Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The gift of garlic

I don't give away much any more. When we first had the allotment we gave away loads, usually because we had got our planting all wrong and had got far too much beetroot, or courgette, or whatever. Nowadays we are a lot smarter, and while we have not exactly banished the notion of surplus altogether, we tend to eat pretty much everything we grow.
So I don't give away much now; and in particular, I don't give away my precious garlic. I love my garlic, and my family all appreciates it - the children are particularly keen on roast potatoes with garlic, bless them. Why the hell should anyone else get any? After all, any surplus can be easily dealt with by cooking something monstrous like Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic (for those of you that don't know, this is a real dish: very good eating it is, too. If a trifle pungent).
But several months ago a friend demanded I give him some of my new season garlic when it was ready, and today - being a man of my word - I finally handed over a head of Early Wight, so fresh out of the ground it still had a light coating of East Acton mud.
He didn't get the Albigensian garlic, though. That's my favourite: it is a very pretty purple, grows well on our allotment, and lasts forever - we are still eating last year's crop, and indeed last night had an entire head's worth with some pork chops. Along, I might add, with some allotment potatoes (Sharpe's Express), some allotment broad beans, and some allotment peas cooked with allotment lettuce a la francaise. Made it all worth while, really.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Peas v beans

Until now, I have never had to ask myself this most taxing of questions: which are better - peas or beans? Myself, I love broad beans. They are one of my favourite vegetables, and really do taste so much better when you grow them yourself. Peas, on the other hand, have a reputation as being a bit trickier to grow - if the mice don't get the seeds when you first plant them, the pea weevil gets them when they are all podded up and ready to go.
What's more, I have always had a sneaking suspicion that frozen peas are so good that it would be hard to match them.
Last year we tried growing them, and I am not sure it was really worth it. The crop was so small that we ate most of the peas raw from the pod (which is no bad thing: they were delicious).
This year we finally grew enough, and even remembered to put some pea sticks in so that they did not all fall over. What were they like? They were brilliant. Sweet, succulent, like little green smarties when raw, and just as good when cooked. Not, perhaps, such a plentiful crop as with the broad beans, but on the other hand they don't get blackfly, which makes them OK in my book.
Which are better? Well, they are a lot easier to pod than broad beans, which puts them edging ahead, but it is a close-run thing and I don't think I am ready to make the final decision quite yet...