Sunday, October 11, 2009


It's a Rhubarb-and-custard sort of day. By this I mean chilly with occassional flurries of rain. Good for having to do some work indoors, good for the digging fence-pole hole sort of work or splitting firewood. It's not actually a greeny-grey-with hints of red, slightly glutinous bitter-sweet day with strings attached... I think I'd better put this metaphor down, before it infects the entire flock, and definately before I get to the custard.

I grow way more rhubarb than we can use. Actually, like most of my ilk - I think crofters is probably more accurate than farmers - quantities are almost never right. We're either in glut or shortage, which makes having others of similar bent (so long as they don't do the same things) as friends really valuable. Because quantity may go out of kilter, but the quality is inevitably something special. (cough. Sometimes 'special' can mean 'really vile'. But never ordinary supermarket) Things are also exceptionally seasonal -- which makes them very precious. Right now the young grape leaves are soft and tender. I blanche them and use them to make parcels of cheese, a sliver of home-made panchetta and sundried tomatoes (re-hydrate the tomato a bit first) which I pin with a toothpick and then nuke briefly. It's kind of stealth vegetables that even my kids' do-not-bring those-dangerous-vitamin-green-things-near-me friends eat cheerfully after that first wary-face-pulling tiny taste. My boys of course eat any vegetable cheerfully anyway. And anything else. We're very lucky that way. This is just sort of a rambly post, because that's the way I feel right now. I looked a t a seed catagloue for Aus... very exciting. Varieties I've never seen, veg I've only seen on TV... Except half of it can't go to Tas, for quarantine reasons. I haven't found a Tas online seed catalouge yet.
And now I think I will go and pick some Rhubarb and cook it, instead of merely making 'rhubarb, rhubarb' noises on the blog.


  1. The grape leaves sound fantastic.

    We were given some rhubarb plants, and they did well until some local possum found them. It was eating the leaves, which I've always understood were poisonous. But it seems they didn't kill this possum!

    After that the chickens got to them, digging all around them. The rhubarb was on its last legs.

    So now they've got they're own fence to keep the predators out. I miss stewed rhubarb on my cereal in the morning!

  2. That's very interesting, as possums are something we don't have, but I believe are quite common on the island and rhubarb is one of the very few things here that have been almost entirely pest (and effort) free. Honestly I sometimes think I run convenience shopping for half the local wildlife! I'm sure the new ones will have a similar attitude. I'm desperately envious of your olives BTW. Can't wait to plant our own again - I'm leaving a very hardy spanish one behind here, that has so far imitated your palestinian variety. Your oil figures were quite an eye opener! I don't think we'd ever be able to do oil - the ferry only runs once a week and takes 8 hours. The grape leaves are really very quick and easy, and you can use them for all sorts of culinary purposes - even wrapping small fish on the barbie.