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That I don’t have a garden doesn’t mean I have to do without fresh herbs, fruit and veggies. Here’s a view of my balcony. ;)
On the drainpipe are hanging baskets with oregano, sage, strawberries, thyme and rosemary. On the little tiled table you see lavender (not sure it’s an edible variety though, when it gets awfully quiet here you’ll know it wasn’t ;) and in the back are a 3-coloured raspberry plant and blackberries.
And that’s not even the end of it. Outside of the picture are cherry tomato plants, red hot & sweet chili peppers and a yellow bell pepper. The fruits are an experiment but we have successfully grown vegetables on our balcony before.
We also have some additional herb plants within reach in the kitchen: parsley, basil and cilantro. But these usually don’t survive for very long.
Now I can’t join the club today because I didn’t cook up a recipe of Jamie’s, but it inspired me to post about our own little herb garden anyway.
It seems appropriate to conclude by recommending a recipe by Andy McDonald, the ‘vegetarian Jamie’, that’s an all-time favourite at our place: Beetroot risotto with herb oil (in Dutch). We usually substitute some of the stock for wine and since turning vegan I just leave out the Parmesan cheese or throw in a little soy cream and nutritional yeast.
I’m curious what Jamie’ll be cooking up tomorrow!
I hope it’s something vegan :)
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Join Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking with a food-related post!
Hooray, CSA season has started again!
Yesterday Mr Gnoe went to pick up our vegetable bag for the first time in 2011. It’s the 4th year we’ll be getting a bag of local organic veggies from Amelis’hof garden (formerly known as De Aardvlo) every week till Christmas. And the 3rd year I’m consistently logging them with a picture on Graasland.
For those of you wondering what CSA means — have you noticed the Glossary of terms on Graasland?
- Herb flowers
- Rapini (or turnip tops)
I already used some spinach and tomato in a pasta salad I had for lunch today. Those beautiful white flowers accompanied last night’s vegan pasta with white asparagus. So now I need to think about what to make of the rest… I guess it’s back to menu planning for Gnoe!
Some of you may have seen my FourSquare tweet last Friday in which I talked about picking up some CSA veggies… #confusing There’s another organic farm nearby from which we get additional vegetables: Groenekans. It’s different in that we aren’t ‘shareholders’ but we do pay a certain amount in advance which enables the farmer to invest in seedlings etc. It also varies from our regular, real CSA in that we get to pick our groceries from a list of availabilities, instead of receiving a surprise packet. And that’s exactly why it is such a good addition to our weekly mystery bag of Amelishof goodies. :)
Any tips on what to cook this week?
You won’t be surprised to hear that I was first in line today to receive our first veggie bag of the season ;) It has been cold so the people of Amelis’Hof are a bit worried that they won’t have enough vegetables to fulfill our needs in the next few weeks — but we’ve heard them utter these anxious thoughts in previous years and all turned out fine ;) Anyway, that’s part of the deal.
This bento grrl was VERY happy to find edible flowers among the greens :) It’s ramsons (daslook): usually over their prime at this time of year, but late now because of the cold. That’s why we haven’t had it before. Another first! The chilly weather does have its advantages ;) We put some ramson leaves in our salad this evening and it was nice. Tastes a bit like garlic chives, but gentler.
Most of today’s veggies will probably end up in a salad or something of the kind.
- herbs: thyme & marjoram
- bundlegarlic (?)
I’m one happy grrl.
Well, this bento really was an ordinary lunch bento and not meant for tonight, but because of the shooting star, moon behind the tree (houmous container behind mint) and peppermint planet, it made me think of summer nights. Especially together with my new dark furoshiki, as you can see on Flickr. Now I keep hearing ABBA’s song Summer Night City in my head with a different chorus line… who’s to say they are not subtitling the song Summer Night BENTO in this Japanese broadcast? :P
Left tier: apple, radish, container of houmous, a few pistachios, mint for tea, my very last special babybel from France (emmental), bruschettas and a peppermint candy for the end of the day.
Right tier: fresh kapucijner beans á la Provence (in tomato sauce with herbes de Provence, zucchini, shalot, leek and garlic), green beans (hiding behind grass divider), radishes, yellow cherry tomatoes, lettuce, parsley and… tsukemono of turnips (meiknol).
Making tsukemono (pickles) is a Japanese way to preserve food so you usually do that some time before you want to eat it. It is a side dish with totally different texture (bite) and flavour from the rest of your meal. When I say “Japanese ginger pickles” you’ll probably all know what I mean ;)
The mixture I used to make my turnip pickles contained rice vinegar, mirin (rice wine for cooking), a bit of lemon juice and some cayenne pepper because we’re out of shichimi powder. But before I mixed the dressing with the turnip I extracted water from the vegetables by coating them with salt en putting them in a colander for about 15 minutes. Next time I’ll really need to use less salt! After wiping the slices dry and mixing them with the dressing, I put the tsukemono in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight.
As you might have noticed by now, quite a bit of pre-preparation time went into this bento! Thankfully the kapucijner beans are a leftover from diner so the work had been done yesterday. It did take me some time because not only were the peas fresh and had to be taken out of their pods, we also never have any pre-composed herb mixtures. So I made the herbes de Provence myself.
And here’s another one of Gnoe’s tips! First I dried some thyme in the microwave. You just have to put the fresh herbs (without the woody parts) evenly between two layers of kitchen paper, about 3 minutes on 600 Wt. You know that they’re ready when they are crunchy to the touch. That’s all :)
Ingredients of herbes de Provence:
- 4 parts of thyme
- 4 parts of oregano (since we were out of marjoram)
- 4 parts of savory (bonenkruid in Dutch)
- 2 parts of rosemary
- 2 parts of basil
- 1 part of sage (salie)
- 1 part of tarragon (dragon)
You could also add fennel, chervil and — preferably — lavender if you have some, but I didn’t want to make my mixture too outrageous ;)
Summer Night Bento… for those of you who can’t get ABBA out of their heads either: here’s another cool version of the song in Wembley Stadium (1979). Enjoy :)
Here’s the recipe for the tzatziki that I took in bento #58. I’ts really easy to make and tastes great. A fresh dish that will make you think of vacation on any summer day!
- 1 organic cucumber
- 3,5 dl Greek yoghurt
(I like it full-cream)
- 1 piece of garlic
(2 if you wish)
- 2 table spoons of olive oil (extra virgine)
- 2 table spoons of fresh dill (finely cut); see Gnoe’s tip for cutting herbs below!
Wash and roughly grate the cucumber (including the skin). Because you’re not peeling the cuke, it’s really best to use organic! Put in a colander, sprinkle with salt en put a weight on it for half an hour. I often use a saucer and small pan filled with water to weigh something down.
In the meantime crush the garlic. Mix yoghurt with garlic, olive oil, dill and pepper to taste (blend by mixing). When the cucumber is ready it can be added to the mixture.
You can make tzatziki a while in advance if it’s kept refrigerated.
Use as a starter or side dish with salad and black olives (think mezze!), as vegetable dip, for a picnic or buffet — you can even put it on your sandwhich, but it will get soggy ;) I like to serve it with Turkish pide bread.
To give you an idea of the quantity: it’s about 4 servings as entree.
Gnoe’s tip for cutting herbs
An easy way to cut dill (or parsley) is putting the leaves in a cup and snip-snap with your kitchen scissors! You can’t use this method for all herbs though; e.g. basil leaves should be torn to allow their fragrances to appear.
Last but not least: I like the smoothness of a tzatziki that’s low on garlic but some people might want to use 2 pieces of garlic :-o In that case, remember my post with natural tips against garlic smell ;)