Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 March 2018

Monster courgettes are giving me nightmares

Ann Fitzgerald

Ann Fitzgerald

I badly need to find ways to use up our courgettes.

While we were away on holidays, the garden took a growth spurt.

With one exception, the stuff close to the house wasn't too bad but we have some fruit bushes down the garden which went wild.

I spent the guts of an hour wearing near-biohazard clothing to protect from the stings, prickles and stickies of nettles, thistles and robin-run-the-hedge, respectively, to get to the raspberries.

It is amazing the rounds you will go to pick your own fruit. Sure, it tastes better that what you can buy commercially but it seems deeper than that. Maybe it's a throwback to hunting/gathering, which is how women and men have procured food for 90pc of the time we've been around.

Up the garden, the garlic, onions and peas all did well.

First chance Robin got, he dug the garlic and turned the tops on the onions. One day, Ruth picked and shelled some peas and they were delicious barely boiled and dotted with butter but it was a modest yield for a lot of hard work so we've gone back to eating them fresh off the plant.

The exception I referred to above are the courgettes.

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Before we left, they were quite modest looking, little more than what might be termed "babies". On return, we were met by monsters, so different in scale were they to everything else.

It has got to the stage that I'm afraid to go into that part of the garden in case I find they've sprouted limbs and taken off, like The Day of the Triffids.

In the 1951 novel of the title, triffids are tall carnivorous plants capable of aggressive and seemingly intelligent behaviour. They move about by "walking" on their roots and have a deadly sting which can kill animals and humans. Not an appetising prospect.

Back to the real world and the present, there's lots of information about how to prepare courgettes for eating and one thing that makes them flexible is that they have a mild flavour.

I first made a chocolate courgette cake, which is a good way to get reluctant kids, of which we have a pair, to eat more greens. Personally, I prefer Mary Berry's courgette and walnut loaf. I also came across a recipe for a courgette, golden raisin and pistachio cake which sounds yummy.

As you may discern, I like the baked stuff but I'm reliably informed that courgettes are good in salads (apparently they work well with mint, which is also in abundant supply).

Last year, we had some courgette relish but its not easy to be at that when you are also trying to make jams with blackberries and gooseberries (I still have some of the latter from last year in the freezer!)

Roasted strips of courgette are also tasty while a new one on me is "courgetti", (derived from spaghetti) whereby you can use a julienne cutter to make noodle substitutes.

Of course, the real issue is that they all come ripe at the same time; and there are only so many friends that you can invite over on the pretext of coffee that you can send off with a bagful and still be sure they will return when the courgette season is over.

But, just when it looked that we were going to be overrun, I remembered the girls had entered a class at the local Ossory Show for an animal/bird/insect made out of plant material.

So we picked some courgettes and did some experimenting. Then Ruth realised with glee that a courgette would be a great starting point for a giant slug and went on to claim first prize.

I'm going to have nightmares over my monster courgettes.

Indo Farming