One stop on our summer holiday included a visit with family in the French countryside. Behind their home, they look after a very large veg patch full of tomatoes, squash, aubergine, melon, pumpkins, corn, lettuce, herbs. Their lush and beautiful crop made my little urban plot seem like the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree of veg patches.  No matter.  I’m not the jealous type.  As they say, when life give you, um, courgette flowers, make something delicious.  Even if they are from someone else’s garden.

courgette/zucchini blossom

This was actually my husband’s inspired idea.  While helping with the garden chores, he realised that there were nearly twenty beautiful blossoms on the courgette plants and squash vines.  This in addition to the courgette already fully ripened and ready to eat.  Seriously, these courgette were the as long as my forearm and as heavy as a small child. So our lunch idea would also serve as a much needed crop reduction.  (He grew up on a farm.  He is very clever.)

He asked if the flowers were the same kind they use at the Salt Yard for that amazing fried courgette blossom dish? Yes. Did they teach me how to do that in school? No, but we can wing it. And use Google.  And let’s just say that a crunchy, creamy, salty and sweet courgette recipe was an easy sell.

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Back in the Spring, desperate for sunshine and warmth, I was so infatuated with my veg patch that I conveniently ignored that fact that I was leaving town for most of the summer.  I was in denial about the fact that the fledgling plants, already set back by the dreadful Spring of 2013, were going to have to go it on their own while I took the Fives back to the States to visit family and friends.

How did the crop fare?  Anything that grew faster than weeds thrived.  Anything that couldn’t was stunted.  Thought pretty much everything did survive.  Ain’t mother nature great? The biggest winners: rainbow chard, kale and courgette (zucchini for my American friends).  The Fives and I harvested bags full last weekend (along with twice as many bags full of weeds…).

Chard and kale will be with us for a while, but the curse of courgette is that when it is in season, it is so prolific that people run out of ways to use it.  So I offer you two ways to use up your courgette bounty without being bored to death.  First up, a simple salad that takes mere minutes to make and doesn’t require an oven or stove.  Tomorrow, I’ll share something a little more sophisticated. Read More →

We are lucky to have a garden in this city.  And, as far as I am concerned, the luckiest bit was the unused, weed-riddled back area that was forgotten and unused.  The size, the shape, the fact that it actually gets a substantial slice of sunshine (when the sun shines) — this neglected bit of dirt had Vegetable Patch written all over it. But, candidly, my desire to eat fresh food and introduce my kids to the source of their meals does not always match up to the time or energy I have available.  The hero of this little love story is Rocket Gardens.

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