Green and Thrifty
Very green indeed this week - it is all about the garden. In the New Year I planted out my new vegie garden. Now look - eight weeks later, and we have actual vegies. All of these except the pumpkin were grown from seed, and the pumpkin I dug out of a friend's garden where they were rather prolific. From seed to plate in eight weeks. Gardening is just miraculous, isn't it?
So far from this garden we have eaten lettuce, basil, a couple of tiny beetroots that needed thinning, rocket and zucchinis. Yesterday I took a rather large zucchini inside. "Well, that one nearly got away," I remarked to Posy.
"I wish it had got away," said Posy darkly. Then she tiptoed to the back door with it. "Fly away zucchini, fly away, be free!"
But no such luck. The zucchini stayed. It got turned into ratatouille with its friends the tomatoes.
The children had a moment of great cheerfulness last week when I thought I had killed one of the zucchini plants. Our pool is dug into the hill above the vegie garden, and after a sweltering day of children dive-bombing into it I thought I would pop the hose into it for half an hour. That was about half past seven. Well, at 5am I sat bolt upright in bed and remembered the hose was still on. I rushed out to find that the automatic mechanism that is supposed to make the pool drain instead of overflow... wasn't. The pool had been overflowing for who knows how many hours, straight into the vegie garden. It is a salt water pool, somewhat diluted now of course, and two days later the zucchini plant crisped up and looked to be at death's door. The children thought it was hilarious that I had killed the zucchini, but I got the last laugh because this week it has bounced back. It LOVES a salt soaking, clearly. The beetroot leaves, however, are looking quite yellow. I should dig one up to see how it is faring, but I don't feel brave enough.. on the bright side, I won't have to add salt to any of the vegies..
In other food news, some of the apples are ready, and so are the pears. Today I stewed apples, pears and rhubarb together. Now, every time I mention rhubarb, I must again mention the most marvellous tip I discovered a couple of years ago. Adding a quarter of a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) to any rhubarb dish neutralizes the acidic taste of the rhubarb and greatly reduces the need to add sugar to it. Today I cut up about a litre of apples and pears and added six sticks of rhubarb, a quarter teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and vanilla and no sugar at all, and the sweetness of the apples and pears was all the dish needed.
I am also drying apples and pears for school lunch snacks, which I will have to hide from the hungry hordes, otherwise they mysteriously disappear. Sadly, due to my continuing nonchalance in regard to garden jobs, there is a lot of codlin moth damage in the apples and pears this year, MUST get on top of that next year. Every year when I stand in the kitchen for hours cutting around the grub damage in the fruit rather than being able to whiz through the job using my nifty apple slinky cutter, I curse my evil twin from the past spring who didn't spray white oil on the trees when they were in bud.
However, in a spirit of kindness to my future self who wants to eat lovely oranges from the baby orange trees, I did spray white oil on the orange trees to kill off the scale infestation that is plaguing them. If your citrus trees are covered in a fine black film that looks like soot, you have sooty mould, a fungus that proceeds from any number bugs that secrete a sweet, sticky subtance. Aphids, scale and some other bugs do this (notably a small white, annoying fly), whilst sucking the sap (or something.. not entirely sure) from your lovely, lovely citrus tree. Unchecked, the tree will start losing its leaves. Which a couple of my baby trees have. White oil is ridiculously easy and cheap to make, with only two, safe ingredients, and very effective. You can make up a jar that lasts for a year. Just do it!! Yes, I am really just talking to myself here. One day I will actually start paying attention to myself.
Tomatoes! I only have cherry tomatoes ripe here, but Cindy bought a couple of boxes of gorgeous ripe tomatoes from some local tomato-growing ladies, and dropped one off for me yesterday. Yes, I am now doing my vegie shopping by proxy and getting it delivered. Yes, it is a dream come true! And Cindy brought her new puppy to visit Posy and Benson-the-Wonder-Dog so altogether it was so far removed from your average supermarket shopping experience that it was like shopping on another planet. The planet where real food is grown by the people you buy it from, and distributed by friends and puppies. It is a planet I want to live on.
Today I started making passata, and have already worked my way through half this 12kg box. I will be trying two methods, roasting the tomatoes, which I tried today, and boiling them, which I will try tomorrow. After official taste tests I will let you know which is the yummiest...
My last food experiment for the weekend has been making dog food. Dog food is ridiculously expensive and ubiquitous, yet somehow dogs have survived as Man's Best Friend for thousands of years without kibble. So I found a book (at the library of course), read it through, and then decided to make up my own recipes after all, with what I had on hand. Today Benson-the-puppy-with-the-stomach-of-steel-who-will-eat-anything gobbled up Slow-Cooked Chicken Necks In Chicken Stock With Oatmeal and Fried Zucchini (yes, I know it really needs a snappier title).
I figure I have managed to keep four children alive and reasonably well fed for over twenty-one years with my home cooking, so why not a puppy as well? I mean dog kibble, really, what is it but highly processed food for the
Enough about me, how about you? Tell me about your green and thrifty week and your favourite dog food recipes.