a frozen morning

August 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

Family visits, the old farm I grew up on, to wake up one morning, a frozen landscape, the bright highland dawn strong with altitude, playing its tones on the frozen webs of the arachnids.

jerusalem artichoke and leek soup

July 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Its cold again. Winds carrying a deep bite. The chill sinking into all the corners of the city, making its way up my street, into my house and crawling up through my toes and fingertips.  Still, not so bad that it can’t be fixed with a steaming bowl of soup, a hot water bottle tied to my kidneys and a woolen blanket wrapped around my waist. It does require a waddle rather than a walk, but somehow the heater alternative is only reserved for very special occasions. A hard-line habit, that I’m telling you, a part of me is looking forward to the day I grow out of.

But winter also comes with so many wonderful and soothing vegetables. I talked about kale before – with its leaves of grandma skin. And in following that thought, its only fair I offer you a recipe from the wizened old Jerusalem artichoke – wrinkled like grandpa memories.

Simple and good, a bowl of this soup on a cold winters day is sure to make you delighted! And like all the best recipes, it starts with butter!

Ingredients
40 g butter
2 cloves garlic
1 large leek
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp nutmeg
600 g Jerusalem artichoke
200 g potatoes
750 ml stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C /390°F

Roast the artichokes and potatoes in the oven along with a dash of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste until cooked through (about 45 minutes).

Heat the butter in a large saucepan, add the garlic and leek. Fry until soft.  Add all the remaining ingredients including the roasted vegetables and bring to the boil.  Puree. Add salt and pepper to taste and  serve with crusty bread.

planting garlic winter solstice

June 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

It is the darkest day of the year today, the winter solstice. I’m so happy that from here on in things are only going to get brighter.

A wonderful thing to do on the shortest day of the year is plant garlic. So much to look forward to as each clove is pushed an inch deep into the ground. By the summer solstice they will be ready to harvest and you will have fresh garlic all of your own.

How to grow garlic

You can take any old garlic that you have bought from the shop, especially those that have begun to sprout, however, I prefer to use organic and the lovely fragrant purple varieties.

Choose a sunny, well-drained position with good fertile soil. I like to plant garlic around the borders of the vegie garden as they are great at keeping away pests and disease.

Separate all the cloves, leave the skins on, and plant about 15 cm apart, an inch deep, or so the top/pointy part of the clove is 2 cm bellow the surface. Cover with soil and wait patiently, they will take quite a few months before they are ready.

Each clove will grow into a plant that will contain a single bulb that can itself have up to 20 cloves.

You will know your garlic is ripe to harvest when the tops of the plant begin to dry off and die. If you harvest them to early your bulbs will be small, too late and they will split. A general rule is, plant them on the shortest day of the year and harvest them on the longest.

Your garlic will then need to be hung to dry in a cool dark place for 1-2 weeks. You can then brush the dirt off. It is best not to wash them.

Here is one I snuck in about 2 weeks ago, they don’t take long to sprout.

the first of kale

May 30, 2011 § 3 Comments

Kale is in season!

Arriving in our bountiful vegie boxes fresh from Ceres Fair Food it brings a smile to my heart. There is something comforting about the grandma skin like leaves, green and dusty grey, krinkled like  a well worn landscape. Its tough and rubbery exterior is deceiving. When cooked its facade melts as it turns deep green, softly crunchy and tangy.

Here is how I ate my first winter kale.

To start with, I took some labna, which you can make by following the recipe in my last post, and rolled it into balls.

I mixed together some paprika, rosemary, salt and garlic.

I added olive oil and dipped each ball.

I washed the kale, removed the stalks and chopped it roughly.

I placed the kale in a fry pan with more garlic, some butter and a little olive oil and cooked it until just wilted.

Then I popped it on some crusty toasted bread along with the labna.

And I ate it all up.

It was delicious.

Missing

May 24, 2011 § 3 Comments

It is this time, when my hands get cold and icy riding home through the Melbourne streets, that I think of Hobart, my home for 6 years. Most of all, I miss the mountain view hovering over the town. On cold days like this it might reveal itself bit by bit behind its blanket of mist, undressing and redressing, the clouds washing over from the west. The vertical dolerite organ pipes fronting the town between the wet sclerophyll and sub-alpine Eucalyptus the birthmark of Hobart to me.  I miss the horizons lost in Melbourne’s sprawl. The views beyond the houses to the wild rugged and lost landscapes. The easy escape out of town, up a mountain path or to a lost beach. The constant reminder of breathing and living nature, its quiet presence behind all our lives. I miss the empty detail.

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