Category Archives: garden

First of the purple snow peas…

…keeping up with the eggplants (see previous post). Not sure what it is but there seems to be quite a bit of purple produce creeping into the vegie patch this summer. This is the first time I’ve grown these heirloom variety purple snow peas so (apart from eating one to try first up straight from the garden) I’m thinking of putting them in a salad or perhaps a stirfry.

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in the vegie patch…

The first of the eggplants are starting to emerge…

I’m already thinking melanzane involtini, eggplant lasagne, baked, stuffed eggplant and slices grilled on the barbecue and preserved in smoked salt and olive oil!

 

Related article: Involtini di melanzane al forno…

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pomodori verdi ~ green tomatoes…

green-tomatoesUnexpectedly found these beauties growing behind another plant in a pot on the balcony. Completely self-sown! There must be at least thirty cherry tomatoes on the plant. A lovely, surprise present from nature. Can’t wait for them to ripen!

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Spaghettini with lemon, chilli, garlic and herbs…

lemon-basil-and-chilli-spaghettini

 

Looking forward to cooking spaghettini with these lovely fresh ingredients!

The ‘dosa spaghetti’ implement for measuring out dry spaghetti portions comes from a little shop in Orvieto, Umbria.

Still often cook too much though…

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flowers and the scent of memories…

carnationsThe first carnations are in bloom in the backyard and have a lovely scent…
I could smell their perfume on the breeze as soon as I walked outside. Decided to grow some of these to remember my great-grandmother, Charlotte who had them in her front garden. (Charlotte got a small mention in Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar when I wrote of her scones, along with Granny Maddalena’s frittata, revealing a bit of their everyday lives through what they cooked.)

Perhaps carnations are considered somewhat old-fashioned at present but I never worry about fashion when it comes to things like flowers, to me they’re all lovely and bring a little happiness…

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first fig for the season…

first-figUsually we end up eating most of these picked straight from the tree in the backyard but perhaps this year some might last long enough to cook with…

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Late winter rain bringing the lemon tree back to life…

lemon leavesChatting over the fence my Sicilian neighbour, who is in her eighties, recommended to put a lemon leaf under polpette (those Italian slightly egg-shaped meatballs) when frying them in olive oil in the pan – not necessarily to eat the leaf but for it to impart flavour during cooking. I haven’t tried that yet however seeing these fresh young leaves I might need to give it a go.

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Last of the summer basil…

Pizza MargheritaTime for an Italian classic…a take on Pizza Margherita.

I can’t claim any credit for this one – it all goes to onorario italiano Roger who has perfected pizza dough alla casa.

For the topping this time…San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala and the last of the summer basil from the vegie patch.

Buon appetito!

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Backyard harvest…

grape harvestFrom the Isabella vine that grows over the pergola, some of the grapes harvested this year (in one of Nanna Francesca’s salad bowls circa 1960s/70s.) Each year the grapevine yields enough to make about half a dozen bottles of wine…a modest, homemade vintage but a tiny bit of Italy in an Australian suburban backyard.

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shelling peas…

PeasEach day the peas in the vegie patch are getting plumper and I can’t wait until they are ready to be picked, not that any will make it to the pot. Since childhood, I’ve loved fresh peas straight from the garden. And peas seemed to have worked their way into both my books: Nanna Francesca, her mother and grandmother in Calabria, sitting on their balcony overlooking the sea, shelling peas and feeling the breeze as lightning licked the horizon… And the pea patch Nonno Anni grew in his New Farm backyard in my childhood… Even now, though both my grandparents are gone, when I look at my own, much smaller, pea patch, I’m reminded of happy memories being a child among their pea plants that were taller than I was – my own little forest. Winter sun warm on my shoulders as I would make my way along the rows, eating the peas, my grandparents not far away…

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Rosen in Deutschland…

Beutelsbach flowersSpring in Australia starts today {although the equinox is a few weeks off yet}. I wish I’d grown these myself but I took this picture during the northern hemisphere’s spring – in Beutelsbach, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, where I was doing research for a future book. It seemed every window box and garden were growing beautiful red flowers.

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the melanzane are here….

black capsicum, basil, eggplant and silverbeet picked from the vegie patch… to eggplant parmigiana.

Eggplant and capsciumEggplant parmigiana

Related articlethe melanzane are coming…

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After recent rains…

the coffee flowers are beginning to bud…

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Spring greens…

I know it’s a modest harvest yet I was thrilled to pick the first greens grown in our kitchen garden and make a salad for lunch with red and purple lettuce, parsley, basil and stevia leaves. I also added some cherry tomatoes (from the farmer’s market not the vegie patch, though I noticed the tomatoes I planted have some baby ones starting to form!)

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an edible bouquet…

il bouquet perfetto for Valentine’s Day
that by evening may become
dinner for two.

Recipe for carciofi alla romana…

Take four fresh artichokes.
Peel the tough outer leaves and remove the choke,
then trim the stem to about six centimetres.

Immerse in hot olive oil until golden brown and crisp.
{The artichoke will open like a flower.}
Serve piping hot, seasoned with salt and pepper.

On the side of the plate add a dollop of mascarpone
mixed with some lemon zest and
a couple of lemon wedges to squeeze over the carciofi.

Buon San Valentino!

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Next step in the coffee process… dehusking.

Each bean must be done by hand. Grazie mille to R for a great ‘dehusking’ effort over many nights in front of the television!!  {Many more than pictured here.}

Left – dried beans (seeds) from inside the coffee cherries.
Centre – the outer husks once removed.
Far right – the green beans…

… ready for roasting next!

Related articles…
Coffee bean harvest… (zoeboccabella.com)
Coffee beans drying in the sun… (zoeboccabella.com)

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Coffee bean harvest…

It’s coffee harvest time again… these we picked from our backyard tree. Then, by hand, R extracted the beans from inside the coffee cherries and the beans are now spread out on wide sieves drying.

Next comes the {lengthy!} husking process followed by the roasting, the grinding, and then the drinking!

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