Thursday, February 16, 2012

Decadent and VERY easy ice cream.

To complement the rhubarb compote, nothing beats a creamy, smooth ice cream. The one I make takes a few minutes, and is dead easy. It is a little pricy, but worth every cent.

You need:
250ml fresh cream
250g mascarpone
1/4 cup olive oil (optional)
100g organic sugar
2 tablespoons natural vanilla

METHOD: Whisk together the mascarpone, sugar, olive oil and vanilla at high speed. When well mixed, pour the fresh cream in a thin stream into the mix while whisking at a moderately fast speed until nice and thick.

I make my own vanilla extract using alcohol. I fill a jar with vanilla pods and cover with 60% alcohol. I leave this in a cool dark place for months and pour off the amount of vanilla extract I need, as I need it. The alcohol in the vanilla extract is great for preventing the ice cream from crystalising.

Once the ice cream mix is lovely and thick, pour it into a container for freezing. Lick the whisk , bowl and spatula very clean! You can taste the olive oil in this ice cream, and I think it's very nice. But you can leave it out if the idea doesn't appeal.

Final result ready for the freezer!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rhubarb: From garden to compote

Despite the fact that the spot where my rhubarb lives is rather dry I had some very nice stalks this year and wrote on my "to do" list: make rhubarb compote! If you leave it too late, the rhubarb can get a bit woody. So I harvested it and got cracking to make a delicious compote.

Almost 900g! But by the time I peeled it (lightly) I reckon about 850g. The right proportion of rhubarb to sugar is 1 part sugar to three parts Rhubarb, so I added 200g of organic sugar and two tablespoons of wonderful natural fynbos honey. There is no need to add any water. As it is gently heated, the rhubarb sweats juice which dissolves the sugar and the honey helps to provide liquid too. I prefer to simmer gently, but the phone rang and when I came back into the kitchen the compote was bubbling furiously, luckily not burned!! I added two tablespoons of chopped crystallised ginger to the compote, which gives a nice surprise here and there when you eat it, without giving the compote an overpowering ginger flavour. One can add vanilla or orange zest, it all depends what you are in the mood for!!!
Final result!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Garden vistas

On Sunday I browsed through the book, "1000 Garden Ideas" by Stafford Cliff, which I bought at the Exclusive Book Sale the day before. The book is very inspiring and I just love being transported into beautiful gardens. It also made me see my own garden in a different light, so I went around with my camera and took some pictures. Here they are:

For reflection

This is an area I developed for reflection and quiet. The pond provides the sound of running water. It is a lovely shady place to sit with a cup of tea.

A formal design
The crunch of gravel past the Helichrysum hedge I am trying to cultivate, lends texture to this spot. From above on the deck one can see the shape of the bed filled with miniature Agapanthus and Tulbachia (Wild garlic) A lovely Thuja graces the side of the gate on the right.

Another view
The garden is broken up by the position of the house on the plot, situated very centrally. This allows for the concept of many smaller gardens all around the house. The herb garden is at the back leading to the enclosed vegetable garden.

The herb garden

Enclosing the vegetable garden was the best thing I did last year. It allows for a space protected from the chickens and dogs, as well as sheltering the vegetables from the very harsh rays of the sun.
From the herb garden and down a few steps is a patio area under a fig tree, and further down is my bee garden with the Echinacea bed and a few olive trees where I also try to grow some vegetables and herbs.

The bee garden and Echinacea bed

So that's a little tour minus the front garden which is under reconstruction, so needs to get established before being photographed. All in all the garden is not that big, about 1000 sq m, but by European standards quite large I suppose.

Thank you for taking a stroll in my garden. I hope you enjoyed it!