By Jane Gibb
One of my favourite herbs is the celery plant (Apium Graveolens).
Celery plant is a flowering biennial plant that pre-dates the commonly available cultivated stringless celery varieties.
It makes my life happier in two ways: firstly, I avoid buying commercially produced vegetable stock, which I hate; and secondly I do not have to buy plastic-wrapped celery from the supermarket!
In Griffins Hill garden, our celery is a striking plant growing about one metre high with large pinnate leaves (feather-like) similar to Italian parsley and thick green stems that are somewhat thinner that those of the supermarket varieties.
The outer stems can be continuously harvested providing a year-round supply of fresh healthy celery. Because the celery plant is biennial it forms a seed head and dies every two years, but in my garden a new plant grows from the base of the old plant. All I need to do is harvest the seed for use in cooking, then cut back the spent foliage.
I use celery plant for flavouring and often add the cut up leaves to salads. My basic stock recipe includes frying onions in olive oil along with sea salt, carrots and celery stems and leaves. Once cooked, I add water to make liquid stock. Otherwise, I simply add ingredients such as spices, tomatoes, potatoes and chick peas and serve it up straight away. Yum.
Quinoa (pronounced Kinwa) is a “super seed” originating from Peru in South AmericaIt is a source of complete protein, high in dietary fibre, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. I use Quinoa a lot.
If possible I buy Tasmanian-grown organic white Quinioa and begin the cooking process by washing the grain. I usually use the absorption method -- adding one cup of washed quinoa to two cups of water, pinch in some sea salt, and place on low heat without the lid and do not stir. It’s cooked when the water has absorbed the seed and it is soft. Take off the heat and toss with a little olive oil then use in salads or instead of rice as the main ingredient for stuffed tomatoes or capsicums.
Cylindrical beetroot is a space saver. Oddly, this beetroot only has a small portion of the root under ground and the rest happily grows upright above the ground. If planted in clumps each plant will grow slightly sideways giving the impression that they are sharing the space by shifting over to make room for the neighbours.
Much to my delight, this plant provides Griffins Hill with a year round supply of dark red beets. This versatile vegetable is wonderful baked whole with the skin on, then sliced and served warm, lightly doused with vinegar and olive oil.
Recipe Betroot Quinoa will be added over the weekend.