Sunday, 22 June 2014

cumquat cake

i pruned my cumquat tree's looks so much better now that its heavily fruited lower branches have been removed because the bit of trunk now showing gives the garden a bit of depth and you can see my not so discrete anymore for eating stinging nettle patch..i don't know why it took me so long to work out that a good prune was in order because its demeanor's been bugging me for quite some time..

i find pruning's always a bit of a mixed blessing..there's the good bit where i like to stand back and admire my handy work and congratulate myself on another job sorted..but then slowly my eyes dare wander towards the mountain of prunings and suddenly my mood this case there was the old classic pruner's branch disposal dilemma to contend with as well as the dozens of cumquats that needed removing from the branches..

dealing with the branches was easy..i dragged them round the back and i'm ignoring them..for the moment..i made a cumquat cake for afternoon tea with some of the cumquats..such a lovely treat to have with a cup of tea after all my hard work..i pruned my roses too..probably a bit early but i'm one of those people who, once they get a pair of secateurs in hand, are a gardening menace..anyway, to use up the stash of cumquats i've ended up with i'd have to make about a dozen cumquat cakes..even i can't eat that much cake..

cumquat cake
recipe adapted from here


300 gms deseeded cumquats
150 gms golden castor sugar
150 gms ground almonds (commercially packaged)
50 gms ground almonds (not too fine with skin on)
100 gms dessicated coconut
1/2 teaspoon sodium bicarbonate
2 tablespoons self raising flour
3 eggs


~ mix all dry ingredients together
~ process cumquats until pureed
~ whisk eggs and sugar until pale and frothy
~ gently mix dry ingredients and cumquat puree into egg and sugar mixture with a metal spoon
~ pour into greased and lined 22-23 cm spring form tin
~ bake 180 deg c for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake just comes out clean


~ this cake has a slight bitterness which i like and it's not very sweet so the cumquat syrup (i used my cumquat cordial which is thick enough to use as a syrup) i served it with was a welcome addition..and it's versatile and quick and really easy to make..

happy monday monday everyone..x

Saturday, 21 June 2014

dandelion, stinging nettle and radish leaf salad

i don't have any typical salad greens such as lettuce, rocket or spinach growing in my garden at the moment
seeds planted in april didn't germinate
and i haven't managed to plant any more
but they're lots of stinging nettles, new dandelion leaves (after autumn pruning) and leaves from freshly picked radishes

to make the salad

boil the dandelion leaves for five minutes in a few tablespoons of water
add radish leaves and cook briefly
then add nettles and boil for a minute or so
drain leaves over a bowl
pour boiled green's water into a glass
and drink
dress the greens with lemon juice, olive oil and salt
and eat

happy winter solstice

Sunday, 15 June 2014

that's how i like it!

simple and rustic
that's how i like it
fussy architectural food landscapes
 smoke and mirrors chemistry experiments
three acts of shakespeare on a plate
are not my thing
and forget about 
latest craze religious fervour food
i'd rather have
a toasted cheese sandwich* 

row 1: hummous with homegrown tomato and mint
row 2: spelt buttermilk pancakes with water poached pears and fresh raspberries and 
roasted pumpkin and capsicum soup with homemade stock
row 3: individual moussakas
row 4: herbs de provence (a gift from france) and cheese scone and 
minted haloumi with the last of summer's tomatoes and cucumber
and lots of different loaves of bread..

note * but it would have to be good bread, preferably home made sourdough, and the best cheese i can afford

what's your thing?

Saturday, 7 June 2014

may in my garden

i don't think i'd fully appreciated how much work i actually do in my garden until i came back from a recent two week trip..nettles, flanders poppies and borage plants had literally taken over my front garden as well as the degraded and in need of resurfacing gravel paths..most of the seeds i'd planted a week or two prior to leaving hadn't come up..kikuyu was sprouting long tentacles from next door's lawn and from my own lawn into my various garden beds..and my broccoli seedlings had a sporty polka dot look from being eaten by cabbage moth larvae..but my neighbour's father had mown my lawns..they'd well and truly needed mowing before i went away but i'd not had time..thanks're a legend!

the hard yakka

~ broad beans, radish, onion, oak leaf lettuce, carrot and sweet pea seeds directly in soil (only the broad beans and radish survived my trip away)
~ ruby chard, dill and mustard greens in a seed raising box (the chard survived)
~ broccoli and pansy seedlings
~ relocated self sown cornflower seedlings


~ lemon verbena

~ eggplant bushes even though they were still producing flowers
~ parsley and rainbow chard
~ lots of the ever over abundant nettles, flanders poppy and borage 
~ invasive kikuyu from my next door neighbour and from around vegetable garden beds that threaten to take over my hard won vegetable garden beds
~ carnations from the window box 

~ vegetable garden bed where parsley and rainbow chard were removed and a section of the same garden bed that i have been trying to rehabilitate with compost and manure (it was covered in concrete up until a few years ago)

~ continue to compost all kitchen scraps and to cut up and compost all garden waste apart from invasive bulbs such as oxalis
~ composted and manured window box for resowing

extended new vegetable garden bed
~ i covered the remaining area in another op shop purchased woollen blanket ($4) and started adding kitchen waste and cut up garden material

the rewards

~ green beans (blue lake)..the plants are still producing a handful of beans every few days, radishes, egg plant, spring onions, chilli and rainbow chard
~ parsley, basil, celery, tarragon, rosemary, thyme, mint, sage, chives, lemon balm, comfrey, pineapple sage, lavender, nettles, borage flowers, lilac flowers, marigold petals, violets, roses, hollyhock flowers, nasturtium leaves and flowers
~ rhubarb, the last of the pomegranate, cumquat and alpine strawberries

more hard yakka

need to
~ pick chillies for drying
~ plant peas, spinach, coriander, beetroot, mustard greens and potatoes (check seasonal suitability first)
~ plant a manure crop on bed where parsley and rainbow chard were removed and in the area being rehabilitated
~ replant onion, lettuce, carrot and sweet pea seeds 
_ replant carnations in window boxes
~ finish tidying garden edges
~ stay on top of weeding
~ remove bean plants when production ceases
~ pick crabapples
~ transplant lemon verbena and black currant bush
~ mow lawn (i use a hand mower)

rainbow chard, rice and lemon soup*
tea with hazel


1-2 bunches of young rainbow chard well washed
6 spring onions cut fine
3 celery stalks cut fine
6 cloves garlic cut fine
1/2 cup chopped parsley 
1/2 cup chopped celery leaves
1/4 cup torn mint leaves
1 cup arborio rice
2 litres stock (i used homemade)
juice of 1/2 lemon per serve
olive oil
salt and pepper


~ remove stalks from chard and cut into approximately 2 cms pieces and cut leaves to desired size
~ in a large saucepan heat a few tablespoons of olive oil, add chard stalks, celery stalks, and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes
~ add rice and cook for a few more minutes
~ add stock and bring to the boil and cook until the rice is al dente
~ add chard and celery leaves and mint and parsley and cook until the leaves are softened
~ add salt and pepper to taste


~ drizzle each bowl with lemon juice and a little oil

rainbow chard coloured broth


* this soup was inspired by a greek dish called spanakorizo (spinach rice)..i love the flavour of dill but i didn't have any growing so i added mint instead
** all the greens were from my garden

see you next month for 'june in my garden'

Tuesday, 3 June 2014


how i love winter
it's been cold enough to
 celebrate the new season with an open fire
cook comforting food
and cosy up in one of my quilts i do love it 

apple, rhubarb and ginger crumble*
tea with hazel
serves 4


6 medium sized granny smith apples 
4 stalks rhubarb (i used homegrown)**
1-2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon (tbs) golden castor sugar
70 gms butter
70 gms castor sugar
70 gms moscovado sugar
70 gms plain flour
2 tbs oats


~ peel, core, cut each apple into 8 sections, and place in acidulated water
~ cut rhubarb into 4 cm pieces
~ place apple pieces in a large saucepan with 3-4 tbs water and cook over low heat stirring gently until the apples are al dente
~ place apples in greased oven proof dish along with rhubarb, ginger and sugar
~ rub the butter into the flour, sugar and oats and top the fruit with the crumble mix
~ bake at 180 deg c until the crumble is crisp and brown and the fruit underneath is bubbling


~ serve with cream, vanilla ice cream or as i prefer with a homemade vanilla custard


*   i've been making apple crumble for years using the same recipe but i changed a couple of things recently such as adding ginger instead of lemon to the fruit and oats to the crumble mix..i've tried adding oats before but not in such a small seems to make the topping adhere just the right amount so that it's biscuity and crunchier than my previous crumble..
**  at last i have the variety of rhubarb i want and like..the thinner stalked red last two attempts at growing it resulted in unnaturally zealous plants with green stalks that stayed green despite everything..i tried to love it but i was put off by the green gloop it cooked into so it had to go..

this in pristine condition enamel dish is a recent op shop purchase..

do you love winter too?