23 October 2014

Gourmet food, virtually for free

If you heard me groaning in pleasure in our back garden the other day, it was nothing untoward. I was just tasting the first strawberry of the season.

It was ugly, yes, and small, but oh, the flavour. I'm not sure how the commercial growers manage to transform strawberries into comparative bags of red water.

Strawberry plant

We have a video of Jack, just turned two, having just eaten the first strawberry from the garden in the first year we lived in this house. He starts running in circles around the back lawn (a barren wasteland compared to the garden jungle it is now), getting faster and faster, while his red-juiced mouth cries 'Stwawwwwberry! Stwawwwwberry!' as all the nerves running from his taste buds to his brain explode with flavour fireworks.

This year, in between the strawberry rows (yes! I planted actual rows of something!), are a new favourite of mine, radishes. Until I tried eating them with butter and salt, I thought I didn't like them. Mostly I eat them with olive oil and salt now, or chopped up in a salad. And they are so fast and easy to grow! Every radish seed sprouts, which is most certainly not a general rule in our garden, and in a month or so there are big pink radishes ready to eat. Gourmet food virtually for free ($3.75 for 250 seeds).

A just-pulled organic radish

Radish with oil and salt

These are some of the flavours that have been coming out of our spring garden, along with herbs, spring onions, gourmet lettuces and parsnips, the latter eaten roasted - so very, very good. Broad beans are also there for the first time, although nothing interesting has come from them yet. I'm going to try to overcome that with this recipe from Nadia Lim.

The other sensation that hits me each spring is the smells. Each year I remember that the smells change so much with this season. Citrus blossom makes me pause beside our house. Old-fashioned roses yank me to a standstill as I walk along the road. Oh, the smells.

Honey bee on orange blossom
A honey bee visits our orange tree.

Orange tree branch in blossom
The orange tree is thick with blossom, despite
being pruned severely over winter.

Spring is good.

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