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Cinnamon patrol

Mr and Mrs Lili Wedding


Reading and the domestic arts

During my blogging hiatus, I kept busy with a variety of things - amongst them, reading.

Being a librarian's daughter, I'm somewhat predisposed to reading - everything, everywhere, all the time. Nothing stresses me more than the perceived lack of reading material (two fat books for a 2-hour plane ride, anyone?).

One of the books that particularly grabbed me was Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

If you haven't read it (and you really should), it details a year in which her family ate almost entirely locally produced food. (Yes, it's non-fiction, and no thank you, I don't care to read any more of her novels, nor discuss them.) It's very engaging and well-written, and even includes recipes, although some of them are rather unusual (I have a date with the zucchini chocolae chip cookies).

As my paternal grandmother's granddaughter, gardening (for food or flowers) is no alien concept. Gran could - and did - grow anything, in abundant quantities. If other people had a green thumb, her hands and entire arms were green, so prolific was her garden. And while the over-abundance of broccoli and cauliflower never pleased me, I can certainly respect the sheer volume of product that came from her fairly small garden.

Having lived in apartments for the last 7 or so years, I've been reduced to indoor plants and pots on balconies. Some have been more successful than others. Plants that like to suck up the nasties from electronics, like spider plants and peace lilies, have done very well. Our rubber plant lasted fairly well. The puka was less successful.

When it comes to food-yielding plants, we've had terrible failures with herbs, moderate success with citrus (no real fruit but the plants grew and lived), and one spectacular cherry tomato plant that produced and produced for nearly 3 months.

Reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle reminded me how much I like to grow food, albeit in a limited and pot-bound way. So when I returned from a work trip to Vancouver, I set about convincing David that it was time to get started.

George the wonder-plant, and the (unnamed but fairly beloved) aubergine and capsicum plants are the result. Thanks to the book, I now have grand plans for the empty pot - I'm thinking garlic - and I yearn for the space to try my hand at onions, carrots, and the odd pumpkin or two (for the purposes of making pumpkin pie only). Our situation (limited greenhouse-like space in the stairwell up to the rood terrace, and the terrace itself, which is large but exposed) mean I'm unlikely to realise all these goals, though I'm fairly set on the garlic.

It's also made me even more aware of eating locally, and in season. Eating locally is more difficult in Dublin than Auckland, and our mild addiction to M&S (as a substitute for the healthy takeaways we seem unable to find here) means we do eat a lot of imported stuff. But we're working on it.

Today, my steps towards local eating were to move George back to his favourite sunny spot, in view of his vege siblings; and to buy some delicious Irish rhubarb so I could make jam. Small steps perhaps, but delicious ones. And every step in the right direction counts.

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