food for thought

IKEA catalogue cover
With their pristine kitchens and artfully messy family rooms, IKEA homes always make me feel inadequate. Somehow the simple storage solutions aren’t enough to help me keep my house in order, though I admit that’s my problem, not theirs.

Still, there doesn’t seem much hope that spending a small fortune on stackable storage units and designer drawers will improve matters, so when I picked up a copy of the catalogue, rather than thumbing through and compiling a wish-list, I stopped to ponder the cover, which in itself provides a host of images to question and wonder at.
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newspaper cones & flower pots  on the IKEA catalogue cover
Firstly, there’s the mystery on the top shelf: what on earth are those little newspaper cones?

Are they purely decorative? Are they an unfinished children’s school project – miniature Christmas trees, perhaps, waiting to be painted green? Are they paper cloches keeping seeds in the dark? (If so, wouldn’t they just collapse when watered?)

Bottled onions  on the IKEA catalogue cover

Then there are all those Kilner jars. Well, OK, they’re from IKEA, so they are Korken, not Kilner, but it’s much the same thing.

But what are they being used for? Those onions aren’t pearl onions, the tiny white ones I associate with pickling; they’re too big even to be shallots; so why have they been put in jars? They should surely be hanging in the shed with the air circulating to keep them dry and fresh over the winter.

Bottled lemons  on the IKEA catalogue cover

Bottling lemons seems quite reasonable in comparison. Except I thought you bottled them in brine or vinegar or sugar syrup. It’s all very well having an air-tight seal on the jar, but unless the fruit or veg is submerged in some kind of liquid, I don’t think it’ll keep.

Then there are all those unlabelled bottles on the bottom shelves: is that jewel-bright liquid raspberry cordial or home-made wine? In this family-friendly environment – is it family-friendly with all those heavy glass jars within easy reach of little hands? – I suspect the former.

And don’t get me started on the carrots. There are two full shelves of carrots in jars as well as the great crate-full under the trolley on the left. My mother used to say that eating my carrots would make my hair curl; it seems to have been more successful for the little girl in the picture than it was for me.

Bottled parsnips  on the IKEA catalogue cover They say fine words butter no parsnips, but, fine words or not, IKEA apparently bottle them. And turnips, too, judging from the pile on the table. (I assume the mother has just dashed out to get another hundred pounds worth or so of jars. I hope there’s an adult in the house to keep an eye on that child – after all, a trip to IKEA takes a minimum of half a day even if you only go for one thing.)

I do know about preserving soft fruits and vegetables, but it had never occurred to me that root vegetables should be bottled. IKEA seem to think they should be: carrots, turnips, parsnips… but no swedes. I wonder why.

playing gooseberry

(Click here for a picture of male and female kiwi flowers)

As I’ve mentioned before, when I first saw kiwi fruit back in the Seventies, they were called Chinese gooseberries. But, although the fruit are greenish and furry and have tiny seeds, they aren’t really anything like gooseberries.

Or so I thought until we started growing them.

kiwi fruit in the early stages of development
Continue reading “playing gooseberry”

the marrow of life

My elderly mother lives alone. One of her main interests is the vegetable garden, which keeps her busy and fairly fit, but I guess I do occasionally worry that there would be no one there to help in an emergency.

Headline - Woman repels bear using courgette

Mind you, this headline from the BBC reasssures me that, while her garden continues productive, she has the means at hand to deal with certain dangers.

Only, I really do think it’d take more than a courgette to deter a ‘200lb (91kg) black bear’. (Some other sites are referring to the weapon as a zucchini, but both the BBC and the Telegraph call it a courgette.)
Continue reading “the marrow of life”

festive greenery

I’ve never seen sprouts sold like this in Spain, so had to take a photo when I went shopping in the local market with my mother, back in the UK, last week.

brussels sprouts on the stalk

Veg Box Recipes (no relation!) have this to say on the subject of this, perhaps the most traditional of Christmas vegetables:

The Brussels Sprout was originally cultivated in Belgium (hence the name) from cabbages. Generations of school children are still lamenting that event…