Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Four seasons in a year

Please don’t shoot the messenger, for he is only delivering what you knew already, were aware of, but because of your busy and hectic life you may have just passed it over, pushed it to the side or moved onto the next thing as it whizzes by.
Spring is here and Mother nature has let us know with rays of great sunshine, downpours of rain and blasts of chilled air, all while we are trying to shake the winter blues.  In the kitchen our style of cooking changes drastically as we move away from slow cooked meals, thick and tasty braises and roasts and more into a lighter, fresher and greener style,  that reflects the season that we are now living in.  With four seasons in the year it is easy to get lost as they all tend to blend into one another when we pretending to be busy with something that this much more important than what mother natures is doing.  Supermarkets keep us focused on consistency and availability 24/7 so that we never go without, so that our longing urges for seasonal food are kept hidden behind misters and mirrors, piles of sameness and structure and piped music.
We live in a world where we depend on just a few to deliver so much, where big food  companies pretend to be small companies so that we can become there Facebook friends, there marketing teams and there entertainment by dangling flashing lights, exotic promotions and competitions that promise to remove us from our dreary and boring subsistence of our everyday lives.    The Human brain is the most amazing thing yet it fails us every time when our taste buds are soured by the unripe nectarines,  cool stored and glassed apples, flavourless plums, sterlised milk, bland and air filled bread and artificial flavours and fillers that stretch our food dollars further than the rise in GST.
The real cost of food is not just what you pay over the counter, the real cost is the value that you receive from Mother nature as she tells you what is in season,  what is at its best and what you should be eating at this time of the year.  While spring heralds that start of a new beginning it is also one of the scarest times of the year as we move out of winter and we are waiting for all of the good  things to appear, mother nature is just telling use to be patient, good things come to those that wait, better things come to those that appreciate the simple things in life. 
Globe artichokes
Ensure the artichokes are at their freshest by only choosing ones that are tightly closed and firm to the touch. Once they have been cooked  you can use them in a multitude of ways: in salads, sautéed, with olives and cheese, or puréed as a dip.

water, to just cover
juice of 2 lemons
salt
6 coriander seeds
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bayleaf
12 artichokes, med sized
Pour water into a pan and add lemon juice, pinch of salt, coriander seeds, thyme and bay leaf.
Remove stalk from artichoke by breaking it off and removing woody parts. Trim off the base and any rough outer leaves then cut off about the top 3cm/1¼in of leaves. Using a small knife peel the artichokes removing all the green leaf parts. Rub with half a lemon and place in the pan, adding a little more water to cover if necessary.
Bring to the boil then simmer for 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to cool in liquor - you may need to put a small plate on the artichokes to keep them submerged in the liquid. Leave artichokes in the liquor until you are ready to use them so they do not discolour.
Serve and eat or pack into hot sterilised jars for long term storage

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