Not in the garden – that still fills me with joy and keeps me busy – although just last week I had barely been out there as the temperatures dropped, the wind picked up and the rain came in sideways! It probably wasn’t as cold as in the middle of winter when I just accepted it would be cold and just wrapped up warm and got on with it. But when you have experienced a few warm days that hint at the wonderful warmth summer will bring – you can get a little soft when it comes to a shock cold snap. The good news is the warmth returned bringing the sunshine with it and I’ve made great progress towards catching up.
No – this rut is in the kitchen, and it is down to a number of things. At the end of a busy day in the garden, the last thing I want to be in the kitchen is adventurous and will quickly rustle up an old favourite that is quick and easy. The other cooks in the household have their own ‘go to’ recipes as well and so we have easily fallen into a routine of the same old same old.
Another reason is the price of food has gone up – especially with meat. I can’t remember when we last had a good old roast beef dinner that was a weekly staple when I grew up. Often, we come home from the supermarket with the same cheap cuts or none at all because we can’t justify the expense. And when it is on special, we stock up and load the freezer for the weeks when we decide not to buy into the price of it.
Another determining factor is the ‘I don’t like that’ brigade. The Teen Lads can be quite vocal in their likes and dislikes and not wanting food to go to waste I often cave and cook something ‘more palatable’ to them rather than get into a battle of wills at the table. Although handy tip for parents of teens – if I intentionally suggest cooking something containing a number of things they don’t like – like for example a pumpkin quiche – which actually to me sounds delish with fresh herbs, bacon and other bits and bobs thrown in for good measure, which I will make one day. Well… in order to avoid being faced with something so distasteful, the teen will offer to jump in there and cook something else with none of the pre-emptive teen moaning that often comes with being asked to do something… and we don’t need to worry about cooking dinner.
Rest assured, nothing from the garden is wasted as I have a ‘I grew it – you’ll eat it’ philosophy. Most is incorporated into our ‘go to’ meals or becomes a hill to die on at the table.
So, taking all of this into consideration, I want to explore something new. I want to try and celebrate the garden and negate the expensive meat problem by intentionally creating one plant base dish a week. Not one thrown together out of necessity – those happen anyway, but one researched from the many vegetarian recipe books I have in my collection from that time was in the UK and went vegetarian to avoid Mad Cow Disease. Although all these years later I still can’t give blood here in NZ – even though I was a vegetarian. I can also browse through all the vegetable based cookbooks I bought along the way to inspire me to get creative with the harvest but only ever looked at them!
These meals will be lovingly planned in advance with no swapping out of ingredients because they weren’t in the pantry. Sometimes when I wing it – I get away with it and other times the meal is served with a side dish of good intentions and apologies.
Not only will it take cooking from the garden as an after thought which it often sneaks into, but bring it into the process of daily gardening, as much as weeding and watering. There will be joy in finding a newly ready crop or one heaving with abundance paired up with the perfect recipe and bringing it to the table with joy. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Come again soon – I have noticed a fennel is ready and I’m sure I’ve seen a great recipe on a page somewhere.
Sarah the Gardener : o)