Us humans might not have enjoyed the recent heatwave, but the chillies certainly have.
This year has been a big year for me, when it comes to my chilli plants. For one, I actually have some! After such a long time away from meaningful growing. I did sow and grow some plants. There are less than a dozen, but these are tall, bushy and as you can see abundant!
It would appear that this is the most successful season for chillies; far exceeding the six that I managed to grow in the hot, heady days of 2009. That was the year I started experimenting with seeds and started my GYO journey. I’ve not had much success since then when it comes to good cropping chillies.
With the warm weather, I’ve been picking chillies twice a week. The most that I’ve picked has been about a dozen. If you think about it, that many would cost you about a quid in the supermarket. These are the most complex variety; this are rather straight forward cayennnes. It’s a big deal for me, to have an abundant crop and to be able to enjoy the fruits. My sister’s been given some, her mother-in-law too; Mama F’s using them as they come for bits and pieces in the kitchen.
Above all, this experience has been rather revitalising. I’ve really enjoyed fussing over my chilli plants and making sure that they are looked after. Especially as there are only tomatoes and soft fruit on the plot. I need to develop a better routine for the plot, to get more of the soft fruit harvested.
There is a joy in having vibrant, happy chilli plants. I do hope they keep going for a while. I’ve never over-wintered them, and the latest I get a crop is September. I will continue to nurture them; they’ve certainly nurtured me.
April 2016 saw the publication of Sow, Grow and Eat AKA the green book. This was a book that was actually quite quick on the heels of Plant Pot tales-the yellow book. As such, there was a similar format. The first third is about the allotment, the different lessons learned and a continuation of what was recorded in the yellow book. The rest of the book concentrated on recipes and what could be done with allotment produce.
The green book was borne out of my experimentation with a preserving pan. I had made jams, jellies, chutneys and pickles. These were shared with friends, family as well as colleagues. It was interesting to think about what could go into a preserve to make extra-ordinary, to make something that stood out from what you find in a supermarket.
There are a few recipes that are actually dedicated, are in honour of colleagues and friends. A couple, come from the physics department and an attempt to be as creative as possible.
As with the yellow book, I tried to make the recipes as simple as I could. I don’t believe in making things complicated, preventing people from accessing and then not enjoying anything. The recipes are all experiments though; all of them are open to interpretation, improvement and extension. From time to time, I do look through the book and remind myself of the different things that I have made. It does rather encourage me to try and extend the variety, to do more experiments once I have the plot up and running again.
I do believe that I will write another cook-book type of book. It is sat on my desk, waiting for me to flesh it out.
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.
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.