Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Weed edible - amaranth greens

Dear Family & Friends

One beautiful morning I checked my garden, armed with a bucket and a secateur. It's time to gather food for the day. I saw lots of red leaf amaranth but they started flowering. These are too old and tough as vegetable, so I avoided them...but I can harvest their seeds for later use.

edible red amaranth, marigold and kale

Amaranth self seed itself in our garden like weeds...but they are definitely edible. I saw many green leaf variety, so I started to nip their new young top growth. They are delicious for quick stir fry, just like spinach...in fact, they are sometimes known as 'chinese spinach'.

Here's how to prepare it:
  • Wash and trim the green leaves Amaranth - about a 1 pound.
  • Prepare 3 tbsp oil, 5 cloves of garlic, 1/4 tsp sesame oil, salt to taste and a pinch of sugar. 
  • Heat the wok until smoking. Add the oil and quickly add the garlic and the veggie Amaranth.
  • Stir constantly for a minute, then add salt, sugar and sesame oil. Cook till leaves are just wilted.
  • That's it. Serve it along with other dishes you've prepared for the day.
various veggies and herbs from the garden for my day's use

I might go back to check my so dense garden and see what else I could find to plan for tomorrow's meal again. We are enjoying the abundance of food from the garden - both purposely planted and self seeded ones...oh...it's great chaos out there but a joyful one:) Life of a gardener is good!

Enjoy a beautiful day.


Thursday, 11 July 2019

This is what summer means in our garden

Dear Family & Friends

This year, our summer is warm as usual, but we also have many thunderstorm which is not usual. I really don't mind thunderstorm even though it creates a lot of humidity before the downpour. Once it rained, everything gets cool which makes a nice summer for me:) and it also mean that my garden gets watered too:) I have so much to be thankful for this great blessing from Above:)

our sky are full of clouds these days

At this time, flowers bloom here and there and seed heads develop. I always let plant seeds ripen so I can collect and have seeds to plant again next year. Sometimes, I just let them fall where they are. It will self seed when the right time comes again for them to start growing.

This is a carrot seed head - beautiful and bees loves it too.

There's a lot of fruits in our garden to collect but since our mulberry tree is not matured enough to give us it's fruit, our two girls still loves to go around the village where there are Mulberry trees. It's sad when we see mulberries just going to waste, if left unpicked, because mulberries are very delicious fruit.

mulberry picked from our village tree

Summer also mean that we get to grill fish or sausages out in the garden. Grilled food is ideal for outdoor and from time to time we enjoy them this way.

grilling fish and sweet pepper outside

The bees in the garden is just as happy with all the work they get during the summer season. It seems like the busier they get, the happier they are with all the noise they do.

bees are happy with summer abundance

Summer is a season to be outside in the garden. With all the trees and greeneries...it seems cooler out there. We count our blessings everyday and I hope you are enjoying your summer days too.


Friday, 5 July 2019

Our own greengrocer - a real money saver

Dear Family & Friends

Growing food is fun but it definitely involves work, sometimes very challenging. but what work is not hard? Once the challenge is taken, victory follows afterwards. In our house, we say: if you don't work, you don't eat. Thus we all like working, because we all enjoy eating:)

a cucumber plant has started it's production:)

These days we just keep on eating very fresh and delicious goods from our own garden for free. It's an investment that was worked for and now is being earned. There's always a good return, when you worked for it - along with it brings a great satisfaction and a more meaningful life too:)

The harvest I got for today

By growing food in our garden, we can't produce every variety that a supermarket comes up with, but what we have is unequal freshness and certainly guaranteed free from harmful chemical food.

The first couple of figs from our tree - more are coming and we wait patiently:)

By growing food in the garden, it has also taught us to be patient, as we wait for the harvest to ripen. At the start of the season, there's not much to harvest, but soon, the harvest comes in torrent. With the abundance, it also taught me to be appreciative and not to be wasteful. We either preserve the surplus or be generous and share the abundance with others.

It's fun to be your own greengrocer. Hope you have a nice day too.


Monday, 1 July 2019

Oh...lunch time again

Dear Family & Friends

One early morning, I decided it's about time to face the weeds in my vegetable garden. I wasn't wrong at all - in fact it's HIGH time that I must get on with the pending task. There's lots of healthy looking self seeded lawn grass and vine weeds in my patch. I pulled and drop them in a pile to dry up, as I go around the garden looking for more. Unwanted weeds makes good garden mulch:)

morning gardening time - so many plants growing everywhere 

I carried on weeding, but this time I just cut and collect the long stems of a plant without pulling up the roots for they are edible weeds which we love - yes, it's the season of the self seeded Purslane too, and they just grows about everywhere in our garden. These weeds are highly nutricious:)

purslane, courgette, beans - a bit of everything for this morning's harvest

As I weed, I collect some food to go into my bucket at the same time. Soon my kitchen bucket was full of a variety of veggies: onions, courgette, beans, purslane, daylily flower buds, rosemary sprigs and lemon balm. I could go on and on collecting ingredients but it was more than enough for our lunch. I'll gather some more harvest once again - tomorrow,  as I prefer our veggie very fresh straight from the garden for our day's meal.

green food - edible weeds can be delicious too

Upon reaching the kitchen, I met one of the girls and I announced to her that she could expect a pasta meal with weeds for lunch. Oh, she gave me a very big smile of delight. Pasta and weeds? - just our favorite:)

Make the most out of the things that we sometimes think is a nuisance - like edible weeds. There's so much to enjoy in life, sometimes it's just how you perceive them to be.

Enjoy your day.


Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Quiet summer's season in our village

Dear Family & Friends

We drove by a small village and saw this painted wall mural. It looks just like how I feel when summer is here. Although it's not the hottest summer we had but summer heat is definitely on.

As summer goes on, the garden is so full with every plant all glamoring for a space to show off. I sit outside looking at all things growing and I feel cool because I think every leaves are contributing to the micro-climate and cleaning up the air within our garden.

Not far away from our house, there's a stork nest. These birds never fail to bring a majestic awe when you see them flying by or when they come up so close like this one day when it decided to perch on the electric post that's just next to our wall.

There's a few birds that comes around our garden. Some pick insects to eat and the bigger ones are more carnivorous and would pick frogs or rats/mice to eat. So you see, with the presence of these  various wild species, our ecological environment stays checked and balance.

Living in a village gives us a chance to be more observant of our nature environment. There's definitely a lot of work to do around even on a quiet village but our busyness seems to be more syncronized with peace and quiet as we get about our life. Thus, grandpas and grandmas of the village doesn't seem to have the concept of retiring just to sit in front of the television for the rest of their lives... and it all makes sense to me:)

Keep enjoying your day with happy thoughts.


Friday, 21 June 2019

The season of Fruits and Flowers in the garden

Dear Family & Friends

As I was working in the vegetable garden one morning, a bee became agitated. I was warned with her angry buzz but never quite understood the reason why. Due to my insistence, I got stung! I was sad because that bee had to die after giving her sting. The sting itself was not painful and I didn't react to swelling. When stung, just pull out the stinger and rub some honey over the affected area. The truth is: a mosquito bite is worst than a bee sting. 

Lately, we had a lot of thunderstorm and rain. Everything in the garden seems to be growing on steroid! I'm frantic on transplanting my seedlings in pots while the ideal weather of overcast and showers is predicted, just to get my full advantage in my garden work. There's just so much to do: There's lots of food to harvest, tomatoes to be tied up to keep them from going crazy all over the garden plot, creeping vineweeds to pull up, as they go rampant in their growth too. etc... 

We have been eating berries, between our tortoise and us - that is, whoever gets it first. There's strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries at the moment for picking.

ripening gooseberries

While our little family enjoys the fruits from the garden, there's also plenty of salad vegetables and herbs. Our garden friends like the bees and butterflies also enjoys the abundance of blooms everywhere. The roses, lavender and daylilies that I've panted in large amount all over the garden are just rewarding us with great joy.

the lavender bushes are filled with hundreds of  buzzing bees!

Most of the flowers planted in our garden are also edible. We particularly like the daylily buds...it is delicious. For the moment, I won't hesitate incorporating it in our daily meals:) This plant is worth planting: it's beautiful, edible and very easy to grow too. At the end of the season, I will also gain lots of material for compost to enrich our soil and next year it starts all over again.

 win-win plant to have in the garden - the daylily:)

I'm just so happy being in the garden and I hope you find the same joy too. Life is good.


Sunday, 16 June 2019

Life in our garden

Dear Family & Friends

With T-storms predicted for our summer this year, I don't think we will have shortage of water for the garden as it comes with  sprinkling of rain. It's not the usual norm as we are used to hot dry summer and I'm not complaining at all:)

our pet tortoise amongst the chamomile

I let everything grow in our garden..simply because it would be impossible for me to physically cope with everything. I have to develop a chill out character when it comes to gardening as summer progresses on.  A garden is a lot of work but I believe it is to be enjoyed too!

courgette popping out of it's seed pod sown in pot

By now, most of the seedlings in pots have been transplanted to their proper designated area. Some plants I do direct seed sowing but for others that are more vulnerable to attack from slugs and snails, it has to be preplanted in pots for better chance of survival.

snail who crawled up a wooden post and a lavender flower stem decided to lean on it

My garden has a very natural set up. Despite the presence of pest, we refrain from interfering with nature as we also have predators as garden inhabitants. Nature has a way to deal everything themselves and so I don't interfere with their job assignments. 

a birdie found in my garden patch who didn't want to fly away

As the garden gets more and more established, we also noticed lots of different species of butterflies, bees and birds. One day we found a bird on the ground and it doesn't seem to want to fly away. We didn't know whether it's injured or orphaned. We worried for this one because there's also visiting cats in our garden...but the best thing we could do was to hope that this bird could sort itself as in the wild.

It's one exciting garden that is full of life. Full of awesome wonder as I look around...yes, I think to myself....what a wonderful world:)


Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Finding ways to cope with the garden

Dear Family & Friends

Year after year, the garden is getting denser and better. Our fruit orchard is taking shape and my dream of making our garden productive with less work input is coming on. The idea is to cover our garden ground with a variety of plants for ecological purpose and allow nature to work it's best way.

For the moment, I use cardboards to lay in trenches and open spaces to avoid invasive weeds from popping up. It's not very aesthetic cover to use but it's a free resource I could get and available to me. Later as the plant bushes takes their full shape, they will be able to suppress weeds around themselves.

the garden orchard is taking shape

All these garden works makes me very hungry everyday. So today I decided to treat everyone with a chinese noodle dish called 'ants climbing trees'. It's a special noodle made of beans and cooked with minced meat. 

The story of this dish says that an old grandma with failing eyesight saw this dish cooked for her and thought that the minced meat were tiny ants all over her bowl of noodles. Thus, the dish was named 'ants climbing tree'.

'ants climbing a tree' - bean noodle dish for today:)

Well, I am enjoying my day with lots of work- as usual, and we all enjoyed the humble home cooked noodles too. Hope you are having a good day too.


Thursday, 6 June 2019

Tortoise woke up early this year

Dear Family & Friends

We get the idea that tortoise are slow creature but let me tell you that isn't true. Our pet tortoise who lives freely in the garden has proven us otherwise. This tortoise roams the entire garden in such fast pace, it makes us all dizzy just to watch his daily activity. He walks here, there and everywhere.

here comes speedy Gonzales:)

For some reason, he woke from his hibernation much earlier this year. So on warm days he is so very active going around and around the garden. He climbs every garden barrier we lined for our garden beds.

up he climbs ....

It seems like a great challenge with the shell on his back and the short legs that he has. Nonetheless, he seems to succeed without problem.

down he falls...

He eats every delicious veggies that I grow in my garden beds. He helps himself when it comes to feedtime. One fortunate tortoise because there's a lot of variety that he enjoys eating - everything organic fresh and chemical free. Nothing better than that!

now it's time to snack on some lettuce leaves...

See how happy he is after having a snack of lettuce leaf? Well, we think that's him smiling for the camera.

yummy..and here's a smile for the candid camera:)

Well, the two girls enjoys being entertained by this little fellow. He is a good quiet pet to have and he takes care of himself and requires no attention, although he do enjoy our company because he always comes near us whenever we are in the garden:)

Enjoy your day too.


Saturday, 1 June 2019

As new season unfolds in our village

Dear Family & Friends

One night, I saw a thick formation of a rain cloud from our bedroom window. It was an unusual one because it was dark orange brown in colour. Then we realized that over in the neighboring country of Romania, a strange cylone occurred which gathered a large amount of clay soil into the clouds and these were blown over to our area. Eventually it brought down a very dirty rainfall and our garden was covered with clay dust after it rained.

rain clouds that was carrying clay soil within

The following day, all was well again. The sunshine persisted and it was another gorgeous day to enjoy. The village is lush and green and everything is growing robustly.

a favourite place to go for a little walk around the village

More and more people in our village are raising herds of cows and sheep these days too - more so than before as per our observation. Is it that the economy here is getting better? What's more important is that I see a beautiful world that we live in and it is our responsibility to take care of it.

happy calf roaming the field

It's just so nice to live in a place that is full of greeneries and surrounded by tall mountains in the horizon. Clear blue sky is definitely a big bonus too. The world is beautiful and peaceful over here . It's priceless beyond words and we are very grateful.

field of grain with mountain yonder

I'm sure it our our Creator's big idea for us to enjoy all His designed creation and I've going to do just that today. Hope you have a great day too.


Monday, 27 May 2019

The barn is filling up

Dear Family & Friends

The barn was cleared and there are plans to make good use of this area. I leave that 'big idea' to the big boss and so far he have a done a great job in clearing it up. It's a good size area to put into good use.

the barn is cleared up

For the meantime, we ordered 5 cubic meters of logs for our winter fuel. We ordered logs early this year, thinking ahead of keeping us warm in the coming winter once again. We're definitely well organized this year;P Buying logs early means that the price is much cheaper than when you get them later in the year. 

our big boss is happy with his new tool and enjoyed cutting the logs delivered

Every year we buy pre-cut logs and every year we get cheated on our purchase because when they deliver the goods, we only get half of what we paid for because there's no way to measure how much cubic there is before they damp the orders at our doorstep.

This year, we decided that we get uncut logs and do the cutting ourselves. The long logs are stacked well in a lorry and we got 5 cubics of it. What a big difference that is! We ended up with so much logs and such cheap price too.

a barn filed with neatly cut logs for the coming winter fuel

Now, part of our barn is neatly laid with logs. These will keep us warm for a few years as there is so much of it. As for the rest of the barn area, we are all very curious as to how and what our big boss plans for it. We will wait and see as he is all excited about it too.

All is well within our four walls. There's just so much work to do here and we are all enjoying as we keep ourselves busy with work. Hope you are having a good productive day too.


Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Another gardening year

Dear Family & Friends

Our spring this year seems to drag on longer with it's cool spell. So that so, my seedlings in pots are taking it's time with it's growth and I'm getting impatient as I want them to be transplanted sooner than later onto my veggie garden.

the gardener's hat on pole while the gardener is taking a short break

The sun shines and is warm during the day, but at night it can still be a bit cool. While many of the plants seems to be on steroid with their growth, other more heat loving ones just refuse to speed up.

the sun shines on

As this impatient gardener doesn't like to waste time, I've decided to subdivide my globe artichoke for the purpose of multiplying it. So this day I went with my division and multiplication system.

4 years ago, I started with 6 seeds to grow my first globe artichoke. From then on, I kept propagating it as it's a nice and elegant perennial plant that can withstand our winter and produces edible beautiful flowers too. This year, I finally got 30 plants in total. It should be enough from now on.

newly propagated globe artichoke - they will settle on soon:)

There so much to do in the garden at the moment, but each year I cover each space and gradually I am getting there. I feel I am achieving and I'm happy with all the work there is.

Hope you are having a happy day too.


Friday, 17 May 2019

Creative fun food this week

Dear Family & Friends

Here are some of the creative and fun food that came out of our home kitchen the past weeks. Some done by my assistant two chefs, my ever reliable girls, who loves creative cooking and eating... oh...they just enjoying everything that they do...including work - without any complain ever:)

I really can't remember what this above serving was made of...all I know it was delicious and done specially for me by my little girl:)

This bowl of rice brought great joy to my big girl's day. As you can see, it was nothing special, just some steamed rice, with sunny side up eggs and a vegetarian terriyaki side dish in it.

We called this a mini pan fried salami pizza - it was cooked very quickly...quicker than any pizza in town:)

Everything is done so simply in our little home. The best thing is that in whatever little and insignificant way, we all see the great joy out of it.

Life is about enjoying every little thing, including the routine of eating meals every day. We're grateful there's always food to nourish us, no matter how simple it is. Enjoy each of your day too:)


Sunday, 12 May 2019

Starting my tiny balcony garden

Dear Family & Friends

In our village home, my garden is sometimes too big for little me...but in our city apartment we only have a very tiny balcony gardening space. Making me think I am BIG :P.  The balcony garden is nice and sunny yet there's nothing much that I could think of growing that would not demand much responsibility as I don't go there often enough.

our tiny balcony garden in our apartment

The balcony area is open yet under cover. If I want to call it a balcony garden I must at least grow some greenery to soothe the eye. I've decided for now that I will grow succulents as they don't require much watering and care. At the far end of the balcony, I'm trying my best to grow a quick climbing perennial plant to give a bit of pivacy to our little space.

tiny but a perfectly nice sunny spot and under cover too:)

So that's our apartment tiny garden to start with for now:) It's a no work garden but you know my village garden is a never ending pottering area in comparison. Gardening gets us going - it's a happy therapy in life:)...so we must have a garden of some sort as much as possible:)

Enjoy your day too.


Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Sting nettle vs Stingless nettle plants

Dear Family & Friends

Last time, I wrote about nettle soup. This time, I want to introduce you a bit of this nettle weeds that we have in our garden. There's two kinds of nettle plants that I allow to grow: both spring time food - one is loved my the bees and the other by the humans:)

sting nettles - they are edible weeds

Our family eats the new growth of 'stinging nettle' in spring time. Mainly as soup because that's all I know how to cook it. Once the plant because old, the leaves gets tough and it's not so nice to consume anymore. By then, this plant becomes food for certain garden butterflies who loves it too. I also use this plant to make natural liquid fertilizer for my garden plants by soaking it to compost in water before use. As you can see, this stinging nettle is a very versatile plant.

stingless nettle or known as dead nettles

The other nettle plant we allow to grow in our garden is the self seeded 'dead nettle' plant. This is an early food source for the bees. The bees really loves the nectar of these flowers. It's a nettle plant but it doesn't have the sting when you touch them. Once the bees finish with this plant, I simply chop and drop them in the garden to nourish and enrich the soil.

varigated vinca

It sounds like we just have nettles growing in the garden...well not so, because for the moment I'm also enjoying the rampant growth of the vinca plants and a lot more...because spring time makes every plants happy. Hope you're having a happy day too:)