Weighty challenge at time of abundance

By Martin Kirby

The main courgette flourish is long gone, giving rise at its fridge and freezer-filling height to vast quantities of chilled courgette soup, potato and courgette omelette and ratatouille. They are still coming, though, encouraged by our wine barrel water butt. Finally the tomatoes are relenting. The beef ones weighed in at a pound apiece, and no sooner had we worked out what to do with a basket full then it was time to harvest more. But boy were they tasty. There are still almost daily handfuls of cherry tomatoes and peppers, for salads or to roast with other vegetables from the garden, such as aubergine, garlic and onion and, of course, courgette, with fresh basil and lashings of Mother’s Garden extra virgin olive oil. I am typing at the kitchen table and Maggie, Ella and Joe are at the other end, having a breather from the vegetables by coring and chopping apples to make the utterly circumknockerating family apple chutney recipe as passed down by mother Beryl (of Mattishall), who has just broken off from making tomato chutney at her farmhouse table to give us a call. See recipe page. It has been helpful that holiday cottage visitors have been tucking in to baskets full of our vegetables, and in exchange we have a few euros and more recipes, such as Jonathan of West Sussex’s roast tomato pasta sauce. I will post this tomorrow (if I can lay my hands on it.) As for the spuds, the only varieties available this year were kennebec and red pontiac. Were that we had more choice of seed potatoes hereabouts, but the crop (four brimming wheelbarrows) was satisfactory, with several box loads stored for the winter. We ploughed through the damaged ones, cutting up anything edible and making patatas a lo pobre, described in our essential Moro Cookbook as the delicious combination of large Spanish onions, garlic and long green peppers, and a large quantity of potato wedges, tossed together, seasoned and slowly cooked in olive oil. In the middle of this time of plenty we wandered out into the summer heat to pick elderberries for Maggie’s apple and elderberry syrup and jelly, with an heirloom shepherd’s crook to encourage the branches to bow within reach. Then we swung by the lower terrace to see how the pears were coming along, only to find them ripe, and to discover the artwork of a nest that had been weaved from dried iris leaves. Can any birders among you advise which bird may have created this? Blackbird perhaps? Such an overwhelming time of plenty, when entwined with a resolution to waste nothing, can, if you are not too careful, water the notion that you can have too much of a good thing. Thank goodness for bird nest moments to break our pace.


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