Sunday, June 03, 2007

Turning over a new leaf

I am a bit sad to say that, despite my grandparents' work as farmers, I never have grown anything in my life. There is a big "back to the Earth" movement going on with kids my age and I, as a follower, am embracing it. This movement includes trying to buy locally to reduce the "air miles" of food; buying fresh; composting your waste;and even growing your own food.

Boy and I pretty much have embraced the first two on the list, even though it means having to do without some foods and guiltily eating others (like citrus -- the air miles on citrus are horrible). After a disastrous spell with vermicomposting (composting, but with worms -- poor buggers bit the dust), I doubted my ability to grow anything. Boy's father, FIL, has grown his own fruit and vegetables for probably more than 30 years. His advice -- to bung some seeds in the ground -- was too bold for a novice like me.

It was my friend Shish who finally gave me a leg up. She runs the school garden and has the loveliest garden round the side of her flat. One weekend when Boy was away, she showed up at mine with a shovel, a fork, a spade and two rubbish bins and said that we were going to make a bed. It was exactly what I needed. I was such a beginner that I came out to the garden with my overalls and Wellington boots (a bit of overkill). We worked for an hour and cleared away the overgrowth of clover and grass.

At the garden centre, Shish tried to steer me to the flowers and plants, her speciality. There was no way I was going to put out all that effort for some stupid flowers! Quickly, she realised my aim (my stomach) and we decided on cauliflower, rocket (arugula), strawberries, and green onions (scallions). Every night for more than two weeks, in my wellies (which wasn't necessary but made me feel more like a proper gardener) I dutifully took the water can Shish gave me down the two flights of steps to the back garden to water my plant-lets.

When FIL came for a visit this weekend, I proudly took him down to my little patch to show it off. Like a father, he told me that practically everything I was wrong (cauliflower too close together, rocket and green onions too far apart) -- well, that's what it felt like! But... the rocket and onions were ready -- and weren't too shabby. He had the first of the crop for a sandwich.

And we'll be eating the rest in an baked Polish omelet and salad with some creamy lemon vinaigrette.

1 bunch scallions, sliced
1 clove minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons rye flour
(I just use whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 ounces milk
2/3 cup sour cream
4 eggs beaten
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons melted butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup cooked chopped spinach
2 red peppers, small dice
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute scallions and garlic in oil and place on the bottom of an oiled 8-inch casserole. Mix flour, milk, sour cream and eggs and herbs, butter and seasoning. Place vegetables in casserole. Pour egg mixture on top and cover with crumbled feta. Bake 40 to 45 minutes

1 handful fresh mint
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon hot water
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon creme fraiche
(you can use soured cream)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wash and dry the shoots and mint, place in a large bowl.
In a mason jar, combine the mustard, water, lemon juice, oil, creme fraiche, sugar, salt, and pepper. Put the cap on and shake vigorously to emulsify. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the greens and toss well to coat. Serve immediately. Store any remaining vinaigrette in the jar in the refrigerator.


Anonymous Amah said...

CONGRATS Ms. Farmer--You didn't mention your garden during your call. Did he enjoy the fruits of your labor and will he assist with the watering, planting, etc?

Tuesday, 5 June 2007 at 22:39:00 BST  
Blogger Autumn said...

Boy did enjoy the dinner. He handles the herbs, I do the "heavy lifting" in the garden.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at 16:33:00 BST  

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