Monday, November 23, 2009

The glut

Back in the dark ages, just after smoking too much killed the dinosaurs and people still had fax machines, B and I moved onto Finnegan's Wake and for the first time a serious go at self-sufficiency. We were bright-eyed and bushy tailed, but our delusions of handsome appearance and sartorial elegance aside, we were also in for a bumper year. Partly this was as a direct result of my ignorance and over-enthusiasm. To put it slightly cryptically - there are about 30 seeds in a pack of courgette seeds. I had the space and compost to plant them all... every plant bore at least 50 baby marrows... And herein lies the devilish detail - I was raised 'waste not, want not'. Did you know that sliced paper thin courgettes (lightly salted, left to stand for 3 minutes, then washed and dried)dressed with olive oil and lemon juice and black pepper can be served as a great salad? No? Well neither did I, before. I didn't know they were good in bread either. Or parboiled, slit from gizzard to zatch and then with a slice of cheese and a piece of rehydrated sundried tomato in the slit, and a slice of bacon on the outside as a wrap, skewered in place with a couple of toothpicks and then grilled is delicious. Yes -I believe I came up with 33 disguises for the humble courgette - none quite as effective as shoving a carrier bag of the things into a visitor's car. Yes the courgettes nearly killed us, and years later even the sight of virulent yellow courgette piccalli makes me blench. But it was the bramble patch that finally hammmered the stake into that old waste-not maxim. It was several acres of thorns and black woody bramble-berries. Free food! We picked with glee. Then with enthusiasm. then with grim determination, then with scratched and battered resignation and, um, whining. And even when we gave up, that was only the start. Jam making continued to the small hours, until every jar and every pound of sugar (we had to go and buy extra -at a 50km round trip, and the cost of sugar and jars it probably would have been cheaper to buy 12 jars of jam.) But we had jam. 6 years later we STILL had jam... and juice... and getting the eager family interested in another picking session the next day (or the next year)... was fortunately not well received.

Self-sufficiency requires a lot of things - one is getting fellow self-sufficiency people to trade with. And realising that processing what can be an endless excess is actually expensive too. There is a balance in all things. :-) It's a shame that i am not that well balanced anyway.
And when it comes to courgette piccalilli, waste not becomes want not very quickly.

1 comment:

  1. Bwhahaha! I did it with eggplants, this year.

    If you pick them when they're really small you can use up quite a few in a single meal. Fortunately I failed altogether to think of any way to can them, and I needed to defrost the freezer, so that was out. Used the last one last week in lasagna.

    I've found that past a certain point the weed pulling effort is not worth the few remain rewards. This is shortly followed by "if I turned the horses loose on it, they'd have it stripped and ready for the fall garden in no time." That takes care of the last problems.

    I swear, next year, just a couple of little raised bed gardens in back corner. And maybe ONE eggplant.