Saturday, 26 October 2013

Coming back

Well I have been away from this blog and away from home on my jaunt around Central/ South America. I spent the best part of the week in Costa Rica pitching my 'Bottles to Boardwalks' project to the good folk at G Adventures  at the "Summit in the Jungle" (you can read about it here and here). While I didn't win the $25,000, I am keen to not let my idea watch this space. Costa Rica was followed by the opportunity to extend my complimentary ticket over to that side of the world by joining a G Adventures 7 night cruise (not sure if that's the right word- safari on a boat perhaps?!) of the Galapagos. This was followed by another week on the islands hanging out, getting to know the town sea lion population, catching the local inter island ferries (small speedboats with BL**DY big engines) and doing a spot of diving. Combine that with a few days of exploring the sites of mainland Ecuador (Quito and surrounds) and far too long in transit and I was back!

Backyard in the Galapagos

Coming home there is always a sense of anticipation and anxiety... will the pets be waiting, will they be happy to see us (no not really) and hows the garden ?! Slightly overgrown but a little dry was the answer to the latter. One of my girls had gone clucky and caused some grief to my Japanese house-sitter who thought she was on her last legs. But everyone and everything else had survived incident free.

Coming back there's always the issue of restocking an empty fridge- Well the fridge wasn't quite empty as expected the other half had basically ignored my instructions about the leftovers for him and the chicken necks for the cat  before he left to join me in Quito and my house-sitter bless her had clearly not wanted to throw out anything she wasn't supposed to. The month old left over milk that hadn't soured was a very bizarre mystery of science! Anyway with out having to rely on everyone's favourite (un)freshfood people or getting down to the  store with the'big red hand',  the best bit about coming back was ducking out into the garden for survival rations of Tuscan kale (cavalo nero), carrots and the last of the sprouting broccoli. (I like to think the overdose on Tuscan kale also helped make up for the significant absence of leafy greens on my Latin American jaunt).

Aside from Tuscan Kale layered in lasagna, sauteed with garlic,olives pesto and pasta, I have been adding it as a side dish (along with some roasted parsnips from the garden) to accompany my favorite recipe discovery of late. Here it is:

Slow Roasted lamb shoulder with cumin and pears
2 brown onions, skin on and sliced into rounds
1 lamb shoulder (bone in), semi-cut into portions (ask your butcher to do this)
2 tbsp cumin seed
2 tbsp black peppercorns
5 cloves garlic
2 tbsp flaked salt
1 tbsp olive oil
7 sprigs thyme, leaves only
4 beurre bosc pears, skin on and cut in half (if available, you can also use 3 quinces, peeled and cut into cheeks)
3 tbsp raw sugar
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1. Preheat oven 160C fan-forced (180C conventional).
2. Place onion in base of a heavy ovenproof dish.
3. Trim and slightly score top of lamb.
4. Crush cumin and peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, then add garlic and salt. Crush to a paste and add oil. Smother paste over lamb, rubbing between bones as well. Place lamb on top of onions, scatter with thyme and add pear halves. Sprinkle with sugar and vinegar and pour in 80 millimetres of water.
5. Cover dish in a double layer of foil and roast for four hours, then remove foil and skim some of the fat. Return lamb to oven and raise temperature to 180C fan-forced. Baste lamb a little and cook for another 35 minutes or until golden brown.
6. Serve with braised silverbeet and couscous.
Serves 4-6
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