Sunday, 2 September 2007

Clearing up the garden

I miss my usual morning email and blog check-in and when I come back Heather has been posting like mad and canning like crazy!

Today R spent a few hours outside and pulled out the tomato and bean plants. The tomatoes are green but they won't have a chance to ripen now, with the fall weather starting. We ate the last green beans for lunch. The beefsteak tomatoes that are growing up against the house in a bag of peat did however have some success. The first ones we picked had blossom end rot, but with more diligent watering the subsequent fruits have been very good. Today they were turned into a big salad.

All of the potatoes have been dug. This huge bowlful is for eating and a small quantity has been set aside for seed for next year. We have stopped eating shop-bought potatoes, finding them too hard to digest, but our own are totally different.

This is how we cook them - with a sprig of mint, also from our garden. Then we eat them with Earth Balance Buttery Spread.
For supper, I cut the remaining rhubarb and made this pie. I make my pastry the way I was taught at school. When we emigrated to Canada, I tried adapting it to cup measures but it wasn't the same. So I use a scale and work in ounces.

The rule is...half fat to flour. So for a pie with a bottom and a lid, I use 16 ounces of flour, 8 ounces of fat (half of which is Earth Balance Buttery Spread and half of which is Earth Balance shortening), a little salt and cold water.

Another rule is...keep pastry cool as you're making it, unlike bread dough, which is kept warm.

When you've measured the flour into a bowl, add the margarine and shortening cut into pieces and rub the fat into the flour with your fingertips. Only your fingers should get messy as you combine the ingredients. When the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, and there are no lumps of fat left, then you add the water a little at a time. You mustn't add too much - just enough to have the dough hold together - and mix with a metal spoon, not your hands, as this will keep the pastry cooler. Then you can roll it out and use it in your pie.

I like to precook my rhubarb or apples or whatever is going into the pie. The filling should really be cool when it goes into the pie shell, though I'm usually doing this late in the day and haven't got time to wait! Tonight, I waited until the oven was hot, poured in the sweetened rhubarb, still hot from the saucepan, topped it with the pastry as quickly as I could and popped it into the oven (25 minutes at 400 degrees). This was the first time I had made pastry with kamut flour and it was very good.

So now our vegetable garden is looking much tidier. There's not much left that's edible, except for a small batch of lettuce seedlings which will hopefully grow well in the cooler weather to come.


Anonymous said...

I agree on that.

Katherine said...

Ah, the changing of the seasons. Sounds like you had a productive garden. I wish I had the same success with growing potatoes. My parents grow pounds and pounds of them on their farm and if they didn't live so far away, I know I would have a supply from them. There's nothing as good homegrown produce.