I am a reluctant gardener. I am happier sitting back and admiring someone else’s handiwork opposed to getting my hands dirty and trying to create order out of the chaos.
I can do the mindless destruction. Cutting things down in the hope they will grow back again next year. And I can dig a small hole in the ground, ease out a plant from a plastic black pot, put the plant in the hole in the expectation that nature will do the rest. After that I get a bit lost. Things don’t grow and the tasks are half carried out. I only need think about the six tomatoes I grew from the six plants I had in the greenhouse.
So this afternoon I set myself the task of trimming the hedge that runs down our half of the left hand, or right hand, side, depending on where you are standing, of the front garden. I started off knowing that no matter how much was trimmed the hedge was already so misshapen it would still look like a mess, albeit shorter, by the time I was done.
And so it proved. A tall ladder was extracted from the basement, a hedge trimmer was dug out of the garage and an hour and a half later I was left with a great pile of cuttings that needed to be cleared away and a hedge that look just as much of of a mess as it had when I started, only a little bit shorter.
The robin seemed happy. It pecked around in the ground after me until it found a fat green grub and it was off for its lunch.
For our late lunch I am making more use of the harissa. I spent half an hour yesterday trying to find a recipe for a harissa flavoured beef stew and then I gave up figuring I could work it all out with what I had.
We had finished off the chicken I had cooked on Friday for Saturday’s lunch but the carcass was left in the fridge. I cooked it down to make a bright red and fierce stock.
As that cooked I fried off some pieces of fatty pork belly in the pan I had used this morning for frying bacon ( I have a death wish – I know), once they were browned, I did the same to some stewing steak.
I then sweated onions and garlic in a large pan until they were sweet. Cumin and caraway seeds were ground and stirred into the onions. The meat was tipped in and I cleared off the fatty residue in the bottom of the frying pan with some of the chicken stock. I stirred a good teaspoon of the harissa into the meat along with a tin of chopped tomatoes, the rest of the stock and then put the lid on and left it to putter for a couple of hours.
We ate it with potatoes from the garden, couscous and kale. Kale seems to be the only thing I can grow (apart from garlic and horseradish) and we have a surfeit of it.