Tuesday 17 August 2010

July - Eating our way through a month of colourful harvest!

July was a gorgeous month and despite the volatility of the weather, there was a steady supply of fruit and vegetables in the garden.  After all the greens from June, we received a much needed burst of colour with the arrival of purple beetroots and yellow courgettes (zucchinis).  

The flavours from these two vegetables is unsurpassed; homegrown courgettes are lovely and sweet and we mostly grill (griddle) them, but they can also be eaten thinly sliced and raw, carpaccio style, in a salad.  Beetroots are also bursting with flavour and taste amazing roasted Jamie Oliver style with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and tossed together with rocket.

We are also eating a lot of mixed lettuce varieties (Cocarde, Red Salad bowl) which we are growing in recycled containers and even from hanging baskets. 

And my favourite lettuce, the Lamb's Lettuce finally grew to a decent size, ready to be harvested.  Lamb's Lettuce tossed together with crunchy snow peas, grilled courgettes and red peppers makes a really tasty salad.  (Red peppers pictured are not from our garden)

The rocket we grew back in April started to flower and the leaves have now become rather peppery but we use them anyway, in moderation of course.

(Clockwise L-R) Cavolo Nero, Kale, Snow Peas (Mangetout), Chillis, French Beans

To fulfill our vegetable needs for South East Asian and Chinese cooking, we are continuing to use our leafy greens, Cavolo nero and Kale, both which substitute for Chinese vegetables like Kai Lan. I pick the young leaves of Cavolo Nero about three times a week.  I love having them sauteed with garlic, but it also gets thrown into Tom Yum soup, fried rice or noodles. The tougher kale leaves get thrown into stewed meat dishes.

Cavolo Nero, French Beans, Prawns and cod in Tom Yum soup with homemade rice noodles

Early July, our Snow pea (mange tout) plants were still providing lots of pods, but towards the end of the month, they were struck by powdery mildew.  Luckily we have French beans as a replacement and these can be eaten raw in salads or stir fried with garlic.  But my favourite way to eat them is by shallow (almost deep) frying them Chinese style, which makes them go wrinkly and become very sweet.
July was also prime berry season and we picked lots of raspberries and redcurrants.  During the hot summer season, it was necessary to water the berry canes frequently to ensure the fruit plumped up.

Cherry Tree

Our cherry tree also provided a generous supply of crimson fruit with little maintenance.  It was a little hard work twisting all those cherries off the tree though! See the full article here.

During the last week of July, we also had our very first cucumber and lots of chillis! We are growing 'mini' cucumbers (similar to Lebanese cucumbers in Australia) which are harvested young and do not have the bitterness that some of the larger varieties do.  Cucumbers are widely used in South East Asian cuisine, and we are having them tossed in garlicky vinaigrettes in Chinese Cucumber salad and Thai Beef Salad.  Our chillis are the variety 'Apache' and I am harvesting them green.

Some vegetables that did not go as planned include the Greyhound cabbage and the Chinese cabbage, both whom found themselves caught up in a battle between humans and caterpillars (the humans are losing), and the Ruby Pak Choi which has been riddled with holes following an attack by a swarm of ravenous flea beetles.  The Pak Choi grows better in cooler temperatures and the heat made it turn into a purpley green tie-dyed disaster. 

This month, what ended up on our dinner plates depended on what was ready to be harvested in the garden.  A little random, a little unpredictable, but what a wonderful way to live life!!

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