For you, there’s rosemary and rue; these keep
Seeming and savour all the winter long.
— The Winter’s Tale, William Shakespeare.
According to Maguelonne Toussant-Samat in A History of Food, it was the flowers of the rosemary bush that flavoured the famous Queen of Hungary’s Water — a sweetened liqueur noted as a symbol of the declaration of love, friendship and remembrance. Prized since ancient times for its culinary and medicinal virtues, the beautifully aromatic plant is used as a herb in kitchens today.
It is said that less is more with rosemary. In Italian Food, Elizabeth David warns of the all-too-pervasive properties of rosemary — referring to it as 'a treacherous herb' when over-used. It almost goes without saying that the flavour of rosemary marries beautifully with lamb. Used sparingly, it also sits nicely with fish, pork, beef and poultry. For something different: infuse extra virgin olive oil with a tiny sprig of fresh rosemary and serve the oil sprinkled over slices of freshly baked focaccia and sun-ripened Roma tomatoes.
Potatoes are particularly tasty when roasted with olive oil, sea salt and a little rosemary, and pizza with this topping is a favourite of mine too. Cut the potatoes into rough chunks and place them into a roasting dish. Drizzle over some fine olive oil, top with butter then sprinkle with sea salt and finely chopped rosemary. Bake in a moderate oven until crunchy and golden brown. Yum! Use small amounts of finely chopped rosemary in Mediterranean-inspired stews, soups and casseroles; in biscuit and breadmaking. Serve it with rice; or to add flavour and depth to salad vinegars and oils.
Rosemary is one of several herbs I have growing in my 'kitchen garden' and I love that I can duck outside and pick a fresh sprig whenever I need it. As there is no real room for planting new shrubs in the established gardens surrounding the house, I'm growing rosemary, bay, Vietnamese mint, lemon, lime, figs, olives and a grapevine in pots in the courtyard. There is a small area at the side of the house with raised beds specifically built for growing vegetables. Currently, I'm growing celery, carrots, cauliflower and garlic. I have also planted out a few additional herbs and seem to have established a very contented strawberry patch. Here's an update in the form of a few postcards.
We've had a good crop of cauliflowers over the last several months. The tightly planted crop in the 'new' corrugated beds that Peter built from a recycled compost bin bought for $10 at our local recycling depot, flourished, and I was able to barter caulifowers for eggs and other produce. See below.
The cauliflowers that I planted in the larger bed at the end of Summer went from this...
To this... although I am harvesting later than I expected. Note the darker leaves on the vegetable that survived a bitter Winter, as opposed to the Summer crop above.
I have shared my experiences on growing cauliflowers (and other produce) in the latest edition of Back Yard Farmer, The Book. Formerly Known As 'Home Farmer', Back Yard Farmer is published by Earth Garden, Australia’s magazine of natural home building, renewable home energy, organic gardening, backyard permaculture and sustainable living. For more information about this excellent publication, visit the website
And now for the giveaway...
To celebrate the arrival of Spring, and as a gesture of thanks to my readers, I have TWO copies of Back Yard Farmer the book (issue number 10 RRP $19.95) to give away. To enter, tell me about your kitchen garden. Does it a cover large area, or is it small, or do you garden in containers? What good things are you growing? Please share your gardening tips. Entries will close at midnight AEST on 31 October 2012. Unfortunately, the prize giveaway is limited to Australian residents, however friends from around the world are invited to share stories about their kitchen gardens too. Please include a valid email address so that I can contact you in the event that you are a winner.
Lordy! Thank you ever so much for all the wonderful entries! I enjoyed reading every single one of them and wish I had two dozen or more copies of Back Yard Farmer to give away! I roped in assistance from Fiona Tunnicliff, the editor. And the winners are... Mel from Missy Piggy and Bec from INtolerant Chef. Thank you all again. And please watch this space for more exciting competitions. In fact, I have a giveaway on my Food TV pages right now!
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
Join me as I share with you my favourite recipes, postcards and morsels from my adventures, conversations with cookery writers
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.