Friday, 15 March 2013

Amalgamating Herbs and Spices What!

Spice it Up

Amalgamating Spices

Do you just use Parsley, Sage and Thyme in your cooking? Maybe a bayleaf in the winter months? What about all the other herbs? What do you use Coriander for, or Tarragon? Can you use them together or will you spoil the dinner?  L
Let’s find out how to mix up our herbs and spices without getting into trouble.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill form

Ian Hemphill's motto is, "there are no herbs you can’t try in your cooking."
Just remember, most fresh herbs are added in the last five minutes of cooking, otherwise they lose their flavour, and most dried herbs are added at the start.
We’d love to see photos of any unusual herbs you’ve got growing in your garden, just send it in to. or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675, and I’ll post a CD in return.

Vegetable Heroes:

Chicory! Cichorium intybus

There are actually two types and uses of Cichorium intybus, both of which I consider a vegetable. There’s the leafy type and the one where the tap root is used more.
But let’s begin with some interesting facts.
Chicory comes from the daisy or Asteraceae family, and like dandelion, chicory has been grown since ancient times as a pot herb.
Chicory originated somewhere in Europe probably in the Mediterranean region (where the plant is native).
The variety Cichorium intybus var sativum. was used in coffee substitutes and additives where the roots were baked and ground.
Chicory as a coffee substitute was used during the Great Depression in the 1930s and during World War II in Continental Europe.
If you’ve ever drunk a coffee substitute, like Caro, then you’ve drunk roasted chicory root.
Some beer brewers use roasted chicory to add flavour to stouts.
The principle ingredients of chicory root are two polysaccharide, inulin and fructose.
When roasted, inulin is converted to oxymethylfurfurol, a compound with a coffee-like aroma.
Did you know that the first person to grow and process chicory in Australasia was Edwin William Trent (1839 - 1883).
Eddy or Edwin, operated a steam coffee mill in Nelson in New Zealand, and later moved to Christchurch where he established the first steam coffee mill in Australasia in1863.
Coke fired furnaces in kilns produced hot drying air to pass up through the chicory roots which had been cut into small cubes and laid on floors of perforated tiles through which the hot air passed.
The steaming chicory had to be turned every two hours and five tons of green root were needed to produce one ton of kiln-dried root.
After the drying process was over, the chicory was taken to where the roasting and grinding was done and the chicory blended with expensive coffee imported from the West Indies, South America and Africa to make the coffee and chicory essence.
Did you also know that Chicory, or Cichorium intybus, was cultivated on Phillip Island for nearly 100 years from the 1870s?
If you’ve visited Philip Island you’ll see some unusual small brick towers dotted about the island.
These are chicory kilns, once used in drying chicory dock – a parsnip-like underground root of the Chicory plant that was grown widely in Phillip Island’s rich volcanic soil.
Are you thinking, I’m not going to bother drying and roasting the chicory root, what on earth do I need to grow this ahem, vegetable?
Well, have you heard of radicchio? Maybe you’ve even eaten it?
Common chicory includes chicory types such as radicchio, puntarelle, and Belgian endive.
Radicchio and Chicory
Yes, radicchio, with its slightly bitter taste, is the young fresh tops of the Chicory plant.
You can buy seeds of Chicory “Red Dandelion: this plant has red stems with deeply cut frilly deep green leaves. As a microgreen or ‘baby leaf’ this variety adds great flavour to salads and it is a colourful addition to any mesclun mix. As a cooked green it is one of the few red leafy vegetables that retains the crimson colour when cooked.
Chicory ‘Red Palla Rossa’ syn. radicchio is a small heading chicory, 8 - 10 cm across .The bright red, very tight heads have prominent white midribs. It has a slightly bitter, tart taste. As a ‘baby leaf’ they add great flavour to salads. It is one of the few red leafy vegetables that retains the red colour when cooked.
There’s also the coffee chicory plant or Chicory Coffee 'Magdeburg' which also has the same botanical name of Cichorium intybus.
Chicory plant
These varieties are available from
Also, chicory is available from

This Coffee  Chicory is also a frost  hardy plant but with a long taproot. topped by a a whorl of oblong, broadly toothed, milky-sapped leaves.
The flowers are on top of 1 ½ metre tall,  zig-zagging flowering stems with a few sparsely placed leaves and lots of sky-blue to purple flowers.
Flowering is in spring and summer and the 50 cent-sized flowers open at the beginning of the day but close as the heat becomes intense.
Coffee Chicory plants flower for several months and the flower looks quite a lot like a purply-blue dandelion flower.
Like dandelion, the seeds are spread by wind. Also, like dandelion, the leaves are concentrated in a whorl, just above the soil surface.
Roots can be dried, roasted and ground for a coffee substitute. Leaves and young roots can be cooked as vegetables.
This coffee Chicory is a hardy vegetable and frost tolerant. It is a useful cool season crop to add interest to winter salads.
To grow the leafy Chicory,
Sub-tropical areas, April to June is the time to sow;
Temperate areas March until May;
 Arid areas June to August, and Cool temperate districts, sow late summer to mid-autumn.
In all cases sow directly where they are to grow.
So to grow Chicory prefers you need a well drained, deep soil.
Chicory will also grow on heavier soils as long as they’re not likely to get waterlogged for extended periods.
If you’re wondering where to buy the seeds of coffee chicory, there are some stores that sell them if they carry an Italian seed line otherwise online seed suppliers do so as well.
Are you wondering if Chicory is just as weedy as Dandelions?
It’s unlikely to become a weed since plants tend be short lived.
Until the 1960s, before instant coffee was invented, coffee and chicory essence was a popular alternative to using roasted coffee beans.
Do you remember that thick black liquid with a very distinctive attractive aroma and sold in squarish bottles with a blue label?
It was often drunk with sweetened condensed milk. I remember my dad drinking this before heading to work in the morning.
Why is Chicory, or Cichoricum intybus good for you?
Drinking Chicory teas on a regular basis helps to rid your system of excess water and uric acid build-up, without depleting potassium and other minerals.
One of the major functions of chicory is to increase the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
Chicory is good for digestion, the circulatory system and the blood.

 Design Elements

with Landscape Designer Louise McDaid
Is you’re garden a thing of envy from all who pass by, or are there elements in your garden that are, well, boring?
Are there too many or too few plants in the garden?
Is it all just same shade of green?
Sometimes changing your garden can create something that when you look at your kitchen window, you can say, “Yeah, that’s relaxing, I’m just going out for a little look.”
Let’s find out what can help up put in the wow factor into our garden?
Did you know that there’s a town called Boring in Oregan USA? 
What's more, the local garden centre is called Boring Square Garden Centre?
I hope you haven’t got that problem.
So even if you’re garden isn’t all the boring, you can still revamp some part of the garden to make it more fun to be in.T
here were lots of excellent tips with Louise then and you can hear that segment again to refresh your ideas.

Plant of theWeek:

New Varieties of Tibouchina!
If you’ve never considered particular plants, was it because you’re climate was just a bit too cold for or your soil type the wrong type?
The old name Lassiandra or Tibouchina has been for that shrub with those dazzling purple flowers, and you could only grow it if you had the right soil and the right climate.
But wait, now, if you got the wrong soil and the wrong climate, there’s a cultivar just for you.
There’s a Tibouchina now meet every garden need. 
NEW VARIETIES RELEASED AS FANTASY FLOWERS. All are hybrids developed by Terry Keogh, a Brisbane nurseryman.
All these hybrids are grown in full sun or part shade, on moist well drained soils nad generally don’t need any pruning.
T. Groovy Baby, 60 x 80cm with large purple flowers, dense and compact. Cold tolerant as far south as Melbourne and even Hobart. Don’t let this plant dry out when experienced extended periods of heat.
T. Allure, 1 x 2 m, full sun/part shade, large lilac flowers in autumn and Spring, grows into a neat dome shape, not cold tolerant.
T. Peace Baby, only 60cm x 80cm  with large white flowers. Compact, will grow in in tropical and cool temperate zones as far south as Hobart. Great in pots.

T. Illusion-2.5ms 2.5m, with multi-coloured flowers. and suits all climactic zones. Protect from heavy frosts.
T. Imagine.mid sized at 1.5 x 1.5m, purple flowers with a white eye, flowering the most in Autumn and Spring. Protect from heavy frosts.

Lovely Tibouchinas are a perfect addition to the garden that's aspires to plants with soft green velvety leaves.
Plant them in a sensory garden.
A well clother Tibouchina in flower is always spectacular, and the flowers last for weeks.
For a design element, team the lower growing varieties with low Bromeliad species such as Neoregelias, and sprinkle some Euphorbia :Diamond Frost" amongst the mix.

Some say the larger shrubs or small trees tend to be brittle in windy areas, but I would say they're similar to the branch strength of Angel Trumpets, or Brugmansia species.
My  recent experience has been that winds over 100kmph will caused branches to be broken off the tree, but otherwise they've managed to hang in there during smaller wind gusts.
Prune Tibouchinas as soon after flowering as you can muster, usually around Autumn. Otherwise the longer you delay it, the more likelihood that you’ll be pruning off flowering wood.
 If you can grow Azaleas, Rhododendrons, and Camellias, you can now grow these new Tibouchinas.
Also, if your plants develop yellow leaves, it could be leaf burn from too alkaline soil or your plant has dried out too much.
There’s now a Tibouchina for every climate range in Australia.

No comments:

Post a Comment