1 part washed sand; mix well
COMPOST (forms the bulk of the soil)
You don’t strictly need to sift your compost, nature sure doesn’t specifically go make “fine” soil for seeds to germinate into, but it does help the home gardener, especially if you have small seeds.
I made a compost sifting sieve by stapling 1cm square mesh into a wooden frame, and find that is good enough to get rid of the bigger bits of bark and debris from my compost.
You can use your own home-made compost for sure! Just be certain that it is well cured.
COIR (increases water holding and soil friability)
Coir is a by-product of the coconut industry, and is simply the fibre from the outer husk of the coconut. You can buy coir in condensed bricks in most garden centres or hardware stores, and soak it to reconstitute it.
SAND (increases drainage and creates air spaces for roots to grow)
I use washed play-pit sand, but you get specialized horticulturist sand too in different sizes.
And just like that, it is a new year! 2018 marks the 5th year that I’ve lived in New Zealand, the golden year of immigration adjustment, if sources are to be believed. I’ve always loved being a Kiwi, but let’s hope this year will indeed prove to be an easier one!
As with all new years, there is a bit of anticipation, and hope, and simple belief – let 2018 be all you wish and need.
What a first few days to 2018 though! A lovely storm hit most of the country and drenched my very parched garden (and filled our tank!). Luckily everything outside survived the wind gusts and downpours, except for one branch on my new rose, Christophe (but I’m putting that one down to “natural pruning” and will see how it comes away again), and one branch of my Loquat, but it wasn’t the main trunk, so all good there too. After righting some fallen over pots and sweeping away some debris from trees around us, it’s all fresh and lovely. With the hottest days still coming, as is normal for January, I do hope that the rain doesn’t stay away that long again…
I didn’t get up to any sowing and growing this week, even though it was still prime sowing and cutting time till Full Moon (2 January)… I did however get my seed box sorted, and recorded all the seed I’ve got! What a wonderful thing my seedbox is – it is really a treasure for me – so full of promise and potential. I adore going through my seeds… and getting new seeds… and saving seeds…
I don’t always have a lot of every seed listed, and most of the vegetables I grow, I don’t save seed from again (e.g. pumpkins, brassicas etc.), but if you want to have a look what I’ve got, this is what I could potentially grow for my nursery – Seed List Jan 2018
New Year’s resolutions for me, as far as my business goes, includes “getting back to herbs”, and focusing my efforts on the growing and use, promoting and education of herbs (as opposed to my side-tracked efforts of growing common vegetables at some point last year…). See my newsletter for more updates on the business. I am also going to endeavor to make it a more homemade year – to actually use as much of my herbs and other produce as I can in my daily life – for food, medicine, cleaning and beauty products. Hopefully lots of experimentation and lots of lovely recipes to follow!
In the garden, my summer produce is going strong – I harvested a lot of fresh food from the garden – tomatoes are ripening furiously, and I get a lovely fresh cucumber almost every second day. The cocozelle zucchini is still going insane, and I’m on the hunt for a zucchini relish to try my hand at. Some chillies are starting to ripen one by one, but so much fruit is forming – it is going to be a year of plenty for my capsicums for sure!
All the culinary herbs are also at a prime for picking – fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, chives, basil, chervil, coriander, parsley… they make it into almost every dish I put out. Blueberries are coming in bowl-by-bowl, at least the ones that survive my impromptu snacking as I pass the bushes every day! And I’ve put some good looking tomatillos to the side too for making salsa later on.
Chamomile are also flowering now, as my annual German chamomile is ending its flowering, the perennial Roman one seems to pick up. This ensures I have baskets full of flowers waiting to into my dehydrator at any point in time. I find the Roman “lawn” chamomile somewhat bitter, but tempered with some lemon balm or lemon verbena, I’m sure it will taste great, and still have it’s beneficial calming effects.
Speaking of flowers…
In flower in the garden this week
This is only a selection of some of the pretties in summer:
What did I make with my herbs and produce this week?
Harvest flowers and dry, either in a dehydrator, or in a dry, ventilated spot in the house. When fully dry, store in an airtight container. Here’s how to – Chamomile Tea
Rose Petal Jam
Before the storm came, I decided to pick a few of my roses, and then thought I should really make something from them rather than having them in a vase… nothing against flowers for the home, especially if they come from your own garden, but I just felt their fragrance had to be captured somehow or another… and so I decided to make rose petal jam.
Jamie Oliver’s Pasta Salad
This is one of my favourite side dishes to a BBQ, and it makes a lovely, light and fresh lunch or dinner on its own too. Recipe is on Jamie Oliver’s site. It really is a great way to use the fresh cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and chives that are available now.
Herb Mix for Homemade Hamburgers
Fried onions and garlic get a sprinkling of cumin seeds and fresh chopped rosemary, oregano, sage and thyme before being cooled down and mixed with beef and pork mince for homemade hamburgers.
Chocolate Ice Cream with Fennel Seeds & Orange Zest
I followed the recipe for Jamie Oliver’s Chocolate Ice Cream, substituting chicken eggs with our quail eggs, and I served it with crushed fennel seeds (and fennel flowers and fronds to show off ;-)) and grated lemon zest. The flavour combination is sublime!