The Canny Gardener

how to grow, cook and use plants, plus some philosophy!


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Colourful winter vegetables

It is said that one must eat all colours of the rainbow for a healthy diet.  It may seem that in winter this is not possible but by visiting local shops, I’m discovering a variety of vegetables of all colours. Here are some- purple cauliflower and red carrots.

The great thing about these vegetables are that because they have so much flavour, they can cooked very simply- roasted with some olive oil, steamed, pulsed into soups or even eaten raw.  They don’t need much flavouring- just salt and pepper will do.  The photographs show the purple cauliflower and carrots roasted. Also, shown is a simple soup of broccoli with some stilton (left over from Christmas).  I also chopped up the leaves and stems from the cauliflower and made it into stir fry with rice- my zero waste effort.

Cauliflowers are good for a healthy heart, and purple ones, which get their colour from anthocyanins- flavonoid pigments that also give red cabbage, purple carrots, and many berries- give the same health benefits as these ‘super foods’.  It is said that anthocyanins can help with rheumatoid arthritis, due to their strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  Cauliflowers contain 46 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 gram serving and they also contain Vitamin K and calcium- all good for warding off winter colds and aches and pains.

PS- I haven’t grown them but I’m supporting small farmers and buying locally- so that is really a canny thing to do!


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feeling summer

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I tried this winter to grow something but thanks to climate change, it was all very unpredictable.  I shall have to think of something to beat this chaotic weather for next year.  I am beginning on an exciting community garden project which I will report another time.

For now, I am using the summer harvest to good use in the chilly winter.  This is my chilli oil.  The ingredients consisted of a base of a neutral oil (I used 100 litres of organic sesame seed oil) which I heated for 30 seconds in the microwave.  Then I added four birds eye chillies, two sprigs of rosemary, a few sage leaves and four peppercorns.  You can adjust the chilli according to your needs- my children seemed to love the chilli taste.  Then leave to infuse in a jar for at least two weeks before using.

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Resilient Mint

Today’s dinner made by me with my able sous chef, my ten year old, was very special. It was made with leftovers and mint from my little container garden.

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It consisted of leftover pasta, peas and baked eggs with leftover gravy/meat juice. All very simple and tasty. The peas that you see are a combination of Ramsey and Slater recipes. Very quick to make-

Two cups of frozen peas, four mint leaves chopped up, a tiny bit of garlic chopped up, half of a small onion sliced into thin slices, salt to taste and two teaspoons of olive oil. Heat the oil and put everything in it, cover it and stir from time to time. Ready in about 10 minutes!

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And the mint you see is very special too. It came as a free gift with my organic vegetable box. I put all the mint in glass of water to keep it fresh and one of the stems grew roots. I put it in a pot and it grew. Now that was last year. During winter, it all died down. Now that it is spring, I have my resurrected mint again! Amazing how resilient these herbs are. I hope to get some of its resilience into my life too!