Monday, 29 August 2011


 I only took one quick photo of these Damsons, because I was that desperate to get them washed and into a couple of cauldrons before they started to deteriorate any further, so I apologise for the out-of-focusness of the photo.  I visited The Ayleburton Village Produce Show on Saturday with Trousers, so as to support my Glorious Friend Gloria, beautifully bumping into my friend Emma, with her lovely husband en route, and whilst there, I had a lovely chat with Gaynor, who, herself also joined the 'Organising Your Village Show For the Very First Time' Club.  And to cut a very long story much much shorter, I only have approximately six Damsons on my baby tree, which let's face it, isn't remotely capable of being turned into anything other than a jam sandwich for your favourite garden gnome at the bottom of your veggie plot....... and she offered me as many as I wanted, (Damsons, not garden gnomes?)albeit the crop having gone 'past their best' so to speak, so I spent the best part of lunchtime today on my hands and knees on her Orchard Floor, harvesting The Good Ones.... I've told you - Damsons!).  In the same fuzzy photo, I've got my third crop of top quality Lemon Verbena leaves drying, to store in airtight jars for winter use in Cakes & Tarts, Teas & Tinctures, and the fresh ones still on the two plants growing in pots, I've got designs on steeping in Olive Oil for a zingy punch to add a certain Je ne sais quoi, whatever that means? she said with tongue in cheek, whenever I'm desperate for a Lemony smack round the mouth in the darker months of my English Kitchen.  Did I tell you that I adore the taste of Lemon? Also in the same bleary photo, you'll notice that I've got Calendula (Pot Marigold) petals on a tray, and I had huge success with drying them last year, to bring the colour of Saffron to my cooking, when you don't necessarily need the actual flavour of it, in dishes to delight.

 Getting incredibly wise to the fact that I spend a fortune on feeding my garden birds for most of the twelve months in every twelve, and finding that waving a white flag to 'come in peace' to harvest the fruit that I've tended, and is ripe for me to pick, it's a little like being in an English episode of the cartoon 'Whacky Races', and that Mutley Dog sniggering at every juncture.  This year, Wellie's gone that extra mile to secure herself a useable crop of the Conference Pears, and they're in the safety of The Funny Farm now to ripen to her hearts' content, so Wellie, herself, this year is Doing A Mutley .!
Yet again this year, there's no proverbial white flag needed when it comes to the Crab Apples, because it's a stunningly Beautiful crop, which, lasting well into the Winter, provides Wellie, and her birds with a Bountifully useable crop.....
I'm not quite sure exactly which naughty little schoolboy named Jerusalem Artichokes: "Fartichokes", but I do know that my favourite Irish Chef, Denis Cotter calls them 'Sunchokes', which makes much more pleasant sense to me, given that they resemble Sunflowers above the ground.  Leaving the personal problem of the Duvet-Lifting Competition to you and yours' giggling in the privacy of your own home, and for your own amusement to when they're harvestable in late Winter, and Beyond!, as Buzz Lightyear might say.....  However...... Only having just started to grow GLOBE Artichokes from seed this year, and having removed 'The King' from the centre earlier, to put it's energies back into next years' growth rather than this, I just couldn't help myself on one or two of the plants, and decided to let a few of the Baby Chokes grow large enough to preserve in oil, once I've chargrilled, or otherwise.  Shame not to?!
Would somebody PLEASE put one of those white jackets with the wrap-around arm thingies onto me, and take me away in a Welsh Ambwlance?!..... No, I beautifully live on the Welsh Border, absolutely love it, I'm not Welsh, and I'm not insane Children, I'm just addicted to preserving what I've lovingly grown so that nothing goes to waste in the leaner months, or 'the hungry gap', as us horticultural peeps have fashioned with words to disguise that we're facing the prospect of buying another thousand litres of oil 'at that price', and if anyone reading our blog has just won the lottery, or IS The Sultan of Br...Br..Gorgeous Wealth.....
You DO have to make yourself smile though........

Think of making a homemade Pizza dough from the depths of your cupboard when you're in need of a culinary hug?........ and then waiting for it to prove....... and it isn't up to anyone but yourselves to adorn your own 'in your own very special way'...... Now WHAT is more exciting than that? .....To open up your Larder Cupboard, or walk into your own Pantry to rediscover what you've preserved from your own plot when everything was plentiful: Chilli-Oil, Oven-blushed Tomatoes, Basil Pesto, Roasted Passatta, Sweet Peppers, Sweet'n'Sour Borlotti Beans, Chargrilled Globe Artichokes in Olive Oil, Herbs from the freezer.....Wild Garlic Pesto, ... the list is endless, and  I've even stretched to making my own Nasturtium Seed Capers of Garlic Chive, French Tarragon & Dill flavours this year,(so far) to cover a multitude of sins, just because I can? 
Which brings me round to the subject of Sorrel.  Do yourselves a favour by putting a packet of seeds for this lovely lemony-leaved herb on your Christmas List.  'Trust Me', I'm A Gardener? not being able to buy the leaves in any useable quantity from anyone, it makes sense to grow it for your own use in salads, sauces, soups and savoury tarts.  (10oz. of in fridge for savoury tart tomorrow, so don't let me forget, eh?!)
But I'm not going to even remotely 'go there' with Savoury Tarts in this particular blog update, because I could talk about it for hours, with its' endless possibilities for a beautiful homemade dinner, and I refer religiously to the very brilliant Tamasyn-Day-Lewis's Art Of The Tart book in my kitchen when I'm in need of inspiration for any kind of comfort for my dear heart and I.

Whilst we all strive to eat freshly and seasonally from our own plots, or the generosity of other peoples', and love to cook from both, storecupboard ingredients to preserve for our own benefit should definitely make a recognised 'comeback', because, quite honestly, to make the simplest of any of these preserves from what you already grow, is not Rocket Science my friends.  And I'd like to proudly Stick My Hand Up, and say "I DO"!

  I notice that the Great Tits are greedily harvesting all of my Sunflower Seeds as they ripen already so soon, which I'm a bit miffed about, because I was going to squirrel those away for them for when Mother Nature, and Himself Upstairs have an almighty pillow-fight and I can't get to the shops to buy birdnuts? !

The birds of our gardens always seem to 'tell us' whether we're in for a mild or a harsh winter, me thinks, according to what they harvest, and when.  And I do try and take notice of them, honest I do.  But I'm thinking that it's only the end of August right now.... the hedgerow berries are way ahead of schedule, my freezers are already full, and with the berries ripening ahead of time, they'll be needing 'a sleep-over' at some point in Wellie's freezer to break down their cells for use before any real Jack Frost arrives to do that for me naturally if I'm going to make them into anything gorgeous in a jam jar.

The nights are definitely drawing in.  BC, my such-loved and beautiful black panther of a pussy cat, is curled up between the draining board and the magimix as I sit here typing.
She'll stay there now, but I have to go.
I hope that you've enjoyed it once again.

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