Tag Archives: garlic

Summer Recipes

basil
Basil ‘Genovese Giant’

This time of year I have more basil than I know what to do with. And who doesn’t love pesto? This time I decided to make a batch that could also be consumed by the vegans in our family.

Vegan Basil Pesto

Makes approximately 300 grams
109 Calories per tablespoon (15 grams)

I substituted miso paste for the traditional Parmesan cheese. You can use either red or white miso, whichever is your preference. If you like your pesto saltier, add a little more miso to taste.

Ingredients

  • 2 tightly packed handfuls of fresh basil leaves (about 70 grams)
  • 3 large cloves of garlic
  • ¬Ĺ cup pine nuts (70 grams)
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste

Process

Throw everything except for the olive oil into a food processor and blend thoroughly. Then with the machine still running, gradually add the olive oil until the required consistency is reached.

pesto

If you like your basil chunkier, I’d suggest making it the conventional way, using a pestle and mortar.

Pesto can be kept in the fridge for several weeks. Spoon it into a decent-sized jar and pour on a thin film of olive oil. This will prevent the top discolouring – you can just stir it in each time you use it. It’s pretty yummy though… can’t see my batch lasting long.

You can also freeze small portions of pesto in an ice-cube tray then keep free-flow in your freezer for those winter months when you don’t have the luxury of fresh basil in your garden. It’s great with pasta, or as an addition to just about anything. ūüôā

 

Tangy Vegan Curry

Vegan curry with Basmati rice and roti
Tangy Vegan curry with Basmati rice and Roti

Serves 4

This curry could be adapted to use any combination of vegetables, but to my personal taste, is enhanced if potato is included.

We had a surplus of zucchini and had to dispose of some tomato plants that weren’t surviving very well in the heat and dryness of our front porch – hence the green tomatoes.¬†¬† Ripe, red tomatoes would do just as well, as would using tofu in the mix.

The mix of vegetables in the curry is about 1/3 potatoes, 1/3 zucchini and 1/3 green tomatoes.

I served this curry with white Basmati rice and freshly-made Roti.

Ingredients

  • Potatoes (a good floury variety)
  • Green tomatoes
  • Zucchini (starchy Costata Romanesco is ideal)
  • 1 medium onion (finely sliced)
  • Sunflower oil
  • Freshly crushed garlic (2 or 3 cloves)
  • Fresh chili to taste (I prefer Habanero)
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon juice (1/2 large or 1 smallish lemon)

Preparation

Chilli, spices, garlic and onion

Habanero chilli, spices and crushed garlic
Habanero chilli, spices and crushed garlic

Finely chop the chilli, measure the spices, crush the garlic and slice the onion evenly, ahead of time.  This will enable the curry to be cooked quickly, which is important if you wish to retain the best features of the ingredients.

Potatoes

Sauteed potatoes
Sauteed potatoes

Peel and dice about 3 medium sized potatoes and sauté them in  a little oil until they are cooked through and have started to develop a crispy golden coating.  Remove these from the pan and set aside.

Zucchini

Sautéed zucchini
Sautéed zucchini

Do the same with the zucchinis.¬† Slice them into chunky pieces and¬†saut√© them in a little hot oil until they are ‘just’ beginning to cook through and have developed a golden colouring.¬† Set these aside, also.

Green Tomatoes

Roughly chopped green tomatoes
Roughly chopped green tomatoes

Peel and roughly chop the green tomatoes.¬† They can be irregular in size as long as they aren’t too thick – they will soon soften once they are added to the curry.

Method

Wipe out the pan, add a couple of tablespoons of oil and raise the heat.  When it is good and hot, add about a tablespoon of black mustard seeds and heat them until they start to pop.  Then add the turmeric, cumin, coriander seeds, chilli, ginger and lemon juice to the pan and cook for 1 minute.

Turn the heat down to less than half way and add the sliced onion.¬† Gently cook this until it turns transparent, but don’t over-cook it – you want to still be able to see the slices in the curry.¬† About half way through this cooking process, stir in the crushed garlic so that it has the chance to cook through.

Add the vegetables to the onion and spices and stir through
Add the vegetables to the onion and spices and stir through

When the onion is ready, add the potato, zucchini and green tomato.  Stir these through carefully, mixing them in with the spices and onion but taking care to keep the pieces intact.  Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and turn the heat down to low.

Gently cook until the tomatoes have softened, and the zucchini and potatoes are well-heated, stirring from time to time.  This should take no more than 20 minutes.

When the curry is cooked through, check for seasoning and serve.

End of February

Garden Update

The maize in the paddock next door is dry
The maize in the paddock next door is dry

It seems ages since I’ve posted anything.¬† February has been so busy and now that it’s almost over, I can’t think where the days went to.¬† The sun is rising noticeably later and setting noticeably earlier.¬† The temperature range is still in the high 20s to low 30s Celsius, but there is the ‘smell’ of Autumn in the air. It has been extremely humid, and almost unbearable for sleeping at night.¬† During the hottest parts of the day I still stay inside where it’s shady and much cooler.

The maize in the paddock next door has dried to a pale golden colour and rattles in the wind.  The days are loud with the clicking of cicadas, and the nights with the more musical chirping of black field crickets.

Much has been happening in the garden, including our banana flowering for the first time, tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes, and a very good crop of garlic.¬† It’s been extremely dry, and sadly, I fear that some of the newer small shrubs may have been lost – many are looking very dry and shriveled up and it’s just about impossible to water them as the earth has become so dry and hard.¬† Large cracks are spreading in some places, and there are many patches where the grass has completely dried off.¬† The pumpkins and squashes are dying back and we’ve given up on our zucchinis.¬† There have been just too many of them.

In the vegetable garden, our best crops at the moment are basil, peas, silver beet, the last tomatoes, beetroot and chilli peppers.¬† We have a new batch of scarlet runners that look pretty healthy and the passion fruit are dropping from the vine.¬† I am always amazed at how lushly basil grows, even when it’s so dry.

Banana ‘Mons Mari’

Banana with first sign of flower spike.
Banana with first sign of flower spike.

The most exciting development has been our banana ‘Mons Mari‘ flowering for the very first time.¬† I observed the very first spike of purple (which was the beginning of the flower stalk) on Monday 03 February.

This plant has been in our garden since April 2011 – I realise now that we didn’t plant it in a very good place – it’s exposed to the wind from the North and is also in very poor soil.

The flower stalk appears out of the centre once the plant is fully grown, hanging down as the flower develops.  The male flower develops at the end of the flower stalk creating a bell, with the female flowers spiralling around the stem.

The bananas just keep on forming!
The bananas just keep on forming!

Nevertheless, it has produced an amazing flower stalk of small bananas with more still forming.  We counted 170 the last time we checked Рand remarkably this is only 3 weeks or so since the flower first appeared.

Tomatoes

A selection of tomatoes from the garden
A selection of tomatoes from the garden

We’ve had so many tomatoes that I couldn’t keep up with picking them.¬† The most successful have been the heirloom varieties, ‘Cherokee Purple‘, ‘Black Krim‘ and ‘Black from Tula‘, and the cherry tomato, ‘Suncherry’.

The latter have been dropping to the ground like berries and to be honest, we haven’t kept up with them.¬† I also grew ‘Bloody Butcher‘ and this was a very nice, smaller tomato, but nothing really beats the taste of the big beauties.¬† Some of the tomatoes were tunneled into by caterpillars, but not too badly.¬† And this year all have ripened, so I won’t be making any Green Tomato Chutney.

Left to Right: Spicy tomato sauces, Greek tomato paste, Tomato sauce
Left to Right: Spicy tomato sauce, Greek tomato paste, Tomato sauce

I’ve ended up turning just about all the excess tomatoes (and there have been kilos of them!) into tomato concentrate and tomato sauces.¬† I’m really pleased with a couple of recipes, so will post these in the near future.

This year is the first time I’ve tired making¬† tomato concentrate.¬† I tried two recipes – a plain one and a Greek version.¬† The taste of both, compared with the tomato paste you can purchase commercially, is far superior.¬† Sweet, tangy, fragrant and rich with the flavour of tomatoes that have been ripening in the sun.

Garlic

Garden bulbs hanging on the fence to ripen
Garden bulbs hanging on the fence to ripen

I’ve grown garlic for three years now at South Head and this is the best crop I’ve harvested.¬† There are more than 30 bulbs, a few of which I’ve left in the ground to mature a little longer.

I’ve read that garlic grows to its own conditions, which means that each year, if you use cloves from your own crop, the results will be better.¬† I love it that I can grow enough garlic to last an entire year.¬† We were literally turning the last of our 2013 garlic cloves into paste on the same day as we lifted the first bulb for 2014.

Caterpillars, Leaves and Seeds

Image

Today started out clear, sunny and calm, but it clouded over as the day progressed.¬† It’s clearer now, but there is a storm traveling up from the South Island, and although it’s unlikely to travel this far north, we have been experiencing very strong South-Westerly winds, as can be seen by the cloud patterns to the west.

Our planned excursion to Helensville this morning was aborted half way there, as the road was closed due to a truck having rolled on one of the corners.  Rather than wait around for an hour or more for the tow truck to arrive and sort things out, we decided to head back home.

I spent some time this afternoon cutting back the ratty leaves on my tomatoes.¬† I spotted a couple of cabbage looper caterpillars, Trichoplusia ni, and picked them off.¬† I’ve posted images of these on the Nature Watch NZ site.¬† I love this site as it’s helped me to identify many of the unfamiliar bugs and plants I’ve come across since we’ve lived at South Head.

But I digress.¬† Last summer these caterpillars wrought havoc on my tomatoes – not only did they eat the leaves, which isn’t too much of a problem in itself, but they also like to tunnel into the actual tomatoes and many were spoiled.¬† From what I’ve read, I suspect that my tomato plants are becoming vulnerable due to there not having been any rainfall since Christmas.¬† It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, but if not, we’ll have to give our garden a decent watering.

Our hens like to eat the caterpillars, so it is with some satisfaction that I feed them any that I find.

Garlic

Image

The photo above shows how little garlic we have left!¬† But the garlic we harvested around this time in 2013 has lasted all year so we haven’t had to purchase any.

Image

Our garlic plants aren’t looking that amazing …¬† again, the soil has become very dry.¬† We did dig in a decent amount of compost during the year, but with our light soil, it just seems to become absorbed really quickly.¬† And of course, I’ve been lazy about weeding. The garlic bulbs will be ready to lift and dry when the foliage dries off and turns brown.

Leaf Mulch

The tawny leaves that can be seen lying on the the soil amongst the plants are from the huge Lilly Pilly trees that line our back fence.¬† There doesn’t seem to be one time of the year that they don’t shed their leaves.¬† At first this used to drive me mad, but I’m accustomed to them now.¬† Every so often I make the effort to sweep them all up and add them to our compost heap.

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We’d also started a bag of leaves for leaf mulch – but I must admit that although I started out really keen to keep the leaves separate, I lost interest within a few days of starting the bag.

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Lemon Grass

Another garden task we tackled today was the removal of an overgrown lemon grass plant.¬† I must admit that when we purchased it as a precious, tiny plant three years ago, I thought that a spot in the vegetable garden would be just fine, but it’s grown out of proportion to what I’d expected.¬† And I worry when it’s seeding (as it has been for the last several weeks).

I use lemon grass from time to time when marinating prawns or cooking up something Asian, but I don’t tend to use it often enough to allow it free reign in my garden.

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So, Ben had the task of digging up this unfortunate plant and we’ll buy a new one at some point and decide on a more appropriate place somewhere else on the property.

Seed-Sowing

Other than that, I’ve had a pretty lazy day.¬† Ben had pulled out a row of bolting celery a couple of days ago, so we’ve sowed the following seeds in the space freed up by its removal: –

Carrot ‘Touchon’ (Daucus carota var sativa) , Mesclun Lettuce Mix (Lactuca sativa), Radish ‘Easter Egg’ (Raphanus sativus), Pea ‘Easy Peasy’ (Pisum sativum) and Organic Rocket (Eruca sativa).

For those not familiar with botanical names, you’ll notice the use of the word ‘sativa’ or versions of this in the names of all the seeds.¬† Sativum, Sativus, and Sativa are Latin botanical adjectives meaning ‘cultivated’, applied to certain seed-grown domestic crops.