Thursday, March 28, 2013

My monster

Check out this 'baby': 724g in a single quince! Isn't he lovely?!

Quince is such a nice, fragrant fruit. Well worth the long wait for it to ripen. In fact, I picked this quince (and a few smaller ~500g siblings) a touch green because my poor tree was so overladen with heavy fruits that I thought the branches were going to snap in two.

Last year - the tree's first year in the ground - I had seven individual fruits, and this year I have fifteen. So, it's quite a productive little tree for one so young (in contrast, we are still waiting for the first of our three year old lemon tree's fruit to ripen).

It's been a remarkably low maintenance tree too. It is in an irrigated garden bed, but otherwise gets absolutely no special care at all. It doesn't get any extra fertilisers, or seaweed extracts, and I've never seen any serious insect problem or hint of disease on it. Every year I take photos of the blushing pink flowers, and then promptly forget to put any pictures on the old blog.

As I always do with quinces, I peeled them and chopped them, removed the seeds (and was generous taking the flesh from immediately around the seeds as this part can be quite grainy and spoil the texture of your finished product), and poached them in water, sugar, golden syrup, lemon and spices. I'm happy to say that cooking slightly green fruit hadn't been a problem and my quinces are just as much of a treat as always.

Internet recipes often warn you that quinces are very hard to cut, but I haven't found this at all; they are just as soft as their apple cousins. Perhaps it's the variety? My little tree is a 'Pineapple quince.'

Happy Easter, all xx

Saturday, March 23, 2013

More chilli than you can poke a stick at

Pregnant woman loves eating chillis; who can see a problem with this statement?!
Our vegie patch is not doing brilliantly at the moment. Half because when it needed to be lavished with love, care, and water, I was in the throes of morning sickness and spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself rather than working in the garden, and half because a reasonable amount got wiped out by the endless hot weather we had about two months ago (all the bigger tomatoes, in particular). However, excuses aside, the four chillies I planted from a mixed punnet are doing brilliantly. My favourites are the blasting hot Thai chillies (prik kee nu, literally 'rat shit chilli,' because that is what they look like), which we like to chop up small and soak in fish sauce (prik nam pla, ie 'chillies in fish sauce!') and eat sprinkled on practically anything savoury. I also have the bigger varieties Anaheim (lots of fruit, but suffers more from what may be blossom end rot than the others), Cayenne (not prolific) and Jalapeño (also not especially prolific).
Yet again, for about the third year running, I promise myself that I'll try to shelter the plants over winter so they have a chance or survival. Being tropical perennials, there is a chance they can make it through the cold if protected, but of course this does rely on me actually making an effort and not leaving it too late!