Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Man Food

I was using up some kidney beans for tea tonight and imagined making some kind of beany stew, lots of cubed vegetables, a few spices and so on. Fortunately, I have a good memory, a practiced 'reality checker' and a testosterone charged household behind me. I could see the inevitable follow on, a large dish of leftovers in the fridge that nobody would eat for a second time or a first; and it would eventually grow mould and be thrown out when the fridge began to smell enough to warrant the search.
What is top of the vege stakes at the minute, with 100% take-up is Kale. Be surprised because it is not a result of good parenting, just pure inclination.

What interests me are these little buds in the Kale 'armpits'. I haven't grown this green Kale before to know how it will end,  but they remind me of brussel sprouts. I was out of sync this year with everything; the winter stuff went in early and so did the Spring greens which are now nearly over so perhaps it is preparing to go to seed.
For my autumn clean-up around the fruit trees I chopped up the weeds and trimmings as mulch and banked them around the artichokes in particular. It felt like a good permaculture principle, saving my energy, and I expect it to both harbour slugs(bad) and keep off some of the effects of the frosts (good). Perhaps in spring I will need to rake it back to allow the ground to heat up and the birds in.

Moving along, the star of this photo is my new toy, the 3rd hand magimix off Trade Me. Cuisinart promise that their blades never need sharpening. It's true. Everything these days is getting chopped parsely because the blade chops things finely instead of bludgeoning them into a pulverised mess. The frosts are still only namby pamby, no ice on the window, frozen latches, frozen washing or lack of cold water in shower, and so I am still bringing in tomatoes to ripen in the hallway. These ones about to be baked with crumb topping, crumbs, tasty cheese, garlic, parsely and a little anchovy.
The beds in the tomato house are rock-hard for digging and watering hasn't really helped. If it was only me, and only a small space, I would experiment with swapping the tomatoes with the potatoes because potatoes leave the soil in beautiful condition. I know they are of the same family and disease prone, well you don't want to even whisper 'disease' in the vicinity but as I'm sure I've said before, Dirt Doctor in Kakanui follows one with the other with beautiful results (we have a strict segregation policy with each to their own house). Of course, just like children fighting, there is always a lot more to the story. The potato house here has not fared so well with the glass and is probably too cold for tomatoes now.

It's not a cast sheep, it's napping. They all were. Sheep and cows seem to like doing the same things together. They all gallop, they all eat, they all bleat, they all throw themselves down on the ground and take naps, all at the same time. It's sort of a collective Borg-like consciousness.


In case anybody was wondering, I made a Rose Elliot recipe with the beans. It included pasta and a tomato sauce and  had a delicious crumb/cheese topping. It was supposed to include lentils but I had a bit of leftover dhal (fridge clean out not fridge alert) which successfully blended without anybody noticing. Everybody ate it.
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Monday, June 6, 2011

Frost Nipped

After an unseasonably mild May, woke up 3rd of June to our first hard frost. By 3pm the temperature had only risen to 4.5degrees, cold enough to frost anyone's brass which was all right and proper for Queens Birthday week-end, time honoured week-end of the Brass Monkey.
Apparently there were plenty of tents over at Oterahua, the local hotels seem to do very well also. I can confirm that there is an age when only a comfortable bed, a hot shower, and a good coffee will do.

The weather has been a great boon for the gardener who was running at the back of the pack. That's me of course. I've got my own backyard in decent enough order now to take me into spring, which is the garden equivalent of being up to date on housework and free to turn my attention elsewhere; like the glasshouse for starters.

This is the Hopi pumpkin that only grew successfully under cover this year. It has a thinner flesh than the Australian Grey that we are so fond of; a really good flavour and texture makes up for that. Not mealy enough for soup, a baker or a roaster. 

I was really pleased with this bit of lawn patchwork. It's part of my master plan to keep the guys who cut our grass happy and the plan has also included pruning the fruit trees back hard so nobody has an eye poked out as they swoop by on the ride-on.  I had pushed the ornamental beds in which left a drop and a weed patch. The birds are feeding on the lavender heads (it's the fluff ball in the distance) so I can't cut it back yet. 

Can you just see there are still tomatoes on the vines, some of which are not bad and others are tasteless. The ground will have to be content with a dig-over this year, enough water to stop it drying out, and as much compost as I can find, hopefully under the debris in the bins.  I enjoy this sort of job which you can chip away at a bit at a time and intersperse with other things.

There was a good poem in the paper today by a woman with a lovely name, Waiata: Waiata Dawn Davies, aged 85, a retired teacher, mother of 8 sons, 22 grandchildren and she lives in a fishing crib at the mouth of the Waitaki River.
It could have been called 'Hindsight'.


At three score years and twenty-five
each new sunrise is expected
and every expectation now requires
enormous deeds of faith.

At night I set rolled oats to soak
for tomorrow's breakfast,
take meat from the freezer
for tomorrow's dinner
iron tomorrow's clothes.

And I tidy my bookshelves
just in case I don't wake up.
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