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!


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!

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!


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!

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




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




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!

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...

cotton, earth and cocteaus

I can’t believe how crazy things have gotten all of the sudden! Between getting my intercultural trainer certification in Berlin, getting ready for my brother’s wedding in Hawaii, planning a visit to a friend in Luxembourg, preparing to teach my first intercultural communications seminar (also Berlin), dealing with tax stuff, and getting new courses here in Köln,  I’m freaking out a bit.  To deal with the stress, first of all, new vintage sewing project.  Second, gardening.  Third, I’m going on a total dream pop kick.  When things get stressful, it’s like ‘putting on an old sweater and snuggling under the blankets’ comforting.

Here’s what I’m making:

the red one in the middle

using the skirt on the right instead o the one in the original. Both are from 1932.

with this fabric from Max Mara. I think it will look hot with a white blouse with puff sleeves and a men's tie.

In other news, my Mr. Stripey and pink accordion tomatoes have started to grow actual tomatoes!  My green sausage ones are doing well, but I’m having a problem with blossom end rot.  I’ve put on some calcium rich organic fertilizer, so helpfully that helps things!  Also, there are snapdragons.

Here’s what I’m growing:

gave the creeping pumpkin from outer space a trim today. One of these days I'm going to wake up and find my entire flat overgrown and the plant standing over me, leering.

mr. stripey. best name for a tomato ever.

pink accordion tomato

my cucumber plant has finally decided to get its ass in gear

And here’s what I’m listening to:

It’s too damn hot to think of a title for this post.

One of my number one addictions is Lush, which means I’ve always got tons of empty conditioner pots laying around my bathroom.  I’ve been meaning to do something with them for a while, and finally got around to turning them into planters yesterday.   I wouldn’t use them for edible plants, but for other plants they work great!  I just took a nail and hammered holes into the bottom of the pots after cleaning them really well.  Hopefully today or tomorrow I’ll get the motivation to put holes in the side and run some rope through, and make a three-tiered hanging basket with the others.  I just think they look so much better than boring normal pots, and I get to reuse something instead of just chucking it in the recycling bin!

Some more early summer garden recipes: Pesto!

So I’m a bit over salads right now and had a brain wave…pesto!  This is perfect for when it’s too early for actual veggies yet, but you’ve got a bunch of herbs, edible flowers and veggie greens to choose from.  You can use anything edible from the garden, it requires no cooking (which in summer is awesome) and you can put it on anything from pasta to potatoes to chicken, or even just on bread.  I’m usually too lazy to actually cook after work, so I love things like this that you can just take out of the fridge, toss with something you made the day before and you can crack open a beer and lounge on the balcony with dinner in less than 10 minutes.

What I used (and again, you can use really anything edible from the garden.  What also tastes great is using feta instead of Parmesan, which will give you more of a spread than a pesto.  You can also add pine nuts which you always find in Genovese pesto, but I can honestly live without them if there’s a lot of other stuff in there):

From the garden: Two kinds of mustard greens, mustard flower, hyssop, Spanish mint, pumpkin flower, red rose petals (they added yellow and red flecks to the green pesto…beautiful! Also, yummy.),  gold oregano, tarragon, nasturtium greens, alfalfa greens, marjoram

From the store: olive oil, garlic cloves (lots), lime juice, a big hunk of Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, a teeny bit of red chili pepper.

Chuck it all into a blender, blend the heck out of it, and when it’s smooth you’re done!

I wanted to add some onion, but found out too late I didn’t actually have onions, so that was that.