June 27, 2010
Littlej wanted some money.
Oh, she already gets pocket money for various jobs around the house, but she wanted more. I don't believe in giving something for nothing, so we reached an agreement. She could have the vegetable garden.
I would provide the seeds, etc, but she had to plant, cultivate, weed, water and harvest all on her own with minimum nagging from me.
'This,' I thought, will teach her.'It'll be weeks before anything pops out the ground and is ready' I am considerate like that.
But littlej is just as stubborn...I mean patient as I.
Those seedlings were watered, aerated, and so closely loved that I'm surprised they survived at all, But survive they did, and flourished.
After just a brief dispute over 'size vs price' on zucchinis,the system worked surprisingly well. She grew, zucchinis of course, capsicums, corn, eggplants, cucumbers, chillies, beetroot, silverbeet, every type of tomato- big and small, and pumpkin.
The pumpkin vine grew and grew until I wondered if it was related to the magic beanstalk in the fairy tale. It grew over the shed, it grew over the lawn, it grew over the fence, it grew everything, but pumpkins.
Until..... standing on the veggie bed littlej looked over the fence and saw It. A Beautiful Pumpkin. From her vine. In the neighbours yard. Mocking her. That pumpkin haunted my daughter from then on. Every bucket of tomatoes- and there were many, every zucchini-and there were thousands, none of them satisfied that pumpkin sized hole in her soul.
I refused her request to steal it from our nice neighbours. After all, they had put it in a tyre and straw and were looking after it... . Anyway, it would be too obvious where it had gone, who else would just steal a pumpkin? I heard littlej dropping hints as the neighbours hung their washing,'That's a Big Pumpkin, I don't have any on MY side' I even heard her mumbling about that pumpkin in her sleep. Then, one day, it was gone.
At this point, I feel the need to point out that littlej does not like to eat pumpkin. She will choke down the obligatory 'you-must-eat-one-of-everything-on-your-plate) and will eat my homemade pumpkin soup, but that's it.
It was the principal of the thing.
As winter and frost settled in I thought we had finally heard the end of it. The vegetable beds are dormant, and the neighbourhood is hibernating. I have considerately not served pumpkin for several months as I had no wish to listen to the whinging....I mean, I was being a sensitive caring mother.
But today,TAA DAA!Our favourite neighbour at the door with our half of The Pumpkin. They were only waiting for it to dry enough to cut.(And yes, The Pumpkin is everything a pumpkin should be, firm and sweet) Oh happy day! Littlej was overcome. I hope she learnt her lesson in humble pumpkin pie, and love-thy-neighbour too.
So here it is, littlej's recipe for Pumpkin Soup
half a pumpkin, chopped into chunks
4 or 5 sprigs of rosemary (and some for garnishing)
1 large onion cut in half
200g speck or smokey bacon,in biggish pieces
A few cloves of garlic with skin left on
salt and pepper
500ml to 1lt of stock (you might need more if it's a big pumpkin)
250ml of soy or lactose free milk (I use UHT type as it's already heat stabilized)
1.Place pumpkin, speck, onion, garlic and rosemary on a baking tray
2. Drizzle with oil, salt and pepper, and scrunch up together
3. Bake at 180*/200* until pumpkin is soft. A few brown bits are good and will add flavour
4. Shake off hard crunchy rosemary
5.remove garlic from papery skin
6. Place pumpkin, garlic and speck in pot with stock and milk. Bring to a simmer
7. Blend with a stick/ hand blender until smooth.
8. Garnish with finely chopped rosemary and enjoy
So, readers, what vegetables do you love or loathe?