Friday, 19 October 2012

Fennel and "last ofs

I forgot to tell you, dear diary, that last week I had one of the few success stories of the year.

Hidden and ignored in among the weeds were five or six Florence fennel bulbs which hadn't withered away like the rest of the garden! Most were small only a couple of inches across, but one, the star of the show, was as big as my hand. I just wish I had remembered to take a photo of it. Very annoying!

Apparently they are quite tricky to grow, and I have completely neglected them, apart from the occasional weeding. Perhaps that is the secret...ignore things more and lots of luck.

I have never eaten or cooked fennel before, so after consultation with MGG, I halved the big one and cooked the others whole. They had a lovely delicate aniseed y taste. The outer leaves on the big one were a bit tough but the inner and the smaller ones were very nice indeed. I didn't do anything fancy to them as I like to see what a thing tastes like, au naturelle, before I start messing around with it. So I steamed them and served them with a very mild cheese sauce, along with new potatoes and the last of the runner beans and a juicy lamb chop. Mm-mm....

Another "last of" is the beetroot. I pulled them all out because the were getting in the way of my new path and beds arrangement. Typically, they ended up in the middle of a path rather than a bed. There were about twenty, some so small they went straight on the compost heap, but the rest I cooked, sliced and pickled.This time I just cooked and sliced the beetroot and poured on some ready made pickling vinegar. I hope they turn out better than my pickled shallots (see entry for 8th August 2011)which were a disaster. The instructions in my book said to steep the shallots in brine overnight before they were put in the spiced vinegar, which I duly did. But, almost a year later, when I opened the jar, they turned out much too salty to eat. As I don't like wasting anything, even a whole jar of inedible shallots, I washed them a few times and left them in several changes of water until a lot of the saltiness had gone, and then I warmed them through with the Brussels sprouts. They were very good, well I thought so. The rest of the family seemed a bit doubtful. Such stick-in-the-muds!

There isn't much more left in the garden, some potatoes, brassica, celeriac, leeks and winter onions. It might have been possible to plant more things for over winter, but it has been such a miserable year and the garden has been constantly wet, I just haven't had the heart.  I can't even get my garlic cloves in its been so wet.

1 comment:

  1. I got some free Fennel seeds with a gardening Magazine I bought today. I have never seen or tasted it. It it nice to know what it tastes like and what to do with it if it grows for me. Marion