Eating from the garden – Jamie Oliver’s Minestrone

I am just showing for a week what our daily diet is from food out of the garden, our chooks and meat my husband gets from the farm he works on. It’s only this year that we decided to be as self reliant as possible in food and that whatever we had to buy would be done so as frugally as possible. Born half out of necessity to trim our budget and half out of desire just to do things for ourselves, it’s actually working out ok. We are looking at our food more as the saying goes “Eating to live, not living to eat” 🙂 The decision for my husband to work on a farm enabled us to do what we are doing….we can’t afford our own lifestyle block, much as we would like to!

The foods we can grow, have preserved or have access through work are shown in bold.

Breakfast was smoothies again, 1 1/2 large glasses each. These were made with milk, eggs, bananas, raspberries and figs.


Lunches taken to work were sandwiches (no photo, early morning rush!) My husband takes huge ones, mine alot smaller. Bread, cold meat, chutney, lettuce, cucumber, tomato; and fruit was peaches

Afternoon tea for me was crackers and cheese, chutney, tomatoes


Dinner was Jamie Oliver’s Italian Minestrone D’inizio Autumno (with some adaptions for what I had)

7 oz canneloni beans (I used dried chickpeas, cooked)

1 bay leaf

1 tomato, squashed

1 potato, cubed

4 rashers bacon, chopped

2 small red onions, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely sliced

2 sticks celery, sliced

1/2 head of fennel

small bunch basil, finely chopped

800 g tomatoes (or two tins)

a glass of red wine

2 courgettes, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

7 oz chard (silverbeet)

1 pint chicken stock (I used water)

I added 1 large leek, Parsley & tomato paste

2 oz dried pasta, broken into smaller pieces.

Salt and pepper

Didn’t use Jamie’s instructions really. Sauteed onion, bacon and garlic in olive oil. Added all vegetables, herbs, salt and pepper and water, cooked until all soft and broken down a bit. Added chickpeas, cooked around an hour then added pasta and cooked till pasta done, checked seasoning. Serve with a little parmesan cheese and basil on top. This was delicious and made enough to freeze for another night as well.

I buy dried chickpeas from a bulk food store, cook in a large pot and freeze so they are on hand. Much cheaper than buying tins.


Dessert was fig crumble (recipe in recipe category) with a little yogurt.


A week’s meals – Day 1, Saturday

It does occur to me I show very few meals in this blog – reason being I don’t often use recipes and they aren’t anything exciting, however they are healthy, delicious and are based around foods from the garden, eggs from our chooks, occasional fish traded / or given to us and meat we get off the farm hubby works on.

For a week I am going to show what we are eating and how little we are now buying. Homegrown etc are shown in bold.

Breakfast  was a smoothie with milk, eggs, mixed berries, figs and peaches.


Lunch was just a sandwich on the run really for me as I was going out. This was bread, tomato, cucumber and red onion. Wasn’t even going to bother with a photo but here tis 🙂


Dinner was an omelette and salad. Omelette had eggs, tomato, chives, bacon, red pepper, little cheese. Salad was lettuce, grated beetroot and carrots, cucumber, courgette, avocado, basil, parsley,strawberries.

dinner day 1

Drinks were coffee or sage tea.

And, I had a couple of pieces of a sweet I made a couple of days ago and none of the ingredients came from our garden! I still have coconut oil, dried coconut and honey in the pantry. Sooner or later they will run out but for now I still have them 🙂

coconut sweet

Coconut crack  bars: recipe from

  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup agave or pure maple syrup (I used honey)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Whiz till well combined and press into small square dish, chill for an hour before trying to cut. (Or freeze for 15 minutes.)


The only cleaning liquid I use

The only cleaning liquid I use

Is malt vinegar with a small squirt of organic detergent.

I tried white vinegar and baking soda but for the harder areas eg soap scum on bath, this just meant hard scrubbing. I made this a few months back when I had run out of white vinegar and converted.

It’s cheap, works very well and is chemical free.

Lemon Balm – for anxiety, stress and sleep

Lemon Balm is another herb I make into a tea. It works well for frayed nerves, anxiety and is thought to aid sleep. It grows into a small bush and will self sow if left to go to seed.Image

It smells like lemon furniture polish, tastes a little better than it smells (I quite like it) and really does work quite well when feeling frazzled. Lemon balm oil is often used in burners to calm.

As for all herbs just research on the net if unsure of it’s safety to use for yourself.

I make my teas in ice cubes to just add to boiling water and seep for few minutes, using either of the strainers shown below. I just find this easier than drying.Image


Feverfew – for migraines

I used to suffer from terrible migraines, often twice a week and severe. They seriously impacted on my life. Doctors tried me on all sorts of medications with little success. I discovered Feverfew in a natural health shop, took one a day for several months and from the first day I had no more. I have suggested this to quite a few people – some it helps, others not. The ones it has worked for, like me, swear by it.

When I decided to grow my own medicine cabinet Feverfew was the first on the list. I bought one little plant and have had it popping up in spots in the garden ever since. It grows in pretty little bushes and I always leave one to seed.Image

To use feverfew I either pick a few leaves and have in a sandwich with something nice, or I use as a tea. (With all my herbs for teas I actually pick a good sized bunch, blend with water and freeze in ice cube trays, store in small bags). This is a little bitter but not unpleasant and it will usually stop a headache when I feel it coming on.

As with all herbs one should check on the net to find if there are any contraindications or side effects one should know about.

Summer Vegetable Pancakes and Sauteed Vegetables

Image So…trying to just eat out of our garden and what is available to us free means being creative and searching high and low for recipes. This one came from which also had a chive & sour cream recipe with it that I didn’t use. SUMMER VEGETABLE PANCAKES: 2 zucchini, grated 2 carrots, grated 2 spring onions (I added) 1 1/4 tsp salt 1/4 cup of flour 1/4 tsp black pepper 1 1/2 tsp sugar 2 egg whites olive oil Grate the zucchini and carrot and put in large bowl with the salt. Wait 20 minutes then squeeze all the liquid out with hands. Add spring onions, flour, sugar and pepper and toss to coat. Beat 2 egg whites till stiff and fold in. Fry in little hot oil till golden on each side. I found the first batch stuck to my frying pan so the next I added a little butter which helped alot and gave a nicer colour. SAUTEED VEGETABLES: ImageI cook all my vegetables like this rather than steaming or boiling. The colour is nicer and it preserves flavour and nutrition.  This mix was just beans, zucchini sand broccoli. A little olive oil in base of medium pan, the beans were cooked for a couple of minutes, zucchini and broccoli added, a little salt. Put lid on saucepan and just shake every 30 seconds or so for another 2 minutes. I also cook carrots, mushrooms, red onion, garlic cloves, bok choy, peppers, snow peas etc this way depending on what is available. Just throw in pot in order depending on cooking time.

Easy Raspberry / Fruit ‘Ice Cream’

Ice creamI make this often. I usually have a bag of frozen banana pieces in the freezer in which I can just add any other frozen or canned fruit I have. Yesterday was raspberries, grown in summer and frozen free flow.


Just put frozen bananas (1 per serving is generous) into a kitchen whiz along with whatever other fruit you desire – I used around 1/2 cup of raspberries. The fruit must also be frozen. If you wish you can add 2 tablespoons of sweetened fruit yogurt or a little sugar or honey.Whiz for 2 – 3 minutes until it’s smooth and creamy. That’s all there is to it. Last week I made this with tinned mangoes, just drained and froze them for an hour and added 2 tablespoons of apricot yogurt. It was absolutely delicious. Now I am trying to cut down on food buying I didn’t have yogurt so just sweetened with a wee bit of honey.Image

Bananas make a great base for frozen desserts. Just banana on it’s own done this way make a very good whipped cream alternative, I have seen similar recipes on the net with all sorts of ideas. What I will be trying soon is chocolate and walnut – bananas, cocoa, little honey and vanilla whizzed, and chopped walnuts folded in.

The bananas lose much of their flavour done in this way and you really just get the flavour of whatever fruit you are adding.