Wednesday, 5 October 2011

I See Fields Of Green.....Red Roses Too.....

Not that we were paying too much attention to the beautiful view whilst concentrating on harvesting the Sloes, early of a Sunday evening, but it's not to say that we were ignoring it either.  And that's exactly why we took A Bottle of Red, two glasses, and a travelling rug with us on our foraging frenzy...kind of: 'Pick One, sit down and Sip One'?!, which sounds like it's got the potential of a rather amusing Party Game to me...

The last time we came up here, the young Heffers were more than inquisitive of us, and so, once we'd harvested our Wild Garlic leaves, identified the potential Autumnal harvest site, we left the aminals well alone.  Probably a wise move, since I recall those very same beasts having 'interfered' with the water-tanks up here this Summer at least three times, subsequently cutting off the natural spring water supply to The Funny Farm in the process....  Still - who can complain at no Water Rates, and having to drink natural Spring Water for free all year round, apart from thrice, eh?

I've rather disappointed myself on my ability to propagate Basil lately for an abundant supply, and so took to the cheat's method of buying 3 pots of from Lidl (99p each), sticking them in a marginally bigger pot, and taking very good care of them for a while.    Once they're growing profusely, I keep harvesting 'from the top', and use as needed throughout the Summer.  I've got two of what you can see in the photo below, so huge amounts to play with for Basil Oil, Pesto, and just plain Freezing, to add to Risottos, Tarts and spurious specials that magically get invented from the depths of My Little Grey Cells.

I know?  It's a kitchen table of tomatoes.... and it's largely because the tomatoes covering the entire surface of the dining table in The Hall are beginning to ripen beautifully, and Wellie needs to pull her finger out and do something with them.

So...The tomatoes on wire racks are about to go into the oven to be 'dried' on the lowest oven setting (can't wait for The Rayburn to be back on again when we finally get the noo oil tank in situ that's sitting in the front garden still, because I wouldn't need to waste Electricity preserving this way, I'd bung 'em in the bottom of the Rayburn overnight with the door ajar)

Then the larger tomatoes in the roasting trays have been scattered with sliced garlic, shallots, olive oil, fresh Oregano in one, and freshly torn Basil in the other, waiting to be roasted for Passatta.

The cherry tomatoes on the left, remind me of a well-known Blackcurrant Cordial tv ad, as these scrummy little sweeties are proverbially jumping up and down with joy, knowing that any minute now, they'll be roasted and ultimately dive headlong into homemade vegetable bouillon, with garlic, chillies and a culinary artist's palette of spices, painting yet another Denis Cotter materpiece, that's known as Tomato rassam (from his Paradiso Seasons ISBN 0-9535353-4-7), and I must just 'big up' Chepstow Bookshop at the bottom of the cobbledy bit in the High Street, because otherwise I'd never have found this brilliant book.  They even get Authors in for special evenings along the way? 
A Fabulous Bookshop Indeed, and well worth a visit if you're in the locale.

We're blessed with two Open Air Markets locally.... The Cheppie Racecourse one of a Sunday, which is brilliant for meat and cheese, and The Caldicot one of a Tuesday.  And it's the Tuesday one I've been impressed with just now, because I managed to pick up 5 kg of pickling onions for £2.50, a huge bag of green chillies for a quid, a bag of Scotch Bonnet chillies for a quid, and 6 Bulbs of Garlic for a quid.

It defeated the object of me driving to Caldicot in the first instance, because I was in search of some Florence Fennel bulbs, to put a Sarah Raven Pasta Sauce 'to die for' into the freezer whilst I've still got loads of fresh Sage, but there's always the likes of Over Farm Market up near Gloucester to tap into, so I'm not overly worried.  And double-bubble, I could call into The Smokery at Minsterworth on my way back home for a few Tilapia or something?

Funnily enough, I brought the subject up with Trousers only the other day about building our own Smoke Box.  But I must just 'hold my horses', because I've still got a veritable mountain of things to 'put to bed' yet before the really bad weather descends.

Thank you for listening again, and I hope you're having as much fun as me squirreling away your harvests.

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