Monday, September 24, 2012

Vanilla & Blossom Salad: bees, butterflies, and their habitat

edible flower blossoms and wild flowers, clockwise from top left: calendula, cornflower (non edible), allium (onion family includes chives), nasturtiums, verbena, chamomile, borage
wildflowers, nectar rich plants, bees, butterflies, meadows and pollinators.
this gardening year for me has been focused on providing bees and butterflies with a suitable homeall through the summer. im attempting to do this by growing plants that these pollinators love: verbena, borage, chamomile, alliums, cornflowers, nasturtiums, legumes, and wildflowers. as well as staying away from chemical sprays and instecticides.

with modern agricultural methods we have systematically kicked out bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects out of the coutryside. and by planting low nectar flowers in our gardens we have pushed them even further away from our homes! in the past before massive harvesting machines and plows were around, there were many many more hedgerows blooming with wild flowers, these hedgerows teamed with pollinators. in turn they helped to pollinate crops humans were growing beside these hedgerows. now, with new machinery our hedgerows are being taken out and replaced with fencing providing little sanctuary for our friendly bees and insects. and no wild flowers.
focused on beauty rather than function in our home gardens, modern flower beds are being planted with low nectar flowers, or flowers that have double blooms that make it harder for pollinators to reach nectar sources. another, cause of food loss for pollinators is our tendancy to mow lawns to an inch of their life. leaving no time for lawn daisies or dandelions to bloom and provide food for insects.

leaves and blossoms form the garden, as well as purple french beans: which i didn't use in the recipe, but should have!

don't distress! there's a few ways we can help out our pollinating friends. we can leave space for wildness in our gardens, we can plant flowers that attract pollinators, and we can refrain from using weed killer and chemical pesticides in our gardens. i find just having flowers growing in the veg patch makes being there that much more enjoyable, adding to the sensory experience. knowing you are in a place that bees and butterflies love!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Nasturtium Capers

nasturtiums add needed colour to the garden,
and attract bees and butterflies

nasturtium seed pods dangling off the vine

this may surprise you, but you can makes capers with nasturtium seed pods! i first heard of the idea last year. it seemed like a good idea, caper berries are an acutal berries of a certain shrub, and nasturtium capers are something like the 'poor mans' version. their flavour has a hint of the nasturtium spice you get in the flowers that mellows once pickled. if you have loads of nasturtium plants in your garden, is worth the hour it takes picking and jaring up these little buds. i got half a pint of seed pods from 3 plants, and i could have kept going.  this recipe suits that amount perfectly.
a pint o' pods
Harvesting Pods: pick the seed pods once they have turned green and big on the vine. don't use seed pods that have fallen off plants, they've dried up and will make new plants next year.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Beetroot Gin & Tonic - Beetroot: Part 3 of 3

Beetroot Gin & Tonic

after deciding, and announcing, that i was going to make a cocktail with beetroot, i realised i'd never had a cocktail with beetroot. but since i can probably dip cardboard in gin and still enjoy it, i figured why not beetroot? i did a few searches around and saw things like: beetroot margaritas and beet-ellni's. i gave it some thought as too which liquor to use with a reduced beetroot essence... gin with its herbal notes sprung to mind, and orange citrus zests paired in beetroot salad was my next thought. put the two together and the Beetroot G & T was born! in my mind anyway.....

juice from three beetroots
stright from the garden, into your drink!
since i've started this three post beetroot blow out i've been seeing red. ive had beetroot everywhere i go, had it on toast, in chocolate, candied, in my drinks, with fish, in salads... im happy to say this is the last beetroot post for sometime! i still have a great affection for the root veg, but im going to keep my roots out in the garden for awhile. it feels right to end this party on a high note, i hope some of you get a chance to try this cocktail in your own homes.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Candied Beetroot Truffles - Beetroot: part 2

 ill save you the chit chat and get straight in to the recipe of our triple beetroot recipe ballooba.
after having the priveledge of working with many amazing and talented people at Theo Chocolate Factory, in Seattle, i naturally think everything should be coated in dark chocolate. the Theo masterminds try chocolate with everything: bacon, jalepeno, saffron, curry, you name it. im not sure if i got the idea from working at theo, but i'm certain the earthy flavour of beetroot with bitter chocolate will be divine. there's a few ideas out there already with chocolate and beetroot like: beetroot brownies, chocolate beetroot cake, beetroot ice cream!, beetroot chips and after googling: 'beetroot chocolate truffles,'  i am now (3 seconds ago) aware that im not the first to make a truffle with beetroot. but who cares? this recipe only has four main ingredients, it also takes minimal active time to make and looks like you spent days and days making the little confections. have fun impressing your friends!