Thursday, 6 May 2010

Plots and Polls

Well today the nation has gone to the polls to elect a new prime minister. The allotment, one might argue, would be a good place to go to avoid all the media hype about it but other than that what has politics got to do with kitchen gardening? Ordinarily I wouldn't think there was much in common but it effects my household because Steve is a presiding officer today, in charge of a polling station. This requires him to be at the polling station from 6am to 10pm - a long day. As such, I wanted to make sure he went out well loaded up with food for the day. So on Wednesday I spent a good deal of the day in the kitchen making him snacks and something tasty for his dinner.

Fortunately, the polling station spends the rest of its time being a community centre and is furnished with a kitchen, including an oven but no microwave. On previous election days I have simply bought him a ready made hotpot or Cumberland pie but I found myself wondering why I did this when I'm more than capable of creating "ready meals" myself. So on Tuesday I bought 750g of minced beef and on Wednesday I cooked it up following my bolognese recipe, using homegrown onions and a batch of pureed tomatoes retrieved from the safety of Sue's freezer. Half of it went nicely into 2 aluminium trays for Cumberland pie and the remainder went into a dish with sheets of lasagne and bechemel sauce for me and the girls to have whilst Steve was away. To finish the Cumberland Pie I boiled up one of my last parsnips with 2 potatoes and mashed them together with a knob of butter and a dash of olive oil. This went on top with a sprinkling of Parmesan just to help the browning effect. One went in the freezer and the other in the fridge for Steve to take with him on his long day. I also packed him up two rounds of sandwiches and a batch of my yummy honey and vanilla flapjacks. That should keep him going!

Often in the mornings I'm up and out on the school run before Steve is out of bathroom and I rush home again in time to see him off to work with a kiss. But this morning he was gone before 6am so there was no need to rush back from school. Instead I stood and chatted with 3 of the other mums. I was a little surprised that in addition to the school gate gossip we had kitchen gardening in common, each of us talking about which seeds had germinated and what to do with the seedlings we had. One of the mums even had half a dozen courgette plants with her to give out to anyone interested. It is pleasing that so many people are giving kitchen gardening a go, even if it is just in a few containers or wherever they can find space.

Back home I couldn't help but take a peek in my coldframe to see how I was doing compared to the other ladies. I had sown cucurbits, tomatoes, brassicas and sweet corn in pots about a fortnight ago and, although I knew the brassicas had germinated, I wasn't sure about anything else. It is always difficult to know when to worry. The lady with the courgette plants is impatient when it comes to these things and has even dug things up just to see if they have germinated - not to be recommended! It can be hard to have faith that things will grow, particularly when you are new to it, but you do have to believe... well, for about 3 weeks anyway and then it's time to give up hope and re-sow. So you can imagine I was relieved when I spotted my first cucurbit seedings, a spike of a sweet corn and even a tomato. Inside on the front window sill my chilli peppers had suddenly sprung up from no where... do you think they knew I had been taking about them behind their backs? And do you think they care that they have arrived just in time for a new political stage?

No, I don't either!

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