Sunday, 21 March 2010

Nature's bounty

Don’t you just love this time of year? I have been reading Victor’s blog with him talking about the huge amount of tomatoes he has been harvesting recently. I’ve heard the girls at work all raving about the crazy tomato and zucchini season it’s been this year. My Nellie, 4 weeks ago, planted out a selection of salad greens, spring onions, coriander, basil, leeks, spinach, carrots etc – and all of it has blossomed within that 4 weeks, and is running riot. It’s like The Day of the Triffids at Nellies!

Hill St Grocers had red capsis on special the other day for 3 (huge ones) for $2.99, so naturally I couldn’t let that rare special go unheeded, so bought 6 of the beauties.

Naturally I have been on the receiving end of much donated fresh produce, and today, yet again, I scored big time! Went to visit one of my Thai girlfriends, and, boy do those girls have green thumbs! I came away with three supermarket bags exploding with spinach leaves, vietnamese mint (pictured above in the vase), spring onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, snow peas, parsley, coriander and basil.

Which all automatically (when I arrive home) leads to a kitchen frenzy of “what the hell do I do with all this beautiful fresh produce NOW?”

The spinach leaves have all been washed then blanched in boiling water, and are ready to be a Spanakopita.
The parsley is washed and ready for inclusion in tabbouleh.
The tomatoes are simmering along with basil, onions, garlic and some parsley and will be a magnificent passata.
The red capsis are in the oven roasting, after which I will skin them and use them in a lovely red capsi/chilli sauce I have been wanting to make for years.

But – what can I do with 8 cucumbers? I could pickle them, but am nearly out of jars. Not sure, but if push comes to shove, I’ll take them to work – surely someone will steal them, or volunteer to take one or two.

Meanwhile I’ll look back on this time of plenty, when the snow is capping Mt Wellington, and proudly make a large vat of spaghetti bolognaise, and dream about sun, and warmth, and pray for summer to arrive, again!


Christina said...

It's lovely isn't it Rita.
Last weekend I made tomato sauce with tomatoes from our garden and onions from my mates farm.
I love homemade tomato sauce and used to have to rely on the market at Woodbridge Hall for my supply.
Having made a heap last year very successfully, I hopefully have enough for another year. Next week with more tomatoes coming it's time for tomato chutney, Mum's recipe of course.
There is something just so satisfying with growing your own produce.
In our back yard we have a bay tree, lime, kaffir lime, lemon, ruby grapefruit, olive tree and passionfruit vine, rhubarb and horseradish.
Also a massive herb garden along with at the moment, pumpkins, strawberries, chilli, and tomatoes. Earlier in the year we dug up our first crop of spuds and picked our first corn cobs. MMMM. Bliss!
Not sure what to do with your cucumbers except for pickle Rita, but I'll make sure to grab you some more quince if you'd like, when we catch up in April. They should be ready by then.

Tassiegal said...

It must be the weather. I spent this afternoon pickling some cherries that I wanted to save but hadnt got around to eating, as well as halving the tomato relish recipe they had in the Mercury the other day and starting the prep for that. The cherries were from the farmers market, and most of the tomatoes were from my garden, supplimented slightly with some from the lovely italian man at the farmers market. The pickling sauce for the cherries tastes amazing, and I dont know if I will be able to wait the 6 weeks recommended before I eat them.

As for cucumbers - what about making taziki and freezing it?

Christina said...

Hey Tassiegal, I'd love your recipe for the pickled cherries. I love them.
Don't know about freezing tzatziki though. Not sure that yoghurt freezes so well. Goes a bit watery.
The recipes in the Mockery, as it has become lovingly known by some, for relish was a lot like my Mums too.
I love it but not so much the smell that seems to linger for days. But I'm determined to make my own this year instead of relying om my Mum. Can already taste it on warm toast. Mmmmm.

ut si said...

me too for pickled cherry recipe...
Anyone know someone who grows horseradish?

Rita said...

Colette - Christina just said she has horseradish growing!
Girls - I made the most stunning pickled cherries this year....
1 lb cherries
1 1/2 cups red vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
a few peppercorns
2 cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
grated rind of 1 lemon.
Bring all the above to the boil. Put the cherries into sterilised bottles then pour the hot liquid over the cherries. Leave a small gap at the top of the jar. Seal and leave for at least 4 weeks.
I was gobsmacked when I tasted my cherries after a few weeks. Didn't know I was so talented!

Victor said...

I am new in this game, using own produce and jarring them. Okay, so all my other tomatoes can be made into passata. What is a good recipe? I don't have basil or parsley. Do I slowly boil all my tomatoes, skin and deseed them? I have a few tomatoes left to pick for this season. Then, need to redo my vege patch. Fence badly squashed by wallaby.

Rita said...

Everyone has their preferred recipe Victor, so please yourself with what you use/do - but I generally de-skin the tomatoes by putting them in my large s/s mixing bowl and pouring boiling water over them. The skin comes off easily after that. I don't bother with de-seeding, as I'm happy with seeds in my sauce or chutney. If I hadn't had so much fresh basil I wouldn't have used it either. I just use what I've got - which is generally onions, lots of garlic, and fresh herbs from my garden (tarragon or thyme, or sage - whatever), red wine vinegar, and that little tablespoon of sugar (as we all know that any tomoato-based dish or sauce loves that touch of sugar to bring out the full tomato-ey flavour!).
I simmer it slowly, like a witches brew, for around 90 mins, then bottle while hot. Sometimes I add red chilli if I want it hotter. Depends how I feel. My rule is that it's MY sauce/passata/chutney (whatever) so whatever works for me is what I do.
And if you stuff it up at the time of cooking, you can always rectify that mistake when you cook something with it later by adding something else to disguise your stuff-up!

The Passionate Gardener said...

Finally a blog worth reading. This is what it should be about - the celebration of food and life, not a vitriolic restaurant slaggfest. Well done and more of it I say.

Rita said...

Thanks Passionate Gardener - we don't always slag restaurants off. We love food and food products, and discuss anything and everything around those subjects. Please join in any time. You sound like you're another person who genuinely cares about their food.

Victor said...

Hey thanks Rita. That is so simple. I will definitely have a crack at making my own passata now, with whatever that is left of my tomatoes.

bri said...

You could try a thai-style cucumber soup, which could be frozen if you don't quite feel like soup yet? (Aussies tend to be more seasonal with their soups than Thais!)

Tassiegal said...

The pickled cherry recipe came from here -

I 3rded the mixture as I only have 335g of cherries. I also didnt have enough white wine vingegar, so added verjuice from Stony Rise and Sherry Vinegar to make up the amount. My black peppercorns ended up being ground black peppercorns as I couldnt get the bloody top off the grinder!!
That filled 2 small clean rillette containers and I think it was a 150ml preserving jar from chicken feed.
Next experiement may be pickled chillies using my bosses chillies. Also want to see if my mum has my adopted Grandfathers marmalade reciepe for later in the year....
Have already had little experiments with rhubarb and vanilla jam - which is good if not exceedingly rich and sweet. Dont ask for the reciepe as it was very much chuck/cook/taste!!!

Christine, the relish is definately an experiement, and I figured the Muckery was a good a place to start as any. I want to try to make the plum relish they had as well - thats probably the job for this weekend after work.

Anonymous said...

Some industry gossip for you:

The Bay Hotel Bar and Grill
(Formerly trading as RJP Properties PTY LTD)

ARE bankrupt.

The Passionate Gardener said...

Thank you Rita, Yes I do enjoy food, particularly the nuturing and growing of it for culinary or vinous use. I have been reading this blog for some time now and never felt the need to comment - just enjoyed the discussion. But with recent events I feel maybe harm is been done to innocent people just trying to eek a living in a notoriously hard industry. Times are tough in restaurant world, you only need look at how many businesses have gone under this year. With new players on the scene now and in the next few months it does not bode well for many. Some may say 'well the bad ones deserve to go', but they also employee people who have families and mortgages too. Everyone deserves a break. If I don't like a restaurant I simply wont go back. Voting with my feet (and wallet) is the best way I feel.

I'm not in the industry but know and am close to many who are, so these are merly casual observations.

Once again it is pleasing to see people talking about food - not disecting dining experiences. Meals should be about sharing each others company, enjoying a favourite dish and for those who do, a good glass of something.

Now where did I put my watering can?