Tuesday 22 July 2014

An Epic Jambalaya

Flavours from the Deep South y'all.
The food at this 'restaurant' is (in my unbiased opinion!) always gorgeous and often new and interesting; Liz is always trying out new flavour combinations and new recipes for tried and tested favourites. This leads in turn, to the left-overs also being varied and exciting, with some bizarre combinations left for your blogger to use up on Liz's 'Knit and Natter' evening. A couple of days ago we had a lovely combination of sheets of ribs from our own lambs, marinaded in a mixture of honey, ginger, garlic and soy sauce plus rice from a packet mix by 'Zatarains', a genuine New Orleans company specialising in Creole, Cajun and other New Orleans and Deep South dishes.

Holiday snaps - Outside 'Mother's restaurant in 1998
We love all that kind of thing ever since our visit to New Orleans with our very good, Mississippi-resident, Westie breeder friends Marlane and Norm' C in 1998. We love the 'Po' boy' drip-down-your-chin beef and mayo sandwiches, the seafood dishes, the gumbos and the jambalayas. I am not sure whether "Mother's", spiritual home of the 'Po' Boy' is still there and running after Hurricane Katrina did her destructive worst but I hope so.

Top right - getting ourselves round those Po' Boys
Anyway, where all this waffle is leading is to tonight's epic DIY jambalaya which was pretty much these left over lamb rib sheet cut up a bit, the rice and the meat juices and sauce plus a little water to let it all flow again, eaten with some gorgeous (Lizzie) home made wheat/rye wholemeal bread. Epic. I don't generally starve myself on these Liz-less nights but this one was a cracker which, sadly, will probably never get reproduced. The Zatarain's mixes are not (as far as we know) available here, so we buy them in Macknade's in Faversham when ever we are over and eke them out through the in between times.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' doing very well
Monday afternoon has now become our regular bee hive inspection time and we are delighted to say that the colony is thriving and rapidly expanding into the 'super' (top box) we added to the hive stack recently. They are an active, contented looking crew and certainly deserve the old clich├ęd moniker of 'busy'. When I am exercising the dogs in the orchard of an evening, I like to sit down on the grass in the top left corner where I can see the hive flight path and the bees launching themselves off the hive and up at their standard 20-30 degree climb; where I am sitting they are back-lit by the sinking sun and show up well against the dark, shady side of the hawthorn hedge. Just out of curiosity I counted the take-offs recently and saw 46 bees ping away in a 30 second period. Similar numbers return, zig-zagging down or spiraling like planes approaching a busy airport.

Some first hollyhocks. Seed saved from our Kent garden.
One small doubt concerns us. The bees are obviously very busy and productive, and the pollen for larvae, nectar for honey and the ingredients for beeswax are obviously being collected from somewhere but that 'somewhere' does not seem to be OUR garden. If we're honest, we find this a little bizarre and our noses are a bit out of joint. What's wrong with OUR flowers. you ladies?

Yellow 'Bishop' related dahlia
We always garden in a bee-friendly way and especially this year we have specialised in pollen-rich and insect friendly flowers - we do crocus, ox-eye daisies, nasturtiums, hollyhocks, geraniums, ribes and so on; Blimey, we used to win Gold Awards for it in the Kent Wildlife Gardening competitions, and became judges. There must be 5-10,000 bees in that hive by now but I am lucky if I've seen half a dozen foraging in our garden. I have had dozens of bumble bees across at least 3 species, we have a rake of wasps flitting between flowers like bees and we have a good population of the bee-like hover flies. We have a forest of Phacelia tanacetifolium, we have 2013 leeks left to go to flower just now opening and we have the autumn fruiting raspberries all breaking out in bloom, but go look at them and bumble bees will be all you see - the honeybees will be whizzing over your head, up to hedge-top height and then spreading out across the fields and bog-lands all around 'us'. You can lead a horse to water, I guess.

An "artist's" impression of the new fence
Our next big project, it will not surprise you to learn, is some more fencing. That is what most of the previous ones have been, after all. This time, though, something a little different. We are going to fence around the front lawn so that we can graze it with sheep. The rabbits are doing a good job, but cannot keep up with it and it offends me every time I have to mow off all that lovely, nutritious grass and let it rot. But sheep fencing, as we know, can look a bit 'industrial' with its tree trunk posts, green high tensile barbed wire and the square section 'sheep fence' itself. OK where you would expect it, like round a field (!) but not all that beautiful.

Ball head cabbage grown from plug plants
So Liz has put her foot down with a firm hand on this one and when she sits at the terrace furniture outside the front of the house in the sunshine, she doesn't want to be looking at a barbed wire fence. We have set our contractor, Paul-the-Fence (he says it 'fince') the task of doing us a nice post and rail, sheep-proof fence up the drive and along the front of the house. He will then join up the out of sight bits with the barbed wire stuff to give us all-round security, and we will have a gate nearest to the yard so that we can move sheep easily between the East Field and this one without any going astray. They will also be able to enjoy the browse in the hedge base and around the new keet run and tidy that up for us nicely as did the Jacob cross ladies in 2012.
The ever growing goose family
Hopefully we will look most picturesque to any visitors coming up the drive. Pricey though, this post and rail, and we need 54 metres of it. Ker-ching.

I will leave you with this pic of the geese. The two 'babies' are to the right, still fluffy but taking shape. George Junior (centre face on) is fully feathered and looks for all the world like his Mum and Aunt.  


Mr Silverwood said...

Been watching the 2 part hive alive and it's very good, taught me some things I didn't know at all, have it recorded if you don't get a chance to download before the next time you get the chance to come down.

Matt Care said...

Yes, please keep it for us. We do not think, living in Ireland and not having a TV or paying a licence, that we can get or download these BBC programmes. There are also some interesting documentaries around at present on the (mainly American problem of) Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)

anne wilson said...

The new fencing will look good when it's done, hope the sheep appreciate it.