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.

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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!

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

Raspberry Crumble Slice

One of the things I love about summer is all the lovely berries that are around at this time of year. My favourites are raspberries and blueberries. I enjoy making raspberry jam, using the berries in puddings and muffins and cakes, or adding them to cereal for breakfast. I picked the first of our blueberries yesterday! We have two blueberry bushes, which usually provide us with enough berries for the summer, as well as some for the freezer.

One of my favourite recipes is one that Mum used to make when we were kids. She would bake all her own cakes and biscuits, and we would always have yummy things to eat when we got home from school. Although this recipe is made with raspberry jam, you can use any jam. Sometimes I make it with homemade plum jam, which is just as nice.

Raspberry Crumble

Raspberry Crumble Slice

350g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
70g caster sugar
150g butter or non-dairy spread
1 egg
4 rounded tablespoons raspberry jam (or any other jam)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, then stir in the caster sugar. Rub in the butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Beat the egg and mix in lightly so the mixture is still crumbly. Divide the mixture in half and press half the mixture firmly into the base of a greased or baking paper-lined tin. Mix the cinnamon and jam together and spread over the base. Spread the rest of the crumbs over the jam, leaving the texture rough. Bake at 180ºC for half an hour. Cool in the tin, then cut into squares.

Garden Journal – May

Cody

May has been a sad month for us with the death of our beloved dog, Cody. After having her in our lives for fifteen happy years, her passing has left a big gap in our hearts and our home. I miss having her with me when I work in the garden. She used to lie in the sun and watch me while I weeded and planted, and sometimes she would come and help me dig. For many years, she loved to play ball in the backyard, or lie beneath the orange tree and chew her bone. She still enjoyed her daily walks right up until the end, but for the last few months, when she was home, she just enjoyed basking in the sun, with a token attempt at chasing a ball. We’re going to make a special place in the garden for Cody. Her presence will be felt in our home and garden for a long time, but I know that she is out there somewhere, free from her pain, running and having fun like she loved to do.

I haven’t done very much in the garden this month apart from weeding and pruning, and planting some more lettuces to replace the ones that got eaten by snails.

The delphiniums that I planted from seed last spring began flowering early in the month. The beautiful blue blooms have added some colour to the autumn garden.

Garden journal-May

Silverbeet, or Swiss chard, is a good staple to have in the veggie garden. It is a rich source of minerals and vitamins, including potassium, manganese, iron, folate, and vitamins A, C, E and K. The young leaves can be eaten raw in salads, and the mature leaves can be sautéed or cooked in vegetable dishes. Hunza Pie is one of my favourite ways to use silverbeet.

Hunza Pie

Pastry

2 cups wholemeal flour
140g butter or non-dairy spread
cold water to mix (about ¼ cup)

Filling

3 cups cooked brown rice
1 bunch silverbeet (6-8 stalks)
2 cups grated cheese
2 eggs
½ tsp curry powder
salt and pepper to taste

To make Pastry: Rub butter into flour. Add water and mix to form dough. Line pie plate with pastry and bake for 15 minutes at 160ºC.

To make filling: Lightly steam or sauté silverbeet until just wilted. Squeeze out moisture and roughly chop leaves and stalks. In a bowl, beat eggs. Add cooked rice, silverbeet, cheese and seasonings. Mix to combine. Spread in pastry shell and cook at 180ºC for 45 minutes.

Hunza Pie

Hunza Pie2

Garden Journal – November

November is a lovely time in the garden. Late spring and everything is green. Things are beginning to grow quickly now, including the weeds! The gardens are bursting with colour, and my favourite flower, the foxglove, is blooming beautifully. The sage bush is growing nicely and should have plenty of leaves to pick next month for making sage and apple stuffing balls to have with our Christmas dinner. Our strawberries are prolific this month, giving me an opportunity to make one of my favourite desserts – strawberry shortcake. It is a quick, easy recipe, and very delicious!

Strawberry Shortcake

225g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
125g butter (or dairy-free spread)
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter. Beat egg and sugar until thick, then mix into dry ingredients. Knead into a ball. Press into a greased or paper lined sponge roll tin. Bake for 20 minutes at 190ºC.
Top with strawberries and serve with yoghurt, whipped cream, or ice cream.

Garden Journal – October

Despite October being very windy, it was a pretty month in the garden with lots of plants coming into flower. The air was filled with the sweet scent of orange blossom, the lavender was abuzz with bees, and the maple tree was stunning with sunlight shining through its dark red leaves. Lemons are abundant in my garden at the moment, and I have included a recipe for my favourite lemon curd cake. Enjoy!

Lemon Curd Cake

Lemon Curd (makes 3 cups)

4 lemons
100g butter
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, beaten

Place grated zest and juice of lemons, butter cut into small pieces, sugar, and eggs in a saucepan. Cook on a medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Cool, stirring occasionally until thick and glossy. Mixture will thicken further when placed in fridge for a few hours.

Cake

2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup sugar
100g butter, chopped into small pieces
3 eggs
1 cup of lemon curd
Icing sugar for dusting

Rub together self-raising flour, sugar and butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add eggs and mix to combine. Grease and line a spring-form tin with baking paper. Press three-quarters of the mixture into the base of the tin. Spread over 1 cup of the cooled lemon curd, then spread over the remaining cake mixture. It can be a little sticky, so dust your hands with flour, then press out small pieces at a time and place on top of lemon curd.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes at 180ºC. Cool in tin before removing. Dust with icing sugar and serve with an extra spoon of lemon curd drizzled over the top. Delicious!