I've always viewed my garden as a Kitchen Garden where what I grow is determined by what I eat. That perspective has waxed and waned over the years as periods of experimentation set in, only later to pass.
Ironically, my most recent menu advance was not located outback, but grew indoors instead.
When I started sprouting mung beans near the wash sink a whole new menu option opened up to me. Suddenly so many botanical pieces fitted together.
I wasn't interested in sprout salads at all. Instead, I embraced a soup concoction which not only partnered the sprouts, but almost any other plant I could harvest any time of the year in the Kitchen Garden.
The thing about the mung bean sprouts in the soup is that it gives bulk -- noodle or pasta-like bulk -- to a broth that will happily marry so many different vegetables or herbs.
So every day -- in every way -- I eat one very satisfying meal of soup, the contents of which I forage outback.
Loaded with vegetables. Filling. Extremely tasty (if one, like me, were very anchovy prone).
'Tis a vehicle for so much delicious goodness that I have to wonder what on earth have I been doing in the garden the last so many years.
I'm not skilled enough to offer a Masterclass in Soupology -- but I do note that so much of what I had been experimenting with -- both in the kitchen and outdoors -- seems to converge on this particular happenstance.
The options in general practice are salads and stir fries --and I'm sure they too have their aficionados.Given my kitchen habits, there is very little -- except fluid -- that separates a soup from a stew. Indeed when you get to Gumbo you have a foot dipped in each bowl's camp.
But your salad or stir fry adherent knows what I mean. I may not be of that faith but I recognize the shared medley.
The common ground are the greens.
We so often anguish over this or that vegetable --which we try to grow under pressure of season and climate -- that we can miss the marriage of whatever comes to hand for the salad bowl, wok or soup pot.
And you know what? It is these greens that do not suit our industrial food delivery system. They perish so soon after harvest. They transport poorly. They wilt. Become bitter if not consumed quickly.
Many are exotic and unknown to the market place.
The veges we are told to celebrate are the ones that survive the retail mustering. Nutrition or taste aren't necessarily the primary marker.
I reckon 'greens' get a poor rap when kale, silver beet or (English) spinach are flagged as special must eat foods. I don't like them and I pity any child whose mother pushes them down their throats. Fortunately the greens planet is so BIG. It's cuisine potential is complex and based on so many foraged marriages in myriad regions throughout the world.
It is the leaves of these vegetables -- annuals, perennials, bushes and trees -- that so suit kitchen gardening. You can grow these better -- and with more variety -- than any horticulturalist sentenced to securing a market share.
Many of these plants are also cut-and-come-again harvests.
I've given the concoction a generic name : UMAMI (うま味) SOUP.
Once the business of the stock is settled, well then you can throw in what greenery you've got to hand and see what happens.
Even last night's leftovers (if you choose)....
Pasta. Noodles. Coconut milk. Legumes. Rice.
Pieces of meat, fish or shellfish.
Eggs boiled or eggs poached. Tofu. Okra....
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