Non-hybrid Old Traditional Seeds

Even though my garden is ridiculously crowded and I’m running out of things to plant in, I couldn’t resist the urge to get some non-hybrid old traditional open pollinated seeds from Eden Seeds. I’ve always admired their ethics and their great seeds, So I spent $50 and got myself a selection of what I thought I could handle in a tiny space.

eden seeds:

Radishes are always a pleasure to grow so I got five varieties: watermelon, purple plum, French breakfast, champion and china rose.

Eden seeds have a mind-boggling variety of tomatoes, and I almost got some. Instead I chose some red giant mustard, Bloomsdale long-standing spinach, and some Komatsuna salad greens.

Add to that some slow-bolting cilantro, some Tabasco chili seeds, mesclun mild-mix, and for a laugh, some heirloom black zucchinis.

Don’t ask me where I will plant all these! I’m actually looking into something called vertical planters. Bags that hold about 25 litres of potting mix and hang on walls. I have a lot of wall space that gets afternoon sun, so that’s a possibility. Any ideas on that, fellow gardeners?

The other thing I almost bought was a construct-it-yourself above ground 3 square metre planting box that you fill with soil. Mitre-10 ran out of all stock. I’ll keep my eyes open for more.

News from Kurma's Garden

My humble patio herb and vegetable garden is looking gorgeous right now, and yielding a nice range and quantity of ingredients for my kitchen. Note that everything is growing in pots and tubs, so you really don’t need to know much about gardening to have success.

2011 English Spinach:

My past experience with English Spinach in pots has been that the party is soon over, but so far so good. I pick the leaves and more grow back. I suspect they are a little harder to maintain over long periods than Chard/Silverbeet, but we shall see.

Snow Peas 2011:

I have two pots with snow peas. Despite the limitation of my ridiculously inadequate patio, I’m giving snow peas a chance (‘all we are saying’…) I have a single pole in the centre of the pot and trying to encourage the little tendrils to take the plunge and attach themselves to it and begin their climb to fortune. Am I doing something wrong? Should the stick be more slender? Should I wrap it with chicken wire? Obviously a trellis is the norm. Any ideas, fellow gardeners?

basil 2011:

Always a favourite with me – and the insects. White butterflies are around, so for sure they are laying eggs, and the first meal for their darling offspring will surely be basil. I don’t blame them.

strawbs 2011:

There’s a few batches of strawberries around the patio, and they are fruiting like anything. The birds usually get them as soon as they are ripe, though a few miraculously escaped their beady eyes. I made jam out of 3 ripe homegrown strawberries – no I’m not joking – just to prove that I could do it. That’s 2 toasts worth, by the way.

marjoram 2011:

The marjoram is looking gorgeous. And – oh, how very aromatic and delectable is her fragrance. Perfect for pasta sauce and all things Mediterranean.

she's Greek Basil:

She’s Greek and she’s good! She’s Greek a basil!!

Big Rainbow Chard 2011:

I have 6 big tubs of rainbow chard and as quick as I can pick it there’s more. Just how I like it. It goes in anything and everything. Wonderfully healthy, pesticide-free and delicious.

methi fenugreek:

Some fresh fenugreek, otherwise known as methi. Not my favourite, but I thought I’d grow some anyway. 3 or 4 fenugreek seeds, and there you have it.

micro mustard:

Trying some micro-herbs. Mustard is impossible to get wrong. Ten cents worth of seeds and wait a week.

micro methi:

Freshly sprouted micro-fenugreek greens. A beautiful sight. All you need is soil, a couple tablespoons of fenugreek seeds, and water. Isn’t nature wonderful!

parsley 2011:

Nothing more beautiful than new season continental parsley in the green bloom of innocent youth. So are you inspired? This whole lot takes up 3 or 4 square metres of tiled patio. You can do it!

No More Cornflake Conundrum

I hope all this photography of breakfasts doesn’t seem a tad self-indulgent. I am only sharing this in the hope that it might inspire a few others who are stuck in the dreaded ‘cornflake conundrum’.

brekky brekky:

Clockwise: There’s fresh cherries – a lighter coloured, early-fruiting Australian cherry variety the name of which evades me right now; Fresh strawberries, mangoes and vanilla yogurt topped with toasted muesli and pistachios;

A small bowl of dry-roasted nuts and dried fruits; Multi-grain sourdough toast with a fresh homemade tiny batch of strawberry jam. I grew the strawberries, yay! Another toast topped with sweet chilli jam (homegrown chilies) and Maasdam cheese (no nasties); toast with kumquat marmalade (from my kumquat tree); Lurking in the centre – another toast topped with cream cheese, avocado, toasted seeds, some dressing and lots of fresh leaves from my garden – rocket, mustard greens and basil.

Offered with love and served with hot ginger tea.


Sally D from Aberdeen writes: “Do you have an easy recipe for homemade vegetarian pizza?”

My reply: Here’s a recipe from my first cookbook Great Vegetarian Dishes (now in its 21st year) for a yeast-based pizza. Happy baking!


Mozzarella and Tomato Pizza

This is a crisp-based pizza holding a filling of herb-flavoured tomatoes, with a topping of sliced black olives, peppers, and golden, melting mozzarella cheese. To save time, prepare the filling whilst the dough is rising.




BAKING TIME: 15 – 20 minutes

YIELD: one 25 cm (10-inch) pizza


3 teaspoons fresh yeast

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup lukewarm water

1 1/2 cups plain all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil


2 teaspoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon yellow asafetida powder

1 1/2 cups fresh tomato puree

1 tablespoon tomato concentrate

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


125g (4 1/2 ounces) grated mozzarella cheese

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1 cup thin strips of eggplant, deep-fried until dark golden-brown

1 small red pepper, diced

60g (2 ounces) black olives, pitted and halved

Cream the yeast with the sugar in a bowl, add lukewarm water, and let it stand for 10 minutes or until bubbles appear on the surface. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, make a well in the centre, and add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix to a firm dough.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Knock the dough down with your fist and knead into a small ball. Flatten out the dough with a rolling pin and roll it into a circular sheet of pastry that will just fit in a 25 cm (10-inch) pizza pan. Place the dough carefully in the pan.

Meanwhile make your filling: heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over moderate heat. When hot, add the asafoetida and saute momentarily. Add the tomato puree, tomato paste, oregano, basil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil; then reduce the heat and, stirring occasionally, simmer uncovered for 10 – 15 minutes or until the sauce is thick and smooth. Allow the filling to cool somewhat.

Spread the cooled filling over the pizza base, leaving a little border uncovered. Combine half the grated mozzarella cheese with the parmesan and sprinkle it over the tomato filling. Top with the eggplant strips, chopped peppers, and olives. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese and bake in a pre-heated hot oven 220°C/430°F for 15 – 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.


It’s said that gyoza originated in China and were introduced to Japan. Yaki-gyoza wrappers are slightly thicker than wonton wrappers, and can be purchased in Japanese grocers.

gyoza one:

I made some last night that were filled with cabbage, finely diced carrot and minced and fried gluten, sesame oil, and seasonings. I placed them on an oil-drizzled pan and fried them till golden on one side, splashed in a little water and covered them with a lid.

gyoza two:

Next to them in the pan was a small bundle of fresh Chinese greenschoy-sum I think. Both items steamed simultaneously. When the tiny amount of water was evaporated, the greens wilted and the gyoza crispy on one side, I served them with a mound of fresh jasmine rice and sweet chili tofu.

Cooking with Laksmi

Food blog writer Lakshmi has recently published a number of my recipes with fascinating adaptations and great new photos, like this dreamscape of a solo Amish Apple Dumpling. Very Salvadore Dali.


Visit Lakshmi now.

Dinner with Kurma

Last night’s dinner, immortalised in ‘print’…

Dinner with Kurma:

Steamed potatoes with fresh garden mint (spearmint and ‘chocolate’ mint) and sour cream, Southern-style Jambalaya rice with red cabbage, cauliflower, toasted cashews, roasted red peppers, freshly picked garden greens (radicchio, spinach and oak lettuce) green chilies and Spanish smoked paprika, alongside cumin-scented carrots, zucchini and sweet potatoes.

Hearty, simple fare.

Breakfast with Kurma

This is part of a simple breakfast I prepared this morning. I cut some chunks of perfectly ripe avocado and piled it atop low-fat cottage cheese that was generously spooned onto toasted multigrain sourdough toast.

brekky #1:

I drizzled it with a homemade dressing – lime juice, extra-virgin olive oil, organic sesame paste (tahini), cracked black peppercorns, a little soy sauce, a little honey and a smidge of asafetida – all shaken up in a glass jar.

brekky #2:

Then I sprinkled the whole thing with those wonderful toasted seeds I made the other day, and draped it with fresh rocket leaves picked from my herb garden.

This was served with more toast topped with cream cheese, homemade strawberry jam, homemade kumquat marmalade with fruits from my tree, fresh ripe mango, mandarin segments, organic vanilla yogurt with ripe banana, and a selection of dry-roasted nuts – brazil, macadamia, almonds and pistachios.