My Garden – garden harvest and McNaughton’s Comet

Lots of family turned up this weekend for different reasons. On Saturday, we had a real feast from the garden. The Red Rascal and Urenika (Maori potato) potatoes were harvested by hand – I don’t like to fork for potatoes, and anyway, it’s not necessary when they have been grown in rotted hay which can be easily pulled away. Herbs and salad leaves were picked and dressed with a balsamic vinagrette. The beetroot was peeled, quartered, rubbed with olive oil and pepper and roasted.

I like to serve chilled water (we collect rainwater) in a clear glass jug with herbs and fruit that I have grown. This time I simply used borage flowers, lemon balm leaves and slices of lemon. As the strawberries are still fruiting, Grandson Number One (aged eight) who’s been learning about cooking, got into the kitchen and whippped up strawberry milkshakes for his brothers, sister and cousin. His ‘recipe’ (no quantities) calls for full-cream milk and vanilla icecream blended with a bit of strawberry flavouring. Pour into a glass, add a BIG scoop of icecream, a colourful drinking straw, sliced freshly picked strawberries and serve saying, “bon appetit!”   

An adult nephew’s birthday was an excuse to celebrate with Banana Cake – an family favourite made from a recipe my mother’s used for years. Method: Cream 125g butter and 175g sugar. Add 2 eggs and 2 mashed ripe bananas. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 2 tablespoons of boiling milk. Add to mixture. Sift 225grams of flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder and stir into mixture. Bake in 20cm greased cake tin at 180C for about 20 minutes. When cooled, split cake in half.  Filling: Blend whipped cream and marscapone. Spread across the bottom cake layer. Top with sliced bananas. Cover with top cake layer. Chocolate Icing: Blend about 1 cup of icing sugar, 1 tablespoon of softened butter, 1 dessertspoon of boiling water and 1 to 2 tablespoons of cocoa and vanilla essence. Spread over top cake layer. Sprinkle with long thread coconut to decorate.          

I have a banana plant (grown from a sucker given to me) that is sheltered from wind. It grows strong stems and will produce a bunch of small fruit that amount to nothing. It’d be nice to be able to grow bananas to eat but we do get light frosts at times. While I haven’t really paid much attention to growing this fruit – I do like the ornamental effect. It may be that my plant isn’t the right one for the conditions.          

We enjoyed a barbeque in the garden last night with friends and family and watched McNaughton’s Comet that’s been appearing in the New Zealand western sky just after sunset for the last few nights. Sis-in-law mused how gazing at such a natural universal event links us with skywatchers before our time and elsewhere.  Who will be watching this comet when it returns in a million years? We had no answers for this and other big questions.

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