Sunday, 27 May 2012

Rootin' Tootin' Good Times

Yellow and orange carrots, leeks and springonions
What with the arrival of colder temperatures, the garden harvests become leaner in the vegetable beds but root crops start to mature.  I have been harvesting my first carrots of the season, already a lot bigger than I thought they would be, plus Daikon Radishes.  These sneakily take root wherever Mike has wild birdseed feeding trays.  Foraging feathered friends apply the tactics of urban guerilla gardeners, sowing brassica and radish seeds as they fight for feeding space!  And we benefit with an amazing crops of accidental vegetables!  Great in soups and stews.

 Urban-Guerilla Bird Gardeners sow seeds of these Daikon Radishes
Last night I checked out the fridge - not much stored in there, so off into our garden market where I collected this odd clutch of veggies; zucchini rampicante, red chard and carrots from the weekend.  Adding in a potato, I managed to make a really yummy Indian dal and rice dish.  Easy-as.  Deliciously simple recipe and simply delicious!  So, especially for my old friend, Theresa (forgive me if I have published this before, it's a firm favourite in our house):

Odd assortment of surviving veggies make a good dal
Dal Tarkari
1 cup mung dal
8 cups water
3 tsp salt
2 bay leaves
1 stick cinnamon
Clean and wash dal, drain, combine all above and bring to boil.  Partially cover pot, lower to medium heat and cook for about 20 mins till dal grains are soft.  Remove any froth that collects on top.
1tspn tumeric
1Tbspn butter
2 cups chopped, assorted vegetables
Add these three ingredients and replace lid, cooking on lower heat till vegetables are tender.  Allow to simmer.
1Tbspn ghee
1 1/2 tspn cumin seeds
1/4 tspn crushed chillies
1 tspn grated fresh ginger
1/4 tspn asafetida (from Indian store)
1 Tbspn chopped fresh coriander or 1 tspn dried ground
Heat the ghee in a pan, toss in cumin seeds and crushed chillies. Add grated ginger, and asafetida and fry for a few seconds.  Swirl and tilt pan and pour seasoning into dal in one fell swoop.  Cover and allow seasonings to blend into dal for 5 mins.  Serve dal with rice and a wedge of lemon.

A good brew
My experiment of making hastened-apple cider vinegar, boosting the stakes by leaving a little vinegar in to quicken the next batch seems to be working.  Obviously helped by the fact that Mike is making us apple and carrot juice most mornings (buying 20kg organic seconds apples). A nice substitute to breakfast, drinking the live enzymes which reach the cells within 15 mins of ingestation.  Real raw, live nutrition. The apple cores are put to good use, creating a wonderful health elixir - ACV!  2 tspns in a glass of warm water and a spot of honey make a great evening drink.

Oscar juicer doing his thang - juicing for health and pleasure.
When we first built our current home 7 years ago, we couldn't really afford built-in cupboards, so we bought cheap and nasty laundry cupboards, which served our needs over the years.  We have recently decided to "upgrade" and purchased 2 similiar looking retired TV cabinets (which everyone seems to be getting rid of for flat screen LCD TV's).  Our score.  We managed to purchase one online for $150 and the other for the high price of $60!  The plan was to add a rail inside the cupboard which would have housed the fat-as TV's for hanging space.  Well, nice idea, but in reality, not enough space for hanging clothes.  So our newly installed TV cabinets look fantastic, but we have to do away with any thought of nicely hung, crease-free clothes.  Oh well, could have been worse!  The crazy thing is that although the cupboards are slightly different, I bought them for their similarities.  On arrival, one coming from Auckland, the other from Wellington, we discovered a little emblem at the bottom - they are both made in the same factory!!  How's that for co-incidence?

Fairy Apple Jelly
have made the first batch of crab apple jelly from left over crab apples which were donated to our kindergarten by a kindly neighbour.  Never saw them before and not sure why they are called crab apples, they look like miniature apples - a more apt name would be fairy apples.  We made a batch at kindergarten and then I took the rest home to repeat the experience, so chuffed by the success of the jelly-making experience at kindergarten.  I have made heaps of jams before - simplest jam recipe is to add a cup of sugar to a cup of fruit and boil until setting point is reached (I use organic golden sugar, and try to use 3/4 cup sugar to 1 cup fruit).
I thought jelly-making was going to prove to be difficult but no-siree!  Easy-as!  The crab apples are halved, topped up with water to just cover, then boiled furiously for 20 mins.  Then all is packed into a muslin bag and hung up to sieve the liquid from the pulp.  The most difficult thing is to hang it somewhere and catch all the liquid.  My efforts were accidents waiting to happen - a real balancing act. Then one adds 1 cup of sugar to each cup of juice and this is then boiled until setting point is reached.  Easy Peasy.

The final and last of the green olives have been herbed, brined and bottled.  Look great!  Hope they taste as good once they are opened.  Sob!!  Will have to wait 3 months before we can taste - no wonder olives are expensive!  It's a labour-intensive, waiting game!!
I made our first pumpkin soup the other night - wow!  Few condiments, little salt, nothing more than pumpkin, water and  half a jar of coconut milk.  Buzzed till smooth with a hand blender and Mwah!  Stunning.

Fairy Apple Jelly

Final batch of green olives bottled and awaiting maturation.

Not sure what this pumpkin is called, as it comes from seed I have collected
over the years but is is bright orange, with a greyish green skin.  A fully realised
flavour.  Beaut!

Our wonderful helpers who arrived to help us make sense of the chaos!
So with help arriving in the form of 2 wonderful Irish folk, we set about making good use of all the good weather - icy mornings and evenings but stunning, sunny days.  Long may they last!  I have a list of things to do................