Wednesday, 27 September 2017

eating our way through the seasons

There's an orange splash over on the farm. Two fields away. Pointillist halloween pumpkins.

dog sick slime mould
A single house martin overhead, but our martins and swallows (hirundines) have gone. This must have been a bird on its' southerly migration.  Warblers are moving through our garden at the moment. Occasionally a chiffchaff's onomatopoeic tick-tock.

Among the many fungus - the dog sick slime mould (Mucilago crustacea).
It moves slowly to new food and is one we won't need to be cautioned about not eating.

The wet summer has become a wet autumn with more than an inch of rain yesterday morning. Ponds filled to overflowing. Sue remarked on the girth of George's Pond. She hadn't seen it since spring. The wet summer is given as a reason why this has not (once again) been a bumper year for butterflies. Red admirals, small tortoiseshells, comma and speckled wood butterflies are still on the wing. The occasional butter-yellow brimstone. Moth catches are down as the season advances.

The prairie beds are still resplendent with flower. Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) has established well and its flowers stand high above my head - huge landing pads for red admirals and small tortoiseshell butterflies.

In its' first full year, our organic Vegetable Garden is provisioning the kitchen generously. We have had the best year we can recall for potatoes (Kestrel, Anya and Charlotte); climbing and dwarf French beans have cropped abundantly; regiments of leeks (Musselburgh) stand like muscular marines at roll call; and pale blue squash royalty (Crown Prince) lounge in a cathedral of tendrils and bamboo canes.
leek and potato soup with malted grain and fennel breads
The polytunnel has provided us with mighty Beefmaster tomatoes. Each is huge, red and so full of juicy flesh that each fruit takes the place of a tin of chopped toms when tomatoes are called for in a recipe.

The plenty of our seasonal harvest influences our diet as the moon does the seas. During the summer, beetroot was cropping so well and appeared so frequently at the table that our foreign visitors went away with the belief that the consumption of beetroot was a national obsession.
Today we enjoyed leek and potato soup with malted grain and fennel breads.
'Growing your own' reinforces ones connection with the march of the seasons. Supermarket shoppers can use asparagus at any time of the year. For us it is special that we enjoy our own asparagus from May until the summer equinox when, traditionally, we stop cutting. Eating seasonally becomes as associated with the time-of-the-year as the first snowdrop or the first check-chack of the fieldfare - and our lives are richer for it.

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