From the Garden, with Olives

I've been struggling to get over this cold, which seems to have affected my brain and makes me wonder if in fact zombies are some sort of hanging-on-cold-sufferers, because that's what I feel like. Not the innards-eating side of zombihood, but a nonspecific, fuzzy lack of focus on normal work- and life-related things.

So that's really just a long way of saying - here's some stuff from my garden to look at! 
Mmmm ... pretty flowers ...

It has been an amazing week, though.
Last weekend I dug through the garden bed in a half-assed attempt to dissuade tree roots from sucking the life out of it - and found these. Almost 2kg of sweet potatoes I didn't even know were down there with the worms. Yes, we've been eating sweet potato leaves a lot (remember this?), but I honestly never thought we'd actually have potatoes, too. Happily - and deliciously - proven wrong.

Our nasturtiums have been growing rampant, and attracting bees to our garden (finally!), and are finding themselves in all kinds of salads. (The nasturtiums, not the bees) Nasturtium flowers and leaves have a really sweet and peppery flavour that compliments regular-old-greens really nicely, plus brightly-coloured edible flowers make even the simplest salad prettier and more appealing.

In non-garden related news - this week I officially became an Australian citizen. I moved here almost 10 years ago to start a PhD, never expecting to stay ... but let me tell you, those boys from the Northern Beaches of Sydney can be very convincing (well, one in particular, anyway) and how can a little 'ole Iowan girl resist that accent. Or the weather here. Or the laid back lifestyle. Or kangaroos. (I could go on). I'm so happy and proud to be an Australian now - I never expected to feel this much affinity for a place I didn't grow up ... And here I am getting sappy and my nose is threatening to run again and I have to get going to pick up Nelle from school ...

But I quickly wanted to share some baked olives with you. This was originally a 101 Cookbooks recipe that I adapted because I wasn't sure if all the gin evaporated or not ... and I didn't want my 5 year old daughter to get drunk just yet. To be honest, I think you could probably change this recipe in all sorts of ways, depending on the herbs you have in your garden, what citrus is in the fridge, how spicy you like it, etc. The key is the BAKING. It does something magical to the flavours surrounding the olives, so put together a marinade and bake away.

Me? I'm off to celebrate my citizenship with beers and Greek food.
Happy Friday!
Amanda xx

Baked Olives with Lemon and Rosemary
(and Chevre)

Here's what you do:
  1.  Preheat the oven to 180C (360F)
  2. Throw a mixed bunch of olives in a baking dish. 
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or white wine vinegar.
  4. Sprinkle with rosemary sprigs, strips of lemon peel and sea salt.
  5. Bake about 15 minutes.
  6. Top with dollops of chevre or your favourite goat cheese.
  7. Serve with bread and dukkah.
Easy peasy. And super-delish.