Sunday, 20 November 2011

The stonking dynamics of artichokes

Phew, but the wind did bloweth a goodly amount here at Labartere last night. Aromatic in the extreme, we were almost lifted from our bed much to our surprise because we had had a busy day out in the veg plot.

In an effort to get ahead of myself, and taking advantage of the lovely weather we are having, the project of the moment is to get the veg plot reasonably tidied up so that it is not such a manic panic next spring. Usually this has not been done. The vegetation grows itself into mini jungle, with roots a mile deep in the earth which take a lot of effort to excavate. So I hatched a plan to get it tidied up before the winter arrives. Oh I know that it is almost here, and indeed the mornings have a whiff of frost about them, but the earth is still moist from the recent drop of rain, and the vegetation is still in its settling in stage so is therefore easy to remove.

And bless them, but Max and the girls wait in anticipation of the arrival of that vegetation. Nothing is wasted here. It is not sensible to make a compost heap here because our chickens flatten it to nothing. Before they arrived last year we had a huge compost heap, but now it has evaporated away into nothing. In an effort to thwart their efforts at maintaining Labartere as a 'compost-heap-free zone', we have been putting the manure from the sheep and rabbits in a heap but covered over with a tarpaulin. And yet that heap should be twice the size that it is. I don't know what those chickens are doing to that heap, but they are definitely on a mission to dispense with that heap as well.

Anyway, so no compost heap for the vegetation pulled up from the compost heap. But what I do is give it to the pigs. What they leave will be trampled into the ground so that at some point in the future we can use the pig pens for growing produce, the ground having been fertilised by the pigs from their rear ends, and from the leavings of the food we give them. It is a good plan. Hope we can manage to achieve it. Will need to build other paddocks for them though so more expense. Setting up a smallholding does take quite a goodly amount of dosh in the early days. If we worked out how much we had already spent on the barns, fencing, and general smallholding equipment and compared it to our food bill, then the cost would far outweigh the cost of feeding ourselves from a supermarket. But that is not the point. It is the lifestyle, the fitness levels, the tranquillity of mind, the sense of having achieved something when one views a newly weeded row of veggies, the harvest, the enjoyment of the seasons, the longing for the rain, the frosts, the resting up during the winter, the manic activity of the summer. It makes one feel that one is living one's life.

It came upon Hubs / Boss Man / Head Gardener, that the Jerusalem artichokes should be lifted. They were a late in being planted but had set up a good height and had given us a good show of bright yellow flowers. I thought it a good idea that this should be done because that would tidy up another section of the veg plot.

And wow! What a good crop! A whole tub of artichokes from quite a small row of plants. "Will definitely grow these next year," said Hubs, "We'll eat these ourselves. Better than potatoes, not such hard work".

So enthused was Hubs, that as soon as we had finished the harvesting indoors he went, intent to get some of them cooked up so he could see what they tasted like.

They tasted nice, although after eating the fifth Hubs said that he didn't like them so much, but I finished off quite a few and decided that they were a go-er.

Only in the middle of the night I reversed that opinion. They were indeed a go-er, but a rear-end go-er.

For those artichokes set up an everlasting production line of wind. A wind of the sort that has to be let go off. That cannot be sat on so that it leaves the body by discrete slippings out as one lifts the buttock just ever so slightly to allow the evacuation of that wind.

No, the dynamics of this artichoke-related wind was something else. There was to be no holding it back. It was a blast of a wind. Vicious on its way through towards its exit, making cramping pains in our abdomens during its transit.

And the aroma was something else. It was dire.

Fortunately for Hubs he didn't have to go to work in an office so could f**t away quite merrily and lurch to the loo when required. However, I had choir practice in the afternoon. In desperation to contain the outflow of wind, I took some bicarb. Dreadful stuff it might be but its effect was immediate. The wind stopped. But it didn't go away. No, it just laid in my stomach like a great wadge of air. But at least I managed the entire two hours of choir practice with no outpouring. Which was a relief both for myself and all others present.

Most definitely Jerusalem artichokes will never grace our food table again. But the good news is that Max and the girls love them.

And here he is opening his mouth to be given one. Actually, in this case, this was not quite why he had opened his mouth because Hubs was with me, and he was giving Hubs his 'These are my girls, not yours, so don't you dare come onto my patch and fiddle about with them' warning.

Oh I forgot to tell you. That wound on his flank which I was so worried about because it wouldn't heal up still wasn't healing. And then a wound on his other flank opened up. He stopped eating. Was depressed. The girls, meanwhile, who were in the adjacent paddock, were doing alright. Now nearly a year old, they are almost full grown.

Out intent was to keep Max and the girls separated until early next year, when hopefully we would be ready to mate them. Obviously this plan has been demolished because you can see that they are already together.

It was when Hubs rushed into the kitchen with the news that that other wound on Max had opened up, that my immediate instinct was to say 'Open the gate between the paddocks'. Funnily enough, those wounds healed overnight. So not sure what was causing them, but mightily relieved that they are healed.

Need to go now, as have a choir concert this morning in Maubourguet chuch. We are singing a Haydn mass during the Sunday morning service. Hopefully it will be better than the rehearsal a couple of days, but if it isn't then at least we had a go and letting the voice bellow out is an almight joyful experience to have. Sort of blows the cobwebs away. The mass is in Latin. Some of it is very fast. Too fast for me to fit the latin words to. So I sing the tune but sort of diddle away with my voice, not singing any words in particular but nevertheless making sound. This choir, by the way, is the French choir.

Anyway, hope you have a good day. And may I say that it is not a good idea to eat Jerusalem artichokes unless one has a cast iron stomach or one does not mind being nearly lifted off one's chair by the resultant through flow of wind.


Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

We have Jerusalem artichokes in the garden and we love them. I never dig up more than we want for one meal and never more than once a week. Think you over did it Haha. I cook them many deferential ways but our favourite:

with bacon, thyme & garlic.

Preparation: 10 mins
Cooking time 30 mins
Serves 4


700 gr J Artichokes
200gr lardoons
2 garlic cloves
1 tblesp Olive oil
Knob of butter
2 sprigs thyme
Salt and pepper

Peel and scrub the artichokes, slice about 2 – 3 mm thick, keep in lemon water till used.

Sauté the lardoons for a minute in the oil.

Add the chokes, thyme, garlic and butter.

Fry gently for about 15 mins until the chokes are soft and starting to break up and crisp at the edges.

Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.


Horst in Edmonton said...

Hi Vera, Maybe Max is allergic to something and is scratching to much.

It was so funny to here your problems with the artichoke :-). I have much the same problem with Brussel Sprouts.

Vera said...

Hello Diane, thanks for the recipe although I shall not be using it any time soon! Perhaps your system is more used to the dynamics of artichokes since you eat them regularly!

Horst, the wound was a small round hole as if had been punctured by a sharp round instrument, that's what was so odd about it. It wasn't a scratch, nor had he been scratching, so it remains an oddity. But it now has totally gone since he has been with the girls. OOOoh dear! Brussel Sprouts! They do not even approach the artichoke experience we had!

John Gray said...

love the "laughing" pig pic!
I cant get rid of my bloody artichokes.... they have run riot!

Ken Devine said...

That was so funny! I think we'll stay clear of JA's.
It was interesting about the compost heap and how the chickens reduce it.
Have a good week, Vera...although it will no doubt be full of incident.

Vera said...

Thanks Ken, hope you have a good week and well and that you are keeping your paintbrush ever so busy making those lovely paintings of yours.

Nezzy said...

I loved your tale of the adventurous artichokes!!! Ya have me in stitches here!!!

It's just a way of the and learn, huh???

God bless your day sweetie!!! :o)

Vera said...

John, hope we have dug all ours up before they get a hold on the place. Mind you, they are pretty when in flower!

Nezzy, we are novices, so are in the process of learning about the 'way of the land', and feel very fortunate that we are doing so! It certainly makes for an interesting life.

Jean said...

Very funny, Vera, but not so funny at the time with your tummy problems, I think. We have the same problem with cauliflower, which is odd because it seems to be a recent problem as cauliflower cheese is one of my favourite eats of the past - but no longer !!

We were wondering what to put in our tiny veg patch next year so I think we'll give the jerusalem artichokes a miss - daren't risk the effects.......!!

Vera said...

Jean, very sensible not to plant jerusalem artichokes. Pretty flower, but side effects undesirable. Sorry about your cauli-cheese prob. My favourite dish as well. Had it yesterday. No fall-out of wind, though!

Duta said...

Oh Vera, I don't know why, but I have trouble lately with putting a comment on your blog.It happened to me in the past. Maybe I have to select another profile.

You did right about the artichokes. Better safe than sorry.
Artichokes are not considered basic vegetables that people use daily in their salads and dishes. So, I wonder whether it's worth your efforts to grow it.

Vera said...

Duta, I think that most of your comments get through, and thank you for making the effort to keep in contact. Artichokes are not likely to be grown here in the future unless they decide to stay here without permission!

Roz said...

Artichokes - wonderful, I shall purchase some as ammunition for when Neil eats too many chick peas (with a smug grin on his face) well, if you can't beat them!!! ;0)