pumpkin

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The Garden

Had it not been for the recent rains, this might have played out like the desert scene in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly with Eva as Eli Wallach and the carrots as Clint Eastwood.

I’m happy to say that my vegetable garden is coming along well. It’s a modest size, taking up part of the side garden, originally reserved for the hills hoist. What I wanted was something that I could potter around for 10 minutes in after work and it fits that bill perfectly.

It features a lemon tree and a lemonade tree. The lemonade tree has coughed up a couple of edible lemon-like fruit this season and we’re hoping for a big year next year. The lemon tree went much of the way for providing for a giant jar of preserved Moroccan lemons.

Herbs are parsely, thyme, coriander, sage, rosemary and fennel. A Holden 186 straight 6 engine block is doing a great job a a herb planter. I’ve also just got some Mexican paleo-coriander seeds that I’m going to plant.

Vegetables; the carrots are the go. Grown from seed, they’ve been enthusiastic enough to require thinning. Next to them is baby beetroot. Apparently the leaves are great in a salad but I always worry I’ve mixed it up with rhubarb, which has deadly leaves. Rocket’s rampant. Snowpeas, are also away and working their way up the trellis, and broadbeans, grown from seed, are just popping up. A nifty trick I got from the telly is to use an empty egg carton as a seedling box.

It’s not going to get us through a famine but it fies my soul and fills the spot.

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macadamia crusted lamb


Clean-up of pantry (2006 was a busy year for shopping apparently) yielded a bag of macadamia nuts and hence.

Crust is equal parts macadamia nuts and breadcrumbs with some chopped parsley tossed in. Just press on top. You can brown, as I did, the rack beforehand if you like. Marinade is EVOO red wine vinegar, rosemary and smoked paprika.

Minikin is stuffed with couscous, butter, chicken stock, dried raisins, macadamia nuts and pepitas. Mixed together and placed in the cavity. As a handy hint; use a round biscuit cutter to cut a lid out of the minkin.

Underneath the lamb is slices of field mushroom and red onion.

All cooked in 180C oven for 25 minutes*. Rest the lamb rack for 5 minutes. Toss the snow pea shoots in some EVOO and good salt. Serve.

I was really just using stuff I had but it worked together nicely.

*Actually 25 minutes is more of an averaging, the pumpkins could go up to thirty and the lamb could get down to 15-17 if you were after something closer to rare.

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A small person

As a believer in music as the companion of all good things in life, I’ve always been taken by Californian friend and how on the day his child was born, Beautiful Day by U2 came on the radio and he started crying. As I drove home in what would be a quick stop on the way to hospital the iPod gave me What’s Inside a Girl? by the Cramps. Three and a half hours later I found out.
It’s another girl.

seven pounds and one ounce

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Been reading Richard Olney’s Simple French Food, and while he’s no Major Les he does make for a good read as an inspring blend of bile, obsession, and love. Though I’m yet to find the point where he dots the “i” and realises the common trend of appropriation, softening and santisation as culture moves upwards in the social hierarchy (see Rock, Roll and; Ball, Foot). Anyway most of the dishes started there.

Lamb

One nice looking leg of Cramphorne Edge of Civillisation Saltbush-Fed lamb. It’s always good to adjust a few things to see the effects of changing ingredients but I got out to the herb garden and went mad with the secateurs.

Trimmed most of the fat off and then made finger sized pockets in the roast. I let it marinade in some EVOO, leftover sangiovese, and a splash of sherry.

Next I filled the holes with the herb mix – finely minced rosemary, garlic, parsely, thyme, green peppercorns, and a little sage with a bit of EVOO mixed in. Rubbed a little salt and oil over the roast and then placed it on a bed of quartered leek and lavender. In it went at 190C for 20 minutes and then down to 170C. Continued to baste over the course of the cooking and adding some of the reserved marinade as necessary.

Minikins

Pumpkins the size of a baby’s fist, made a few vents in the top and chucked them in with the roast, making sure they got a good basting.

Du Puy Lentils

Previous story on these is here . Rinsed and then cooked in enough water to cover with a bacon bone, a bay leaf, and a sprig of parsley. Simmered for 25 minutes.

Braised Fennel

Stalks chopped off, quartered, gently browned in some EVOO with four unpeeled garlic cloves for 30 minutes then placed in a small saucepan with some salt and 2/3 cup of water, covered and left to simmer until the water has reduced to a caramelized syrup.

Potato Paillasson

Thinly slicing some potatoes on the slicer for this and then that feeling of having done something very wrong and looking down at my right ring finger to see a patch of skin missing. Off to the sink to lose a bit of blood and then sitting down with a nonstick dressing and a paper towel wrapped around it. Assistant chefs took over under close unnerving supervision. Potato slices washed and dried then spread in a frypan with some duck fat in it. Covered and cooked until golden underneath and then flipped.

Finishing Up

Roast took a shade under two hours and was rested for 20 minutes under some foil. A quick and easy jus made with a splash of wine and some of the liquid from the lentils. Roast carved and served.

Meat was nicely pale and subtly flavoured by the herbs and well complemented by the veges and lentils. Did the lamb a great justice and the finger will be OK.

Not forgetting drinks. Started with beers including a quite sweet Caledonian Golden Promise organic beer Had a 2001 Mc William’s Hanwood Estate Cab Sav which had a hint of dark caramelly sherbert that I love, did I detect the ghost of a sherry in there as well?

Conversation drifted inevitably to the November elections. Pork gets fork.

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