Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

"... but it's too cold for salad!"

Steaming away on the stove - a cauldron of bubbling hot salad *. 
"...but it's too cold for salad!" is a regular teatime cry lately at VP Gardens. We eat salad year-round here because it suits our constitution, but when NAH's days involve hat, gloves, thermals and a 28-ton girlfriend, the hours of cold seeping into his bones defeats that intention.

I plan our meals and shopping with salads in mind, but I regularly have to improvise with store cupboard ingredients when the weather demands something piping hot at this time of the year. I then have a problem with what to do with my home-grown and any shop-bought salad ingredients** lurking in the fridge.

As you can see my usual solution is to make soup as this features regularly on our lunch menu. I chanced on The Guardian's "13 recipe ideas for leftover salad" recently which has some different ideas. I must admit I giggled at first as we rarely have any leftover food, but of course in this instance that's exactly what I have.

I'm definitely going to try the recipe for Chinese-style stir-fried lettuce. My Nepalese allotment neighbour told me they use the masses of lettuces she grows in stir-fries, just like we might use spinach. In the past I've rejected the notion of warm salads, but my chats with her have given me a fresh perspective on the foods we have in common, and the markedly different ways in which we use them.

I know many of you don't relish the thought of salad in winter, but seeing The 52 Week Salad Challenge has proved growing salad leaves is a good way of growing something fresh, tasty and year-round which also saves a ton of money compared to shop-bought, then perhaps these ideas and the following discoveries plundered from The Guardian might persuade you to think otherwise.

I've selected links where most of the warm salads featured use seasonal ingredients for this time of the year:

Do you have a favourite winter salad? Tell me about it in the Comments below - ideas for cold or warm salads are welcome.

* = in this instance it was 1 litre vegetable stock, 1 chopped onion, 4 cherry tomatoes, 1 small chopped green bell pepper, 1 chopped pointy red pepper, lots of freshly picked mixed leaves (fill the pot and they soon wilt down), 1 teaspoon mixed herbs and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Simmer for 25 minutes and then mash to a smooth soup with a hand blender. Surprisingly tasty.

** = I may be able to produce leaves year-round, but NAH's tastes salad-wise demand we still have lots of tomatoes, cucumber and peppers at this time of the year, despite my best efforts to provide something totally seasonal :(

*** = I had a fab Vietnamese meal with Naomi and Veronica in Finsbury Park late last year, so I intend to explore this cuisine further in 2015. Recipe or book recommendations on this topic are welcome!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Hoary Morning

Collage of hoar frost in my garden, January 2015

You may have noticed my sidebar says I'm looking forward to some magical hoar frost.
I'm pleased to say it arrived.

A second collage of hoar frost pictures from my garden

Friday, 23 January 2015

Puzzle Corner: What's in a Name? Part 2

Here's part 2 of my Latin quiz, which covers the letters N to Z. Can you match the meanings with their correct Latin names? There are some culinary examples this time to sit alongside last week's floral and shrubby ones.

Latin Name Meaning
nemorosus with a distinct band of a different colour
officinalis from the Turkish for turban
pleniflorus common
quamash growing in woods
rigescens from Tokyo
sativus curly grape
Tulipa used in medicine
uva-crispa double flowers
vulgare with yellow fruit
wherryi rather stiff
xanthocarpus from the native American for sweet
yedoensis sown, planted, cultivated
zonalis named after an American scientist

Have fun and I'll publish the answers next week! If you'd also like to have a go with A to M and missed them previously, here's Part 1.

If you're looking for some more fun to help while away the winter blues, last year's Puzzle Corner strand included a wordsearch, a cryptic word grid and a garden scramble.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

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