explore food, pickle it, produce

Small and slow solutions

.(..being content with the small wins and getting through the day.)

lotsolemons.JPG

Pretty much most days seem like their potential is limitless. There’s a never ending parade of incredible people doing amazing things and getting out there saving the world.

I walk down the hill and wonder how I can save a few lemons.

This tree you understand – is just in it’s happy place, doing it’s thing – growing quite remarkable lemons. No matter how many you harvest, there always seems to be a few more. Lemons just don’t grow overnight, one day I might tie a string to a blossom and see exactly how long it take s to grow these orbs of zingy sunshine, but until then – let’s just say a while.

So I juiced, I preserved, I made cordial and I made curd. All relatively simple, not too much time or space. (On the bench or in my head)

Great thing about preserved lemons, once you’ve got them, you’ll always find a use. And they look pretty.

Here’s how to – PRESERVE LEMONS.

Get yourself a clean jar with properly fitting lid. You could even sterilize it if you like. (Say 2 x 300ml tomato paste jars scrubbed clean.)

4-6 good sized lemons

A juicer

Pure salt – I had Himalayan rock salt on hand.

A sharp knife and chopping board.

Sprinkle a little (1 tsps worth) of salt in the bottom of the jar. Cut a lemon into thick slices/ quarters/ eighths and lightly sprinkle salt on the cut sides. Wedge them into the jar and repeat until you’ve got approximately a 2cm gap at the top. Now start juicing another lemon and pour in over all those chopped up pieces. the aim is to totally submerge all the chopped lemon. Any bits left protruding could go moldy as they will be exposed to air. If any bits still stick up, either wedge them in or take them out. This preservation technique works because it’s an anaerobic environment (and there’s all that salt and citric acid.)

Screw the lid on and label. Best if left for a minimum of a month.

Minimum fuss, no waste and you’ve put away some food for later. Bottled sunshine.

explore growing, produce

Summer Daze

So far there’s been a few  consistent elements to our summer.

Watering  – heat – humidity – cucumbers – my desire to read – watering  – afternoon naps (so decadent !)

Tricky trying to get back into the rhythm of working outdoors in the heat of summer. My brain goes a little mushy and my family are all too aware of the adverse effect of elevated temperatures on my sense of humour. So the trick – get up early, do the essential stuff and celebrate the small wins.

Like cucumbers. It’s like watching the beanstalk Jack planted reaching for the sky. Good food, daylight, water and away they go.IMG_0521.jpg

These gorgeous cucurbits have superpowers ! They can hide from the untrained eye remarkably well. They take on colourbond fencing an mold themselves to available space. They are beautiful when cut on the cross section.

Best of all – they of all the good things of summer. Refrigerate before eating and even more refreshing.

Drink it – chop one up, throw it in the blender with ice cubes, a little water, mint and a smidge of honey – best summer drink.

Pickle it – using 1 part white vinegar, 1 part water, 1/2 part sugar (combine all and heat until sugar dissolves.) Whilst you’re waiting for the liquid to cool, slice up your cucumber, pop in a sterilized jar. Then pour the liquid over pop the lid on, let it cool a bit on the bench and stick it in the fridge. A great sharp flavour to wake up the tastebuds in a salad or on a sambo.

Transfrom it – into tzatziki with a beautiful plain creamy yoghurt and a drizzle of olive oil. The key here is to make sure you strain the grated cucumber for a fair while as you don’t want your dip being watery.

Go out and enjoy these elongated gems of summer, just try not to water the plant in the evening as powdery mildew could set in on the leaves.

Make a teepee from several plants and enjoy their shade and fruit.

biodiversity in the garden, explore growing, produce, salad days

Salad days

Last day of winter, and there’s markers of the seasonal change all around.last day of winter

Brassicas (broccoli here) flower merrily, days are longer minute by minute, grass is growing a little quicker. Rainbow colours planted to stir fry, salads in next level for diversity, grab & go meals, shallots for skinny places….

The tip of this garden gets the most sun, so quick greens were planted. As days grow longer, the other planting will catch up. It’s all a bit of a dance, weaving time, space, light and flavours.

Have you ever tried broccoli leaves ? They were my go to green last night – cut the stem out, chop & pan fry – remarkably yummo !

Going for garden domination on the right there is our beloved rhubarb. Originally divided from the school garden, this one can have it’s roots traces back at least 35 years.

The possibility of small spaces requires a firstly a little imagination and observation – good strong starting blocks. What do you want to pop into your salad bowl ? What can you start from seed ? What do you let flower ? Can you eat the flower and which ones do the bees love ? What to snack on as you check the pulse of the outdoors ?

Time to explore and have fun.

produce, seasonal eating, winter

Seasonal offerings

Admittedly – my brain stalled a bit this morning as the rain poured down, saturating my every thought. There’s a special list of jobs I save for days like today – things that don’t seem as much fun when the sun’s out. Couldn’t remember a single one of them or where that list was. So I made it up. Cooking is right up there – thinking a chocolate brownie would be appreciated by all & show that I’d been productive. (Yeah – big tick next to indulgent procrastinating )

Also going for a quick wander through the market garden checking out what’s popping up and what’s happy. Peas – this year I’ve opted for bushing ones, the lower they grow, the less work for me. Super tasty, flowers taste heavenly too. There’s one little tomato plant I’ve left in a protected pocket – still very happy and coming up with the goods – it spraws all over the shop, birds get some, humans get some. I’m afraid if I try to stake it & tidy the tomato plant up now, I may jinx it & no more tomatoes, so for now it can wander to it’s heart’s content.

Salad mix goes year round, each batch is a little different to the previous, as that’s life. Now we’ve got more the the astringent & peppery flavours – mizuna, red veined sorrel, raddichio, rocket to boost digestion …with hints of summer – flowering lemon basil, sweet mint to counter the sharper notes & whispers of springtime with the fresh flavours of chickweed.

The garden and experiemnting keeps me on my toes and I’m keeping my fingers the carrot seeds will actually germinate this time in the cooler weather!

 

 

carrots, explore growing, pickle it, produce, save your food

Minimising Waste

It’s a massive issue. Imagine – collectively we end up sending 20% of our weekly groceries straight to landfill. Imagine all that embodied energy. Carrots can take up to 2 weeks to germinate from seed. They take several months to grow – water evenly and regularly or they’ll split their seams and look terrible. Don’t woory – still edible – just give them a good clean. I end up roasting or simmering these ones. Continue reading “Minimising Waste”

autumn, harvesting the yield, produce

Here we are

…….in this day, at this moment. A break in between the seemingly never ending rain, enjoying cooler autumn days, pockets of sunshine, garden observations.  Cucumbers have finished, zucchini not enjoying the cooler weather, kohlrabi plumping up nicely, rocket seedlings happy.

Thankful for lessons learnt (not much enjoys a really hot day!), opportunities arising and being brave to try new techniques.

We covered another hugelkultur be (basically an oversized, slightly rawer, slower version of a no dig bed) so it can mature and be ready for cucurbit city next summer. Lovely to share some of the last of summers bounty with friends volunteering, harvesting long awaited salad mix (after the learnings of summer – not planting enough, too hot, not enough attention….)

Flowers through the season, adding a colour happy colour to the salad mix after being appreciated for their service in the garden. Enjoying and being thankful for the diversity of our garden offerings to share with locals and trade for what we value.

produce, Uncategorized

Diversity on the dinner plate

In this day and age many rush, rush, rush and stick with the familiar. Apparently approximately 100 plants supply 90 % of our diets ! So when harvesting for a customer, I was mindful to make sure they had a decent cross section of what’s currently available in our seasonal garden. Produce from 15 plants at a quick glance, and all (bar one) you could eat raw. (Edamame are bested boiled/ steamed for 5 minutes before popping the beans out of their pods and into the mouth).

Herbs are a wonderful way of enhancing a meal, bringing seasonality to the fore. Basil all through summer (you can freeze your surplus pesto), chilli for waking up the tastebuds. A combo lettuce and herby salad only needs the lightest of vinaigrettes so the flavours are not swamped. And texture ! Give your mouth a party and wake up those tastebuds.

Don’t forget the ‘marginal’. Once you’ve juiced your fruit, zest that lime. You can add the nutritious and flavoursome slivers of the outer to sauces, meals or dehydrated and used with a sugar or salt. Watermelon rind can be pickled and enjoyed in the next round of salads once the fruit has long ago been gobbled up.

Make sure you make the most of your chemical free produce and be inspired by variety.IMG_8832.jpg