Wednesday, July 28

And relax....

Following two days racing around frantically trying to get my classroom ready for next year (with ever-increasing inefficiency) I've done a bit of weeding, I've baked a loaf of bread, and I've made an almost completely unnecessary list of items we mustn't forget to take to the Cambridge Folk Festival. I think I might now be ready to start enjoying my holiday.

Thank goodness. Gin and tonic, anybody?

In praise of pink things II

Another vegetable I don't exactly yearn for, I bought the beetroot seed on the basis that a) it grows in shade b) it was 38p. I then proceeded to drop most of the packet when I was trying to sow it, so that far more got planted than I was planning. It has grown well enough under the mini fruit trees and the pink-ribbed leaves are pretty, and edible. I am told that when you have beetroot with leaves on you should remove the leaves as soon as possible as they draw moisture from the root. As you can see from the photo my beets are tiny (about 1.5 inches long). This may be due to the shade or it could be my desperation to pull them up and see what they look like.

A couple of weekends ago I mentioned the beetroot to P's mum. Her immediate reaction was 'You can make Prickley salad!' Cool name, I thought. The only thing I can actually remember from her list of ingredients is sultanas.

P did a bit of googling, and found a recipe which I proceeded to almost completely ignore, leading to the following:

Prickley Green Beetroot Salad*

1 raw beetroot, grated (or chopped small if you prefer to avoid the pink splatter factor)
a couple of delicious spring onions
a handful of sultanas
Chopped beetroot stalks (if available)
a slosh of vinegary salad dressing (I used half vinegar half oil: will try lemon juice another time.)
half a tsp cumin seeds

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and leave for 15 minutes for the sultanas to swell and the flavours to combine. I'd have served it with some fresh coriander on top, had I had any.

The earthy sweetness of the beetroot and sultanas are nicely balanced by the acidic dressing and spring onions. The cumin was a last minute impulse addition but I thought it worked really well.

*why on earth is it called prickley and green when it is neither?!

Sunday, July 25

In praise of pink things

Let's get something clear. I do not like spring onions. I hate the way that hours after eating spring onion I can still taste spring onion. I will expend a decent amount of energy extracting spring onion from any salad including this evil alium.

In which case it was foolish to plant them in the garden, but the vegetable strips at my local garden shop were on three for one and I wanted the golden courgettes having failed to get seed in time. I must've wanted those stupid round carrots, too. Don't waste your time on round carrots my friends; they are merely foolishly short carrots with no point.

Anyway, spring onions. I don't like them, but I bought some. I may have been seduced by them being bright pink, a colour that I used not to realise was my favourite. I planted a few in a window box, and a few amongst the strawberries and lettuce (I love polyculture: thank you Alys Fowler and your endearingly tussled hair).

A couple of weeks ago we pulled one. Oh my. These spring onions are delicious. They taste sort of like a super-charged chive, but the taste does not linger. They grew brilliantly in a window box: better than the ones in the ground (my neighbour reports that his spring onions grow better in a pot too), and they are pink!

A note for other (shop bought) spring-onion haters: if you griddle them they go soft and sweet and do not repeat. I would go so far as to say that cooked that way they are actually nice.

Friday, July 16

A funny thing happened on the way to the kitchen..

As we approach the end of term and the possibility that this blog will awaken from its lengthy slumber I present to you for your delectation a comedy carrot:

Exciting or what?

I have a few carrots in a pot this year, and they are doing far better than last years which never grew beyond 5cm long. They are a heritage variety and are supposed to be purple, which explains why this carrot has attractive pink legs. I did pull one the other day which was truly purple (and truly carrot shaped). They taste really good and I may make the effort next year to grow a useful amount of them. The only thing is that that would take up a large amount of space, which I don't really have.

This year's major success is lettuce. I've been trying to grow it for a few years and finally realised that they do best in the ground. Pots and gro-bags have only ever resulted in sad looking lettuce-ettes for me. We have been eating exclusively garden grown lettuce for a month or so now, and should be able to continue I hope throughout the summer. The only drawback to home grown lettuce is that the kitchen seems to be permanently dusted with soil from the roots, but this is a small price to pay for fantastically fresh and crispy lettuce.