We fill the short days of winter with lots of busy, necessary work. Pruning, preserving and cooking. We are both making marmalade at the moment, in our own respective ways, using the methods and recipes that we have each developed over the years. We have quite enough now to last us for the rest of the year.
Even though the days are short and the weather is cold, the garden is still producing all our meals. One or the other, sometimes both of us, go out to the garden at dusk and pick what is at its best and just bursting to be eaten. Food is plucked direct from the garden bed, into the basket and is cooked and on the table within the hour. It just couldn’t be fresher, or more rewarding. I have managed to scale and time the plantings through the summer and autumn, so that there is still enough green produce coming through now, even though everything has slowed down considerably.
I collect more mushrooms from the recent fungal blooms. I give them a good scrub with the bristle brush and clean them up and make them presentable. There is always bits of grass and other organic ‘natural’, but unwanted ‘stuff’ stuck to them. I slice them and lay them out to dry.
Once crisp, they are added into our stock of dried fungi in the glass jars on the kitchen dresser. We collect more of them as they appear and have fresh mushroom risottos, almost every night for a week. Each time with a different vegetable from the garden. Broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, capsicums and carrots.
We have loads of golden berries coming on at the moment. Janine makes golden berry (gooseberry) and feijoa fruit mince and uses it to fill a fruit sponge, served with Edmonds custard. It makes a marvellous pudding. It is tangy, sweet and mouth-wateringly luscious and smooth. I have two helpings.
We have spent the last three days pruning the stone fruit trees. Everything is dormant and deciduous at the moment. Except the earliest peaches, that have started to flower already. We work steadily and meticulously. Opening out the centre of the trees, restoring the ‘vase’ shape. Removing the water-shoots, thinning, shaping and pruning to an outward facing bud.
After 3 days of muscle challenging constant work, we are tired, but very pleased with our selves. We have finished pruning our 100 or so trees and spent an equal amount of time dragging all the spent and removed branches down the back to the burn pile and stacking it all up ready to be burnt in a months time, when it has dried out enough to sustain a fire that will purge the pruned wood of any disease and fungal spores that might otherwise infect the orchard trees.
We celebrate with a lovely dinner of wild mushroom risotto, collected directly off the lawn outside the back door, and then a great fortifying breakfast of truffled, creamed eggs. It looks like this will be the last truffle for this season, so we make the most of it.