At this time of the year there are plenty of ‘social’ events happening out there, but to my mind catching up with family and close friends is the best. This weekend my cousins’ family came over for lunch.
TB wanted to concentrate on using our own garden produce so with that in mind we started looking at what was to hand. At first it seemed that there wasn’t much to offer (unless you wanted to eat broad beans!), so TB started on different veggie ideas. We also took into account what was in our freezer so a blackberry pie using the last of this year’s crop was an easy choice.
The freezer also yielded spinach for creamed spinach and some horseradish.The latter was used, along with some cooked apple to make a tasty sauce for our corned meat, which had come from my sister’s beef cattle.
We had garlic that was picked during the week so that went into the roasting pan.
We were thinking about other sides to go with the meat and and with a quick ‘bandicoot’ into some of our styrofoam boxes we came up with some new season Dutch Creams and Pink Eyes.
Rather than roast them we decided to make a potato salad with wilted sorrel, just about my favourite easy salad recipe courtesy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. TB also made an onion tart, using up the last of our Yondover goats cheese as part of an entree platter.
However his greatest stroke of genius came when he remembered all those zucchinis flowering away in the back garden.
Stuffed with some mince and herbs and then deep-fried they made a great contribution to the platter for starters.
Well as you might imagine we were all rather full by the time we ate all of of this. While the adults rested with a drink in the shady part of the garden, the youngest family member found some yummy raspberries to eat and was distracted by looking around the garden to find where the cat was sleeping.
All in all an excellent day was had by us all – and we didn’t need to eat for a long time afterwards!
Well it was -4??C this morning so no surprises that there was a good frost over the garden.
From our back garden, both yesterday and today we have seen the remains of the snow that fell on Wednesday on the Tidbinbilla range. Despite risking life and limb trying to get a photo for you from the back garden I wasn’t very successful. So you’ll just have to make do with some frosty images instead.
One of the things that most surprised me when we got seriously into gardening was that you could keep growing some plants all through winter. This was because I ???knew??? that everything stopped growing in winter, duh! Well our garden is currently a picture of green. It may not be as rampantly lush as at other times of the year but it is productive.
It???s green because the predominant plants growing above ground are members of the Brassica family. Currently we have kale Cavolo Nero and also a plant of frilly Russian kale that I bought at the Farmer???s Market last weekend. I read that the various kales taste different to one another but my Russian kale is a bit small to harvest at present so the taste-off will have to come later. We also have collard greens, which are another non-heading cabbage type thingy (which are now recovering from the major Cabbage White caterpillar attack). There are also a few ???normal??? cabbages just starting to form their ???heads??? and Purple Sprouting broccoli.
In the green but not a Brassica category we have plenty of silver beet, stacks of sorrel and also the warrigal greens soldiering on. Snow peas, bush peas and broad beans are all growing happily away but apart from picking the tips out of the broad beans (good in stir fry and encourages energy to go into pod production) we won???t be harvesting anything from those for a few months. BTW those five non-starter broad beans I mentioned several weeks ago were so stung by my comments that every last one of them has now shot! So that is a 100% germination of the Aqua Dulce/Leviathon Longpod I planted.
All of these green things go into the ubiquitous Green Soup. This can be anything green in a home-made meat stock. Favourites at Chez Fork are silver beet with mashed chickpeas, broccoli soup (a bit early for that) and sorrel soup with its lovely lemon flavour.This one is silver beet and chickpea served with some yoghurt and Franquette walnuts.
Kale also goes into soups and stir fry. It is great cut fine and simmered in just enough stock to cook and then served on toast with a dash of olive oil – you can also add some fried bacon (a Maggie Beer recipe). Warrigal greens are for unbelievably good creamed spinach.
We are still harvesting our root crops planted in summer, carrots and potatoes. What is good is that they keep perfectly well in the ground here until you need them. I have had mixed success with growing parsnips. I tried direct sewing into the garden and also sewing into seedling pots. None of the direct sewn plants came up ??? I believe this was because it was difficult to keep the soil consistently moist as parsnip seed has a long germination period. I did a bit better, well three seedlings, in the pots but only one survived the transplant (it???s growing very vigorously now). However the best result I???ve had came with a suggestion from Tino at Gardening Australia to grow parsnips in pipes! Tino suggests that you use pvc pipes that are 40cm long to allow for the tap root of the plant to grow sufficiently deep. So far the germination rate has been easily over 90% and the plants seem to be coming along very well. I???m also trying two plants in an olive oil tin which is about 30 cm deep. I???d like to see if this works as the tins are rather easier to get than cutting up lengths of plastic pipe.
Parsnips on 20 April …
and … today!
You may recall in my recent diatribe against radishes that I mentioned Radish Leaf Soup, well I actually made some last week (see the picture). The recipe I had was a dead ringer for my favourite sorrel soup recipe. Dice some potatoes and cook them in stock until tender slice up the sorrel [leave it raw] and stick in the blender, pour over the cooked potatoes and stock and give it a whiz. Reheat to bring eating temperature. Well I can’t say that it was a revelation. It was a good soup, but to my mind lacked the zing I expected from the leaves of radishes. It had none of that peppery bite I anticipated, although a bit came through when we re-heated the left-overs the next day.
Yesterday we decided on even more green soup (as an aid to remedy New Year’s indulgences), but this time we added as many green things we could find in the garden into the mix. Several small zucchinis, sorrel, radish leaves, radishes, komatsu, parsley, basil and a few milk thistle leaves made up the green base along with an onion. The only difference was that in our everything green soup we sauteed an onion and the sliced radish leaves together, before doing the blender move. The mix had a few strings (don’t forget to cut the ribs out of the sorrel) so it was sieved before some milk was added to thin it out. Then TB had a great idea – he served the soup and then added a dob of wasabi. We used purewasabi from New Zealand, not the lurid green paste you generally get, www.coppersfolly.co.nz [possibly bought at Edelweiss Woden but can’t be sure]. The company offers direct mail order, including shipping than is cheaper than the local purchase price. That hit the spot. Of course you can add a little wasabi, or none at all depending on how much heat you like.
Speaking of green things I’ve included a photo I took this morning of the leaves of our Trombone Marrow, a freebie from the seed company along with part of our order that couldn’t be filled earlier in the year. Just check out the string of water beads around the edge of the leaf.