Farewell from Grow Harvest Cook

Posted on 15th April 2014

Four years ago 4 women, with a combined “lifetime” of experience in lifestyle publishing decided to publish a blog following their combined passions of food, photography, gardening and design.  It was naturally named Grow Harvest Cook.

Over this time we have covered so many delicious garden grown ingredients, culminating in the production of the Grow Harvest Book of the same name, which has over 280 recipes and garden tips.  Grow Harvest Cook has now decided that this is a good time to hang up their tools, fold their apron strings and venture out on new projects solo.

The book of which we are all so proud will continue to be available at bookstores and online, and for a limited time.

the designer
Sue Cadzow   www.redpeppergraphics.com.au

the gardener
Meredith Kirton  Meredithk@pacific.net.au  Twitter @meredithkirton

the cook
Mandy Sinclair   urbanherb@optusnet.com.au

the photographer
Sue Stubbs   www.suestubbs.com.au

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community | family

Posted on 15th February 2014


Today, my Mum got me to try a piece of herb that she had recently bought at a fruit shop and then planted. She said it was called ‘Vietnamese Mint’, but it definitely didn’t really taste like mint to me. I certainly wouldn’t like my toothpaste tasting like that It gave the same tingling sensation on my tongue that mint does, but it was far more intense. It was much closer to the needles-on-tongue feeling that rocket or horseradish give.

But there was something else there – something separate from the spiciness. There was some sort of airy fragrance that I couldn’t quite determine. My mind clicked through the various spices and herbs that I had so far tasted in my lifetime, which instantly brought back memories of foraging through the back-garden of my early childhood.

The back-garden seemed absolutely enormous through my young eyes, although it was probably actually no larger than an average suburban block. There was only a narrow strip of grass through the middle (‘the pitch’), with various trees and bushes along the fence lines. Every 2 metres there was something edible.

There was a strange mauve flowered bush with raisin-like fruit which stained our fingers and tongues blue whenever we ate them. This made us look like the real blue tongue lizards which roamed under the humungous rosemary bush which grew in the sun nearby.

Along one fence was a passionfruit vine. The agreement with the neighbours was ‘If it grows on your side, it’s yours.’ This meant a near continuous supply during the summer. There was also the Cape Gooseberry bush, which tasted like miniature kiwifruit. I always thought of it as ‘the little lantern tree’.

Our block sloped downhill away from the road, and the furthest end of the backyard had several old, tall trees. There was a Lemon Tea Tree, which, as the name suggests, was used to make tea. My elder siblings used to make brews in a billy. I never really drank the tea though: I didn’t like the taste of the leaves themselves, so I couldn’t imagine the liquid form being very appetising.

There was a ‘lady finger’ tree near the back of one corner, but we never ate from it. It would take too much effort to get down the small green lumps that were apparently banana. Besides, we were told not to go near that area. We had seen snakes around there.

My fondest memory is the huge macadamia tree. We would surely have gone through kilos of macadamia nuts a week. Every day we would gather and crack nuts open for a quick snack. The mechanical nutcrackers were no match compared to our system of nut cracking. All it took was the concrete slab to rest them on, and a well sized brick to smash them open. Occasionally it would result in a gritty macadamia pancake, but it was undoubtedly the most efficient and fun method.

There were also various other herbs, trees and bushes that were sources of nourishment: nasturtiums for peppery leaf sandwiches; a kaffir lime hedge as well as a young Tahitian lime tree; a few blackberry canes and a white mulberry bush with long sweet pale fruit as well as silk worms; a tumbling bank of parsley, basil and chives and a big tub of refreshing mint.

It was a wonderful backyard that I truly miss, and I’ll forever treasure the memories of grazing in that garden. But I still can’t work out what it is that ‘Vietnamese Mint’ reminds me of. Bummer- I guess all I can do is keep on eating.

Mum’s comments: -the mauve flowered bush was ‘melastoma affine’ [I think], and the kids were warned not to eat Tibouchina which look similar –the Cape Gooseberry I think might be related to a similar-looking toxic ‘Chinese lantern tree’ [?] –I have finally figured out where I myself have eaten ‘Vietnamese mint’. I have had it fresh with laksa in Malaysia, and garnishing fish in Indonesia- it tastes more like coriander than mint I think. In Malay languages it’s called daun kesum and it has its own special deliciousness- highly recommended!


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Grow | Asian Greens

Posted on 6th February 2014


Happy Chinese New Year.

The lunar Calender celebration of the Year of the Horse has begun. And what better time to plant out a crop of Asian Greens? Or, if you want to add some “good luck” charms to your garden, pop in some red or orange flowered plants around the gardenor a Chinese Lucky Plant or Aglaonema is one plant that will cope with almost anything, from airconditioning in summer to heating in winter.  It seems adapt admirably with a wide range of positions, and has handsome leaves with grey or white markings and is supposed to be good Feng Shui.

Asian cuisine is becoming more and more mainstream, with many of their greens appearing on our supermarket shelves and even more to choose from the markets.  For those in the know, they offer great flavour and interesting texture, and in the garden, can be an easy to grow alternative to more traditional crops.

Many Asian greens belong to the family Brassicaceae, which includes Chinese Cabbage (Wong-bok), Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan), Chinese Chard (Pak Choi), Chinese Flowering Cabbage (Choi Sum) and Mustard Greens (daai gaai choi).  These grow quickly from seed, reaching maturity after about 6-8 weeks depending on the season and can be picked whole or leaf by leaf in the case of all but the Wong-bok.  Many are more heat tolerant too, than traditionals so are great for warmer climates and don’t need the longer season to form a heart that your traditional Savoy Cabbage does, for example.

For best results, prepare the soil about 2-4 weeks prior to planting with the addition of some lime or gypsum. Be vigilant in the look out for white cabbage moths as their larvae can eat up all the greens before you get a chance!  Regular liquid fertilising with liquid blood and bone or seaweed solution will keep your greens growing rapidly and make them sweeter as a result.

Now is a great time to be planting seedlings and raising seeds of all these.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Harvest | Asian Greens

Posted on 6th February 2014


 Asian Greens from the garden


The most common varieties under the umbrella of Asian Greens are pak choy, choy sum, gai larn and baby bok choy. Due to the naturally high water content of Asian greens they generally don’t store well, and are best picked at the time of using. If storing is absolutely necessary, pack in a perforated plastic bag and refrigerate for 1-2 days.

What to do with glut

  • Wilt, chop, freeze

Place greens in a large strainer and pour over a kettle over boiling water. Refresh under cold water and drain well. Transfer to a clean tea towel and pat dry. Pack into airtight containers or clip lock bags and freeze for up to 2 months.

freezing asian greens

  • To Preserve

Pickled greens

 Using your choice of greens, separate any leaves and cut leaves and stems into 4cm lengths. Place into an airtight container. Heat 1 cup rice wine vinegar, ½ cup white sugar and 1 tbsp shredded ginger in a pan on low, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Bring to boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour over vegetables. Toss to combine. Seal and refrigerate overnight before using. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.


Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS


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Cook | Asian Greens

Posted on 6th February 2014


 Sticky GInger Asian Greens recipe

Sticky ginger greens

1/3 cup honey
¼ cup water
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp grated ginger
½ tsp sesame oil
1 bunch gai lan, trimmed
1 bunch baby bok choy, quartered >? halved lengthways
4 green onions (shallots), sliced diagonally
¼ cup coriander leaves
Steamed rice, to serve

1. Heat honey, water, oyster sauce and ginger in a wok or large frying pan on high. Add greens and cook for 1 min, until wilted and well coated. Remove from heat.
2. Top with onion and coriander. Serve sticky greens with steamed rice.

Serves 6

Add 200g cubed firm tofu with greens.

Try This…
Poached chicken & pak choy broth
Heat 4 cups chicken stock in a large pan on high until boiling. Reduce heat to low. Add 2 chicken breast fillets and simmer, covered, for 12 mins. Using a slotted spoon, remove from stock. Set aside. Add ¼ cup soy sauce, 1 tbsp fish sauce and 1 tbsp shredded ginger to stock and 1 chopped long red chilli to stock and simmer for 5 mins. Remove from heat. Add 1 bunch chopped pak choy and 4 chopped green onions. Thinly slice chicken and return to stock. Ladle into bowls and top with coriander sprigs.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Grow | Kiwi Fruit

Posted on 21st December 2013


kiwi fruit on vine

kiwi fruit flowers

Kiwi fruit (Actinidia), or Chinese gooseberries as they are also known, are deciduous vines. They are ideal for people without a lot of space as, providing they are kept trimmed, the vines can be kept to a manageable size. However, one plant is not enough, as kiwi fruit are either male or female and you need two to tango! If you decide you want to go into kiwi fruit in a big way, you can plant up to eight females per male plant, at 3 m (9 ft) spacings.

As they are deciduous, kiwi fruit can also withstand frosts while dormant and grow in a range of climates from cool to temperate without any fuss, providing they are in well-drained soil. Spoiling them with extra chicken manure and deep soakings of water during summer will ensure they give you a bountiful harvest, and they normally start bearing properly after 4 years.  Prune them hard in winter and remove any canes that are more than 3 years old, as these have passed their use-by date.

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Harvest | Kiwi Fruit

Posted on 20th December 2013


kiwi fruit


Pick kiwi fruit whilst still firm and under ripe. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 weeks. To ripen, store at room temperature for 1-2 days until the fruit gives slightly, when touched.

What to do with glut

  • Freeze

Kiwi choc pops

Peel kiwi fruit and cut into 2cm thick slices. Push a paddle pop stick into the sides of each slice. Place on a tray and freeze until firm. Melt 1 cup dark chocolate. Set aside to cool. Dip each frozen kiwi piece into chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Freeze until ready to serve.

  • Preserve

Kiwi fruit jam

1 kg kiwi fruit, peeled, chopped
½ cup orange juice
3 cups caster sugar

1. Place a small saucer in the freezer.
2. Place kiwi fruit, water and orange juice in a large saucepan. Boil for 5 mins, until fruit has softened. Remove from heat. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Boil for 40 mins.
3. To test for setting. Remove jam from heat. Drop 1 tsp of jam onto cold saucer. Leave for 30 secs to cool. Setting point is reached if the surface wrinkles when touched and a channel is formed by a finger, remains open. If not, boil for another 10 mins, before testing again.
4. Transfer to sterilized jars and seal immediately. Store in a cool dark place until opening, then refrigerate.

Makes about 4 cups

kiwi fruit jam recipe

  • Dry

Preheat oven to 140C or 120C fan. Line baking trays with baking paper.
Fill a bowl with water and add the juice of 2 lemons. Peel kiwi fruit and cut into 1cm thick slices. Dip into acidulated water to prevent discolouration. Lay kiwi fruit in a single layer, on prepared trays. Bake for 4 hrs, turning after 2 hrs, until dry. The fruit should not be crisp dry but soft and pliable. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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