Archive for February, 2011

Posted on 28th February 2011

community | MLC Sydney

By MEREDITH KIRTON

MLC Sydney junior kitchen garden

GrowHarvestCook’s Meredith Kirton has been working with MLC School Sydney to develop a kitchen garden in their junior school.

Head of Junior School, Diana Drummond, reflects “With the opening of MLC’s new Junior School precinct in 2009, students and staff set about creating a warm and engaging learning environment, reflective of our multi-cultural community.  A visit to the old Junior School site during the year confirmed that the students missed the plants and flowers and specifically, the vegetable garden that grew in their old playground.  And so the idea of creating a new Kitchen Garden was born.
Throughout 2010, the girls designed, raised money and started to learn about this new garden.”

Events such as a kitchen garden day with herb and vegetable packs for sale were very succesful for raising funds for this project.  Six year old gardener Elkie, seen here picking her veggies, says “The best bit was everything. I got some leeks and lettuce and radish which I pit in the vegie garden at home. My peas didn’t grow though and I don’t know why? All my friends liked it too”.

The school has some keen gardeners, including Adele Jackson, who has contributed to our ghc seed saving pages and Chloe Zurynski, who is the kids editor at Burkes Backyard magazine. ´ I like gardening because you really get a chance to see (and often taste!) the result of your work”, says Chloe. “It keeps you motivated. For me, gardening is something I’d just do for fun after a tiring day of school to relax and soak up a bit of afternoon sun. It takes the stress away and gives you space to think.”

“It’s great that my school, MLC Burwood, has also picked up a bit of gardening fever. Our Junior School has started a kitchen garden. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the girls to learn about making their very own food. So far they’ve learnt valuable gardening skills such as transplanting veggies into larger pots and how to grow their own vegetables at home. Best of all, the girls seem to have a green thumb and are immensely enjoying their gardening!  It’s extremely rewarding when you taste your delicious home grown produce and realize that it is the result of a little effort and a few enjoyable, down to earth minutes of watering the garden each day.”

Work has finally finished now on a substantial, productive and aesthetically beautiful garden, accessible by the entire Junior School community.  With the help of Meredith  “our dream design was drawn up and is now constructed, ready for early Autumn planting!” says Diana Drummond.  The girls will begin planting heirloom vegetables from the end of 19th Century to help commemorate the school’s 125th anniversary, which it is celebrating this year.

stone bowl for kitchen garden

The gift to the School from the graduating junior school class, a beautiful Ishi Buki Sandstone Sculpture. info@ishibuki.com

Photography by MEREDITH KIRTON and CHRIS BENNETS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under community
Posted on 14th February 2011

grow | corn

By MEREDITH KIRTON

home-grown corn plants

The sweetness of corn makes it a favourite with children and grown ups, but have you ever wondered about growing your own crop? It’s an easy vegetable to grow but you certainly need some space as sweetcorn grows about 1.8m tall, making it tall enough for even a person to hide in!  This has lead to corn mazes being grown commonly in the Northern Hemisphere, where it’s native and grown as a staple for many foods, not just corn chips!

Of course you don’t need acreage, just a sheltered yet sunny spot about 1m x 1m to grow a block of nine plants is fine, or twice that many to really feed a hungry corn-loving family.  You have to prepare you soil well before planting with lots of well rotted manure, preferably cow, dug through the ground and any clods broken up well.  Then water the soil well and plant either seeds in pairs (1cm under) or seedlings singly into the soil about 30cm apart.  Keep them mulched and watered well, and then feed them with liquid fertiliser every two weeks so that they grow quickly.

Corn is unusual in that it does need to be grown as a group.  This is because there are male and female flowers.  The males appear on the tops of each plant, and to maximise fertilisation (which is by wind) of the whole cob, you have to have a “chunk” rather than single row of corn…either that or get out there with a paintbrush and run it from one flower to another playing Mother Nature or gently shake your plants so that they drop pollen on the silks below!  Overhead watering also seems to help with this process.

Cobs are ready to harvest when these same silks develop a cob below them and have turned brown.  Pick the cobs by just twisting them and pushing down till they snap, then de-husk and pop them into boiling water asap for the sweetest corn ever.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under grow
Posted on 14th February 2011

harvest | corn

By MANDY SINCLAIR

home-grown sweet corn cob

Storage:
Fresh corn should feel and look moist with plump kernels. Store corn in its husks, in the refrigerator for 4-5 days after picking.

What to do with glut

Freeze:
Using a sharp knife, remove corn from husks. Place in clip lock plastic bag and freeze.

Preserve:

Corn relish

4 corn cobs
1½ cups white vinegar
¾ cup white sugar
1 onion, chopped
1 red capsicum, chopped
2 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp dry mustard

Using a sharp knife, cut kernels from cobs. Heat vinegar, sugar and ½ cup of water in a saucepan on low, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high. Add corn, onion and capsicum and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 mins, until corn is tender. Mix together cornflour, mustard and 2 tbsp of water. Add to corn mixture, stirring constantly and simmer for 3 mins, until thickened slightly. Spoon into sterlised jars. Seal and store refrigerated for up to 2 months.

Makes 3 cups

corn relish recipe

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 14th February 2011

cook | corn

By MANDY SINCLAIR

corn muffin recipe

Breakfast corn muffins

3 rashers bacon, rind removed, chopped
1 cup grated cheese
¾ cup polenta
1/3 cup plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 corn cobs, kernels removed (1 1/3 cups)
2 tbsp snipped chives, plus extra for topping
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
¼ cup grated parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan. Line a 12-hole, 1/3 cup capacity muffin pan with paper cases.
2. Cook bacon in a small frying pan on medium heat for 5 mins, until crisp. Set aside to cool.
3. Combine cheese, polenta, flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Add corn, bacon and chives and mix to combine. Whisk together buttermilk, eggs and oil. Add to flour mixture and stir until just combined.
4. Fill prepared pan. Top each with a little parmesan and extra chives. Bake for 20 mins, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12


try this ….
Corn chowder – Heat 1 tbsp oil in a saucepan on medium. Cook 1 chopped onion and 4 chopped rashers of bacon for 5 mins, until onion is soft. Add 1 tsp ground cumin and cook for 1 min, until fragrant. Add 4 cups chicken stock and 2 chopped potatoes. Boil for 10 mins, until potato is tender. Add kernels from 4 cobs and 125g can creamed corn. Cook for 10 mins, until corn is tender. Stir through ½ cup grated cheese. Serve topped with snipped chives.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under cook
Posted on 1st February 2011

grow | mint

By MEREDITH KIRTON

mint growing in the garden

Summer is the perfect season to make the most of one of the best known of all herbs, Mint.  It is fabulous crushed with ice in drinks, in desserts, giving a bite to Asian salads and spring rolls, and even used on that Aussie classic, the lamb roast.   Mint (Mentha spp.) can be the bane of peoples kitchen gardens…they either can’t grow it or seem to have it out of control!  The thing is, mint is one of the only herbs able to cope with shade, but it is certainly one of the only herbs that just can’t cope with a dry spell…mint needs water, drip fed so it seems!

There are many different sorts, but the most common is called common mint! Others include peppermint (M. x piperita), spearmint (M. spicata), apple mint (M. suaveolens) and eau de cologne mint (M. piperita x citrata), and the lesser known chocolate mint (M. piperita ‘Chocolate Mint’), ginger mint (M. x gracilis) and basil mint (M. x piperita citrata ‘Basil’), which is great as a basil fill-in over winter, as most basil is unavailable then.

To grow it, simply strike a cutting in water or buy a pot of the mint you want and plant it in a pot, that way it won’t get out of control in the garden and grow wild.  Keep it well watered and feed with both lime and liquid fertiliser.  It is prone to rust, so whenever you see brown spots on the leaves quickly pick them off and bin them.  Extremely bad cases may be worth cutting the whole plant back to a stump, removing all leaves and feeding it back up ready to grow again, this time hopefully disease free foliage.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under grow
Posted on 1st February 2011

harvest |mint

By MANDY SINCLAIR

freshly harvested mint

Storage:
Wrap fresh mint in damp kitchen paper and seal in a plastic bag. Refrigerate for 3-4 days.

What to do with glut

Preserve:

Mint Jelly

Combine 3 cups sugar, 2 cups firmly packed mint leaves, 1 cup white vinegar and ¾ cup of water in a saucepan. Stir on medium heat, until sugar dissolves.  Simmer for 10 mins. Dissolve 2 tbsp powdered gelatine in ¼ cup of hot water. Add to mint mixture and mix to combine. Strain, discarding mint leaves. Fill sterilized jars while sauce is still hot. Seal and refrigerate.

Makes 3 cups

tip ….
If you like add 1-2 drops of green food colouring to mixture before bottling.

mint jelly recipe

To Dry
Lay mint leaves on a rack and dry in sun for 2-3 days. Crush leaves and store in an airtight container. Use in stews, casseroles and sauces.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 1st February 2011

cook | mint

By MANDY SINCLAIR

chicken and mint salad recipe

Poached chicken & mint salad

1 litre water
1 cup Chinese cooking wine
¼ cup soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, chopped
sliced ginger
4 chicken breast fillets
mint salad
1 cup mint leaves
1 cup coriander leaves
2 lebanese cucumber, shredded
3 green onions (shallots), shredded
2 celery stalk, cut into matchsticks
2 tbsp poaching liquid
2 tsp white sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp white vinegar
pinch of chilli flakes

1.  Combine water, wine, soy, garlic and ginger in a large saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 mins. Add chicken and poach gently for 10 mins. Remove from heat and leave chicken in stock for 10 mins.
2.  Meanwhile make salad. Toss together mint, coriander, cucumber, onion and celery. Whisk together poaching liquid, sugar, oil, soy, vinegar and chilli.
3.  Remove chicken from stock and cool slightly. Using your fingers shred chicken and add to salad with dressing. Toss to combine.

Serves 4


tip ….
To re-use stock, strain and discard solids. Place stock in an airtight container and freeze. When ready to use, thaw, add more aromatics and boil for 10 mins before poaching chicken.


try this ….
Mushy minted peas – Combine 3 cups frozen or fresh peas, 1 cup chicken stock, 2 cups water and a few sprigs of mint in a saucepan. Boil for 5 mins, until peas are tender. Strain, reserve ½ cup cooking liquid. Discard solids. Place peas and reserved liquid in a blender and blend until just chopped.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under cook