Sunday, April 24, 2011

works in progress 3: planting

In the house of pesky illness, the kitchen has been rather underutilized of late. Oh local takeaways let me count the ways - tom yum, curry laksa, bean curd and vegetables....

Fortunately raising seedlings only requires a warm spot and a bit of water every couple of days. The perfect hobby for a convalescent.

In a sunny spot in the shed the second lot of spring onion seedlings are coming along and the coriander is sprouting. Haven't given up on the parsley yet, I've been told it takes a while to burst into life.

Once the seedlings have got a little growth pop directly into the earth, cardboard and all.

Have bought some cos lettuce, black cabbage and rainbow chard seedlings ready to be planted. Just need a wee lie down first.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

works in progress 2: garden ready to go

Last weekend, just before the wet stuff fell in bucket loads from the sky, we rebuilt the itty-bitty inner city garden bed.

It took half a truck of mixed mushroom and organic compost, two people and a couple of shovels, to load 50-odd wheel barrows full of the lovely compost to rebuild the depleted bed.

An hour or two later, nicely topped with 4 bales of lucerne, we could sit back and admire the work.

(yes I really will cover the blue board one day, I prefer to garden/cook/eat than undertake DIY projects)

Some of the strawberries went straight back in but stage two of planting will hopefully get done over easter. I have a well established cardamom that will sit in that hard to reach middle spot, atop a sadly growing cat cemetery.

Meanwhile the seed raising experiment is having some success a mere week after starting. The spring onions have sprouted and almost ready to go into the ground. Then I'll start another batch, to stagger the crop. Still waiting for the parsley and coriander to show signs of life but I have faith they'll do their job.

Has anyone grown turmeric? Some uneaten tubers have sprouted in the bowl in the kitchen. Do they grow as big as ginger? Not sure the little patch can take it but I might give it a go.

Next silverbeet (‘cos it’s nutritious, delicious and foolproof to grow), lettuces and the odd brassica.

Speaking of gardens. Take 12 minutes and watch this delightful video about gardening and life.

This woman is amazing. Not sure when the piece was made but considering she was born in the 1880's I'm pretty sure it was shot on film. I loved the calming muted colours and clarity of birdsong throughout.

Parts of this originally posted elsewhere.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

kitchen alchemy: preserved green chilies

What to do with one hundred odd fiery green chilies prematurely plucked from the garden?

This year's chili plant is producing hot as hell, small curly beasts. Sadly it's been exiled from the garden bed for routine maintenance and I've been left with the aforementioned bowl of green firecrackers.

Last autumn I used Christina's recipe to preserve the last of the season's red chilies. The jar has seen me through the winter, dipping into it whenever a recipe calls for fresh chili. Though now I look for the link I cannot find it, aint that always the way. No problem, it's a simple technique and I'd even scrawled the ingredients on the label.

On the jar I'd written:
Very hot chilies

And folks - that's about as complex as this recipe needs to be. No need for precise measurements and you can even skip the garlic if you like. The most important thing to remember is to keep the mixture covered in vinegar.

Chilies preserved in vinegar

Step 1: Wash and towel dry the fresh chiles.
Step 2: Cut off stalks and discard any damaged fruit.
Step 3: In a small (or large if you're doing a big batch) food processor add the chilies, a few peeled cloves of garlic and a teaspoon.

Add a tablespoon or two of vinegar and blend.

Step 4: Decant into a clean air tight jar, top with vinegar and keep refridgerated.

When your recipe calls for chili, just grab a spoon and add straight from the jar. No slicing, dicing or painful chili-on-the-finger accidents!

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Friday, April 08, 2011

works in progress

How can you not love autumn? After a sodden summer, we're being treated to balmy days with sun aplenty. Even after nightfall the warmth has pervaded, into golden evenings.

Yesterday we ordered a couple of cubic metres of compost to build up the garden bed, as it's dropped a good 30 cm since we first built in. In preparation for the arrival it meant an afternoon of pulling out the disappointing tomato crop and transplanting any surviving herbs and strawberry plants. Awful timing all round. The strawberries had just begun shooting off runners and the lovely hot chili plant was in full production. Who knows if they'll survive the disruption.

A quick pruning landed a bowl of (mostly) green chilies, to either be preserved in vinegar or whipped into a green harissa paste.

I also started raising some seedlings. Will see if this summer's seed saving experiment worked. With luck these toilet rolls will sprout spring onions, parsley and coriander...if I remember to water them.

How does your garden grow?

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Sunday, April 03, 2011

lunch - one that got away

Last time I ate at Ume I arrived too late for my favourite scattered sushi and reverted to my previous lunch order of vegetable tempura.

As the previous post mentioned I find this way too much food to get through but skipping the rice makes it a little easier. Just found on old iphone shot of aforementioned meal.

The vegetable tempura bento: Miso soup, 5 pieces of freshly fried vegetable tempura, 2 cubes tofu, carrot/mayo based salad, 1 vegetarian nori roll, rice and dipping sauce. The photo doesn't do it justice, it's way bigger than it looks.

Still on the look out for CBD lunchtime haunts that are pescatarian/vego friendly, filling enough to get me through to a late finish at work and not sandwich based.

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