I have always considered myself quite a nice person. I like food of all shapes, flavours and colours. From every country and continent. I don’t discriminate, I am an equal opportunity eater. It’s only the doctors who say I’m intolerant. And certain foods who refuse to tolerate me. They certainly refuse to recognise and respect my right to eat them without major physical discomfort and distress.

Gluten and lactose are not my friends.

Despite the negative attitudes surrounding me from many of those I love best, (cakes, ice cream, hot toast) I decided to become a chef. Not always easy when you live in a bread and milk filled world. I like to think that this has helped me become a better person as I embrace my differences and refuse to let the gluten get me down. I believe InTolerance. I am the InTolerant Chef.

Food should not be about what you can’t eat, but what you can and what you enjoy eating. This blog is about my journey of cooking and eating and discovery. It’s not a definitive guide to allergy awareness nor do my intolerances make me an expert. Your body is your responsibility, not mine. I only know what works for me.

I can tell you this..... No glutens were harmed in the making of this website.

October 17, 2012

In My Kitchen Garden

Slowly, ever so slowly, Spring is creeping into my garden

Canberra is a tricky place in Spring. Late frosts burn off early seedlings, and it's really not worth planting tender little lovelies until October.... until this year that is, when Winter returned with a vengeance last week leaving snow on our ranges and sad little spots where my veggie seedlings used to be before dying of frostbite.

Despite all this, there is some rustling in the undergrowth as a weekend of gorgeous sunshine has bought out the best of my rhubarb and my strawberries are covered in blossoms with the promise of fruits to come.

Would you like a tour?

Unfortunately everything is fenced off as much as possible due to a veggie loving German Shepherd :) There are also many wine barrels, pots and even old car tyres scattered around so I can take advantage of as much space as possible.

I don't aim to be totally self-sufficient with my garden, my arms are just not up to it I'm afraid. I certainly grow enough in the warmer months to stop us buying much, and then I process and freeze as much as I can for the rest of the year, but it's just to cold and frosty here to grow much over Winter at all.

Here are my three raised beds, I rotate the plants each year. At the moment there is some little lettuces, carrots, silverbeet, perennial spinach, leeks and cabbages hiding in them- plus little pea and bean seedlings at the base of the green arches.

What a beautiful cabbage indeed! They were very slow growing over winter, but just about ready to eat now

Various strawberries popping up all over the place

One of my many wine barrels. This one is planted out with a Green Tea Camellia with some ornamental kale and pansies at the base. I like to think that Kitchen gardens should be beautiful as well as useful, but everything out there is edible- just in case :)

Horseradish emerging after it's long winter nap

A blueberry plant and raspberry, with strawberries on the ground

The tiny tip of galangal! Hopefully it will like our climate and grow well over the hot months. I'm also planting ginger and turmeric..... it's worth a try anyway

Pots of potatoes and peanuts

Another barrel with a tiny cold climate Macadamia tree in the middle, surrounded by pretty pansies, and today's ingredient: Rhubarb. I have three other plants in the ground that are very generous and vigorous, but are sadly green stemmed.Yuck. I have solved my food fussiness by planting out these very red stemmed red beauties so I can mix the two together and overcome my colour issues

I also have growing:
Olive tree, kaffir lime tree, orange and lime grafted tree, lemon tree, finger lime tree, elder tree, carob tree, curry leaf tree, loganberry, blackberry, youngberry, asparagus, globe artichokes, garlic, giant garlic, celery, broccoli, kale, onions, leeks, jicama, rosemary, culinary lavender, rose, corriander, mint, basil, basilmint, laksa mint, chocolate mint, bay tree, curry bush, lemongrass, chives, calendula, parsley, pineapple sage, thyme, violets and violas. I think that's it? But of course I've only just started my Spring planting... there are all the veggies to go in yet!

The first rhubarb of the season, a mix of green and red stems. So many delicious choices, but I decided to make Pepperpot Fruits. I know I have teemed rhubarb and strawberries many times before, but they really do go so well together and are ready to pick at the same time- always a winner!

Pepperpot Fruits

Nice bunch of Rhubarb
Couple of handfuls of Strawberries
1/4 cup White Sugar
1/4 cup liquid (juice/wine/water)
1/2 teaspoon Black Peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon Shichuan Peppercorns

Trim and tidy up the rhubarb

Slice large strawberries in half, but leave smaller ones whole

Mix fruits together and toss with the sugar so the lovely juices start to draw out of the fruit

Pretty little peppercorns

Place the two types of peppercorns into a small mortar and pestle, and grind until fairly fine

Pop the fruit, liquid and peppers into an oven proof dish and toss them all around to mix through well

Cover with foil, and bake at 180*C for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the fruit is cooked through without being smushy. Don't stir to check, instead stick a knife tip or fine skewer into a piece of rhubarb to see if it's done.

This is one of those desserts that is better served cold. The flavour of the pepper is a lovely back note to the sweetness of the berries and the earthiness of the rhubarb, giving a tingling hint of mystery to the dish.
It can be served simply with some (lactose free) cream or ice cream, or I actually like to serve little pots of it with a few lovely cheeses. The pepper helps it match well with the savoury without being overpowered by the sweet.

So Dear Readers, how is your Spring shaping up, and what do you have growing in your kitchen garden?



  1. You've got such an amazing garden Rebecca! I'm so impressed at the range of things that you're growing. Meanwhile, I have some chives. That's it :P

  2. Awesome, thanks for the tour! I love that you are growing galangal, ginger and turmeric! I've had plans to try growing ginger, but that's as far as I've got so far ;-)
    Things are a tad warmer over these ways in Perth so we've got our tomatoes coming along nicely, mangoes, tons of lemons, silverbeet, strawberries, blueberries, courgette, garlic nearly ready to pull up and lots of herbs.
    Thanks again for the tour, I always love looking behind the scenes :-)

    1. You're so lucky Emma! How I wish I could grow mangoes!! It sounds like you have an awesome garden :)

  3. Wow wow wow you are amazing . So many things This takes a lot of time and a lot of skill. Awesome rebecca!!!

    1. Thanks, but I have an awful lot of times on my hands at the moment!

  4. Becca, I can't believe all the things you have growing in your garden!! I guess that's what happens when chefs plant gardens.. :)

    Our rhubarb has struggled this year, but the potatoes seem to be going gangbusters! And your sweetheart cabbage is absolutely darling - we've only got a couple left to go, and we're rushing to get through them before the cabbage moths gain momentum.

    Thank you for the lovely tour, darling! xx

    1. I have sooooo much rhubarb that it's ridiculous Celia! You have the type of garden mine aspires to be, it makes mine look silly in comparison sweetie :) And don't forget the chickens- I am so jealous of your lovely girls Celia xox

  5. I love how pretty your garden is.. the blend of pansies and herbs are lovely! I see you all sprinkle.. is it hay? overtop of your beds. What does this do (I'm a novice gardener).. xx

    1. Why thankyou indeed! I use sugarcane mulch on my garden, but you could use straw, hay, pea straw or heaps of other stuff. It protects the garden by insulating the soil, keeping moisture from evaporating quickly, keeping weeds down, and if is the right stuff it can help feed your garden too by adding nutrients as it breaks down. Ask your local garden centre or nursery what type I'd best for your area and needs- good luck!

  6. Hi Bec... you have quite a little farm going there girl. Awesome. Would love to come and visit some day.... from my blue house to yours. xox

    1. Thanks Lizzy! I just wish I had a couple of chooks like Celia does- the lucky thing :)
      You are more than welcome any time of course! Any one with a blue house must have impeccable taste after all, Lizzy!

  7. Love the gardens! We are just slipping into fall in my neck of the woods...winter will be soon creeping in, burrr!

    1. Rug up tight Ins, it's meant too be a cold winter this year! :)

  8. Such a great garden :D I love htat you added the pepper to the dessert. Looks great!

  9. What a lovely tour. You have so much growing despite Canberra's difficult climate. I cooked rhubarb yesterday! But I had to buy mine from the shops and it was typically over-priced. I love what you've done with yours with the addition of strawberries and the peppercorns - I agree - I think it would be best served cold xx

    1. Thanks Charlie! We certainly have such extremes of temperature here that we go from minus 6 to over 35! It's a wonder we can keep anything going.
      How is your new garden going? Xox

  10. Your garden is beautiful! I can sympathise with you about your dog - mine ate all the lettuce :( lol.

    1. Lettuce? Isn't it funny what they go for! I feed mine some beef stroganoff and he ate every bite- but spat out each and every mushroom! Fussy thing, he is weird indeed :)

  11. Lovely garden... I've always loved the look of the garden wine barrels.
    I get frustrated at this time of year as I'm desperate to plant oodles of things, but my pots really just don't have a good position. Having to make do with a few token plants is frustrating!

    1. I used to feel like that too Brydie, it's so frustrating.... But one day you'll make it happen :)

  12. Thank you for the tour of your garden, Bec. You make me feel very lazy - I've got a huge garden with loads of flowers, fruit trees and herbs, but have been slack with the veggies.

  13. Your garden is a lot more exotic than mine, but we've made a start on ours too (photos at my place :-)) Lovely isn't it? - to be growing your own food.

  14. Hi Janet, I'll catch up with my views next week and see your photos, bit I'm on limited access this week at a mystery location!
    I feel so rich when I go out and pick something from my garden, how about you?

  15. I loved this tour! galangal - beyond impressive. It's inspiring. Mine is not inspiring presently at all, but yes, I am inspired by yours :)
    Heidi xo