This hasn’t anything at all really to do with cooking but just thought I’d share my garden exploits. I say garden but to clarify mine is a modest yard. It suffers from a wealth o’shade but apart from that it’s a perfect little Eden.
I have planted a number of edibles this year as there is nothing quite as smugifying as picking a vegetable from your own garden for dinner. It really is a wonderful feeling. So in my petite oasis I have planted; potatoes, rhubarb, runner beans, a fierce number of herbs (oregano, bay, chives, rosemary, thyme, basil and sage), strawberries, redcurrants, nasturtium, blueberries and an charming little apple tree (that has, for three years yielded nothing, year four’s the year though. I can feel it in my waters). There were plans for tomatoes but my son decimated my entire crop. He fell out of his pram and I found him sitting in the middle of all of my seedlings. He was fine. My tomatoes were not.
Here are a few photos of my sorry looking garden before I planted anything new.
And here it is after. My potatoes have gone slightly wild which delights me no end. If you, like me, are somewhat limited with border space do as I did.
Choose a few good looking potatoes from your vegetable drawer. Leave them in a light place, near or window or the like, until they start growing little green bits. This process is called chitting. Harhar.
I found myself an empty 15kg dog food bag and an empty 70litre compost bag, but the previous contents are actually unimportant, the main thing is you find a generous capacitied, heavy plastic bag. Evenly roll down the sides until the bag is about 40cm tall. Fill 20cm with a mix of potting compost and top soil (nicely rotted down compost too if you had it), place on 1 – 3 of your chitted potatoes, evenly spaced, on top. Layer on another 10cm of soily stuff. If your bag doesn’t already have a few holes in it’s base, use a knife or other pointy object to make 6 or 7 small holes for drainage. Water well and leave in a sunny position.
When the shoots poke out about 20cm above the soil ‘earth them up’. That is: put a fresh layer of soil on top of the shoots to cover the basal 10cm. With my handy plastic bag set up you can just unfurl the plastic bag as the shoots grow. You’ll need to do a few rounds of earthing up, the main thing is to not let the tubers see the light or they go green and toxic. The potatoes will take about 3 months to develop a full crop so you still have time if you plant some now.
Will we have a potato recipe? Ah go on.
ROAST GARLIC MASHED POTATO WITH CHEDDAR
(you’re getting no photos with this – you can imagine what lovely mash potato with a golden, cheesy crust looks like)
You will need potatoes, garlic, full-fat milk, butter and cheddar but the quantities depend on how many you’re feeding and how garlicy or cheesy you want your mash.
Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius. Take half a bulb of garlic and put it on a baking tray, then drizzle with olive oil. Don’t be peeling the garlic or anything. Put it in the oven papery skin and all.
Pop a big pan of water on the hob.
Peel the potatoes and chop them into 5cm cubes. Throw the potatoes into the water once it boils. They’ll take about 15mins to cook, you’ll know when they’re done when you can easily stab them with a knife.
Drain the potatoes and put them back in the nice warm pot. Add in about a tablespoon of butter for every 3 large potatoes and a generous glug o’ milk. Start squishing them with a masher. Season well and add more milk if necessary. I always think it’s best to add enough milk to make the mash really smooth and almost pourable. If you get it too liquidy you can put it back on the heat to evaporate off the excess milk.
Grate the cheddar, as much as you feel appropriate and then another little bit.
To the garlic. Remove it from the oven, it should be soft when you squeeze a clove between your fingers. Now squeeze out each of the cloves into the mash, until sufficiently garlicy for your liking. Give the mash another good smush with the masher to make sure everything is well combined.
Pour the mash into an ovenproof dish and scatter over the cheese. Pop it into the oven and let it melt away till bubbly and starting to brown.
Eat it. Eat it all.