This February is a little chaotic at Golightly Gardens, to say the least, but amazingly we have a few things growing here that are ready to eat. Must have been more organised than I thought last year.
Yes, against the odds we have a few foodstuffs to pick that have overwintered nicely. Somehow they survived the torrential rain, low light levels and relentless tide of slugs that was 2012 and I’m looking forward to harvesting them.
We don’t have the full range of winter crops here, as it’s a fairly small growing space, but here’s what I’ve picked and cooked so far this month:
· Sprout tops (which were delicious sautéed in butter)
· Japanese bunching onions (whole thing sliced and stir-fried)
· Dwarf green kale (steamed on the side of Sunday dinner)
· Red chicory (mixed with sliced orange and milder leaves)
· White Lisbon spring onions (in a salad with goats’ cheese)
· Last of the windowsill basil (with tinned tomatoes and pasta)
· Last of the Autumn sprouting broccoli (with garlic and soy sauce)
Okay, I’ll admit it, I forgot to pull up the autumn sprouting broccoli at the end of last year. Fortunately it has favoured us with a few extra spears before expiring, which is handy because the spring set of sprouting broccoli is currently doing what my gran would call ‘the square root of sweet FA’. In other – more polite – words, not much so far.
We’re in the middle of having some building work done right now to make sure our little house doesn’t fall down, and as part of this we’re putting a new kitchen because the old one was starting to disintegrate. Currently, we’re limited to making meals with a microwave, a kettle and a toaster, but once it’s all sorted out we’ll be eating up some more seasonal food from the garden, like:
· Leaf beet (aka perpetual spinach)
· Land cress
· Oriental greens
· Baby leaf salad (in the mini-greenhouse)
Since microwave food is usually such a miserable affair, I did some batch cooking for the freezer before the building onslaught began. Oh boy, am I glad I was a couple of steps ahead of myself for once – I hate most ready meals, and even the nicest takeaway gets old very quickly if you have it too often.
First of all I made a slowly-cooked casserole base with bay leaves, thyme, carrot, swede, parsnip and leek. All nice seasonal foods and really cheap and easy. These can have whatever you like mixed into them to keep it interesting, for example pre-cooked butter beans, chick peas, veggie mince, etc. The other half eats meat so he’s added some cooked chicken to one, and some kabanos to another.
The other batch cooking I did was a black bean stew, with lots of onions, garlic and the last of our homegrown chillies. We’ve had this wrapped up in microwaved flour tortillas to make fajitas, as stew with cous cous on the side, and on top of baked potatoes with cheese. No dodgy horse meat lasagnes here then.
It might be a while before we have a working kitchen again, but I’m looking forward to some freshly cooked dinners when we do. There are lots of tasty treats on my shopping list, including:
· Forced rhubarb
For a full list of what’s in season in February, please see our British seasonal food guide for this month. It’s full of fresh, delicious ingredients that are at their best.