We have had a couple of very good week ends of Open Studio, with lots of visitors and good sales. This is the best Open Studio that we have participated in. The Open Studio Trail has been operating now for about 10 years and we have participated in 5 of them. We would have been involved in more of them, but they fell on times when we we’re away or unable to take part for one reason or another . So this has been good for us to see a strong response to our domestic pots.
It has been frenetic, but very good. we are looking forward to a slightly easier and quieter time for the next little while. We have a lot of other small, deferred jobs to catch up on, as well as a kiln to finish building. It has been sitting in stasis for the past two weeks while we concentrated on the pottery.
The Lovely has been busy dealing with the new garlic. We have had it spread out to dry all over the place from in the sun on the front verandah to the kitchen floor in front of the big window. The best of it is all peeled and plaited now and hung up in the kitchen to finish drying. We have 10 plaits holding anything from 15 to 20 knobs and another equal number of knobs that were too far gone to be able to plait and they are currently stored loose in wicker baskets in the kitchen window to finish drying along with the last of the broad beans.
I love the fresh, oily, new season garlic. It just pops out of its soft skin so easily. I have been eating garlic sandwiches, made with heavy, dark rye bread. A dusting of veggie salt and freshly ground pepper and it’s all I need. There is only a month or so where it stays like this, so fresh and wet and oily. Once it dries out and the skin becomes papery, then the magic is gone and it becomes just plain ordinary garlic for the next 6 months, until it declines into its older, leathery dried out state with green shoots. This is when it is time to replant the next crop.
We save the largest and strongest bulbs for planting out for next seasons supply. These go back into the ground around about March, as soon as there is any sign of a green shoot. I usually see a few wild shoots appearing in the garden at this time. Some rogue cloves that have escaped captivity. They set the agenda, when they shoot up out of the ground, it’s time to replant the next years crop. We can still keep on eating the remainder of our stock from the kitchen plaits until it is all used up. We rarely last out the year, usually falling short by a month or two, but this year we made it right to the end by buying a plait from one of the members of our local ‘Seed Savers Group’.
We have had a few changes in the weather with a few warm days following some rain and the first of the spring crop of Safron milk-cap mushrooms (Lactarius deliciosus,) has appeared in the garden. They grow in conjunction with pine trees, and as we have some magnificent Caribbean pines growing beside our house, we get a good supply of these lovely wild mushrooms all through the year, but mainly in spring and autumn. This one may end up in a risotto for dinner.
I have recently been experimenting with making a variation on risotto using buckwheat. I bought a kilo of organically grown buckwheat and have been finding ways of using it. I originally bought it to make my own ‘soba’ noodles. However, ‘buckotto’ has turned out to be my favourite use for it.
We have plenty of beetroot, carrots, broad beans and zucchinis at the moment, so tonights dinner will be pink veggie buckotto. I make it just like any other risotto, by first slow heating some finely chopped onion in good olive oil and later adding some of our garlic. Cooking them though for some time so that they are soft, translucent and glowing, but not browned or burnt. Add a cup of the small triangular buckwheat grains to the mix and stir till coated with oil. I add a cup of white wine and add in the various sliced up vegetables in order of required cooking time, stirring often. Today, I have a pan of fish stock on the go to keep the mixture lubricated. I also have a few jars of our own preserved tomato passata left in the pantry from last summer, so I add in half a small jar of this and a slab of frozen basil pesto from the freezer.
We only have a very small freezer attached to the top of our small domestic fridge. We have chosen not to own a separate freezer to save using electrical power unnecessarily. When we preserve our summer excess from the garden we do it by cooking and vacuum sealing the produce in glass ‘Vacola” jars. Basil pesto of course, isn’t cooked, so it is one of the few things that go in the freezer. I made 7 tubs of the stuff last summer. It’s great to be able to go to the freezer and grab a chunk of distilled summer garden essence and add it to a meal so much later in the year.
I keep the dish moving, so that it won’t stick as it thickens up. it’s a beautiful, rich vegetable flavour with a creamy texture and some chewy vegetable chunks.
A great meal for a late spring evening. Ever so simple. Quick and easy and very tasty.
I believe that it is even quite healthy.