Our broccoli patch threatens to block out the sun if you stand in the right spot. The plants are HUGE. My father, who has grown veggies for most of his life, glanced at them on a ‘tour of the estates’ as we call it, did a double take and went over to peer at them and ask, “What’s THAT?”
Now that they have gone to seed, they are even taller and more imposing. They’re covered in bees all day, look spectacular, but smell hugely sulphurous when they’ve been in the sun awhile. Ick.
This particular veggie patch is quite close to a neighbour’s house, so I’m planning to put them out of their misery soon and haul these babies out. Not before making a careful assessment and saving some seed though! Broccoli this big, that fed us for two whole months, needs to be continued.
Who is threatening who, exactly?
There was beetroot to harvest just a little while ago, and they were all lovely and big, too!
I got just over 1kg of it (that’s 2 pounds for my US friends), which was just enough to try out a pickled beetroot recipe I’d had my eye on for a while. Of course, the beetroot pickling happened at the same time as the cooking of the dinner, as well as some preparation for outings for school etc: why does so much of my canning happen when I’m just so busy I can’t stop to scratch myself? Why not on a sleepy Sunday when not much is happening?
Anyway, after everyone was in bed, and the canner finally got to 94 degrees and stayed there for half an hour, I produced these:
Let me tell you, beetroot pickled with cloves and cumin seed are to die for. There was also a half jar that we’d already hoed into too, but that’s not in the picture… I believe that someone was standing just out of the frame, making noises of appreciation. Yum! We’ve all been gorging on the stuff, and are almost through another jar. Just one to go!
Now we’re trying to figure out where to squeeze in some more beetroot in our bursting veggie patch, because such tasty treats weren’t in our minds when we planned it all out. We were thinking of tomatoes and basil… but that harvest storm is yet to come.
The rhubarb needed a trim, and I didn’t want a to stew it and make a crumble. So I made rhubarb syrup instead, which left a satisfying amount of mushy rhubarb for other things, but also gave a beautiful syrup, which led to a beautiful drink, with gin, bitters and tonic. Yum!
As you can see, we’ve brought the pumpkins in from the cold, and are keeping them cosy by the fire. We don’t want a re-run of last year’s Pumpkin Slowly Rotting From The Inside (what’s that funny smell near the piano) Disaster, so we have our work cut out for us.
We tried to ‘cure’ them outside as recommended by Jackie French, but the method requires several sunny days… and all we had once we got them off the vine was RAIN! Here they are in various states of ‘trying to be cured’ for storage:
So far, the good things have been: pumpkin roasted with whole garlic cloves, pumpkin soup with African spice swirl, pumpkin… um yes, I believe that’s it. I’m thinking of just roasting a whole heap, mashing it and freezing it for adding to soup/stew as a thickener of sorts, but apart from that I’m out of ideas. The great Stephanie Alexander in The Cook’s Companion is not particularly forthcoming either, with only 3 pages devoted to the large yellow things, but some good ones to try, perhaps: Pumpkin and Amaretto Tart (savoury!), Pumpkin pie, and pumpkin and ricotta filling for ravioli.
Wish us luck: we have 2 children who don’t like pumpkin.