In praise of chard! And eggah!

chardI nearly came to blows over chard today. My colleague insisting it was disgusting and that you might as well “eat mud”; me waxing lyrical about the virtues of chard stalks (“the worst bit!”) fried in sage butter.
In a way she was right; for me the beauty of chard is that it does remind me of mud – earthy, minerally, nourishing loveliness. And every bite of the vibrant stalks is a mouthful of sunshine. Argh, how can she not like it?

Plot No. 85 has been producing a lot of the stuff recently, we can’t pick it fast enough, so there’s been a lot of chardy-dinners lately; barbecued marinated stalks at the big lunch on Sunday; pizza Fiorentina yesterday, and tonight, eggah!

eggah

Eggah is a middle-eastern solid omlette/tortilla, perfect for themezze table, and eaten for hundreds of years to sustain pilgrims on their way to Mecca.

For my eggah,I added the blanched stalks and wilted leaves to some whisked eggs, with a pinch each of salt, pepper, and turmeric, and a sprinkling of chervil, and cooked the whole lot over a low heat in a frying pan for 20 mins – delicious!!! Made with eggs from our hens, and served with sugar snap peas from the lotti, it was virtually a free dinner too.

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Dreaming of an earth oven – part 2

I’m rubbish at laying bricks. That’s my overall conclusion from the last few days of oven-building. ‘Leave it to the professionals’ would have been a good mantra, unfortunately I went for ‘rustic’ instead – perfect applied to bread, worrying when applied to load-bearing structures. Ah well, I’m sure it’ll hold, and at least it’s level. I’m not quite there yet, got a couple of courses to go until I can fill the middle with rubble and start building my oven on top – it’s been cheap so far though, only 50 to get the entire foundations and plinth built (i’ve been skip-diving for bricks for several weeks now)!

plinth nearly there
plinth nearly there

Next week comes the big push – I’ve got the week off work to build the actual oven, and with help pledged from a couple of people, that should be plenty of time. I’m still hoping to get finished in time for the Lammas harvest festival on 1st August, although I won’t be able to bake in it right away, it needs a few weeks to dry out. Though I will start the hunt for some local flour and recreate the effect of an earth oven by baking a ‘local loaf’ on a slab of granite in my regular oven. Check out the Real Bread Campaign for more details of the ‘local loaves for Lammas’ initiative and to check other festival celebrations near you. In the meantime if anyone knows of any good locally (to Birmingham) grown and milled flour, please leave a comment below…

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