Regular visitors – and perhaps I am being a little optimistic there – may have noticed a slight digression from the kitchen garden to the kitchen. It is, though, a natural digression; after all, the point of producing fresh fruit and vegetables is to prepare some great fresh food. So, by popular demand – or, let’s say, at the suggestion of two or three friends – more recipes will be appearing on the blog and, in due course, they will be collated on a separate ‘recipes’ page.
I have been a keen cook for over twenty years now, but I am terrible with recipes. I enjoy browsing through a good book – although I look for something that brings more than just a collection of recipes, as I like to explore different produce and cuisines in a little more depth – but I rarely cook with any sort of recipe. The exception, of course, is baking, which is as much a science as an art, and requires accurate measures. Mostly, though, I cook without regard to quantities and often find it difficult to convey a recipe to any friends that ask. So, it will be something of a challenge for me to produce recipes that others can reproduce.
At least to begin with, the recipes will be based on whatever produce we are harvesting from the kitchen garden or using from storage. Some will be for complete dishes, others merely suggestions for ways to utilise certain crops. The emphasis, though, will be on seasonal produce. Even if one does not grow any fruit or vegetables, a great deal of pleasure can be derived from seasonal eating. Personally, I enjoy the fact that we in the UK have such well defined seasons, each bringing not only different weather and challenges in the garden, but also entirely different sorts of cuisine through the year.
Supermarkets, with their year round imports of what would otherwise be out of season produce have rather divorced us from this seasonal change. By buying produce when it is in its natural season, though, one can find locally grown and, potentially, much better quality produce. Asparagus is a great example; its season here in the UK is eagerly awaited, but sadly quite short, traditionally beginning from 23 April and lasting for only eight weeks or so. However, for green asparagus, as opposed to the blanched stalks often favoured on the continent, British asparagus is truly superb, and, in my view, far superior to those imports that are available throughout the year.
Our introduction to rigidly seasonal produce came when we subscribed to a veg box scheme some years ago, before we started the kitchen garden project at our current home. This forces one to use what is available and, far from being unduly restrictive, it was actually a great pleasure. Of course, there are some vegetables that we are not so fond of, but it is then a challenge to find some method of preparation that makes them more attractive. Now we have seasonal produce of our own for much of the year. We still have to work on securing year round produce, whether freshly dug or from storage, but I suspect that after a few more years adapting sowing times and working on various storage and preservation methods things should improve, and the spring ‘hungry gap’ will gradually diminish.