Category Archives: food

Onions, anyone!

On a  recent trip to my father’s allotment, I came across these kings of the vegetable patch.

On guard!

I could not get over how beautiful these onions were. They stood tall and proud.

Here are some drying in the sun.

Hanging onions

This spectacular display attracted much attention from other allotment goers!

Drying onions

 Seemingly not satisfied enough with the huge amount of white onions, my father had also sown red onions, which he harvested when I was there.

Fresh red onions from the ground.

 Once my father picked the red onions, he set about putting them into storage, in his purpose-built shed. The smell coming out of the shed was overwhelming!

Storing red onions

There were enough onions to feed an army! I am expecting a lot of French onion soup to be served up to us on our upcoming visits in the autumn!

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Dad’s delights

We went to visit my father last weekend. We always leave stuffed to the gills due to the good food consumed. A great effort is always made to make sure we eat well. This weekend was no exception. My husband, Peter, likes to raid the cheese drawer in the fridge. I should explain that since my father is Swiss, he is a keen cheese lover (as is Peter). Peter was not disappointed when he stumbled upon a stinky, creamy, gooey gorgonzola. This cheese was so runny. The smell was so strong that it could singe nose hairs and although a cheese lover can appreciate that a strong-smelling cheese is indicative of a good flavour, this cheese’s smell was maybe a bit too intense. It did not deter us from putting lashings of it on a french stick. Butter was not required due to the cheese’s creaminess. It tasted divine. So smooth and salty.

My other favourite thing I had to eat was a starter salad. The previous day my dad took us to the Milk Market Limerick. It was a great experience with many sights and smells of fruit, vegetables, fish, baked goods, meats, cheeses, coffee etc. Of course, when we first walked in we were met by a magnificent fruit stall. The figs looked sumptuous so Peter bought enough to feed an army. We rambled through the stalls tasting here and there. I especially liked the food stall selling dried salamis and cured meats. My dad bought a creamy goat’s cheese and a mixed berry tart. That had us sorted! So the next day, we had this starter.

It consisted of fresh salad from the garden topped with grated kohl rabi (also from the garden), a halved fig, a sprinkling of crumbled goat’s cheese. I picked some red currants to add a bit of colour. A nice Dijon vinaigrette was drizzled over the plate and served.

For main course we had fresh lemon sole which we bought at the market, served with new potatoes from the garden and my dad’s homemade tartar sauce. The fish was tossed in flour and fried in the pan for a few minutes.

Despite all the glorious food I had consumed, I made sure I had enough space left for that berry tart staring at me from the counter!

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Rocket fuel

It was a busy weekend trying to keep up with what to make with all the nice things growing in the garden. I finally got around to making the radish tops soup. This was actually amazing. It tasted so nice. The slow sautéing of the onion really added a sweet flavour. The children loved it too surprisingly. I made fresh rolls with ham, cheese, lettuce, radish and mustard to go along with the soup. It all just tasted like more once gobbled up.

After that bit of sustenance, it was back out to the garden to figure out what to do with all the rocket, which was about to flower.  I decided to give it the chop, with the help of Seren. Any opportunity to use her scissors :)

Helping me snip the rocket.

I decided to make the old faithful pesto. Can’t go much wrong with that. Rocket is peppery so I wanted to add something that would counteract that. I toasted walnuts as they are sweet, plus I like the smell.

I made two different types:

Garlic and Rocket Pesto

  • clove of garlic
  • two handfuls of rocket
  • handful of walnuts
  • couple of glugs of oil
  • spoon of honey
  • squeeze of lemon
  • pinch of sea salt

Throw it all in a blender/mixer and give it a blast. I added some parmesan but this could be added before eating.

Rocket and sun-dried Tomato Pesto

  • three to four sun-dried tomato halves, soaked in oil
  • two handfuls of rocket
  • handful of walnuts
  • couple of glugs of oil
  • spoon of honey
  • squeeze of lemon
  • pinch of sea salt

Repeat the same process as above. Make sure to pour the pesto into sterilized jars. Use them whatever pleases you!

 By the way, does anyone know of a more appetising name for the soup. Radish top soup is not very appealing!

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Filed under food, Garden, Herbs, Recipes

The jewel in the garden.

I planted nasturtiums in the garden a while back and they are really taking off now. There is one especially that sits next to the raspberry bushes and it is flourishing in that particular spot. I had no idea that it could creep along the ground until one day I spotted a cheeky runner making its way to the wall! I am fond of this plant though (perhaps a bit unhealthily, as if it were my child). It is the first and best of the lot of nasturtiums and I watch it proudly growing each day. Every evening I go out to inspect its progress. Tonight I discovered that it was harbouring its own microcosm! Lo and behold there was the first flower bud holding its head up with great pride, as it should. Look at how aerodynamic it is. It reminds me of the shape of a raptor’s head (but much more beautiful of course :))

The flower is not alone however. On every leaf there is a different occupant. Here is a little yellow spider who has delicately spun his web using the leaf’s edges as his frame.

He’s not the tidiest little fella though, not having cleaned up after his dinner. Yuck!

Across the way, little white fly eggs have been laid with military precision. Peter sorrowfully informed me that these are not the friendliest things to ooh and aah over as they will devour the neighbouring carrots. 

Buh-bye eggies. Thank goodness for parasitic wasps to take care of these little things. They lay their eggs in the white fly eggs. It’s a cruel world. Not the prettiest thing to look at (turn away now if bugs make you want to vomit!).

Although the meandering lines across the leaves look nice, these are as a result of leaf miners. I enjoy squashing them between my finger tips, a bit sadistic, I know, but effective.

I guess that’s why the nasturtium is so suited to being a companion plant in the garden. It attracts all sorts of trouble by luring  nasty bugs toward it with its giant saucers for leaves and exotic jewels for flowers.

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I love radishes!

From little seeds great things grow!

The radishes have come up trump in the garden! At first, I was a bit reluctant for Peter to plant them. I mean, one is a bit limited when it comes to what to do with a radish, right? Thoughts came to mind of radish rose garnishes but besides that my mind went blank. Well, considering the amount of seeds Peter sowed, I had better come up with some ideas.  In his excitement at the prospect of future growth, Peter sowed all the seeds. We had reminded ourselves after our last glut of cabbages (which we fed half the neighbourhood with) to be strict advocates of successional planting. As you can see from the above picture, this was not followed through with. So now we have radishes coming out of our yahoos!

Luckily, I am now a reborn radish addict! I underrated the radish for far too long. Pulling up the first radish filled me with glee.

I spy with my little eye.

The moment of truth.

Et voila.

 This weekend I hope to make radish top soup. This name does nothing for it and my kids will probably think I am trying to poison them, ha. But I hear these leaves are high in antioxidants and all sorts of other goodness, so why not. It’s the same as with any vegetable soup. Sautee chopped onion and garlic. Add some leek or celery. Then throw in the washed radish tops. Wilt down. Then add a litre or so of chicken stock, with an added chopped potato or two. Simmer until cooked then blend. Serve with a dollop of cream. I would also like to try roasting the radishes. They will probably lose their crispiness but I bet they go good with a splash of balsamic.

I am so glad we have these growing in the garden now. It’s definitely been a learning experience for me anyway. But my children will probably have an aversion to radishes for life!

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Shades of green…

I went into the garden to take some photographs of our ever-growing jungle yesterday. The garden is really coming into itself. There are many shades of green throughout. I am pleased with how the photographs turned out. Have a look!

It's a jungle in there.

The above photo is looking through the potato plants. We planted rocket in between the rows. It’s about done now and I am planning to make pesto with it this weekend. Yum!

Fuzzy fennel

The fennel towers above the herb bed and acts as a focal point in the garden. It is great to be able to just throw some on salmon and poach it.

Golden oregano and lemon balm

I love the contrast in the shades of the oregano and the crispy green lemon balm. I have used the lemon balm in vinaigrettes. It adds a zingy flavour. The oregano goes into pretty much every dish! The great thing is that it grows back so quickly.

Raspberry flower

The bumblebees are out in force now that the raspberry blossoms are out. Isn’t nature amazing. Look at those red thorns.

Lone soldier.

The lavender is just about to bloom and explode into a purple cloud.

Geranium "Ann Thomson"

This geranium is planted under the tree and the magenta flowers really add character to that corner, which before was void of colour.

You know, as much as we like to complain about the rain, I kind of really yearn for a good rainy day, because the garden just flourishes the next day.

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the first strawberries picked by little hands.

For the past few months, the girls have been casting their eyes with eager anticipation at the strawberries growing in the garden. It was great to see their excitement growing with the changing colours of the fruit. It was Seren and Olwyn’s job to scare away any magpies who swooped down to feast on the strawberries. So every once in a while you would hear fierce knocking at the window ” Shoo magpie, those are our stwawbewwies!” The strawberries were lovingly watered and minded. I got so much enjoyment watching my children learn about the things we have growing in the garden.

Here are photographs of the momentous occasion!

Daddy lends a helping hand.

A joyous moment!

Following in her big sister's footsteps.

Seren and Olwyn on their favourite seat (beside the strawberries naturally).

Sumptuous strawberry.

Look Mami, I'm going to make it disappear :)

The poet William Allen Butler sums the strawberry up the best when he wrote “Doubtless God could have made a better berry (than the strawberry), but doubtless God never did.”

 

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