Thursday, 3 July 2008


As usual my kitchen bench is edged by bowls of various things that I have picked or gathered from somewhere or are being processed in some way so I thought I would share them with you.

Firstly, taking up the most room are 2 large bowls of olives, being soaked in water that is changed everyday for a while, until they are not so bitter. These are a couple of special varieties of olives a friend gave me which he picked down at McLaren Vale.

Next is a bowl of the Chinese Seashells ( I did know their name(s)...but I have forgotten for now; maybe they are Jane and Sean and ....!!). These I dug up with the garden group on Wednesday and they have sort of been cleaned but not fully - and we are going to eat most of them tonight. They are crisp and like quite water chestnuts as they stay crisp even when stir-fried. best raw, I think, in salads or as a snack.

Thirdly is the very poor crop of water-chestnuts that I extracted, very messily, from a pond today. Delicious raw and unpeeled - something you can't get if you don't grow your own.

Next are the limes, mandarins and tangelos from Deb plus some oranges and some different limes from my mother and some lemons from Kathy, the latter being left over from my third batch of limoncello which is still brewing. I am going to make some citrus-y things but I still have a lemon pudding in the fridge - 2 people don't get through food as fast as I want to cook it!

Then there is a small bowl of the pretty lillypillies - a native fruit - which I picked at my mother's today. They are olive-shaped fruits the size of a cherry or so and are like a grape crossed with a pear in flavour and texture! They are high in pectin and people make jam with them. I just eat them raw.
Then there are the last 2 okra seedpods that need to have the seeds removed and allowed to dry fully before storing. Next to them are the rest of the mizuna seeds that I sowed today - all over the asparagus patch...might as well be doing something with that soil while it is bare.
The last thing worth mentioning is the very last piece of the orange and date cake I made yesterday for gardening and I am trying very hard to resist eating it!...I did have a small piece for morning tea with some of the Paris Creek quark that someone mentioned before.
Now the thing is, you see, a lot of people like their benches to be all clear of stuff and look like nobody actually ever does anything in the kitchen - which they probably don't. But to me that is not the way a kitchen should be - it should be filled with goodies from gardens and bowls of fruit and nuts for nibbling on and herbs hanging to dry and pieces of paper with ideas for recipes and an open recipe book or two and a market shopping list and containers of seed pods and buckets of olives etc etc etc.
A messy kitchen is good. Fill your life with the joy of food today.....


Maggie said...

What do the chinese seashells taste like?
You have written about them before.
Hey you would like our place, mess everywhere.
We only started gardening late in the day but worked till dark. We have mustard greens and daikon washed ready to pickle in the morning.
We have been making space for the kale and leeks you gave us plus more erbett silverbeet and peas and everything else.
We have had stir fried greens with ginger and garlic for the last 3 nights, we love it so much!

Anonymous said...

Are your chinese seashells possibly called chinese artichokes? I did see a picture of something similar when I had some sent from Qld last year... unfortunately these didn't grow, neither did the water chestnuts or what is called an american ground nut (not a great confidence booster!). It is possible my dads plants have survived but I forgot about them so haven't asked. Might try again but this time in a wicking bed.

Rachel said...

lillipillies - are they the fruit from the flowers? I love the flowers, and would definitely buy one if I knew there was fruit to get out of it!

Kate said...

There are several varieities of lillypilly, Rachel, and I like this one with the large dark pink fruits best. They are very common in the nurseries and this one makes a good, water-wise hedging plant in SA.

Maggie, I have now described the flavour etc back in the post.

Yes, Tina, and I got the Chinese seashells/artichokes originally from QLD too. Water chestnuts need to be grown in a pond, but should first be planted into damp soil and only covered with water as they grow or they will rot off.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip Kate.
Seems I probably didn't get the timing right either.. my water chestnuts just didn't take at all. Didn't even get a chance to put them in the pond. Oh well.. I have some old upright freezer baskets which I can use to plant into and will try again to grow some water plants. At present I only have the Brahmi going apart from standard non edible water plants. Some of the water plants you mention through your blog sound lovely.. I am looking forward to a time when I can harvest for a meal as you do. I have heard that Nardoo can be eaten, do you know anything about it? I have some growing but wouldn't know what to do with it.
Do you have your 'seashells' in a pot or the ground?

Rachel said...

Thanks, Kate - sorry for butchering the spelling. This Yank is still getting things right in her head!

I've long wanted a lillypilly for my frong balcony - perhaps this will tip the balance!