Crashing into frozen: earthly delights update
Updated: Oct 31
It seems that the brief 3 weeks or so of exquisite autumn gardening weather are over. It's been wonderful! Meteorologists, those crystal ball gurus, data wranglers and essential partners in the garden of earthly delights project, have issued a freeze warning.
In a year of extremes where heat has been record breakingly above average, precipitation record breakingly below average, at last something average: first frost usually occurs around this time: late October/early November but it doesn't hang around, just stops by a night or two, long enough to put an end to nightshade and other tender seasonals gardening.
The San Marzano tomato vine which went dormant but hung on through the long hot summer, burst into abundant flower and fruit about 3 weeks ago, as soon as daytime high temperatures got to mid nineties F (around 35 C). I suspect that the longer and cooler nights however didn't support much on-vine ripening.
Almost 5 lbs of the Italian heritage paste tomatoes had to come in ahead of the first frost. I was hoping to dehydrate this year's crop for delicious sun dried tomato tangy chewiness in salads, pasta and sandwiches. However, with so many still green, I will probably pickle some and make green tomato relish with others.
Jalapeños suffered the same heat distress and dormancy fate as tomatoes this year, with only one plant out of my original 4 having just rallied. This small but deadly hot haul is hardly worth pickling. A couple of loaves of buckwheat or lentil bread and providing the heat in forementioned green tomato relish, will take care of these few little babes which would not fare well in the predicted overnight low temperatures.
Fava beans (Vicia fava) planted in September, won't mind the frost and hopefully will lean out for love a bit less as the cottonwood drops its leaves, giving them access to longer hours of direct sunlight. Behind them I am experimenting with in-ground amaryllis. They might go dormant but since we seldom get hard freezes I am hoping the bulbs will survive. I left them out in pots last winter which was, admittedly, very mild one.
Meanwhile there is the promise of another Saffron crocus (Crocus sativa) flower while the first bloom, minus stigma, continues to offer an abbreviated beauty surrounded by evidence of emergent life in many of the other bulbs planted around two weeks ago. For those who notice: water droplets are from the hose, not rain.
All the Kelly Griffin hybrid aloes, Ti (Cordyline fruticosa) plants and various frost sensitive cacti and succulents have to move into the house and boat shed before the end of the day today.
It's a big job as there are so many, some currently flowering.
The southeastern bedroom is the warmest, sunniest place to overwinter these botanical collectables which make up the core of my plant market collection. I've contemplated moving my bed, to sleep in the darker back room to give the plants more space for winter, but I also enjoy a warm, sunny, light filled south facing bedroom in the cold months.
With all the garden centered activity ahead of first frost, I do find time for an excellent Sunday brunch: oven roasted sweet potatoe slices and cauliflower steaks (both dusted with cumin and coriander) slathered with a tahini goats milk yoghurt dressing topped with spicy black bean sesame seed crumbles, fresh alfalfa sprouts, pomegranates, avocado and raw almonds. A lovely mix of flavour and texture, some raw and cooked.
Fortunately I don't suffer the same traumatic memories of restaurant brunch cooking as the late great Anthony Bourdain who was famously dismissive of the meal as a "horrible, cynical way of unloading leftovers and charging three times as much as you ordinarily charge for breakfast..." My brunches are fresh made and heavily loaded towards slow food, even on a busy day.
Now that it is cooler, my beverage of choice is an Ayurvedically informed hot turmeric spiced golden almond milk, boosted with ashwaganda, ginger and other immunity and anti inflammation supportive spices, sweetened with local honey.
Why would I pay my week's grocery budget to a restaurant to make a rushed meal of leftovers for me when I can put this kind of plate together, from scratch, at home and on a busy day?
For years now, not only have I compulsively consumed everything I can in print and video by and about the man, but there's been an ongoing conversation in my head with Anthony Bourdain, especially, but not always, when I'm in the kitchen.
For this reason I was disappointed with the much lauded but unofficial 2022 biography: "Down and Out in Paradise, the life of Anthony Bourdain" by Charles Leehrsen, when I finally read it this week. Perhaps, with my deep Anthony Bourdain immersion, I had set the bar too high for any mere mortal biographer, but for me this work just doesn't get the charisma and torment, the bright and the dark places Anthony Bourdain inhabited. It plods a pedestrian route, somewhat superficially, through some facts of a life, but does not dive deep enough or fly high enough to satisfy my sense of the full throttle, tumbling roller coaster that was Anthony Bourdain.
Perhaps genius, if you are not one yourself, is as hard to write about as it is to live with, if you happened to have been cursed with it.