Wreath making

IMG_20171203_200158_827.jpg

Wreath making has been done by many cultures for thousands of years. While the symbolism varies between individuals, for the materials it’s best to use what’s on hand and in season in the garden. This wreath made today symbolises for me the circle of life continuing throughout time. The end of the year is fast approaching with a new year soon to come. The spring growth of the grape vines have a bunch of forming grapes as a promise of the summer harvest to come. The olive leaves were used to symbolise peace with some baby olives as a promise of the autumn harvest and winter pickling to come.

Advertisements

Radish

IMG_20171102_171437_115

Gardening is slow. Really slow. Sometimes it’s so slow I forget what I’ve planted and then discover it later. I put these radish in for a bit of a quick crop. I had expanded out the veggie patch and was thinking I needed something that would crowd out any other little plants coming through. Water well while its growing and eat soon once it’s reached a good size otherwise it gets a bit woody. Radish can be added to salads, sandwiches or baked in the oven as they come through. I also pulled up the rest and pickled them.

Pickled radish

4 bunches of radish

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons raw sugar

1 teaspoon salt

optional, 1 tablespoon peppercorns, 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

Top and tail the radish and clean well. Slice each radish in half then place the flat side down and slice into thin semicircles. Place all the radish into sterilised jars. This amount made two small jars. Add flavour of choice to the jars . I added peppercorns to one and coriander to the other.

In a small pot, add the water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Boil for a minute or two to dissolve the sugar and salt. Pour over the radish and seal the jars. Store it in the fridge.

Squash and zucchini

squash.jpg

It’s been a heck of a long time since I’ve last grown yellow squash. These little fellas transported me back to around 16 years ago when I lived in a gorgeous old farm house on a dairy farm in Northern NSW. I had a really good composting system set up for the household scraps and collected well composted cow poo from under the cattle grate to get the veggie patch started. The vegetables were pretty darn good from that patch. I remember having some very prolific yellow squash plants and the sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever eaten in my life. I can’t remember growing squash since then. Funny how food can trigger memories.

Squash and zucchini are pretty easy to grow and versatile. You can grate them and make zucchini slice, turn them into zoodles as a pasta substitute, cut thinly and bake into chips, add to sauces, soups or curries, and grate into cakes to make them more moist. While there are lots of different ways you can cook with them, my very favourite way to cook zucchini is to grill on the barbeque. Turns out squash is just as good on the barbie. Sounds simple but it is one of those recipes where I do a little happy dance because it tastes sooo good. This little dish tastes greater than the sum of it’s parts, and in this case the parts were pretty good already. I used a flavour packed lemon foraged from a neighbourhood tree, delicious local extra virgin olive oil pressed by my friends grandparents earlier this year and squash and zucchini picked earlier that morning from my garden. A little spoon of my homemade chimichurri on top to serve and I was in heaven. Instead of using salt you can also use porcini salt.

Recipe

Zucchini, cut in half lengthways

Squash, cut in 1 cm discs

Lemon, juice

Olive oil

salt

For the amount in photo above I used the juice of half a lemon, a few tablespoons of oil and a generous pinch of salt. I then gave it a whisk in bowl and then tossed the cut squash and zucchini through to coat it well. Then I cooked it on the barbeque give or take about 5 mins on each side. You should get nice grill marks across the surface and its ready.

 

Coriander

IMG_20171118_103551_512

My little coriander patch has reached maturity and now needs to be pulled up before the early summer heat hits. I’ve been eating a fair bit of it over the last few months but it will bolt to seed soon. I save the seed for growing my next batch of coriander as well to use the seeds as a spice in the kitchen. Before this bolts I’ll be making a batch of my dad’s infamous chimichurri.

Chimichurri recipe

Bunch of coriander
Bunch of parsley
Bunch of spring onions
Fresh chopped chillies (to taste)
1 head of garlic, half crushed, other half sliced finely
30 grams dried Italian herbs
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Extra virgin olive oil
Chop the coriander, parsley, spring onions and chilli finely with a really sharp kitchen knife. Mix together. Mix in the crushed and sliced garlic. Add just enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the mix. Store in a tightly sealed glass container in the fridge.

Loquats

IMG_20171113_191656_264

Loquats (Eriobotrya japonica)  grow all across the Adelaide Plains. There is a giant old loquat tree around the corner from me on a vacant block that fruits profusely each year. The birds don’t seem too interested in the fruit and either do the passers by. Loquats are best eaten straight off the tree warmed by the sun. They have large seeds and not a great deal of flesh which I suspect turns people off collecting the fruit. The flesh of the fruit is pretty delicious with some describing it as a cross between a mango and a peach. I think it just tastes like a loquat and not like any other fruit. The flavour is more delicate with the skin peeled off.

I made a batch of jam and some loquat fruit leather with this lot. Other ways to preserve would be drying the halves like dried apricots or making a delicate loquat jelly. I also read that loquat leaves have medicinal properties and can be made into tea. While the loquats are supposed to be high in pectin, this time I used shop bought pectin to make sure the jam set. The loquats are quite sweet already and only need a ratio of 1 part loquat to 1/2 part sugar for the jam. Pick the fruit when yellow (orange seems overripe to me) and add in some underripe loquats to up the pectin levels if not using added pectin.

Loquat jam 

1.6 kgs of deseeded loquats

800 gms sugar

juice of one lemon

vanilla

pectin (optional)

Add all ingredients to a heavy based pot. Stir regularly, bring to a boil and then a rolling simmer. Cook for 1 hour. Blend with a stick blender if you want a smother texture. Put into sterilised jars and give a hot bath for 15 minutes.

Loquat leather

1.5 kgs of deseeded loquats

juice of one lemon

splash of water

Add all the ingredients to a heavy set pot, cook on medium heat for 5 mins to allow for some of the juices to release. Then get a stick blender to puree the fruit. Place mix on baking sheets on the dehydrator trays and spread evenly. Dry for 7 hours at 70C until dry to touch.

Leek and asparagus puffs

IMG_20170915_174229_654

If you’re lucky you’ve stumbled across a wild patch of asparagus down by a creek somewhere. I haven’t yet but am always on the look out as they are in season right now. This asparagus grows in my garden and a pretty low maintenance once it gets going.  Just add compost and water every now and then.

IMG_20171010_192813_790

It’s been a long time since I last grew leek. I’d forgotten about these ones, they were quite neglected and hidden by some overgrown rocket going to seed and some cabbages. To get the long white blanched stem you need to be a bit more proactive and either mound up the dirt around the stem, use some cut down pieces of old plumbing pipe or old 1L milk cartons to shade the stem.

Put these both together and you’ve got a tasty lunch or dinner. Don’t throw those leek tops out. They can be used in place of onions or roasted with a bit of salt and oil and added to other meals as a side. Or saved in the freezer to add to homemade stock.

2 puff pastry sheets

4 small leeks, sliced

1 bunch asparagus, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

olive oil

4 long strands of thyme, leaves

4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 egg

1/3 cup cashew cheese

1/3 cup nut milk

salt and pepper

Put the oven to 210C. Add some oil to a medium heat pan, add the leek, garlic and cook for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the chopped asparagus and herbs to the mix and cook for a few more minutes. You want the leek fairly caramelised.

Thaw the pastry or make your own pastry. Cut each sheet into four smaller squares. Fold the edges over about 1 cm on the edges to form a little ridge. Get your nails and press into the middle part to minimise the rise. Bake in oven for 10 minutes until just starting to puff up.

While the pastry is cooking in the oven mix whisk together the egg, cashew cheese, milk, salt and pepper to taste.

Pull the pastry out of oven and top with the leek mix. Spoon over about 1.5 dessert spoons of the egg mix over the leek mix until the centre part of the pastry is covered with the egg mix. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Makes 8.

Serve with a nice fresh green garden salad.

 

Dandelion

20171006_161236

Every part of the dandelion is edible, with supposedly more nutrition in one plant that in a whole week’s worth of supermarket food. These pop up in lawns and disturbed ground so like any foraged greens make sure they haven’t been sprayed. The leaves can be cooked or eaten raw in things like pestos or salads. The flowers make a nice addition to salads and the petals picked off and sprinkled on top of food as a pretty garnish. The flowers can be reduced into a syrup and used as a sugar substitute, or made into wine and beer. Leaves dried and drank as tea. The roots can be roasted into a coffee substitute or shredded and added to homemade sauerkraut mix.

The roots are better in winter as the sugars are pushed down into the root when the frosts kick in. It can regrow from a small part of the broken off root so don’t worry about depleting the stock if you pull out the plant. The plant is particularly high in minerals and is good for the body and garden – e.g. add it to weed tea fertiliser. The Latin name is Taraxacum officianale meaning the ‘the official remedy for all disorders’. It’s been used medicinally by many cultures for thousands of years. All round it’s a good plant to add to the diet.