It has been an odd summer in the garden, not really super hot like last year, although February isn’t over yet. I’ve used far less water, partly due to some welcome rain, and partly due my wonderful new wicking beds. These work on the self watering principle and they use a lot less water than other watering systems. My rainwater tanks also haven’t run dry like they usually do.
My tomatoes are finishing up earlier than usual, and are making way for a second crop of beans and beetroot before the autumn and winter planting of kale, broad beans and peas.
I had a smaller crop of peaches this year due to my aggressive winter pruning of the tree, so I only ate them fresh and had no excess for preserving. But luckily my neighbours have an apricot tree that had an absolutely bumper year. I preserved about 25 jars of them and split them between us. They also made jam and I have several jars in my cupboard that they gave me.
This year I let the self-sown pumpkins survive and I have surrendered most of the back yard to them as they ramble over everything. I’ve been rewarded with several large pumpkins. I have harvested one already and I can spy at least another six under the vines, so there will be some pumpkin recipes coming!
I also have a big crop of eggplant and peppers, which is very exciting as I have never had a lot of success with them. I put this down to my wicking beds keeping them constantly moist.
My zucchini plants have succumbed to mildew and, being a glutton for punishment, I have planted a few more plants so I can get some more before the season is over.
I am currently awash with tomatoes and I’ve been eating them roasted, fresh, with beans and over pasta. I will make some kasoundi with the last of them.
And today I ate my very first (and only) bunch of grapes from my vine.
It is summer time, so my thoughts have naturally turned to salads.
I love salads that are a whole meal. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with green salads, but I tend to think of them as a side dish, rather than the main event.
This is one of my favourite substantial salads. I sometimes vary what goes into it, adding spinach or some other leafy green, but the chickpeas and either roasted sweet potato or pumpkin are always a constant.
I roast vegetables on a cooler day in summer so that they are ready in the fridge for using in salads. If I have some veggies already roasted, it makes it very quick to throw this or any other salad together. The dressing is what makes it so delicious. You could probably use it with any firm vegetable and it would work.
The dressing has all those special Thai hot, spicy, sweet and salty notes that make everything taste good.
I took this recently to a family meal and it was a big hit.
chickpea and roasted sweet potato salad with a thai coconut dressing
Char kway teow is probably my favourite noodle dish of all time. That’s a big call because I am a BIG fan of any noodles, and rice noodles in particular.
I’m lucky because my volunteering at Fareshare takes me down Victoria Street in Richmond, which is Asian grocery central. It is a rare week that I don’t pick up some kind of Asian ingredient on my way home.
Since becoming vegan I don’t think I’ve eaten char kway teow, as the classic recipe contains lots of meaty or fishy items as well as egg. I’d really consigned it to one of those things that I probably wouldn’t eat again.
But last week on my way to volunteer, I noticed a trolley delivering fresh rice noodles to a Vietnamese grocer and I made a mental note to grab some on the way home. I wasn’t really thinking about char kway teow at all, just the rice noodles with something.
But then I got a bee in my bonnet about char kway teow and decided I had to give it a try. I made a really simple version and I am happy to say that it was swoon worthy. I’m really delighted that the flavours in char kway teow don’t really depend hugely on the bits and pieces in the dish, but the sauces and the scorchingly hot wok. The dish is really all about the noodles.
There are heaps of differing opinions on the web as to what goes in the sauce, but I’m really happy with mine which contained garlic, kecap manis, sriracha and light soy.
It tasted just the way I remember it should, salty, sweet, savoury and hot. I added some bean sprouts, spring onions and mock vegan prawns from Vincents for a bit of texture.