Tag Archives: homemade

Recap on the garden 2015

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Hi everybody, it has been a while since my last post on my balcony garden.

I did not get to do as many posts as I wanted last season. Sometimes everyday life just ticks on and you are caught up in doing everyday things and that is what happened to me last season. So I thought that I would give a recap on how the 2015 garden season went before starting the 2016 season.

I thought I would start where I left off with the tomatoes and peppers being ready for their final pots. They looked really good and ready to go out into the world or just on the balcony.

Tomatoes and peppers ready to go into the balcony garden
Tomatoes and peppers ready to go into the balcony garden

I waited until middle of May and I thought the weather was perfect for putting the plants on the balcony. It turns out I was very wrong. The very night I put out the plants a great storm with very strong winds and hail hit Copenhagen. That storm just beat and battered my plants and the next morning not much was left. I was devastated and a bit heartbroken.

Just after the storm
Just after the storm

After a couple of days I had to cut of most of the leaves as they had lost all structure from being battered and were crumpling.

All that was left of the garden
All that was left of the garden

There was so little left I did not know if I would have a garden season or not. I was contemplating sowing new tomatoes and peppers but it was so late in the season. Eventually I decided to put my faith in the plants recovering and see how it would turn out.

It took two months for them to recover but they came back strong and I did get a garden.

The garden in July
The garden in July

The tomatoes even produced quite decently given the circumstances. The peppers didn’t ever really recover and only gave a couple of small peppers toward the end of the season. My experiment with tomatillos also produced a good amount of fruit.

Tomatoes and tomatillos in the garden
Tomatoes and tomatillos in the garden

What else happened in the 2015 season

I made elderflower cordial as I always do in June. I have a park close to where I live away from the roads where I usually get my flowers and turn them into lovely cordial. If you want the recipe you can find it here: Elderflower cordial

Elderflower codial
Elderflower codial

I also made red currant jelly from berries I got from my mother in law. It is a favorite in our house both on bread but also in sauces especially for Christmas. Maybe I will do a post with recipe at a later date.

Red currant gele
Red currant jelly

I put most of my herbs on the walkway in front of my flat to share with my neighbors. We can’t use all the herbs our selves son why not share them. It is a very good way to meet your neighbors and have a little chat.

Herb garden in front
Herb garden in front
Herb garden in front
Herb garden in front

I made tomato sauce for the winter season of some of the tomatoes and I pickled tomatillos, tomatoes and the last of my apples.

2015-09-27 18.26.03

Pickled goodies
Pickled goodies

I ended the season with the annual seed saving. I decided to take seeds from this seasons tomatoes as they proved to be incredibly hardy. They kicked that storms a.. and produced great tomatoes anyway. A great quality in a plant – that is a keeper.

Making tomato sauce and savng seeds at the same time
Making tomato sauce and saving seeds at the same time
Tomato seeds from the garden put on coffee filters to dry
Tomato seeds from the garden put on coffee filters to dry

What happens now?

I have started my tomatoes, peppers, one chili and a cucumber and I was looking forward to getting started. I will show you in the next post.

Unfortunately we just got notice that our facade will be undergoing renovation from March until October and my balcony might be covered and occupied by workers for the entire summer. No, no, no… Not happy…

I am going to talk to the superintendant to hear more about the exact plans for the renovation. Best case scenario is if they start where we live or end where we live so I can still have somewhat of a garden season. Worst case scenario is me exploring how much you can grow indoors with a great big scaffolding blocking the windows and the light. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Happy growing season 2016 – Sara

 

 

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Homemade stock – a heavenly thing

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At some point during the last couple of years I decided that I did not want to keep using store bought stock. It is full of salt, taste enhancers and chemicals and I wanted to do something else. So I started looking at making my own stock and I thought it would be a lot more difficult that it is. But it is really not. I have even found that it helps me use more of the scraps that you get in a normal household. I use my freezer to save scraps from preparing and carving meat, bits of bacon, vegetables gone soft, spinach and herb stems from my garden and so on. All good things that you can use.

Homemade stock

Actually you can use a wide variety of ingredients but these are some of the ones I use.

Ingredients:

For 4 pots giving about 1.5 liters after reducing.

8 carrots – two pr. pot

4-8 onions including peels – 1-2 pr. pot

1-2 leeks – 1/2 pr. pot

Pork or beef scraps – as many as you have and evenly distributed among the pots

Spinach stems

Asparagus gone soft

Bacon scraps – as many as you have and evenly distributed among the pots

Ginger

Herbs

Garlic

Peppercorns

No salt – I don’t use salt as I prefer to add the salt to the dish the stock is going into. It also prevents that your stock gets too salty when reducing.

Some of the ingredients for stock
Some of the ingredients

You start of by searing the meat scraps and then you add the rest of the ingredients chopped into chunky pieces except herbs.

After searing add rest of ingredients exept herbs.
After searing add rest of ingredients except herbs.
The stock looks good already.
The stock looks good already.

After searing the ingredients with the meat for a bit add the herbs.

Add herbs to the stock.
Add herbs.
A good amount of parsley helps any stock.
A good amount of parsley helps any stock.

Add as much water as the pots can hold and bring to a boil. Leave at a slow boil.

Add water to the stock.
Add water to the stock.

When the stock is boiling remember to skim of the foam. There is a lot of grit in the foam and it is not nice to eat. So at regular intervals skim the foam into a bowl and throw it out.

The no good foam.
The no good foam.

It is looking good and you just have to wait for it to reduce. This is the part that takes time but it is something that can more or less mind itself. You just need to check on it once in a while.

Good stock.
Good stock.
Really good stock.
Really good stock.

As it reduces I empty the pots into each other. I try to keep as many of the ingredients but at some point they will not fit any more. At that point drain the liquid through a strainer into a pot. There is no more use for the vegetables unless you have pigs or chickens you can feed them to. If you make vegetable stock you can put it on your compost but if there is meat it has to go in the bin.

You now need to reduce the liquid until you have a stock with an intense flavor. For me 10 liters become about 1.5 liters of good stock.

1.5 liters of reduced stock.
1.5 liters of reduced stock.

Then the big question becomes – how do you save it in a way that allows you to use it over time. Some use bottles and keep it refrigerated and that works well if you plan to use it in the near future. I need it to keep longer than that so I use ice cube bags and put it in the freezer. I can then take the cubes I need for the dish I am doing.

Stock in icecube bags.
Stock in ice cube bags.
Frozen stock.
Frozen stock.

I make stock 3-4 times a year and I find that it is time well spent because it tastes great, helps me use scraps and helps me avoid some of the nasty  things in store bought stock.

I hope I have inspired you to experiment with your own stock – enjoy Sara

 

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From garden to dinner 2014: Pork meatballs with spinach and feta

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Sometimes it doesn’t take much to enhance a meal. This time I harvested a bit of Thyme, Lemon Basil and some spinach from my 3rd floor garden. All of it is going into making pork meatballs with spinach and feta.

Pork meatballs with spinach and feta

Recipe:

  • 500 grams of organic ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Fresh Lemon Basil
  • 1/2 onion
  • About 50 to 100 grams of spinach
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
The lovely ingredients.
The lovely ingredients for meatballs.

Chop the onion, spinach, herbs and feta finely and add to your ground beef in a mixing bowl. Add the egg as well as salt and pepper.

Add all the chopped ingredients.
Add all the chopped ingredients.

Mix well. I always use my hands both to make sure everything is mixed well but also to add a little love.

After mixing well.
After mixing well. Meatballs ready for the pan.

Shape the meatball in the size you want. I like to use a tablespoon; it gives a good size meatball. Make sure they are all roughly the same size so they cook evenly. Cook in a pan with melted butter.

Cook meatballs in melted butter.
Cook meatballs in melted butter.

Cook until done. You can check the meatballs by pressing down on a meatball with a fork. If the liquid is clear they are done, if it is still cloudy they deed a little more time.

Finished meatballs.
Finished meatballs.

All done – serve with any side dish. I made a lovely salad to serve with these lovely meatballs.

Enjoy – Sara

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Cordial: Elderflower, Chocolate Mint and Lemon Balm

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I really enjoy making cordial and Elderflower cordial is my favorite. I use an old recipe from my grandmother and the flowers this year made for a fantastic cordial. But alas it is almost gone and the Elderflowers have turned to Elderberries. So what to do?

This is my cordial dispenser I keep in my fridge
This is my cordial dispenser I keep in my fridge

I found that I had quite a lot of Chocolate Mint and Lemon Balm and thought maybe I could make cordial from these lovely herbs. So that is what I did and this is the recipe. I have added the recipe for Elderflower cordial at the bottom as well.

Chocolate Mint and Lemon Balm cordial

The base of the cordial consists of water and sugar at a 1:1 scale, so you can upscale or downscale as needed. By using the 1:1 scale between sugar and water you also ensure that it will keep.

I wanted to use some lemons along with the herbs and decided on 4 different combinations. Mint with and without lemon and Lemon Balm with and without lemon. I always use organic citrus fruit as to avoid the pesticides in the skin of the fruit.

I found that the Lemon Balm without lemon didn’t taste of much so I mixed all of it with lemon. So I ended up with 3 combinations of cordial and I though the Mint would be my favorite but the Lemon Balm turned out surprisingly delicious.

My next experiment is to use Stevia as a sweetener and see how that turns out. There might be some issues about how it is going to keep without the high sugar content but it might be sorted by bringing the strained cordial to a boil just before pouring it in the bottles. We will see…

Chocolate Mint/Chocolate mint and lemon recipe

  • 1 liter of water
  • 1 kg of organic sugar
  • A good handlful of Mint stems – I use them with stems, flowers and everything
  • 1 organic lemon ( if you are making the lemon variety)

Lemon Balm with lemon recipe

  • 1 liter of water
  • 1 kg of organic sugar
  • A good handful of Lemon Balm stems – with flowers and everything
  • 2 organic lemons
  • a pack of either citric acid or vine acid for use in cordial and jams

I recycle these fantastic bottles that use to contain a really good French lemonade. You do need to use a bottle that can be closed securely. I prefer to use glass to plastic a plastic has a tendency to react to hot substances and some even leak nasty things into the content. So I use glass.

Recycled bottles
Recycled bottles – 0,75 liter

You need to clean your bottle well and I use preferable coarse salt for my initial cleaning. Salt is disinfectant and if you use coarse salt it has an abrasive quality that makes it easier to clean in the hard to reach areas of the bottle. It is really good for cleaning a thermos as well. After a good cleaning I scald them with boiling water.

Cleaning with salt
Cleaning with salt

I picked a good portion of my Chocolate Mint and Lemon balm to go in the cordial

Chocolate Mint and Lemon Balm
Chocolate Mint and Lemon Balm

I slice the lemons finely and add them to the water and herbs

Herbs, lemons and water
Herbs, lemons and water

The Mint looks so lovely with the flowers

Chocolate Mint
Chocolate Mint

There is a liter of water in each pot and 1 kg of sugar has been added to each.

Add sugar
Add sugar

Bring everything to a boil.

It looks pretty while you cook it
It looks pretty while you cook it

Leave to simmer for a good half hour.

Simmer away
Simmer away

Strain the herbs and lemons out of the cordial.

Strain the cordial
Strain the cordial

Fill your bottle with your liquid gold.

Fill bottles
Fill bottles

End result: 2 bottles of Chocolate Mint, 2 bottles of Chocolate Mint and lemon, 4 bottles of Lemon Balm and lemon

They will keep for at least a year if your bottles are clean.

End result
End result

Elderflower cordial

Recipe

  • 30 large Elderflowers in full Bloom – you can use a couple that are just before blooming to get the lovely stuff inside the flowers before the bees do
  • 3 organic lemons
  • 6 organic oranges
  • 2 kg of organic sugar – you can use brown sugar, but I prefer my cordial a bit lighter and fresher
  • 1 pack of citric acid for use in cordial and jams
  • 1,5 liter of water

Put the flowers in a big bowl large enough to contain all of the ingredients. Don’t wash the flowers as it will wash away all the good stuff. There will be bugs in the mix but you will sift them all out before bottling, so don’t worry.

Slice the lemons and oranges and add to the bowl with the citric acid. Boil the water and dissolve the sugar before pouring it into the bowl. Leave the bowl covered for 3 days. I usually use a plate and something to weigh it down. Both to keep the surface area exposed to the air to a minimum but also to keep the lemon and orange slices down.

Elderflower cordial
Elderflower cordial

Strain the cordial to remove all the flowers, slices and the occasional bug. I like to squeeze the lemons and orange slices adding the extra juice. You can make 3 different kinds from one batch by straining all the cordial and then take a liter of the cordial and add the lemon juices and another liter where you add the orange juices. That gives you Elderflower cordial, Elderflower cordial with lemon and Elderflower cordial with orange. That is maximizing your output 🙂

End result: 3 bottles of Elderflower cordial, 2 bottle of Elderflower cordial with lemon, 3 bottles of Elderflower cordial with orange

Elderflower cordial
Elderflower cordial

Enjoy – Sara

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From garden to dinner 2014: Steak with potato salad and a carrot, beetroot and tomato salad

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Being able to go out onto my balcony and harvest produce for dinner is one of my main reasons for having a balcony garden. There is just no better feeling than going from garden to dinner.

I harvested potatoes, carrots, beetroots and a couple of tomatoes for dinner and turned it into a potato salad and a carrot, beetroot and tomato salad to go with a lovely organic steak. There is only two of us so the recipe is for 2 people but you can double or triple easily.

Potato salad

For this recipe you need a very Danish thing called remoulade. We can get it at the supermarket, but in most other countries you have to make it yourself. So I have added the recipe for it. Other uses for remoulade are: with fries, on cold cuts, with meat and what else you like.

Recipe for remoulade:

  • 4 tablespoons of mayo
  • 2 tablespoons of yoghurt natural
  • 4 tablespoons of pickled vegetables

– this can be any pickled vegetable (large/small cucumber, peppers, cauliflower, beans, celery, carrots ect. or a mix of different vegetables

  • 1 tablespoon of capers
  • Sugar
  • Curry
  • 1-2 tablespoons of turmeric
  • Salt and pepper

Mix mayo and yoghurt. Chop the pickled vegetables and capers very finely and mix with mayo and yoghurt. Season the mix with salt, pepper, sugar and knife tip of curry. Add turmeric until you get a good yellow color. Leave in refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight before use.

Recipe for potato salad:

  • 500 grams of potatoes
  • 1 cup of yoghurt natural or the Icelandic Skyr
  • 2 cups of remoulade
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

I have my potatoes in a potato pot designed by a Danish company. There is an insert that allows you to pick the potatoes without harming the plant to much and you can harvest multiple times from the same plants.

Potato pot with an insert

Potatoes ready for picking
Potatoes ready for picking

I picked about a kilo of potatoes from 4 pots and used 500 gram for my potato salad and saved the rest for later.

Freshly picked potatoes
Freshly picked potatoes

I lightly boil the potatoes with a bit of salt in the water. I only boil them for 10 minutes as they are so fresh and I want a bit of bite to them. Leave potatoes to cool.

Boiling potatoes
Boiling potatoes

Mix the yoghurt with remoulade and season with salt and pepper. Remember to taste before adding the potatoes as it is very difficult to mix in more with the potatoes in the bowl.

Yoghurt mixed with Remoulade
Yoghurt mixed with remoulade

Chop the cold potatoes into small pieces.

Cold boiled potatoes in small pieces
Cold boiled potatoes in small pieces

Add the potatoes to the bowl and mix until all the potatoes are covered. Eat as is or leave in the refrigerator until needed. It only gets better with a little time.

Finished potato salad
Finished potato salad

Carrot, beet and tomato salad

Recipe:

  • 2 carrots
  • 3 beetroots
  • 2-4 tomatoes; depending on the size of the beets and carrots
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Honey

I harvested a small portion of my beetroots and carrots for this salad. They are still quite small but taste really good. These are normal beetroots, golden beetroots and rainbow carrots.

Beets and carrots from the garden for the salad
Beetroots and carrots from the garden for the salad

The leaves of the beetroots can be used in the same way you use spinach, so I save the leaves in the freezer for later use.

Leftover leaves from the beets
Leftover leaves from the beetroots
Beet leaves going in the freezer for later use
Beetroot leaves going in the freezer for later use

I like to boil the beetroots and carrots for about 5 minutes and use in a cold salad. They become really sweet and flavorful when you boil them lightly.

Ready for boiling
Ready for boiling

Remove the skin and the ends before chopping them into small pieces.

Beets and carrots after being lightly boiled
Beetroots and carrots after being lightly boiled

I used two tomatoes of the Russian Black variety. It is a bush tomato but the texture of the tomato is meaty like a beef tomato.

Russian Black tomatoes freshly picked
Russian Black tomatoes freshly picked

Chop the tomatoes into pieces and add to the bowl with the carrots and the beetroots.

Tomatoes chopped
Tomatoes chopped

Add a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. The salad is done.

The seasoning of the salad
The dressing

The finished result

Finished meal
Finished meal – from garden to dinner

 

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