I’ve been busy. Really, really, REALLY busy. The Gardener muttered about overcommiting ourselves this summer a while back, and my optimistic self ignored it.
It turns out he was right.
To be fair, most of the busy has been pleasure related, in the past 3 weeks, I’ve met up with my brother in Zürich, entertained friends from Australia, been to a muddy yet fun festival, and am currently planning & getting ready for a huge house party in two weeks… then late August we’re off to Burning Man in the Nevada desert for 2 & half weeks, which is a bit of an organisational mission.
All this fun, as well as working full-time in a job that has suddenly gone from ticking along quietly, to full on frenzy mode, PLUS, the quite frankly, huge effort it takes to even basically maintain a garden the size of ours, as well as beekeeping and supposedly writing a blog is taking its toll. Mostly to the tune of not quite keeping up with my blogging goal of 2 posts a week & not exercising quite as regularly as I’d like.
I’m not complaining.. I love doing all of these things, they ALL make me happy, I just wish there was more time to do everything.
Despite being quite distracted, I do have quite a number of seasonal recipes to catch up with posting, plus a few other longer pieces that are still at polishing stage. Don’t despair.. I’ll be back on track shortly.
In the meantime, let me share with you a super simple artichoke idea. We grow our own ‘chokes, and in Britain they are just perfect for harvesting right now. In other, warmer, northern climes, they would be perfect in May or June. Look out for them in good greengrocers & markets. In Australia, they will be ready around October/November.
I think artichokes are fabulous to grow in a larger garden. They are strikingly pretty with their silvery foliage and height, giving structure & interest to the garden, plus bees love them once they are fully open. Added bonus is they are perennials, so once they are established, you really just have to give them a good feed every year, and they spring back up again year after year, only needing to be moved every 5 years or so. They are quite easy to cook too, despite needing quite a long cooking time. Oh. And, best of all? They are DELICIOUS!
This is a tiny bit of a fiddle, and takes a while to cook, but really worth it in the end. Cutting the top 1/3 of the leaves off leaves the inner flower open to stuff little chunks of garlic into needs a good sharp knife, you also might need to shove the point of your knife in to create little spaces.
I do think however, parceling the artichokes up with olive oil, lemon & salt to roast whole, takes them to a whole other level. This recipe is a side dish really. I served these with the zucchini (courgette) fritters I made in my very first blog post, popping these in the oven first for a long slow cook whilst I got on with dealing with my courgette glut!
Don’t be scared of eating the artichokes once cooked. All you need to do is pull off the outer leaves one by one, stripping the little fat juicy bit off that attaches them to the flower off with your teeth,until you reach the ‘choke. Then, carefully scoop off the feathery flower stamens (which is what they are) leaving the little ‘green biscuit’ shaped artichoke heart to be greedily scooped out & devoured.
I’m also a fan of simply steaming artichokes until soft, then serving with a garlicky vinaigrette or garlic mayo,but these, baked long & slow, are quite simply, the best.
We still have quite a few left to eat.. so if you have a recipe to share, let me know in the comments below!
- 1 Artichoke per person
- 1/2 lemon per artichoke
- 2 garlic cloves per artichoke, cut into halves
- 1Tbs olive oil per artichoke
- Sprinkle of fresh thyme
- 1 square aluminium foil per artichoke
- Trim the top 1/3 of the artichoke off, plus trim the stem so it sits flat.
- With a sharp knife, poke holes in the top & squish in the halved garlic
- Lay the artichoke on the foil & scrunch it up a bit
- Drizzle over the juice of the half lemon & the olive oil, making sure you get them in between the leaves.
- Sprinkle over the salt & thyme
- Parcel up the foil, making sure you fold the edges over to create a sealed 'pocket'
- Put the artichoke parcel(s) on a baking tray.
- Bake for around 1.5 hours. Smaller artichokes might take less time.
- Serve as a luxurious side dish, maybe with a little vinagrette or garlicy mayo as a dippy sauce
- Don't forget to have a plate handy to put all the little leaves in as you eat them!