casita limon loves

mediterranean living

Category: Food

sun drying cherry tomatoes (the easy way)

cherry tomatoes ripening on the vine cherry tomatoesThese little beauties are the first of my cherry tomato crop.  I was amazed to find them ripe on the vine in March!  There’s nothing more satisfying than biting into a home grown cherry tomato, it’s like biting into a little multi-vitamin bursting with sweet flavour. Remember when you were a kid and your Mum used to put a tomato in your lunch box ? and it actually tasted like a tomato ? well, that’s what you get with these…I would highly recommend growing your own especially if you like me want to avoid over consumption of tasteless force grown supermarket food.

sun drying tomatoes in the car

sun drying cherry tomatoes on the dashboard

Throughout the month of June our cherry tomato abundance peeked so I diligently picked them, washed them, dried them and then cut them in half.  I lined a tray with baking paper and laid the halves out evenly with the wet side facing up.  Then I parked the car in the sun and put the tray on the dash board, making sure that the windows were up and that no flies or bugs had found their way into the car.  These tomatoes took just over a day, with temperatures in June around 27 degrees.  I reckon on a sunny weekend in the UK you could do the same, and would seize the moment if there’s a mini heatwave.  The car acts as a makeshift dehydrator without any of the expense, no equipment costs or electricity and all natural. You need to keep checking them every half day because you want them to be on the chewy side rather than the crispy side.  When they’re ready just tip into a clean (sterlised) jam jar and top with extra virgin olive oil.  The flavour is  intense…

sun dried tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil

my sun dried tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil

The Secret to the Mediterranean Diet may be in the Salad…

salad leaves

So,  it seems there’s still some degree of debate as to exactly why people in the Mediterranean live longer and how elements in their diet such as vegetables, fish, grains, red wine and fatty nuts and oils  help to increase their life expectancy.  However, scientists now believe that  the combination of salad and olive oil is one of the things that has beneficial effects on health. According to recent research early studies suggest that it’s this combination of olive oil and salad that creates a special kind of nitro fatty acid that lowers blood pressure which in turn has a positive effect on the reduction of life shortening cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, heart failure and heart attack.

Lettuce is one of the easiest things in the world to grow, especially if you buy little plantlets from the Vivero (garden centre).  They are mostly cool climate plants so grow just as happily in Northern Europe as they do in the Mediterranean and can even be grown in a window box.  If you haven’t tasted freshly picked salad leaves then I really would recommend it  – the difference  in taste between a freshly picked salad leaf and a shop bought one is incredible, they are simply delicious and bursting with just picked energy.  We pick the leaves off as we need them, just a  handful at a time starting from the outer edge and it actually encourages the plant to grow.  The bowl of leaves then gets soaked in cold  water with a dash of vinegar to ‘out’ any crawlies, before being drained in a colander and shaken in a tea-towel Jamie Oliver style using centrifugal force.  Then, all you need do is  toss them  in olive oil, lemon juice and crushed garlic – simply delicious!

home grown salad leaves

 

Lavender & Honey Ice-Cream

nourishment for the soul…

 

…For years now I’ve been a fan of lavender, perhaps its having an aromatherapist for a Mum but I’ve been using lavender essential oil as a calming night-time remedy to help induce a peaceful night’s sleep ever since my kids were babies.  A few years ago I came across a recipe for lavender and honey ice-cream  and thought how lovely and soothing it sounded  with its beautiful combination of cream, honey and lavender and not an ounce of sugar in sight.  This recipe is one that I’ve adapted using fresh lavender that grows in my garden and locally produced honey:

  • 2 cups of cream
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, (split to allow the contents to ooze out during cooking)
  • 2/3 cup of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lavender
  • 2 large eggs
  • Pinch of finely ground pink Himalayan salt

Combine the cream/milk/honey/lavender and vanilla pod and bring to just under a boil then leave to steep on the hob covered with a cloth for about half an hour to allow the lavender and vanilla to infuse the cream and honey.

FOOD SHOTS BLOG 29TH MARCH 021

Sieve the mixture, discard the lavender and vanilla pod, then re-heat until hot.  Whisk the eggs and salt together and add one cup of the hot cream mixture whisking all the time, then pour this  into the hot cream mix and continue whisking

lavender and honey ice-cream

Then cook this whisked mixture over a low heat until it coats the back of a spoon, (as if you were making custard or creme anglais) – this should take at least 5 minutes. Allow to cool, then chill for 3 hours in the fridge before churning, (ideally) in an ice-cream machine.  Transfer to a Tupperware and freeze until you need it…simple!

 

19th april 2014 039

 

 

 

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