More May Garden Recipes: a Cocktail, a Salsa, and a Cheese

I’ve been on a total cooking spree these last few days.  The weather’s been bad and trying out new things from the garden totally saves my mood :-)

First things first, Booze.

I want to give this a cool name, but I’m terrible at naming things.  Hanging Garden, maybe?

Anyhow, it’s simple to make and tastes like spring and happiness.

Pour a healthy shot or two of gin into a glass, add lemon thyme, mint, and strawberry leaf and let it sit for an hour or so to really get the flavor in.  Add a healthy squeeze of lime, then flower ice cubes (fill the tray half-way up, freeze halfway, add whatever edible flower you like, then fill the rest of the way and freeze).  Fill with tonic water and garnish with lime.

 

Second recipe is just as easy, it’s a veggie salad you can put on anything…pasta, toast, chicken, whatever.  This time I put it on lettuce and fun stripey pasta.

Take yellow zucchini, tomato, garlic and dice the hell out of them.  Then add chopped pea leaves and shoots, japanese mustard greens and radish greens, rosemary and marjoram.  Stick on some salt and pepper, then mix in olive oil and lime juice.  It’s so good and takes like, 10 minutes to make.  It’s a good way to use things from the garden and deal with veggies that need to get used soon.

 

Finally, today I made paneer cheese with hyssop, rose petals and lemon thyme! I’m really damn proud of myself.  It’s totally easy, tastes incredible, and takes almost no time of active cooking (there are a few hours of waiting impatiently next to it, though :-)

 

I used this recipe here, with lime juice (and you do need 3-4 teaspoons if you use lime juice, 1-2 for vinegar.   Mixed in the herbs/flower petals in the colander, squeezed out the whey (I’m currently trying to make mysost with the whey, which is a Norwegian sweet cheese), and pressed the cheese down for 3 hours.

bring the milk to a boil and watch out, it will boil over ALL over the place. Quickly add the lime/lemon/vinegar and take off the heat. there’s a big bowl, the colander is in the bowl, then the linen, then the curd.

 

so pretty!

Thank you, Discworld!

after I took the photo I sprinkled on a bit of sea salt and pepper.

how cool is that???  The garden looks great right now, I’m going to have a ton of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries soon, and I also got a cowberry (preiselbeeren) bush which is covered in flowers right now.  I can’t wait!

May Garden Pasta for One

I’ve got an extra day off today so I decided to make something new from the garden and decided on pasta.  This time I used pea leaves and tendrils, radish greens, japanese mustard greens, viola petals, Spanish mint, hyssop, and marjoram from the garden, added olive oil, a splash of malt vinegar (only because I don’t have any lemons on hand) garlic, salt and pepper and let it sit while I boiled the noodles.  This takes exactly as long as it takes you to cook the noodles so if you’re in a hurry or don’t feel like cooking this is perfect.  You can make the dressing a few hours beforehand too, the longer it sits the better it will taste!  I also added a bit of parmesan cheese.   And again, this will work with any greens and herbs in your garden, I can absolutely recommend this combination though, the mint is really great in it.

 

about this much is a good amount for one person (about 3 centimeters high I guess)

so good.

The great thing about growing vegetables like peas, mustard and radish is that all parts of the plant are edible so you can use them in a ton of different ways.  Also, all three of them grow quickly and early, so you can get some fresh greens earlier on in the year!

And I do promise to do some more vintage sewing posts soon!  First rainy day I promise.  Enjoy the fine weather :-)

Spring Garden Eggs for One

Finally! my first meal from the garden this year!  Even though there aren’t any fruits and veg growing yet, there’s still a ton you can do with what’s available in early spring.

This morning I made eggs with sorrel, japanese mustard greens, lemon thyme and marjoram with viola garnish, and it was so good!  If you aren’t growing these in your garden, any greens and herbs will do (like nasturtium leaves, radish greens, and pea shoots, for example).


All you have to do is crack 2 eggs into a hot pan with a bit of olive oil in it, then add 2 chopped mustard leaves, one minced sorrel leaf, chopped marjoram, the thyme leaves and a bit of salt and pepper and wait till the eggs are almost cooked through.  Then flip, wait a second and they’re done! serve with brown bread and garnish with viola flowers.  I also added a bit of grated parmesan cheese.  I can’t think of a better way to start a day off :-)  Plus this takes MAXIMUM 5 minutes to make, so if you’re in a hurry or really hungry after work these are perfect.

et voila!

 

Flowers and Markets

The spring garden market is finally open!  I’ve been buying things bit by bit all week, and after a particularly crap morning chez doctor I decided to get the last few things taken care of :-)  I planted a ton of seeds but I wanted to try some new varieties and waiting for seeds to germinate really stresses me out :-)  The balcony is still a bit messy but you can at least see how everything is coming together.  Tomorrow I’ll clean everything up, buy the last bag of earth and set up the umbrella.

Here are some shots of Neumarkt and the flower market on Saturday and my balcony so far (click on the tabs for the gallery view!):

And that’s that for now!  I think I pretty much have everything I’ll want this summer, although I might run back to the market for some Peruvian sage that smells delicious, and if my chocolate mint doesn’t get sprouting soon I’ll get another one of those too.  I can’t even say how happy I am that spring is here! Hiking and gardening are here finally!

First Garden Update of the Year!

The weather is still more or less awful but it’s at least spring weather, and my garden is starting to look like something again!  All the seeds I ordered for this year have now arrived. Normally I use Reimer Seeds, but this year I also ordered some from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and I’m so stoked!  Both ship internationally and Reimer is a bit faster but the Baker Creek seed envelopes are hot:

 

As for what survived this year, almost all my herbs survived, as well as one blueberry bush, all my strawberry plants, my raspberry bush, japanese mustard, rose bush and pear tree; and the peas and watermelon radishes I planted a few weeks ago have sprouted and grown really quickly!  Yesterday I planted huckleberry, may queen lettuce, black from tula tomato and suyo long cucumbers.  I also bought a bunch of violets because I couldn’t wait another minute to have some color on the balcony!  The big garden market opens again next week and I hope to do some major damage to my bank account there as well :-)

The hardest part is being patient.  I usually spend April and May stalking my garden plants like, if I go away for 5 minutes they’ll suddenly decide to grow like hell :-)

Flowers and Fairs Part 2: ArtCologne

Today was Art Cologne, which is the world’s oldest art fair.  Normally it’s a mix of 20 and 21st century art, but this year it was definitely much more contemporary which is not really so much my thing.  Regardless, there were loads of interesting things to see, and the lovely Troy and Rehan are always fun to have along :-)  My favorite thing is taking photos in the reflections from the light display (the photo in the header of this blog is from last year :-) )  After a long afternoon of bizarre art we had kebab and called it a day.

Flowers and Fairs Part 1: TEFAF Maastricht

One of the nice things about my job is that I often get invited to art fairs in the area.  In the last month I’ve already been to two!  Last month was TEFAF in Maastricht and today was the radically different Art Cologne.

Tefaf is absolutely, mind-blowingly beautiful!  They fill the place to overflowing with fresh tulips of all kinds and have everything from furniture to classical art to sculputure to modern art. I rode up with one of my students and her husband and had an amazing afternoon people watching (this is a totally different crowd than other art fairs…mainly private collectors and dealers).  Afterwards we went in to the city for fritten and shopping for cheese, vla, fruity beer and toast sprinkles!  Maastricht is always fun, and is full of little bistros, eclectic shops and has a great walk on the medieval city walls.

I can’t wait to go again next year!

Spring Cleaning!

I am determined to get my apartment in order this spring if it kills me!  A few months ago I was cleaning out my closet and realized exactly how many bags of fabric scraps I had squirreled away in there and decided to do something about it.  I am absolutely incapable of throwing away fabric, no matter how little of it there is and I had accumulated a ton of silk, velvet, vintage fabric and linen bits over the years.  I also had a favorite blanket that had definitely seen better days (word to the wise, no matter how cold it is when you’re camping, or how tempting it is to hold your blanket over the  heater for a second to get some warmth in, don’t.  Unless circular burn marks are your thing.  :-)), so I decided to jazz it up.  I can’t believe I had never thought of this before!

Seriously though.  You may be thinking “how hard can sewing small rectangles into a big rectangle be?” The answer: really goddamn hard.  Just trust me when I tell you to measure the crap out of it after every row.

sorry for the lumpy bed, I couldn't be asked to actually make it correctly :-)

 

the back

Another thing I did to cut down on the scrap heap in my house is make a bean pillow for a friend of mine who has some health problems.  This one  is totally easy.

 

Sew a tube, inside out. Sew one end shut and flip it right side out.  Fill half-way with beans (or cherry pits), fold edges in and sew shut.  I also made a pillowcase for it to snazz it up a bit.  The pillow itself should be out of cotton (or a microwavable safe fabric, check before you use it!) and can be microwaved.  The beans keep the heat in really well.  You can also scent it with an essential oil if you like (I used sandalwood).

In other news, some new seeds for the garden have arrived!  I’ve decided to grow heirloom lettuce, cucumber and onion this year as well as huckleberry.  I can’t wait to get into the garden and start planning!  More on that next time :-)

so. excited.

 

Part Two: Vintage Cooking Tools and Misc.

Winter crafts.  I can’t even type it without cringing, but that’s what this post is about.   This time of year, Christmas is just over and the weather is usually pretty sucktastic, so I start looking for things to do in between Xbox marathons.  This is what I’ve been up to (all of them are really easy!)

Making vintage cooking tools from Christmas trees:

I’ve actually been making these for a while to use at medieval reenactments, since a friend of mine saw one in a medieval museum.  My clients are used to my bizarre requests by now (you have walnut trees? I need the  green ones!, for example) and the ones I’ve had for longer all know to bring me their christmas tree tops every year, so I was delighted to stumble across this in one of my vintage magazines.  This one is from the January1919 issue of Hilf Dir Selbst. If you’re wondering what that is, I’ve posted tea and mushroom recipes from it before (I now have a bunch of them!)

Click on the photos for a larger view:

the one on the left is finished, the one on the right is in progress

The instructions read:

“To Use a Christmas Tree

Before burning them, Christmas trees that have served their purpose  can be turned into kitchen utensils.  I find if you prepare the whisks in different sizes,you can completely subsitute them for the ones you can buy in the shop carved out of solid wood. They are especially good for taking laundry out of the pot.  You cut the top so that the only the teeth of the whisk remain, be careful that the wood doesn’t crack, see figure 2a.  Then each whisk  should be peeled with a sharp knife in the direction from the thickest part to the thinnest of the handle [if the wood is still green you can also peel it off with your fingers]. After peeling, leave the whisk for a while in hot, but not boiling water to soften it.  Then let it slowly dry in a mild temperature so it doesnt turn brown [I actually skip this step].  Then take sandpaper and sand it down until the whisk is smooth.”

I also rub mine down with olive oil to make it extra smooth.  These will beat eggs and cream like nothing else on earth!

Turning a Scarf into a Hood, 40′s Style:

So a few days ago I came across this post on Diary of A Vintage Girl and fell in love with her hood. I was even more excited to find that she got the idea from a collection of 1940′s fashion advice videos found here: British Pathe.  In addition to the headscarf video there’s advice on how to tie a turban, how to make slippers, tweaking your dresses from day to night, and making hats! The Day to Day frock video is my personal favorite.  Anyhow, I decided to try the scarf to hood idea and found a scarf I had that was wide enough to do so (it’s a little to wide, but this was only to test out). It took like 5 minutes over coffee at a friends house to stitch it. Also, I look like Little Red Riding Hood.

All you need to do is fold it in half (ends together) and stitch it down until the back of the “hood” reaches the bottom of the back of your neck.  With all the wind and rain it’s so useful, I’ve worn it every day since I made it!  Her’s totally looks better than mine, but next time I’m going to use a thicker and narrower scarf and see how that works out.  It would be great for my long-stretch hiking too!

And to wrap up, two of the highlights from Christmas:

Learning how to salt a sheep’s hide to prepare it for tanning at a friend’s house in Franconia. There were also giant jello shots and a trip to a 6th generation potter, but this is probably my favorite moment :-)

I was also gifted some 50′s christmas ornaments by my friend’s grandmother. I love them!

And in between Christmas and New Year’s I was invited to celebrate Spanish style with friends here in Köln. There were tortillas. And sausages cooked in flaming rum. Awesome!.

And that’s that! Have a great week!