Jerusalem Artichokes, nice to meet you!

 

Freshly harvested Jerusalem artichokes

Freshly harvested Jerusalem artichokes

Jerusalem Artichokes don’t look very appealing. Their flowers do, it’s just like a sunflower. Right yellow and tall. Very pretty.  And if you didn’t know you wouldn’t go digging for the root once the flower had died off. And you would certainly not expect that it is edible! But it’s worth digging for them, cleaning them up and cooking with them.

I got introduced to these knobbly roots in a little local restaurant just up the road. I loved them so much that I had a chat to the Maitre d’ about what they were and how they grow. He gave me a handful to try to grow them myself. Which I did! You basically just stick them in the ground and they will start growing. And growing.. Once you have them it’s hard to ever clear them all out as they create little tubers that go  everywhere and grow their own flowers. And so on. I you don’t have enough space, make sure you contain them in a pot or so, otherwise they’ll take over.

I use them generally as I would use potatoes. I scrub them, cut the ugly parts off, but leave most of the skin on. then roll them in olive oil, some rosemary, and salt and pepper and roast them at 190 for 20-30 minutes.

I’m so glad I got introduced !

J

Honey Heaven

honey

Honey, especially the NZ Manuka honey is amazing. Not only does it taste good, it has got all these anti bacterial qualities. The Maori already knew this 100s of years ago, and used the honey to treat wounds for example. Fairly recent research has shown that there are indeed natural antibiotics in pure Manuka honey that are potentially stronger then the chemical ones we’ve gotten so used to.

Eating a spoon of Manuka honey when having a sore throat will actually sooth it, but also kill the bacteria. And you can use it for example if you have nothing else at hand to clean and close scratches on your body.

The great thing is it just also tastes so good! Rub some honey over some lamb chops, add some thyme and grill them. Or put some camembert on a piece of French bread, poor some honey over it, sprinkle some ground pepper and rosemary and grill it for a minute or so until slightly softened. or as i did tonight mix some fresh ginger and honey with soysauce and sesame oil for a great stirfry mixture.

Honey heaven!

Grapes grow here!

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Grapes, growing up in the Netherlands, were a fruit of sunny Mediterranean holiday lunches. We would buy bunches on the roadside with some fresh bread, cheese and a piece of those beautiful dried sausages and have a picnic under large plantain trees in the middle of village square. We would have a proper siesta, letting the hottest part of the day go by, whilst munching on the sweet juicy grapes. I never thought then that growing them myself was ever going to be an option.

But of course in New Zealand, land of the most beautiful wines, grapes do grow! And even though I haven’t done so yet, I know I can grow them in my garden. Friends and neighbours definitely do! I still find it amazing to see these beautiful bunches grow in common gardens. It just looks so exotic to me.

Even better is to see the rolling hills of vineyards planted up, ready for harvest to make another year of their gorgeous juice: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Malbec.. There are so many good wines to choose from here in New Zealand! It’s not a very old winemaking country, but gosh have they caught up with the rest of the world! I blame the clean air and the great balanced climate. If you haven’t tried, you really should!

Tonight I might just use the grapes I was given by a friend yesterday roasted with some onions, garlic and fresh salmon. And of course I’ll have a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc with that!

G