Category: Recipes

This is a great sauce for drizzling over almost anything. If you don’t have Kaffir Lime leaves, you could use Coriander, Green Ginger or anything else that takes your fancy.

Green Chilli & Kaffir Lime Sauce

4 cups Vinegar ( I use organic Cider)

4 cups Sugar

2 tblsp Salt

8 or so Kaffir Lime leaves

Put all of the above into a large pot & bring to the boil. Simmer with lid on for 15 minutes.

Then add:

350 gm Green Chillies with stalks removed

50gm Garlic

Simmer for a further 5 minutes,remove the lime leaves, then whizz up in the blender. We don’t have a blender at the moment so tried the blending stick, but that didn’t work. In the end we strained the pulp off & put that in the food processor. Then we mixed it all together. We store the sauce in a cool, dark place & re-fill our kitchen bottle as needed. If you are giving bottles away, they look nice with a fresh Kaffir Lime leaf popped into each bottle.

Enjoying some quiet times

There’s a great little market that happens every Sunday in Otane. The last Sunday of each month is also a carboot sale. Today we found a large pestle & mortar on a stall, for $15. We have a modest collection of these, but none so big as this. It’s very timely as I have been wanting to crush up some bulk spices to put in a Red Bush spicy Chai mix. We used to drink Red Bush all the time, many years ago, & have come round full circle to remembering how much we like it.

The recipe is for 1 cup of Red Bush, it’s hard to buy loose, I eventually found it on Trade Me, would you believe?

Crush up the following spices & mix into the tea:

2 cinnamon sticks

3 tsp cardamom

1 tblsp cloves

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp powdered ginger

4 small chillies

4 star anise

1 tblsp Fennel seeds

Make a pot, then you can adjust the flavour to your taste, remember to note down any changes so you have the recipe for next time.

We’ve had a quiet week in the workroom, but have made up for it by spending time trimming & repotting herbs out by the shadehouse. We’ve also been busy nest building, a chain reaction from the skylights etc. sorting out those dark corners full of ‘stuff’ & getting our storage systems a bit more efficient, still work in progress.

Alembic Stills

We had a great workshop on Sunday with Jill & Charlie from Alembic Stills.  We distilled alcohol from home made wine, Charlie’s new plum wine & our very old crabapple & date wine. The latter was very dry & was transformed into a delicious Brandy, which came out at 60% alcohol, & was then diluted down. I’m so glad we hadn’t thrown it away. This means we can turn our spray-free fruit & organic sugar into alcohol we can use to make tinctures, very exciting.

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Jill arrived with a huge basket full of Rosemary, which she pulled off the twigs. We processed this two ways, into a Hydrosol & also using steam distillation, by adding an extra piece to the neck, called a column, this has a grid in it, where the leaves sit. This gave us a seperated  mix of hydrosol & a tiny bit of essential oil.  We also made Clary & White Sage hydrosols, the White Sage is divine, really clean & pungent.

Geoff & I got a 5.5L Alembic Still with an onion head & we are excited at the new possibilities for working with our herbs & also making extracts we can add to our ointments. Of course there are all sorts of details & precautions to take , to get just the right results. First thing we have to do is to clean it with a rye flour slurry & then we can get going.

If you are interested in attending a workshop, contact Charlie & Jill at

Farmhouse Pound Cake

This is a great fruitcake recipe. It comes from the first recipe book I ever owned, over 35 years ago & I haven’t found a better one. As you may have noticed I like to make cakes & slices that are substantial & filling, & can sustain you for a few hours gardening!

1/2 lb Butter, softened

1/2 lb brown sugar

12 oz dried fruit mix (I pick out the jelly cherries)

1 cup walnuts

1 lemon juice & zest

1 tsp vanilla essence

4 eggs

1/2 lb flour ( mix of wholemeal & white is good)

1tsp Baking powder

2 tsp mixed spice ( or as much or little as you like)

1/4 tsp salt

Cream butter & sugar together, mix in lemon, vanilla & fruit & nuts.

In a different bowl mix up the flour, salt, spice & baking powder.

Alternate eggs with flour mix into butter/fruit mix, stirring well until everything is added.

Put into a greased tin, you can put part of the butter wrapper in the bottom to stop it sticking, about 22cm in diameter.

If you like you can sprinkle walnuts or slivered almonds on the top.

Bake in moderate oven until a skewer comes out clean when poked into the centre.

Keeps well in a tin, or can be frozen.

Ginger Crunch

This recipe is dedicated to the Year 1 students at Lotus, a reward for being enthusiastic & remembering such terms as stratify & flocculate!!

This is a double version, & only keeps well if you hide it.

Preheat oven to 180C  You’ll need a dish about 25 x30cm

1) In a saucepan melt:

300gm butter

4 tblsp golden syrup

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2) In a large bowl mix together:

1 1/2 cups coconut shreds

3 cups rolled oats

1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour

3 tsp baking powder

4 tsp ground ginger

3)Pour the melted mix into the dry ingredients, press into large dish.

4) Bake until golden, it will be a little soft until it cools.

5) Icing, when slice has cooled: in the same saucepan you used before, melt:

60gm butter

4 tsp golden syrup

100gm icing sugar

4 tsp ground ginger

Spread over, cut into pieces, leave to get quite cold before taking out of dish. Great with a steaming mug of tea.

Hawthorn Fruit Leather

We have found the best herb book ever, it’s called by two titles, Backyard Medicine (USA) or Hedgerow Medicine (UK) byJulie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal. It’s great because it uses a lot of the wild plants we are familiar with, & also uses  Wise Woman methods which don’t require a lot of faffing about. Hawthorn is an amazing plant, especially good for heart & blood pressure problems. I get a lot of arrythmia or erratic heart beats, & was prescribed Beta Blockers, but the list of potential side effects was very scary, so I started to look at natural remedies. Hawthorn has come up trumps, but anyone who is on heart medication needs to be supervised by a herbal or medical professional.



Hawthorn can be turned into a tincture, by chopping the berries up with vodka, & leaving in a cool dark place for several weeks, you can also start with a tincture of flowers & then add that to the berries. A cheaper method is to make fruit leather. Pick through the ripe berries, discarding any discoloured or mouldy looking ones, rinse in a colander & measure. Put in a saucepan with slightly less than  half their volume in water, bring to the boil & simmer for 15 minutes.

Mash the pulp & rub through a sieve, we add a tablespoon of raw sugar per cup of berries. If the mix is too sloppy evaporate a bit more moisture before spreading onto the dehydrator sheets. Lightly oil the sheets, & spread the mix, setting the temp at  about 60 degrees C. Run  the dehydrator until the leather is dry & comes away from the sheet, ours takes about 4 hours.  If you don’t have a dehydrator you can dry the pulp on a baking sheet in a warm oven. The dosage is one square inch a day!! Sometimes I take 2 or 3 if my heart is particularly bumpy.


This acts as a heart & circulatory tonic, & also calms the spirit, easing anxiety & restlessness.

I’ve also made a tincture with the fruit, whizzed up in a blender with vodka. In October I made a separate tincture with the flowers, now at the end of Nov, I’m planning to mix the two together to use when I run out of fruit leather. Here are some photos of the Hawthorn flowers & leaves, it’s a lovely plant.

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As is often the way with recipes, in our house anyway, one thing gets substituted for another, & before you know it you have quite a different beastie. I usually make bulk minestrone & freeze some. This recipe morphed because I had no Red Kidney beans, no small pasta & only tinned moroccan tomatoes, I think it’s even better than the original recipe.  I think it could be good with some chicken added too.


Start with a large slosh of olive oil,

Fry 2 onions, finely chopped, several cloves of garlic & about a cup of bacon pieces or 2 or 3 rashers of bacon chopped up,

Grind up about 1 tsp of cumin seeds & toss in.

When cooked stir in 2 or 3 chopped carrots, several sticks of celery (I used some Lovage stalks & parsley),

4 potatoes, cook for a bit,

Then add 2 tins of chickpeas,

2 tins of moroccan toms or plain toms,

About 6 cups of stock & or water,

A few Bay leaves & some chopped oregano or thyme, salt & pepper.

I added about 1 cup of giant lebanese couscous,

& half a finely chopped cabbage.

Put the lid on & cook for half an hour or so until everything is tender. This makes about 10-12 servings & freezes well. Serve with fresh coriander leaves.

Raspberry & Rose Petal Jam

We are having a bumper crop of Raspberries this year. We have 2 patches each about 2mX1m, we don’t get many earlier in the season but the Autumn crop is great & the birds leave them alone. We pick every second day, & freeze them until we’re ready to process as they can go mouldy very quickly. This is the first time we’ve made jam, & it’s delicious so will be a regular from now on.


1kg fruit… cook for 5 mins

1kg warm sugar

4tsp Rosewater (we bought ours from a local Indian supply shop, make sure you have the edible sort).

Cook all together, stir in1-2 cups red rose petals if you have them, with white base trimmed.

Cook until a little sets on a cold plate, then bottle into hot jars,with sterilised lids.

Dishwasher Powder

Whilst browsing Trade Me the other day I found a great site called, it’s a business in Motueka that makes soaps & supplies ingredients for other recipes like the dish wash powder, & toothpaste. We’re hoping to change over our soap base to the one they make, we like the way they present their products & the simplicity, plus the soaps are great.

Mix together

1/4 cup Citric Acid

1/4 cup Salt

1 cup Baking Soda

1 cup Washing Soda crystals

We have a lot of lime in our water, when we use creek water & usually it leaves the glasses smeary & not enticing to use, we use vinegar as the rinse aid. This mix is not only cheap, but works very well, brilliant, thank you S.L. Store it in a wide mouthed container as it can solidify a bit. Bin Inn also have a list of cleaning recipes & stock the ingredients.

I hate to waste anything, so when I was cutting back the Arugula (the perennial Roquette with yellow flowers) I decided to have a go & make Pesto with it. It’s a great alternative to Basil, & at the moment it’s more abundant in our garden. The Cabbage White Butterflies don’t seem interested in it either.

Take a couple of good handfuls of leaves, pick them over, removing any discoloured leaves & stiffer stalks. Chop coarsely.

In the blender chuck in a handful of walnuts,

a couple of cloves of garlic,

generous slosh of Olive oil,

& salt & pepper.

Whizz up until roughly chopped then feed in the leaves, adding more oil if needed. We’ve been eating salad wraps for lunch nearly every day, & the pesto is great smeared first on the bread. It’s also delicious spread on crackers with a slice of tomato on top.