Lemon Verbena in the Kitchen Garden

March 31st, 2022

KITCHEN GARDEN  

LEMON VERBENA

Did you think that herbs were just for making tea?

Maybe not, but some herbs have endless uses, and this week I’m featuring the herb lemon verbena (Aloysia citriodora) that’s larger than you would expect to find in a herb garden so probably could fit into the back of a border but in a sunny location.

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Lemon verbena photo M Cannon
  • How would I describe the scent of lemon verbena?
I would say that lemon verbena has a bright, slightly sweet flavour with a strong hint of lemon.
The strong lemon scent of this herb is far less overpowering than the lemon flavor and fragrance of lemon balm, lemon thyme, lemon mint, and lemongrass.

What does it look like?

Lemon%20verbena%202.jpg
Lemon verbena is a vigorous growing deciduous shrub to 3 metres tall by 3 metres wide. 
The leaves are a lime green and lanceolate, and flowers appear in late spring until the end of summer almost. 
The flowers are white, quite small and appear in a panicle.
  • My plant is quite an old plant that I prune each winter to about 1 metre off the ground.

How to use lemon verbena?

  • As a flavouring in kombucha
  • Add leaves to a sorbet or ice-cream when making
  • Poach stone fruit in a sugar syrup with lemon verbena leaves
  • Infuse lemon verbena leaves in olive oil or vinegar-250 ml of olive oil with 6 leaves or to taste
  • Fish en papiotte with lemon verbena leaves

Corinne's Top Tip: 

Why not try  a gin and sonic with muddled lemon verbena. Made with half soda water and half tonic so less calories. 

Listen to the podcast.
Marianne is talking  Corinne Mossati, founder of  www.thegourmanticgarden.com
Gourmantic garden website. You can also follow Corinne for more delightful ideas on Instagram.

What is Mixed Spice in Spice it Up

March 31st, 2022

 SPICE IT UP

MIXED SPICE

The name 'mixed spice,' sounds 'oldie worldie' to me because it's not something that comes up in too many recipes these days. 

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Perhaps if your flicking through an old  Woman's Weekly recipe book, or the cookbook you used at school in home economics class, you might find it in the cakes and buns section.

 

What is mixed spice?

Mixed Spice is a sweet spice blend and is used in a variety of cakes, puddings, pies, breads and buns, biscuits, pancakes, cupcakes, gingerbreads, and even fruit salads.

Mixed spice has actually the following ground spices.

  • Cinnamon-two types, Sri Lankan cinnamon and cassia cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Ginger-to add brightness and freshness
  • Cloves-a very small amount.
  • Allspice-a spice all on its own which is actually a berry.
  • Coriander seeds, ground of course. Coriander is an amalgamating spice.

But what do you use if you can find it on the supermarket shelves?

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Melting Moment biscuits

Mixed spice quick alternative:

  • Cinnamon 1 tablespoon
  • Nutmeg     1 teaspoon
  • Ginger       1 teaspoon
  • Cloves       1/2 cloves
  • Coriander  2 teaspoons
 
Mixed%20spice.jpg
With the predominant flavor of cinnamon, it also makes a nice change to substitute this spice blend for anything calling for cinnamon for an added flavour boost.
Marianne is talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au
If you have any questions you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Lacto Fermented Vegetables in the Kitchen Garden

March 3rd, 2022

 KITCHEN GARDEN

LACTO-FERMENTATION

There are several ways to preserve food, these include freezing, drying, pickling and fermenting.

You may think that fermented foods are a recent trend, but in fact, fermenting food has been carried out for thousands of years.
Fermenting food is one way of preserving your ample supply of produce that's growing in your garden.

There are a few ways to ferment foods but lacto-fermentation is one of the easiest.
  • AVvXsEhk8kxfyko27NtqCYq5GYgxjg_sOScGpY7VFnJySHL7x6E1mnHJmgsr3bM5lSCtHiehMXTaTS8bQM7HHa0KHN4WEqJIbvg0U15xMF9DaG-yVPjLwAxhL9S77h1hnlczv8qwnv0NdWuP91NLKFovAlBqMhkYdTHoNu-We3EI6T8I1pVenMMWIm-yTexwYQ=w266-h400The term lacto-fermentation is a scary one and belies how simple it really is. It's unbelievably quick and easy.

So what is it?

Firstly the term wasn't derived for having to use milk in the process.
Lacto refers to the lactobacillus bacteria that does all the breaking down of the food.
Did you know that all vegetables are covered in the various strains of the good bacteria lactobacillus?
It does involve lactic acid in the process which is a good thing because lactic acid is a natural preservative.
  • What about the bad bacteria?
No problem, the brine that you submerge your vegetables in kill them off, while the lactobacillus survives to do the preserving work.
Using the correct salt to water ratio in your brine will ensure the safety of your lacto-fermentation.

How do you do it?

You can lacto-ferment most produce in yur garden.
 Beans, carrots, beetroot, and Corinne's favourite is using stalks of chard, nasturtium seeds.
You need salt but not iodised or table salt. Table salt will make the ferment go bad because of it's additives.
  • Use high quality sea-salt.

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    Photo: Corinne Mossati of Gourmantic Garden

    Non-chlorinated water, and no fluoride so will need to be filtered water.

  • Kilner jar or a glass jar with a lid.
  • Weights to submerge your ferment.
  • BASIC RULE: Brine solution is 2-3% salt.  
  • 2% brine:1 litre of water needs 20 grams of salt: 

Step by Step

  1. Collect your dry ingredients and add them to a dry sterile fermentation jar.
  2. Pour in the brine solution to cover the vegetables.
  3. Add a ceramic weight on top to keep the vegetables below the liquid.
  4. Burp the jar daily: this releases the gas.
  5. It will take 2-3 weeks during the summer months.
  6. Once it's ready, place it in the fridge to slow the ferment process.

Are you a chilli aficionado?

Perhaps you’re growing the world’s hottest chilli, Carolina Reaper or the second hottest, Ghost chilli?

But did you know that Carolina Reaper chilli is 200x hotter than a Jalapeno pepper?
But what do you do with all those chillies other than freeze them?

  • Why not make a chilli lacto-fermeneted sauce?
Follow the above steps then once you think the chillies are done, drain the brine and add other flavouring ingredients.
Blitz in a food processor.
 
To find out more, listen to the podcast.

I'm talking with Corinne Mossati, founder of the www.gourmanticgarden.com.au website.

If you have any questions you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com 

Indian Cooking Class in Spice It Up

December 24th, 2021

 SPICE IT UP

Indian Cooking Class

Forget those jar sauces and ready- made pastes that you can buy in supermarkets.
If you want a real curry, you’ll need to make it yourself but aren’t they complicated?

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  • Ian's spice kit is named after Christine Manfield's new cookbook called 'Indian Cooking Class.'

If you're a bit daunted by Indian recipes then would be chefs would find this very useful.
In this segment Ian takes us through what some of the most often used spices are in Indian cooking and why they are so important to Indian cuisine. 

Some of these are:

Ajowan seed

Methi or Fenugreek leaves.

Panch phora- a spice blend

Chaat masala is a spice blend containing cumin, black salt, fennel seed, amchur or green mango powder, and garam masala-(fennel,caraway, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and pepper) and Asafeotida..

Gunpowder spice blend.

  • I have now tried the 'butter chicken recipe twice for this book and give a 5 star rating. As good as if not better than restaurant butter chicken.

You start off making a roux with chick pea powder and canola oil

Then marinate chicken pieces in a spice blend that is made from a ginger/garlic paste, kashmiri chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala, sea salt flakes, methi, and cardamom ground. Add the spices to yoghurt and coat the chicken, then marinate for at least 4 hours.

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Butter Chicken-photos M Cannopn

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au

Well now you know what some of those weird sounding spices are that are used in Indian curries.

You don’t have to buy the book and the spice kit, but it’s a way to kickstart your armchair journey to the spices and curries of India.

If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Festive Drinks with Pineapple Sage in the Kitchen Garden

December 18th, 2021

 KITCHEN GARDEN

Festive Drinks with Pineapple Sage

I talk with Corinne Mossati about this wonderful culinary sage that is so useful in festive drinks.

You may be growing some lovely salvias in your garden but not realise that one of them in particular, can make a luscious and revitalising drink, just right for the festive season. 

Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) is in the Lamiaceae or mint family.

Found growing naturally in forests quite high up but does well along the east coast of Australia.

A fast growing small shrub to 1.5m, that suits most regions of Australia with large leaves that are, distinctly veined and a bright lime-green in colour.

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Salvia elegans-pineapple sage

Grow it in reasonably rich soil that has a good water holding capacity to keep it moving along during the warmest months of the year. Best in full sun.

Tip prune whenever you pass to keep your pineapple sage more compact and lush.

Flowers occur mainly in winter but will spot flower most of the year.

Let’s find out.

PLAY: Festive drinks with pineapple sage_8th December 202

That was Corinne Mossati founder and editor of the gourmantic garden and cocktails and bars websites.

Not only the leaves, but the flowers can be used to make drinks or flavour honey.

For a small 200ml jar, fill it up with pineapple sage flowers and then pour in the honey. Leave it to steep for one month and give it a give it a little stir every so often.

You can also use the flowers as garnish in salad, and because they have a pineapple flavour, they’ll make a fantastic addition to fruit salads, and sorbets.

Corinne's Tip:When you are working with aromatic plants, place the leaf on your palm, give it a little slap to release the volatile oils, before you garnish your cocktail, then inhale the aroma as you sip your drink.

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Corinne's Pineapple Sage Cocktail

Here are the links to the recipes Corinne mentions in the podcast:

 The Sage Cuban: Pineapple Sage Cocktail: http://www.cocktailsandbars.com/the-sage-cuban-pineapple-sage-cocktail/

Pineapple Sage Flower Honey: http://www.thegourmanticgarden.com/pineapple-sage-flower-honey/

Simple Syrup: http://www.cocktailsandbars.com/how-to-make-simple-syrup/

If you have any feedback why not write in or email www.realworldgardener.com

Small Space Gardening in the Kitchen Garden

November 7th, 2021

SMALL SPACE GARDENING-COURTYARD STYLE

Modern day gardens are much smaller than they used to be.

Many gardeners and would be gardeners, hanker for a produce filled garden with as many different edibles  as befits their lifestyle.
If you you only have a small space such as a paved courtyard or even just a balcony, but don’t know what to do next, this next segment will spur you onto creating your own oasis, without digging up the stones or pavers. 

Be inspired

  • Corinne has managed to squeeze in over 200 plants into a small paved courtyard-that doesn't even include duplicates of plants.
  • A good start is with recycling crates from your local council, to give you an idea of what works for you. Alternatively, plant into lots of containers that can be moved around to follow the sun.Then venture into raised garden beds.
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Making the right choice

  • Before any planting, determine the movement of the sun in your small space and  and note down the hours of sunlight and shade in each part of your small space/courtyard.
  • Choose those edibles that like all day full sun for those spots that get 6 hours plus of sunlight such as tomatoes.
  • Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, rocket, Swiss chard and kale, don't mind a bit of shade throughout the day if your have only 3-4 hours of sunlight. 
  • If you only have morning sun then choose vegetables such as carrots, celery, and dwarf beans.
  • For those spots with morning shade and afternoon sun, the choice is climbing cucumbers, climbing peas and beans. 
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Soil prep is key for Corinne.

  • Cucumbers_growing_on_a_string_lattice_structure.jpg
    Grow cucumbers on a lattice made of string.

     The raised garden beds are made up with homemade compost, worm castings and bought in compost and other organic material.

Think of vertical spaces

  • Think about growing vines like cucumbers and zucchinis and even nasturtiums, vertically.

 
Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.

I'm talking with Corinne Mossati drinks writer and founder of the gourmantic garden website. 

Don’t be put off by lack of space you may have because no space is too small to have plants, even if it’s just herbs on the kitchen windowsill.

If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Hidden Talents of Nasturtiums on Real World Gardener

October 5th, 2021

 Nasturtiums 

with Corinne Mossati

Quite often we gardener have flowering plants in the garden but never think about bringing them into the kitchen to make something.
They may be just fillers or self-seeders, but in this case, the nasturtium, has so many extra uses other than ornamental, you’ll be inspired to do something.

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Germinating  Nasturtium Seeds.
Plant the seeds in moist well drained soil, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged.
Corrine find it takes between 14-21 days.
 
Why not try the Alaska variety with variegated leaves, or 'Black Velvet' with deep red flowers and dark leaves.
The one pictured is growing in my garden, is 'Cherry Rose.'

Eating Nasturtiums-Corinnes'tips:

Leaves taste peppery and are great for adding with other greens to salads.
Why no try drying the leaves and grind them to a powder. 
When combined with salt you have a condiment to flavour food or crust the rim of your margeurita cocktail glass!
 
Nasturtium flowers are edible too.
Use them as you would zucchini flowers.
Nasturtium seeds are edible, often referred to as 'poor man's capers.'
Let’s find out more, listen to the podcast.
I'm speaking with Corinne Mossati, drinks writer and founder of The Gourmantic Garden: http://www.thegourmanticgarden.com
and Cocktails & Bars: http://www.cocktailsandbars.com

Her website tagline & hashtag “Grow It. Eat It. Drink It.” sums up Corinne’s garden and we look forward to more segments with Corinne.
If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Success with Coriander in the Kitchen Garden

September 18th, 2021

 THE KITCHEN GARDEN

SUCCESS WITH CORIANDER

Scientific name: Coriandrum sativum
I mentioned before that certain herbs that look alike and again I find myself talking about another herb that confuses people.
 
Australians refer to the seeds and leaf as coriander but in the northern hemisphere, the leaf is sometimes known as 'cilantro.'
Coriander is one of those herbs that people either love it or hate it.
Do you love it?
 
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Coriander leaves

Coriander is easy enough to grow but being in the carrot family,(Apiaceae) its green leafy tops can look not only like other herbs, but other vegetables!

  • My guest, Toni Salter in the podcast, calls it the 'primadonna' of herbs. 
There are many things it doesn't like and without a second glance, coriander will bolt to seed giving you not much leaf at all.
What causes it to bolt to seed?
  • Soil is too dry
  • Too little water at the right time.
  • Poor or impoverished soil.
  • Poor drainage in your herb garden.
  • Temperatures too warm for it's liking.
  • Temperatures too cold for it's liking
  • Transplanting-the worst sin.
Problems with germination?
Try soaking the seeds for a few hours in a shallow saucer of water.
  • TIP: Always sow the seeds directly into the position where it will grow.
Sow it into a container if you like, but keep it there.
Coriander loves rich fertile soil, much like your vegetables.
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Coriander seedlings

When to Sow in Australia

For sub-tropical and arid zones, you have August to September;
Temperate districts, sow the seeds from September until the end of November,
In cool temperate zones, October to November,

  • Sow your seeds about 1 cm deep, cover them and keep them moist.

Whether or not you sow them in rows, scatter them amongst your other veggies, or use them to grow as a shade plant for your lettuce, it really doesn’t matter.

Companion planting: plant coriander near your spinach to confuse the grasshoppers.
Let one or two plants go to seed. The flowers attract beneficial insects after which the coriander seeds can be harvested to use in cooking, once the seeds turn brown and crispy.
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Coriander seeds drying on plant
A must if you like Asian cooking and even though coriander looks like parsley, as soon as you smell it, you know what you’ve got.
 

Heaps of Coriander seeds are used in curries, tagines and many other Asian dishes.
In fact the whole herb, including the roots can be ground up to make a Thai Green Curry paste.

Let’s find out more
I'm talking with Toni Salter www.theveggielady.com.au
PLAY: Success with Coriander_8th September 2021

If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

 

Winter Savoryvs Thyme in Spice it Up

September 18th, 2021

 SPICE IT UP   

 SAVORY VS THYME

Often there’s a couple of herbs that look alike and even have similar flavour profiles.

If you had them growing together in the herb garden, you may even confuse the two because of how closely they look to each other.

Thyme is the better known herb in Australia, which from the 1950's was commonly used in soups, stews, scones and casseroles.
For some reason, savory is not very well known in Australia, but it’s commonly used America and England.
In England, and America, it's quite popular and in the US, winter savory is a key ingredient in the stuffing for the 'Thanksgiving Turkey.'
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If you rubbed both herbs without knowing which was which, you would most likely think they both were the same herb.

  • Winter savory, unlike thyme, is not sold as a cut herb in the produce aisle of your supermarket.
  • Confusingly there is a 'summer savory' which tends to die off in winter and usually not come back.

Looking after both herbs

With their tiny leaves, both herbs are adapted to the dry regions of the mediterranean. 
Both herbs are in the mint (Lamiaceae) family, but unlike mint, don't  feel you need to give either thyme or winter savory heaps of water with the exception of the hottest days in Australia's summers.
  • I've never seen the seeds of savory being sold however if you have a pot of winter savory that's overgrown and become leggy, follow these tips to refresh it.
  • Dividing the roots  in spring, will rejuvenate the plant.
  • Start off by trimming about a third of any wrapped or circling roots.
  • Divide the root ball into thirds or quarters, making sure that each section has a healthy piece of root and stems with green leaves attached.
  • Remove one-third of the top growth, and trim away any dead or damaged stems and leaves.
  • Re-pot into new containers and gift some to your friends.

But can you substitute one for the other?

Thyme has the volatile oil: thymol which is a strong natural antiseptic.  
wild%2Bthyme%2B2.jpg
Wild thyme growing amongst a rocky outcrop

You only need to use a small amount to get the flavour, and is a key ingredient in mixed herbs.

  • Did you know there are over 100 varieties of thyme?
  • The wild thyme of Provence is known for its strength of flavour. Think 'herbs de Provence' is a blend with this wild thyme.
The answer is yes, both herbs are interchangeable, but savoury is less pungent than thyme.
  • You will find winter savory, Satureja (sat-you-rea) montana, as a plant sold in most garden centres.
  • So time to get some of your own.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au

If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Growing Bananas part 1 in Kitchen Garden

June 25th, 2021

KITCHEN GARDEN

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Banana Growing parts 1 & 2

Did you know that bananas are the world's largest herb. Have you ever wondered if it would be possible to grow your own bananas?

 You may have seen the plants for sale in a couple of plant catalogues and thought to give it a try, but never got around to it.
Would it help if I told you that a number of gardeners around Australia already do it and it’s surprisingly not that difficult.
  • I'm growing the sugar banana or "Musa 'Ducasse.' The flower is pictured here and yes, it's a big plant.
  • The trunk is actually layers of tissue that are wrapped like a swiss roll.
The key to fruiting is keeping the amount of stems or suckers down to a manageable number so the plant doesn't take over your garden.
 
A good number is three which includes the mother plant which has an active flowers on it, then one sucker ,and a smaller sucker.
  • Get rid of all the others by chopping them to the ground.
Once the mother plant has finished flowering, it won't produce anymore, so cut the stem to the wrong and mulch it up for the garden.
 
Banana%2Bflower%2Band%2Bfruit%2B2.jpg
Banana 'Ducasse' growing in my garden photo M Cannon
 

NOTE: You have to buy banana plants from a QABN-Quality Approved Banana Nursery, that way you are buying a disease free plant.

You can't just take a sucker from somebody else's garden.

Bananas do like a lot of moisture so during periods of drought, the banana plant do not throw as many flowers.
 
The other suggestions which I thought was worth a try, is to bury some kitchen scraps in the ground near the main stem of your banana plant.
 
Have a listen to find out more.  
 

If you want more information about bananas why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

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