A blog interview: My Darling Lemon Thyme

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organic-gardening-gluten-free-cookingToday its my pleasure to introduce readers to Emma G, an organic gardener and professional pastry chef turned gluten-free expert. Raised in New Zealand and making her home today in Australia, Emma and her blog, My Darling Lemon Thyme bring North American readers a unique perspective from the other side of the world:

How did you get into organic gardening?
My parents were ahead of their time on the organic gardening front. When I was growing up we had huge vegetable gardens, an orchard and various other fruit and nut trees on our property. My father used to sell vegetable boxes (CSA) to locals and excess to the local fruit & vegetable shop. I started growing my own vegetables about 8 years ago after settling back in NZ from years of travel and working overseas. My husband has the green fingers in our family though; I grow the seedlings and plant them out, he looks after them from there on until it’s time to harvest and cook!

What’s your favorite thing about growing your own vegetables?
gluten-free-cupcakesKnowing they are organic and knowing exactly what went into growing them. The freshness of homegrown vegetables can not be beaten, like freshly dug potatoes or hand-picked corn and the flavour … eating food such as tomatoes and carrots, where they taste as they should. I also think it’s so important to teach our children about real food. I am the happiest mum in the world when I see our kids go out to the garden and nibble away on fresh parsley and sorrel!

How has going gluten and dairy-free impacted you as a pastry chef?
For the better I think! I have been forced to be more creative and experimental, using flours I usually wouldn’t have. These are all positives I feel. I have learnt to love the challenge of gluten-free cooking.

Do you have a favorite recipe? Why is it your favorite?
It’s hard to narrow it down to one, there are many. But the recipe I have cooked the most from the recipes shared on my blog is my chocolate pear/apple cake. It’s super easy to make and most importantly doesn’t taste “gluten and dairy-free”! I use it as a base for all my kids’ birthday cakes, simply changing the icing to suit. No one ever guesses it’s gluten-free, which is pretty telling of how good it is I reckon!

Our gluten-free wedding cake recipe is also a favourite, for obvious reasons.

What are you working on right now?
Vegan, gluten-free chocolate cookie recipe. I’m nearly there.

What’s the best advice ever given to you (with regard to cooking, blogging, or anything else)?
Don’t do it unless you love it… thankfully, I love both cooking and blogging.

gluten-free-jamAny recommendations for people who want to start their own blog or get into organic gardening?
In regards to starting your own blog, go ahead! It’s such a great way to share your ideas, get feedback on what you are doing and meet other like minded people. Realise that it is a commitment though, and takes up a lot of time and energy. So my advice would be to start a blog about something you are seriously passionate about, because it will inevitably take up a lot of your time!

In regards to organic gardening, just do it! Even just a little planter box of fresh herbs and one or two tomato plants will be enough to give you a taster. You can then build on this every year as you learn more and more. Read lots and ask advice at your local garden centre. If you have a green fingered Granny or parent, call on them for advice also. I do!

Who is your food icon?
Alison Holst. A New Zealand food writer whose cookbook “Meals without meat” is like our Galloway family bible! I couldn’t have imagined life without it as a kid.

And more recently, Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks.com fame. Whose blog inspired my own and whose food and photographs leave me drooling every time I stop by her blog or read one of her cookbooks.

Do you have any must-have items for this fall?
As I live in Perth, Western Australia (originally from Raglan, New Zealand) we are actually just coming into spring! But coming into autumn (as we call fall), I like to have plenty of small (recycled) glass jars, to store my inevitable over-supply of preserves in! I have a little addiction to making preserves, even though we don’t tend to eat many. They do make great gifts though.

What are/were your favorite and least favorite trends in cuisine?
Favourite~ unfussy, flavourful food made from simple, seasonal and local ingredients.

Least favourite~ molecular gastronomy. To me science and food DO NOT MIX!

Looking to give gluten-free cooking a try for yourself? We recommend using ener-g egg replacer for your baking needs. While you’re at it, a toaster oven cookie sheet might ease the clean up.

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