I have an allotment tan thanks to taking up maintenance and watering duties for my friends’ patch while they swan about Europe.
There was a time when Saturday mornings were for recovery, now they’re all about fruit and vegetables. Normally the purchase of them, but for the past two weeks I have been heading up to the Nunhead allotments my friends have planted and recreating episodes of the 1970s BBC sitcom The Good Life.
If you have never seen the television show, I totally recommend you check it out on You Tube or hunt it down on DVD. The basic premise is that a suburban couple, Tom and Barbara, give up their professional jobs and become self-sufficient.
At the time of broadcast, their attempts to knit yogurt and boil their own cheese were seen as eccentric scenarios from which to give the masses a giggle. In a not too distant future, the masses will be viewing it as an instruction manual.
I’ve already had a head start with my friends’ allotment where I’ve enjoyed picking my own salad and pulling up vegetables to cook with that day. By the way, for those who do not have access to an allotment, the Garden Organic charity has great tips and advice on how to plant and maintain veg patches in your own backyard.
I still had a couple of summer squash bought at a farmer’s market that needed to be used up and another friend suggested roasting them for a risotto. There were a couple of yellow courgettes ready for picking on the allotment, and along with a couple of onions also pulled up from south London soil, I set about making dinner.
I picked up this recipe from the Shutterbean blog as to be honest, I’ve never made a risotto and thought best not to take my usual ‘chuck it all in and hope for the best’ attitude when I had such gorgeous fresh veg to cook with.
The trick is in the stirring. After the initial soaking with a glass of white wine, you add more liquid when the rice is becoming creamy. Keep massaging the rice and adding stock until it is soft, but still has a little bite to it. It was hard to concentrate on the task with coverage of the Olympics going on in the background. That’s something Tom and Barbara never had to contend with, given that they didn’t have a telly.
After around 20 minutes of stirring, and a few minutes off in-between for cheering, I sat down in the garden to eat. Never has a vegetable tasted so good when picked out of the earth by your own hands just hours previously. I think Tom and Barbara would have approved.