I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief - Gerry Spence
And extremely easy to find because it can be grown on... a window sill. Unlike the four-leaf clover whose dubious or at least mutable existence makes all of us spend hours in the meadow, busily scanning all growing shamrock to find a reward: a four-leaf trefoil. You really are lucky if you find one. However, if you do not feel like hunting for luck in the field and would like to have at home a potful of lucky leaves - without any substantial effort - all you need to do is buy a bag of small bulbs labelled: Oxalis deppei or Iron Cross (its common name) and simply plant them in a pot. Within two or three weeks the first lucky leaves will appear and start working wonders. Some of them are even observable as the leaves move. Botanists have coined a somewhat little flattering term for that activity and call it nasty. Well, it is the photonasty.
What a useful vine: edible leaves, edible flowers, edible fruit, edible seeds (known as pepitas) and edible fragrant pumpkin seed oil used in salad dressings.
Pumpkin (Cucurbita) is a sprinter among vegetables. You can almost watch it grow providing the conditions are favourable. It is constantly hungry and thirsty but very grateful for the care it gets: it becomes totally edible (I have not eaten its roots yet, though).
The most exciting way to get acquainted with this wonderful garden wanderer is taste pumpkin flowers right after they open early in the morning. There are two kinds of them, both tasty: male and female flowers. The former are more numerous and produce pollen. The latter transform into the gigantic fruit which can weigh as much as... 450 kg (1000 pounds). Incredible! I advise that you eat only the male individuals and save the female ones in order to secure impressive harvest in the fall.
When small-leaved lime opens its flower buds the fact is heralded by both the fragrance and sound. On a sunny day majestic linden trees are buzzing and humming with busy bees collecting sweet nectar from zillions of flowers. Why not do the same in a slightly different way?
Fresh linden flowers are a great source of aromatic and healthy tea. All you need to do is pick a handful or two of freshly opened flowers (be cautious, the bees do not like to be disturbed while working). Add them to boiling water (about 1-2 litres) and keep simmering for 3-4 minutes. Let it cool for several hours. At that time the colour of the liquid changes to almost orange-red and the consistency becomes slightly thick. Add sugar or honey to highlight the taste. Serve with a slice of lemon, mint leaves and a lot of ice. Unbeatable!
A great country-style cheesecake with a hint of rose essence. Although the rose petals in sugar constitute a minor ingredient on the list, their impact on the taste buds is beyond description. How to prepare rose petals in sugar is presented in the second post of the blog. Who did it, now can bake the cheesecake. Who did not, still can bake it, the only difference is that the taste of the cake will be easier to describe in earthly comparisons.
The recipe also contains pureed cooked pumpkin. If you do not have fresh pumpkin you can use the canned kind, or simply skip it substituting it with the same amount of pureed cooked potatoes. As all recipes I know, this one is also subject to changes and alterations driven by brave imagination without which cooking or baking are not art anymore.
When the scorcher is unbearable kombucha should be the first choice to think and act about. Nothing is as good at bringing relief to our thirsty mouth than that cold fizzy tea. Yes, kombucha is tea although the following description what happened to that tea does not sound very appetising. It is all because of that SCOBY (to decipher the acronym click on kombucha in the opening sentence) and the way it looks although the way it works is more familiar and easy to accept. Why? Because kombucha is a result of fermentation carried out by some human friendly microorganisms, in this case bacteria and yeast. Their symbiotic relationship needs tea in order to thrive but their aim is to grow as jelly-like kombucha mushroom, the drink is just a by-product. The mushroom looks weird but the drink as by-product is just great!
Black elder is not famous for its odour, I would say it's rather infamous. Ivory white tiny flowers form quite spectacular inflorescences which a lot of people admire from a safe distance not to be attacked by the very intense smell they give off. However, the slightly repelling characteristic of this handsome bush should be overcome if we want to discover and relish new tastes and aromas. Believed by some ancient cultures to be a sacred plant empowered with magic, black elder offers new ways in culinary experiences both with its flowers in the spring and black berries in the fall. Let's take advantage of the last flowering inflorescences and make a delightful liqueur full of... magic.
One of the English names for Rosa x centifolia is the cabbage rose. With all due respect, it does not reflect the old-fashioned charm of this very old rose which has been in cultivation for centuries now. But it does reflect the overall shape of the flower which resembles ... a cabbage but wonderfully scented with rose oil. There are a lot of cultivars of the hundred petaled rose ( a literary translation of its Latin name), mostly pink or magenta in colour. They bloom only once a year producing a profusion of flowers and the time is just now. After having enjoyed the perfume of the fragrant flowers we can put them to good use making rose petals in sugar.
I was destined to be born gardener. In order to become a professional one I had to enjoy years of studying at various schools and universities... read more