February, I have to say, is my least favourite month. It's hot. The kids are back at school. Summer holiday fun is over. People are fasting from various vices (not me of course). Fire is still a risk. I am always picking grass seeds out of my socks. The garden looks woeful (although the 10 mills we had last week made a difference). I've cut back all the roses. There's a snake in the veggie garden and I'm spending my life moving sprinklers.
But we are slowly edging towards Autumn. The days are shorter and the nights cooler. Fingers crossed we won't have the hot start to March like we did last year.
There have been a couple of highlights of the dry summer garden. The oleanders have not stopped flowering, and I have noticed some stunning pink ones in Melbourne. They must love a wet spring. The sedums are starting to flower
and Pierre de Ronsard never lets me down. It gets no attention whatsoever...
I am beginning to think my tomatoes will never ripen, it was just too cool in December for them to get going:
One surprise performer in the veggie garden this summer has been the kale, which I had always considered to be a winter vegetable.
I cut it off and in a matter of days it is sprouting again. In the winter you can add kale to soups and use as a vegetable. It is tough so needs long cooking. In the summer though I make it into kale chips. Don't think yuk and stop reading. They are crunchy, crispy and very moreish. And kale is very good for you, especially your skin.
You can get curly varieties as well, and they are probably better for these chips. There are loads of recipes for these; you can even just toss them in a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of salt if you wish. Some recipes recommend that you cook them for a shorter time at a higher temperature, but I think a slower oven for a longer time is the go.
One bunch kale
2 tblsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teasp maple syrup (optional, adds a nice chewy sweetness)
2 teasp tamari
1 teasp tahini (again, optional, but adds a kick of nuttiness)
2 tblsp sesame seeds
Heat the oven to 100c. Wash and dry the kale. Shred the leaves away from the stem and tear into chip sized strips.
In a bowl mix the rest of the ingredients and whisk until smooth. Add the kale to the bowl and toss gently to coat all the leaves.
Spread on a baking tray and bake in the oven until nice and crispy, about an hour, but check them regularly. Cool on a rack. I do these in the simmer oven of the Aga.
Kale chips are probably not a food group that my friend Matt Preston would relish, and I have to admit that Tim is not a fan. He would call them chick food. But I have to mention Matt as he said the nicest thing about me and my fish pie in the Herald Sun on Tuesday. But you, my three lucky readers, already have the recipe.