Monday, 16 June 2008

Washing My Dirty Brassicas In Public

I've been wanting to update for days, but kept thinking that I'd do a photo post of my garden and the veggies to go with my (little) news... but my digicam is so ancient, needs charging, produces really quite poor quality photos and, well, I'll give up on that idea for the time being. :-) You'll just have to use your imaginations, if you're in the mood.

My life recently has been almost wholly centered around the garden and the veg patch. I think it's fair to say I've pretty much fallen in love with it this year; I just want to be with it all the time. Hmm, makes me sound more tragic than usual really! But honestly, going out in the morning when the sun is almost always shining (it stops shining fairly quickly, I'm not being blessed with the UK's only summertime down here) and picking my leaves for my huge bowl of salad, is just so special, and precious and life-afirming; I just want to hold onto every moment, yet every moment goes so quickly. I am trying very hard to live in the here and now. There is some uncertainty about how long I can hold onto this place at the moment. I rent, and I am hoping with every ounce of my being (shrinking ounces, as it happens, but that's another story) that this will continue to be the case. I can't afford to buy myself; property prices are plummetting but they would have to plummet and then some for me to even be able to get close to grabbing onto this slice of heaven in my own name, but I might be able to get close another way. We shall see.

In the here and now, as I said, I am gathering my salad bowls every day. I need to harvest again for this evening's meal actually, since I just gobbled the lot for lunch today. I snip beetroot leaves, mixed salad bowl lettuce, rocket, baby red chard (growing up fast, so won't be baby for much longer!), curly kale (the other morning I went out and washed each leaf by hand to get the butterfly eggs off because this is *my green* and those little critters are *not* going to have it), nasturtium leaves (hurry up flowers), mustard leaves, and mizuna; the whole lot gets washed several times and then dumped in an enormous salad bowl for me to add what I want to it. Today it was the remains of last night's mixed bean/pea/mint veggie combo and some roasted beetroot. Yum. And then some Total 0% with agave nectar and some crumbled pecan and some oats for dessert. Coffee.

Given another few days I will be eating my own broad beans, raw from the pod with shavings of pecorino cheese. It doesn't take a lot of cheese for a complete taste sensation, so I urge you to try it if you can - I'm afraid this is unadulterated full-fat cheese, but I am getting more and more anti-processing lately so I'm advocating a little of the real stuff, and not often. Peas aren't far from being eaten either. And I've had two very small, very yummy zucchini. No sign of a glut yet. Despite having, um, at least 30 varieties of squash plants out there at the moment....

I'm keeping an eye on my distaste for processed, non-seasonal foods, just to make sure I don't tip over into being completely, utterly insane, rather than just insane. But I might have to give up my beloved Total since I think it is the one thing (over wine, and coffee!) that I think I have got addicted to, and that worries me. I eat it for the extra protein boost but - it's got to be intensively produced, who knows what the cows are fed or in what conditions they are kept to produce their milk, and the stuff is shipped from Greece, so has to undergo even more processing... And it's increased four-fold in price recently. No, I need to switch back to the local Yeo Valley and either stop fretting about my protein, or source it (naturally) elsewhere. Oh, but I do love Total 0%... *sigh* Anyway, in the same vein, I've just chucked a load of cereal for being health food in disguise - if I'm going to have grains, I want them to be pure oats, or sugar free, local museli, not processed Kraft cereals no matter how "fortified"; fortified is fake; I don't want to go there any more. Now, if I could just kick the craving for wonderful, dense, artisan rye bread... but a little and not often (as per cheese) won't hurt me. And let's face it, I can't see me giving up coffee (apparently one can source it from Cornwall, but there are limits), or switching wholly to wine produced in the UK (99% urgh, although most of what I have been sipping lately has been from small producers in France so...), so I am still quite hypocritical and.... ok, just fussy and plain mad.

Has anyone else read Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle"? I would recommend it. It has brought a lot of my fuzzy thinking around the issues lately into focus. She is such a fantastic writer. It would also be fair to say that I am insanely jealous of her lifestyle, but there we go! I am so fortunate with my own.

This weekend I was lucky enough to have fresh raspberries and strawberries from my mother's allotment. We have rhubarb and gooseberries in the veg patch here, but only Autumn Bliss raspberries which aren't fruiting yet (although the cuttings from the same plants that mum put into her allotment are, in abundance; a lot to be said for micro-climates). I've more or less given up eating non-seasonal fruit on a regular basis too, so this was a much anticipated treat. Visiting with my mother was a lovely end to a week off work, most of which was spent intensively gardening both here and in a friend's garden. If I never see an 8 foot bean cane again, it will be too soon for me. Erecting around 60 of them to cope with the bumper germination of various bean seeds I've managed was far less enjoyable than I had anticipated - 8 foot pole, strong breeze, bright sun, and 5'6" Sara in a temper are probably not a good combination.

Oh, and Arturo - last time I tried to read your blog (last week) one of your pop-ups gremlins tried to install and run an executable on my machine(!), so can someone let me know if it's safe to venture back into the land of the Yogitect? :-)

Love to all.



HkGrace said...

I have also become much more concerned with where food comes from and how processed it is. I have been eating more "full fat" products (though less often) and feeling good about it. Thanks for keeping the cronoblogosphere alive with your posts!

artifex said...

'Dirty Brassicas' ... great title !

Think of it as a complement, that the butterflies think your greens would be a good food source for their offspring ..


Ellie said...

Hi Sara,

If you really like Fage yogurt but want to stick with local products, I have two suggestions.

First, you could drain Yeo Valley nonfat yogurt (put cheesecloth in strainer over bowl, yogurt on cheesecloth - leave for 2-5 hours, in the fridge or on the counter) - this will produce a thick, greek-style yogurt, as well as a bunch of whey.

Second, you could make your own yogurt from local milk (just google around - it's quite easy), and then strain it. This is quite inexpensive, and the yogurt is really good (usually - depending on the quality of the milk). You will need to use some commercial yogurt to start your first back - you can use Fage for this, and then your yogurt will use have the same cultures (and perhaps, the same taste) as Fage.

good luck!

Sara said...

Ellie - thank you! I had thought of making my own, but the draining idea is very cool. I will try that! After all, I was advocating Linda to try making her own fat free mozarella the other day; time to put my money where my mouth is. :-)

Steph said...

Your garden sounds fabulous. I so miss having a garden! I am really into eating local and unprocessed too.
Oh - the same thing happened to me with Arturo's blog, by the way.

artifex said...


You've gone quiet .. how are things ?

artifex (who will be in the UK next week)

Sara said...

Artifex - I'm still here! Just leading my mundane life of no interest to the blogosphere...:-) Are you holidaying? Can you bring summer with you? :-)

Arturo said...

Hi Sara
I miss you. Yes, it's safe at CYT now. It was Bravenet, the counter, that loaded up the nasties every time my blog loaded up. I wrote an entry this week about my good fortune of getting rid of the peskies.