As noon approached earlier today, the skies cleared and a mathematical equation formed in my mind:
Freshly picked veg + pizza base from cupboard + table & chair on back patio + seed cataogue = perfect lunchtime.
And it was indeed very enjoyable, although the list of seeds I want to try next year is already spiraling out of control. The pizza benefited from some delicious basil torn and scattered on top and I’m already growing three varieties but have now seen several more must-haves.
Next it was time to sow some seeds for a late autumn crop. Leafy vegetables grow so well and quickly at this time of year that it’s almost wrong not to grow them. Just between the mustard leaves and Mizuna lettuces, I sowed some Chinese cabbage, of the variety Wa Wa Sai. I find Chinese cabbage delicious and hope these do well.
The herb bed welcomed a sowing of wild garlic seeds – a first timer for me and interesting as there are no bulbs like proper garlic but rather it produces leaves with a mild garlic taste. I expect they could be delicious slightly wilted as an accompaniment to a main course, if the flavour survives cooking that is. We’ll see.
While doing some weeding I was glad to have left string markers for the rows of radish and raab broccoli. Some of the weeds looked very similar to the small plants and they’re all growing at the same rapid pace.
That can be slightly troublesome with some plants though. I’ve a small raised bed full of Spagna Bianco bean plants and they’ve been growing so vigorously that I can snap six inch shoots off the top that simply weren’t there the day before. Conversely they keep throwing out more flowers, which in theory would turn into more delicious beans but it’s really too late in the year for them to develop fully.
So I’m trying to keep the plants in check so that all their energy goes into filling out the beans which have already appeared. It’s the same late season practice as taking the top off tomato plants and removing leaves to let the sun onto the fruit.
Back indoors I was keen to try making up a spice mix called Baharat, since seeing a recipe a few days ago.
It’s Middle Eastern and is used to flavour all sorts of dishes. It was very simple to make: blend paprika, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, coriander, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon and nutmeg. Blitzed in a blender, it’s done in seconds.
It did make me wish though that I grew more of those spicy ingredients rather than using bought ones. So I tried making some chilli powder, picking a few Medina and red Jalapeños, slicing them and drying them in a low oven for a couple of hours. Thanks to Herbs & Wildcrafting for the idea.
Again, a quick spin in the mini blender and it was done. I’ve heard experts mention adding cumin, but forgot until later so will try that next time. It’s striking how many chillies you need to make a reasonable amount of powder. I was nowhere near filling a standard-sized spice jar, but wouldn’t really want to use a lot of my chilli harvest just to make powder. I’d rather use them fresh or freeze them whole.
Now of course I have to look into which other spices can grow in the cooler northern English climate. Back to the seed catalogues again .. an excuse for another slice of that pizza!