October 17, 2012
In My Kitchen Garden
Slowly, ever so slowly, Spring is creeping into my garden
Canberra is a tricky place in Spring. Late frosts burn off early seedlings, and it's really not worth planting tender little lovelies until October.... until this year that is, when Winter returned with a vengeance last week leaving snow on our ranges and sad little spots where my veggie seedlings used to be before dying of frostbite.
Despite all this, there is some rustling in the undergrowth as a weekend of gorgeous sunshine has bought out the best of my rhubarb and my strawberries are covered in blossoms with the promise of fruits to come.
Would you like a tour?
Unfortunately everything is fenced off as much as possible due to a veggie loving German Shepherd :) There are also many wine barrels, pots and even old car tyres scattered around so I can take advantage of as much space as possible.
I don't aim to be totally self-sufficient with my garden, my arms are just not up to it I'm afraid. I certainly grow enough in the warmer months to stop us buying much, and then I process and freeze as much as I can for the rest of the year, but it's just to cold and frosty here to grow much over Winter at all.
Here are my three raised beds, I rotate the plants each year. At the moment there is some little lettuces, carrots, silverbeet, perennial spinach, leeks and cabbages hiding in them- plus little pea and bean seedlings at the base of the green arches.
What a beautiful cabbage indeed! They were very slow growing over winter, but just about ready to eat now
Various strawberries popping up all over the place
One of my many wine barrels. This one is planted out with a Green Tea Camellia with some ornamental kale and pansies at the base. I like to think that Kitchen gardens should be beautiful as well as useful, but everything out there is edible- just in case :)
Horseradish emerging after it's long winter nap
A blueberry plant and raspberry, with strawberries on the ground
The tiny tip of galangal! Hopefully it will like our climate and grow well over the hot months. I'm also planting ginger and turmeric..... it's worth a try anyway
Pots of potatoes and peanuts
Another barrel with a tiny cold climate Macadamia tree in the middle, surrounded by pretty pansies, and today's ingredient: Rhubarb. I have three other plants in the ground that are very generous and vigorous, but are sadly green stemmed.Yuck. I have solved my food fussiness by planting out these very red stemmed red beauties so I can mix the two together and overcome my colour issues
I also have growing:
Olive tree, kaffir lime tree, orange and lime grafted tree, lemon tree, finger lime tree, elder tree, carob tree, curry leaf tree, loganberry, blackberry, youngberry, asparagus, globe artichokes, garlic, giant garlic, celery, broccoli, kale, onions, leeks, jicama, rosemary, culinary lavender, rose, corriander, mint, basil, basilmint, laksa mint, chocolate mint, bay tree, curry bush, lemongrass, chives, calendula, parsley, pineapple sage, thyme, violets and violas. I think that's it? But of course I've only just started my Spring planting... there are all the veggies to go in yet!
The first rhubarb of the season, a mix of green and red stems. So many delicious choices, but I decided to make Pepperpot Fruits. I know I have teemed rhubarb and strawberries many times before, but they really do go so well together and are ready to pick at the same time- always a winner!
Nice bunch of Rhubarb
Couple of handfuls of Strawberries
1/4 cup White Sugar
1/4 cup liquid (juice/wine/water)
1/2 teaspoon Black Peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon Shichuan Peppercorns
Trim and tidy up the rhubarb
Slice large strawberries in half, but leave smaller ones whole
Mix fruits together and toss with the sugar so the lovely juices start to draw out of the fruit
Pretty little peppercorns
Place the two types of peppercorns into a small mortar and pestle, and grind until fairly fine
Pop the fruit, liquid and peppers into an oven proof dish and toss them all around to mix through well
Cover with foil, and bake at 180*C for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the fruit is cooked through without being smushy. Don't stir to check, instead stick a knife tip or fine skewer into a piece of rhubarb to see if it's done.
This is one of those desserts that is better served cold. The flavour of the pepper is a lovely back note to the sweetness of the berries and the earthiness of the rhubarb, giving a tingling hint of mystery to the dish.
It can be served simply with some (lactose free) cream or ice cream, or I actually like to serve little pots of it with a few lovely cheeses. The pepper helps it match well with the savoury without being overpowered by the sweet.
So Dear Readers, how is your Spring shaping up, and what do you have growing in your kitchen garden?