Kitchen Garden Tales
Every time I go out to the garden, I think about the explorers who discovered the abandoned temples of Angkor Wat surrounded by thick Cambodian jungle. I am not green-fingered. I struggle to maintain two children so I have never held out much hope for our garden, which is becoming more of a horticultural tragedy with every year that passes.
B is even worse; Like Zeus ordering a thunderstorm, he announces on a Sunday morning: “I will mow the lawn”. And I say “Can you do the weeding too while you’re there” and two hours later he is still reading the FT in the sitting room.
The garden used to be immaculate; my grandmother’s pride and joy. I am determined to bring back its mojo and return it to its former glory. Summer 2014 was Head in the Bog with Morning Sickness Summer. Summer 2015 was What the Fuck was I Thinking Having Two Children in Such Close Succession when I Can’t Afford a Nanny Summer. So Summer 2016 is Embrace an As-Yet-Undiscovered Alan Titchmarsh Summer.
First thing’s first: the kitchen garden. I live in a small terraced cottage though and the garden’s size reflects this fact so I don’t quite have the space for a proper fruit and veg patch, nor do I really want one: when space is limited, who the hell wants a column of ugly tomatoes when you can have roses and peonies?
So I planted a collection of herbs. And by that I mean I had to ask my dad to do it all for me. I had planted a rosemary bush when we arrived two years ago and it had died a very quick death because I had put it in the shadiest spot in the garden and, scandalously, hadn’t used any “grit”. My dad will do anything for an easy life and it was easier for him to do it himself than try to explain it step by step to a moron like me.
We now have some thyme, lemon thyme, sage, mint and rosemary. I am thrilled because I really resent having to pay 80p for a poxy thing of thyme at Sainsbury’s which I’ll only use a tiny bit of for one meal, while the rest wastes away until I have to scrape the remains off the bottom of the salad drawer during the tri-annual fridge clear out.
We are two weeks into the Kitchen Garden Project and I am pleased to report that so far all five herbs are still alive. My dad texts me on the evenings he thinks they will need to be watered, so if they don’t survive it will be his fault, not mine.
“Only a real idiot can fuck up mint”, Daddy says.
Like my mother, apparently. She says she bought a dodgy plant but I think it might be a genetic gardening curse.
In the meantime, before everything dies, I am making the most of my potager. On a blissful and warm summer’s evening last week, I "made" gorgonzola and walnut ravioli, with a garlic and sage butter sauce, using sage from my very own herb garden:
One packet gorgonzola & walnut ravioli (summer 2017 is Pasta From Scratch Summer)
One clove garlic, chopped
Bit of olive oil
Big tablespoon unsalted butter
A few sage leaves
Salt & pepper
Prepare the ravioli according to packet instructions. Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan and add the garlic and some salt. Cook the garlic for a minute or until soft and add the butter and sage. Cook until the butter is melted.
I barely need to discourse a method, since there is virtually none, but there you go, assuming you might be as bad at cooking as I am at gardening. In which case, God speed.
**Ed's update: I never learnt to make pasta from scratch and all the herbs are dead...**