Posts Tagged With: spring onions

CCC Catchup Post

I’ve fallen a bit behind in making these posts. I somewhat hit the wall the other week, both with isolation more generally and cooking specially. Probably exacerbated by having planned a bunch of filling a warming meals and being faced with an unexpected warm weather spell. I struggled through with some nice but unadventurous pasta salads until a colleague happened to make the most amazing smelling curry and the desire for curry of my own kicked me mostly out of my cooking funk. At least enough to get a batch of sweet potato and lentil korma made and eaten.

This week, however has been much better. On Sunday, I finally got round to making a big pot of chilli, while on Monday I made a generous – if less substantial than the chilli – pot of rice. This proved to be one of my better plans, as I ended up on the road for work unexpectedly and having a quick and easy tea already to be microwaved was a life-saver – there would be no stopping off for chips on the way back from this trip.

After having hit the wall so decidedly, I decided to retrench completely and focus on making old favourite recipes. I’ve been increasingly drawn to the earlier pages in my home-made recipe book, but this week I’ve mostly been cooking from the recipe books that I haven’t looked at in years, the ones I used when I was first properly exploring my culinary passions. The rice dish I ended up making is called Melting Sunshine Rice and is both super straight-forward and super comforting. Basically cook some rice in vegetable stock and with a teaspoon of turmeric, once cooked, add a chopped pepper, a couple of spring onions, a small tin of sweet corn and about 100g of cheese, preferably edam, put the lid back on for a few minutes so the cheese gets all melty and serve. There are few things more satisfying than realising exactly what you most fancy making/eating and then discovering that you do indeed have everything you need for it in the fridge or cupboard. I tend not to keep tinned sweet corn on hand – I generally prefer frozen sweet corn – and I rarely have edam – Babybels are normally travelling snacks rather than cooking supplies – so it felt extra serendipitous that they were all there to hand.

I’d been meaning to bake properly for weeks, I’d even bought some duck eggs off a colleague with a croft, specifically for the purpose, but I kept putting it off. So after the success of my old school cooking, I dug out my Ainsley Harriott cookbook – in all it’s battered ex-library copy glory – and looked up the old faithful that is his blueberry muffin recipe. I was going to make it with raspberries as I knew I had some in the freezer, but when I went looking I found some cherries which got me thinking and somehow blueberry, coconut and lemon muffins became wholemeal cherry and almond muffins, as I had both ground and flaked almonds in the cupboard. It’s the kind of recipe that comes in three different options with tips on substitutions and encourages adventurousness, and everything came together perfectly. I haven’t made muffins in ages, and this batch reminded me why for so long they were my go-to baked goods.

Next up, another old favourite, some English muffins, though these ones get cooked on the stovetop rather than in the oven.

Categories: challenges, covid cookup | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Window Box Gardening

This year has seen a great deal of change, as I moved into my own place, which gave me both more and less space to grow my herbs and vegetables. I’m now in a first floor flat with no actual garden so instead of my small container garden I now have a collection of window boxes to work with, along with some ikea hanging baskets in my kitchen.

I wasn’t sure if my herbs would survive their summary removal from a container on the patio into a window box, so I gave them a few weeks sitting in my living room to settle before I put them back outside again. Apparently they liked my living room a bit too much as within a month of being outside my kitchen window they were universally looking like the saddest herbs on the planet.

It’s not been a good year for herbs in general chez moi. All the herbs I’d bought for my kitchen planters have died a death. In fact the only thing I’ve planted in my hanging kitchen planter that hasn’t keeled over is an Aloe Vera plant. Which nearly keeled over in the other direction as I’ve had to turn the planter round so that its leaning toward the sunshine doesn’t tip the whole thing out on the floor!

One thing that has been an unmitigated success is my bay tree. Having been a small but resilient little container tree on the patio for the last couple of years, when I moved somewhere without a garden I planned to return it to my parents care. (Their own Bay Tree that mine is an offshoot from, had died a death the previous year.) It was a shame, my friend M noted while helping me move, it looked good in my living room. After some consultation with green-fingered friends we concluded that it should be fine as long as it got plenty of light, so I found it a sunny spot, watered it regularly and hoped for the best. Reader, it thrived. It’s got at least a foot taller, I had to re-pot it into a bigger tub and it’s never looked healthier.

This summer I tried out window box gardening for the first time. Between spring arriving late and being generally busy with the move I didn’t actually get any seeds in the soil until June. I planted a row each of carrots and spring onions in one box and a row each of radishes and pak choi in the other. I didn’t have high hopes for them but I reckoned it as better to try then just look sadly at those empty window boxes all summer. Yet to my surprise, the sunshine and showers that marked June meant that my radishes and pak choi burst into enthusiastic life to the extent of needing thinned out. My carrots looked pathetic and my spring onions never broke the surface – I suspect bird interference – but I began to have hopes about salad.

However, come July we had a heat-wave, and I returned from a week away for work to find that my pak choi and radishes had both shot beyond rescue, so all I got from that box were some rather pretty yellow and pink-purple flowers. After last year’s spinach disappointment, I suspect salad leaves are not going to be my thing.

However, to my surprise, the carrots rallied. I’d decided to grow a miniature variety and miniature they certainly were. But I did at least get enough carrots to do something with. I was able to get enough to eat boiled with dinner one night, and during my sushi experiments baby carrots proved to be the perfect size to quarter and use as batons. Also they may have been tiny, but they packed a disproportionate punch of taste. I’ve never eaten carrots with such flavour so despite their unimpressive showing, I’ll definitely be giving them a second try next year.

I have had one last success in my window box gardening. I noticed the other day that my chive plant – previously thought dead – was showing some fresh green shoots among the dead husks. So I’ve carefully cleared away the dead stems and other debris and it looks that I might yet have a chive plant – and who knows I’ve seen that mint plant come back from worse in previous years…

Categories: growing my own, nablopomo, new skills | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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