Silverbeet – almost too beautiful to cook

Silverbeet resize & lightenRachel picked silverbeet from her garden and stunned by the beauty of their long brightly coloured roots, was inspired to draw them before they went to seed.

Having accumulated heaps of silverbeet recipes (cookbook concept days) over the past few years,    I took armfuls back home with me on the ferry and got cooking.

Here’s an  incredibly quick and healthy recipe to share.  Everything  is thrown together and ready in about 30 minutes.  You could replace silverbeet with chard, cavolo nero or spinach leaves.

Silverbeet & Chickpea Curry – adapted from Sarah Raven (feeds 4)

1 large onion (finely chopped)
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
Vegetable oil
1 heaped tsp medium curry powder
A knob of fresh ginger (finely grated)
1 red chilli (finely chopped)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 x 400g tin cooked chickpeas
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
250g button mushrooms (halved)
Juice of 1 lime
2 lemon grass sticks
Large handfuls silverbeet
2 tblsp soy sauce
2 tblsp Thai fish sauce
Bunch of coriander (chopped)

Gently fry onion and garlic in a large frying pan until soft.  Add the curry powder, fresh ginger, chilli, salt & pepper and stir.
Add the cooked chickpeas, coconut milk, mushrooms, lime juice and lemon grass sticks and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove any thick stems from the silverbeet, then shred the leaves and add to the chickpea mixture.  Add soy sauce & fish sauce.  Scatter fresh coriander over the top.  Serve with rice.

Long Lasting Leucadendron

Leucodendrum SketchbookMouhlenbeckia & leudodendrum wreath copy blogLeucadendron.  We’ve all seen bunches of these sold at the farmers market by the bucketful.   They last a long time in or out of water which makes them great value for money.  Or better still,  plant your favourite variety in your own garden.   Leucadendron like the sun but are quite relaxed about the quality of their soil.  Quite unusual looking, these ‘flowers’ work well combined with materials exhibiting similiar structural form.  You’ll see below we’ve used protea and leucospermum (part of the same family) with black berried ivy.

There are so many varieties and colours to choose from.  I particularly like these lime-green leucadendron which ‘lift’ and lighten an arrangement or wreath and accentuate the other ingredients.Leucodendrum & Protea BQ

Leucadendron Vase May resize & crop

Bracken growing wild

Gathering-1 blog

Gathering bracken at Diamond Harbour – photographer Rebecca Bijl

Bracken Sketches MayThe Peninsula is a great source of seasonal materials for styling and arranging.

Bracken grows wild over the hill tracks, coastal paths and amongst hedgerows.  Whether dark green and fresh or rusty orangy-brown, this delicately-fronged fern provides a kind of ‘rest’ amongst denser materials within an arrangement or wreath.  It is really important to have light and space within a composition,  so as you gather consider what role each ingredient will play.

Good materials that do the same job as bracken include maidenhair fern, pepper tree foliage, kowhai branches, trailing jasmine, wild fennel, old man’s beard and asparagus fern.

Autumn Carousel

Autumn Carousel resize cropRachel and I have been busy harvesting crab apples, rosehips and every kind of berry they can find  Combining these fruits with lush green moss and bracken spied whilst walking along the coastal pathway to the ferry,  we refreshed our 3-tiered Christmas Carousel transforming it into an autumn arrangement.  When you find a prop or structure that you like, it’s always fun to change and decorate it according to the season you’re in,  with materials that reflect the time of the year.

Leftover berries and foliage were used in this full autumn wreath with some silvery green gum.

Crab Apple & Berry Autumn Wreath resize

The Chrysanthemum makes a comeback

survival test imagesFlowers like clothes come in and out of fashion as we know.  Chrysanthemum are a good example of this.  Once upon a time considered rather old-fashioned, these flowers are now enjoying a bit of a floral comeback.  As Rachel comments, it’s not that a particular ingredient is unfashionable or unattractive, it’s the way it’s presented and the materials it’s combined with that give it a contemporary edge.

Grouping stems of red chrysanthemums en masse with other similarly-hued red and orange flowers (the red autumn hydrangea is great for this as are burnt-orange dahlias) and combining with textural skimmia berried foliage and hypericum berries would look stunning together with smoke-bush foliage and crab apple branches.

To look at all plants, flowers and so-called weeds and create interesting and unique designs with unexpected combinations is our philosophy at Carousel.