Midsummer may only have been a whisper ago, and we’re still far from the fug of bonfire smoke in the air, but it’s now the edible garden starts to fill with winter cabbage seedlings, Brussels sprouts, and the delectable purple sprouting broccoli. Planted into the warm soil, these zoom ahead gaining growth before they slow in the cool winter.
Now is also the time to peer at seed catalogues for seed potatoes for a late sowing, planted in a few weeks they will give new potatoes for Christmas lunch providing a foil for the crunchy goose-fat roasties. There is actually something very reassuring about this forward planning, and whilst it may seem to be shooing the summer away, it gives a sense of timelessness, and a deep sense of reaping and sowing in the soil.
It is also now, that we plant globe artichokes, the most majestic of edible plants - they look just as fantastic in the flower border as the vegetable patch - and needing to overwinter before producing delicious flower heads next summer.
Harvesting now, last year’s plants are a garden highlight. The leaves dipped in melted butter or Hollandaise (Heat a tablespoon of white wine vinegar with a shallot, reduce, and mix into two egg yolks. Heat 100g of butter, and when melted, pour into yolks slowly, stirring. Eat the resulting thick buttery sauce greedily), the heart can be roasted and used for anti-pasti.
As a counter-balance and to bring us firmly back to summer, the slightly bitter taste of the artichokes is complemented by being followed by something very sweet – what could be better than ice-cream? Bees have never been more in danger, with colony collapse disorder sweeping hives, and killing bees globally in their billions, by buying honey your provide an income to bee-keepers to help restock their hives. To make the ice-cream make a custard of four egg yolks, 100g of castor sugar, and add 100 ml of milk and 200 ml of double cream. Heat until thick, and stir in 200g of local honey. Freeze, stirring every now and again.