Saturday, June 25, 2011

First Harvest: Cavolo Nero & Celery

This morning I went out to the garden and gathered some greens for my breakfast smoothie.  I like to add some greens in there so I make sure I am getting enough vegetables for the day.  I picked about 8 stems of the Cavolo Nero and a celery stick for good measure.  The leaves of the Cavolo Nero were quite a bit larger than the normal ones I got from the store and even better, I know for sure that they have no pesticides sprayed on them because I grew it.  Best of all, all those nutritional benefits from picking the vegetables and using them immediately. 

Two of the stems of Cavolo Nero went to Daisy for part of her breakfast and the rest went into my blender

Green Breakfast Smoothie
6-10 leaves of Cavolo Nero or Kale
1 stick of celery, including leaves
1 banana
300ml cold water
1 capful vanilla extract
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
2 scoops protein powder

Add water to blender and then banana in small pieces.  Blend.  Add Cavolo Nero, Celery, Peanut Butter and Vanilla extract.  Blend well.  Lastly, add protein powder and blend just enough so it is mixed in well.  Serve immediately.

Serve yours in a beer glass for maximum enjoyment

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Winter Vegetable Garden

I took a few shots the other day of what I am growing in my garden.  I am getting quite involved with learning about gardening; I have taken out many books from the library and have been learning some interesting things. Some might say I've become too involved.  I had a dream the other night that I went outside to check on my garden and someone had harvested (stolen!) all my vegetables. It was such a vivid dream that I thought it was real and I was so upset!!  I was happy to discover my vegetables sitting happily in their planters the next morning.

Since it is winter things are growing a little slowly.  Luckily we have had a very warm winter this year so they are doing better than that could have been doing.

My Cavolo Nero has grown tremendously and is ready for picking.  The Bok Choy is ready for harvest and the celery is on it's way too.  I like the idea of using the Celery as a come-and-cut-again vegetable like some of the books suggest as you never really need the whole plant or even the half that they sell in the stores.  Every time I purchase a half or whole it ends up going to waste.  I did read a tip recently which has helped me stop the wastage: dice the celery and freeze it in a re-sealable plastic bag.  It's such a simple suggestion that I can't believe I didn't think of it myself earlier!  I guess one can't think of everything.

I am getting a little frustrated at how slowly my seedlings are growing.  I bring them inside every night so they avoid the cold weather and take them outside in the morning so they can get as much light as they need.  Still they grow like snails!  I even call them my babies and that still doesn't help! Gah!

Anyway, here are the pictures I took of some of the plants.  This is only a fraction of what I have planted in containers! We rent a place so we can't really dig up the front yard to make a vegetable garden.  We don't have a backyard either.  I just make do with the space I have as tidily as I can.

Sage and Silverbeet/Swiss Chard
Little Lettuce
Row of lettuce.  The plastic bottles act as cloches
Cavolo Nero and a Dill plant tucked in there
Kale (Squire), Perpetual Spinach, Bok Choy, Celery
Close up of Bok Choy
You see that painted corrugated iron there in some of the pictures?  Well what the snails do is they slither up there and actually reach out and eat my Cavolo Nero!  Half their body is on the wall and half is suspended in mid air and their mouth is on my vegetables, eating.  The cheeky buggers!  I usually pick them up and send them sailing into the distance.  I feel a little mean crushing them, plus I don't want to get my shoes dirty.

Hope you enjoyed my pictures!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ginger Kiss Cupcakes

My house smelled like Christmas tonight!  I've been baking on Fridays for the past couple of weeks and made something I thought I would share since it smells and tastes divine.....

The texture and taste is very much like the Ginger Kisses you can buy in the supermarket here, so that is what I have named them after.

For those of you that don't know what Ginger Kisses are, it is a baked goody sold in New Zealand and Australia, kinda like a whoopie pie.  The filling is more like a vanilla cream rather than the spiced frosting I made.

Ginger Kiss Cupcakes

125g butter
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup molasses
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp ginger

Cream butter and sugar, mix in eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Add flour, baking powder and milk and mix well with a spoon. Add molasses and spices and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Spoon into cupcake cases and bake in an oven set at 160 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool before frosting.

Spiced Buttercream Frosting
adapted from Oh She Glows

1/2 cup butter
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract
milk/water as needed

With an electric mixer, cream butter and add sifted icing sugar 1/4 cup at a time.  Use milk/water to get desired consistency (approximately 1Tbsp needed).  Add spices & vanilla and beat with mixer until the frosting is light and fluffy.

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