Tuesday Musings

Most evenings over the last week I’ve been dipping into a book that I bought TB for last Christmas. It’s called Fields of Plenty: A farmer’s journey in search of real food and the people who grow it, by Michael Abelman who currently farms in British Columbia (Canada) but who had previously also farmed in California. He and his son visit farms and farmers across the whole of the US to see what they are doing and examine a wide range of issues as they go, not to mention taking great photographs and collecting some really nice recipes along the way.

There was a comment by Abelman that caught my attention last night. He was talking about his search to buy some agricultural land in California. He says “Most of the places we looked at had a home and some land. Without exception, the homes were well cared for and maintained, but the land always seemed to be under some sort of assault, either through erosion, overgrazing, compaction, use of poisons, cutting of native brush and trees, or accumulation of junk or trash. I realized then that most people understand how to take care of a building but have never been mentored or taught how to nurture a piece of land, soil, trees or the wild things and the watershed. Many folks hold title to land but are disconnected from it and seldom leave it better for their tenure. I wonder out loud if all private ownership should come with a contract or a commitment to the land requiring that the owner take a class, pass an exam and fulfil certain stewardship requirements.”

Yesterday I did some stewardship of my own, but of individual plants. I planted into the garden my second lot of radishes and later pricked out some Mustard Green seedlings into bigger pots. The latter were looking rather sad as I had been sucked in by our scant 3mms of rain and hadn’t watered them for two days – bad move the soil was completely dry around the roots. Thankfully after a very good soaking they have come good today. I also potted up some self sewn tomatoes – parentage uncertain – which have come up in the middle of our beetroots and egg plants. I have already secured homes for some of them and I’m sure my work colleagues will take any spares.

Speaking of progress with planting I see that Variegated (www.variegated@posterous.com) has made further in-roads with their planting. Looking good!

I really had lots of energy yesterday so I also cooked dinner which was largely home produced. In the photo you can see on the left a big bowl of salad, lettuce (cos and mignonette), beetroot leaves, fennel leaves and chive flowers, on the yellow plate TB’s homemade pork and fennel sausages and at the rear a rather ‘bijoux’ dish of broadbeans with mint and garlic (courtesy of Week-in, Week-Out by Simon Hopkinson) and radish salad with herb mayonnaise (Modern Vegetarian Cookery by Walter and Jenny Fliess). I must admit I used Stephanie Alexander’s mayonnaise recipe as the one the Fliess’ included, rather strangely to my mind, flour to lighten it. If I’m making homemade mayonnaise then I’m going the whole hog! In the mayonnaise we had tarragon, chives, parsley and garlic chives.

I also realised that, with the exception of the yellow plate, all the other serving bowls were also ‘local’ produce. The large rose coloured bowl is by Bison Homewares (Pialligo) and the two small bowls were two of those I bought at the Bev Hogg sale.



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