My Chickweed Pesto Recipe

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Enjoy the amazing health benefits of this ‘Superfood’, while eating some of your favorite foods. I think of Chickweed as a natural, super nutritious, tasty lettuce or as delicate, mild-tasting spinach. It also makes really delicious pesto. This is a plant, like fresh peas, where it is hard to walk past without picking some to munch on.

Remember it is OK to be versatile and diversify in the kitchen.

I am a person who tends to substitute and cook with what I have in the cupboard at the time. Being versatile in the kitchen can lead to better economy in the kitchen. Plus, versatility and diversity are the spice of life and the kitchen!

Practically any seed or nut can be used in your pesto (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seed (pepitas), pinenuts, cashew nuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds). Whichever one or blend of them you choose to use, they will impart their own distinct character and flavor to the pesto. Experiment and see which nuts and seeds suit your budget and palate best.

I often like to substitute a ¼ of a cup to one cup of the Chickweed for some other herb such as Thai Basil, Mint, Plantain, Sweet Basil or any other kind of Basil. Or anything else that is in plentiful supply. My favourite is Thai Basil.

Soak the seeds or nuts in water for a few hours before use, to release the enzyme inhibitors and to increase their creaminess in your pesto.

 

Harvest-Chickweed

Harvested Chickweed

My Chickweed Pesto Recipe

2 cloves of Garlic
3 Tablespoons of Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)
¼ tsp. salt with a little freshly ground black pepper added
2 cups chopped fresh Chickweed, or 11/2 cups of Chickweed and half a cup of Thai Basil and a few Plantain leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Parmesan or other Hard Cheese
Squeeze of Lime or Lemon juice (approx. 2 teaspoons or to taste)

To make:

Pound garlic and salt in a mortar.

Gradually add the nuts, then the greens and continue to pound.

Gradually add oil, until you have a smooth, thick paste, at your desired consistency.

I often like my pesto quite chunky and course, and not too soft, so I don’t pound it as long as you would for a smoother, softer pesto.

Stir in cheese.

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Alternatively, use a blender or small food processor for all the ingredients except the parmesan cheese, which you still stir in at the end.

And that is all there is to it!

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Now you can Enjoy your Wonderfully Wild Homemade Chickweed Pesto on crackers, vegetable sticks or mixed in pasta. It also makes a great sandwich spread, or on pizzas, fish, meat or potatoes, or stuffed mushrooms. . . . . .

It’s so delicious, versatile and filled with amazing nutritional value as well.

This is a great example of Food as Medicine.

Untitled-2Shared on: From the Farm, Old Fashioned Friday, Simple Saturday, Simply Natural Saturday, Real Food Forager, Wildcrafting Wednesday

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Natural Homemade Laundry Powder

Laundry-PowderDo you know what is in commercial laundry detergents and what effect they have on your health and the environment? Detergents in all forms – liquids, cakes or powders – are mistakenly accepted as safe, but more and more research is finding they are anything but safe for your health or our environment.

Making your own All Natural Laundry Powder is a breeze and you will know for sure what is in it. This is yet another way you can reduce toxins in the home and save money at the same time.

This is what is in my Homemade Laundry Powder:

Baking Soda – (Sodium Bicarbonate) helps remove stains and any odor. It is gentler on delicate fabrics than Borax.

Washing Soda – (Sodium Carbonate or Soda Ash) helps remove stains and grease as well as softening the water. It can even work as a fixative for some natural dyeing techniques.

Soap – (Plain Soap Bar like Sunlight) cleans

Citric Acid – helps break down grease and stains and is a natural bleaching agent, color brightener and water softener.

Borax –  stain removal, and can also be used on whites as an alternative to bleach. (This can be left out if you prefer to go Borax free and more Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) added in its place) Soap-&-Laundry-Powder My Natural Homemade Laundry Powder Recipe:

1 cup Washing Soda

1 cup plain soap grated or powdered

½ cup Borax

¼ cup Baking Soda

¼ cup citric Acid

Instructions:

1. First slice the bar of soap, using a sharp knife, into smaller pieces. Then put the soap pieces into the blender and blend on high to get it as close possible to powder form. If you haven’t got a blender, you can hand grate the soap as fine as you can. The finer the soap is ground or grated the easier it will dissolve during washing. I wash in cold water so this is quite important to me.

Powdered Plain Bar Soap

Powdered Plain Bar Soap

2. I then mix all the ingredients together and put them in an air tight jar or container ready for use.

3. I use a third of a cup of powder for a load of washing.

4. I often turn my washing machine off part way through the wash cycle for an hour or even ten hours, to let it soak before turning the machine back on to complete the wash cycle. This gives time for the cleaning ingredients to gently get in for a cleaner wash.

All Natural Fabric Softener:

I put 1/3 cup of vinegar in the last rinse cycle to act as a fabric softener. It also removes any soap residue that may still be in the fabric and makes sure the ph level has returned to a balanced level.  My clothes don’t smell of vinegar because any vinegar smell doesn’t linger for more than a minute in clothes.

Have you ever used this recipe?

4 cups Lux Pure Soap Flakes

1 cup Methylated Spirits

1 cup Eucalyptus Oil

Combine and store in a jar.

My mother did and although it is a mix for washing woolens (and seemingly doesn’t need to be rinsed out after washing) she also used it in her washing machine for very dirty, greasy or oily clothes and it worked amazingly well.

What is your favorite Natural Laundry product? Untitled-2 Shared on: From the Farm, Old Fashioned Friday, Simple Saturday, Simply Natural Saturday, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Thrifty Thursday,

Mango Chutney

Mango-Chutney-topI love mangoes. I love them raw, I love them cooked – in anything; cakes, jams, chutneys, smoothies. . . So when I was taking my dog for a run one morning (she was running, I was riding my bike) I was pretty excited to come across a mango tree on public land, with mangoes on it. Under the tree were 2 as yet unripe mangoes, obviously knocked off by the wind or something. I picked these treasures up and headed home. They were a hybrid variety of mango, so the tree had been planted where it was. Over the next few weeks I managed to collect half a dozen of these ‘windfalls’.

I decided to use them to make chutney.

Unripe Native Mangoes still on the tree

Unripe Native Mangoes still on the tree

A friend had a huge native mango tree in her back yard, and put the word out for anyone who wanted some to come and get them before the bats/flying foxes got them all. They weren’t yet ripe, but I collected as many of the bigger ones as I could reach. This would mean quite a few jars of chutney rather than just one.

Bat

Flying Foxes come and eat the fruit as it starts to ripen.

Chutneys are really very simple and straight forward to make. Here is how I made my Mango Chutney:

Ingredients:

2 kg mango flesh
3 onions finely chopped
4 apples peeled and finely chopped
2 tomatoes, skinned and sliced into squares
1 level teaspoon chili flakes
300g sultanas
4 cloves of garlic
2 cups sugar (coconut sugar)
Piece of fresh ginger finely grated – I used a piece about 1 x 2 inches
5 cups vinegar  (Apple Cider Vinegar)
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Method:

As I hadn’t purchased a tray of nicely ripened mangoes, I had to add a few extra steps into the preparation of the mangoes. Firstly I put them in a newspaper lined box to ripen.

The Native Mango is Very stringy when ripe, making it hard to eat or use. To get past this I cut the mango flesh up into smallish squares just as the mango started to ripen – before the fibers had chance to develop. The few mangoes that ripened into the stringy stage before I had chance to get the flesh cut into little squares and frozen, I would peel and squeeze the juice off, leaving the seed and fibers behind. I froze this juice too, ready for making the chutney later, once I had collected all the mango flesh.

When I was ready to make the chutney, I put all the ingredients in a large saucepan and slowly brought it to the boil. I let it simmer slowly, without a lid on for about 2 hours, stirring regularly to stop it sticking or burning on the bottom. The lid is off the pot so liquid can evaporate, leaving tastier and thicker chutney behind.

When the chutney was ready I sterilized my preserving jars in hot water, filled them with the chutney still hot from the stove. Wiping any spills from round the top to ensure a good seal, I then screwed the lids on, and left them to cool.

Mango-Chutney

Voila!

Delicious Mango Chutney to complement any meal and enough for the year ahead!

Untitled-2Shared on: Simple Saturday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Old-Fashioned Friday, Real Food Forager

Zucchini Slice

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Once my zucchini plants start producing, it can be hard at times to keep up with the speed of their production. In no time I can end up with overgrown zucchini, looking more like rather large marrows. Marrows are great stuffed and baked, but I prefer the smaller zucchini, so they need to be picked and used regularly. There are so many interesting ways and recipes to use zucchini. It doesn’t need to be just added to soups and stews, or sauteed in butter and garlic

The following is a recipe I have used to make a cross between and pastry-less quiche and a zucchini slice. I used to make a zucchini chocolate cake, which was amazingly delicious, once upon a time. It really shows the versatility of zucchini in cooking.

You can sometimes substitute one ingredient for another similar one, depending on your preference, or dietary needs, ie using different herbs or different flours. I am often substituting an ingredient for something else I have on hand at the time, in my cooking. The results do change with the different ingredient, but sometimes it changes for the better and other times it just ends up being a little different than it would have been. In the days before 24/7 supermarket shopping, people often only shopped once a week/fortnight, or even once a month. So if we didn’t have the exact ingredients left in the cupboard, we just knew to substitute where we could. It was normal for the times!

This Slice is really simple to prepare and tastes delicious!

Zucchini Slice Recipe

Ingredients:

2 (organic) eggs
¾ cup spelt flour (or flour of your choice ie besan or chickpea flour, arrowroot or a blend of flours)
3 tablespoons chopped parsley (or fresh herb of your choice ie basil or oregano)
½ cup milk or milk of your choice ie oat or rice milk
1 small onion, finely chopped
½ cup grated cheese
½ cup chopped bacon (optional)
1½ – 2 grated zucchini
¼ – ½ tsp each salt and pepper
paprika to sprinkle on top plus some extra cheese, tomato slices & herbs (optional)

NB if you use chick pea flour, it is nice with curry powder added.

Instructions:

Place flour, eggs, and milk into a medium size bowl. Mix well. Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix.

Ingredients ready to stir together

Ingredients ready to stir together

Or as I did, put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix.
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Grease a medium size baking dish with oil or butter. I lined the bottom with baking paper too, just to be sure the slice didn’t stick to the bottom. Put your mixture in and decorate the top with some extra cheese, tomato slices, smoked paprika and some extra herbs, for something special. I just added the tomato slices to this one.

Put it in the oven and Bake at 180C or 350F for about half an hour, or until it is set all the way through.

I check to see if it is set all the way through by just pressing it or jiggling the slice and seeing if it is still soft and mobile, or I stick a skewer in and see if it is covered with soft, uncooked mixture when I gently pull it out again.
Zucchini-Slice3
When it has finished cooking, let it cool a little before slicing it, so it holds together better. And “Enjoy”!

That’s it! It is so easy and oh so delicious. The simplest foods can often be the nicest, most wholesome and delicious foods.


What are your favorite Zucchini recipes?


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Shared on: Frugal Days Sustainable ways, Old-Fashioned Friday, Natural Living Monday

Green Tomato Jam

Green-Tomato-JamI don’t like waste. I wasn’t around in the Great Depression or even the Second World War. I just don’t like waste. To me, it is disrespectful to Nature and to Life to waste ANY of the bounty we are so freely given.

So when this wonderful little self-seeded tomato plant, that had supplied an amazing amount of beautiful sweet fruit over the preceding months, had become very straggly and wind battered, I decided it needed to come out even though it was still bearing fruit.

The little green tomatoes still on the plant could have been fed to chickens or composted, but I decided to make some jam with them. I can remember my mother making Green Tomato Jam when I was a child and it was delicious. My mother used white sugar in her jam which really preserved the green colour of the tomatoes. I used rapadura sugar for a healthier jam and because it was what I had in the cupboard at the time, but it does overpower the lovely green of the tomatoes. The flavor easily made up for what this jam lacked in colour though.

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Green Tomato Jam

Ingredients:

450g Green Tomatoes
1 cup rapadura sugar or coconut sugar (or any other sugar)
1” piece of fresh ginger finely grated
Juice of a lemon
½ cup water

Instructions:

Wash your green tomatoes. These little tomatoes had a nice soft, thin skin, so I used them as they were.

If you are using large green tomatoes you may want to dunk them in boiling water to remove the skins and then cut the tomatoes into smaller pieces.

Add tomatoes, water and lemon juice to a saucepan and simmer until the tomatoes become soft and start to break up. Add sugar and stir until dissolved, and then stir every now and then using a wooden spoon. Boil for a further 20 – 30 minutes or until the jam passes the setting test.

To test jams for setting readiness:
Put a little jam or jelly on a cold plate. Leave to cool slightly. The mixture will set if the surface wrinkles when touched or is gently pushed.

When the jam passes the setting test, pour it into pre-warmed, sterile jars and cover immediately.

So Easy! And Oh So Delicious!

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When friends and Family came over we had Green Tomato Jam on crumpets with blue cheese.

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We also made a pizza with Green Tomato Jam, Blue cheese, Feta cheese, Brie cheese and Walnuts. Just Amazing! Mmmm so delicious.

If you have some green tomatoes, think about making some Green Tomato Jam with them. The flavor is amazing!

Do you eat green tomatoes?   How do you have them?

Untitled-2Shared on: Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Old-Fashioned Friday, Simple Saturday, Simply Natural Saturdays

 

Chocolate Fudge Berry Cakes

IMG_2607I love chocolate. I have been a Chocoholic, a lover of all things sweet and chocolaty, all my life. (well, as long as I can remember anyway)

Now that I am avoiding wheat flour, and a number of other usual cooking ingredients, I am looking to healthier alternatives, without losing that rich decadent flavor and texture.

This is a recipe for a truly delicious, rich, fudge chocolate cake, made with some healthier alternative ingredients.

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Chocolate Fudge Berry Cakes

Ingredients:

½ cup butter
¼ cup coconut oil
1/3 – ½ cup coconut or rapadura sugar, depending on sweetness required
¼ cup cacao
1/3 cup spelt flour or arrowroot flour
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
½ cup cranberries or other berries –fresh, dried or frozen

instructions:

1. Soften the butter and coconut oil
2. Add the sugar, cacao and vanilla, and blend/beat until creamy
3. Add the eggs, and blend them in to create a smooth creamy texture
4. Add the flour and salt, and mix in well
5. Lastly gently stir in the berries, (especially if fresh or frozen berries are used)
6. Put into small muffin tins and cook at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes

This amount makes 6 small cakes. Just enough for one person, if that person is a chocolate and berry lover like me. Just kidding, even I couldn’t eat them all. They are very rich.

I like to make them using dried cranberries, although fresh or frozen berries give them a fresher and lighter flavor.

You can double the recipe for a larger family.

IMG_2612Enjoy them hot from the oven with your favourite homemade kefir or coconut cream and banana ice-cream.

Delicious!

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Jellied Mint Sauce

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Is your mint plant starting to take over the garden?

Tired of your mint sauce running all over the plate?

Here is a solution to both these dilemmas.

I know it is a bit of a ‘know no’, but I have mint growing in my vege garden. It seems very happy there and is growing really well. Every now and then I just come along and pull the runners up, roots and all. After picking the lovely juicy, fresh stems and leaves off, I either plant the roots somewhere in the yard or give them away to someone else to plant in their garden or a corner of their yard.

The fresh leaves and tips are used in mint sauce, mint dip, salads, roll ups, wraps, smoothies, just nibbled on as a refreshing snack or anything else I can think of at the time.

Here is how I make my Jellied Garden Mint Sauce ~

Ingredients:

5g gelatin
½ cup boiling water
2 large handfuls of mint leaves and tips
2 tablespoon ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar)
1 dessertspoon sugar or honey
Mustard seeds (optional)

Instructions:

Put the boiling water in a small bowl and add the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin dissolves. I then add all the ingredients to my blender and blend until the mint is chopped to the desired texture.

If you don’t have a blender, just finely chop the mint and combine all the ingredients, after you have dissolved the gelatin in the hot water. The ingredients can be combined while the water is still hot, or when it cools, depending on how much of a hurry you are in at the time.

When the ingredients are all combined, tip the sauce into a jar or container and put it in the fridge. The gelatin will set and hold the mint sauce together, so voilà, no more mint sauce running all over the plate.

Actually, I put more than double the amount of mint in the last batch I made (pictured above) because there was sooo much mint.

I use organic ACV because I believe it is a healthy alternative, but for a slightly different flavor, malt vinegar can be used instead.

Cumin seeds can be used as an addition instead of mustard seeds for another variation. I add the seeds after I blend the sauce, but I’m sure it works equally well to blend them as well.

The important thing is to experiment and have fun. Imagine what the flavours might be like together in your mind, then try them, a little at a time and see how they taste.

The proof of the pudding is always in the eating!

Enjoy.

signOffShared on Old-Fashioned Friday