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 🙂

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!

 

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 🙂

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!

 

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

 

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!

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...

Garden Tea

My balcony garden is slowly shaping up and I’ve finally been able to cook with some of my herbs in the past week!  I’ve been making a lot of iced tea lately and thought I would post my two favorites.  The jars are Bertoli pasta jars and give you the equivalent of one big glass of iced tea!

Black iced tea with orange peel and chocolate mint

Just put a sprig of chocolate mint and two teaspoons of sugar (I like cane sugar but use whatever) into the jar.  Then fill a tea bag with a tablespoon of black tea and a big pinch of orange peel. Add the bag and boiling water, stir and put the lid on.  When the tea has cooled a bit, pop it into the fridge and wait for it to chill.

Green iced tea with roses and Spanish mint

Put a few small rose buds and a tablespoon of green tea (I use Sencha gold) into a tea bag.  Put a sprig of Spanish mint and the tea bag into the jar.  Add water that’s off the boil and, if you want it sweet, two teaspoons of honey.  Stir, put on the lid, and when it’s a bit cooler put it into the fridge to chill.

Now all you need is a book :

And a place in the sun:  

Have a great Sunday!

Spring!

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted and I have no excuse, but today a combination of sunshine, a budding garden and two late cancellations gave me the afternoon to start working in my garden!  So far the winter casualties are 2 blueberry bushes and a rose bush, as well as my parsley; and the nut count from the resident airhead squirrel (aka. Chuck) equals 2 hazelnuts, 3 walnuts, a brazil nut and 5 almonds.

So far I’ve planted white habeneros, jalapenos and yellow bell peppers (I’m love the surprise when the cross pollinate, lets see how it goes 🙂 ) 2 hokkaido pumpkin plants, 2 pea plants, 3 mini white cucumber plants, 2 fig tomato, 3 white cherry tomato, parsely, snapdragons, dill, spring onions, and malve.  I’ve only done half the balcony today so tomorrow I’ll figure out what I want to do with the free space.  Also tomorrow I’m planning on turning a bunch of my empty Lush pots into seedling planters!

Also, I still have no idea how it is possible for me to wear a white shirt to garden and keep it clean, but somehow any tomato in the vicinity will levitate and splatter itself all over me.

Anyhow, here’s how it looks so far:


I’ve got other pictures of my garden from previous years up on flickr, just click on the link to the right and look in the Garden set.

I’ve also been working on a new spring coat, I’ll try to get pictures up in the next few days!