At the start of this year, I had a list. A list of books to write. This list got re-arranged and the Peace Novella Series bloomed and blossomed to take shape. That project is very near a final completion; my novella is now on pre-order and will come to fruition mid-January.
This means that I can now resume ruminating on my to-do list. I have spent the last two weeks looking at notebooks and folders, trying to conjure up things. It is painful, when you sit there for forty minutes looking at your handwriting and you can’t see a single solitary thing in your minds eye.
What is the use, if you just can’t? What if in that particular set of pages, that universe isn’t materialising?
There is no point in defying the laws of physics and trying to make something out of nothing. Especially, when I already have something that is started.
Eleven months ago, I stashed away the idea of writing another gardening/cookbook. It didn’t feel right, there was nothing in the tank. I couldn’t settle on what to do and how; I wasn’t sure as to what I could offer and whether it was of any use.
Then I drove to work this morning.
I had Maroon5’s Red Pill Blues on shuffle.
I remembered this folder, this idea.
Coming home, I had to go find it, and flick through. I felt zinging, I was trying to smile. There was half a plan all those months ago.
Time to let it roll.
There are many allotmenteers and GYO-ers across the country who have sown and grown Okra. I’ve yet to join that number, maybe when the poly tunnel is up and running. However, I did manage to grow some of the tomatoes that can used along side okra to cook up an Indian dish.
Okra are probably not the first thing to come to mind when you think of Indian food. They are however fairly straight forward to cook up. You can either chop or slice them, and Okra do have a tendency to be sticky and a bit like wall paper paste when handled too much.
The ones in this dish were sliced and then added to the base. As usual, the base is onions, garlic and ginger which is sauteed with cumin in olive oil and butter. I added about six home grown Roma and Marmande tomatoes before adding spices and salt; may have added too much salt today, but you can also throw in a new potato or too to help take it away.
Make sure you keep an eye on the okra, and add some water. This will prevent them from burning and allow steam to cook through. Stir too much, and you may end up with a mush; not enough, and you will have Okra welded to the bottom of the pan.
There are two parts to this blog post. The first involves the stash of home brewed wine that is developing rather nicely.
Ready and waiting
Today, I have bottled up a batch of Rhubarb and currant wine. This has been lingering for sometime and was brewed in August last year. One of many different varieties, the batch was racked off into small bottles, wrapped up and stowed away. When bottled, it was actually transparent-you could see right through it, and there was little or no sediment left behind. Like all the others, this batch has been wrapped up in brown paper so that it doesn’t fade. I have taken a quick inventory, and we do have something of a stash developing. To date, we have bottled up:
- Strawberry wine
- Blackberry, plum and currant
- Rhubarb and Currant
There is apple wine, blackberry and mixed berry and Rhubarb and goosebery left to do later in the year.
Most of the wine is transparent on racking, and you can see right through it. It is only through repeated racking that you get wine that is completely see through whilst keeping it’s natural colour. As the wines are so varied, they will need to be stored and allowed to mature sufficiently. I have to say though, that the blackberry ones are a rather nice claret colour that does look rather proper! There id definitely more than one way to preserve alloment produce, and Petal plonk isn’t too bad at all.
That’s the home brew developments today. Then come the mooli pods. Mama F has found some Mooli pods-these are seed pods from bolted radiishes-in the freezer.
Very simple to make, Mama F created a sauteed base of onions, garlic and ginger before adding the mooli pods, tomatoes and potatoes. We might not have got any radishes, but the seed pods are edible and you can see use the produce that you do get quite effectively.
When you have radishes that bolt, you get seed pods. Or Moongreh as they are known in our house. Moongreh, or Mooli pods as I call them, could also be dried and you might want to save the seeds for next year. You could also eat them.
Eating them is fun, and one of the most vivid memories from my childhood. In the back garden, my paternal grandmother would occasionally sow mooli-that’s the other name for Japanese radish-however, these would bolt given the rather erratic nature of British Summer. When they would bolt, you would get a flush of white flowers that would dry off and leave behind these short fat, sometimes pointy seedpods. Seeds pods, that a child could snap off as they played and munch on quite happily whilst giggling at their peppery flavour.
And boy are they peppery. Just like a radish, each bite is a burst that does rather blow away the cobwebs.
You can munch on them, straight from the plant; you can also curry them. Crushed mooli pods combined with potatoes are actually quite nice!
Okay, the preserving pan has been sat idle for a while; the last batch of preserve was made in August. This close to Christmas, I might have made a few more bits and pieces. Alas, the mojo has been a bit adrift.
The last batch that we made was ‘Oberon’s relish’ which involve apples, mint and green tomato. This has all now gone to loving homes, so I thought about doing some experimenting. There were some plot grown scotch bonnets that need to be used, and I also harvested a fair bit of mint from the allotment. Home grown garlic was also used to form the base of the chutney.
an assortment of spices
scotch bonnets and mint ready to go
You can see the youtube video here.
It does take time to prepare all of the ingredients; lots was chopped up before it could all get combined. Patience is required when cooking, to ensure that all of the flavours infuse and nothing burns. You really don’t want to be scrubbing the bottom of the preserving pan when burned stuff has welded itself there.
At the moment, the chutney is going to be very intense and quite fiery. Hopefully, it will mellow for a while before it can be tasted.
It will be soon that time of year again, where we cannot move for Pumpkins. There are two of our-well, Mama F’s-that are waiting in the wings to meet their merry end. In the mean time though, you may have a few allotment squashes hanging around that need to meet their end.
There were a few round courgettes that were floating around looking rather sorry for themselves. Mama F has decided to make a curry type dish with them, and I just happen to be in the vicinity to catch it on film.
You can also view the clip here.
The recipe is simple enough. Onions, garlic and ginger were sauteed in a pan with some cumin. Ma then added spices to these, and cooked them through to infuse the flavour. She also added Punjabi Wadi-these are made of urid dahl and are effectively dried spiced dumplings-a bit like a bollywood oxo cube, just a bit grittier. These are spiced, and give a little more depth to the dish.
Once that base of the mixture is cooked through, chopped squashes were added. They were already in water, so there was no need to add extra. Allow this to all cook through, under cover so as to allow steam to cook the squashes through. The dish is done when the squash is tender, but not too squishy or mushy.
Depending on how coarse and stringy the squash is, this will influence how long you cook it for. Don’t forget to stir, otherwise it will burn. Keep it all on a moderate heat, just to make sure; this also allows the water to be soaked up.
You can also view the second clip here.
Sometimes, typing up things only gets you so far! Thought I might try and make some videos of plot produce and provide a different dimension. You’ll have to forgive the rambling and wobbly camera work.
Squashes and beans can be really very prolific on the plot, and you soon run out of ideas as to what you can do with them. You could stuff the marrows and patty pans, or cook them them as a curry. Yep, sauteed with some onions, garlic and ginger, you can make a really simple Indian inspired dish. It is up to you how spicy you make it-and if you have some home grown chillies, you can add these!-maybe even add some home grown potatoes.
Squash and beans you tube link.
We had a spot of drama with the tomatoes this year. From not thinking that they would be productive, to quite a few green tomatoes. These were all removed from the vines as dreaded blight appeared and left to ripen. There was soup made at one point, in efforts to use them all up. Tomatoes can be use as the basis of many Indian dishes. Once you have made a tarka base, you can add fresh tomatoes to form a gravy base that gives the dish body and helps to infuse the flavours that you are cooking with.
Tomatoes and squashes you tube link.
Compared to previous years, the plot has produced quite a few chillies and across different varieties. Some have been quite mild and used in Mama F’s, others are bit a more potent. These more potent varieties make really nice chilli jam! Unlike traditional jam, this type doesn’t have to set or wobble; it only has to gloop. This is really simple to make and depending on how hot or sweet you want it, you can moderate this by using different chillies.
Chilli Jam you tube link
sowgroweat Cover for paperback
Both copies of the second book are now online and available to buy. You can click on the images on the right hand side to get yourself a copy.
Traditionally, we have had a lamb roast dinner on Easter Sunday. The trend was bucked a little this year, as lamb in question was curried.
You can see the youtube version here.
The home grown element is the dried mint from the allotment. There was an abundance last year, and mum dried it so that she could use it in her kitchen. The fenugreek might be shop bought-we’ve finally run out of the home grown stuff, but plans are afoot to sow and grow more this year-but the mint is the genuine article. There a whole host of different varieties that Mum has collected, so that jar contains several different ones.
And here is Part two of the recipe.
Lamb does take time to cook, and everyone does have their own preferences. Slow cooking tenderises the otherwise quite tough meat and allows the flavours to become deeper.
Today, after much deliberation; Mum announced ‘Punam, I have sacrificed your pumpkin!”
The pumpkin in question was actually a squash, and it is called a honey bear squash. Having been sacrificed, we then had to cook the thing. So we did.
This is the link for the first part, a quick dash through the recipe.
It actually didn’t take too long to tenderise the squash and mum even added some frozen home grown fenugreek.
There is an alternative link here for when it had cooked through.