Sow, Grow and Throw [into a pot]

Summer is for lighter eating, with little preparation – the long hot summer we had and is continuing, has yielded so much produce and has spurred me on to experiment with new dishes. Here are some of my recent meals:

In January, when I had an abundance of lettuce we would have chilled lettuce soup which was wonderfully refreshing and soothing on a hot day or night, and all it required was picking a good handful or 2 of lettuce leaves, chopping it roughly and braising it in a little oil and water and when wilted the addition of some vegetable stock and seasonings and the whole mixture blended and chilled for a couple of hours- a dollop of natural yoghurt or sour cream and a couple of ice cubes at serving and you have a delicious easy refreshing soup. -Using kale or chard, very simply braised in a little olive oil and water and seasoned with sliced garlic, salt and pepper makes a good base for the addition of cooked chick peas or barley or lentils.
-Sun ripened garden tomatoes, sliced thickly and dressed with shredded basil and some parsley and freshly picked rocket, sprinkled over with good olive oil and served on grilled home made sourdough bread with some fetta or fresh mozzarella cheese.
-Grilled haloumi on a bed of rocket with nasturtium leaves and flowers and some toasted crushed almond scattered on top along with a few olives.
-Grilled salmon with a sorrel pesto and a potato salad.
-Chopped chive and chard stuffed dumplings, steamed and then lightly fried
- a glut of cherry tomatoes meant that I had enough to be roasted with a sprinkling of olive oil, salt and pepper and used in sour cream pastry tart over some crumbled goat’s curd or fetta.
- Fennel, quartered and braised in a dash of white wine, olive oil and water until the edges are just charred, sprinkled over with grated parmesan and a few delicate fennel fronds.
-Freshly picked beans and assorted shredded leaves, and sliced chillies quickly stir-fried along with soy sauce, bean curd and noodles…

These are memories of summer lunches and dinners that required very little effort or expense. And the added benefit of not having little packs of expensive herbs and vegetables going mouldy in the fridge.

The benefits of growing and picking fresh, and the health aspects are that it has altered my way of eating and cooking and also resulted in much less wastage, a side benefit is that I have a source to literally draw from, for the illustrations I do for my website/blog which now features seasonal produce and a recipe that I have recently done.

For me the internet has been a wonderful resource both for gardening and cooking. With growing veggies and herbs I have at my fingertips a wealth of information on what to grow, when to grow, how to grow, how to combat disease and predators and what I really love: how to propagate from seeds and cuttings. I have over the past 3 years grown from seed that I have collected each season: tomatoes, rocket, parsley, fennel, lettuce, peppers and borage. I have successfully struck cuttings of various herbs for friends and it is such a feeling of achievement to see seedlings grown from seed thrive and flourish.