28 November 2011

Health Talks and Some More Recipes

Over the past three months, Christo started to give Health Talks once a month on a Monday evening at Eirene Health Shop.  It appeared to be quite popular. The latest talk about Natural First Aid in the Home, being a full house of 25 people!

In the Natural First Aid in the Home talk, Christo shared mostly out of our personal experience of having a house full of children, six of them boys, who tries anything from climbing trees, falling out of swings, hitting their heads on stairs - leaving blood everywhere, stepping on bees, riding wild horses and getting thrown off; to unforeseen burns in the kitchen; to a mother who cut open her head while spring cleaning the house (LOL); to babies developing high fever or diarrhea in the middle of the night.  
Christo demonstrated how to support a lightly injured arm or green wood fracture with apple cider vinegar, Traumeel S and lots of cotton wool. 

He showed what he did with my head when I cut it a few weeks ago while spring cleaning the house.  The application of yarrow (soldier’s bush) to instantaneously stop bleeding, cleaning the wound and ‘stitching the tissue’ with ordinary maizena.

Maizena saved us a few thousand rand, which would be what it would cost going to the emergency room for stitches, and I don’t have any stitch marks were the wound was.  

We also shared our well known remedies for shock and pain.  Each attendee received a small Yarrow plant.

Don't miss out on these Health Talks.  
Book now for December's In-Store Talk "How to Enjoy the Festive Season and Still be Healthy" on the 5th of December 19h00 - 20h30.
Every talk evening Heidi-Mari and I prepare a salt and sweet snack for the attendees.  This month we gave Spinach packets made of croissant dough

Rolled Danish Pastries.  

Both baked with spelt flour (thus wheat free) and whenever sugar is needed, Rapandura sugar.
To make the Spinach Packets you will need:

spinach filling (recipe below)
egg wash (1 egg and 1 egg yolk)
To make the spinach filling you will need::

300 g organic spinach (snipped into pieces)
1 onion (chopped)
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup organic ‘biltong’ (snipped into pieces)
1 cup plain cream cheese 
½ t salt
black pepper to taste
3 eggs
100 ml organic cream
  • In a saucepan, melt the butter. On medium heat add the onion, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent.
  • Turn up the heat, add the spinach and stir it around over high heat until it wilts and all extra liquid has evaporated.  
  • Add the biltong.
  • In a separate bowl mixed together the cream cheese, salt, black pepper, eggs and cream.
  • Add to the spinach.
  • Allow to cool.
To make the packets:

  • Line a sheet pan with baking paper. Roll the dough out big enough to fit into the sheet pan, about 5 mm thick, trim the rectangle to fit into the sheet pan and transfer it to the prepared sheet pan. Refrigerate the rectangle for about 20 minutes, or until firm but not brittle.  Reserve the trimmings in the refrigerator, until firm.
  • Cut the rectangle into 10 cm squares, put back into refrigerator. 
  • Roll the reserved trimmings into 15 cm long strips.  Halve each strip and put back in refrigerator. 
  • When ready to fill the squares take 4 squares at a time, out of the refrigerator. Don’t allow the dough to get to room temperature, on a warm day.
  • Put 2 slightly rounded teaspoons of spinach in the center of each square. 
  • Fold one corner over the filling and brush the tip with egg wash. 
  • Fold the opposite corner over the first and press gently to seal them.  
  • Brush the top with egg wash, fold up another corner, brush with egg wash again, and fold up the last corner.  Gently push down on the center to hold the flaps together.  Pinch the corners and edges to seal them.
  • Take 8 strips at a time out of the refrigerator and place 2 strands over each packet and tuck them underneath.  
  • Place the packets on a sheet pan, lined with baking paper and cover with plastic wrap.  
  • Let proof until the dough’s almost twice as thick, about 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.  Brush the packets with egg wash.  Bake for about 20 minutes, then check whether the pastries are browning too quickly; if so, turn down the oven to 160 degrees C.  Bake for about 10minutes longer, or until golden brown.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.
For the Rolled Danish Pastries you will need:

1 cup hazelnut frangipane (recipe below)
2 tbsp rapandura sugar
3 tbsp hazelnuts, crushed
3 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp finely grated cacao
½ tsp ground cinnamon
egg wash
apricot glaze
To make the hazelnut frangipane:
1 cup hazelnuts (peeled as much as possible)
3 tbsp rapandura sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch or maizena
1 egg
2 tbsp butter
Peeling Hazelnuts: Roast the nuts in a 180 degrees C oven for 15 minutes.  while still hot, rub them vigorously together between two towels.This procedure gets rid of most of the peel.
  • Grind together the hazelnuts and sugar in a food processor.
  • Add the cornstarch and egg and process for about 1 minute, or until smooth.
  • Add the butter and process for 30 seconds more.
Making the Rolled Danish Pastries:

  • Line a sheet pan with baking paper. Roll the dough out big enough to fit into the sheet pan, about 5 mm thick, trim the rectangle to fit into the sheet pan and transfer it to the prepared sheet pan. Refrigerate the rectangle for about 20 minutes, or until firm but not brittle.
  • Spread the hazelnut frangipane over the rectangle in an even layer.
  • Mix together the sugar, crushed hazelnuts, raisins, grated cacao and ground cinnamon.
  • Sprinkle the above mixture over the hazelnut frangipane.
  • Begin rolling up the rectangle by pinching it along one short end.  
  • Continue rolling, as tight as you can, alternating between tucking under the dough with your fingers and rolling it with the flats of your hands, until you’ve rolled it up into a log.
  • Line sheet pans with baking paper.
  • Slice the roll into rounds by sliding a piece of fishing line under one end of the log and 
  • pulling the two ends across each other.
  • Truck the little flap of dough from the end of the roll under the center to hold it in place and arrange the rounds on sheet pans, leaving at least 5 cm between each one to allow for expansion. Cover with plastic wrap and let proof until each layer of dough has expanded by 50 percent, about 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Brush the pastries with egg wash.  Bake for about 20 minutes, then check whether they’re starting to get too brown.  If so, turn down the oven to 160 degrees C. Bake for about 15 minutes longer, or until golden brown.
  • Remove the pastries from the oven and brush with the glaze while still hot.

I’m entering the Spanish Packets in Heidi-Mari’s Fortnightly Baking Fun Challenge

This fortnightly theme is Anything Goes!  
Bon Appetite!

23 November 2011

A Walk Through my Vegetable Garden

Summer is here and my Vegetable garden is well under way!  
Last summer I harvested some lettuce, a few peas, beans, corn and squash (not nearly enough to feed us once a week for a month) and NO butternut pumpkins and NO watermelons.  
But I got buckets and buckets full of tomatoes!  The tomatoes just didn’t stop, and I was able to harvest tomatoes well into the middle of winter!  
My herb garden thrived over the past year yielding thyme, rosemary, marjoram, celery, parsley, basil, spring onions and yarrow.
For the winter season I had plenty of peas in the beginning of the season and one bed of carrots.
I knew one bed would not even be enough carrots to sustain our family for one week (carrot salad is a standard side dish for supper), but the idea was to see how it goes, if my soil was right this time. We have terrible clay soil and in the past had NO carrot harvest.  I also wanted the children to experience pulling their own carrots!  

And they did!
We could start harvest carrots in October, and it become a ritual for the little ones to pull their own carrots, while I watered the garden, every morning.  Sadly, I had to clean up the bed two weeks ago.
I believe I had such a marvelous tomato harvest, because I’ve put all my time and efforts into the tomatoes.  

I studied tomatoes and looked after my little tomato plants with great care. So, I decided from now on to focus on one specific vegetable in a season, study it and try to make a success out of it.  This way I will not waste my time and money on a variety of vegetables with little or no success.  
With tomatoes I know now more or less what work, and decided to focus on pumpkins for this season!  Yes, I desperately want to harvest pumpkins!
I only plant heirloom seeds in my vegetable garden and get my seeds mainly from Livingseeds.  
Over the past two years, I got quite a number of different seeds, from various heirloom seed suppliers.  The seed packages were all just thrown in a box, so in the beginning of this season, I organized my seeds in a filing box.  

I attached the seed envelope to cardboard.  On the cardboard I can make notes whether the specific seed fit into our climate, what kind of soil worked and success or failure.
Since I started my vegetable garden two years ago, I yearned for a permanent hot box. 

Every summer we had to repair our cardboard hot boxes. 

This September, Christo and the boys, built me a permanent hot box. 

This hot box can take 24 seedling trays at a time.
The men did a great job on the hot box and it works perfectly.  

It has air holes, which I can cover with masking tape when it is cold outside, or open when it is too hot outside. 

It also have growing bulbs inside.  

The box fit on a piece of wood, so I can carry the seedling trays outside on warm days. 

It is painted with a waterproof paint, so I can water the seedling trays without damaging the wood.
I sowed my first seeds the third weekend of September and by the end of September the first plants were ready to be transplanted in the ground.  
Another huge improvement in our vegetable garden was cutting down the last trees in the current designated patch for the vegetable garden.
First were the one small tree in the right corner of the vegetable garden.  

We took it out during the winter months to open up more son for the existing raised beds.

In October it was time to take out the last and biggest tree.  This tree had split in two, three winters ago and though we tried to save it, it had a very strange look and this past winter split again. There was no way we could save it anymore.  

CJ and Josua was a great help for Christo, and the little ones enjoyed playing between the branches! 

Now the vegetable garden looks much bigger and with a little imagination, it could actually give the impression of a vegetable garden!
This summer I sowed 5 varieties of pumpkin, peas, 3 varieties of bush beans, lettuce, watermelon and cucumber.  

Cucumber is a first for me, and I thought I would just give it a try, alongside the pumpkin.  

I also sowed our rainbow corn, harvested during the previous summer season, directly into the ground. 

I didn’t need to sow one tomato seed. We took out the previous season’s tomato plants in July, and since I knew they liked these particular beds, I just let it rest until it was time to plant my tomatoes. 

Great was my surprise when early spring came and tomato plants sprouted in clusters all over the two beds! 
A few weeks ago I thinned them out, and replanted some of them.  I sure have more tomato plants than the previous summer season.

In the past two weeks I’ve start finger prune the small side shoots, also called suckers, growing between the main stem and the leaf stems, and gently pinch these off with my fingers.  
I have no idea how many plants I have on the three different varieties I grew the previous season, but sure do look forward to a plentiful harvest, again! 
The tomatoes we grew last year were stacked against wood trellises and by the end of the season it couldn’t hold the tomatoes any more. 

So, Christo and the boys are busy making me iron trellises.  

In the process the boys learn working with metal which includes welding skills.  Josua paints it with metal paint to keep it from rusting. 

It seems like I’m into a vertical garden this Summer!
So far my pumpkins are doing great. 

I’ve planted honey suckle in the same beds as the pumpkins to attract bees, and also do hand pollination every morning.  

I already have two big pumpkins, 

but there were also a few pumpkins who slipped through during the hand pollination process :-(
We already harvested some peas;

plenty of beans;

and Lettuce!

Yarrow are growing everywhere!

And the Fig tree is full of promise too!

I also only wet the garden by hand, which do take a lot of time, but I see it as part of my summer program! 
Who of my blog friends has a vegetable garden and how are your gardens going? Please share in the comments below.
Much love

"Moreover I will appoint a place ... 
and will plant them, 
that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more;"
2 Sam 7:10

PS. This was God's promise to me 7 years ago, after we rented different houses for several years. 
I pleaded with God for a place where I could grow a garden of my own!
Thank you, Lord!
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