flowers

beet ’em, join ’em

Roasted Olive & Beetroot Salad with Nasturtiums

As soon as the weather makes its shift into cooler territory, I find it a bit tricky to eat the amount of raw salady stuff that I know I should. Enter the roasted salad. Such a great fall back plan, on a few different levels actually; there’s the fact that you can still manage to have a decent sized serve of leaves and veggies while your appetite is screaming out for something warming, and the other part I really like about roasted salad is the roasted bit. I’ve been doing an almost weekly ritual of roasting whatever is still in the fridge on a Saturday afternoon when we do the changeover from one Farmer’s Market haul to the next. Things can get a little sad if they’re still sitting on the shelf by the time the next load comes in to replace them, but roasting somehow gives slightly limp veggies a second chance to shine. I throw in overlooked potatoes, beetroot, carrots, onion, any left over bits of cauliflower or broccoli and then add in some fresh stuff from our veggie garden; herbs and greens, maybe the odd tomato – it all goes into a couple of baking pans with lots of olive oil and salt and pepper and comes out ready to supply a week’s worth of soups, salads, risotto, pasta, toasted sandwiches and pies. Just having a choice of roasted veggies ready to go from the fridge cuts the time in half to make something decent for lunch rather than eating sourdough toast 7 days a week! My resolve is only as strong as my prep time I’ve discovered.

So, in doing the roasting thing for a while, I started throwing in whatever I thought might make things a bit different from the week before and olives ended up as part of the deal. Have you had roasted olives before? I never had – they’re good. Here’s what happened when they meet the roasted beetroot and some broad beans I had tucked away in the freezer…

 

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Roasted Olive & Beetroot Salad with Nasturtiums

2-3 organic beets

1 cup organic wild, or kalamata olives

extra virgin olive oil

Himalayan salt flakes

freshly ground pepper

6-8 fresh organic beet leaves

1 cup organic broadbeans

generous handful of fresh organic herbs – chervil, dill, parsley

fresh organic nasturtiums

1/2 organic orange

Pre heat the oven to 190C.

Roast the washed and cut beetroot, along with the olives, a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper until the beet is tender.

Blanche the broad beans in boiling water and drain.

Add the roasted beets, olives, broad beans, beet leaves, herbs and nasturtiums to a large bowl and gently toss through with the roasting juices and oil from the beetroot.

 Squeeze the juice from 1/2 an orange over the salad, add salt and pepper to season, and tumble the salad out onto a serving plate. 

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hiding from summer

Blueberry, Calendula, Orange & Lavender Water

It has been so ridiculously hot here out on the hill. Not the kind of heat that encourages swimming or running through a sprinkler to cool off. Uh uh. This is the kind of heat you do everything you can to hide from. We’ve been getting up extra early to try and make everyone’s days a little easier to bear. The piggies get a new mud puddle to wallow in all day – they really know what they’re doing with mud as sunscreen. The big brown pony gets his summer rug on in the hope the brightness of the white fabric will reflect as much sun in the opposite direction as possible. He also gets a fly veil on for obvious reasons – not just because the whole get up makes him look like the horse equivalent of the Masked Avenger. ‘Cause it does. We set up a sprinkler for the geese and ducks – they love it. The chooks just stand on the periphery shouting out encouragement but never going in themselves, it’s like a stage show musical complete with synchronised swimming by the ducklings who are bobbing around like marshmallows in the ‘pool’. Amusement is always at hand out here, at least that’s never razored by the haze of heat.

We also wander around with a hose attached to the end of our arms for at least an hour each morning, watering anything that isn’t protected by drip irrigation. Once the greenhouse is thoroughly drenched and all the terracotta pots are brimming with their own reservoirs, we head inside to disappear behind the striped light of window blinds and the moments of relief as the fan oscillates past us on its constant back and forth and back again. And then it’s time to irrigate ourselves!

I’ve been making up all different kinds of fruit and flower waters this Summer, letting different ingredients grab my attention while we water the garden each morning. There’s been some really delicious combinations and gorgeous colours with the added bonus of all the vitamins and minerals from whatever fruits, flowers and herbs are swimming around in the jug.

There are so many options with the produce Summer offers –

cucumber / green apple / mint

strawberry / basil / lime

lemon / celery / grape

rosemary / apricot / ruby grapefruit

And because we’ve been making our own essential oils at home, I’ve been adding a splash of hydrosol too. Unfortunately our hydrosol is in the same little brown bottles as our essential oils and I introduced my Mum to some ‘lovely rosemary water’ the other day that she nearly choked on. Yeah, so don’t do that. Hydrosol is the water leftover after the essential oil is separated out, don’t be tempted to substitute on that one, or your Mum may never drink anything you put before her without wincing and sniffing it first.  My poor Mum, no wonder she’s suspicious of my ‘alternative’ lifestyle. Now she’ll have to add ‘normal’ water to her BYO list of instant coffee and cow’s milk when she visits.

Anyway, here’s one of our current favourites and it’s delicious, trust me…

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Blueberry, Calendula, Orange & Lavender Water

1 litre rainwater

10-12 organic blueberries

1 organic orange, cut into quarters

3-4 fresh calendula flowers

6-8 fresh borage flowers

1 tbsp lavender hydrosol

Pour the water into a jug and slightly squash and squeeze the fruit as you put it in along with the flowers and hydrosol. Add ice and hydrate to your heart’s content.

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my favourite flowers

Black Bean Zucchini Flowers

This time of year can be so crazy. And then your friends pop a brown paper bag of freshly picked homegrown zucchini flowers in your hands and you remember what’s important again. Just look at these babies! Aren’t they perfect? A perfect package of kindness. There’s nothing flippant about that comment either. There’s not really much that usurps the value of anything homegrown and hand-tended to me. It’s the ultimate gift from where I sit.

Timing was perfect too, because we had one of our best buddies from Sydney hanging on the hill with us over the weekend, and the beauty of whipping fresh zucchini flowers out of the fridge wasn’t lost on her for a minute.

I’m not sure if it’s because everything seems so busy, or if the flush of Summer produce naturally encourages a simpler approach in the kitchen, but I’m not really cooking anything that takes longer than 15 minutes to be on a plate at the moment so the idea of battering these and perhaps stuffing them wasn’t part of the plan from the onset. I wanted them to be delicious though – absolutely – just in the shortest time possible. You know how it goes. So, I grabbed some black bean flour to roughly coat the flowers with before popping them on a flat sandwich grill. A little olive oil and fresh lemon juice, lemon thyme, dill and salt and they all but took themselves outside for us to eat as a first course while the sun set.

The black bean flour has such a yummy, nutty kind of finish, and the speckle of the black against the zucchini looks a lot fancier than I imagined it would. Bonus. So if you have a glut of zucchini flowers, or kind friends with an abundant garden, maybe think about grabbing a bag of black bean flour for a super fast option. Actually grab a bag of black bean flour regardless, it’s good stuff if you’re a chapati fan too.

 

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Black Bean Zucchini Flowers

 

just picked organic zucchini flowers

organic black bean flour

organic lemons

extra virgin olive oil

salt flakes

freshly ground black pepper

organic lemon thyme

organic dill

 

Cut the zucchini and flowers in half and wash. The residual water from washing will give the flour a reason to hang on, so coat the flowers and zucchini with the black bean flour and place onto a hot grill plate with a drizzle of olive oil. Cook for a couple of minutes and turn over to continue cooking until just tender.

 

Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper and fresh herbs. Add another drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice just before serving.

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