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Harvest thanksgiving

October 18, 2010

One of the best things about the Autumn is the bounty of ripe fruit and vegetables. Cooking good honest food for the family, with simple ingredients from your own garden, is profoundly satisfying. It grounds us somehow, connecting us with the earth and with our ancestors. While we at Castle Beastie rely on others for grain and dairy produce, we have so much else here to be thankful for. This weekend I have had all the family here plus cousins, so I have been making the most of our ‘harvest’ to feed everyone. Here are a couple of dishes we have enjoyed over the weekend.

In the summer, my elder son landed his first fish, a lovely fresh cock salmon. We put it in the freezer to save it for his birthday: in the event his birthday was so busy that the fish was forgotten, so we had it this weekend instead. (Squeamish folk look away now.)

Son caught it; husband gutted it (I had to do a certain amount of eyelash-fluttering to manage that bit of delegation); I cooked it, following Claire Macdonald’s instructions in her ‘Delicious Fish’ cookbook. Smear a large bit of tinfoil with butter and lay the fish on top, with lemon and parsley on both sides and in the stomach cavity. Wrap up the fish tightly in its foil parcel and cook in a bain marie for 20 minutes per pound. Simple and delicious. I served it with potatoes, peas and leeks all from the garden: a whole meal without  – oh, all right, except for the lemon, butter and tinfoil – setting foot in a shop!

For pudding, I think it’s hard to beat a good traditional fruit crumble at this time of year. Old-fashioned comfort food goes down well with everybody. For Saturday’s crumble, my younger son helped me to pick pears from the garden.

Soon we had a great basket full of cooking pears.

The next day, I stripped off a few heads of elderberries while taking the dogs for a walk.

The elderberries are perfect now: black and glistening and plentiful enough for us to collect some while leaving masses for the birds.

I stripped the washed berries into a saucepan with the chopped pears, brown sugar, grated lemon rind and a teaspoonful of ground ginger.

With an oaty crumble mix on top, it made a really tasty pudding. I think I even prefer the pears to apples with these berries.

Well, the four pound fish was big enough to feed the family again today: I made kedgeree with the leftovers and put plenty of that in the freezer too, so we will be able to have some more in a week or so. As for the crumble, there isn’t a scrap left! So why am I sharing this with you, since I can only share the pictures? Well, I suppose because I just want to say, isn’t the earth wonderful in what it provides. This is what cooking for a family should be like, and I know how fortunate we are to be able to live off the land like this. Before the withering winter cold sets in, it is natural to give thanks for the year’s bounty.

P.S. I won’t be able to post a Tuesday Tree this week, but look forward to catching up next weekend.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2010 7:47 am

    Love the crumble idea, I have never used elderberries.

  2. October 18, 2010 9:41 am

    Thank you for another interesting post. As you say – your food looks delicious and yes, thankful for the bounty of Mother Nature indeed. Re-connecting with our original way of living in some way on a daily basis seems to be very beneficial to us – certainly to me, who positively needs to touch the earth at some point daily.
    I’ve heard of people without bain-maries cooking large salmon in the dishwasher – VERY carefully wrapped in foil (and no washer powder :-))) – have you ever tried that?
    I used to cook trout with a nut stuffing, but found that too stodgy – I always use lemon slices in the gut cavity now.
    So interested to see you using elderberries like this too – like your previous commentor, I’ve never used them like this…but will do very, very soon now (watch out elderberry tree in the garden – if I get to the berries before the blackbirds!)

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      October 22, 2010 4:33 pm

      I have heard of cooking in the dishwasher but am too much of a feartie to try it! But my cooking method was very simple. I don’t have a proper bain marie: all I did was to put the wrapped fish into my largest roasting tray and half-fill the tray with water. Worked a treat.

      Last year was the first time I tried cooking with elderberries. They are very good in combination with orchard fruits.

  3. Margaret Lambert permalink
    October 18, 2010 4:48 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen an elderberry, but the birds must feast on whatever you miss picking.

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      October 22, 2010 4:37 pm

      Elder grows wild here: you see it everywhere, on urban wasteland as much as in rural areas. It is a very useful tree. You can make fritters or cordial with the fragrant spring blossom, and wine or jelly with the autumn berries – not that I have done any of that yet, but crumble is a start!

  4. October 18, 2010 8:20 pm

    Gosh it all looks and sounds so delicious. Never thought to put elderberries in a crumble, but bet they add a lovely tartness to the sweeter softness of the pears. Yum.

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      October 22, 2010 4:39 pm

      Funnily enough they are not that tart. They have quite an earthy flavour, adding a sort of depth and smokiness to the pears. Last year I tried them with apples but I think the combination with pears is nicer still.

  5. October 21, 2010 12:13 am

    Mmmmm: The pears and elderberries look yummy!
    I am planning an apple crisp – we call a crumble a crisp here – for tomorrow, and am most definitely looking forward to it! My area is renowned for its apple orchards and this is the season for pies, sauce, crisp and puddings.

  6. November 15, 2013 2:53 pm

    Not sure I can find the berries, but the salmon, yes. Sounds like a great meal idea

Trackbacks

  1. The Tuesday tree: my breakfast smells of elderberries! « Dancing Beastie
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