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Archive for the ‘herbs’ Category

Some photos from my gardening diary in the last few weeks…

I found my first female flower, complete with a tiiiny little round zucchini on the bottom, this week. Today it opened (and got some pollen carried to it by me… I’m such a pervert).
There are two more lined up what I can see on that plant. The others have only male flowers yet, but look how many of them!

From the end of April:

And how the zucchini looked when I first repotted them.

Could this eally be the tiny physalis that I didn’t think would even survive?

It flowered this weekend, but I only noticed it after the fact. The bell peppers also had one or two blossoms. The chilies havebeen putting out lovely green chilies regularly now, though they aren’t especially strong :( I wonder if they’ll get stronger as they ripen.
The tomatoes are also steadily growing, though they aren’t flowering yet. I think I need to re-pot them again:

And for the end, a picture of my thyme that I liked.

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Wah! Kao-chan, I hold you in a whole new respect as photography goddess after trying out taking photos with my BF’s digital SLR. So many options! And after all of this torture to my wrists from holding, aiming, and setting the (bloody heavy) thing I found out I had the wrong ISO setting and the pictures turned out grainy anyway. *cries*
Luckily ever-paranoid, I had taken some pictures with my regular camera too. But they don’t look nearly as good as the SLR ones as I’m already able to tell! Oh well, I guess I’ll be taking pictures in parallel for a while until I have it figured out.

On to the bento…

Main course: Spanish potato tortilla on a bed of salad. Black garlic olives.
Side dish: Cherry tomato salad with red onion and fresh basil; green garlic olive.
Dessert: Freshly-picked forest berries on yoghurt, all frozen to serve as ice pack (this goes back into the freezer until tomorrow).

I love summer! Not just because it’s warm and nice but it’s also the season of fruits, herbs and berrypicking. My grandmother used to go to the forest with me to pick berries and I plan to do the same with my children and grandchildren, if I ever have any. It’s so important to know where the food comes from when it’s not bought in the supermarket. How to live off the land and what delicacies there are hiding in our own forests and meadows is starting to become a sadly forgotten art, and even though I grew up mostly in a city myself it saddens me when I meet people my age who can barely tell a chestnut tree from a cherry tree and would never eat anything straight from the forest. (I say to hell with hygiene, forest berries taste the best when fresh from the branch.)
Today I went to the forest in search of mushrooms. I didn’t find any yet, although the weather was perfect – I guess there were too many mushroom pickers before me! – but I did find an abundance of wild raspberries, forest strawberries and blueberries. I’m especially happy about the forest strawberries (or smultron as they are called in Swedish) because they taste so much better than the giant strawberries you can buy in supermarkets. Talk about a taste explosion in every single, tiny berry you pick. I had a hard time picking any for later and not putting every berry in my mouth immediately!

It is no coincidence or photographic accessorizing though that amidst all the berries, there is also a flower. When I went out to the forest with my grandmother, we did not only pick berries and mushrooms!
The yellow flower giving such a pretty contrast to the red and blue berries is called St. John’s Wort or in German, Johanniskraut and can be used dried as a tea, or steeped in alcohol as an antibiotic tincture that speeds up wound healing. It is rumoured to be good against mild depressions even!
When I saw it growing wild and abundant in the forests close to here, I remembered how we used to collect it and decided to pick and dry some of my own. Herbal medicine, and knowledge of wild herbs is sadly a vanishing art here in Europe, and I am very interested in keeping the knowledge of living off the land alive, at least as little as I ever learned about it! I’m planning to write more articles on vanishing vegetable sorts and herbs on this blog as I stumble across them. Did you know, for example, that you can eat dandelion leaves as a salad in spring, if you pick them very young and before they grow flowers? (I plan to sneak that into a bento next spring, if I get the chance…)

I put the rest of the berries on top of yoghurt into muffin cups (I took two for each cup as I was worried one alone might be too soft) and froze them. I wonder if freezing yoghurt is such a good idea? But on the other hand, I do like frozen yoghurt, and I like the possibility of using it as an icepack as well, so I’ll keep you updated on whether the cups held up to the abuse when I manage to integrate them into another bento…

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