Belladonna Bess

An edible garden in Wellington, NZ

and again… May 30, 2009

Filed under: Cooking,Garden — belladonnabess @ 9:08 pm

Cursing: gale force southerlies. We had a relatively fine week after the previous vile weekend. And now, more revolting weather for the long weekend.

Celebrating: ok, the weather is appalling, but it is a long weekend

Harvesting: broccoli, celery, parsley

Buying: carrots, onions. Mostly I’m prepared to make do with the vegetables I have available, but chicken soup needs an onion and preferably carrots.

Forgetting: garlic should have been on my “eating” list for the last couple of months. I grew the most absurdly small garlic cloves, but I’ve got plenty of them. The “secret” of how to grow absurdly small garlic is to dig up the entire patch of garlic when it has been in the ground about 3 months and move it. Then move it again 3 months later. Then harvest after pulling out the tomatoes and zucchini that took over the 3rd location in a season where your poor garlic was trying to grow. I didn’t mean to grow it this way, but I dug up my entire garden in late October so I could get a new retaining wall built. Then I progressively put things back.

Making: chicken soup. Over winter, my staple food is chicken soup. When I’m feeling nostalgic or really need comfort I make it almost exactly as my grandfather used to. However his recipe was short on both vegetables and fibre, so I usually make a variant.

Today’s chicken soup recipe

1 onion (peeled)

1 chicken frame (yes, you will notice the difference if you can get a free range or organic one)

water (about 4 litres)

Bring to the boil in a big pot with the lid on. Leave the lid on and turn to low so it is just boiling. Add some salt (about a teaspoon).

After about half an hour add 2/3 cup pearl barley and 1/4 cup red lentils.

Put the lid back on, bring it back to the boil, then turn down again and leave for another 45 minutes or so.

Chop a couple of carrots and a few stalks of celery.

Taste it and add a bit more salt, but leave it undersalted as you will concentrate it a little later.

Remove the chicken frame and onion into a sieve over a bowl. Pick the chicken meat off the bones and return to the pot. Also return any liquid that drained off and any bits of barley you accidentally removed with the chicken. The lentils will have disappeared by now.

Add the chopped vegetables and about a tablespoon of tomato paste. Put the lid back on and return to the boil. Turn the temperature down and leave until you think the barley and vegetables are cooked enough, or nearly cooked enough.

Remove the lid and turn it up a bit –  you will need the temperature higher to keep it boiling compared to when you left the lid on.

Add about 1/4 cup of alphabet pasta if the whole thing seems too healthy and you want some refined carbohydrate.

Boil until the pasta has cooked or it has reduced a bit.

Turn it off and eat it for lunch and dinner for the next 3 days.


Gale-force southerly May 22, 2009

Filed under: Garden — belladonnabess @ 8:50 pm

Eating: broccoli, silverbeet, celery

Doing: not a lot else. The weather is vile. I’m normally pretty sheltered from the southerly, but this one has winds gusting to 140 kilometres per hour and nothing escapes.

Observing: I’m losing the sun about 4.30pm at the moment, when there is sun of course. It is on the garden from about 9 am, so that is a decent number of hours.

Enjoying: I’m excited to have my first celery for the year. Last year, the first time I ate home-grown celery, I found it very strong and it took me some time to get used to it. Now, after a season of my own celery, the commercial stuff now seems rather tasteless. I had heard that celery was difficult to grow, but while it is a bit tricky when small – the seedlings are tiny –  it seems easy enough once it is in the ground. Apparently it needs lots of water, but it is winter, in Wellington. Lack of water is NOT going to be a problem!

Learning: plant fewer tomatoes.  Plant more carrots.


No gardening for me this weekend May 16, 2009

Filed under: Garden — belladonnabess @ 8:28 pm

Eating: broccoli

Planting: nothing

Tidying: nothing (well nothing outside anyway)

Cursing: the northwesterly gale

Wondering: whether the monarch butterfly that emerged today got blown away before it could get its wings fully expaned. There’s nothing left but an empty chrysalis so I don’t know.


A week of rain then a fine Saturday May 9, 2009

Filed under: Garden — belladonnabess @ 8:57 am

Eating: broccoli (purple sprouting), carrots

Planting: blue lupin, peas (actually self-sowing from the pea straw)

Pulling out: old tomatoes

Mulching: old newspapers and pea straw

Cursing: the short days and long cold nights of winter

Putting off: tidying up the mess on my deck

Considering: where to plant two grapevines (one Albany Surprise, one anonymous but looks different)

Garden time: about 5 hours


Hello world! May 3, 2009

Filed under: Garden — belladonnabess @ 11:14 am

Harvesting/ eating: broccoli, tomatoes, silverbeet, carrots, parsley

Planting: broad beans, spinach, beetroot, silverbeet, celery

Waiting for: bean seeds to ripen

Putting off: tidying up all the spare pots and putting them away for the winter

Cursing: my lack of garden time

Considering: a row of dwarf apple trees