Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Penne with Kale

Long before Jamie Oliver took up growing his own vegetables (got a gardener) we took the plunge and signed up at our local allotment.  Clarksfield Allotments on Dewsbury Road, Beeston.  They have an annual show, where the good diggers go up against one an other in the usual categories. Onions, potatoes, cucumbers and radishes (one for the kids) have rullers passed over them to see who's is best.  The event is open to the public and one September Sunday, five years ago, we went along for a giggle.

We wandered through Cross Flatts Park hoping to find some of the spectacle that graces almost every episode of River Cottage.  What we found was a small Scout hut style classroom, in the middle of a veg patch.  Our first impression was not good.  The displays on offer wouldn't have troubled Hugh Fearnley Whittingtsall and his cronies.  The courgettes were in a category called "Exotic Vegetables" and no four onions bore the slightest resemblance to their counterparts.  Also, none of the exhibits made me want to eat them.

We left the shed and took a wander around the rest of the site.  It was a sunny day and the rows of veg shone.  This was more like it.  My appetite was growing, as was my appetite for having a go a growing my own.  The clincher was the fine array of jerry built sheds on display.  Pallets, doors, windows, road signs, you name it they were cobbled together, keeping tomatoes warm and watering cans safe from prying hands.

As we were ahead of the trend, there was no waiting list, unheard of today.  That day Z and I became the new gardener(s)-in-chief of plot 135 and started to get stuck in.

We almost lost the plot (literally) last year, when the arrival of our bundle of joy left us time limited.  We just couldn't get it together to spend time allotmenteering.  With full time jobs we had spent at least a day per weekend tending to our plot.  With childcare thrown into the mix the allotment went feral.  It was all we could do to pop down and mow the paths.  Fortunately our neighbours took petty on us (unlike the committee) and kept a watch on the worst of the unwanted weeds.

We were determined to keep growing some veggies, so the front garden bought the farm.  We'd never profess to having a well kept garden, the regimented blocks of salad leaves actually improved matters.  Sadly, all that is left in the ground now that December has set in properly, is red kale.  Fortunately, we have red kale growing in our front garden!

Roughly chop the kale and mix it through fried garlic and chilli until the leaves have wilted.  Stir in some cooked pasta and supper is served.  Add cheese is you like it.  I do.

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