Happy pills for plants (yes, the rain has arrived)
October 3, 2011 in Food and cookery
Well, the rain has arrived and anyone who has a garden or an allergy is breathing an enormous sigh of relief. I fall into both those categories so I am doubly relieved. As I write, the sun is poking his head out from behind a cloud and I can sense the plants in my garden shaking the water droplets off their leaves and having a glorious stretch, revelling in having properly moist roots for the first time in a long while.
Hopefully this is the beginning of a regular rainfall pattern which will enable us to turn off our irrigation systems. They are very necessary at certain times of the year but we should always remember that “water wise” is the way to go – experts predict that South Africa will run out of water by somewhere around 2025 (that’s only 14 years away), sooner if we do not make the effort to reduce, reuse and recycle this precious resource. I am enthusiastically designing an indigenous garden to run along the verge outside my garden wall – I’m thinking aloes, wild dagga, bulbine and an Erythrina (choral) tree or three. Not only do these plants require a minimal amount of water to be happy, they attract large numbers of butterflies and nectar-feeding birds, now who wouldn’t want that in their garden? I’d love to plant some proteas – does anyone know if they grow well in Gauteng?
What are your “must haves” for a water-wise garden?
The veggies are coming along beautifully except for the sweetcorn which the peacock has taken a fancy to. I guess I need to plant some more bok choy for him as he’s rather partial to it and it may just keep him out of the mielie patch. Has anyone planted any of the beautiful heirloom seeds that are available from www.livingseeds.co.za?
The latest newsletter from Silver Ribbon (www.silverribbon.co.za) went out last week, my contribution being a small piece on the art of trussing a chicken. I actually took the plunge and attempted the process which I thought would be very fiddly and difficult. Following the clear, simple instructions from Julia Childs (Mastering the Art of French Cooking), it actually turned out to be a lot easier than I thought and the end result was a beautiful looking bird that still had all the stuffing in the cavity at the end of the cooking time. One does need a trussing needle to do it properly and the team at Silver Ribbon have a limited stock of Wusthof trussing needles at R45 each so give them a call if you are interested.
Continuing on the subject of chicken, I also ordered a set of Wusthof poultry shears, primarily to spatchcock (“flattie”) chickens for the summer barbeques that lie ahead. This is a serious little piece of equipment – I thought that cutting down the back of the chicken in order to open it up would be difficult and that I would need someone stronger than me to actually do the cutting, not with this gadget – it was like cutting paper, honestly, that’s how sharp and well-designed they are. If you like flatties (and they do cook quicker and more evenly than whole birds on the barbeque) then an investment in a set of poultry shears is well worth it.
Of course, once you’ve trussed or flattied your chicken, you need to get some awesome flavour into it so here is my favourite marinade recipe:
My Favorite Lemon & Oregano Rubbed Roast Chicken
(tweaked from a recipe I found at www.simplebites.com)
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh oregano leaves
- Two lemons, juice and zest
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- In a small food processor, combine oregano, lemon zest, lemon juice and garlic. Pulse a few times until it looks like pesto. Add olive oil, salt and pepper and pulse to combine.
- Using your hands, rub lemon-oregano marinade all over chicken. Using your fingers, gently lift the skin on either side of the neck and rub plenty of marinade directly onto the breast meat, under the skin. Don’t forget to get some inside the cavity (where the organs were).
- Refrigerate for 2-8 hours to allow the marinade to infuse the meat. Remove from fridge about an hour before cooking.
I’m still on the lookout for a really good (but not too hot) peri-peri marinade recipe so I’d love to hear from you if you have one you’re willing to share.
All this talk about chicken has made me seriously hungry so I think I’m going to make one for dinner tonight, oh but wait, it’s Meatless Monday today. Damn, the chook will have to wait until tomorrow.
Happy trussing, spatchcocking, marinating and cooking everyone, I look forward to hearing about your endeavours.
Until next time.