Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Eating Opportunities

It might have done wonders for Novak Djokovic's tennis, but a gluten-free diet has done little for my sporting prowess. It has, however, led to the discovery that pancakes made with gluten-free flour are excellent. My harshest critics - the kids and their friends - agree, so it must be true.

It's a similar story with crumble. A former passionate consumer of oaty crumbles, I am now a gluten-free crumble topping devotee. Even if I didn't have coeliac disease (I do), I would love gluten-free crumble. It is not challenging to make, I just change the flour in an oat-free crumble recipe. It is more akin to shortbread than crumble and is, quite simply, the dog's doodahs. 

I’m not saying it will improve your tennis. To be honest, I don’t even know if Novak Djokovic eats crumble and I am certainly in no position to comment on whether he is partial to a rhubarb one. But since the rhubarb season is upon us, we are blessed with an additional excuse (were it needed) to enjoy a bowl of crumble.

This year I won’t be picking any of the rhubarb I brought with me to Norfolk as it needs to recover from the rigours of the move. Happily though, I have access to my old kitchen garden in Essex and have been filling my boots with rhubarb and asparagus.

Our asparagus bed was planted with four varieties to prolong the cropping season and it is wonderfully productive. Some people are put off by the length of time it takes to establish an asparagus bed. For me though, if I hope to live somewhere for more than three or four years, in goes the asparagus. 

We have no asparagus here in Norfolk, so I will plant a new bed with one-year-old crowns this month. Then will come the long, but worthwhile wait for a harvest. This means not cutting any spears the following Spring, which is more than anyone burdened with a serious deficit in the self-control department can stand. So, for a strong hybrid, I will naughtily sneak one or two precious spears while no one is looking and then resume my saintly gardener stance and join the rest of the family in waiting patiently for the crowns to establish. 

The following year, I should be able to harvest succulent spears for about six weeks and the year after that, I - and anyone else who comes near the farm - will get down to some serious asparagus-devouring until late June.

A more immediate eating opportunity (I hope), will be the arrival of our new chickens' first eggs. Every cluck sends me scurrying into the garden lest it should herald that all-important inaugural egg.  

No pressure, girls.