Pot-pourri is a mixture of long lasting scented dried herbs and flowers that are used to bring fragrance and perfume to a room.
You can also make a fresh edible ‘Pot-pourri’ to add to salads. Edible flowers can be a beautiful addition to our foods especially a green salad that bringing not only colour but also the healing properties of the flowers into your life and your stomach!
Here is one of my fresh Pot-pourri mixes of calendula, borage, coriander flower and heartsease all which are readily available throughout the salad seasons of spring, summer and autumn.
Get creative and use any edible flowers to make up your own edible pot-pourri, to add to your food or to gift a friend.
Nettles are such a rich source of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A and C and iron and has antihistamine, anti inflammatory, astringent and diuretic properties. (Balick 2014) and as such practitioners can use nettle to treat anaemia, poor circulation, arthritis, allergies, menstrual problems, urinary tract infection and kidney stones.
Nettle is a wonderful herb for women’s health in general at the different stages of life/menstrual cycle. High in iron, it is a good blood builder for when bleeding and it is a great herb for menopause as I discovered from Susan Weed’s Wise Woman Way:
“Stinging nettle builds energy, strengthens the adrenals, and is said to restore youthful flexibility to blood vessels. A cup of nettle infusion contains 500 milligrams of calcium plus generous amounts of bone-building magnesium, potassium, silicon, boron, and zinc. It is also an excellent source of vitamins A, D, E, and K. For flexible bones, a healthy heart, thick hair, beautiful skin, and lots of energy, make friends with sister stinging nettle. It may make you feel so good you’ll jump up and exercise” Susan Weed (2002)
Growing and Nettles
I love growing nettles! It is an easy to grow ‘weed’.
As well as having great nutritional value, Nettle is a are great addition to a permaculture garden and can be used in a range of composting methods as a soil conditioner. I make a liquid manure/tea from nettle which is a great feed to give to plants for growth, particularly for greens.
Here on our property, I let nettle self seed, and allow it to establish in different parts of the garden for what we need. Here are two photos of some of our nettle crop this year. A big bunch growing on the edge of the broad bean bed and a patch of nettle (and random asian greens) growing in our chicken coup. Our 6 new pullets will be moving in soon and will most certainly finish off the greens!
Nettle interplanted in the broad bean patch
Nettle growing ‘wild’ in the chicken coup
Harvesting the nettle
I find the fresh, newer leaves are the best for this soup. It is best to harvest just before flowering. Once the nettle starts to go to seed. I find once the leaves start to darken and toughen up they are less sweet and juicy.
Many people can be afraid of nettle because of its ‘sting’. The solution is to wear gloves when handing fresh nettles. And then the sting is lost in the process of cooking or drying. Here is a photo of me trimming the juicy green nettle leaves for this soup.
Yummy Nettle Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 carrot diced
1 leek washed and finely sliced
1 large floury potato thinly sliced
1 L chicken or vegetable stock
400g nettle leaves
50ml double cream
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, leek and potato, and cook for 10 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.
Add the stock and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the potato is soft.
Add the nettle leaves simmer for 1 minute until they wilt. Blend the soup.
Season to taste, then stir in the butter and cream.
NB I find this soup is best eaten fresh. Whilst I have frozen some, unlike soup such as Minestrone, it does not taste better with warming up.
* The health information presented on this site is provided for educational purposes only. It is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis provided by your medical or other health professional. Do not use this information to diagnose, treat or cure any illness or health condition. If you have, or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your physician or health care provider.
With the abundance of broad beans this spring and early summer we are eating a range of yummy recipes most days. We freeze and dry the excess, to then use throughout the year in a range of recipes, especially when there is a shortage of fresh vegetables from the garden. The dried beans we use in Felafels as Fava beans. The frozen beans we use as we would fresh broad beans, in frittatas, curries and as a lovely addition to plain kicharee. With the double podded beans, we use as a side vegetable instead of needing to purchase frozen peas.
Warm Broad Bean Salad
Simple dressing with 2/3 Olive oil and 1/3 lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook broad beans in boiling salt water for 2-4 minutes, depending on size i.e. the smaller they are, the less cooking they need. Run under cold water to stop the cooking. Add the remaining ingredients and serve immediately.
Smashed Broad Beans
(Adapted from Stephanie Alexander, Stefano’s Smashed Broad Beans, the Kitchen Garden Companion, 2009)
Double podded broad beans
1 clove of garlic (or more if you like it garlicy)
extra virgin olive oil
Salt (we used our locally harvested Dimboola Pink Salt)
Freshly ground black pepper
Roughly crush broad beans in a mortar and pestle, mix with plenty of grated pecorino cheese, olive oil crushed garlic and salt and pepper to taste. .
Freezing broad beans
Blanch (par boil) freshly podded beans for approx. 1 minute, cool under cold running water to stop the cooking process. To minimise clumping together, freeze first on trays for 1 hour, and then put into clip lock bags, to be used as needed throughout the year.
This year for the first time we have frozen some double podded beans to be used throughout the year in the dip, as well as a side sweet green vegetable.
Autumn and Winter are the time of year where there is an abundance of wild mushrooms growing in our gardens and community. Here in Central Victoria the mushrooms that are simple and easy to identify are the Saffron Milk Caps and Slippery Jacks and can be found in our numerous local pine forests. They provide a nourishing and readily available food source.
** Please ensure that you receive guidance/training on how to correctly identify these mushrooms before picking and eating them.
Here is a simple and easy Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup to warm you on a cold autumn /winters day.
1 brown onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
500 gms Saffron Milk Cap mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 L (4 cups) home made stock, chicken or vegetable
Ground nutmeg (to taste)
250ml (1 cup) thickened cream (keep a little for garnish)
Garnish with finely chopped fresh parsley and/or chives
Gently melt the butter, add the onions and cook until soft. Add garlic and rosemary, stir for 1 minute and then add mushrooms, stirring for a further 1 minute to coat with mixture. Add the stock and nutmeg, bring to the boil and simmer until the mushrooms are cooked, approx. 10 minutes.
Add the cream then remove from heat and blend until smooth. Serve with a dollop of cream and sprinkle of parsley and chives.
In the autumn, you can’t go by a bowl of warming pumpkin soup. This recipe gives pumpkin soup a special twist using the zesty exotic flavours of the East. This recipe is from Stephanie Alexander, The Cooks Companion.
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp Red Curry paste (from a jar if you are in a hurry, or make from scratch with recipe below *)
1 onion, diced
1 stick of celery, diced
1 tomato, chopped
1 kg pumpkin, peeled and diced
1l of chicken or vegetable stock
400mls coconut milk
Freshly ground pepper
Squeeze of lemon or lime
Fresh coriander leaves
Heat a large, heavy based saucepan over a medium heat, then add oil and curry paste. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until fragrant. Add vegetables and season with salt. Reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often. Add stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Puree soup. Then whisk in coconut milk and adjust seasoning to taste. Garnish with coriander leaves.
*Red Curry Paste
From Women’s Weekly (1998) Easy Thai-Style Cookery.
Makes approximately 1 cup. Paste will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge. Alternatively freeze in ice cube trays, transfer into zip lock backs and store in the freezer for up to a year.
1 small red onion roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp fresh chopped lemon grass
1 tbsp fresh coriander root
2 red chillis
1 inch (approx.) galangal root (can be substituted with galangal powder)
This zucchini, tomato and caper pasta, adapted from the River Café London *, is our family’s favorite meal to create in the summer. It uses marjoram, the healing herb I highlight in Summer Healing Garden 2017. It gives us a delicious excuse to use the endless supply of zucchini and tomatoes available from our healing garden.
2 Garlic Cloves
2 Fresh or Dried Chilis
1 tbs Sea salt
3 tbs Salted Capers
250 g Tomatoes
2 tbs Fresh Marjoram (or 2 tsp dried Marjoram)
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs White wine vinegar
2 tsp fresh marjoram to garnish
Cut the zucchini into match stick sized pieces (Approx 15cm x 5mm). Peel and chop the garlic and chilis. Rinse the capers and chop roughly. Place the zucchini in a colander, scatter with the sea salt, and leave for 15 minutes. Squeeze and pat dry.
Cut the tomatoes in half or quarters if large. Squeeze out the juice and seeds reserving the juice. Combine the tomato pieces with the juice then add the capers, chilli, marjoram and garlic. Stir in 3 tbs of the olive oil and the vinegar and season. Leave to marinate for 15 minutes.
Heat 2 tbs olive oil in a thick-bottomed frying pan. When hot, add the zucchini and fry to lightly brown. Season. Stir in the tomatoes and remove from the heat.
Meanwhile cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente, drain. Add the sauce, turn to coat each strand, then mix in the fresh oregano and drizzle with olive oil.
* Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers (2003) River Café Cook Book Easy, Ted Smart, London.