In My Garden

Our garden is thriving beneath the hot summer sun for my last garden post for the year.

The sweet peas self-seeded in the garden where we planted them last year. They make a lovely show and are great for picking to put in a vase. The more you pick them, the more they flower. Our orange tree is laden with fruit that is just ready to start picking. We use the rosemary on baked potato wedges, and for adding to food on the barbecue.

Our front porch.

The hydrangea in our front garden is such a beautiful shade of blue.

I bought a punnet of this pretty little plant from the garden center and planted it in pots. It is called sisyrinchium.

The veggie garden is thriving. We have been picking broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spring onions, kale, spinach and lettuces, as well as lots of herbs. We planted potatoes for the first time this year and I can’t wait to see how they turn out. I also planted tomatoes, beans, beetroot, carrots, basil, cucumbers and pumpkin.

Calendulas self-seeded throughout the veggie garden. Although the flowers are edible and can be added to salads, I have never tried eating them. I do dry the flowers, though, to make infused oils for use in hand creams and body lotions and lip balms.

I bought a chocolate mint to plant in a pot. Amazingly the leaves taste exactly like peppermint chocolate and are great for adding a chocolate mint flavour to biscuits.

I love berry season. Our strawberries have done really well this year. This strawberry shortcake is one of my favourite desserts. It is delicious served warm with ice cream, or served cold for afternoon tea with a cup of coffee or tea.

Strawberry Shortcake

3 cups strawberries
250g butter or non-dairy substitute
200g sugar
2 eggs
400g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a deep-sided baking dish with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour and baking powder together and add to the creamed mixture. Mix until a soft dough forms.

Spoon half the mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Press down to evenly spread out the dough. Halve or quarter the strawberries (depending on their size) and spread them over the dough. Spoon over the remaining dough and press lightly with the back of a spoon to spread it evenly.

Bake for half an hour until golden brown on top. Serve warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar.

~ ~ ~

We hung fairy lights across the front of the garden studio to give it a festive feel.

Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Lime and Blueberry Cupcakes

Lime and Blueberry Cupcakes

We have had a lovely lot of limes from our tree over the last couple of months and I have been trying to come up with different ways to use them. I adore the smell of limes. It always reminds me of a lime pudding that we used to have when I was a child. I made these lime and blueberry cupcakes as an indulgent treat to have with a cup of tea (or coffee). It is a quick and easy recipe to make.

Ingredients

150g butter or non-dairy spread
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
150g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
zest and juice of 2 limes
1 cup blueberries

To make

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line muffin trays with paper cupcake cases.

Cream the butter and sugar. Mix in the eggs one at a time. Add the sifted flour and baking powder and mix to combine. Stir in the grated lime zest and juice, followed by the blueberries.

Divide the mixture between the paper cases. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool, then ice with lime frosting. Sprinkle a little grated lime zest on top of each cake.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Lime Frosting

60g softened butter or non-dairy spread
250g icing sugar
zest and juice of 1 lime

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the other ingredients and mix to a spreadable consistency. Spread or pipe the frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes.

Lime and Blueberry Cupcakes

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

This is another recipe I have been making to use some of the walnuts we collected on our walks.

Banana Oatmeal Muffin

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup milk
1 cup white flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup raw sugar
½ cup olive oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 large or 3 small bananas, mashed
¾ cup walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 180° C.

Combine oats and milk in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Add oil, beaten eggs, and vanilla essence to soaked mixture of oats and milk, and stir. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Mix in mashed bananas and walnut pieces.

Lightly oil muffin tins and fill with mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Zucchini Muffins

zucchini muffins

It is the hottest month of the year and our garden is flourishing. We have a glut of zucchinis at the moment. I have been making zucchini loaves and bakes, using them in stir-fries and salads, and making muffins. These muffins are good for putting in the freezer and taking out one or two at a time for lunches.

zucchinis

Ingredients:

1 egg
1 cup milk or dairy-free alternative (I used oat milk)
¼ cup oil
2 cups wholemeal flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 medium unpeeled zucchini
100g grated cheese or dairy-free alternative
1 small red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped herbs (I used parsley and garlic chives)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

To Make:

Preheat the oven to 180° C.

Whisk the egg and milk together, then stir in the oil. Add the flour, baking powder and salt, and stir to combine. Grate the zucchini, squeeze out excess moisture, and add to the mixture. Add the cheese, onion, and herbs and mix to combine. Spoon into lightly oiled, 12-hole muffin tin. Sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds. Bake for 35-40 minutes, covering tops after 30 minutes if they start to burn.

zucchini muffins

Mini Pumpkin Quiches

mini pumpkin quiches

This is a great recipe for using up leftover pumpkin. The little quiches, made in muffin pans, are a good finger food for parties, with Halloween just around the corner, or, as the days are getting warmer here in New Zealand, they are nice for taking on picnics.

Pastry

150 g wholemeal flour
150 g plain flour
150 g butter or dairy-free spread (I use Olivani)
cold water to mix

Sift the flours into a bowl. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add cold water a little at a time and mix until the dough forms a ball. Chill the pastry for half an hour before rolling it out.

Filling

1-2 cups cold mashed pumpkin
2 eggs
¼ cup milk or dairy-free alternative (I use oat milk)
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon savoury yeast flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 spring onions, chopped

Heat the oven to 200°C.
Whisk the eggs and milk together. Whisk in the pumpkin, then add all the other ingredients and mix.
Roll out the pastry and cut into 12 rounds, using a mug or cup. Grease the muffin tins with a little oil, then place a pastry round into each hole. Divide the filling between the rounds, being careful not to overflow. Any leftover filling can be used to make extra quiches with the leftover pastry. Cook for 30 minutes.

mini pumpkin quiches2

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

Peanut butter dog biscuits

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

As someone who loves food and enjoys cooking, I like to know that what I am eating is healthy and is made from good ingredients. I also want the same for our dog. Our puppy, Finn, absolutely loves his food and I want to make sure that he has a good diet that is nutritional, as well as tasty.

I have been trying out different dog food recipes for dog loaf, dog stew, and biscuits, which I have found on the internet and in books. After playing around with several dog biscuit recipes, I have adapted them to come up with one that Finn really loves, and which includes lots of healthy ingredients for him.

This recipe makes about 40 small biscuits. I keep them in the freezer so that they stay fresh, and take out a few each day for his lunch.

1 beaten egg
1 cup vegetable stock
2 cups wholemeal flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon virgin coconut oil
3 Tablespoons peanut butter with no added salt
½ cup chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Form into small balls and place on greased or paper-lined oven tray. Flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake for 45 minutes at 150ºC.

All gone

More please!

More please!

New Recipe Folder and Great-grandma Jozina’s Shortbread

If you love to cook and you’re anything like me, you probably have piles of recipes tucked away in a drawer, waiting to be tried out. I have manilla folders of recipes cut from magazines and scraps of paper with recipes scribbled down from television cooking shows. Often I’ll go to look for one and spend ages trying to find it. I had a recipe book in which I wrote my favourite recipes, but I filled it up a while ago. Recently, while browsing in a bookshop, I saw a lovely vintage-themed recipe folder that I couldn’t resist.

recipe folder

It has dividers that I can decorate with stickers and embellishments, lined pages for writing in, plain pages for pasting in handwritten recipes given to me by other people, and plastic sleeves for slipping in recipes saved from magazines. I also like that it’s a ring binder style so I can add more pages when I need to.

recipe folder

recipe folder 2

Now I just have to work my way through that big pile of recipes and put the ones that turn out nice into my lovely new recipe folder where I can find them easily.

The handwritten shortbread recipe was given to me by my mother, passed down from my great-grandmother, so the recipe has been around for quite some time. Nice to have with a cup of tea or coffee.

Great-grandma Jozina’s Shortbread

8 oz (225g) butter
4 oz (125g) icing sugar
13 oz (375g) plain flour
1 oz (25g) cornflour

Beat butter and icing sugar to a cream. Add flour and cornflour. Knead well.
Roll out to required thickness (¼ – ½ inch).
Cut into squares or fingers. Prick well with fork to stop rising.
Bake about 20 – 30 minutes at 160ºC (320ºF ) Be careful not to overcook underneath.
Cool on wire tray.

shortbread1