Our lives, twined around vineyards and a small farm, are lived at the pace of the seasons.
This sounds idyllic doesn’t it? So turn away now if you’d like to retain the bucolic image you have floating in your imagination.
The reality can sometimes be a little more startling and frantic and sleepless than even fifteen odd years of this life prepares us for.
This blog should have been written and posted last weekend. It was going to be about potatoes.
I had set the scene; taken photos of the potatoes we’d dug for The Waipara Valley Farmers Market on Saturday morning and cooked some with homegrown pork for Saturday evening’s dinner, testing the recipe we had in mind.
The weather had other ideas on Sunday. Instead of finding some writing time after planting watermelons, we watched an ominous set of clouds come up from the south.
Most New Zealand farmers are good cloud watchers. Things move fast in this skinny country bobbing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. South is serious. South is cold, and our southerly changes can be some of the most violent weather we see on this place.
The colour of the clouds is important as well, and tornadoes and hail come in green/blue hued clouds. So instead of writing this blog we covered the tomatoes and raspberries and anything soft we could think of with frost cloth, struggling in the wind to make it stay.
The hail did eventuate, but fortunately it was too small and too short to do any damage.
So late Sunday evening I got back to this blog. Recipe written, but I couldn’t finish it. Bed beckons. Head hits the pillow about ten minutes before the frost alarm goes off.
Let me put that in context for you. Previously the latest ground frost we’d known in this region was friends’ Belinda & Ed’s wedding anniversary on the 26th November. Early Monday morning was our wedding anniversary -the 15th December. Ridiculous.
So at 1am in the morning we got dressed, pulled the rest of the frost cloth from storage (fortunately we hadn’t got around to pulling it off the tomatoes yet) and covered everything from beans to corn, melons to new potatoes. Two hours later we got back to bed, but I lay there recalculating the growing season and giving M.Nature evil looks through the curtains.
Monday with no sleep was not pretty. Not nearly pretty enough to write. By Tuesday the hot Nor’West winds were back and in a drought year it becomes a battle to keep water up to everything, so my writing hours were spent shifting hoses, hand watering and switching irrigation systems over.
Then on Wednesday the rain came. Beautiful wet rain. Sleep came early, cocooned in our beds, drumming on the tin roof, sounding better than any lullaby.
Now it’s Thursday evening. And there is more rain. And the possibility of another frost. So in these precious few hours of straight rail on the crazy roller coaster ride this granddaddy of all El Ninos seems intent on bringing, here, finally, is the blog about potatoes.
We are pulling our first new potatoes of the season and are still in the ecstatic throes of boiling them and eating them piping hot and creamy with a lick of butter and a sprinkle of salt.
But to be fair sometimes you still want to substantiate them (not sure that’s the correct use of that word. Whatever.) So with the pork roasting it was the perfect opportunity for Roasted New Potatoes.
Roasted New Potatoes.
Choose the biggest of your new potatoes. Any variety will do the job.
Put them in a big pot of cold water with salt and bring to the boil. Don’t skimp on the amount of water, not sure why, but this makes a difference.
Depending on the size boil for about five minutes, or until they’re cooked through but not mushy.
Drain them REALLY WELL. Like all the water gone.
Then shake the pot vigorously. If you’re not feeling vigorous, stir with a big spoon, breaking the edges off a little. A vigorous stir.
Let them steam off for at least half an hour.
Pork fat. Or duck fat. Or if you must olive oil. Choose your favourite woody herbs from the garden at the moment. Maybe sage, thyme or rosemary. Put it all in with the potatoes. Liberal salt application. Some pepper.
Line a tray with baking paper, top shelf of a really hot oven. Turn them maybe once, but keep an eye on them.
Result? Perfect roasted new potaoes.