A Hint of Summer Food to come ……

A Hint of Summer Food to come …… :  Is it just me, or do all Cooks and Kitchen Gardeners get really excited when they see shoots peeking through the soil at this time of year?  It thrills me.  It’s like getting a Birthday present, and stirs the anticipation of all those lovely summer meals ahead of us.

I just had to have another go with Erik’s treasured camera, and I hope I’m getting better at taking photos, so here are some I took the other day as I meandered around our garden and Kitchen Garden.  I really do get excited when I see our ‘foodie’ plants and herbs emerging from the soil or coming back to life.  A hint of Summer food to come our way, time to get creative and think of fantastic recipes to enjoy.

Our Wild Garlic's 2nd year - not exactly taking over the garden yet!

This is the plant that has me smiling with excitement – our tiny patch of Wild Garlic that I planted 18 months ago. It is next to an archway that leads to the Kitchen Garden, and I reckoned it would be lovely to walk through to the gentle scent of Garlic.  Well, although The Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight warned that it would take over my garden, it could be a good few years before it does. Still, I nurture it, and water it, and before long the beautiful and delicate white, star-like flowers will emerge, like a butterfly from a chrysalis.

Wild Garlic’s Latin name is Allium ursinum, and is also called Ramsons.  According to Wikipedia, the Latin name stems from the fact that Brown Bears love to dig up and eat the bulbs, and also Wild Boars can cause havoc digging up the earth just to find the garlic bulbs. Luckily not much chance of either Brown Bears or Wild Boars in my East Yorkshire garden, so hopefully my tiny patch will spread before long.

Summer food dishes are enhanced by the leaves and stems of Wild Garlic, especially dishes using fish, lamb, beef and vegetables. Try a New Potato Salad with the Wild Garlic leaves stirred through the mayonnaise.  Heaven!  You can eat the washed leaves raw, or gently blanch them, and the stems can be steamed.  One of my favourite dishes to cook, Risotto, is made extra special by stirring in some Wild Garlic leaves, and they give Omelettes a subtle kick of flavour. Even the white flowers are used as superb decoration by a lot of the top chefs (and me).

Beautiful Wild Garlic flowers - photo courtesy of BBC TV

This next photo is of our main Garlic plants, sown in October last year.  There are 5 different types of Garlic bulbs, all sourced from The Isle of Wight Garlic Farm.  All are doing exceptionally well, and should hopefully last us from summer until Spring next year.

Our Garlic, thriving in our raised bed.

The other half of this bed was chosen for Broad Beans, and for the first time I sowed the Aquadulce Claudia straight into the soil last Autumn.  Unfortunately the sweet young shoots of Broad Beans that emerge from the soil are apparently the ‘flavour of the month’ for our local mice, and they nibbled over half the juicy, tiny plants as they poked through. I utilised our heavy-duty plastic soup cartons to protect the surviving plants, and have planted slightly later cropping Broad Bean seeds in the greenhouse. Never again will I plant these seeds straight into the soil.  Sorry mice.

Rosemary Bush, filling up with tiny flowers.

Next, my Rosemary Bush, or Bushes.  One of either side of the steps leading up to our decking area, a favourite place to sit (when not blogging, cooking, cleaning or getting dirty with the gardening).  Two biggish bushes in pots, which sometimes don’t seem too happy, but this Spring they have exploded with tiny blue Rosemary flowers.  They look a real picture – almost overflowing with flowers.  Hope it doesn’t mean they are the way out, but they do look healthier than they have ever done. I just love the smell of Rosemary – when brushing past or trimming the bushes I always pause and slowly breathe in the scent of these amazing herbs.  We use so much Rosemary, obviously with lamb and chicken, but I also love it with Saute and Roast Potatoes.

Our currants, Red and fabulous Pink Bushes

Another plant that is a hint of Summer food to come, and fills me with excitement, is this great currant bush.  This is a pearly pink currant, not a Redcurrant, and is called ‘Gloire de Sablon’.  Planted last summer, this is hopefully going to enhance our desserts, and will be glorious for decoration alongside the ‘Rovada’ Redcurrant bushes, the Blackcurrant bush and the White Currant bush.   This new pink currant is said to be so full of flavour,

As our fruit cage (made brilliantly for me by Erik) is not huge, I found some cordon Redcurrants, which grow on a single central stem up to 6 foot, but carry the Redcurrants on lots of sideshoots that don’t take up nearly as much space as the normal round bushes.  Just looking up lots of recipes to use these great fruits, and will report (hopefully) on how they all turn out.

Well, that’s my thoughts on a hint of summer food to come – and I hope that the wait isn’t too long.

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