Saturday, July 17, 2010

Boys winging away, and onward

So... they really CAN get up at 4.30AM without a crowbar or me. The boys got up, caught the shuttle, and caught the plane to Melbourne and then dropped us an e-mail to say they were through customs an emigration and all they had to do is board(for which I am really grateful. I follow the ancient way of the worrier, which is a hard path to follow and concentrate on anything else.). My best mate Pete is picking them up in SA, so all should be well. Therefore, mind at rest, I've had a constructive morning editing while B vacuumed and Clare brush-cut. Then we nipped out to a sneak preveiw of the garage sale and I bought some fishing gear. Not really the tools I was hoping for, but several spare elderly reels, and a load of sinkers and a mold, and a strung gill-net (I have a licence. I also have a legal mesh and weights - just no floats, ropes or net needle. It's been another 'round tuit'. I'm not very keen on gill-nets, but they too have their place in self-sufficency foraging, and in some ways large mesh ones like this are a reasonable passive fishing methode which size-selects and does not damage the environment. Don't get me started on small-mesh drift nets, dredges or trawl netting. Beach seines on the other hand are sort of OK, if they're short) We stopped and had a cuppa with some friends and got given another roo, eggs, as well as a very tempting catalogue of seeds and some purple garlic from their garden. Does anyone out there have any experience with Cossack pineapple, Salsify, Scorzonera, sea-kale, strawberry spinach, tomatillo, tamarillo?


  1. One thing I learned about tomatillo is that you need a handful to get fruit. I tried growing them when I lived an hour north of here for Salsa Verde. Three years in a row I would get several plants and I would get flowers but never any fruit.

    I later learned that you need four or five plants to really get the pollination they need. The Mexican guy who showed me that said that tomatillo don't...uhmmm..."do" themselves. I'm sure there's a proper botanical word for it.

    When I was running a lawn care company we used to plant sea kale in sandy loam spots as cover in new developments, it's drought tolerant so it was good on those fringe spots around new houses such as the south facing side of an elevated berm or fence that doesn't get good spray from the sprinkler. Real pretty flower. I had no idea you could eat the things.

    Only seen tomarillos in the market and have never eaten one.

    Never heard of the rest. Do they have other names?

    Hope the trip back goes well for the lads!

  2. The boys have arrived safely :-)

    Seakale - the blanched early stalk are eaten and later the flowering heads - according to the book.

    Salsify - a long thinnish white root crop - tragopogon porrifolius - is also called 'oysterplant'

    Scorzonera - a similar but black and you can use the new leaves too - called black Salsify :-)

    Strawberry spinach is a chenopodium -like lamb's quarters - aka Strawberry Goosefoot, Strawberry Spinach, Indian Paint, and Indian Ink.

    Cossack pineapple is also called 'ground cherry' and is a native of eastern North America - Physalis pruinosa

    none of these have I ever seen let alone tasted.

  3. Tomatillos are also called "ground tomatoes" and can be used the same way you would a green tomato. Very tart to eat raw, but very good in cooked dishes.

    Tomatillos are great in a raw salsa when blended in equal proportions with ripe mangoes, a pinch of hot pepper like cayenne, and a bit of salt. It goes really well with savory dishes. I made it up one day when working at a restaurant because I had a crate each of tomatillos and mangos that needed to be used, and served it with black beans. It was a big hit! Several people asked me for that recipe (and many seemed rather disappointed at how easy it was).

  4. I ate Strawberry spinach quite a lot when we lived in Tok (Alaska) and it is quite good, very much like spinach.

    Ground Cherry can be invasive. I have it in my front garden, where it volunteered itself about two years ago and I wasn't as energetic about getting it out of there as I should have been, because I knew it had edible fruit (which rumor has it, you can make jam from). Now I can't get rid of it. So be careful where you put it! However, the flowers are pretty neat. Hard to see - they hide under the leaves a bit, but they are yellow with a brown center, and in shape always remind me of a skirt in full swish.

  5. On the Sea Kale, I'm guessing that blanching means covering the shoots with light mulch and not the cooking process. Belgian Endive style.

    Don't know if that is clear in your guide.

  6. Growing tomatillo, no experience. Using it, some. You want a firm fruit with some weight to it--size and color not so important--as lighter ones will be hollow (pithy). I have used them raw and roasted to make salsa. Roasting them makes them squishy with a good bit of liquid to them. Raw, they have a light "green" flavor. I'm not sure how I'd describe the flavor of them roasted.