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Tag Archives: Vegetables

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These are some sort of tomato relative, according to my husband, Joe, who bought them earlier in the year. Joe loves to grow things in pots – he is not particularly enthusiastic about the rest of the garden – but every year he celebrates summer with a collection of more or less exotic vegetables bought as small plants and grown on in pots. This has been a great year for chillis (most of our meals have been pretty hot and spicy as a result, to the dismay of the children). But it is always touch and go whether the other vegetables are going to ripen up in time before the sun gets too low in the sky to flood the patio with heat. I don’t think these tomato relatives are going to make it – there are lots of flowers but not many of these beautiful green paper lanterns in which, apparently, the fruit will grow. I move the pots around the patio during the day, trying to keep them in pools of sunlight, but the heat has already gone out of the sun.

It has been a successful year in the garden. There have been several frustrating years when there was no time to garden, and hard winters killed off half the plants, leaving some real thugs and a few local weeds to dominate. This year I’ve managed to teach some of the thugs some manners, have restocked some of the more delicate perennials, and seen off some of the more difficult weeds. I am drawing up plans to bring the rest of the thugs to heel over the winter, and I have a lovely stock of echinacea raised from seed to move into the gaps left in their ranks. For the next year or two it seems my gardening will have to be military in flavour, described by words like “decimation” and “campaign”, but I hope it will become more gentle and administrative eventually.

I am reading “The Morville Hours” by Kathryn Swift and am feeling very inspired, even if my garden is very small and not at all remarkable.

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A few weeks ago I started an experiment: getting a box of vegetables delivered every week. It was in the nature of laying down a challenge to myself – could I cope with planning and cooking meals with whatever came in this week’s box, without ending up with a lot of mouldy unused veg.

So far it has been easier than I expected. I soon graduated to Abel and Cole boxes, which are pretty good quality and so far have not contained anything I didn’t instantly recognize. I have to admit that good quality veg makes the process a whole lot easier: it is more inspiring, more satisfying to cook, and there’s less of a scramble to use up items before they become completely inedible.

I would say that you need a certain amount of confidence as a cook to use a vegetable box. I tried one before as a young woman and couldn’t handle the pressure! You have to have a number of basic recipes up your sleeve – soups, rissottos, stir fries and so on – that will use just about any vegetable you can think of. I do prefer to go for very simple dishes, largely because I don’t often have time to get a lot of other ingredients bought in. Sometimes that means having the experience to just guess at what to do with a new vegetable – will it roast, and how long for, or can you stick it in the microwave, or will it go raw into a salad? Of course the internet does help! It’s amazing how much more confidence you have once you’ve watched a few video clips.

Results so far seem credible. This swede is about to be made into fritters to eat with fish. We are eating substantially more vegetables as a family. There is always salad to add to sandwiches when lunchboxes are being made. I am not, despite predictions, frazzled and running late with dinner every night. The only glut so far has been onions. So, cautiously, so far a success.

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