Monday, July 07, 2014

The Green Gene

This morning I picked an Iceberg lettuce from "Tom's Patch". As you can see below, it weighed in at 1.3kg without the outer leaves, which is pretty impressive I reckon. The photo on the right is Tom's garden, his first attempt at growing vegetables. So far Tom is the only one of our three kids that has shown any interest in gardening, although they all love eating home grown veggies. I live in hope that the other two will take it up when they have their own places. I'm fairly confident it will happen, they have gardening genes from both sides of the family…how can they not? 

Anyway, I am thrilled with Tom's success and there is nothing like success to breed enthusiasm!  Actually, Tom showed an inclination towards gardening when he was very young. I have vivid memories of him helping me weed the carrots when he was only three or four years old and we have a priceless video of him kicking out double-gees (prickles), wearing his little blue gumbooots. Of course all three kids used to love 'sneaking' into the veggie garden and stealing peas and carrots, especially when I'd told them they couldn't have anything to eat until dinner time!

My own love for gardening was also sparked at an early age. Both my Mum's mum and my Dad's parents were keen gardeners. Of my paternal grandparents, Nanny grew the flowers and Poppa the veggies. As kids we just loved picking strawberries, passionfruit, swedes and carrots from Poppa's garden. And Nanny delighted in taking us around her wonderful rose and flower beds, encouraging us to learn the names of all that grew in them. 

My Dad too, is a very good gardener. He had a wonderful veggie garden on the farm where my brother and sister and I grew up, and I strongly remember being dwarfed by his towering corn crop, and of the freezer being filled with corn on the cob. Incidentally, both my brother and sister are very keen and capable gardeners.

I hope I haven't bored you silly with my little trip down memory lane. I suppose I just wanted to illustrate the value of involving your children/grandchildren in the garden if you wish them to follow suit. The photo on the right is of me picking fruit from one of the two magnificent English mulberry trees on our farm…excuse the length of my shorts - it was the 70s!!

So, what's happening in my garden at the moment? Well, the beans are beaning, the peas are peaing (sorry I couldn't resist) and the first broccoli is ready to pick…in fact I have a feeling we are going to be eating a fair bit of broccoli over the coming few weeks! 

We've had a couple of frosts and the tomatoes got a bit burnt, but not wiped out, and everything else seems to have survived. Fortunately the beans were well protected near the wall of the garden and, in their towers, the spuds are too high off the ground to be bothered by a bit of common garden frost!  

I am picking carrots and beetroot but still waiting on the fennel. We are loving the beautiful little butter lettuces - I will happily eat the best part of a whole one, drizzled with good olive oil, a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.                                                                                                                      
The raised flower bed is looking very colourful, although the cornflowers haven't bloomed yet. I am totally enamoured with the stunning colours of the snap dragons…if only I could magic them into fabric!!


One problem I have with producing written recipes for  Outback Larder is that I am essentially an intuitive cook and, while I may get inspiration from books, blogs, magazines and websites, I rarely actually follow recipes….and I am not too good at recording what I do as I go!! So, this 'recipe' may not appeal to you if you like to follow them to the letter but if you like the idea of it then try Googling 'fish tacos.'

Recently my daughter Fran and I made fish tortillas and they were absolutely delicious. We made the tortillas from scratch, using the instructions on the packet of the Bob's Red Mill Masa Harina-Golden Corn Flour which is very simply to mix the flour, salt and water into a dough, rest it, roll it and cook it in a hot pan. This made about 10 tortillas- which were very 'rustic' and not very round!!

We then made a marinade paste by blending approximately:

50g (1 cup) roughly chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves and stems
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoons cumin
1 small red chilli, seeded and chopped
1 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
zest of 1 lime
80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil

into which we rolled strips of firm white fish and left it to marinate for 15 minutes while making the salad.

Before serving we fried the fish in a hot pan with a bit of olive oil for a couple of minutes.

The salad was like a chunky guacamole of diced tomatoes, cucumber, and avocado, finely chopped red onion, chopped coriander, a bit of chopped chilli, lime juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. 

For the sauce we mixed half a cup of good, whole egg mayonnaise with the zest and juice of one lime.

Trust me, it tasted better than it looks in this very bad photo!!


  1. Am enjoying reading your blog. Your vege patch looks wonderful. Do you get enough rain to be bothered with weeds? I am in SA and the bain of my vege patch is the mallows - currently around my height, and stinging nettles, very discouraging, but after seeing yours - I need to get back out in mine when we get a fine day. Kt.

    1. Hi Kt, thanks for your comment. Yes, weeds can be a problem but to be honest there is nothing like knowing you will be sharing your patch with the world to inspire you to keep on top of them! The mallows are waist high outside the patch but fortunately we don't have stinging nettles here. The weeder stick that I wrote about a little while ago has been fantastic as you can go around and weed the patch with it relatively quickly. I am getting very few weeds coming up now. I wish we were hoping for a fine day, we haven't had too many wet days since early May.

  2. Love the post Emma, brought back many memories. The "Brother".
    PS also like the new background to your blog.

  3. Thanks Alistair. Bought back lots of memories for me too! Glad you like the new look, thanks for suggesting I change it. xx