Each day has a new happening in the rabbit hutch. Day 21 and two little bunnies hopped towards the cage door, reared on their hind paws, reached and sniffed the fresh grass and leaf matter in my hand I was about to feed to their mother. This evening, the kits took baby nibbles of their first vegetable, the silverbeet leaf and stalk, organically grown in my garden, was intended for their mother. Meanwhile. Mama Oreo was absorbed eating freshly picked puha and young thistles. Nothing but the best freshly picked home grown produce for these small creatures.
Not feeling like cooking tonight after a busy and tiring day. But put dinner on the table I must – particularly as the Type-II diabetic member of the household must follow a regular and healthy eating plan. The whole family can eat the same meals and everything cooked in one-dish is a quick way to get a meal to the table. By no means an expert, I am now used to making sense of the nutritional numbers on food labels and I make sure there are suitable packets and tins of convenience food staples in the pantry. My garden vegetables and herbs provide that vital fresh green element. It is important to reduce fat, not add salt and to enhance flavour with herbs and spices.
Blood glucose levels are directly affected by the kind and amount of carbohydrate foods eaten. Non-starchy vegetables like aubergine, chilli, onions, pumpkin, silverbeet or swiss chard and zucchini are less likely to raise blood glucose levels. One tip I picked up at at a diabetic dietary seminar was to decide the kind of carbohydrate and then to build the dish around that. Wild and long grain rice would be the ¼ plate serve of carbohydrate. Tonight’s ¼ plate serve of protein was diced lean lamb.
Tonight’s recipe, if it can be called that, made about 5 to 6 servings. We eat off small dinner plates – a dietary portion control tip. Flavours and quantities were decided at random as I cooked, using whatever was to hand in the fridge and on the shelf.
Lightly spray the cooking surface of an electric frypan with Canola oil. Preheat the frypan.
Sauté 1 large chopped onion, 1 finely chopped yellow chilli and 1 heaped teaspoon each of crushed garlic and ginger pastes.
Add 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, fenugreek, cardamom, dried coriander flakes and ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Stir and continue to sauté for about 1 minute.
Brown about 500 grams of diced lamb that has been trimmed of excess fat. Stir in about 2 cups of peeled, diced pumpkin and 1 medium diced aubergine.
Add 250ml no-added salt vegetable stock. Stir and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Dice 1 large zucchini and shred several leaves of silverbeet or swiss chard. Add to the meat mixture and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
Stir in and gently heat through 165ml coconut cream (no additives).
Taste and adjust flavours as desired.
Microwave pre-cooked wild and long grain rice according to instructions on packet.
Serve and enjoy.
Gardening 101. Do not, do not turn your back on the summer garden plot. Himself and I took a five-day break and the veggies threw a party.
Cos lettuces bolted to seed. Cucumber had a marrow growing competition with the zucchini. Pineapple sage bush transformed into a monster. Runner beans did a vertical sprint. Vine ripened tomatoes got saucy. Yellow quinces just wanted to carpet the grass. And the chooks fell in love with the red juicy tomatoes and grubbing among the green herbs.
This cook has the last say. Olive oil, oregano, black pepper and roast slowly in the oven for about one hour. Slip the skins off when cooled. Use as required. I freeze the pulp in meal lots to use with pasta dishes at a later time.
“Is chutney a savoury jam, or is jam a sweet chutney?”
The answer according to New Zealand foodwriter, the late Digby Law on page 11 of his Pickle and Chutney Cookbook (reprinted in 1992), my go-to recipe book for many years, is that chutney is a savoury jam. Chutneys, cooked or uncooked, savoury or sweet, add great flavour bursts to many dishes.
Earlier this morning, while it was still cool enough to work in the kitchen, I processed ripe tomatoes picked last night to make Tomato Chutney using a tried and true recipe. Himself thinks it “smells good”. When preparing tomatoes, I always scald the fruit with boiling water and remove the skins. I used white sugar, which gives the chutney a lighter colour, simply because I had no brown sugar in my pantry.
Overnight it seemed, the cucumbers became my new garden triffids, too big to make dill pickles. Flip to page 30 of Law’s cookbook and I note I can use 3kg of peeled cucumbers to make a light, refreshing chutney. Vegetables are now salted and standing in a glass bowl until tomorrow.
Meanwhile, back in the garden, the Mangere Pole beans were soaking up the morning sunshine after drinking up lots of rain yesterday. About midday, I picked one bucket load. Back in the kitchen, the beans were topped ‘n tailed, sliced, blanched in boiling water, drained, plunged into cold water, drained, dried, sealed in large, labelled ziplock plastic bags then put into the freezer 30 minutes after being picked.
How fresh is this?
The Daily Post: Write about something that happened over the weekend as though it’s the top story on your local paper.
The first of the post-World War II babies born in 1946 are turning seventy this month.
Last Saturday, neighbours and friends joined family to mark Brother-in-law’s (BiL) three score and ten milestone. BiL thought “about sixty people” were invited. BiL is the fifth generation of his family to live in the farmhouse built by his ancestor. The key to enjoying this occasion is to understand the traditions, the echo of a past way of life. BiL prides himself on being able to provide food from the sea and the land. And the beer must flow. It is the way things are done. Sister has been married to BiL for forty-five years. They have two sons and two grandchildren.
Eleven-year old announces the birthday, “he’s going to be seventy and we’re saying it loud and proud”.
“My mother used this pot” said BiL as he placed butchered lamb into the cast iron camp oven to be placed on the embers. How did women manage to lift these large heavy cooking pots? How did they endure the cooking fire heat in the summer like the warm temperatures in the weekend? BiL, the youngest of five children, recalled his boyhood, living without electricity. “It was my job to split the kindling and get the fire going first thing in the morning and make my mother a cup of tea.”
It was like the clock stopped at the time when people lived off the land and hunted game animals and fished to feed their families. Into another pot went a dressed wild turkey. Older Nephew told me he “shot it up at the Cape”. The cured ham hanging on a hook came from a wild boar hunted in the “bush at the back of the farm.” Potatoes were dug and peeled and salads were prepared. The helpers picked at slices of locally processed salami made from scraps of the wild pork. Older nephew, a commercial fisherman, filleted and marinated the snapper in coconut milk and lemon juice. Earlier, he had dived for scallops and shucked these ready to be grilled. Sister placed seventy candles on the cake.
“It’s a proven scientific fact that people who have more birthdays, live longer.” After midnight the beer and wine was flowing as were the birthday tributes and old stories. The guests had eaten. BiL yarned about the golden summers of his youth about what he and his mate used to get up to. They worked on the land and hunted “without aches and pains”. Fifty years ago BiL could not have imagined how medical technology would replace his hip.
So the Babyboomers are turning seventy. Growing older is a privilege denied to many. Often friends and family have died or moved away. Seventy is a number to clap and count as the candles on the cake are blown out.
Husband told BiL as he handed a gift of aged Scotch whiskey, ”drink it with me, don’t keep it to drink at our wakes.” Celebrate age “loud and proud”.
The microwave is bleeping. Dilemma! Dinner is almost ready. Do I finish writing this blog post now, here at the kitchen table? It’s nearly 7 p.m. The family is hungry at the end of a warm summer working day. I have a glass of New Zealand Pinot Gris to hand. For writing inspiration, you understand. The wine is chilled and full of fresh fruity flavours. I’m enjoying its delicate taste. Perhaps I’ll finish my wine as I write some more words here and now. I’m sure the others can dish up their own dinner. Hot sweetcorn can’t be too difficult to serve. Butter. Salt. Pepper. Yum! Real easy summertime finger-licking fresh food. I know the chickens will enjoy pecking away at the leftover corncobs.
It was an El Nino stormy start to the 2016 calendar year. The weather radar mapped the heavy rain as it headed our way. The Moon calendar for 01 January recommended a ‘rest day’. So I followed the cat’s example and ‘curled up’ for a day indoors.
This afternoon, the rain eased and the wind died down. I ventured outdoors for some fresh air. It’s great the rainwater has more-or-less re-filled both tanks. I was pleased to see there was no storm damage. I really should have put on wet-weather gear and worked in the garden as the Moon calendar for 02 January recommended and sown beetroot, swede and turnip seeds. But I didn’t. And I wasn’t there to check what the chickens were doing.
I’m not pleased about the carnage caused by sneak avian attacks. It’s official. The chickens are no longer cute! They are in deep disgrace and have been locked up in their cage. Their crime? They chomped through the kale. A wet day and they were bored! Sigh! That’s one of my green salad items gone to the birds.
So much for believing in letting chooks free-range.
What’s more, I spotted blackbirds devour the last of the cherimoyas. This tough green-skinned fruit had been cleanly peeled and the juicy aromatic white flesh exposed for pecking. Our early heritage ‘Strawberry’ apples are being savoured by small native birds. We’re a bit luckier with this fruit tree and have managed to pick the apples as we wanted.
I must think how to protect the pear tree before it begins to ripen in about April. It’s loaded with fruit. Last year, the pukekos joined in and jumped into the fruit trees in search of juicy fruit. It’s never-ending. At least we’re enjoying the peaches after we stripped that tree to avoid losing the fruit to the possums and birds.
Ahhh! Himself has just handed me a drink. Forget the angst. Maybe the answer is in the bottom of the glass. Cheers, m’dears!