Uli Yeomans shares a delicious recipe making use of a bumper crop of summer vegetables.
[New City Magazine – August-September 2021, page 22]
Last year our kitchen garden had suffered total neglect as there was too much to do in the community when the pandemic first struck. But this year, again in partial lock-down but with emergency responses having calmed down and a new kind of ‘normal’ bedding in, I spent many hours gardening, finding it therapeutic for body and mind.
I had bought an unusual packet of seeds – ‘The Mediterranean Collection’ consisting of six mini-sachets for summer vegetables, all for 99p! What a good idea, fewer seedlings I thought, but still I ended up with loads of tomato and courgette plants. No worries, others will love them, and I potted and watered and watched their rapid growth in the warm weather, shunting them in and out of house and shed on frosty evenings.
Bushes and greenery also stood in verdant colour and ‘no-mow May’ had gifted us with a daisy and dandelion patch attracting bees. Add the birdsong and we had a perfect venue for our in-person monthly meeting with friends starting again. To welcome them, I put a pretty pot, once a gift and now sporting colourful annuals, at the north-facing, somewhat shaded, entrance door.
We had a lovely meeting sharing our thoughts and experiences as well as the cake someone brought. My plants were on offer, but there were no takers. Chatting with one guest who had gone through a difficult time, I suggested that tending tomato and courgette plants would make a rewarding project and she could take as many as she wanted. But she was less enthusiastic, doubting that she was green-fingered enough. On the way to the car we passed the cheerful pot at the door and straight away I knew it would give her some pleasure. She was very happy to accept it and I too was delighted. That was the right nuance of love at that moment – for it to flower, love needs to circulate.
Now the first courgettes have appeared, small, slender, dark glowing green – perfect in a salad. But what to do with a bumper crop of them? Readers are sure to have their own ideas, but here is mine: bake a big cake and invite all who dare to celebrate summer in the garden together!
▶ 250ml vegetable oil
▶ 230g soft brown sugar
▶ 3 eggs
▶ 500g coarsely grated courgettes
▶ (two or three, unpeeled)
▶ 120g sultanas
▶ grated zest of two lemons
▶ 4tsps vanilla flavouring
▶ 375g self-rising flour, sifted with
▶ ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda and
▶ ½ tsp of salt
Beat oil, sugar and eggs well. In a large bowl combine this mixture with the courgettes, raisins and flavourings, then stir in the flour mixture. Bake at 180° for 1 ¼ hrs if using a (prepared) deep 22cm round cake tin, or approximately 45 min if using 2 cake pans, or a generously sized baking tray. Pistachio nuts and a little food colouring in lemon icing adds a festive touch.
Photo: courtesy of Uli Yeomans