I am running out of containers

And it is a bit of a bother.

It seems as though I have been cooking for days on end – courgettes, tomatoes, peaches, apples and more. I have dried tomatoes and figs, stewed fruit, and I’ve even made Blackboy peach jam. Why would I do that? We don’t even eat jam, well, not very often. I have even pickled peaches which we haven’t tried yet and we have given away lots and lots of fruit and vegetables.

But there are only so many people who will wish to take away a bag of cucumbers. Again I mean. After I asked would they like a few cucumbers and the answer was yes, and I gave them a few, maybe a dozen or so. Next time the eyes glazed over when I offered cucumbers. I just didn’t have the strategy right, give a few and they will take more next time, now that would have been sensible wouldn’t it. Maybe I’ll do that next year, or maybe our Audrey (the cucumber vine which has delivered 250 plus cucumbers), will not reappear in our garden next spring.

IMG-20160318-WA0000Black Boy Peaches

But the biggest bother of all is containers, or lack there of, and of course the fact that I have still more cucumbers, figs, apples and peaches etc to process in one way or another.

My friends know that I have always shouted from the roof tops to anyone with half an ear listening that I simply don’t do desserts. My family has had to eat fresh fruit for dessert except on those rare occasions where a dessert really is required – maybe at Christmas or on a birthday or if we are entertaining.

But now – you guessed it. I will now have to be a creator of desserts. I have stewed apples and peaches and I must use them. I must. I must. I must.

So we have a freezer full of soups, sauces and stewed fruits. Cupboards with dried tomatoes and figs, a couple of jars of the pickled peaches and pots of jam.

And it is what we wanted when we came here to Miranda.

Yes it was.

Yes it really was.

I just didn’t realise how many containers I could need.

Some farmers don’t know what they are missing

We have a friendly farmer who feeds his lamb shanks to his dog. There is nothing wrong with that except that he has never actually cooked and eaten them himself.

We have invited him to partake and he says he will come for dinner as long as it is not lamb shanks. Life is too short to spend the time and energy on them when the dog loves them.

We continue to cook and eat lamb shanks as often as we can.

lamb shanks etc

This dish was a recipe from Michael Lee-Richards. The book is called “Cook”, and the recipe was more or less “Shank of lamb with red wine and gherkins”.

Mine was nearly this recipe created with capers not gherkins as I had these to be eaten before I needed to chuck them out.

So wine, onions, crushed garlic, lamb shanks, beef stock, paprika, salt and pepper, lemon juice, chopped lemon including skin, spelt flour, yoghurt, finely chopped bacon, capers – all cooked in a slow cooker and it was delicious and no you don’t need a recipe, just go with the flow with what you have and enjoy the slow cooked result.

Silly silly farmer – you missed out on a great meal again.

I served it with steamed courgette and green capsicum from our garden served hot and tossed with a dressing of parsley, orange and lemon juice, olive oil, cinnamon, coriander, white pepper – great and all of the above served with macaroni.

Michael Lee-Richards states that meals made with leftovers can be every bit as good as those laboured over in classical cuisine. I agree.

The capers, red wine, and bacon, where leftovers. All the vegetables, garlic and herbs were from our garden.

Life is good.

one days hard labour

What a day!

I had spent nearly all day sorting out all the fruit and vegetables gathered from our garden as well as those gathered locally.

These apples were gathered at the roadside near the beach towards the Miranda Seabird Centre. We had gone to check the status of the figs on a huge wild fig tree also fairly near the Seabird Centre.

apples from roadside

blackboy peaches

These wonderful Blackboy peaches have been eaten fresh from the tree, and I have made peach and ginger jam and stewed them. There are many more still on the tree. This is the 4th summer this tree has been in the ground and it has done very well indeed. This and the passionfruit vine have been our best producers so far.

cape gooseberries

Many of the Cape Gooseberries have been eaten by the bantams which were resident inside the garden for about 4 weeks. They are very good flyers these bantams and they now fly in over the 2 metre fences to have a feed as and when they like. We are slowly culling them as our wish was not for many bantams but many big hens suitable for the pot but our chicken breeding program went a bit awry with the bantams hiding their eggs so we could not replace the bantam eggs with our New Hampshire Red eggs. Next year we will do much better and we will have more of our own fruit including the cape gooseberries and more chickens to eat.

chillis

We were given the chubby chillis and grew the 2 varieties of red and a wee yellow variety ourselves – for curries and casseroles of course. I will dry some and freeze others whole. We might even try grinding some dried chillies this year.

our figs

The fig photo is not grand – but the figs are beautiful and we are beating the wee Wax Eyes to them now that the tree has been covered in bird netting.

passionfruit

Our passionfruit vine has been attacked by all and sundry in the insect world but we still have an abundance of them. They don’t look as nice as they could but they do taste great. We have frozen the pulp in ice cube trays for adding to desserts till next season. I have also made passionfruit syrup just by adding sugar and dissolving it with the pulp. It is stored in the fridge and should last for 6 months to be added to desserts as well.

tomatoes

More tomatoes

zuchinni soup

Who would have thought that Zucchini or courgette soup would be delicious – but it is. Just onion, lots of zucchini, some tomatoes, paprika, chicken stock, basil, with salt and pepper to taste.

I am tired just reading this and I still have peaches to preserve in some way, tomatoes to freeze either whole or as sauce, more zucchini to deal with as well as giant cucumbers. I have made and frozen cucumber soup and will do more, as we were both delighted at how delicious the cucumber soup was.

That was yesterday, today; well who knows – but it does feel a bit autumnal.

It is summer here in our garden

And we are gathering summery goodies from the garden every day.

5 mins - tomatoes, passionfruit and chillis

Passionfruit, green tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, red chillies, red tomatoes, apple cucumbers and courgettes.

We have made tomato and courgette soup and frozen it as this is certainly not hot soup weather. I have also found some cucumber soup recipes which I will try next as we have more cucumbers than we can possibly eat fresh. I will also freeze as many of these tomatoes as I can for use in casseroles, curries and slow cooked dishes during the cooler months.

This will be the first year I have had green and yellow tomatoes to freeze. I wonder how they will look in spaghetti sauces and casseroles. I must try to remember to photograph the results.

Just so you know – this is exactly what we set out to do. We wanted to be able to grow as many of our own vegetables and fruits as possible all year round.

So far I have made plum jams, Chinese plum sauce, tomato sauce, tomato and various other vegetable soups.

It is all as it should be – too hot to garden, but just cool enough to gather the fruits of our labours.

I need a glass house for growing stuff when it is a bit cooler in the main garden – that is after the garden steps, the garden paths, the hot climate rockery, the water tank, the front steps off the deck, the paved area for our outdoor table, broody boxes for future broody hens and the …….

Glasswort, Samphire, Salicornia, Sea Beans, or is it Sea Asparagus

We think we have found a new to us delicacy that can be foraged on our New Zealand shores – Samphire.

And we are nearly beginning to long for spring which is the time to harvest, prepare and eat SAMPHIRE or any or all of the above. We have picked a wee bit, but as it is high summer here in New Zealand, it may not be right but we will still try it tonight. Maybe I should wait to long for spring until after we have tasted it, maybe.

samphire

Sea Greens – David Burton takes to the shore line to investigate New Zealand’s edible seaweeds including samphire.

BY DAVID BURTON – CUISINE ISSUE #154 | TUESDAY, 6 NOVEMBER, 2012

Although glasswort (also commonly known as samphire) is a herb rather than a true seaweed, it grows around salt marshes and rocky shores, its knobbly stems being best to eat in spring. It needs just 30 seconds blanching in boiling water to bring out its bright green colour. Like sea grapes, it has tremendous potential as a garnish for seafood and fish, and indeed there is an established cottage industry in Britain, where a closely related species of samphire is gathered from the East Anglian marshes and sent to high-end London restaurants.

Sea Beans, Salicornia, Samphire
By Hank Shaw on July 15, 2011

This site is called Honest Food and Hank Shaw is the writer of the stories across hunting, angling, gardening, foraging and cooking. Sounds superb to me and the site is really interesting and even though we are worlds away from Hank Shaw in North California I am sure we will discover more on this site than how to use Samphire in a salad in the spring. Hank is a published author of several cookbooks including Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast and Duck, Duck, Goose.

How did we find the samphire? Well Grandson, Best Beloved and I had been at the beach after school where these two men went for a swim and I gathered seaweed for my compost bins. On the way back we stopped to check the status of the figs on a huge wild fig tree and to see if the wild bee hive we had found was still in situ or had been gathered by the local bee keepers.

I have to report the figs are some weeks off being ready, the busy bees are still there even though we have informed 3 different bee keeper groups and we found samphire.

Altogether a wonderful after school activity.

Maximising the Eel

My Darling & I went fishing the other evening by the mouth of the creek at a local Seabird Coast beach. We sought kahawai or snapper, but instead caught an eel. And I do mean WE caught it. My Darling describes what happened in her post here.

I soaked the eel overnight in a slurry of coarse sea salt and a little water.. Next morning, I tipped it into the kitchen sink…
Eel

I cleaned the eel and salted it liberally inside and out, covered it with foil and refrigerated it for a day. Then I rinsed and dried it and placed it back in the fridge overnight on a rack.

ReadyToSmoke

Today I smeared it on the inside with soft brown sugar and hot-smoked it in a portable methylated spirits smoker, using Manuka sawdust. It was insanely delicious! My thanks to the excellent Smoke & Umami blog for the preparation method – here it is: