Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Seeing red (and orange and yellow and purple and green)

Shades of delicious-ness
A sunny afternoon in the Holly Cottage and things are pretty much the same as my last post. I am living in a sort of groundhog day that changes only in terms of its name and the weather. I won't dwell on the detail as there's really not that much time and these days every minute counts. I reckon I have about ten minutes maximum before I will have to feed her and attend to her needs so I must write quick - please read at your own leisure though! 

As I write, Alannah is sitting in her chair and I have one foot on the ground and one foot rocking her so that she is always on the go. Babies are so helpless really - they can barely see what's in front of them and they really can do nothing for themselves. That helplessness will persist for a number of years from now...but then that's why we love them so much and are programmed to protect and nurture them for the rest of our lives. The good news is that she is growing rapidly - she grew twice as much as an average breastfed baby on her first week at home - I know, what is average? - and the ridiculously oversized newborn baby sleep suits that we had wrapped her up in that first week are now becoming snug and tight about her month old body. She's still tiny though, and still blue eyed - I'm waiting for the green to fade in so that she looks more like one of us :) Does anything prepare you for the first real smile though? There was a lot of 'is that wind, is that really a smile' when it really was just wind, but now it's definitely a smile. While I think that to her I am just the 'food trolley' and the most of her smiles are targeted at  her daddy - I do get the odd one and that's enough for me.

When I do manage to get outside - and last week with all that rain, it was a challenge for anyone - the colours of the moment are green and red, and varying shades of orange and yellow and purple. Let me start at the back of the garden and work up. The purple turnips are done - they were pretty massive and got way too big to be edible - they'll add to the compost though and to be honest while 'being pregnant', they really didn't appeal to my overly sensitised palate. The parsnips are still growing - I hope - they are pretty small and were heavily shaded by the next door neighbouring out-sized turnips ;) The beetroots are perfect, happily - still waiting to be relished but well utilised already in the perfect chocolate cake last week. The broccoli, winter cabbage and curly kale are the most rich and darkest shades of green that ever were - in contrast to the blue green of leeks and yellow green of spinach. All of these many shades of leafy green will provide the winter supply of vegetables to the Holly Cottage kitchen - along with the bounty of Setanta and Sarpo axona spuds that are being steadily enjoyed despite the very annoying spots of slug damage (the early Orla variety were delicious and devoured by the two hungry residents way before the arrival of autumn filled the senses - highly recommended). The broccoli and winter cabbages are more long-term investments that were planted back in March and April, while the spinach came in two lots - spring and August planted. The kale plants were the kind gift of another more organised gardener and these are getting more and more luxuriously verdant every day. One thing  though to be aware of - be vigilant and keep gathering caterpillars as part of your daily routine (still). They are voracious and destructive feeders, despite their un-assuming white butterfly parentage!

Apple (pie)s of the sun - heavenly...
Okay - there's the green but where's the red you say? Well apart from the red eyes that seem to be staring back at me from the mirror these days, there are the bright red sweet-peppers, shiny red cayenne peppers (every shape and curly form imaginable), and at least four types of tomatoes. The apples too are red - we have one very special variety called 'Redlove' that we got as a wedding present two years ago. Not much happened with it last autumn but this year the apples are sweet, small and perfectly red inside. It comes highly recommended by this house and is available online from most good garden centres. The other apple we have is an 'unknown' type that was bought in Aldi - we didn't expect much but we were pleasantly surprised - the apples are good sized and tasty, still with that lovely tartness that becomes most Irish grown apples. The pumpkin is pretty special too and I am reluctant to even think about cutting into its perfect marmalade orange form - would that it could sit on the window sill forever! Last but not least - tall sweetcorn plants are a kind of disturbing form in the garden yet - slightly reminiscent of Children of the Corn but way more enjoyable -but so different than the shop bought variety as with all things that are home grown on your own plot.

So how to celebrate all this golden-red-orange harvest? By eating it of course..think apple sauce (apples stewed with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and brown sugar and a splash of water) and then put that together in mini-apple pies (shortcrust pastry - 8oz flour with 4 oz margarine rubbed in, add cold water and chill ;) ) ....match these parcels of autumn delight with natural yogurt (yum). The tomato bounty has mostly been sent to the freezer - core the 'stalk bit' out first, wash and put straight into freezer for the darker days of winter (think tomato soup with a sprinkle of smoked paprika). All the peas and beans are tucked away there already with the strawberries and rhubarb, while the sweet and chilli peppers won't make it that far and are sweetening and heating dinner times with great gusto.

Oak canopy of colour
It's all good of course, and all very rewarding for all the days invested since the light started to come back in last February. Time now though to take a bit of a step back and enjoy the fruits of the labour and the change in the seasons - just walking through the oak woods is enough to take your breath away - and let's just see what the next one ushers in.

No comments:

Post a Comment