In Season in November

by Linda on November 10, 2014

This picture is from an “In Season” post from four years ago.  Oddly, considering how neglected my garden is at the moment, I’m harvesting pretty well the same lot.  This time of year is a season of the first of things and the last of things in my garden, as the winter plantings finally end and the first of the spring plantings start to bear. Today I stripped out all the remaining broad beans and the last of the peas for shelling, so I can feel some broad bean, pea, mint and lemon puree coming on.  There is lots of celery but it is starting to flower so not for much longer now.  The later rounds of broccoli are bearing main heads and the earlier rounds side shoots, but I’m expecting cabbage and web moths to arrive soonish.  They’ll finish off the chinese cabbages too.  The cavallo nero kale has been prolific all winter but it’s starting to get aphids now.

I still have bulk silver beet but all the earlier plantings are now running to seed.  All my parsley has run to seed, and I am now harvesting seed from coriander and dill too.  Rocket has run to seed, but the nasturtiums are rocketing along and providing that peppery-ness in salads.  Though I still have lots of lettuce, the number of varieties is going down.

I’ll have some Eureka lemons most of the year, but the bush lemons are finished and I’m picking the very last of the late season mandarins and grapefruits. The grape vines are laden and though the grapes will be a month or so yet, I’m using the leaves regularly.

I’ve stopped cutting asparagus for the year but just as the asparagus finish, I start cutting artichokes.  The new zucchini are getting to a good size to pick young fruit as well as flowers.  I picked the very first of the Corno de Toro capsicum today, a bit green still but there are lots more coming on.  The first of the season’s new potatoes - such a treat – along with baby cucumbers and the first of the squash.

I am also picking the first of the season’s fresh garlic - early, but then I planted early too.  Fresh, juicy garlic is a totally different thing to the dried up imports from China.  If you don’t grow your own, look out for fresh local garlic at Farmers Markets from now on.  It’s an experience!

With fruit, this is berry season – strawberries, blueberries, white and purple mulberries.  It doesn’t last long so I’m making the most of it.  Paw paws are still in bulk, and the white mulberries are laden this year.

So that’s what I’ll be basing my cooking around this month.

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rusks

Teo is eleven months old and everything gets the test: bite it, bang it, throw it.   First time I made these I made just a little batch thinking little baby, couple a day…

Two problems with this idea.  One is that, although he loves them,  most of Teo’s get thrown to the ducks or lost under the couch or used as a drumstick on the stereo speakers.  He has ultimate confidence in the infinite supply-line of grandma.  Two is that adults keep raiding the rusk jar.  I’m not admitting anything, but they do go rather well dipped in guacamole.

The Recipe:

Start the night before with feeding your sourdough starter:

To feed the starter, I take mine out of the fridge the night before, and mix

  • 1 cup of unbleached bakers flour,
  • 1 cup of water, and
  • 1 cup of starter.

Put half of it back in the jar in the fridge.  I am left with a bit over a cup of fed starter, to put in a bowl covered with a clean cloth on the kitchen bench for the night. By morning it should be frothy and alive looking.

In the morning:

Mix

  • The  fed sourdough starter
  • Enough wholemeal plain flour to make a bread dough (about a cup)
  • big pinch of salt

Mix to make a soft dough and knead very briefly, just enough to make a smooth ball. It’s hard to give exact instructions to this but it’s actually very easy to recognise a good dough by feel.  I add the flour slowly, stirring it in with a spatula, then as soon as I have something dough-like, I scrape it out onto a floured benchtop, sprinkle some flour on top and knead, adding just enough more flour to get rid of the stickiness.

Put a glug of oil in a bowl and swish the dough ball round in it to coat. I like using macadamia oil for this.  It has a mild sweet nutty flavour and good monounsaturated fats, and you don’t use a lot of it so it’s not too expensive. Leave  the dough sitting, covered with a clean tea towel, for five or six hours to rise.  How long will depend on how vigorous your starter is and how warm the day is but after a few hours, the dough will be doubled in size and springy.

Shape and bake

Flour your bench-top, tip the dough out and knead it again, just for a couple of minutes to knock it down.

Oil three or four biscuit trays.  Break off walnut sized pieces of dough and roll them between your hands into little logs.  They will expand a bit so make them a bit thinner than baby hand sized. Lay them on the trays and cover with the tea towel again and allow to prove for an hour or so.

Put them in a cold oven set to a moderately slow temperature – about 170ºC or 340°F or gas mark 3, or put them down low in an oven you have on for something else.  My oven is antique and slow at the best of times, but the idea is to cook them for an hour or so at a low temperature till they are just getting a bit of straw colour but not browned, and crisp through without being crunchy. Slow baking is the key.

If they are dry and crisp all the way through, they should store in a jar for several weeks.

I think.

Probably.

Can’t say we’ve tried it.

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Spicy Kale Pancake

by Linda on August 22, 2014

kale pancake

The blog is neglected, the house is neglected, the garden is neglected, but the kale keeps giving. Wonderfully prolific, resilient and long lived, my current favourite vegetable.

The Cavalo Nero I am harvesting now is last years. It survived through the summer – the cabbage moths attacked and most of the leaves along with the grubs went to the chooks – but it just kept producing more. It came into winter with plants a metre tall. It survived months with almost no rain. Our tanks got down to the minimum we save for firefighting with the prospect of an el Nino summer ahead and the leaves got a bit tough for salads or stir fries or chips but still fine for soups and stews.  The bower birds got hungry and got in and stripped the plants. Then last week we got some rain and the tender new leaves came on.

We’ve been eating it in some form or another several times a week – in soups and stews, in pakora and pesto, in kale rolls and lasagna, in stir fries and tempura, in saag and fu yung.  Half a dozen plants and several bunches of super vitamin packed greens every week for years.

These spicy kale pancakes are my current favourite breakfast.

The Recipe

Makes two  pancakes.

Mix together

  • half a cup of  wholemeal flour 
  • one egg
  • a desertspoon of fresh ginger grated
  • a desertspoon of fresh turmeric grated
  • a pinch of chili powder (more or less depending on how hot your chili is and how spicy your taste)
  • a teaspoon each of coriander and cummin powder (or substitute fresh coriander)
  • a pinch of cardamom powder
  • pinch salt

Add

  • a cup of shredded kale – leaves stripped off the central stem and chopped roughly but fairly fine,
  • a spring onion chopped fine, and
  • enough water to make a pancake-style batter.

Fry in oil in a heavy frypan, hot but not full-bore, for a couple of minutes on each side till golden.  Serve topped with cucumber raita and chutney, or you could go for plain yoghurt and (it sounds odd but it works) lime or cumquat marmalade.

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I Am Learning What Is Important In Life

August 15, 2014

My sister-in-law has a brain tumour.  My brother is losing the love of his life, his soulmate, his partner. How is it that we can spend so much life forgetting what is important? At times like this what matters – memories of moments lived wholly, people we love, children raised well, pieces of work that ring […]

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Winter Tomatoes

July 12, 2014

There was a good frost down the bottom of the hill this morning, but in my high, north facing garden, even this time of year we are getting a little handful of tomatoes a day. But this time of year it’s the tomatoes sun dried in the peak of summer that are the treasure.  They go […]

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Ful Medames without the Ful (or Lemony, Garlicy, Peppery Beans)

July 4, 2014

OK, so I know somebody is going to protest about the inauthenticity of this.  And the photo doesn’t help.  Ful Medames is an Egyptian dish made with ful, which are fava beans or broad beans.  I make a version with fresh broad beans often in late winter or spring when they are in season and […]

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Breakfast

June 28, 2014

My son is here for the weekend with some of his friends, so I get to do my favourite thing in the world and feed a mob of young urbanites. But they sleep in! So while I’m waiting, I thought I might give you a preview. First up, winter fruit – carambola, mandarins, grilled pink grapefruit, […]

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Contemplating Extinction

June 18, 2014

Spotted on my morning walk, a fine fat fellow looking very relaxed in a tree right next to our driveway.  I don’t think it is a tree we planted but the one right next to it is. Our daughter was given some tickets to Currumbin Wildlife Park on the Gold Coast a couple of weeks ago, […]

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Red Claw Pappardelle

June 12, 2014

I have to confess, this recipe has been in my drafts since Easter.  Mostly because I totally know most of you won’t have access to red claw and so right now you will be thinking mean things at me! But you could do red claw.  My son has them growing in an aquaculture tank in the […]

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