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 🙂

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 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!

Roses and Jams

It’s been a while again, I’ve been more active over at my other blog blogging about my hiking adventures on the Jakobsweg.  The weather’s been rainy and cold for the past few weeks, so I decided to make some jam.  I have lots of roses in the garden right now so I decided to use those too.  I decided to try the Gelierzucker (a sugar-pectin mix) for the first time, but I’m not such a fan of it.  I love the process of making jam, it should take a little time and not be done in 3 minutes.  Gelierzucker feels like cheating to me. I chose berries because they’re the easiest, and many already have petin in them.   So if you want to go old school and make your own, here’s what I did, instructions are for normal sugar.

Forest berry and red rose

125 gr. blackberries

125 gr. raspberries

250 gr. strawberries

the petals from one rose (MAKE SURE ITS ORGANIC! normal roses from the shop are covered in chemicals. you don’t want to eat that.)

500 grams of sugar.

put all the ingredients into a pot and stirring constantly bring to a boil.  Let it boil while stirring for about 5 minutes.  Take off of the heat and cover.  Let it sit overnight or about 8 hours.  Then take off the cover, and while stirring bring it back to a boil for 5 to10 minutes, or when the bubbles start to sound “sticky”.  Then take off the heat, put in jars, and flip the jars on their lids for 5 minutes.  done!

 

Blueberry-cherry with red rose

250 g. blueberries

250 g. cherries

the petals of one rose

500 gr. cane sugar

exactly as above.

 

My biggest tip is that when it starts to spit hot jam at you, put the lid on the pot so it’s at a diagonal, top facing you.  You can keep stirring the jam behind it, and it will keep the boiling bits off your face and clothes. 🙂  I’m also planning on trying some of the vintage preserving recipes I posted a while back, and if this weather keeps up I’ll have plenty of time 🙂

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!

 

Signs of Life

Today I took advantage of the glorious sunny, warm weather to go out and do my first weeding of my balcony garden, and see which plants survived the winter.  I was surprised to find that all of them had some green buds on them, except for the annuals which were going to kick the bucket anyhow, and one of my raspberry bushes.  Here’s what’s growing now.

Spanish mint

 

Over the winter one of the spanish mint tendrils grew into a bucket of water. Despite the ice this winter, this is what it looks like now! I planted it and hope it grows!

 

Chocolate mint

 

German mint

 

Pear tree

 

Red roses (my other rose bush is budding too, but I forgot to take a picture)

 

Snapdragons and Chinese mustard (theres about 3 more mustard stalks growing that aren't pictured)

 

Alfalfa. this year it jumped to about 3 different pots, it's growing EVERYWHERE now

 

St. John's Wort

 

Raspberries

 

Chamomile. My chamomile and alfafa are like the Mongolian horde this year. I've got them both taking mass amounts of territory in my garden. I've been transplanting them to smaller pots to save space for my tomatoes.

 

Strawberries and more chamomile

 

Blueberries

 

More blueberries and snapdragons

 

My oregano plant is getting HUGE

 

Ivy and sea lavender. I swear to god if my lavender doesn't bloom again this year I'm going to give it a Very Stern Talking To

 

An alfalfa scouting party, hyssop, and a small bud of lovage (you can't see it here)

 

Rue, marjoram, and tarragon

 

 

There is nothing better than the first day cutting out the old stems on herb plants, the smell is incredible! I’ve really missed having dirt under my fingernails and smelling that green smell!  I know we’ve got a few more cold spells coming before spring really sets in, but today just washed away about 10 kilos of stress 🙂  Happy spring!

More from the Garden

Sorry it’s been so long, but I’ve been really busy lately with my trip to Hawaii and my seminars in Berlin…oh, and work 🙂

This is the first year I’ve been really happy about my garden’s yield! I thought I’d post some photos.  Here’s what I’m eating right now:

My Mr. Stripey tomatoes. The green sausage ones have been doing really well, but the pink accordion only had one tomato on it this year!

This was taken last week...I actually have three big peppers and a few smaller ones on the plant now

a green sausage tomato and one of my mini white cucumbers. I totally recommend growing both of them! the cukes are sweet and the tomatoes are a bit citrusy, so they taste nice together.

I’ve also just planted  a turnip and a beet from a bunch that a friend brought me from a friend’s garden (still with me? :-)) so that I can have the greens later on. They’re both doing really well, but I’m too lazy to go out and take a picture.

also, my herbs are in flower! my marjoram (above), hyssop and German mint all have purple flowers, so the balcony looks great right now!

my snapdragons have bloomed again

and my malve. I'm growing them to use as a dye plant, but I don't think I'll have enough this year. Let's hope!

bookshelves, crinolines and pumpkins

Two days ago my bookshelf finally caved under the pressures of life and committed suicide, taking about 150 books, my clothes rack fully loaded with wet laundry, three jars filled with coins and two knick knacks with it.  This of course happened at midnight, because these things never happen in the daytime when you’re awake and ready to deal with things.  Needless to say I’ve been spending my free time trying to bring some order back to my flat and yesterday evening, after 6 hours of hauling furniture, evicting spiders, moving books, vacuuming up broken glass and moving things to storage, I showered off the grime and rejoiced 🙂  Thanks to Carly donating an armchair and a real, solid bookshelf (which I hauled 8 blocks and up three flights of steps with only a wagon and an 80 year old neighbor. I rule.) I now have a reading corner!

 

my new reading corner!

view 2

I’m so excited!  In other news, it’s FREAKING HOT.   Which means I finally have a reason to wear my 50’s/60’s sundress!  Also, because I needed to get my hair out of my face, and also for the hell of it, I did my hair up too:

And finally, I have achieved green sausage tomato! They’re not what I expected, but I like them alot.  the one in the middle (the yellowish one) is the ripest.  I wanted to get the others off before the blossom end rot hit them, so I’m going to ripen them in the kitchen.  And, because it’s pretty, a pumpkin flower.

As crazy as it sounds, I grow pumpkin plants just for their flowers...

“A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin”

Ok, well, I only have the first three, but I’m not complaining.  In summer I hate to eat hot food, so this week I’ve been on a fruit and ice cream diet.   I also get bored really quickly, so I’m always trying to find a way to do different things with them.  Yesterday I made a blue fruit salad, using blueberries, blackberries, dragonfruit (I know, it’s white, but looks so good with the blue!), and you can top it with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or just have it plain.  It looked so good I took a picture

Dragon fruit is the most beautiful fruit ever…hot pink and lime green outside, pure white with black seeds inside.  It’s a cactus fruit, and is not too sweet, not too sour. If you haven’t tried one, you need to!

I also made a fruit cocktail:  cointreau, tonic and fresh raspberries in a frozen glass.  Heaven!

I also made some more pesto from the garden this time I had a ton more to choose from.  This one has nasturtium blooms and leaves, pea shoots and leaves, snapdragons, zucchini and pumpkin flower, gold oregano, spanish mint, marjoram, tarragon, hyssop, and a few radish greens, all from the garden! I added garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and peas from the market.

And, just so nothing’s missing: