Boom time for berries – Telegraph.
For a really good fruiting year you need a whole set of circumstances. The first is that the previous autumn is warm and long, so that the fruiting wood has plenty of time to grow.
Then you need the previous winter to have been properly cold. A lot of fruit trees are programmed to only produce fruit after a truly cold winter. With the trend for warmer winters, this spark to fruit production has been lacking.
The cold also kills off huge numbers of the pests and parasites that can destroy the flower buds and the nascent fruit. It cleans the environment into which the new blossom will emerge.
But the old apothecaries were more cautious with nutmeg than with other spices. The Salerno School decreed: “One nut is good for you, the second will do you harm, the third will kill you.” That isn’t strictly true but in large doses nutmeg can be intoxicating. Its oil contains myristicin: in large doses this acts as a deliriant, while causing palpitations, convulsions, nausea, dehydration and pain. It is fatal to a number of animals, including dogs.
The Dutch, who had time to get to know nutmeg, add it to most of their vegetable dishes. It is also popular in Quebec. The spice is popular in historical spheres of Moorish influence but not, oddly, in India.
In England, nutmegs are essential to the spiced foods of Christmas, to custard tarts and to the mealy, stodgy brood of national puddings. It has an affinity with cinnamon and can often take its place. It is lovely in mashed potato.
Of course, the spice is almost universally available today. Jars on supermarket shelves don’t begin to hint at its past. But the story of food can sometimes be the story of humanity, and nowhere does that seem more true than in the case of nutmeg, the headiest, most alluring, most blood-soaked of the spices.
- What is Nutmeg? (brainz.org)
[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/hbJGgfWcVwI%2Em4v%5DTOMATO SOUP RECIPE
-3 28 ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes, juices drained and reserved
-2 Tbsp brown sugar
-5 shallots, minced
-2 Tbsp tomato paste
-1/4 tsp ground allspice
-1 1/2 tsp thyme
-1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-3 Tbsp unsalted butter
-3 Tbsp flour
-3 cups chicken broth
-Heat oven to 450
-Line 2 baking sheets with foil. Open cans of tomatoes and pour them into a strainer over a bowl separating the tomatoes from their juice. Use you fingers to open the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds (you can trash them). Place tomatoes flat on the foil lined baking sheet and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for 30 minutes. Let the tomatoes cool.
-Mince shallots. Set aside.
-Heat butter in a stock pot on medium until foaming. Add shallots, tomato paste and spices. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft, about 10 minutes.
-Add flour to the shallots and cook until combined, about 30 seconds. Gradually add reserved tomato juice, chicken broth and roasted tomatoes. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer on low, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
-Remove the pot from the heat and strain the soup to separate the solids from the liquids. Put the solids in a blender with 2 cups of the liquid and puree until smooth. Return the puree to the pot with the rest of the liquid and return the pot to the stove. Heat on low for 5 minutes until everything is hot and combined. Correct seasoning with salt, pepper or brown sugar (if too salty).
Serve or store in Tupperware or glass jars for up to a week!
Perfect guacamole. Photograph: Felicity Cloake
1–3 fresh green chillies, depending on heat, and your taste, finely chopped
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
3 ripe avocados (Hass, the knobbly brown ones, tend to be the creamiest and most flavoursome)
1 ripe medium tomato, cut into 3mm dice
Juice of 1 lime
1. Put a teaspoon each of the chilli, onion and coriander into a pestle and mortar, along with a pinch of coarse salt, and grind to a paste.
2. Peel the avocados and remove the stone. Cut into cubes, then mash into a chunky paste, leaving some pieces intact.
3. Stir the chilli paste into the avocado, and then gently fold in the tomatoes and the rest of the onions, chilli and coriander. Add lime juice and salt to taste. Serve immediately, or cover the surface with cling film and refrigerate.
What’s your perfect guacamole recipe – is the avocado the only sacred ingredient, or would you fight like an Aztec warrior king for onions, coriander, or tomato? Do you prefer it chunky or smooth, is a molcajete worth the money; and has anyone found a good ready-made version?