Kitchen Garden Guides

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Seeding some ideas....


What a shocking day its been, weather wise. One minute calm, sunny, even warm and enticing; the next, ferocious, unwieldy, hair-raising wind, horizontal rain barely hitting the ground before being blown away again. So, after surviving several bouts of this feverishness, Pickle and I retreated to the kitchen, to my other passion, cooking.

Yesterday I had failed to resist a bargain and came home with a huge chicken, unceremoniously labelled "Large Boiler". Massive, is the word I would have used! Aha.... I thought.... I know just where to look for some ideas on using this chook....."European Peasant Food" by Elizabeth Luard..... full of the gory details of medieval food preparation. Fortunately, unlike most of the boiler fowls in this book, mine came gutted and plucked and that was an excellent start! Because, if you did not specifically request it in the good olde days, you carried the bird home on your saddle, very much alive, to be dispatched by the cook when the time was right. (Thank goodness for refrigeration, Alex!)

Anyway, ideas gathered in my head, and stage one invariably meant simmering said chicken until tender.... anything from 1 - 3 hours..... I reckon mine took 4. During that time I was thinking of other large, time consuming cooking jobs that needed doing and I remembered that gigantic pumpkin I bought at the Ranelagh market, back in about April, which had been sitting in my sauna with my apples, ever since. It did not have much of a stem when I got it and now a bit of mould was starting to turn various unpleasant colours on the top. I decided this was its day of reckoning.

So, there I was at the bench, howling gale and pouring rain out the window, Pickle coming up to me every 5 minutes to play with his ball or old sock, with that cute look of expectancy a puppy has that says of course everyone wants to play with them..... ALL the time! In my biggest cast iron pot sat a dissected chook (because since medieval times, no-one has needed a pot big enough for this size bird to sit, whole), 1/2 cup of brandy, 2 onions slowly cooked in olive oil (that was my one concession to the modern day..... not to use fat from duck or pig or whatever animal was the done thing then).... and a couple of cups of chicken stock I had made some weeks ago.

I was at first excited by the number of fat, slippery seeds inside the pumpkin monster and spent some time cleaning them ready to throw into the soil in a few weeks to see what would grow. After a while I began to toss some aside and then I started to think.... how is it that people are starving when I have the potential to grow maybe several thousand kilograms of pumpkins from this one on my bench? I reckon it had a hundred seeds and I once sold 98kgs of pumpkins to Wilson's Organics in Adelaide, all from one self-sown vine, and they were just those I didn't want, never mind those I kept!

Its the same with something as simple as lettuce or broccoli.... you get hundreds, if not thousands of seeds every time you leave them to go to seed. Agribusiness is always saying only THEY can feed the world..... and only using GM seeds, which coincidentally make them lots of money..... who do they think they are fooling?? All that needs to happen is to divide up the huge tracts of land monopolised by the multinationals, and give it back to the people. In no time they'd be sharing seeds and growing more and more every year.

I read recently that the most productive amount of land is 4 acres. On those enormous monoculture farms a lot of land is wasted where machinery cannot quite get to the corners, microclimates cannot be attended to, harvesting is time consuming and no-one can live on a monoculture anyway. What is wrong with us all that we let them get away with it? What is wrong with us all .... why do we buy seeds from them when I have a hundred seeds on my kitchen bench? Does it really matter that the seeds may not produce perfect pumpkins all of one variety? What is wrong with us all that we let forests be destroyed and farmers' lives ruined by these corporations? I am worried about the people in the Pakistan floods who have lost all their seeds, some saved over hundreds or even thousands of years; agribusiness is no doubt planning on signing them up to a lifetime of debt.

Looking in through my kitchen window, you would never have guessed how angry I was getting at how our civilisation has gone quite mad.... and how determined I am to save the world, one saved seed at a time.

1 comment:

chaiselongue said...

You're right, Kate, there are so many seeds - why should we pay for the big business profits of international companies who pretend they are helping? It doesn't matter if the pumpkins or whatever come out different from the 'parent', you can still eat them. Our neighbour gave us some lovely long green peppers yesterday - he said the seed came from some round peppers on a plant he'd bought in the market. Not the same as the parent, but they were still delicious! I hope the chicken was delicious after all that cooking!