What sometimes happens when the usual is running out and I have to figure something out.
This delicious, hearty wheatberry vegetable stew came to be simply because my kitchen was running a bit dry and I needed to come up with something. So I looked through the cupboards and saw a half bag of wheatberries. Then I thought I'd like to have it with tomatoes and other vegetables, but what spices? I craved something both spicy, hearty and with a little sweetness to it, so I quickly threw together the basic ingredients for the first version of channa masala I had learnt. Minus the garam masala. And the channa (chickpeas) :-)}}}
2 cups wheatberries 6 cups water 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 onion 4-5 cloves garlic, minced 1 inch ginger, minced 4 carrots, chopped 4 celery ribs, chopped 2 tsp tomato paste 2 cups canned, diced tomatoes, with juice 1/2 tsp turmeric powder 3 tsp cumin powder 1/4 tsp cayenne, chili powder, or 2-4 fresh chilies (more or less depending upon how hot you like it) 4 cloves 1 tsp coriander powder 2 tblsp lemon juice 4 bay leaves 1 scant tsp marmite (black garlic would be lovely as well)
1) In a pot, bring 6 cups water to boil, then add a little salt and 2 cups of wheatberries (both soft and hard wheatberries work, but we liked the hard variety better). Lower heat and simmer for half hour. 2) While that is simmering, put olive oil in a pan and, on medium heat, add onion, garlic, ginger, carrots, celery, and turmeric. Sautee for a few minutes, just until onion becomes translucent, stirring frequently. 3) Add all the other spices, stirring them in well, followed by the lemon juice. 4) Remove from heat until the half hour is up for the wheatberries, then add them straight in with the wheatberries. 5) Take a ladle full of liquid out to dissolve the marmite into, then return to pot. 6) Add diced tomatoes and juice, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for another 30 minutes.
Serve over rice or straight with a slice of whole wheat bread on the side. Delicious! I made it two days in a row due to popular demand (can two people's demands be called that?). Our taste buds demanded a second batch, and they are legion...
In all the years my partner and I have been together, despite our love of fresh greens and vegetables, this marks the first time we have seeded anything indoors to get a headstart for the garden. Now most of our years together have been in apartment buildings where the best we could hope for in terms of gardening were a few plants by the window or balcony, but we've lived in houses a couple times before and somehow found the whole indoor seeding intimidating.
That's our set-up. Since I was already in the garage-cum-workshop building a custom enclosure for my bicycle cargo trailer, I got inspired and quickly put together this lamp stand, partially pictured. It allows for easy adjustment of lamp height and keeps the cords out of the way.
This time we went ahead and got the necessary items, including spot-gro lamps, to do it. What pushed us over the edge were the wonderful heirloom seeds we got at Hamilton's Seedy Saturday event some weeks ago. I simply couldn't pass those wonderful seeds up. I love LOVE biting or slicing into huge, juicy heirloom tomatoes grown in my own garden, and I knew these were both heirloom stock and organic.
Yesterday, just five days after seeding them, the Purple Calabash tomatoes began peeking out of the ground. So exciting!
And then this morning I heard Jihan's excited announcement that one of the Jaune Flammee tomatoes had joined the others.
When I was a kid my mom used to encourage us kids (I have one sister and four brothers) to each grow a little plot of vegetables and compete for the nicest, most bountiful garden. She taught us to always put three seeds in each hole as you never knew which seed would be viable. That way at least one out of three should be viable and there would be no empty spots. So I did the same for indoor seeding and, as you can probably see, two Purple Calabash are growing in one pot and all three in the other. I'm a little nervous about separating them -- I certainly don't want to cull them (they're my babies) -- but will probably try after they have a second set of true leaves (per some advice found on online fora). If anyone has any tips, I'd be happy to hear them.
Now I have to wait for the Cosmonot Volkov tomatoes and both my Thai hot red finger chillies and Scotch Bonnet peppers to emerge. I've read that the hot peppers, the hotter the variety, need lots of warmth to germinate and may take up to 18 days... It's hard to wait that long!
Oh, and outside our garlic is looking wonderful. I forgot to take a picture of them. They are now about 4 - 6 inches tall. We had planted 58 in late fall and 54 have come up and are looking really nice. I'll try to get a pic of those up later today or tomorrow. Happy growing!