This has been a rather mixed year in the garden. Despite all my busy sowing early in the year, there wasn’t a whole load to harvest after the pesky rabbits got stuck into all those tasty green shoots. Still, the arrival of four cats (and the occasional extra stray or two) has put a stop to the dozen or so rabbits that we used to see in the mornings, carvorting in and around the raised beds, and so we have managed to get our hands on some of our own garden produce.
Our salad leaves, planted outside the backdoor and keenly patrolled by pussies 1, 2, 3 and 4, survived and thrived so that we were able to enjoy daily bowls of mixed greens and reds. Spicy mustard (Red Giant), juicy sorrel and red salad bowl lettuce (Lettuce Cerise) were much planted mainstays. Out in the garden, the courgettes were fantastic, my squash and pumpkins are plumping up nicely at the moment and we actually had a few red tomatoes – the first red tomatoes I’ve ever managed to grow after years of failed attempts. The late planted cabbage (or some kind of brassica – the rabbits also disrupted my attempts at orderly planting) and beetroots are – finally – growing strongly and I can detect a few leeks/onions trying to reestablish themselves after the rabbit attacks.
The potatoes have surprised and delighted us. A trio of plants popped up in the raised beds and yielded a good bucket of early, waxy potatoes between them. We also planted several rows of a later variety – the seed potatoes a gift from our neighbour – that I’ve recently finishing digging. The potato harvesting has been Little Missy’s favourite activity. I dig, normally with four cats and three chickens trying to get in the way of the spade, and throw the buried treasure down to the end of the row where LM stands, bucket in hand, ready to pick up the potatoes hurled her way. Sometimes she has to fetch another bucket so that she can pour the earthy spuds from one to another. It’s her way of entertaining herself when my digging has taken a while to unearth another batch.
Then, when they’re all picked, even the wee tiny ones, we take them off to the kitchen and cook them underneath a spiced lamb leg. No fuss, no difficulty, just lots and lots of homegrown potatoes, slick with spice and lamb juices.
Spiced Lamb and Homegrown Potatoes
Although this is best marinaded in advance, I’ve also discovered the lamb is also very good landed straight into the oven after rubbing with the spice paste.
Leg of lamb – 1 x 1.8kg
Garlic – 4 cloves, crushed
Ground cumin – 2 teaspoons
Cayenne pepper- 2 teaspoons
Sweet paprika – 2 teaspoons
Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
Potatoes – 1.5kg, scrubbed but not peeled
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
Mix the crushed garlic, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, sweet paprika and olive oil together into a paste. Rub into the leg of lamb and marinade for up to 24 hours in the fridge. Bring back to room temperature before cooking.
Preheat oven to 200ºC.Put the potatoes into a large roasting tin, drizzle with a little olive oil and toss well. Sit the leg of lamb on top, season well, and roast for 1¼ hours or until it is done to your taste. Allow to rest in a warm place, well covered, for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Serve with a dish of roasted tomatoes and a yoghurt tahini dressing (blend 150g plain yoghurt with 75g tahini, the juice of 2 lemons, 4 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 crushed cloves of garlic. Season and thin with enough water to make a pouring consistency).