Healthy Eating with Homegrown Vegetables

There are many ways to eat healthy but the best maybe is with homegrown vegetables and fruits. Especially when they are not treated with any chemicals, grown in the permaculture style, healthy for humans and environment.

After a long time of nearly total absence I want to restart with my blog this year. We are still ‘locked away’ because of what is going on in the civilization but as I am living in the country for me many things are different. And I want to start to talk about my gardening, especially all around food.

Last year I already put a few recipes for preserves. Fruit and vegetables are great when freshly picked and prepared or eaten, but in the winter there is much less of all and the best is to preserve and can a lot of what we harvest during summer and autumn.

I was very lucky this year as I am again in a new home but the home-owner has a lot of land around and already put up a vegetable garden. Lucky also because he was not at all interested anymore in harvesting and let all to me. So I had from one moment to the other fruits and vegetables for a couple of families to my own.

The photos I took during the seasons summer, autumn and winter. With the to me never ending harvest of tomatoes I canned a lot. But I also tried out new ways to preserve like to sun-dry. I never did before. I started with tomatoes last year. This year I want to sundry much more like figs and berries if I find.

I want to harvest also more wild fruits like elderberry and sloes. I found a lot of wild growing asparagus, chard (whole year round nearly) and fennel. Of course I use wild flowers and ‘weeds’ like field-calendula, starweed and much more.

In my vegetable garden I found lettuce, peas, two types of beans, onions, garlic, potatoes, two types of tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants, hot chilies, winter melon and pumpkin. Around here in the wild I found a lot of cherries, figs, kaki, medlar, grapes, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts (I missed the last ones as I came too late here). I got more fruits from my friend nearby and I was juicing like crazy (around 50 liters).

Here you can find some of my preserve recipes. There will be much more coming this year I am sure.

What I missed? Flowers. There were little wild flowers as the land owner was always cleaning the fields to leave them bare in the very hot summer sun. I will try to have flowers as well this year.

I really had a crazy year, not only for the world situation but also privately with my new home. But I enjoyed it very much, though sometimes I was on the edge of struggling in such a small place I live in. Now in winter I am enjoying my preserves and harvest every day. I have genuine, healthy and super tasty food, I rarely go to a supermarket, a farmer nearby has eggs and meat from free-ranged animals, I know farmers they sell ancient grains/flour I can use for (occasionally) bread and cookies.

Let’s rock this new year, let us make the best out of it! Happy 2022!

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A Glass of Cherry liqueur?

In the 13th century monks produced an infusion of alcohol with sugar and herbs as medicine. Today it is called liqueur and produced worldwide and has lost the healing aspect to a more pleasure enjoyment. Still there are many with herbs but also fruits and spices are a very good combination. Homemade it is a great way to preserve fresh fruits from the garden.

There are many possibilities to preserve fruits. I opted for a liqueur made of my cherries. Just three ingredients. Anything more appealing?

What in the beginning seemed so easy peasy was in the end a lot of work. I had to remove the stones of the cherries. It felt like ages before I had done all of them. One kilo of cherries gets one liter of alcohol. I used Vodka. And about 200 gr of honey. I filled all in a jar, closed with a lid and let the whole in a cupboard for two months. From time to time I shook the jar.

After the two months I filtered the now dark red liqueur transfering it into a new clean bottle, closed air-tight with a lid.

Now and then I have a little glass of homemade cherry liqueur. Perfect for Christmas time, great on ice-cream, nice to offer to visitors.

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Sun-dried Tomatoes – Easy and Delicious

Sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil are a delicious antipasto all year round. They can be eaten directly on toasted bread or in a mixed salad. Simple dried tomatoes can be used in a lot of recipes and give that special taste. They are easy to make.

Once upon a time …. sun-dried was one of the ways to preserve fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes were salted and then dried in the sun for up to 10 days, depends by the intensity of the sun and weather condition generally. Salt and evaporated water delays the decomposition, mixed with herbs and then preserved in olive oil makes them stay good all winter long.

The salt is important as it holds the bright color of the ripe red tomatoes, but it also helps evaporating the water. Long time ago Italian people dried them on their roofs (flat roofs) and still many Italian people do this. Maybe not on the roof tiles but on a towel on a table for example.

I was lucky to have a big batch of cherry cocktail tomatoes this summer and didn’t know how to eat all of them. So I thought a good way to preserve would be drying them in the sun. And that’s what I did. I let them a week in the sun during the day-time, during night I covered all in order to protect them from night-humidity. They were ready for further preservation when they were dry but still a little chewy.

To dry the tomatoes you have to wash and then cut them in two halves. The cut side should lay to the sun. I sprinkled a light hand of fine salt on the top and covered all with a mosquito net, I didn’t want flies going on these sweet guys.

Dried tomatoes still have the same nutritional value like fresh from the plant. A perfect source for vitamin C, a good amount of antioxidants and lycopene.

For my sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil I prepared some minced garlic, capers and dried berries. I put the tomatoes in a big bowl, added the garlic, capers and berries and mixed all well. In the previously prepared jars I started to put some olive oil (one quarter high of the jar) and then filled with the tomato mixture.

It’s important that the olive oil covers the tomatoes. I just sealed the jar with a lid. No further preservation. I found out they go under vacuum after a while.

If you want to be sure that they are preserved accurately you can boil the jars for 40 minutes. Place the jars with a little towel on the bottom in a big pot, put some more fabric between the jars in order to protect them from breaking during the ‘cooking’. Fill water until two third of the jars high and place the pot on the stove. Leave them from the moment the water starts to boil for 40 minutes, switch off the fire and let them cool out over night in the pot. The next day move them to your pantry.

Sun-dried tomatoes in oil are great in many recipes but also on toasted bread as bruschetta, in a nice mixed salad, great on top of your steak or maybe in a sandwich. The remaining oil you can use for a salad dressing or cook with it. Don’t throw it away as it is already spiced and so good for many other dishes.

Start canning your tomatoes!

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From a Bitter Fruit to Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – short: EVOO – is the healthiest fat known for thousands of years. Now in October and November are the months that you can see everywhere in Italy the green nets under olive trees and people harvesting. It’s a busy time in the country-side which results in delicious, green and thick olive oil.

In late autumn when the leaves start to colorize nature with red and gold it’s the time for olives. The harvesting-time can go as long as all November, it depends by the weather. But this is the period that you can see everywhere huge nets under trees and people handling strange sticks in the trees, others collecting the fallen olives. It’s a hard work with a very happy end.

For this year was the first time to harvest olives and to get my own olive oil. The place I stay has a couple of olive groves and last week we started harvesting. Only two people, the owner of the land and me. We started in the morning just after sunrise and stopped only when the sun was already nearly gone. Around 200 kg we brought every day to the olive mill.

The olive mill works only six to eight weeks, and, especially in the beginning, can be very busy. They work day and night, continuously to get the oil out of the olives as soon as possible. The longer they wait the more bitterness will be in the olive oil, the faster the sweeter, milder.

In the mill the olives are collected in bins, huge plastic containers. Before they can be worked they have to be cleaned from leaves and branches, they will be washed with clear water. Then they get crushed in a huge stone mill until the olives become a kind of paste. This nearly creamy olive paste is transferred now on round disks. These disks become piled up until the paste is finished. This olive paste column goes into a pressing machine where it stays for a few hours, until nothing comes out anymore.

The liquid is not only oil but also a lot of water. In another machine these two are separated and the clean, unfiltered olive oil comes out. It is olive green (though the collected olives are black when they are ripe) and very dense, thick. The smell is divine! You just want to put a slice of bread under the fresh oil and eat it right away!

It depends by the year, per 100 kg olives you get between 12 and 18 liters of olive oil.

About olive oil and the health properties you can read here.

We harvested until now only a part of the olives. Not all are ripe in the same moment, it depends by the kind of olive and of course the position where the trees grow, how much sun they get and much more. We still have to harvest I would say the same amount. We harvested 780 kg, 110 liters of healthy organic olive oil.

There are also some olive trees for eating. I am preparing some olives in brine. I will bring the recipe out when they are ready, so stay tuned!

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Healthy and Delicious – Organic Olive Oil

Eat more fat! Maybe the most healthy fat you can eat is also the maybe most delicious one. Freshly pressed olive oil is full of vitamins and minerals and has a very rich taste.

In Italy we use to eat olive oil drizzled on a slice of rustic homemade bread, maybe with a hint of salt. Italians and most of the Mediterranean people are famous for eating mainly olive oil. Not because it is for their health but because they produce it, it has a great taste and it is versatile. Today we know it is one of the healthiest fats that exist.

I got some olive oil from a friend who has her own olive grove. Olive oil where the olives were collected in the morning and pressed and filled bottles or containers in the evening. When I opened it the next day it was grass green, unfiltered and thick. I tried a teaspoon and is was simply delicious. My friend said it would be a little sharp, bitter, but not for me. Maybe because I never eat sugar and my perception of taste is different. I tried it on homemade bread and just couldn’t stop.

Olive oil has to be first of all completely organic, no sprays, no chemicals at all. Collected in the right moment and as soon as possible be pressed, at least the very same day. Filled in dark bottles or containers. The oil is very green, all but clear, murky. Soon you will see an organic layer on the bottom. I just shake the bottle a little to get it re-mixed and then on my food. That is pure health!

EVOO is the healthiest one, it still has all the benefits of what nature offers us. Especially the plant nutrients or more scientific phytochemicals that protect you from cancer and heart diseases. Stroke protection and anti-inflammation thanks to the oleic acid. Looking for a good anti-aging food? Here it is: olive oil is packed with antioxidants. It’s also a good fighter against bacteria. In addition it helps you to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. It has also vitamins to give: vitamin E as antioxidant and vitamin K for your blood, plus omega 3 and 6. Hey, and olive oil can also improve your mood, it works as an anti-depressive. It’s a good cooking oil as well.

Did you know that olive oil is used also for making soap, was once used for oil lamps and is still used as medicine and in rituals. The healthy and tasty oil was produced already 8.000 years ago and traded during the Egyptian Dynasties. And did you know there is even a recipe for an olive oil cake? I didn’t try it yet, anyone did? Here are some of my recipes that uses olive oil extra virgin: sardelles in olive oil, bell pepper antipasto, eggplants in olive oil, chicken liver in wine and olive oil, asparagus pesto and fennel pesto. And last but not least my quick mayonnaise

There is no oil that is used more than olive oil I guess. You make pizza dough with it, you drizzle it on all kinds of salads, you bake and cook with it, you even can realize cakes and cookies with olive oil. A wonderful and personal gift is infused olive oil. If garlic, chili, lemon, rosemary or basil – prepare your own mix and leave it for a month in the olive oil. If you are in a place where you find truffle, than that is a very precious choice. Did you ever try spaghetti with oil and chili? One of my favorite!

I personally put olive oil nearly on and in everything. Every dish has olive oil, all salads are with olive oil, no soup without olive oil. I use for myself more than a liter per month. I used it many years also as sunscreen and for my hair. It’s always perfect.

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