Thursday, August 27, 2015

Green salad with Native Raspberries and Violets

This is a salad of mixed garden greens with the edible flowers of the European field pansy and the Australian Showy Violet (Viola betonicifolia) Or use V. banksii formerly Viola hederacea.

The tropical native raspberry is used in the dressing and for decoration. One could use any edible petal or berry of course.
When making a flower salad, be mindful that the flowers and all other ingredients are from a trustworthy source as pesticides/ weed killers are ubiquitous in Australia. Always make sure you know the plant/ flower you are eating.

A bowl of mixed salad greens from the garden
A handful of snow peas
25 Tropical raspberries
5 Flowers of edible violets

3 Tsp. Macadamia oil
2 Tsp. Balsamic vinegar or mirin
2 Tsp. Vegetable stock 
20 Native Raspberries

Place 20 raspberries in stock and mash. Sieve and keep liquid.
Wash all vegetables, fruit and flowers and dry. Rip large green leaves into bits. Cut large peas in halves.
Mix oil, vinegar and sieved berry juice in to a dressing.
Place greens into a bowl and mix half the dressing under. Sprinkle with the remaining berries and toss the flowers and the rest of the dressing over it. Serve immediately.

1. Rubus probus, Viola tricolor, garden greens
2. Snap peas, Viola betonicifolia flowers and leaf, flower of Rubus rosifolius
3. Mixed berries: Rubus probus, strawberries and blueberries

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sugar banana almond cake

200g organic almonds
12 fat ripe sugar bananas (more if small)
some lemon juice
8 tbsp agave nectar
4 eggs separated
140g unsalted butter
some grated lemon rind
about 150g flour
5 tsp baking powder (no aluminium or phosphate, quantity depends on the type of baking powder, do not use too much)
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)


Peel 4 bananas, slice them and sprinkle with lemon juice. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 190°.
Beat the butter in a large bowl with a wooden spoon until it is soft. Beat in alternately the egg yolks and 5 tbsp agave nectar. Beat well into a soft mixture.
Mash the remaining 8 bananas with some lemon juice. Beat them into the mixture one at a time.
Grate a little lemon rind into it. Mix in the cinnamon.
Grate the almonds finely. Beat them into the mixture gradually.
Add the flour a tablespoon at a time while beating. Alternately add the baking powder so it mixes in evenly. Only use enough flour so that the mixture is thick but still falls slowly - “heavily” - from the spoon. Beat well.
Mix in the banana slices.
Whip the egg whites until stiff, then add the remaining agave nectar and continue beating until stiff.
Lift the egg whites under the mixture.
Butter a baking form and dust it with a little flour.
Add the mixture to the form and spread it evenly.

Bake on the 2nd shelf from the bottom for 25 minutes. Cover it with paper. Turn the oven down and bake for a further 25 minutes at 140°c. It should be golden. Test with a thin knife that it is cooked. The knife should come out clean. If it is not clean, return covered to the oven for another 10 minutes and test again. Turn off the oven.
Cool in form in the open oven.
Remove from form when cool.
Store in a linen cloth.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Baked silverbeet with goat cheese


1 large bunch of silverbeet / chard
1 red onion
olive oil
300g goat cheese
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
150g yoghurt
2 tbsp spelt flour
grated nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 180°c.
Wash silverbeet. Separate stems from leaves. Drain well.
Chop onion. Fry in a large pot in olive oil mixing occasionally for 5 minutes.
Cut up silverbeet stems and add to the onions. Fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cut up silverbeet leaves and add to the pot. Put the lid on. Steam for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Grate nutmeg onto a baking dish.
Crumble goat cheese in a bowl and mix in the garlic and some olive oil.
Mix the yoghurt with the flour.
Put the silverbeet into the baking dish. Spread the yoghurt evenly on top. Spread the goat cheese on top of the yoghurt.
Bake for 40 minutes until the cheese starts to colour.

Serve with steamed potatoes and a green salad.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Olive Oil, Ancient Olive Groves and Pathogen Ecology

Nothing goes without organic virgin olive oil on edible culture. Mostly grown in Italy or Spain and proudly packed in Australia.

For some time the ancient gnarled old olive groves (of Apulia/ southern Italy) have been under attack. It is claimed that they have a bug (Xylella fastidiosa) that causes the centuries-old trees to dry out. The olive quick decline syndrome  or ‘olive ebola’ in Puglia comes at a time when the world consumption of the oil has dramatically increased. Demand and drought increase prices.

The scenic groves are protected as cultural heritage (source). The trees are cultivated in the Mediterranean and elsewhere as an inter-generational project.

Fearing the bacterium might spread to other areas and horticultural crops, the authorities declared war on the infected plants, clear felling the trees. Bulldozing, slash and burn and pesticides are seen as the solution, a “precision intervention ” of “surgical” uprooting, soil ploughing and use of select insecticides when uproot the infected plants and use pesticides on affected crops and across wide buffer zones." (source)

It is feared that they "are going to transform the whole region into a cemetery." (source)

A convenient single cause explanation (the bug) makes for a good enemy in combat. Other voices "suspect indiscriminate use of herbicides and anti-heartworm sprays in the area are damaging the trees, not to mention harming the health of locals (such as the glifosate-based Roundup Crop Prevention made by Monsanto, which is a suspected carcinogen). Moreover...the plan against Xylella involves the use of chemical substances that have been declared toxic by EFSA itself." (source)

Monoculture as an agricultural practice leads to pests and diseases. An increase in the biodiversity of the agricultural ecosystem would keep pathogens and pests at bay. Banning the sale of imported exotic plants through regulation could minimize risks. It is also said that the bacterium was introduced via human-mediated dispersal of oleander and coffee plants from Costa Rica and Honduras.

Further speculation has it that the land is eyed by 'the highest bidder', real estate,  tourism and large scale industrial agriculture might want to grab this cultured landscape.

And the cicadas will become silent.

Minimizing the Spread of Disease in Italy’s Famous Olive Trees, 09.02.2015
What Will Save Salento’s Olive Trees?, 31.03.2015
The famous olive trees of Puglia are ravaged by disease – here’s how we can save them, 11.04.2015


What is Xylella fastidiosa?
Nature: Italian scientists vilified in wake of olive-tree deaths 

And in Australia:
Police called in as couple aged in 70s fights to keep banana plants in Darwin, cops $765 fine

Vincent van Gogh, Olive Grove 1889,
Vincent van Gogh, Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background, 1889