Kitchen, Life and my Garden

Chimichurri Inspired Sauce

Parsley has to be one of the most delicious and abundant herbs in a spring kitchen garden.

This morning I had no idea I’d be harvesting a large amount of parsley, or potatoes etc. A story you’ll find on my Instagram post 

I decided that with most ingredients to hand, both in the garden and pantry, a Chimichurri inspired sauce was what I would make. The fresh parsley taste at this time of year is unbeatable, and this sauce features it beautifully.

The chimichurri sauce I make uses the food processor to speed things up. I’m not Armenian, and I don’t pretend that this is anywhere near the expertise of the traditional recipe. However I am constantly looking for world cuisine inspiration, and the fresh ingredients this sauce uses from the garden is delicious. I keep the finished sauce in the fridge for about a week, and use it in a number of things.

Uses

My Chimichurri Inspired Sauce can be used as a marinade, folded through a green linguini and nut pasta, as a flavourful ingredient in a pizza base sauce, or savoury yoghurt, dips and cheeses. I’m sure you’ll think of other uses too.

Substitutions

The recipes I make are always based on what I have ‘to hand’. Fresh food moves directly from garden to kitchen to table where possible, in my home. So substitutions become necessary sometimes.

A traditional Chimichurri would use wine vinegar, however I use concentrated lime juice from my tree, stored in my fridge. Whereas fresh garlic is preferred for this recipe, I used dried garlic granules. You could use minced garlic or garlic paste if you have it. I used curly parsley, whereas flat parsley is traditionally used. I don’t like coriander, so I used all parsley. If you’re interested in traditional chimichurri just do an internet search using those key words.

Garden to Table

The opening pic shows all the fresh ingredients I used from my garden, which you’ll find in the recipe below. To this I added 2 tsp dried garlic granules, 1/3cup concentrated lime juice, 2/3cup extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and a pinch of brown sugar (optional).

What I enjoy about this fridge-fixer recipe is, it involves no cooking and can be used as an ingredient in vegetarian, vegan or meat dishes.

I like to let my Chimichurri sauce ‘cure’ its flavours for a day or so before using. But you might need it in a hurry. It works either way.

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Chimichurri Inspired Sauce

Makes: Approximately 1.5 cups or 1 large Jar

Ingredients

100 gram parsley  (flat or curly)

15 gram spring onion/shallots

2 small sprigs oregano

2 very small chilli, seeds removed

2 teaspoons dried garlic granules

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

Pinch sea salt

Pinch brown sugar (optional)

Method

  1. Roughly chop spring onions, parsley, oregano, chilli.
  2. Measure the olive oil and lime juice into the same measuring jug, for ease of use later
  3. Put half the greens, chilli and garlic into the food processor, add half the lime juice & oil
  4. Process on high till smooth.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients and process till smooth
  6. Put your sauce into clean sterilised jars and store in the fridge
  7. Use the sauce within a week

I hope you enjoy having another idea to use up your beautiful homegrown or gifted, parsley supplies.

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Disclaimer… Please do your own research for your own needs and context. The author assumes no responsibility for any outcomes of anyone using this well researched and documented blog post. Enjoy making your chimichurri inspired sauce.

 

 

Kitchen, Life and my Garden

Time to Dry Thyme

‘I need a ground cover for between the pebble stepping stones’ I thought yesterday, while revamping a garden bed in my front yard. The first plant to come to mind from the existing plants I have, was thyme. Thyme is a Mediterranean climate herb. Not really a ground cover of course, but low growing and useful enough to grow in this bed between stepping stones (that would only be used by me) and in a garden which features a rosemary hedge. ‘If I needed a quick bouquet garni, I could collect it on the way through, from the car’, I thought.

I do like a nice bit of efficient ingredient collection, when it comes to meal preparation. But what’s a bouquet garni? It is the French name used for a collection of fresh herbs (garni) tied together (bouquet) used in soups, stews, stock – in this case, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. These herbs were described in an old English folk song ‘Scarborough Fair,’  popularised by Simon and Garfunkel in the 1960s. It’s a love song rather than one about culinary herbs, but the bouquet garni ingredients are described in the herbs and flowers ‘she’s’ instructed to collect in her basket. I break into this song whenever I think of bouquet garni, or thyme. The song takes me back to an age I never knew, but feel I do.

I digress. So out into the back garden I went in search of my thyme treasure. I found four plants I’d made from cuttings some months before, all in need of a very harsh haircut. As usual when one job is begun, ten more emerge. I snipped off the tops of the plants, threw them into my harvest basket and planted the thyme plants into the front garden bed.

With the garden bed complete, I’m having a more restful day today. So dealing with the thyme-drying is an ideal Sunday job. Thyme is one of those herbs which I believe offers its best flavour to food, when dried. Except when used fresh in a bouquet garni of course. Thyme suits egg and vegetable dishes but is used with poultry, game, fish, beans, pizza, sauces, and is always an ingredient in stuffings like that found inside a BBQ chicken.

If you’re not familiar with the taste, I always describe it as the ‘woodsmoked end of mint’.  To me it’s the ‘meaty’ version of herbs–and that’s what I thought even before I was a vegetarian. It gives ‘meaty savouriness’ to any vegetable dish.

I recommend a light touch if you haven’t used it before–it is strong and will overpower a recipe if you’re heavy-handed with it.

To Prepare Dried Thyme

  1. Cut fresh thyme sprigs from your thyme plant
  2. Rinse then dry thyme on a tea towel
  3. Dry the thyme stems in your dehydrator 100 °F (38 °C) for 1 to 2 hours (I did mine for 1.5 hours) Alternatively you can air dry it in a dust free covered area for 5 or so days depending on the temperature and air humidity
  4. Remove leaves from stems by ‘scrunching’ into a bowl
  5. Store dried thyme in an air-tight container (preferably glass)

I don’t use any preservatives when drying my herbs, so the 1 to 3 years pantry storage time recommended for thyme, will vary depending on the conditions it’s kept in. As is my usual advice, do your own research, be aware of your own storage conditions and never consume mouldy or otherwise perished herbs.

The other way I like to enjoy the smell of thyme is simply fresh leaves in a bowl of hot water. The scent is beautiful and will waft around your home as a natural air freshener. I use this idea in winter, as thyme is said to be antibacterial, antiviral and insecticidal. Thyme was used in the embalming process during The Black Death in Europe, which is perhaps where these properties were most appreciated. Before using it for any medicinal purpose though, research for your own situation and needs. This is one of the good references to read, here

As a final note, it’s great to have chemical-free dried herbs on hand for cooking. Herbs are so easily grown in small spaces, so don’t feel you need a garden bed. A container with drainage holes will do! Thyme requires very little in the way of attention, it’s resilient and used to a hot Mediterranean climate. Just be sure the soil you plant it in has a pH of between 6 and 8, and drains well. Keep it watered in a sunny spot. A simple delight!

Happy gardening 🌸

 

 

Life and my Garden, Plant Stories

The Time to plant Fruit Trees is Yesterday!

When people ask me when they should plant fruit trees…I say…’yesterday!’

I say this because fruit trees can take years to prosper – for you to get ‘food results’.

For example I haven’t seen an avocado from my over 12 year old avocado tree.

But let me tell you a story, because that’s not always the case…

My Spring Satin dwarf plumcot tree was bought for $16 AUD in November 2015, marked down from $45.

The tree had obviously experienced dehydration at the ‘big shed’ it came from, and looked quite sorry for itself on that overpopulated markdown shelf. It was the only plumcot there.

I knew this tree had potential with my help, because it’s genetics and nursery supplier were reputable. I had also heard only great things about this variety, to that point.

It is now 3.5 foot high and in remarkable health. It’s small stature is definitely not an indicator of fruiting ability in my experience.

The tree is planted within stone’s throw from a satsuma plum, and a nashi pear that blossom at the same time. It’s possible these are acting as pollinators or at least encouraging pollinators for this partially self-fertile fruit tree.

So far this year it has produced 850g of fruit, with average fruit mass of 18.8g.

No fruit fly, minimal water, drought tolerant, delicious tasting fruit!

While I still advise getting all your fruit trees in early  I want to show you that some are surprisingly quick to fruit!

These are the type of images I was dreaming of when I started my garden 26 years ago.

This fruit took only 3 years!

Get planting! 🌸

PS Would you like to see daily updates from my garden? See VintageTrish Instagram

#fruittrees#stonefruit #plumcot #getplanting #organic#springsatinplumcot #growyourown#growyourownfruit #nochemicals#permaculture #organicgardener#vintagetrish #garden #ediblegarden#vintagetrishgarden

Plant Stories

Collectors Have Stories

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Garlic breaks ground in my garden, 2018. Planted two weeks before Easter which is my planting deadline each year (for best tasting garlic) in my part of the world.

My garlic plantings broke soil this week. When I saw this, my mind jumped to the day I brought home two proud Australian purple neck garlic bulbs – the grandparents of those shown in this photo.

It wasn’t time for planting garlic, in that summer of 2016. I had discovered a wonderful organic providore, earlier that day in the main street of Braidwood NSW. We were on the way home from the beautiful south coast after a wonderful family holiday, so my mind was probably in a carefree ‘memory-storing’ mood.

A slow wander through the organic produce and groceries there, halted suddenly when I stopped, riveted, gazing at a fresh produce shelf. My eye was magnetically drawn to two, proud, fresh, purple-neck garlic bulbs, staring at me from a natural weave basket. Some simple, handwritten cardboard signs, announcing the organic farms the bulbs had come from, added to my ‘vintagey, otherworldly’ moment. You know what I mean, I’m used to the opposite, living in the suburbs. Actually being able to pick your own produce without insulting plastic wrapping all over it, and not having to check whether what you are about to buy has a pulse, because you can see it is obviously picked fresh and brimming with life–well that’s a memorable moment!

If there is such a thing as Garlic-Speak, make no mistake I was talking it this day. Both bulbs were shouting, ‘pick me, pick me, I’m going home with you!’

In the hypnotic excitement of the moment, I wish I had taken the time to note their true names and the organic farms they came from! But no. As any ‘beyond organic’ suburban gardener knows–when you see organic garlic bulbs like those, buy them and store them in a cool, dark but dry place, until planting time. Don’t think–it is a singular, focussed, action–just buy! Why? Because if you go to a suburban supermarket or non-organic fruit shop and choose your growing stock from the sprout-retarding chemical laden imports that grace some of the chains–well, that can only end in tears. You want healthy breeding stock with a future…don’t you?

I paid a very reasonable price for these beautiful organic garlic bulbs and with a self-satisfied smile exited with a paper bag of  ‘collectors items’.  Yes, a less distracted collector would remember the garlic bulb name, not just ‘purple-neck garlic,’  but it is what it is. As a collector it’s the thrill of acquisition, isn’t it! It’s not just what you’ve purchased, it’s also the plans you have for it.

My mind was full of how these two bulbs would become many…and then the next year, many more and …and…and…how delicious and free and purple they would grow in my garden!

Two years later these little garlics I photographed, remind me exactly of their grandparents from Braidwood. Except now they have the added heritage of growing in my garden, from their parents. They’ll adapt specifically to my garden conditions and  increase in number.

This is a simple yarn, sure! ‘Not a classic anecdote is it?’ to quote good old Hugh Grant as Will Thacker in Notting Hill. They’re ONLY fairly readily-available organic Australian garlic bulbs! But they are not JUST garlic bulbs to me. Stories organise memories and give meaning to collections. They sustain and fulfil me in a way maybe collection stories of knitting needles or lego blocks, skydiving outfits or motorbikes, do for you. Or maybe you’re a gardener and you know exactly what I mean.

Point is…we each have ‘our thing’ and we all collect something. Find me even the most minimalist Minimalist and I’ll show you something they collect – it’s not always something we can see. Every human has a collection and each collector has stories.

By the way, have I told you about the new Hibiscus I bought last month? Only kidding. But yes, it’s real. And yes it happened…but it’s a story for another day! 🌸

© Trish McGill 2018