Spaghetti squash...

26 April, 2012

For the first time this year I have grown spaghetti squash. It is one of those veg that really ticks the boxes of what I like to grow in my garden, being:
- something I can't buy it in a supermarket, and
- a bit fun!!

And so this year for the first time I grew it.

I started off with 6 seedlings in my newspaper pots, but only one survived the great planting out of Nov 2011. At first I only had one spag squash on the plant, but with the change to autumn the plant has had a second wind and produced another eight fruits! That's a grand total of nine spaghetti squash! And that's more than enough for me.

At first the spag squash look quite innocent, tiny little babies that they are.


But do not be fooled; they will become monsters before you can run for the secateurs and harvest the massive things.


I managed to get one that was a bit old, and a bit of a younger one to compare the two.


Having never tried spag squash before, I was unsure how to cook the things. But I though squash are closely related to pumpkin, and pumpkins are always best roasted to intensify their flavour. So into the oven they went, halved with the seeds scraped out.

The bizarre thing about spag squash it that they, as their name would suggest, flesh that when cooked forms a strand like texture. When you look up close you can see where this odd texture comes from.


So after roasting in a hot oven for just over an hour the spag squash was finally soft enough to scrape  into spaghetti like strands.


And mixed with basil pesto it was really lovely. Being more zucchini-like in taste than pumpkin-like it does need a strongly flavoured sauce.


I preferred the texture of the younger squash as it was a bit softer. So I'm off to harvest the rest before they get too elderly and tough....


I spy with my little eye, something beginning with 'S'...

19 April, 2012

Pottering around the garden yesterday when I got home I came a across a suprise.


So I looked a bit closer...


Can you see what I saw?...
  

It was saffron!!! My first saffron crocus has flowered!

I believe I squealed like a little girl with delight.


So I have picked the delicate stamens which are so rightly famous for the flavour and colour they impart to rice-y dishes.


All I need now is a few more and I will have saffron pilaf!

When the vine is right...

15 April, 2012

Today I made stuffed vine leaves.

It wasn't something I first thought of doing when I inherited the 40 year old grapevine in my back garden. I just thought grapes. Although I have always appreciated the gnarled look of the vine. But the other day I was re-reading a Jackie French book (was it in Backyard Self-sufficiency or Seasons of Content - I can't remember...) and she mentioned vine leaves, and so I thought I'd give them a go.


So last week I picked a bunch of the biggest vine leaves, dunked them in boiling water until pliable and then dried them. I then covered them in oil and put them in the fridge.

 
Then felt like a pottering day, so I made a rice filling and then rolled, and rolled and rolled.





Until I had a dish full of filled vine leaves (there were more than in the pic - I promise). I hesitate to call them dolmades as I have no idea how to make authentic dolmades.


Either way, they were delish!

Betwixt and between...

03 April, 2012

With the weather cooling down and autumn truly here it’s really feels like a strange place between the last vestiges of summer and the beginnings of winter.

Though surprisingly, some of the summer fruit and veg that looked to have finished for the year have had a second go at life, almost like they have been having a little rest and are now ready for one last go at producing. The strawberries and alpine strawberries are flowering and fruiting like mad.




The corn are going great guns, as is the pumpkin which has new fruit slowly swelling.



I’m not sure they will be as big or (hopefully) as sweet as their older siblings but sometimes you only need a one-person sized pumpkin, not the economy sized one which would feed a village.
The beetroots are flourishing, and I’m joyously anticipating many warm roasted beetroot salads as the decent into winter progresses.


There are little baby beetroots and carrots which hopefully will give successional crops until new sowings in spring (which seems sooooo far away).

And joy of joys I finally have lettuce, as over summer it has been much too hot for them to germinate.


Though we tend to think of lettuce as a summer crop, it doesn’t germinate in temps over 20 degrees, so I think this year I’ll be sowing lettuce in spring in the shady places and hoping I can stop it going to seed and get some summer leaves.
But for now, I'll be enjoying the remnants of the summer harvest for as long as I can!