Around this time last year I remember sitting on the chaise lounge whilst I wrote. There was a cacophony out the window and I saw a flock of Rainbow Lorikeets exit the apple tree. Upon investigation it became apparent that they had decimated the entire crop. I was determined not to lose our fruit to birds this year, so the day before last weeks writing retreat we put a bird net up over the front yard which I fondly refer to as the Warrandyte Food Store.
When I returned from Anglesea I was delighted to find that the rain in Melbourne had boosted the growth of the laden fruit trees. The garden had been exhibiting serious signs of stress from the lack of rainfall this year but recent downpours have enabled the earth to sigh with relief for a moment.
Us gardeners notice changes in weather patterns and spend a lot of time mulling over the impact on our environment. As I write this, thousands of school kids are standing up for their future and demanding action on climate change from our pre-historic politicians who insist on turning a blind eye to the crisis. They seem to find it easier to deny a problem exists than take on such a wicked intractable issue. Unlike our Prime Minister, who appears to be afraid of children, I’m delighted that kids are becoming activists and believe the school yard is exactly where activism belongs. Not being old enough to vote doesn’t mean you’re not old enough to think, and dumbing kids down is not in our future interests.
I have not written anything this week due to feeling a bit of RSI develop from too much typing. Instead I turned my attention to my other passion and started work on the myriad of maintenance tasks and unfinished projects in the garden. By next week I hope to have completed a small area of paving that I have been putting of doing for longer than I care to admit, and to have made some progress on a new gabion rock wall around the vegetable patch. Of course not putting fingers to keyboard does not mean I’m not working on my novel. Some time away serves as an opportunity for ideas and problems to ferment. I need to zhuzh up my opening chapter and have been pondering how to approach it and think I have an idea now.
This afternoon I will make this spring salad and take it to friends for dinner tonight. It’s one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s mouthwatering offerings.
Spring Salad (serves 4-6)
- 300g asparagus, trimmed and sliced on a sharp angle into 3-4 thin spears
- 200g french beans, topped
- 300g broad beans (fresh or frozen)
- 50g baby spinach leaves
- 1 shallot, peeled and very thinly sliced
- 1 red chilli, finely diced
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 tsp nigella seeds
Bring a large pot of water to boil and blanch the asparagus for about two minutes (until just cooked). Transfer to a bowl of iced water to refresh. Do the same with the beans for about five minutes and refresh in iced water. Repeat the process with the broadens for two minutes. When cooled gently discard the broadband skins.Lay all the ingredients on clean tea towels to dry.
Place all the greens in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients and half a teaspoon of salt and combine.
Make it to enjoy with good friends and stimulating conversation…
Main image: Warrandyte Food Store