Wednesday, 24 June 2015
Sexing the Cherry
This year I hadn't planted so many and unlike previous years I didn't get round to sowing the lovely green kidney shaped kernels until March. The Worzel Gummidge wisdom is to plant the seeds in October so that they have a head start the following spring, by which time, having survived the winter ,they are hardened off and the blasted black fly can't get their nippy jaws into the young bean's succulent flesh.
So nothing really happened until we had some sun to heat up the soil, but once that occurred, as usual, that miracle took place and the little darlings, once having poked their heads above the parapet. couldn't be constrained and in no time were 3 feet tall and podding.
It's really frustrating having to wait for the pods to swell. The thing is you just know how fabulous, once bloated, the beans will be, and you just can't wait. So there's always that premature, impatient harvest and disappointment when on splitting open the casing you find nothing or beans so small you wondered why you bothered.
On Sunday the beans weren't ready. Today there were enough to be worth harvesting. They are so beautiful! The colour of the pod, its texture and shape: you can keep your Mona Lisa and your Taylor Swift, give me a broad bean casing any time.
This evening we had broad bean and pea risotto. Never has simplicity created such complexity. Take half a large Spanish onion, finely chopped, a large clove of garlic, crushed, some rape seed oil and a large frying pan. Heat the oil and sauté the garlic and onion until they soften. Add the rice - the best Italian rice you can afford and fry for a minute. Then add your stock. I use vegetable stock, some people might add a glass of good quality white wine, but I don't since that would mean one glass less down my throat. Gently simmer the rice in the stock so that it slowly absorbs the moisture and swells and soften just enough, but leaving a bite. Add the stock until it's all absorbed and add the succulent broad beans and, today, some frozen garden peas and cook for a minute or so.
Some people add a knob of butter and salt and pepper to finish off the risotto. I don't bother. In a bowl the steaming combination of white rice and the vibrant greens of the beans and pea gets the juices flowing. The meal is a joy.
Oh, and by the way. The loganberries, the strawberries and the gooseberries were perfect. Scattered on my favourite strained Greek yoghurt with a dash of honey, they were a sweet to serve the Gods themselves. And, for the first time ever, I got to the cherries before the birds. I will treasure their sweetness tomorrow.