gardening · homemaking · recipes

Herbaceous

A freshly gathered bunch of herbs exudes every bit as much beauty as a posy of its floral relatives.

Aside from their culinary use, herbal cuttings serve as sturdy backdrops for floral arrangements – and providing the water is replenished, do so with incredible staying power. Their robust nature and depth of colour gives the floral heads prominance and easy positioning. Simple flowers such as nasturtiums, lavender and daisies are offset beautifully by rosemary and parsley. Dahlias and mint are another prime example:

A collection of cuttings in the kitchen is refreshing to the eye and can be snipped at as recipes across the week call for sprigs, bunches and garnishes. Case in point, this week we were the fortunate recipients of a lovely fresh snapper, reeled in by a fishing acquaintance. After scoring the skin, we massaged the catch with olive oil and sea salt. The final rub down was a herbal concoction made in the pestle and mortar – oregano and thyme with a splash of olive oil to bind.

The fragrantly coated fish was then securely wrapped in foil and baked in a 180 degrees celsius oven for 45 minutes. The result, a lovely succulent fish served with a feta and olive salad. This is not a difficult exercise and if you have a good local fishmonger, you can have a nice fish feast on your table requiring little more that 10 minutes preparation plus cooking time (make the salad while it bakes).

Postscript: There is a combination of five different herbs pictured above – can you identify them all? Clue – see tags…

recipes

Fizz

Soft drink really isn’t our cup of tea.

Correction – my cup of tea, as I’m sure if you canvassed the junior members of the household there may be a different response. Making fresh raspberry cordial is my way of meeting them half way and on a warm afternoon, served with chilled soda and a sprig of mint, there are no complaints.

Using those same raspberries that decorate my breakfast bowl, lemon juice and some sugar, you can whip up almost two bottles of luscious red syrup, which look particularly attractive in the door of the refrigerator. Experiment with other varieties of frozen berries –  the mixed berry packs make delicious cordial too.

5 cups water
2 cups sugar
juice of 1 lemon
500 grams frozen raspberries

Pour water into a large bowl, add sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Stir in lemon juice. Place berries in a separate bowl and add a cup of the sugar syrup. Using a stick blender, puree the berries completely. Pour the berry mix back into the main sugar syrup bowl and stir. Using a funnel, decant the mixture into bottle(s). Chill.

To make the drinks up, pour as much as you like (over ice is nice), throw in some fresh mint leaves and top with soda water or sparkling mineral water.

If you have an aversion to loads of disposable plastic bottles circulating through your home, as I do, I can recommend the bubbler we use below – one bottle, loads of tap water and a constant supply of sparkling liquid.

Postscript: I prefer mine stirred not shaken…