Wednesday, January 28, 2009

now i'm back. for real.

I have been cooking like a maniac this past week. And the garden has been like a toddler - can't be left alone for a second. And responds well to lots of attention.

Today is a case in point. With that 40 degree forecast I got up at 6am to collect all the fallen fruit from the nectarine trees and pick whatever was ripe on the branches. Then I started a batch of jam using pie queen's method, stewed some nectarines and rode over to Shannon's to cook up some pancakes to eat them with.

Now I've got some pastry chilling in the fridge for the River Cafe's Apricot and Almond Tart, another batch of nectarines stewing and a head full of crazy. Yup.

But this post is about a similar crazy day I had last week where I decided I better finally figure out what to do with this cucumber. I've decided that bitter cucumbers are my punishment for picking up a few seedlings (starts) from Bunnings, evil corporate big-box that they are. They're too bitter to eat so I decided I'd finally try a recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop's excellent Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook that I'd been eyeing up.

It's very simple and it makes bitter cucumber taste deliciously like a mild bitter melon. All you do is cut diagonal half moons, fry in a wok covering as much of the surface as you can. Add a little soy and rice vinegar and some garlic and chilli. Remove from the heat and dress with sesame oil and shiso/perilla (or basil in my case). Yum! And good for my liver too I bet.

Meanwhile, while you're snacking on that if you're really crazy you can whip up a batch of the River Cafe's apricot jam, complete with kernels from the inside of the stones.

ps - sorry about the ugly blog design. i will fix it someday.


shannon said...

bro!! i just decided to check your blog completely at random and not only had you just updated it but I FEATURE IN YOUR POST!! that is far and away the most exciting thing that has happened since you left after our trip to aldi.
more posts!! especially where i get to feast on the produce. i am currently deciding on a menu for dinner next week.
ps - are they salsa jars you are bottling with?

esther said...

hmmm yes, em does like the dodgy salsa. is it weird to have jam labelled "mild"?

Anonymous said...

I too just happened to check your blog - for fun. So what about some samples of said jam and other goodies - feel there's serious anti-family discrimination happening

sorenson said...

apricot jam is definitely best with the kernels included - such delicious trace of bitterness. we've been experimenting with putting plums up in the fowlers. preserved plums are just so so good... (ran into Em in the supermarket today and then look! bloglines tells me you updated your blog! spooky.)

esther said...

pickled plums! that sounds great. i've been eyeing off fowlers sets on ebay but I'm still unsure. do you think they're worth it? do you have electric or stovetop?

nice to see some friendly faces still lurking around here.

xx e

sorenson said...

We're lucky enough to have an extended lend. It's electric but it shorted every circuit we tried it on, so we bought a big saucepan and are using that on the stove instead (mixed results). So can't comment on value as such. You can just use any old jars (with new lids, preferably) which would be a bit cheaper, but I do love the rows of matching jars. We're just preserving them in a light syrup - pickling is too advanced for me! Good idea though - maybe I'll look into it.

t0xic_honey said...

totally great to see you back in blog land, esther!