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!

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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 🙂

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 🙂

Herbs, Coiffures and Cupcakes

Sorry I haven’t posted here in a while, I’ve been posting over on my pilgrimage blog lately.

Today is one of the last nice weekends we’ll have before autumn hits, and I decided to use up some of the herbs from my garden to bake some bread.  This is THE best bread recipe EVER, and was devised by a good friend of mine, Nancy.  I’ve made a few adaptations (a handful of fresh herbs rather than 2 tablespoons of dill and only one tablespoon of sugar rather than two), otherwise it’s all hers.

I used red basil, gold oregano, lemon thyme and a bit of hyssop

Herb Batter Bread

3 1/4 c. all purpose flour or bread flour
2 pkgs. (or 4 1/2 tsp.) dry yeast
1 T granulated sugar
1 T dried minced onion
1 handful of fresh herbs
1 tsp. salt
8 oz. plain yogurt
1/2 c. water
1 egg
2 T butter or shortening

In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients, except 2 c. of the flour, and mix well.  In a small sauce pan heat yogurt, water and butter until it’s 120-130 degrees F.  Butter does not need to melt.  Add to dry mixture.  Add egg.  Mix until well moistened, then beat hard for 3 minutes until well blended.  Add enough of remaining flour to get a stiff batter.  Place into greased 1 1/2-2 qt. Casserole or deep pan or heat proof bowl.  Cover and let rise until doubled, approx. 1 hour.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from pan to rack.  Serve warm or cold.  Makes 1 loaf.

not the best looking bread I've made, but it tastes amazing. It's really hard to evenly bake bread in a tiny toaster oven. I'm going to have to make a few more loaves to see if I can figure out a good tactic.

Imade some lemon-garlic butter to eat with the bread, basically, butter, squeeze a bit of lemon juice into it, add some diced garlic, a bit of salt and black pepper.  I also added some hyssop leaves to it, because I have way too many herbs and need to use them!  I’d be more specific with the measurements, but it’s better if you decide based on how sour or garlicy you like things.

I'm going to have this on baked potatoes tomorrow too

Then it was out to meet the fabulous Nina.  We decided to get dressed up and go for cupcakes, so I went with a 50’s vibe.  To do the hair, I roughly followed the directions of the second video here, and for the back I gave it a half twist, pulled it straight to the top and pinned the hell out of it.  It doesn’t take long to do and is pretty simple.  Just do not scrimp on the hairspray if it’s hot and humid like today!  It didn’t stay in place as much as I had hoped.  Here’s how it turned out:

sorry it's off center...it's not easy taking photos of the back of your own head 🙂

and then it was off to Royal Cupcakes

And finally, I was pleasantly surprised to find a bunch of tomatoes had finally ripened!  I definitely need some salad today after all the sugar.

cream sausage, green sausage and black from Tula tomatoes.

And that’s that!  I may finish a vintage skirt I’ve been working on, but then again, I might just lay around and stare at the tv.  A perfect Saturday!

Nothing but Flowers 2: Project finished!

And here’s the second one! I’m using the top cover of the dvd player as a table for them.  I really like how they both turned out, I might just make this a theme. We’ll have to see how bored I get this winter:-)

Seriously, these are easy to make, and so much better than just dumping old electronics in the trash!

 

…Nothing but Flowers

On Sunday I finally got sick of having broken technology lying around my house waiting for me to call the garbage service, so I decided to do something with them.  After pulling an old dvd player and dvr to pieces, I decided to use their guts to make two techie plant pots.  It takes a bit of time to wait for the glue to dry before you can move on to the next step, but it’s totally easy and looks awesome!  The first one is done, I’ll post pictures of the second one when it’s done. Here’s how I did it.

Tools: wire cutters, hammer (for weight), phillips head screwdriver, rubber cement

Materials: insides of two dvd players, 4 corner flower pot

step one: glue the panels on. Make sure to let the glue dry properly before moving onto the next side. Trust me on this one.

I used the wires to fill in the missing spaces. I recommend doing three at a time, taping them into place until the glue sets a bit, and then moving on to the next three

and done!

 

Pickled and Jammed: Ways to pass a rainy day

Last weekend I got motivated and decided to jar everything I could get my hands on.  I then got smacked down with a cold and have been swimming in Law and Order reruns and hot tea, so I didn’t get around to posting them till now 🙂   The jam and cake are my own creation, but the pickled mushrooms and tomato sauce are from two vintage recipes I posted earlier.  I know there’s been a ton of food posts lately, but I’m on a bit of a fad with this right now and it’s the perfect time of year! I’m also trying out different things to do with my garden plants.  Salads are great but there’s so much more you can do! Here are the recipes in case you want to try them.

Peach Berry Jam (honestly the best jam I’ve ever made)

1 kilo peaches

a large handful of raspberries

juice from half a lime

1 kilo sugar (or a little less)

half a vanilla bean (or vanilla extract)

You make this just like the jam recipes I posted a few weeks ago, except this needs to be cooked much longer. Boil 10 minutes the first round, wait overnight,  then 20 to 30 or until it’s sticky.  I didn’t cook it as long as I would have for a thicker jam, as I was looking for something a bit more liquid to eat on cake.  The color is amazing and it tastes so good!  If you use a vanilla bean instead of extract, after boiling for the first time, put the vanilla bean to the mix for about 15 minutes and then remove.

I made WAY more than this...this is the extra jar. I love the color!

so once I had the jam, I decided I needed to use it to make some cake:

Whole Wheat Jam Cake

the smaller cake. I cut it in half before remembering to take the picture. Also, the cake is flipped upside down

(disclaimer…I’m not the most accurate measurer even when I’m baking. I’m a fan of the chaos cooking theory, so things might be a bit off…when in doubt, use your judgement)

Mix 200 grams of sugar with 120 grams of butter.  Beat two eggs and add.  In a separate bowl mix 200 grams of wheat flour with 8 grams of baking powder and add to the mix.  Now here’s the surprising bit. At the supermarket they didn’t have any small containers of regular milk, and I didn’t want a whole liter.  So I ended up using vanilla milk (Landliebe) instead of regular milk and vanilla and it was actually really good.  trust me on this one.  Anyhow, add 150 ml of vanilla milk to the mix, mix it all together and pour into cake or muffin forms.  So I made two cakes, one smaller that I added jam in the middle of (which ended up sinking through to the bottom and making a layer) and a big one that I marbled the jam into. Both were great so run with it!  for a normal sized cake bake for 30-40 minutes or 25 minutes for a smaller cake (my oven is a mini student oven with no settings for heat. If you’re a new baker, I’d go look at some basic cake recipes and follow their temperature and time recommendations.)  I strongly urge you to eat it warm. maybe even with ice cream if you’re feeling crazy.

After which I was desperate for something savory, so I went back to my post with translations from 1919 post-war recipes and decided to try the Mushrooms in Vinegar to Put on Bread, which is basically just pickled mushrooms.

I used minced garlic instead of horseradish and marjoram and hyssop from the garden instead of dill and they turned out AMAZING.  I also added some water to the vinegar (I think it was 1:1), which I strongly suggest.

And, as we’re looking for YET ANOTHER weekend of rain here in Cologne, I’m thinking about sewing some more vintage and doing something with my green tomatoes.  And speaking of tomatoes, my cream sausage and moonglow have put out a few ripe ones this week!

cream sausage and red basil

Moonglow. The color is the best part, it really is a pumpkin orange.

Enjoy!

Herbs and Rain clouds

Chances are, no matter where you live now, the weather’s pretty much shit.  You’re either roasting, or, like me, drowning in a never ending sea of freezing rain and cloudy skies.  It’s to the point now where even my garden has had enough of the rain and is starting to look like it normally does in September.  Which is not cool.

However, today I managed to scrape together enough veg to make a small salad, which thrilled the hell out of me.  It’s the first 100% mine salad I’ve had this year:

8 ball zucchini, cream sausage tomato, monkey face peppers, red basil, lemon thyme, and gold oregano. For dressing I just used a bit of olive oil, black pepper and balsamic vinegar (I put it on after the photo so you could see the colors)

Now probably the best bit of my garden is the herbs.  If you’re thinking about starting a container garden, start with them. Most of them are hardy, last all year in a mild winter, and can be used all the time! Also, you can use them on just about everything.  And when the weather is this bad I find making things from the garden is a good way to cheer myself up.  So I also made rolls with herbs:

this takes 5 minutes to make. Toast a bread roll, add cream cheese, a bit of vinaigrette, fresh herbs (I used marjoram, hyssop, lemon thyme, red basil and hyssop flowers) and squeeze half a lime over the whole thing. awesome.

And of course you need booze so I made a sort of pimped out gin and tonic:

to make: a bit of gin, a lot of tonic, Spanish mint (from the garden), juice from a slice of lime. garnish with raspberries and half a slice of lime.

and here are some photos of the balcony now (we had exactly 11 minutes of sun today, so you might see a stray sunbeam now and again), you can see how pissed off my tomato plants are looking:

8 ball zucchini. They're small but it's the first year I've managed to get any zucchini to grow at all. I was starting to take it personally.

my sad-looking moonglow and cream sausage tomatoes.

the herbs and strawberries are looking amazing though.

one of my mystery tomatoes. I'm thinking it's a mr. stripey.

monkey face peppers, which I bought only because of the name. Turns out they're really good, hot, but not scorching and a good flavor. I totally recommend growing these!

two of the mystery tomato plants turned out to be green sausage. Seriously if you're going to grow heirloom tomatoes, make sure you have a few from the "sausage" family. They grow quickly, produce early and A LOT, so while you're waiting for your other tomatoes to give up the goods, you can always have some of these to eat.

another mystery tomato, I'm hoping it's a Black from Tula

the bees have been making sweet love to my dahlias and marjoram flowers all summer.

Happy Saturday!

Teatime and Summer Garden

Hey all! sorry I haven’t posted here in so long, I’ve been blogging about my hike across Europe here: http://www.thetestofwisdom.wordpress.com

In the meantime my garden has really been doing well this year! I’ve got about 8 tomato bushes growing now, all different kinds (and due to the labels washing off I have no idea which ones 🙂 ).  I’ve also been making a LOT of iced tea with what’s on my balcony.  The rose and lemon thymes I got have been going into basically everything I eat, they’re ABSOLUTELY worth having on your balcony garden!

Today I’m making 2 kinds, an herbal mint tea and a  sencha-herb tea.

4 mint herbal tea

cinnamon mint

chocolate mint

spearmint

spanish mint

raspberry leaf

strawberry leaf

rose thyme

and honey.

Put in a tea bag, put tea bag in jar, add boiling water, stir in honey.  Put into the fridge, wait a while and voila!

 

Sencha-herb iced tea

2 pinches of sencha

a large sprig of rose thyme

2 small sprigs of lemon thyme

and honey.

not a very good picture

Follow the instructions above!

 

Below are some photos of how my balcony garden’s doing…you can see I got some motivation and painted the table!

nasturtiums, cinnamon mint, strawberry

hyssop (left) and lovage (right)

Rose thyme. you need some.

clover

The box of pretty. Normally I only grow plants I can use somehow, but this year I made an exception and got begonia (left), dahlias (middle...they're in between blooms right now, but are a dark pink and white), and heliotrope (right)

my snapdragons. they're not looking so good this year but as long as they keep blooming I'm happy!

(more or less) clockwise: mystery tomato, Spanish mint, spearmint, chocolate mint, frankincense, Blueberry, St. John's Wort, snapdragon, raspberry. the sprout at the bottom is a peach vine cantaloupe.

strawberry

marjoram. after 3 years of looking grim, it decided this year that it wants to LIVE.

tarragon, ivy, Spanish mint (seriously, I have way too much of this!)

moonglow tomato and red basil

cream sausage tomato. I love this variety (cream and green sausage) because the plants are bushy and you get TONS of tomatoes all summer from them!

gold oregano and lemon thyme. i use both of these pretty much every day! I'm thinking about transplanting the marjoram gone wild into this pot, as there's enough extra room for it to grow.

mystery tomato on left and right. The unknown ones will either be mr. stripey, black from tula, or green sausage. I'm thinking both of them are green sausage tomato because of the way they're growing outwards.

more mystery tomatoes. I think the one at the top will be mr. stripey or black from tula. the bottom right plant is a monkey face pepper plant, which is actually much taller and healthier than it looks in this photo. It's starting to bud.

red roses. it's still recovering from it's 3 week hiatus on the scaffolding, but I'm hoping it recovers enough to give me some roses this summer!

pear tree, rose, round zucchini. The zucchinis are looking good this year! I have hopes. Also, I've been informed that the reason my rose plant changed totally between summers is that the main plant is dead, and this is the the root it was grafted to, which probably won't bloom. I'm not sure if I'll pull it up or keep it. I kind of admire its balls.

blueberry and clover. I thought the blueberry had cooked to death on the scaffolding while my balcony was being fixed, but with some shade and a lot of water it came back to life.

view one

view 2

 

Have a great week!