Early May in our paleo home and organic garden.

Neil (aka pasta man) and I have had a wonderful weekend working in the garden, finally the summer crops are over (actually there are still a couple of tomatoes, 1 zucchini, chillies and some eggplants producing fruit) but we had plenty of room to transplant seedling lettuces, spinach and purple broccoli and plant garlic and shallots. We’re not growing as large a crop of garlic or shallots this year because we aren’t eating that many of them anymore (I mainly use them for flavouring and then take them out) but I can’t imagine cooking without those vital ingredients! I’ve been buying garlic shoots from the asian grocer but wonder what exactly are they? I must look them up on google! The shoots are great as I can eat them without any tummy complaints and they have a lovely garlicky flavour. I made a new batch of kimchi last weekend and it’s just stopped the most volatile stage of the fermentation process (gassy bubbles) today so I can divide it up into smaller jars and complete the process in the fridge. The kraut ferment I made last week has settled down (not overflowing anymore) but it will take a few more weeks before it is ready to bottle up (I need to taste it before I decide the next phase of the process), I like ferments to be crunchy, salty and sour and the best thing about making my own is being able to tailor them to my taste buds. I found the bought ferments overpowering and not fresh tasting!

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Living and cooking the paleo way can be simple and /or complicated and I find I need to plan ahead and cook a little extra so I have some easy options to replace the old takeaway or times when I just don’t feel like cooking. Eggs are always the easy option and scrambled eggs or an omelette are our takeaway these days (or a stir fry). I have always been a big believer in breakfast & I used to be  adamant that my children ate breakfast, after all wasn’t it the most important meal of the day, and how can you concentrate at work or school if you haven’t any fuel on board? Well after eating the paleo way for about 6 months now I find I just don’t want to eat breakfast anymore, so I wait until lunch time to eat and I don’t even miss breakfast or get hungry until lunch time, now that is amazing for me! Anyway, I’ve been listening to my body and letting go of old rules and been surprised by the results, my appetite has changed drastically since reverting to fat as a fuel source instead of carbs or sugar. I’m currently on week 3 of The Paleo Way 10 week challenge and listened to an interesting talk by Dr Mercola on the need to and health benefits of having a regular 16 hour fasting period of which missing breakfast is way to go! What the? I’ve figured this out on my own and now have confirmation that by listening to my body I am making “right” decisions for me. He also bangs on about not eating too much protein and that approx 100gm a day is plenty to sustain a healthy disposition, I’ve been gradually cutting down my protein consumption and if I eat more than 100gm can feel uncomfortable and know I have “overdone” it. From now on I need to watch my protein consumption and eat mindfully.

This leads me to cooking – this weekend (and last weekend too) I made a slow cooked lamb shoulder (is 10 – 12  hours slow enough for you?) and been thrilled with the result, not only is it easy peasy to make but totally delicious to eat! It might not be a pretty dish to serve but my guests have been very happy with the flavour and texture of this meal. I  used the Pete Evans’ Lazy Man’s Lamb shoulder recipe as an approximate guide but put my own slant on it with more vegetables and even quinces in my second attempt! I must say I am a little over lamb at the moment and so we are having calamari tonight!

While foraging for herbs in our garden yesterday (for the lamb shoulder) I noticed that the olives were ready to be harvested, so I picked the two trees we have but then arises the question – what on earth do I do with them? Last year I tried 2 very different methods both of which did NOT work and so after talking to the olive guru – Andy Goddard – decided to do things his way and that is to put the olives straight into brine and forget about them for 6 months. I thought I had enough to do yesterday but managed to get the olives ready for the fermentation process, I must say this is by far the easier option for preserving olives (as opposed to changing the water every day or second day) and I seriously hope it works for  me as this will mean I have enough olives for a whole year. Just how cool would it be to grow and ferment your own olives, the only problem being that they need 6 months or more fermenting to be edible! I mean really? Who on earth figured this out?

I’ve been meaning to feed the vegetable crops and fruit trees with seasol and worm juice for weeks now and today I did it (with Neil’s help), don’t know why I put it off for so long as I get quite a buzz from feeding our garden. We are going to buy some BD 500, it’s a biodynamic fertiliser made from fermented cow manure and is a super powerful growth agent – well it is certainly worth a try! I will let you know how it goes, so bye for now, until next we meet…..

Pesto and Lighthouse Olives

Oils, olives and other goodies

Oils, olives and other goodies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been buying my olive oil from Lighthouse Olives for a few years now; what a delight to take my 3 litre flagon to get refilled with the latest batch of oil and be tempted by other goodies they have for sale. Yesterday I bought a bucket of their olives and was very tempted to buy one of the beautiful rolling pins (every time I go there I want to buy one). I am lucky to live in a region with lots of vineyards and olive groves so buying from the producer is just a short drive away, apart from knowing my oil comes from, I can taste it and choose between varieties and it’s not much more expensive than buying oil in the supermarket!

Olive and other treats

Olive and other treats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The basil is ready for a heavy picking so pesto is on the menu today; this recipe came from a cooking class I did in Positano Italy (with a few adjustments). The recipe did solve a problem for me though as other recipes ask for a cup or so of basil leaves but it depends on how heavily you pack them in the cup. This recipe suggests a set number of leaves which is much better, so here is my tweaked pesto recipe with one magic ingredient….

 

Pesto
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Recipe type: sauce or dip
Cuisine: Italian
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
A well balanced pesto mix - very easy to eat
Ingredients
  • 50 - 60 young basil leaves
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 30 gm pine nuts
  • 100 gm finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 150 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • salt for seasoning
  • 1 small boiled potato
Instructions
  1. Gently wash the basil leaves and air dry (be careful not to bruise or crush them)
  2. Add all the above ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until the sauce is ready
  3. If storing the pesto for a while, place the sauce in a glass container and cover with a little olive oil and keep in the the fridge (may be stored for a week)
  4. If using the pesto for a pasta dish, add a little of the pasta water to the pesto before adding the pasta & mix until distributed
  5. If making a dip add a little creme fraiche to some pesto and mix through
  6. Or add pesto to mayonnaise