A week of eating ugly from the garden

A week of eating ugly from the garden

slim pickings in the garden these days

I have a massive veggie garden and people often look at it and assume we’re self-sufficient in vegetables but I buy an embarrassing amount. Last week I decided to be resourceful and only cook with vegetables from the garden.  I was inspired by the high cost of vegetables at the moment and my general love of not wasting things.  Due to our exposed windy site and a terrible summer it’s not been very productive. Yes there’s stuff growing – it’s just half eaten by bugs, in small quantities or kale. How do I make meals from it?

Day One – Fish burgers. A standard for us so it should be a great meal.

Hubby makes this meal but that means he cooks the fish and eggs and cuts some buns and I line up some vegetables to put in the burger – otherwise it would just be fish, egg and bun. I made a big lot of pesto to spread on the buns using all sorts of random greens from the garden (see link below).  We added fresh lettuce and pickled beetroot.  I’d picked the last of the tomatoes from the greenhouse.  These are way too late in the season to ripen up properly due to the lack of sun but a quick fry made it more tasty.  Day one was pretty easy.

  • Home grown?  Tick – we had Pesto, lettuce, a late season fried tomato and bottled beetroot. The beetroot might seem like a bit of a cheat but it was my own beetroot I bottled two months ago under instruction from Delwyn. (The taste was good but I’m still working on the method so will post that soon).  The pesto is a good way to use up silverbeet, upland cress, basil etc which is looking a bit tired and I’ll use it for one more meal, freeze some plus I’ll use it as a sandwich spread so time well spent making it.
  • Taste? – good.  Love a fish burger.  If it had been fish hubby had caught it’d have been even better.
  • Loads of veggies in the meal? I wouldn’t say loads but there was a good variety, mostly due to the pesto which had several kinds of greens, herbs and weeds.
  • Photos – I didn’t take one of the burger but here’s shots of the pesto making:

Day Two – Pork chops, pesto noodles and kale chips. Even the title sounds dodgey.

I used some of the pesto from last night to mix through some noodles.  In the oven I made kale chips (yes – kale chips) and cooked up some home grown onions and the last of the sad tomatoes from the greenhouse to mix through the noodles.  I did pork chops with it, marinaded in my home made mint sauce/jelly.  When hubby made the comment “this looks like a whole lot of goodness”  I was nervous and the taste test backed it up.  These late season tomatoes really aren’t great, I had too much pesto vs noodles and way too many kale chips so the meal was dominated by a heavy green-ness.  Plus I’d overcooked the pork chops.

  • Home grown? yes – pesto, onion, tomatoes, kale, mint sauce.
  • Tasty? – no.  Edible but not tasty.
  • Loads of veggies in the meal?  – yes.  Too many.
  • Photos – these are of my meal components and the kale chips (the meal shot was awful):

Day three – lamb massaman curry with rice.  Off scope.

I was home late from work so my lamb, silverbeet curry plan was hi-jaked.  Not that I minded because it’s nice to not cook dinner for a change. Left over cooked lamb from the freezer and a packet curry  (I’m not a big fan of packet or jar sauces but do have some in the cupboard and freezer for a quick and/or hubby cooked meal).  It was tasty but stuffed up my ‘we’re only eating veggies from the garden this week’ plan.

  • Home grown? Fail – the coriander was ours but the potatoes weren’t.  The coriander was really just a garnish.
  • Tasty? – yes
  • Good content of vegetables in the meal? It was just potatoes and coriander – so no. Hubby suggested that there might have been vegetables in the packet mix so surely all good … it was tasty and I’d probably overloaded us with super healthy kale the day before so over the week it might even out.
  • Photos: no.

Day four – barley and mushroom risotto with chicken.  Back on track.

Burgundy mushrooms

My burgundy mushrooms are growing like crazy.  They’re here at a good time because, as you might have guessed, I was struggling for inspiration by day two.  I’ve only got lettuce, kale, onions and herbs and the odd tomato or courgette.

I used some of my fresh veggie stock, a chilli and powered tumeric along with barley to make a risotto.  See an earlier post on how to use barley to make a tasty risotto. I added my burgundy mushrooms and simmered.  While that cooked I pounded a chicken breast to make it quite flat, seasoned it and panfried it along with my two late season courgettes I picked the other night.  I wasn’t sure how these were going to taste but with a pan fry in with the chicken they were fine.  Into the risotto I also added some store bought mixed mushrooms.

  • Homegrown? veggie stock, chilli, burgundy mushroom, courgette – tick. Powered tumeric – no. I did add in the store bought mixed mushrooms but the meal would still have been ok without them and leaving them to sit and waste in the fridge would have been silly.
  • Tasty? – pretty tasty.  The barley risotto makes a good left over lunch too.
  • Good content of vegetables? Happy with the veggie level.  Mushrooms are super healthy too so they surely count as a double vegetable in the scheme of things.
  • Photos –

Day five – mushroom pasta thing

I started making mushroom soup but it ended up being more of a stew thing which is quite typical of my meals.  I simmered my home grown burgundy mushrooms along with onions and veggie stock.  To make a nice soup I should have whizzed it up but I didn’t want to loose the texture of my mushrooms so I added more water and orzo pasta and cooked it down to make more of a mushroom pasta (yes – similar to the risotto we had the night before).  I added feta and this was our vegetarian meal for the week but it really needed some bacon or chorizo to give it more taste.

  • Homegrown? mushrooms, onions, veggie stock – tick.
  • Tasty? Ok but could try harder.
  • Good content of vegetables? – tick.
  • Photos – for some reason I didn’t take any.  Fail.

Summary of my week (well, five days really) cooking from the garden:

This time of the year is hard in the garden which is why I wanted to give myself this challenge. I’ve got a big garden and spend alot of time in it but we’re hardly ‘self sufficient’ with our vegetables.  It was time consuming scavenging around for vegetables every couple of days and trying to be inventive with what I had.  If we’d had a great summer I would have stored pumpkins, potatoes and bottled or frozen tomatoes to use.  I’ve got kumara, yams and yacon ready to lift so I probably could have dug around and got some of those to use. The perennial plants got me through the week. These are plants that don’t need replanting each year such as herbs, multiplying onions (an easy to grow onion a bit like a pickling onion), welsh onions (like spring onions) chard/silverbeet.   Also kale, upland cress (like watercress) and parsley self seed in my garden and keep growing and don’t need much looking after. The upland cress is especially easy and doesn’t seem to be bothered by anything.  To be self sufficient I need to get alot more stored and bottled such as potatoes and beetroot to get us through these lean times.  Onwards to next summer, meanwhile – nearly time to plant garlic.

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  1. Your menus sound pretty innovative to me. I grow a big veggie garden as well, but still have to buy produce at times. We’ve had a cold, wet spring so things are not pushing forward. Lettuce, spinach, arugula, scallions, kale is about all I can harvest right now. Leftovers from last year in cans, freezer or larder are only shallots, onions, garlic, tomato sauce & juice, pickles, saurkraut, green beans, pickled beets. Slim pickings!

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