Strange Seasons

The seasons seem to have changed quite a bit over the 44 years since we moved here. In the Southern Highlands we used to have 4 distinct seasons in the seventies. A proper winter of frosts with occasional snow, a hot summer and very pleasant spring and autumn. I understand that aboriginal society measured 6 seasons each year, while one gardening expert on the ABC Radio National was saying that he felt that there were 5 seasons. Whatever!Over our time here everything has changed, these days we seem to be having 9 months of summer and hardly any winter to speak of at all. We rarely have that many frosts now, just a few light ones and not that many overall.This winter we are having tomatoes still growing all through these mild, supposedly coldest months. Here they are still flowering in July. Alongside the cauliflowers.

It’s so strange to have both tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflowers in the same basket at harvest in the evening before we retreat inside to cook dinner.

There aren’t that many traditional recipes that call for this unseasonal combination. Cauliflower au gratin is a seasonal favourite, as is baked vegetables in a béchamel sauce.

The tomatoes get used in veggie stir fry, mostly vegetarian, sometimes with tofu, occasionally with a small amount of meat. other-times with some chicken and purple Congo potatoes. These are the last of our home grown potatoes. No more now until the new crop. We always cook with loads of our homegrown garlic. Then for a change, with homemade tomato ‘sugo’. This is of course completely out of season, that is why we make it each summer when the huge tomato glut is on . Preserving tomatoes as sugo or passata, gives extra life and ‘zing’ to almost any winter meal. There aren’t sufficient tomatoes in these cold months to make sauce, just enough to add interest in salads and stir frys.

Lamb shanks are always a nice comforting meal on a cold winters night.

Every now and then, I put a bit of effort in and make homemade ‘Gyoza’ or dumplings and sometimes sage leaves fried in butter and then finished in a creamy pasta sauce, just for a change. 

Breakfast is usually porridge and or homemade muesli.

I vaguely remember reading Michael Pollan a decade ago writing about a healthy diet and he wrote something along these lines;Eat vegetables, mostly grains, only use meat occasionally as a flavouring. Don’t eat anything that has more than 5 syllables in its name, and nothing that your grandmother wouldn’t recognise. Never eat anything that doesn’t rot!

Sage advice. (best served in a butter sauce)