Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Growing, cooking new foods & Jamie Oliver

Feel like I've been in kind of a cooking rut the last couple of months.  Winter produce around here is terrible so it's hard to get inspired without fresh vegetables from the garden everyday.  I found myself cooking the same things over and over and over and it was just boring.  I'm sure a lot of people can relate to this. No one complained but I was pretty sick of my own cooking.

Over the holiday I picked up a couple of new Jamie Oliver books for myself.  The bookstore by my in-laws house was having a big sale and I think I got them for about $6 each.  We love Jamie Oliver in this house and with these I now own 6 of his cookbooks.  

I marked a ton of new things to try and so far have tried the following from Jamie's Food Revolution:

Broccoli & Pesto Tagliatelle: Meh.  It was good and a nice change but I don't think I'll make it again.  It somehow managed to be rich and bland at the same time.  The idea of adding potato was intriguing and I may do that again in another fashion.

Pot-roast Meatloaf: I didn't think I would ever call a meatloaf stunning but this is damn delicious and shockingly fast to pull together.  I think 10 minutes, tops, to get the meatloaf in the oven and the sauce came together in about 5. 

Parsnip and Ginger Soup: Again, quick. I prepped and cooked the veg while simultaneously re-heating leftovers and eating lunch.  Then I blended it with the chicken stock (see below) and put in the crock pot on low to hang out until dinner.  He suggests a little crumbled bacon on top, but I don't know if I'll bother because it seems incredibly rich already. I don't know what I was thinking.  YES to crumbled bacon and some toasted panko crumbs.  It's delicious.  

Not Jamie Oliver related, but part of the parsnip soup:  yesterday I cooked an Easter Egger layer hen that was culled this fall.  She was almost 5 years old and I really had my doubts about if the meat was going to be edible.  She simmered all day with carrots, celery and herbs and then the shredded meat was made into enchiladas.  I am not kidding when I say this is the BEST CHICKEN I HAVE EVER EATEN. Legs and thighs were so dark, they nearly looked like lamb.  The meat was a little stringy, sure, but the intense flavor more than made up for it.  Besides, it worked fine for the dish I made.  Also got about 2 quarts of the most intensely yellow chicken stock.  

So, reading about these new dishes prompted another seed order from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  

Dixie Speckled Lima Bean, Carentan Leek, Masterpiece Fava Bean, Thai Lavender Frog Egg Eggplant, Free Seed - Black Vernissage Tomato

Would anyone like these tomato seeds?  They seem identical to Violet Jasper, one of my favorites, but I already have seeds for them.  Send me an e-mail cottontailfarm@yahoo.com and I'll send them to you.

Updated my seed inventory again.  I've never grown leeks or fava beans before, any tips?  Never really had any luck germinating eggplant either but I hope I can get a couple of these plants started.  They look really pretty and are supposed to be the size of a cherry tomato!


  1. We love Jamie Oliver in this house. After Tea we normally watch a bit of TV before bed so everyone calms down. My three year old always asks to "watch Jamie" and will happily sit there and watch a whole show.
    As for fava beans (we call them broad beans over here) they're dead simple to grow but black fly love them later in the season. Pick them young and small and they're lovely, I don't mind them bigger but my wife won't touch them like that. I even like them cold (cooked) and dipped in salt!
    Leeks are a favorite here and I always grow at least one full bed of them each year (which has been about 4ft by 10ft) Start them early, loads of seeds in one pot and then when they're big enough transplant them out by making a big hole and dropping them in. just the tops should be showing and then fill the hole with water - no need to put the soil around them. That way your get the nice long white shanks on them. I'd be lost without leeks during the winter to cook - I cut mine up in a pie dish with butter then cover with tin foil and cook for about half an hour until they're lovely and soft. That's it - leeks for tea tomorrow!

    1. Thanks for the leek info, I was hoping you'd chime in with advice! We were shocked at how sweet they are and can't wait to try new ways to cook them. Fava/broad beans I am growing because I've never had one or even seen them for sale here. Lot of fun. We haven't watched Jaimie in a long time because we gave up TV, but I really enjoyed the Jamie at Home series.

  2. Funny you mention Jamie as I have literally started to "try" him. I can't abide Gordon Ramsay, and Jamie got left on the shelf but I think he has some of the homely values that I have, so he's out for now.
    I have loads of tomato seeds thank you - I'd be interested in looking to do a seed swap, maybe we should set one up. International postage won't be cheap mind you!
    We have SO many leeks here at the minute!

  3. Try the Jamie at Home book- it's the BEST, the chapters are done by what's growing that season!
    A seed swap, hmm... how many packets of seeds equals a couple of vorwerks? Just kidding, sort of. I spent all night looking on-line; NONE in this country. :(