Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose!

I’m always on the lookout for new bits and pieces for the garden, not necessarily always plants though. I recently picked up an old patio chair that someone no longer had any use for and had thrown away. I think that Gary thought that I had lost the plot!!! The old chair had plastic straps across the seat which weren’t really strong enough for what I wanted, so Gary replaced them with metal strips. Then armed with a spray can of metal undercoat and a pot of very pretty blue paint, I got to work transforming the dull old grey chair into a piece for the garden. I love the final result and can’t wait for the ivy geranium to get growing and mingle in and out of the pretty blue structure. On the same outing I also managed to get a small broken base of a metal table that has been turned upside down and secured in the raspberry patch – it is holding a little pot ready to be planted up – and then there was the rack from an old golf buggy that I have pushed into the ground and placed an old baking dish filled with stones on, and then topped it with a pot of strawberries – What a wonderful treasure hunt…

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Apricots

I still remember the joy of fresh bread, lashings of homemade apricot jam, and the cream! Fresh cream, real cream, not the homogenised, pasturised stuff from the supermarket shelf – just fresh, runny cream, no sugar, not whipped, just pure fresh cream dribbling over the edge of the bread.- Oh the memories …

We now have two apricot trees in our garden, a Moorpark – supposedly rich in flavour making it great for fresh fruit, jam, drying, stewing and juice, and a Blenheim, said to be one of the most flavourful of apricots around! However, like all of our fruit trees, they have only been in the ground for six months, which means that we must be patient, and wait until they grow before we see a nice crop.

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We did have a tiny surprise though – just after Christmas I spotted one solitary little apricot. It had been hiding and growing out of our sight and, fortunately, out of the sight of the birds. I watched it carefully, trying to make sure that the birds did not beat us to it. Then early last week, when I checked on it, I discovered that a grub had made it’s mark – I hadn’t counted on that, so quickly whisked it off the tree, and took it to the kitchen, where it became a simple little sweet treat to finish our evening meal – A simple apricot pastry.

Given the lack of fruit from the garden at the moment, I am constantly on the watch for a good buy, and was delighted to read a little add in the local newspaper for apricots. I made a call and was able to pick up 10kg, which lead to a couple of heavy days in the kitchen! But from that 10kg, we now have 14 jars of apricot halves in a light syrup, 15 jars of Worcestershire sauce, and 10 jars of apricot jam in the store.

There were a few left over so whipped up an apricot and pine nut tart – gluten free.

You know, apricot jam is not only great as a spread, but it can also be used to flavour meat dishes too, and the apricot halves can be used to make delicious sweet treats such as clafoutis, charlottes, tarts etc, but will also used in savoury dishes, including a favourite – Spicy Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Rosemary and Ginger! As for the Worcestershire sauce, it’s always handy to lift an otherwise dull dish!

So now that the store is stocked up with apricot preserves, it is my plan to highlight some of them in recipes over the coming months.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

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Waste not, want not!

Like many people, I hate waste!

Last weekend I picked up a bunch of beautiful organic white turnips from the Farmer’s Market in Sale. The tops looked amazing, which got me to thinking about conversations I used to have with a friend I worked with. She told me how members of her family would collect greens for their cooking. Probably some of these greens we would call weeds. So I went in search of my Greek cook book and found a recipe for “Wild Greens Pie” or as I would call it “Weed Pie”. The recipe calls for a mixture of wild greens, including dandelion, mustard, chickweed, rocket, wild fennel, beetroot greens etc. I decided I would make something similar, but use the turnip tops, and some rainbow chard that I have in pots (my vegie patch is yet to be established). I should also have added some sorrel, but forgot I had it in another pot! In the fridge I had some of my homemade cheese just waiting for the right recipe, so instead of feta, I used that.

For the pie crust I used my Savoury Potato Pastry . I love this pastry, it’s gluten free and uses mashed potato. So whenever I have leftover mashed potato,I whip up a batch and freeze it, so generally always have a batch ready to whip and use. One day I had some leftover sweet potato mash and used that instead of normal potato. It was the perfect crust for an Indian style curry pie that I topped with slices of roasted cauliflower. I now have some blue potatoes – now that would make for an interesting crust colour! Anyway, I digress… This is the first time that I have actually used this pastry for a full pie, I generally only use it blind baked for savoury tarts and quiches. It worked perfectly, I was so happy, and now can’t wait to use it to make my Gran’s savoury mince slice. She would bake it and serve it cold, particularly for picnic type meals. It’s delicious, and guess what, it has white turnips in it.DSC03385

So, my “Weed Pies” used up the turnip tops, which most of us generally toss away, left over cheese and left over mashed potato…

 

 

 

As I said, “Waste not, want not!

Until next time…

Bon appétit!