Your Thai Kitchen Garden Essentials

Anyone else love Asian cooking like I do? Its fast, it’s fresh, and come Winter, Spring or Summer, there are dishes to satiate my hunger.

When in Thailand a few years back, I swear to you I did not eat a Western thing. While that in itself may not sound like some great feat, most travelers (my husband included) usually succumb to some sort of Western fare from time to time.  I have to say that breakfast was the meal when my husband found it hardest to stomach the Thai equivalent, especially the morning after a big night out, but I loved seeking out a little hole-in-the-wall establishment to grab a quick Pad Thai or soup to start my day.

Thai cuisine is influenced by its neighbouring nations, and therefore there are intricate differences within Thai cuisine depending on whether you are eating in the north or the south of the country. There are certainly some similarities in the freshness of Vietnamese cooking, and between some Chinese, Cambodian, Laotian and Burmese dishes also.

Thai food has distinct flavours and it is a complex integration of taste senses; sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy. Thai cooking is generally prepared quickly with the emphasis on freshness, strong aromatics and a spicy edge. The most common Thai flavours include; garlic, galangal, coriander/cilantro, lemon grass, coriander, holy basil, shallots, young peppercorns, tumeric, pandanus, kaffir lime leaves , shrimp paste, fish sauce, and chilies (Thai cooking uses 5 varieties of chili). Palm sugar is often used to sweeten dishes and contribute to the complexity in balancing the flavours, whereas lime or tamarind is utilised for sour notes.

Certainly there are some fundamental flavours and herbs that are essential to creating an authentic dish, and if you are a fan like I am, perhaps a Asian inspired kitchen garden will prove a thrifty decision given the costs of buying these individual ingredients at the supermarket. Here are our favourites and what we believe are Thai cooking essentials;

lemongrass (1)
Lemongrass Image via 2gb

Lemongrass is a tropical island plant within the grass family. It is widely used in Asian cuisine as a culinary herb in soups and curries, in tea concoctions and as a medicinal herb in India. It can be used dried or powdered, or simply chopped fresh. It is a grass plant, so if it is chopped coarsely it is best to remove from the dish as it is not pleasant texture.

Thai Basil Image via Bonnie Plants

Basil– Three types of basil are regularly used in Thai cuisine; Thai Basil, Holy Basil and Lemon basil. Thai basil is native to Southeast Asia and has been cultivated for specific, distinguishing traits. It has small, narrow leaves, with a purplish stem and flowers. It has an anise/licorice like flavour and seems  to withstand high temperatures more than sweet basil. Basil is commonly used to flavour green curries, but is also used in stir-fries, and soups. Thai basil is most widely used cultivar in Western kitchens for Asian cooking, and also plays a prominent role in Vietnamese cooking. Holy Basil is the basil Thai people love most due to its spicy, peppery taste.


Coriander Image via Renaissance Herbs

Coriander is also known as cilantro (USA), Chinese parsley or dhania. It is an annual herb, with all parts of the plant considered edible. The fresh leaves are utilised most regularly along with the dried seeds which can be used whole or ground into a fine powder. Coriander is widely used in Asian cooking as well, as Tex-Mex, Brazillian, Afican, Prtuguese. Mediterranean, Middle Easter and even Scandinavian dishes.

Kaffir Lime Leaves Image via Import Food

Kaffir Lime Leaves The characteristic flavour of kaffir lime leaves (bai makrut) appears in many Thai soups (Tom Yam) or curry from the southern and central areas of Thailand. Kaffir lime leaves or rind is frequently combined with galangal and lemon grass, either kept whole, or alternatively pulsedin a blender along with chilies and other aromatics to make curry pastes.

Chilies Image via Health Impact News

Who could forget Chilies?

Chilies are the spicy fruit that grows on the plant from the genus Capsicum. They are also called Chili pepper, chilli pepper, or chile pepper, although in most cases the word ‘pepper’ is usually omitted. The substances that makes chili intense in its application or when ingested are capsaicin.  India is the largest consumer of Chili, as well as being the largest producer and exporter. Chilis orginate in Americas, and were brought to Asia by the Portuguese in the 16th century.

Chili is used fresh and dried to create curries; with fish sauce, lime juice and herbs to create Nam phril (Thai chili paste); or pounded in a mortar and served with green Papaya to create Som tam, a traditional Thai/Lao salad.

Get to your nursery and get planting and soon you will be in the kitchen creating dishes that are as varied as athey are exotic.

Did you know? Thai people generally use just a fork and spoon to eat, no knives, and certainly no chopsticks.

Sawasdee (Thai ‘farewell’)

Fwf x



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herbs hanging isolated on white. food ingredients

5 Handy Herbs to Have at Home

As this cold weather continues to send shivers down my spine, I have begun to rely heavily on my slow cooker and I know I am not alone. If nothing else, for a mum with two young children, it is actually a relief to get dinner organised first thing in the morning, long before the mad rush of the afternoon park play and before baths or showers can be done.

I have found that the key to tasty winter cooking (other than cooking it low and slow) is herbs! Take old favourites to a new level and make one pot wonders for the whole family adding fresh, versatile herbs straight from your garden.


Image: Kindersoaps

Rosmarinus officinalis, is an attractive woody stemmed perennial herb that is fragrant and has evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region and Asia. Rosemary is attractive, is easy to grow and is pest resistant, and can withstand lengthy periods or little or no water. It makes a great shrub as it grows quite large and can be pruned into formal shapes and low hedges or even for topiary if your heart desires. Alternatively it grows well in pots.

Rosemary is ideal for flavouring meats such as roast lamb, pork, chicken and turkey, and is great to use in stuffings. It works well with lemon and garlic.

As rosemary is easy to grow and care for, it makes an ideal addition to your herb garden. It can be propagated from a ‘cutting’  from an existing plant simply by clipping a shoot (from a soft new growth) 10–15 cm (4–6 in) long, stripping a few leaves from the bottom, and planting it directly into soil. You will certainly make things easier on yourself if you start with a nursery grown plant, and you will be able to enjoy adding it to your food a whole lot sooner.

We love this Lemon and Rosemary Chicken but we generally serve it with warm roasted zucchini, pumpkin, capsicum and onion.

Image: Taste


Image: Abrussiana

When we planted our first herb garden together, top of my wish list was Coriander as we love Asian flavours. Eager to please, hubby is determined to pick me a healthy speciman, so heads off. Upon getting home and removing the plant from the punnet, I was bitterly disappointed to find that it was Celery, not the Coriander I had hoped for :-(

Thankfully, I was not disappointed for long. How many stews and casseroles do you know that start with a mirepoix base of onion, carrot and celery? A bazillion. So the celery flourished in our herb patch and was used almost every second day. Celery is now firmly up near the top of my wish list due to its versatility; I use it in stews, soups, casseroles and even salads.

The distinction between herbs and vegetables seems clear most of the time but celery is one exception to the rule as it has a herb like leafy top, and vegetable like stalks. Herbs are strongly flavoured plants which we use in small quantities to flavour other foods, including vegetables which tend to be less flavoured by nature. Celery is a stimulating, nourishing, and restorative herb. There is a pungency to celery, which is closer to what you get with herbs; a sense of strong plant chemicals exploding up your palate and flooding your mouth with flavour . It is hardly a surprise then to find that Celery is a part of the Apiaceae family, the same family of plants that includes parsley, caraway, cumin and coriander. Celery also has phthalides, a chemical that has the ability to intensify other flavours, which is perhaps why it so often forms the base to various recipes.

Slow cooked Beef and Red Wine casseroles or pies are a staple throughout winter in our house- give this one a go!

Image: Taste

Bay leaves

[#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Nikon COOLPIX8700 Focal Length: 22.3mm White Balance: Preset Digital Zoom Ratio: 1.00 2007/02/01 12:57:42 Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority AF Mode: AF-S Saturation comp: 0 TIFF - RGB (8-bit)  Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern Tone Comp: Normal Sharpening: None Image Size:  3264 x 2448 3.94 sec - F/3.5 Flash Sync Mode: Not Attached Noise Reduction: Fixed Pattern Color Exposure Comp.: 0 EV ConverterLens: None Sensitivity: ISO 50 [#End of Shooting Data Section]
Image: Delallo
There are several varieties of bay leaves: Bay laurel, California bay leaf, Indian bay leaf, Indonesian bay leaf, West Indian bay leaf and Mexican bay leaf.

Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae (Bay Leaf) are used either fresh or dried  in cooking for their distinctive flavor and fragrance. The leaves themselves are not meant to be eaten, although it is safe to do so. They have a sharp, bitter taste.

The leaves are generally used whole, or in a bouquet garni as they are easier to remove, however they can also be crushed or ground to impart more of their desired flavour. Crushed or ground leaves are generally placed within a muslin bag or tea infuser so they can easily be removed.

Bay leaves are great to use in bolognaise sauces, or in soups, stews, braises and pâtés. Bay leaves were used as favouring as early as the Ancient Greeks. They are also featured in many Mediterranean cuisines, French cooking, some Thai (massaman curry) and Indian dishes (Biryani) as well as the dishes throughout the Americas.

Bay leaf is also an ingrdient of Garam Masala.

They are a great addition to any garden. They require a sunny position and can grow quite large given the correct care.

We use branches of the bay tree within our pantry to keep meal moths (weavels) flies, cockroaches and silverfish under control. The bay leaf has repellant properties.

Want something sweet after dinner? Try this Mulled Fruits with Bay Spiced Custard

Image: Taste


Image: Organic Facts

Petroselinum Crispum is a biennial plant in temperate climates, and an annual herb in subtripical/tripocal areas. Parsley grows best in moist, well-drained soil, with full sun. It grows best between 22–30 °C and usually is grown from seed. Germination is slow, taking four to six to eight weeks.

It is native to the central Mediterranean region.

Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish, finely chopped and sprinkled on top of potato dishes, risottos, steaks, chicken, as well as stews and casseroles. Continental parsley is widely ised in Middle Eastern cooking, European, Brazilian and American cooking. It is the main ingredient in Salsa verde (minced parsley, basil, capers, anchovies, lemon juice and olive oil) served on fish; used in England in their roux based Parsley sauces; a main ingredient in a traditional bouquet garni; a main ingredient in Gremolata (a traditional accompaniment for Osso bucco made with parlsey, garlic and lemon juice; and the main ingredient in Tabbouleh, a popular middle eastern salad.

Want to try something different to a risotto for a great mid week meal? This Pea and Parsley Risoni is sure to be a hit.

Image: Taste


Bunch of chives on a white background
Image: Buy Fruit

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are a member of the onion family, closely related to onion, garlic, leeks and scallions yet have the most delicate flavour. They have a slight hint of garlic, together with delicate onion like flavour. Chives are popularly paired with potatoes and sour cream. While Chives and Spring onions are similar, they are not the same; one is a herb, the other is an onion. Often they can be interchanged in recipes, but not always.

Chives are a hardy, drought resistant perennial. Whilst they can be grown from seed, it is long process to get it to a useable plant. The Chives will die off somewhat throughout winter, and not look as healthy as they do throughout summer, so if you want continuous supply, leave your chives in pots and bring them inside during the colder months.

Chives also have insect-repelling properties so they are great to have in your garden to control nasty pests. Love it.

Try this delicious Garlic and Chive Mash as an accompaniment to your favourite steak, or winter warmer.

Image: Tatse

If like me you can’t handle the cold, cooking in the kitchen is one wonderful way to keep warm….and you get to eat what you create. Nothing better! :-)

Til next time,

Fwf x

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Phalaenopsis on Tree

Phalaenopsis- Why you are killing it with Kindness

The magnificence of the Phalaenopsis is apprectiated far and wide. The simple flat wing-like blooms are modern, sleek and stylish and suit most decors making them the perfect gift for someone or for your own home. But so many customers come in store disappointed that the flowers had not lasted, or that the foliage became soft and mushy…..

The sad truth of it is they have been killed; killed with kindness. Too much water. Too often.

Image via Flickr

The Phalaenopsis is often known as a ‘Moth Orchid’ based on its flowers appearance, and is the most common variety of orchid due to its ease of production under artificial conditions and the availability of blooming plants year-round. Phals are a fantastic indoor plant, and flower for such a large percentage of the year, with plants blooming throughout Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. Moth orchids form a cluster of lush, fleshy broad leaves from the rootstock. Arching flower stems, naturally form more horizontally, than vertically emerge and reach above this foliage and carry up to 20 or so flowers. The blooms come in such a wide variety of colours, from the popular pure whites, to rose and mauves, to unusual spotted harlequin varieties also.

Image: Wikipedia

Phalaenopsis are classified as epiphyts, meaning they are ‘air plants’ and in their natural environment they thrive in trunks and leaves of other plants below the canopies of moist lowland tropical rainforests of Asia, New Guinea and northern Australia, protected against direct sunlight. In order to replicate their natural environment, they require warm, humid conditions with filtered light. And whilst the humidity and constant moisture result in quite a damp environment, their rich growing medium is well drained.

The basic requirements to keep your Phalaenopsis happy:

  • A moderately bright windowsill or similar spot to grow in.
  • Watering when it begins to dry out, usually every 7 to 10 days making sure that the plant is well drained. DO NOT LET THE PLANT  SIT IN WATER.
  • Fertilizing with a orchids specific fertiliser
  • Repotting when the bloom is finished
Whilst Phalaenopsis can be repotted anytime, which is different to any other orchid variety, it is still best to do so when not in bloom. Phalaenopsis, particularly younger plants thrive on being repot, but remember a good quality fresh orchid mix is essential for encouraging new growth. Generally, a generic potting mix from a hardware store is not the best choice.
Phalaenopsis will have at least a few nodes going up the spike prior to the blooms. Each of these nodes bears the potential to branch either during or after the initial bloom.
Image: Plant Rescue


To cut or not to cut?

Once a Phalaenopsis has finished bearing flowers you can expect that the stem will begin ti run brown and dry out. It may not turn brown the whole way down, and thats ok. Many of our customers come in having been told conflicting methods, confused as to what to do.

One method involves cutting the spike just below a node where the plant first flowers, allowing the plant to rebloom again as a branch off the existing spike. This method results in the flower display apearing sooner, but as the plant has had no true rest period, the blooms will be smaller.

The other method involves cutting the spike entirely when all the blooms have dropped, Blooms take a large amount of energy from the plant, so this allows the plant to gather up its energy for a sensational bloom and display in the future.



Basal Keiki on Phalaenopsis Orchid
Phalaenopsis stem ready to be cut


This shows a node on a Phalaenopsis spike. Each node has the potential to branch off with a new growth during flowering


Phalaenopsis new spikes are green- these should NOT be cut

This orchid is from a species than bloom sequentially from the same flower spike. So far, the plant has sent off three separate spikes at different times and they will each bear one or two blooms at a time. If you are unsure whether to cut a spike, or not, and are unable to find out the parentage of the plant, you should simply observe.  The best rule of thumb is If the spike remains green, leave it alone’.

Identify Orchid - Spike
Fresh emerging spike :-) Yay! Flowers on their way

Looking for a way to add colour to your bedroom or bathroom? Florist with Flowers have a bunch of healthy and happy Phalaenopsis plants in store currently, looking for their forever homes. If you have room in your home (and hearts) for them, you can order online, or call us direct!

Healthy Phalaenopsis plants currently in store looking for their forever homes

Til next time,

Fwf x


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CELEBRATE!!! Why? It’s Christmas in July

Can you believe more than half the year has already passed us by? I for one, can’t. And while I busily attempt to press pause on my life, over and over again, the days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and before we know it we’ll be ringing in the new year again. Really? Already?

So before we get there, let’s take some time out, reach out to family and friends again, and throw a party. Why? Because it’s Christmas in July. And, really, who needs an excuse to crack out their Michael Buble orMariah Carey Christmas CD?

Unlike the northern hemisphere, its winter here, so when we think about throwing a Christmas in July celebration, all the traditional elements of a Northern Hemisphere Christmas come into play- images of snow, snowmen, holly, warm meals…..The polar opposite of our traditional sun kissed, bbq/beach celebrations.

What does your perfect Christmas party look like?

Beach or Snow?

Turkey or Ham?

Trifle or Pudding? But I’m not talking about serving the same tired old plum pudding, or fruit cake, if you are looking for something different to impress your guests with, why not try this fantastic Red Velvet pudding.

Homemade Red Velvet Pudding– A twist on the traditional

Image and recipe from : Tastes of Lizzy T
You can find the full recipe and method at Taste of Lizzy T’s. You will need about an hour and a half to get the whole pudding together and it makes approx 4-5 cups.
Now I would change the decoration from pink and red hearts to red and green star sprinkles, or perhaps broken pieces of Flake, but get creative and see what you can come up with!
  • Red Velvet Pudding:
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup Basic Pudding Mix
    • 1/2 C Cornstarch
    • 1 C flour
    • 1 1/2 C white sugar
    • 1 t salt
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 teaspoons LorAnn red velvet bakery emulsion (Red Velvet Flavouring)

Mulled Wine – A super simple recipe

Image and Recipe from : Home Life
I’ll admit I have never had mulled wine, but only this week another retailer (a Frenchman from a small wine boutique no less) offered me my first taste, presumably to get into the festive spirit! Mulled wine is a classic hot beverage best enjoyed beside a glowing fire with family and friends and perfectly suited to Christmas in July celebrations in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • 2 bottles red wine
  • 1 apple, stuck with 6 cloves
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 litre apple juice

This looks like the easiest recipe ever and I’m determined to give it a go! Simply mix all ingredients together in saucepan and heat gently over a low flame. Serve in pre-warmed cups.

 Wreath– A Gorgeous decoration suited for either your door or table
Holiday Christmas Wreath - fall holiday decor - wreath design - arts and crafts via Apt Therapy
Image: Inspire Bohemia

No house should go unadorned for Christmas, and for July celebrations I love this wreath made with a combination of Leucadendron Argentum and Pink Proteas.

Winter is a great time for Native flowers, and whilst neither of these flowers are native to Australia, but rather, South Africa, our climate is perfect for them, so they grown in abundance here on our shores. I also like that it is play on the traditional red, white and green, utilising the silver green foliage of the Leucadendron teamed with the red of the Protea. If you like something that is unique and textured talk to one of our wonderful florists about creating something special for you. Fresh flowers truly do make your house feel alive, and can be tailored to your individual tastes or Christmas theme.

Gift Giving On a Budget– Making presents and keeping costs down

Image from Our Best Bits

Are you loving this gift idea as much as I am??? Create simple, sentimental gifts for family and friends that freeze a precious moment in time. These could literally be the talking point at any dinner party. As you can see in the above image, they look amazing clustered together, and whilst they look great in daylight hours, the real magic happens when the lights are low and the flame is flickering.

Full instructions can be found at Our Best Bits

So there you have it, something to drink, something to eat, something for decoration and something to give…..

Now, time to start that Christmas shopping list….it seems I have a lot to organise!

Fwf x

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WEDDINGS: Winter Wonderland inspirations

As I sit on the couch wrapped in my snuggie and wearing ugg boots and a tracksuit, I feel inspired to write a rather glamourous post on creating an awesome winter wonderland themed affair; the winter wedding.

Whilst I make it no secret that I prefer the warmth, and the sticky humidity that the summer months, and exotic tropical island life can bring, there are a few styling elements that I do love, and that only have a place in the colder frost bitten months of the year. So whilst I sip my hot coffee and daydream about piping hot cinnamon donuts, I have been busy collating three colour schemes and styles within the winter wonderland concept.

Wooded Wonderland:

Using a earthy combination of chocolate, warm creams, lattes, green and gold, this colour scheme potentially can look more quaint and DIY, so if that is the look that you are after, this could be perfect for you. Utilise wooden tree stumps, embossed balsa wood emblems and decorations, pinecones, wooden crates, burlap and hessian, this theme can be warm, textured and homely. What about a gorgeous (faux) fur coat to cover up in the cold? Brrrr. Why not? Gorgeous glamour that can only be embraced throughout the chillier June, July or August. Bridesmaids gowns could be burgundy, sage, chocolate or antique gold, with a fur shrug or pashmina to cover up.

I love the idea of having a semi naked cake, as it fits the more relaxed, DIY feel, but is softly sophisticated.

Picture credits: Bouquet, burlap chair trim, table arrangement, cake, garland

winter woodland


Image found on Salvage Life
Image: Via Wedding Chicks. Cake by Sky’s The Limit.


Image: Via Modern Wedding Magazine Facebook


Frozen Dreams:

This colour scheme is ice hot! Using white, sky blue, navy with hints of silver, you could be forgiven for thinking it is straight out of Disney’s movie “Frozen”. I love the fact that that babies breath is making a huge comeback, but not as an accompaniment, more as a stand alone feature flower. It makes gorgeous bouquets, stunning in their simplicity but works magically on tables as with the right lighting, it can almost look like vases full of fairy lights. It is dainty and delicate, and mimics the soft powder like appearance of soft snowflakes.

Picture credits: table arrangement, cake, bridesmaids with bouquets, invitation, crystal tree display.


frozen dreams


Image found on Fab You Bliss. Flowers by The Watering Can

If you are want to try to keep costs down for table arrangements; using simple, low and wide cut glass vases and an assortment of baubles from a dollar store, you can create these simply displays.

Image via E How

Silver Linings:

Neutral colour palettes continue to remain most popular for weddings, so this colour scheme, using just white, silver and grey is sure to be a hit. Bright and crisp clean whites are highlighted with silver suede foliage, silver dusted berries, beading on gowns, silver satin shoes, and embellishments with crystals on cakes and in your hair. Use silver tealight holders, or pewter vases on tables to bring more of the metallic tones to the setting.

Photo credits: Bouquet, cake, lighting, buttonhole, nails, dress.


silver dream

Image: Head Rush Salon Inc
Image : Etsy

When deciding on a wedding date, many factors come into play. Maybe you have your heart set on a particular venue, or have special friends and family that are unable to attend until a particular time, or maybe you are desperate to have a seasonal bloom in your bouquet. Whatever the case, sometimes compromises are made, and you end up getting married in a month, in a season even, that you were unprepared for. This blog was intended to showcase beauty in a variety of colour schemes for those of you planning a winter affair.

Maybe you have another colour scheme in mind? Shoot us an email and let us know so we can start brainstorming for you :-)

Til then,

Fwf x



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