I present you the special Masala Herb Europe Summer Edition of 2014! Surprised? Well, it was my aim and yes I confess, I was short on time to announce it earlier, but as you will see, I am already in Austria and recently we had taken a 10 days trip to visit our family in France. Finally I got around a decent WiFi connections and therefore I have prepared a few special posts all around our few Europe trips with an insider point of view, as well as special European food posts (obviously!) for the whole world.
So brace yourself in the next few week because I have prepared a dozen of posts already all around the topic, which should be informative and useful to you, because as some of you pointed out in the last post (and I agree wholeheartedly): Quality over quantity! Also, since my family here in Europe is planting their own produce I will be sharing with you some of our home grown production today, just so that we get back into the Masala Herb groove after such a long absence. Additionally, in the weeks to come I have prepared a few downloadable goodies for you my dear reader, while hoping that you will be able to excuse my little posting break of the past and before I forget it again,… I still haven’t posted some of our detailed South Indian odyssey posts which I will throw in in the weeks to come.
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Basically, I hope to mesmerize you once again as I have been doing it the past 3 years here at Masala Herb, because my aim is to share useful knowledge with all those who want to learn, but I am also looking to exchange knowledge and therefore I am always glad to read your point of view in a post comment!
My parents tend to plant broad beans in the Austrian alps (as seen in the picture above) every year and this season we have harvested a proud amount of 5 kgs, which should last until spring 2015. We wash the beans, pack them in zip lock bags and store them in the freezer for later use. One can add them to salads or we like to just dip them in little salt. I noticed that broad beans seem to be trendy again in some corners of the world. Parts of north France for example have planted fields full of broad bean plants. Maybe this humble bean is about to finally breakthrough?
Cabbage and lettuce/ice berg salad varieties are always growing well in a specially constructed metal box filled with mud, which is in such a hight that one doesn’t have to break back. Another advantage of huge mud boxes are that you can cover them so that they don’t get damaged by harsh weather conditions. Something we hoped to eradicate with the heighten boxes are the annoying, slimy and “house-less” brown snails. Their favorite delicacy are lettuce and co and they tend to come out more during rainy days. Ducks, geese and hedgehogs count in turn snails as their favorite food treat. This year we were not honored by those animals so we just pick them up with big wooden chopsticks and throw them into the river to become fish food. Unfortunately snails are quite annoying, they reproduce rapidly and instead of using chemicals to keep them at bay we try to reduce the population in an environmental friendly way.
If you have been reading Masala Herb for a while now, you might remember that I had mentioned the appearance of french beans in Goa (India) a couple of years ago. The commercially available french beans in Goa are usually huge in size which hasn’t been an advantage so far. You see, if french beans are harvested late they get strings. That means that they get chewy! Therefore waiting for french beans to reach colossal sizes is absolutely not an advantage, reducing the value of the fresh produce. The beans in the picture will be ready to be picked in a few days. In Austria and my grandfather’s garden in France we cultivate mostly the common green french bean and also the yellow french bean (which are easier to spot while harvesting) but I know also of a black french bean variation.
I believe the onion is one of the most cultivated foods by private individuals in the Alps. It’s just super useful, and onions are frequently added to dishes all over the world but the humble onion makes a great food star on it’s own too such as in a french onion soup, a onion tart or onion pakoras. The second picture after the onions in full beauty shows onion flowers blooming. The round heavy white bulbs are frequently covered by insects such as honey bees.
The greenery holding gently sparkling rain drops isn’t just a picture with leafs but rather a little close up of soon to be picked leeks. Leek sometimes appears in the Indian market from December to March and it should be available in the leading supermarket chains in all cities. Commonly, leek is used in soups, such as in the Potoato Broccoli leek cream soup or the Vegetable Comsommé, but it can also be enjoyed as a veg side with meat dishes such as in this exquisite Blanquette de veau a l’ancienne recipe.
A herbal tea flavor that I treasure is chamomile flowers. I wrote about chamomile tea in the past and explained back then the advantages of this pretty looking flower. The plant grows often wild too in the Austrian and Swiss Alps and has been treasured for centuries for it’s healing properties.
My father’s apple trees have been growing well including these green sour apple fruits. A few are ripe already but most will get ready in the next weeks to come and then I will be able to show you a few tasty recipe uses. If you are craving apples right now and you want to whip up something fancy or healthy then take a peak at the Austrian mini apple strudel, apple tart, carrot apple ginger juice, abc juice, spiced apple compote muesli yogurt and apple flax seed muffins.
We grow different berry variations, to my husband’s delight. You might have recognized the raspberry above, but besides that my parents have been growing strawberries, blackberries, red white and black currants. We had a Goji berry shrub too but for some reason this native Asian plant didn’t give fruits and was instead invading other local plants, so it had to be cut and removed. I am looking forward to share a few berry recipes soon!
What have you been up to lately?