Some days really are too beautiful for words. When I woke this morning I heard the Emerald Cuckoo and Black African Cuckoo calling for the first time – not a bad start. The world is freshly washed and really bright green after lots of rain. Canthium mundianum, one of my favourite trees is particularly striking.The tall blue spires of Merwilla natalensis glow splendidly.I planted out seedlings of peppers, basil and leeks and sowed some interesting new beans which look like tiny Nguni cows. I mounded up my potato plants and weeded for a while. I was sad to see that aphids (or something) have put paid to my beautiful pink broad beans. They flowered well but are now droopy and covered in black sticky stuff, don’t think I’ll get any beans.Fortunately the ordinary broad beans have produced lots of pods and as some were splitting open, I harvested a bunch. Here began the inspiration for lunch. I gathered a few peas and pea shoots, some baby fennel and a little leek, cos lettuce leaves beginning to bolt and some small celery stalks. Braised for a few minutes and sat in the shade with my freshly picked feast.
I am always delighted at how food gathered at the same moment in the growing season is perfectly complimentary. A glass of cold champagne would have been ideal, but with none at hand, zingy lemon cordial spiced with juniper berries and vanilla pods was delicious instead. Now it is time for a walk. Lucky, lucky me.
LEMON CORDIAL (from Neil Roake’s wonderful Freedom Food)
600ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, 600ml water, 600ml sugar, 2 vanilla pods, 2 stalks of lemon grass – bashed, 40 juniper berries. Stir the sugar and water over gentle heat until dissolved. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 40-50 minutes with the lid off. You’ll be left with about 750ml of light, intensely fragrant syrup.
Oh, and a big Samango monkey dropped in to pick some lemons for his lunch and sit in Yellowwood tree tormenting the dogs.