Compost, worms and what to do with a hard mango

Now that it has warmed up there is something sobering about the Saturday trip to the green compost bin at the end of the garden. A weeks worth of potato peel, carrot tops, banana skins, apple cores, used teabags and old coffee grounds will have built up in the pot in the kitchen and is starting to smell. The compost bin has been in the garden for at least 5 years but it is only over the last couple of summers that it seems to have got going. For the first few years whatever we put in there did not seem to go down until the bottom was emptied in spring and spread over the veg plot. But now it has been taken over by great clots of worms that seethe all year round.

Open the lid and there is a good whiff of rotting fruit and whatever flies have  gathered will buzz into the air. Peer in and last weeks pot full of kitchen waste will already have started to be dragged down into the thick brown gloop that I suppose is basically worm shit. The surface looks fairly innocuous but dig down a bit and every item of old veg is seized by clumps of worms of all sizes. The eye is first caught by the pink ones two or three inches long but then you notice others no thicker than a piece of snipped cotton all turning and  trying to get away from the light. And that is the sobering part. Bury my old body in the ground for a few months and it to will become a vast clump of worms like those in the compost bin, turned to worm shit and then back into the soil.

Some things take longer to break down than others. The odd bottle top that gets in there will be around for ever, labelling on an avocado skin, elastic bands, egg shells and the stones from the mangoes we had last summer.

I bought another box of honey mangoes this morning from the grocers, so that will be 4 more stones in the bin, and last night I picked up one those sad, hard green giants they sell in the supermrket. It had been reduced in price, twice, so they wanted to sell it, but there was still hardly any give as I gently pressed at the skin with my fingers. I got it anyway as I guessed there would still be sweetness there.

Back at home I slowly fried off two thick chicken breasts in a touch of olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and a good pinch of paprika.

I peeled the mango and then sliced off the yellow flesh from around the stone. This was then diced and put in a bowl into which I added half a finely sliced red onion, two crushed cloves of garlic, a very finely diced red chilli, olive oil, salt and pepper and the juice of one lime. Mixed all together and left to let the flavours meld for a while.

When the chicken was done I eat it with the mango salsa and a pile of basmati and wild rice.

All cooked whilst listening out for the good bits on the new Guided By Voices album.

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