The fancy of a beautiful kitchen garden, abundant in vegetables, berries, herbs and flowers that I’ve always had, may be because both my grand fathers had beautiful ones… may have been just a dream. The kitchen garden we created last year and that gave some beautiful potatoes, peas and peanuts last summer, didn’t deliver up to my expectations. While I was very excited about the harvest, most of the plants didn’t produce anything, didn’t grow or just died… instead of being a place like the rest of the garden, of surprises and enjoyment, it’s been a place of great frustration. In most of the places in our garden, things and edibles grow almost unattended: plums, citrus fruits, spring wild vegetables, shiitake.., but in the kitchen garden, regardless of my constant efforts, things are not working as they ought… I know I am totally inexperienced and I am learning, but I found my efforts completely vain. My onions that I shall harvest now are too small, the celeriac that was supposed to grow this winter is only starting now to finally grow, even my seedlings don’t really go well. The soil should be good and I make a lot of efforts… but I am slow at learning and not so many chances once I missed a season.
Luckily the winter was rather warm and none of the herbs froze, so I still have abundant parsley, fennel tops, and celery branch, mint and rosemary, sansho too. So while it is frustrating not to harvest properly what I had planted, at least these ones surviving for more than a year now are a great source of inspiration in their scarcity. While being simple, they add a great flavor to simple ingredients, more particularly on Friday evening when we arrive, that the fridge is close to being empty and we are starving. They help me twist a simple recipe into something new, great, fresh and green.
My last idea was an olive oil sautéed new potatoes pot to which I added celery and parsley freshly cut in the garden. That was divine.
To boost cooking time I cut the potatoes thinly, and cook them in a bit of olive oil. Then add the celery washed and chopped, stir. Finally toss in the chopped parsley. Salt and pepper and all set for dinner. So no mater how irritating or saddening it is to work in my kitchen garden, I will continue learning and trying, because even for a few parsley leaves or a handful of peanuts… it is worth the effort, as the pleasure of going down there and thinking of the next recipe counter balances everything else.
May be one day, in a far future, I’ll finally manage to obtain one of these beautifully curated kitchen garden where colorful flowers and perfectly grown vegetables are lined and create an amazement of the eyes and the promise of a generous and rustic taste.