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Garden inspiration – going potty…

Posted on Sep 5, 2013 | 0 comments

These delightful little pot creatures were photographed by Philda Benkenstein at a small garden in the Loire Valley.

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A walk through the Company Gardens…

Posted on Apr 16, 2013 | 0 comments

I often visit the Company Gardens in central Cape Town simply to take a relaxing stroll under the canopy of oak trees and soak up the peaceful scenes of children feeding squirrels, old men relaxing on benches, and locals going about their business.

You certainly don’t need a guidebook or a history lesson to enjoy this leafy centre of calm in the heart of Cape Town. That being said, I will provide a history lesson anyway, simply because the story of Cape Town, and indeed the European colonization of South Africa, can be traced directly back to this small, fertile patch of earth.

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of Venus Flytraps and other carnivorous plants

Posted on Mar 13, 2013 | 0 comments

Cape Sundew with fly

With a new found priority for green techniques, such as organically grown food and solar power, carnivorous plants are the green answer to the control of flying insects such as mosquitoes, flies and even cockroaches without the use of ultrasonic interference or poison. A natural solution.

Over the years cultivars and hybrids have been produced to combine ease of growth, vigour and beauty, with the result that you can now buy plants that will flourish and grow on your windowsill, will feed themselves while ridding the area of pests to boot.  Some varieties of carnivorous plants are happier outside and lure their prey away from the house to where they are. American pitcher plants (Sarracenias) can eat so many flies that the pitchers fall over. Some of the large Nepenthes (tropical vine pitchers or monkey cups) species and their large growing hybrids have been known to catch small vertebrates like mice and rats.

Carnivorous plants  can be  found in most large retail nurseries, pet shops and even some supermarkets.(Enquiries can be made at www.panscarnivores.com   Or contact Greg on 0725331179)

Pan’s  Carnivores is a wholesale and retail carnivorous plant nursery that caters for the individual who wants a single Venus fly trap, the individual who wants to buy bulk plants for retail sales. They supply  young, well established, weather hardened plants at affordable prices to both the wholesale, retail market, and the general public and collectors alike.The commercial selection of plants is mostly cultivated via tissue culture and generally stocks are good.

Plants range from a commercial range of plants, which consists of easier to grow species and hybrids of Venus fly traps (Dionaea), Sundews (Drosera), American trumpet pitchers (Sarracenias) and Monkey cups (Nepenthes vine pitchers). Many of these plants as already mentioned were selected for their ease of growth, vigorous growth behaviour and beauty, some of which can be easily grown on your windowsill, right through to the ultra rare species and hybrids that are in many cases suited for collectors with some experience.

Enquiries can be made at www.panscarnivores.com Or contact Greg on 0725331179

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Galette

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 | 0 comments

Galette is a term used in French cuisine to describe various types of flat, round or free form crusty cakes or bread.  It is often topped with fruit, but could just as easily be prepared topped with vegetables.


The humble galette is something I only really discovered and have learned to love (especially the cheats version) over the last year or so.  I’ll be forever grateful for the convenience of throwing together a last minute galette and seasonal salad when it’s too hot a summers day for anything else or I simply haven’t even thought of cooking dinner until 7 pm…

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Ingredients for the pastry:

1 1/4 cups cake flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into blocks

1/4 cup buttermilk or full fat cream cheese

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/4 cup cold water

Method: The method is very simple. Remember that when making pastry, you want all the ingredients to be chilled, and the butter to be almost too hard to crumble. What I like to do is leave the flour in the fridge for an hour or so before making the pastry.
Start my sifting the flour and the salt together in a bowl. Now crumble the butter in with your fingertips until you’ve got the consistency of coarse bread crumbs. Then, mix in the buttermilk or cream cheese, lemon juice and cold water until it all comes together. Flour a surface and work the dough until it comes together and is a little smooth, but be careful not to over work the dough. Wrap it in plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for an hour.

After an hour you can use a rolling pin to roll out the pastry in a rectangular shape and spread the pesto over the middle, leaving the edges without pesto. Fold the edges over into a double layer and press indents with your fingers or crimp the pastry to make a pretty pattern.

What I like to call the ‘cheats version’ – The other option of course, is if you can get hold of some good quality frozen puff pastry, this can work just as well, although I would recommend giving yourself the challenge of making this very easy pastry yourself, and who knows what could follow after that!

For the topping, I like to use a pesto of sorts, I tend to have these type of ingredients in my fridge left over from my catering functions, but I realise it’s not everyone that happens to have caper berries, red pepper pesto and goat’s milk cheese just lying around in the bottom shelf of their fridge… So my plan is to give you options and inspiration to really make this recipe your own and discover the pure joy that is a crispy galette with a soft moist filling and some crunchy veggies on top…Yes please.

The options are endless when it comes to fillings and toppings for galettes, as mentioned, I like to use either rocket pesto or red pepper pesto for a moist base. Then I generally use a cheese, like soft blue cheese or goat’s milk cheese and some vegetables like caramelised brown onions, beetroots or  baby marrows.

Suggested toppings:
  • Caramelised onions with beetroot and goat’s milk cheese
  • Ricotta cheese with red onions and baby marrows
  • Blue cheese, caramelised onions and fresh rocket

Once you’ve spread the toppings on to the galette, all you need to do is paint the pastry with a whisked egg using a brush. Make sure your oven has reached the temperature and bake for 20-25 minutes or until brown and crispy. Serve the galette with a seasonal green salad or as a starter scattered with fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.

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