Sunday, September 28, 2008

Strawberries too.

I just picked 15 strawberries from the two strawberry plants I have in my front yard. I've always loved fresh produce but am amazed at how different these strawberries taste from ones bought in the shop, even 'organic' shops. The strawberries are only little - about 1cm-1.5cm long - but the flavour is incredible. The juice simply bursts from the berry and smothers your taste buds in sensation. They don't keep long as I pick them ripe but I don't think I'll ever buy another strawberry, if I can avoid it. Fresh picked is so much more satisfying. We'll have them tonight for dessert.

I've also been using other things from my little garden. Tonight I'll use the last of the pak choy. It's amazing how long it's kept in the fridge. I picked the last of it - two huge armfuls - about three weeks ago and just dumped them in the vege bins in bottom of the fridge. The last bunch that I'm using tonight is still just as plump and crisp as the day it was picked. I'm sure I can credit some of that longevity to the efficiency of the fridge but some of it has to be the fact that the veges were fresh picked. The flavour is different from store-bought as well. Sometimes there's some bitterness in the stalks - not with my home-grown ones.

I haven't had a problem with pests before but I'm battling grubs for my cabbage. I think it's because I haven't planted herbs around the cabbage like I did with the other things. I tried a garlic spray last week but it didn't seem to do much so now I'm trying milk. I'm not sure yet whether it's working but we only found four grubs today compared to about 10 each day last week. I'll spray them with milk for a few more days just to see if the grubs return.

I'm not much of a gardener. I don't like digging or weeding. I'll even avoid watering if I can - we have to use recycled water bucketed from the bathroom and laundry because of water restrictions here. But I love reaping the benefits and I love the sense of satisfaction I get preparing a meal that has its basis in my own home-grown vegetables.

I have friends who say they get bored with food - it's the same things, the same flavours all the time. Even if I cook the same vegetables every day (because that's what's coming out of the garden at the moment), I never get bored. I grew those vegetables myself, as well as the herbs I cook with them. The changes in the produce coming from the garden as one vegetable finishes and the next one comes into season keep me interested. And I change the herbs I put with them and the methods of cooking so I end up with something different every day.

Tonight I think I'll make pasta as well - I have the basic ingredients and it will give me a perfect excuse to play in the kitchen for a while and not do an assignment that's due. Wouldn't it be nice to have everything served at the table home-grown or home-made? I'd love to do that.

I've made a start. I make chutneys, jams and jellies whenever I can and I make my own bread every week. The vege garden has taken that one step further.

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