Seriously, we are a week out from the official start of winter, and I can buy raspberries at the market? And zucchini flowers? Melbourne, don’t get me wrong, I’m loving this last hurrah of warm weather, but you’re making me a little nervous here. I just know you will find a way to make up for it sooner or later. Something tells me that you are plotting snow for this winter…
Today, I am feeling cold, but virtuous. Cold, because our hot water system has died – the pilot light keeps blowing out, and when we brought a plumber out to look at the system, he kind of stopped in his tracks and then started swearing. It appears that he is a former safety inspector and our hot water system does not pass. To put it mildly. So we are getting a new system, and there will be no hot showers for us until Wednesday evening. I’m seriously considering buying some paper plates to eat from for the next few days, as washing up in these conditions is quite painful.
The virtuous part comes from the fact that for once I’ve got my act together to make a huge pot of what I like to think of as ‘peasant greens’. This is probably a terrible name for it, but basically it’s a mixture of kale, sorrel, carrot greens, turnip greens, parsley, a few beetroot greens, spring onions, leeks and garlic, which I’m cooking down into a big muddy-green mess (the muddy green comes from the sorrel) for use in spanakopita, stuffed pancakes, stuffed zucchini flowers, and maybe even green gnocchi.
Of course, given the nature of greens, my huge stockpot full will probably come out as two small handfuls, but I can hope…
I am also feeling quite excited, because, thanks to Farmhouse Direct, I also have Davidson Plums and Blood Limes to play with this weekend. I’m thinking of doing a special winter edition of my pectin jellies. The original plan was to earn a little pocket money for Europe, but now I’m thinking that offsetting the cost of the hot water system might also be a good plan…
Still, one cannot live on pectin jellies alone, particularly the ones one hasn’t made yet, so off we went this morning to the Coburg Market. It was a good day to be there – we’ve missed the fourth Saturday a lot recently, what with the Slow Food Market on the one hand and the temptations of the Flemington Market on the other, and so there are some stalls we never see any more. Also, Coburg, in addition to being close to home, is a really fun market.
This week, for example, it was being visited by a flock of gallahs from a circus group.
They developed quite the entourage of small children following them and trying to do what they were doing.
My first stop today was the raspberry stall, because I really could not believe that anyone was still managing to produce raspberries, even with greenhouses. The raspberry lady can’t believe it either, and is sure that this will be the last lot for the year – though she thought that last fortnight, too! She also had strawberries, which were irresistible, and feijoas, which I recall with an utter lack of fondness from my childhood, and I thus avoided. And there were figs, too, which are not quite my thing, and also terribly strange to see at a market stall right next to strawberries.
We moseyed a little further around the market and found a stall selling all sorts of exotic mushrooms! I think this is the same stall I’ve seen at Fairfield, but apparently this was his first time at Coburg. Under his guidance, we chose a mixed bag of basically everything. I have no idea what most of these are, but I have a good recipe for wild mushroom tacos, which should highlight them nicely.
Our next stop was a beautifully lush stall selling herbs of all kinds, as well as edible flowers – and zucchini flowers! I have serious concerns about being able to buy zucchini flowers in late May. To me, this smacks of climate change more than anything any scientists have written about (not that I don’t believe the scientists, but food is much more immediate). But that won’t stop me buying them if they are there to buy. I also picked up some of the aforementioned sorrel, for its lemony goodness, and some tuscan kale. And a bag of little tiny broccoli heads. (Off with their heads!)
One of the stalls I’ve really missed has been the Myrtleford Butter Factory stall. I absolutely love their wares, and even more, I love getting to try all the butters on little pieces of cracker. I’d been hoping for ghee, but they didn’t have any this week – so I contented myself very happily with unsalted butter, confit garlic butter, and crème fraiche.
Butter naturally implies bread, so our next stop was the Flinders Sourdough stall, where we were delighted to discover that they sell half loaves! We always have difficulty getting through a loaf of bread before Andrew (who is very picky) starts to feel that the loaf is too old to be used for anything other than toast. As far as I can tell, this happens about half an hour after it comes out of the oven, though Andrew claims that this is an exaggeration on my part.
I had also planned to buy chickpeas from Shuki and Louisa, but then I got distracted by their green tahini dip, which is my absolute favourite of theirs, and had to buy that as well. It turns out that Louisa reads my blog occasionally (hi Louisa!), and we had a nice chat about tasty things to do with chickpeas.
I thought perhaps I should get back to buying vegetables, because while we had the leafy greens thing pretty well covered, and were also well-sorted for berries, we were rather lacking in root veg. I bought a bag of little red onions (marked, alarmingly, as strawberries) from the orange stall (which is clearly pretty confused on a number of levels), and then got distracted by the stall next to it, which had purple cauliflower!
And not just purple cauliflower, but also fractal broccoli!
Suffice it to say that we were now very well covered for brassicas. But not so much for root vegetables. Time to investigate the other veggie stalls.
At the next veggie stall, we got into a spirited conversation about whether we preferred beetroot itself, or beetroot greens, which culminated in my buying turnips, a vegetable that I am fairly sure I’ve never tried, basically for the greens. Because apparently turnip greens are great. I also bought carrots (with greens!), leeks, and capsicums, which may not be a root vegetable but are nonetheless important.
Oh yes, we bought eggs too. I think in the middle of my brassica-fest.
It was then time for some breakfast. I chose dutch pancakes, as made with intense concentration by the preps of Coburg Primary School. Andrew decided on pie.
And then home to wash what feels like more greens than I will ever eat in my life (downside of using all your vegetable tops as vegetables: literally hours spent stripping and washing leaves in cold water. I will never get that time back.). The plan was then to make pectin jellies, but the greens kind of ate a lot of my afternoon – and it looks like washing my hair in time for singing tomorrow just became a rather more time-consuming chore than I had signed up for, too. Maybe tomorrow?
At least we have beautiful, beautiful vegetables…
One year ago: Pantry Challenge Day 24, with dinner at Satgurus
Two years ago: Recipe: Friendly Raspberry, Coconut and Lemon Cupcake
Three years ago: Recipe: Chocolate, Coconut and Raspberry Cupcakes