Chokos are in season (late autumn) in Auckland!

Chokos are in season (late autumn) in Auckland!

20160521_100028Woo hoo! It’s choko time again!

Here’s a link to a post about the delicious chokos available now.

The small ones are the ones we eat [like those lower left in the photo showing many chokos of different sizes].

Steam a few minutes for the tiny ones whole or sliced medium-sized ones. Sweet and delicious when they are young.

Large chokos develop a tough skin and are flavorless compared with the tiny ones. We spice large ones to make them worth eating. They are kept in a cold place until we have no more small ones on the plant. Then we use the large ones [unless we’ve given them away].

20160521_103710

Large chokos are usually the ones available in shops. If you see small ones, choose them for flavor.

Chokos grow on a rampant vine. Our’s covers the back fence and a tree. It will die back as cold winter weather and frosts arrive.

choko vine over cherry guava tree

The roots remain in the ground to re-sprout next spring. Covering the roots with mulch for protection in winter helps this short-lived perennial plant last longer.

Where could you put such an abundant provider of sweet, buttery new chokos to enjoy next autumn?

See the post for how we grow the plants and also for recipes using the fruits too.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Chokos are in season (late autumn) in Auckland!

Chokos are in season (late autumn) in Auckland!

20160521_100028Chokos – a prolific, fence-covering vine, masses of fruit – what DO we do with them?!

From tiny ones, new-formed to great big ones, larger than my hand – here’s our take on making best use of this resource. Now that zucchinis are ending their season growing in the open garden, small chokos make a great replacement.

The small ones are delicious and sweet – just thumb-sized. Steam a few minutes.

Large chokos develop a tough skin and are flavorless compared with the tiny ones. We spice large ones to make them worth eating. Big ones are kept in a cold place until we have no more small ones on the plant. Then we use the large ones [unless we’ve given them away].

Large chokos are usually the ones available in shops. If you see small ones, choose them for flavor.

The choko seed will sprout from the large end of a choko which is as big as your hand and grow into a whole new plant. It first grows a new shoot and begins to grow small rootlets.

20160522_171032It can be now planted into a garden bed in a frost-free zone, or into a pot, large end down, of good potting mix [or at least the growing rootlets covered with soil for protection]. Plant out into garden on a trellis or other support after all frosts and freezing weather has passed in spring.20160522_171117

Chokos grow on a rampant vine. Our’s covers the back fence and a tree. It will die back as cold winter weather and frosts arrive.

The roots remain in the ground to re-sprout next spring. Covering the roots with mulch for protection in winter helps this short-lived perennial plant last longer.

We replant a new one each year or so.

Here’s a post about the wonderfulness of chokos I wrote some time ago – it seems a good time to re-visit it now we have heaps of chokos available! Enjoy now as the season is quite short – a few months at most. Find the info here.

 

Recipes for delightful chokos: see post here

There are so many ways chokos can be used! Some of our favorite recipes for delightful chokos are found here

Wonderful additions to stews, casseroles, curries, soups, pickles.

Or just enjoy the tiny new ones steamed – sweet – a real treat in such a short season, and unavailable in most shops so grow your own treats.

Enjoy!

My ‘lemons to lemonade’ recipe – quick and simple

My ‘lemons to lemonade’ recipe – quick and simple

Looking for a recipe to turn lemons into lemonade? This one is my ‘go-to’ recipe

  • 200 ml lemon juice – squeezed fresh from juicy lemons [and we sieve the big bits out]
  • 400 ml water
  • 200 g sugar or equivalent other sweetener [I sometimes use Stevia – add it with the juice]

Boil water in a saucepan. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat. Cool.
Add lemon juice and stir.
Keep this concentrate in fridge [1-2 weeks only].

To serve: in a tall glass/jug add ice, a little of the concentrate, and fill with sparkling spring water or soda water. Stir.

Taste, adjust quantities and sweetness. Some lemons are more sour than others – they need more sweetener to make a nice drink. Taste and adjust until you like the result.

Enjoy.

 

PS  My grand-mother’s original recipe included the lemon peel [zest].

It was boiled with the water for a bit [her measurements varied each time she made these for us as the recipe’s outcome depended on the type of lemon, season and rainfall. So she taste-tested and adjusted until it worked]

 

PPS If you buy lemons, unless you know they have clean skin without wax or chemicals, use only the juice.

 

Build a lettuce wrap

Build a lettuce wrap

How to build a ‘Heather’s Lettuce Wrap’ – delicious!!!

Start by assembling your favorite salad foods. Here, I use cheese, olives, gherkins, cucumber, tomato, sprouts, wild greens. Find your favorite sticky stuff to smooth onto each lettuce leaf to hold the rest on.

Create your unique, favorite wrap with just what you like. Mine is held on here with smooth peanut butter – works well!

Mayo works well too. Or other nut butters, or hummus, or other dips. [Lettuce wrap around a dip by itself is pretty delicious too – and is very quick. Depends on how hungry I am!]

I like the sweetness of peanut butter with the tangy wild greens, pickled gherkins and salty olives.

Some of us prefer to replace the lettuce leaf wrap with bread.

The greens here include endive, plantain, chickweed, rocket, parsley, miners lettuce, Herb Robert.

 

 

Breakfast a la our garden – even in winter!

 

In winter we really enjoy a warm, sustaining porridge containing lots more than just oats!

Here is our Winter Porridge Extraordinaire recipe:

Heather’s way [and below I have given approximate measured amounts if you prefer that way of cooking]

In a medium-sized saucepan, soak overnight

  • about a handful rolled oats
  • some chia seeds
  • some linseed [whole]
  • some ground LSA [we grind linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds – about the ratio 4:2:1]
  • 3-4x amount of water [filtered preferably]
  • if you have extra yogurt, add a dollop too – the acidic environment it creates means more unlocking of nutrients from the oats.

[Or

Approximate measurements:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tblspn chia seeds
  • 1 tblespn linseed [whole]
  • 2 tblspns ground LSA [we grind linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds – about the ratio 4:2:1]
  • 1 1/2 cups water [filtered preferably]
  • if you have extra yogurt, add a tblspn too – the acidic environment it creates means more unlocking of nutrients from the oats.]

In the morning, place the saucepan on the stove and bring to boil gently. I stir with a flat-bottomed wooden paddle/spoon to keep it from sticking. When it starts to bubble, turn the heat right down to extra-low and simmer gently until cooked.

Add 1-2 tblspns tahini [ground sesame seeds] which will thicken the mix and give it a creamy consistency. Add more water if it is too thick. Stir.

Turn off the heat and leave sit for a few minutes if you have time – the flavors blend and mellow. Re-assess whether it needs more water to thin it or more tahini to thicken it. Adjust as required to be just how you like it.

Some people like adding a sweetener – stewed fruit works for us – apple, peaches, nectarines, apricots are so sweet. Or add some dried fruit to the dry oats and soak over night [sultanas, raisins, currants, dates, etc all give a different flavor and provide variety]

Other additions we sometimes include:

  • cinnamon
  • cardamon

 

So, to create a winter breakfast energy boost:
Take

  • 1 apple – chopped [or other fresh fruit you like]
  • Stewed fruit [home grown and preserved plums here]
  • Yogurt  [or whatever you like instead – kefir/milk/coconut milk/almond milk/etc]
  • Add the cooked mixed grains of a delicious porridge.

Optional: serve with a mandarin and/or orange before or after [just because they are so delicious at the moment] and savor!

[PS: Some people like to start the meal with a small glass of water with juice of 1/2 small lemon in it. We like Meyer or Lemonade lemons as they are sweeter than many other lemons.]

[PPS: Apples, oranges and mandarins are from our trees. Orange is just starting. Mandarins nearly finished and so sweet. And amazingly we’re still picking apples from the tree! Crisp and sweet – a real joy]

Chokos are in season (late autumn) in Auckland!

Chokos are in season (late autumn) in Auckland!

20160521_100028The small ones are the ones we eat [like those lower left in the photo].

Steam a few minutes for the tiny ones whole or sliced medium-sized ones. Sweet and delicious.
Large chokos develop a tough skin and are flavorless compared with the tiny ones. We spice large ones to make them worth eating. They are kept in a cold place until we have no more small ones on the plant. Then we use the large ones [unless we’ve given them away].

Large chokos are usually the ochoko vine over cherry guava treenes available in shops. If you see small ones, choose them for flavor.
Chokos grow on a rampant vine. Our’s covers the back fence and a tree. It will die back as cold winter weather and frosts arrive.

The roots remain in the ground to re-sprout next spring. Covering the roots with mulch for protection in winter helps this short-lived perennial plant last longer. Continue reading “Chokos are in season (late autumn) in Auckland!”

Delicious pumpkin/squash, sweet potato (Kumara) and ginger soup

Delicious pumpkin/squash, sweet potato (Kumara) and ginger soup

What to do with a large tromboncino squash (found in the garden): ideal for soup!

large pumpkin/squash

For 2L soup (blended) from 20cm chunk of  this squash:

Gently heat some oil in a large pot and cook over a low heat

  • 1 small onion, peeled and sliced (or more if you prefer)
  • garlic – 3-6 cloves whole , peeled (or more if you want a medicinal boost in colds and flu season)
  • ginger – 6- 8 thin slices (depending how strong you like it). It is best to add ginger at the end for maximal nutritional benefits. I find it easiest to add it with the garlic so I remember to put it in at all! I may add more when I taste-test later.

Until they change colour to golden and become fragrant.

Add and cook gently for 1 minute

  • 1 teas cumin powder
  • 1 teas coriander powder
  • 1 teas turmeric powder
  • small pinch Hing (Asafoetida) powder (optional; balances tastes)

(Cumin, coriander turmeric and Hing were described to me as ‘digestives’ aiding the breakdown and absorption of food rather than as ‘spices’)ingredients for pumpkin, sweet potato and ginger soup

Add

  • pumpkin / squash – large chunks ( only peel off hard, tough skin-any other will blend OK)
  • sweet potato (Kumara) – large chunks (unpeeled)
  • 1 apple chopped (optional – adds sweetness)
  • 1/2 teas cinnamon powder (or equivalent stick or essence)
  • pinch cardamom powder (optional)
  • stock liquid (any type; I like and use Rapunzel stock powder in water)

Simmer gently until vegetables are cooked.cooking pumpkin, sweet potato and ginger soup

Blend (I use a stick blender in the pot).

Serve in cup or bowls with a spoonful of coconut cream /yoghurt / cream/ your favourite type of creamy liquid and chopped parsley / chives etc.

Serve pumpkin, sweet potato and ginger soup

Enjoy with crusty bread and salad.