Sunday 18 February 2007

Z looks forward to sowing seeds

It's been a quiet and fairly lazy day - which I think is a Good Thing.

The Sage and I sorted out the greenhouse staging. Two of the greenhouses have none, as plants are put straight into the soil, or in pots on the soil (this is actually the best way as it contains their roots somewhat - for early crops and not too rampant growth), but the third is where I raise all the seedlings.

It is, in fact, three 10 foot x 8 foot greenhouses end to end, with interconnecting doors. The middle greenhouse has electricity laid on, where I plug in soil-warming cables. These are buried in shallow trays - the sort you can put a growbag in - and the pots and seedtrays are laid on top, then I have a framework above, on which I drape clear polythene to keep the air warm and humid. It is makeshift and there is no temperature control - if it's hot I take off the plastic and if it's cold I leave the heat day as well as night - but it is the cheapest and easiest way to raise the number of seedlings that I do, using Economy 7 (cheap overnight rate) electricity.

The staging used to be wooden and homemade, but a few years ago the Sage found that a local business was going to throw away a lighting system, the framework of which he could see could be converted. I'll have to take a picture of this, which will be easier than a description. And recently he was able to get hold of some staging that someone had used for their greenhouse-full of cacti, so at last all our slightly rotting wooden stuff has been disposed of. Well, no. I suggested we don't break it up yet, just in case I can use it elsewhere. Blimey, I'm turning into a clone of the Sage. But, like many converts, worse, for he would have taken it apart. And used the wood as fuel, I expect. I think I remember N1gella L@wson once saying of herself, that she is extravagant but not wasteful. I rather appreciated the description.

Tonight, a simple meal. Lamb raised on our field: progeny of a few sheep, a hobby for the farmer, we don't charge him grazing rent as they keep the ground in good heart, but it's beautiful, slowly and naturally reared meat - we butchered it ourselves a while ago, as you may remember (no idea how much you take what I write to heart, I tend to remember this sort of thing once read). This is a loin of lamb, with which we'll eat roasted pumpkin, garlic, shallot and red pepper and Egyptian new potatoes. Yes, I know. Zero food miles for the lamb* and the homegrown pumpkin**, whole lots for the spuds. Then we'll have rhubarb, cooked with marmalade and topped with a flapjack*** mixture.

Tomorrow, back to a very pleasant grindstone. DV***, of course.

*There is an abattoir on the edge of the village.
**Only two pumpkins left. One butternut squash and one large Blue Hubbard. Time to cook them, tonight's was just going a little soft inside.
***I only discovered today that flapjacks are pancakes in America. Here they are flat chewy biscuits made of rolled oats, sugar, syrup and butter, melted, mixed and baked.
****DV - Deo Volente - God Willing.


Imperatrix said...

Z, the flapjack thing isn't all. Here, pumpkins are very different than Hubbard or butternut squash. And maybe what you'll be putting on top of your rhubarb would be called a biscuit topping? Not what you call biscuits (cookies?) though. Biscuits are a quick bread/roll made with shortening and baking powder.

I used to wonder what it would be like if what I see as green (for example) someone else saw as red. But called it green because that's what we all call it. How weird would it be if that person and I realized that when we said, "boy, the grass is vibrant green!" we'd agree, but we'd see much different lawns... That's how I feel when I'm in a conversation with a UK person. Same signified, different signifiers.

Z said...

Yes, I had a feeling I would be told that. We do differentiate between pumpkins, marrows and squashes, but we don't really feel that it matters much. I used the last pumpkin (can't remember the variety) tonight, and the last remaining cucurbits are both squashes. Marrows are grown-up courgettes (zucchini). Squashes/pumpkins - well, I only really know what to call them from their description in the seed catalogue.

My topping for my rhubarb didn't contain flour or baking powder.

Yes, it's harder than a 'foreign' language, as we use the same words, but to mean different things, though it can happen in other languages too. Do you remember? when Gerard Depardieu missed out on an Oscar because he said in an interview that he had witnessed a rape, as a boy - but the French for 'witnessed' is 'assister à', which implies helping, taking part in, in American or British English and he was wrongly believed to be complicit.

Anonymous said...

Damn. I'm Z. Damn Blogger.

Anonymous said...

Your flapjacks almost sound like homemade granola bars but undoubtedly are tastier and more wholesome. Abottoir-is that a slaughterhouse?
Must go get a serviette/paper napkin and wipe the drool off my face--your dinner sounds wonderful.

Z said...

Yes, I know granola bars! Whew. We meet at last!

Yes, slaughterhouse. It sounds better in Anglo-French, doesn't it. Less - er - deadly.

The Boy said...

Hmm, flapjacks ontop of rhubarb! I will definately have to try that.

Ohhhh, as a poor benighted Cannuck in England, who grew up speaking Cannuck which is neither American English or Queen's English, this is the territory of my nightmares.

Curiously, vegtables are one of the weirdest congruances of language. Marrows are Marrows, but overgrown Corgette (Zuchini) are as well. They are, however, different vegtables that just look the same. Marrows are less damp, and will keep, Corgette marrows are too moist and tend to moulder.

Pumpkins are a variety of the squash family, and are part of the larger gourd family, but not all things called squash are squash (I've heards some types of melon called a fruit squash here, though they technically are a gourd), and technically, some things which aren't called squash (such as Corgette) are.

Makes my head spin.

Z said...

It was very good, Boy. A little ginger in with the topping. And the Yorkshire force rhubarb is in now, appreciably better than the Dutch.

And I hadn't even mentioned gourds. Um. Yes. Thank you for clarifying it all.
What I've always called Spaghetti marrow a friend who came across them in Canada calls Spaghetti squash. I'm not yet convinced that it matters what you call them.

Imperatrix said...

Oh! Ok, Your topping sounds like a "crisp" topping -- as in apple crisp, pear crisp, all sorts of tasty crisps! -- but not crisps as in potato chips, I just realized.

I think we should just give up. We'll nod and say, "hm, sounds like a tasty meal, alright" and leave it at that.

Sounds like a tasty meal, alright!

Z said...

It was, Imperatrix!

y.Wendy.y said...

We have so many varieties of pumpkin and squash in SA - but not in France - here its rare to even find butternut. And I dislike Hubbard. Do like little gem squash though - yum yum with salted butter and white pepper.also unavailable in France.

We call flapjacks 'crunchies' they are exactly the same thing though and you've given me a craving - impossible to satisfy as I can't get my hands on syrup here either.

I have one tiny tin of syrup my Mom brought over from SA in December. It's precious.

Z said...

Funny isn't it; in England we like to try food from other countries. I'd have thought that golden syrup and white pepper are not that unFrench though. Surely they would not sprinkle black pepper on a delicate pale sauce for white fish?