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Seasonal Recipes & Events


Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in viagra pas cher your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Mark Twain

Courage, Happiness and Silly-bums

A day spent in the kitchen garden – is a day well spent. After clearing out the old growth and weeds I was able to take stock of some of the herbs quietly doing their thing. Borage, Calendula and Milk Thistle – 3 age old medicinal herbs –  with some interesting histories.

Borago officianalis – I got my seed in a Margaret Roberts pack of that had Borage and Pak Choy seed. Borage is used in companion planting. It is said to protect or nurse legumes, spinach, brassicas, and even strawberries. It is also said to be a good companion plant to tomatoes because it confuses the search image of the mother moths of tomato hornworms or manduca looking for a place to lay their eggs. Sorry for you mamma moth. It re-seeds happily in my veggie garden and protects the baby asparagus plants till they are strong enough to stand on their own.

Borage is an ancient herb associated with courage. In medieval times it was infused in wine as a tonic to banish melancholy. Some consider that the Latin name Borago is a corruption of corago – of the heart -and by implication, Courage.The Celtic word of barrach means ‘a man of courage’.

According to Pliny and Dioscorides, Borage was the famous Nepenthe of Homer, which when drunk steeped in wine brought absolute forgetfulness; they also affirm that ’the leaves and floures of borage put into wine make men and women glad and merry and drive away all sadness, dullness and melancholy’. John Evelyn, writing in the 17th century claims that ‘when drunk steeped in wine it’s known to revive the hypochondriac and cheer the hardened student’. John Parkinson (apothecary to James 1) recommends it ‘to expel pensiveness & melanchollie’.

I am digressing here because, honestly, I think the wine may have a lot to do with all those cheerful men and women.

Today we know that Borage contains gamma-linoleic acid or GLA (Omega 6) – for which Borage is the highest known plant-based source (17-28%) – other sources are Hemp, Canola, Walnut and Evening Primrose. And as we all know – those are the good oils that work with auto-immune disorders, arthritis, eczema and PMS – and keep our hearts healthy!

Although often used in soups, one of the better known German borage recipes is the Green Sauce (Grüne Soße) made in Frankfurt. In Italy borage is commonly used as filling of the traditional pasta ravioli and pansoti. It is used in Poland to flavor pickled gherkins.

I have two recipes for Borage – the first is very easy (for my dearest non-cooking friends)

Borage Ice Cubes – take an empty ice tray, drop the beautiful blue Borage flowers into the ice tray and fill with water. Chill in the deep freeze till set. Use at will.

The leaves and flowers were originally used in Pimms before it was replaced by mint or cucumber peel.

The second recipe – from Sicily – is in The Recipe Book section and is a perfect representation of how eating well and for good health should be – Simple.

Try this homemade recipes for dry skin:

Beat together 1 egg yolk, 10 ml of almond oil and 7g of fresh yeast, or use dried yeast mixed with a little warm water to make a paste. Add 15 ml of strong borage infusion, made by pouring 250 ml of boiling water on to 45 ml of crushed or chopped leaves. Smooth the mixture on to the skin and leave for 10 minutes. Wash it off with warm water, pat dry and apply moisturizer.


Calendula officianalisor Common Marigold (not to be confused with the corn-marigold – Chrysanthemum segetum; the fig-marigold is a Mesembryanthemum; the marsh-marigold is Caltha palustris). They flower prolifically and make good cut flowers. The more you pick the more they flower – so I always have cheerful flowers in unpretentious jam jars in the kitchen.

The first time I worked with pure Calendula flowers (other than the commercial creams) was a few years ago when I contracted a non-specific bacterial or viral infection on my face (I still believe it was a clean out process after I stopped taking the Pill after 15 years). I was working with a Sangoma healer at the time and the treatment, amongst other things was to wash my face every morning in a basin of warm water with calendula flowers. In the evening I washed my face with Mpepu leaves. Calendula has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammotory, and anti-genotoxic, properties.

The petals are edible and can be used fresh in salads or cooked foods; dried and used to color cheese or as a replacement for saffron (think Basmati Rice & Mussels)

Gather the flowers and leaves only in fine weather, in the morning, after the dew has been dried by the sun. The flowers need quick drying in the shade, in warm air. Spread out on sheets of paper, loosely, without touching each other. Store in glass jars.

To make calendula tea, simply pour about a cup of boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of calendula flowers and let sit for 15 minutes. Calendula tea may be taken 3 times per day. Calendula tincture, which can be taken with water or tea, can be taken 3 times a day (in doses of 1-2 ml). To make calendula tincture, soak a cup of flowers in 1 litre of rectified alcohol for 5 to 6 weeks (also try using a bottle of good vodka). A tincture dose is 5 to 15 drops. To create a calendula salve for external application, mix 50g of dried flowers or leaves with 50g   beeswax or give organic coconut oil a try – first melt down the beeswax or coconut oil.

Calendula is a very safe herb and is safe to use when treating children.

Macer’s Herbal – De Virtutibus Herbarum (based on Plinys work) is a handwritten manuscript; the meticulous exploration of ‘the virtues’ of forty-two herbs and a summary of countless diseases and the means by which to cure them. His words of wisdom with regard to ‘Goldes’ is ‘It must be taken when the moon is in the Sign of the Virgin and not when Jupiter is in the ascendant, for then the herb loses it’s virtue. And the gatherer, who must be out of deadly sin, must say three Pater Nosters and three Aves. It will give the wearer a vision of anyone who has robbed him’.

What a great way to solve crime! Next time you are broken into – head for the Herb garden. (Pater Nosters and Aves are Our Father and Hail Mary for those of you who managed to side-step a Catholic school education)


Milk Thistle – Silybum adansis an important medicinal herb; which makes me wonder how the biologists managed to give it the name silly-bum?!

I was given my plant by my friend Cooks and, WOW! is it happy. It is almost as tall as me; I have not managed to harvest any seed as yet – but will definitely wear gloves when attempting to do so – it looks like it had two young flower heads that were stopped from maturing by a rainy day. They rotted.

Milk thistle has been used medicinally for over 2,000 years, most commonly for the treatment of liver and gallbladder disorders. A flavonoid complex called silymarin can be extracted from the seeds of milk thistle and is believed to be the biologically active component.

A clinical trial studied 170 patients with cirrhosis of the liver to determine the effect of silymarin on their survival. For at least two years, 87 patients randomly received 140 mg of silymarin three times a day, while 83 patients received a similar regimen of placebo medication. Overall, patients taking silymarin had a higher four-year survival rate (58%) than those taking the placebo (39%). Further analysis showed that silymarin was most effective in patients with alcohol-induced cirrhosis.

(Ferenci P, Dragosics B, Dittrich H, et al. Randomized controlled trial of silymarin treatment in patients with cirrhosis of the liver. J Hepatol. 1989 Jul;9(1):105-13)

Alcoholism; Cancer prevention; Cirrhosis; Drug-induced hepatotoxicity (i.e. chemotherapy); Food poisoning; Hepatitis; Indigestion; Liver disease (probably brought on by very un-melancholic experiments with Borage steeped in wine) are some of the health benefits of Milk Thistle. Silymarin is also used to treat Amanita phalloides (death cap) mushroom poisoning. It is most effective if administered with 48 hours after ingestion.

At this time of our planetary and social evolution, as some of us look back to the ‘good old ways’ to try and counterbalance the crazy world of GM foods, de-naturised food, over prescribed medicines and the sneaky feeling that somewhere someone is taking the piss out of us and making a buck to the detriment of our humanity and planet…….well, it seems it started a long time ago. William Westmacott, in ‘Historia Vegetabilium Sacra: Or a Scripture Herbal’ (Published in 1694) had this to say about Milk Thistle and gives us an insight into the sign of the times:

‘It is a friend of the Liver and the Blood; the prickles cut off, they were formerly used to be boiled in the Spring and eaten with other herbs; but as the World decays, so does the use of good old things and others more delicate and less virtuous brought in.’


Naturally Knysna – Wild Herbs & Mushrooms

Wow! Busy weekend! Some of you may have heard of the Naturally Knysna initiative (and for those of you who haven’t there is a link on this page). The first festival is being held this week and it kicked off with a media launch on Friday night at Pembreys Restaurant  in Belvidere followed by a weekend of food market,  beer fest hosted by Mitchells Brewery and the Recycled Band Competition.

Friday night – Pembreys Restaurant. I had been asked by the organizers to do the starter, a mini version of the galettes with creamy mushrooms that I do on the market (see The Recipe Book). This was followed by chef Pete Vadas of Pembreys serving up whole roast freerange chickens, rubbed with fresh garden herbs and roast garden veggies. The chickens and veggies were served on big platters and put on the center of the tables so that guests could help themselves. What a great way to get folks sharing! Dessert was made by chef Gino – Belgian waffles with fresh, whipped cream and strawberries.

The ‘I learnt something today’ moment – the fresh garden salads had spekboom (Portulacaria Afra) leaves and Wild Rosemary(Eriocephalus Africanus) tossed in with the sprouts and fresh herbs. Viv & Peter have kindly shared the recipe with us (see The Recipe Book))

The spekboom has a slightly astringent taste but works so very well once tossed into the salad, bringing in a lemony taste.
I’m already sold on putting rose geranium (Pelargonium ‘Graveolens’) leaves in my salad – just tear them into strips and toss them in with the rest of the greens.

The medicinal benefits of using these plants in our food


SPEKBOOM – there is a saying “As long as your spekboom is growing and prospering, so will your finances” – well that’s good enough for me! Zulu & Xhosa mothers swear by it’s milk producing abilities. It is also used in the treatment of diabetes and it’s the favourite food of elephants, buffalo & black rhino, so they cant be getting it wrong. Spekboom has enormous carbon-storing capabilities. Its capacity to offset harmful carbon emissions is equivalent to that of a moist, subtropical forest.

WILD ROSEMARY – also known as ‘kapokbos’ is traditionally used to treat water retention and stomach ache. It has also been known to treat heart disease and heart failure as a diuretic. (Medicinal Plants of South Africa, Ben Erik van Wyk)



ROSE GERANIUM – calming, de-stressing, fighting anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed, PMS, relieving symptoms of menopause, poor circulation and treating tonsillitis and bronchitis. Yep, no salad can be without it!



New Year, New Beginnings

Spring is here and with it comes new beginnings and new projects – one of my many projects for this year is starting this blog. I am very blessed to live on a farm in a small community called Rheenedal, 9kl from Knysna on the aptly named Garden Route, in a district called Eden. Sounds blissful yet all who live here are just as affected by the current financial challenges, social ills and environmental changes that are taking place all over this beautiful earth – maybe in some cases more so.
Our farm is in area that was once covered with thousand year old afromontane forests full of Yellowood, Ironwood, Stinkwood and elephants. “An inexhaustible supply of wood” was how an early settler to the area described the forests, along with the many fresh water rivers and lagoon, it must have indeed seemed like an Eden. Well the forest wood was exhausted, the rivers and lagoons no longer run as fast or as deep and certainly are no longer clean and over the last 15 years the sleepy town of Knysnas’ population has exploded.

In this digital information age that we live in we are constantly bombarded with real time events happening all over the world of the disasters wrecked by climate change, the general mismanagement of our finite resources and the wars fought over oil and water.
Because we live in a Marketing driven world we are asked daily to choose freerange; organic; single source of origin; fair trade; to recycle; to re-use;…the list is endless and daunting, yet so often the choice inevitably lands up being the most affordable.
Daily we see the small businesses in out town closing there doors (and the big corporates move in) , our friends loose their homes and farms and we all cope with the stress of having to put food on the table and keeping the lights on and the car running despite mounting food prices, utilities bills and petrol prices.

Overwhelming, certainly. So often an easier way to deal with all of this is to max out the credit card, tap into the access bond – shrug our shoulders and shop, go on a ill-afforded family holiday ‘to get away from it all’ and try to turn a blind eye while moaning about the ‘current state’ around a braai with friends.
Because, where does one start??

I believe we start at home, with our immediate families and community and with every little decision we make. It is time to sweat the small stuff.
Most of us are only one or two generations away from a time when people canned, baked, preserved, made do, swopped produce, purchased locally, re-used and recycled because that’s just the way it was. The knowledge is still there.
Over the course of the next year I would like to share with you some of our journey to support our local food producers, to live sustainably, to eat well, laugh a lot, to learn and pass on information and to create bonds of friensdhip within our community.