Herbs and Spices

I live to cook.  Fresh ingredients are absolutely essential if you want your food to taste good.

I am regularly disappointed when I buy spices from shops because they taste and /or smell like cardboard.

Luckily for me, my son, Hugh, a chef, has started his own business (Hughsli) and is now buying sufficient quantities of herbs and spices to be able to source these at great prices from his favourite distributor. Some native herbs and bushfoods he is able to buy direct from the grower.

And often I piggyback on his orders so that:

  • I have the freshest, best quality herbs and spices coming in all the time
  • I can buy all my herbs and spices at affordable prices

This allows me to sell herbs and spices at The Cygnet Market at prices that are often half that of other shops.

Of course, the other benefit is that when you shop at The Cygnet Market you can actually smell the products and customers often follow their noses to The Garden Shed and Pantry stall.

All of my products are also available most days from 1pm at The Garden Shed and Pantry, Cygnet

Ohlalala!   Life is good.  Get there fast and then take it slow.

Read about my quest for native spices here.

Yoghurt Cultures Have Arrived

I am so excited to now be selling 2 varieties of yoghurt cultures from CheeseLinks in Melbourne.

They are so easy to make and incredibly economical, costing only a few cents / litre + you choose the milk you want to use and there’s NO milk powder or other fillers. Each packet makes 250 litres and keeps for at least a year in the freezer. Share one with friends!

Heat milk of your choice to 90C (about 8 minutes), allow to cool to 45C (about 20 minutes), stir in a pinch of the culture granules and leave in a warm place for 12 hours. Then chill. I make it in the morning, leave it to do its thing all day, refrigerate it at night and its cold, ready to eat for breakfast.

Here is some information about the two cultures I am selling:

CaBY is a smooth, mild yoghurt with the well-known acidophilus and bifidus strains of bacteria which we call probiotics.

Probiotics are organisms which live in the intestinal tract and assist the body in the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.

YC380 has a stronger flavour and contains 2 other, less advertised but amazing probiotics:

Streptococcus thermophilus is best known for it’s gastrointestinal health benefits owing to the presence of its strain in the human intestines. Probiotic yoghurt containing thermophilus strain forms one of the most effective ways of preventing rotavirus diarrhea in children. Besides, it is also beneficial for rendering and monitoring stable growth in children. Another benefit that this lactic acid bacteria has been observed to have, is its antioxidative ability.

Streptococcus thermophilus has an important role alleviating symptoms of lactose intolerance and other gastrointestinal disorders. Streptococcus thermophilus is part of the same family as the strep throat infection. This good bacteria has antioxidant properties, protecting the intestinal tract from free radicals and assisting in the resistance of colon cancer formation.

Lactobacillus is a bacterium normally found in the mouth, intestinal tract, and vagina. Lactobacillus is used for preventing mouth sores and vaginal infections caused by bacteria and yeast infections. Humans appear to have a symbiotic relationship with this bacteria. As much as antibiotics are used to cure infections in the body, probiotics can help prevent them in the first place.

  • Often used to prevent and stop diarrhea in both adults and children
  • Lactobacillus helps your body to absorb dairy products. It can enable someone who is lactose intolerant to consume dairy products by breaking down the lactose from foods to a more suitable form
  •  In both the food industry and in supplements lactobacillus has a positive effect on nutrient bio availability.
  • Lactobacillus is a strong probiotic, being one of the healthiest choices of consumption, it has been considered by some to be even more important than vitamin C.
  • Lactobacillus based foods help you get the right amount of “good” and “bad” bacteria inside of your body. If you do not have a good ratio, no amount of minerals and vitamins will do you any good.
  • Aids production of vitamin B and vitamin K
  • Sustains optimal blood pressure level
  • Supports efficient inflammatory response
  • Promotes optimal fungal and viral levels
  • Aids metabolism and breakdown of toxins
  • Promotes mineral and vitamin absorption
  • Can be easily stored
  • No conflict with other vitamins, minerals, amino acids and any other medications
  • Lactobacillus are able to translocate and survive in the spleen and other organs for many days. They may even stimulate the immune system and get your defense system up and running.
  • Some researchers have found that some strains of lactobacillus can stimulate powerful defense cells like the natural killer cells and also increase the anti-viral chemicals like interferon.


Disabled World – Disability News for all the Family: http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/yogurt-lactobacillus.shtml#ixzz1ykx2gL7t

Chocolate Wattleseed Biscuits

Try a Chocolate Wattleseed biscuit?

Botanical Name: Acacia aneura

There are only a small number of edible wattles, the others being poisonous, therefore the gathering of one’s own Wattleseed should only be conducted under expert guidance. The Wattleseed of culinary use is always roasted and ground, a process that gives it an appetizing coffee-like aroma and taste. Wattleseed flavours ice-cream and desserts, and when used with other spices such as Coriander Seed, imparts a pleasant, barbecued taste to meats, especially full-flavoured seafood such as Salmon and Tuna.

Makes 35 – 40 biscuits

300g of Four Leaf 85% light flour

4 teaspoons of baking powder

3 tsp ground wattleseed

25g cocoa powder

125g caster sugar

250g soft salted butter

Sieve together flour, cocoa and wattleseed.

Cream butter and sugar then work in flour mixture – will look dry but will bind into dough.

Roll into small balls and place on greased baking sheets then press down with back of a fork.

Bake at 170C for 5 mins then turn down to 150C for 10-15 mins.

Transfer carefully to wire rack to cool and harden.

Nothing better – a Chocolate Wattleseed biscuit with coffee!

Get all your spices from The Garden Shed and Pantry or at the Cygnet Market.

Thanks to Herbie’s for the original version of this recipe

Four Leaf 85% Light Flour

Four Leaf 85% Light Flour 5 kg

This is the product we use for all of our breadmaking and pastry cooking and in all of the Sourdough Bread Workshops and Pastry Workshops.  This is a very versatile flour and we use it for biscuits, pizza base, gravy,  scones in fact; we use this flour for EVERYTHING.

When you use Four Leaf 85% Light Flour you get the goodness of wholemeal flour but not the heaviness, because 15% of the bran has been removed.

From the Four Leaf Milling website:

85% Light Flour
Also known as Bran Reduced Wholewheat Flour, Atta Flour, &/or Unbleached Flour
Four Leaf Light Flour is derived from Four Leaf 100% Wholewheat Flour by removing approx 15% of the bran. This makes a finer textured dough and is suitable for lighter cakes, pastries, bread, pasta, biscuits, batters etc.

Nutritional Information per 100g
Energy 1560Kj
Protein 16.20g
Fat total 2.20g
-saturated <1.00g
-total 76.30g
-sugars 8.40g
Sodium 1.60mg

Available in 20kg, 10kg, 5kg and 1kg.

Available from The Garden Shed and Pantry or The Cygnet Market

Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman

Four-Season Harvest - Eliot Coleman

Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long

Eliot Coleman is an American organic market gardener.  In his book, Four-Season Harvest, Coleman describes his trip through Europe following the latitude of his property in Maine, USA.  Coleman seeks knowledge on growing seasonal food all year round in climates similar to his own: colder than Tasmania but with similar levels of winter light.

The book is well written and rich with anecdotes about speaking to farmers in their fields and gardeners in their potagers, mostly in France.  What Coleman discovers is that plant growth in winter is more about the amount of light available than about heat.  The answer to maintaining plant growth in low light latitudes is to simply ensure that the plants have developed a large surface area of leaf by late autumn, when the sunlight hours become very short.  Then, only pick half the amount of leaves you would normally pick at any one time in summer, so the plants’ large solar surface area is maintained throughout winter.

Chapters of the book include; Presenting the Four Season Harvest, The Living Soil; Compost, Seeds for Four Seasons, Garden Helpers, Envisioning the Winter Garden, The Covered Garden: Cold Frames, The Covered Garden: Greenhouses and High Tunnels, The Underground Garden: Roots, and The Natural Garden: Plants and Pests.

Sally chooses Four-Season Harvest at The Cygnet Market

Four Season Farm is an experimental market garden in Maine, USA owned and operated by writers Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman. The farm produces vegetables year-round and has become a nationally recognized model of small-scale sustainable agriculture.

Eliot Coleman has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of organic farming, including field vegetables, greenhouse vegetables, rotational grazing of cattle and sheep, and range poultry.

If you love the joys of eating home-garden vegetables but always thought those joys had to stop at the end of summer, this book is for you. Eliot Coleman shows how gardeners can successfully use the sun to raise a wide variety of traditional winter vegetables in backyard cold frames and plastic covered tunnel greenhouses without supplementary heat. Coleman expands upon his own experiences with new ideas learned on a winter-vegetable pilgrimage across the ocean to the acknowledged kingdom of vegetable cuisine, the southern part of France.

This story of sunshine, weather patterns, old limitations and expectations, and new realities is delightfully innovative in the best gardening tradition. Four-Season Harvest will have you feasting on fresh produce from your garden all through the winter.

Buy Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman at:

The Garden Shed and Pantry or at The Cygnet Market

The June sourdough workshops – comments and feedback

Workshop 1 participants mixing ingredients

Usually I have one sourdough workshop a month.  However this month there was an increased amount of interest so I ran two workshops.

The first workshop was held on Thursday 7th June at 7pm.

The second workshop was held on Saturday 9th June at 7pm

The Graduates from Workshop 2

The cost of the workshop is $45 and includes the kit that I sell at the Cygnet Market.  The basic kit has all of the instructions for making sourdough bread plus the ingredients required for two standard loaves.           The ingredients include the special sourdough starter and the flours are all organic flours of the highest quality from Four Leaf Milling in South Australia.  The workshop kit also contains one dough scraper.

Contact me if you would like to come along to one of the next workshops.

Feedback and photos from the participants:

Hi Kate

Just letting you know that I am sooooooo pleased with my first loaf of sour dough bread. I had to use a cake tin (and pan of hot water) but it still looked beautiful and tastes really good. Am all enthused and will feed my starter now and set in train the steps for loaf no. 2 for a friend.

Many thanks for the great workshop. It was a delightful way to spend two hours and to get lovely bread as well. Wow!!


Jane E


Photo from Donna – 


  Hi Kate

  Thanks for a wonderful workshop. Here is my photo evidence. The     bread tasted great although I would have liked it to look more like yours on the top, will have another go tonight.
Could you also please send the price list for your products.