Cooking and gardening – two nourishing, satisfying winter activities for you and the kids
Winter is a time to enjoy warm, hearty food and it is also an exciting time for both garden novices and planting experts alike. Here are some ideas for winter activities inspired by the Kitchen Garden Program.
In the garden:
- Cauliflower. Harvest cauliflower when the head is firm and white and about 20 cm wide and make a batch of cauliflower fritters.
- Tuscan kale (cavolo nero). This is a great winter crop; you can harvest small leaves for salads and stir-frys or the whole plant for soups and stews or to pan fry with olive oil and lemon as a side dish.
- Celeriac. Harvest celeriac when its base is pushing through the soil with dark green celery-like leaves attached. Try it grated in a celeriac remoulade, roasted or cooked and puréed.
- Herbs. Winter is the ideal time to plant herbs such as thyme and rosemary, which make a great addition to roasts, and parsley and mint, which are great in a winter quinoa tabbouleh.
- Greens. It’s also a good time to plant Asian greens, lettuce, spring onions, broad beans, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes and asparagus.
- Garlic. Sow garlic cloves directly into the ground, pointy end up, 3 cm deep and 15 cm apart. Also plant around the base of fruit trees.
- Nasturtium. Plant nasturtium as a trap plant for aphids. This will help protect your brassicas (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflowers, etc.)
Preparations for spring:
- Set up beds. Prepare beds for spring planting by digging in organic matter such as well-rotted compost, blood and bone or well-rotted animal manure.
- Mulch. In late winter start mulching with sugarcane mulch, pea straw or lucerne, preparing the garden for spring.
In the kitchen:
On a cold, wet day, turn the oven on and spend the day cooking. It’s a great, energy-efficient way to warm the house, as well as providing food to nourish you for the weekend and leftovers to keep you going during the week.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Make a baked frittata with fresh spinach or silverbeet and some lovely free range eggs. It makes a tasty weekend lunch with a green salad, and leftovers are great for school and work lunches.
- Spend the afternoon slow roasting your favourite cut of meat – with fresh woody herbs such as thyme and rosemary – for dinner.
- Cook up a couple of trays of roast vegetables like parsnip, carrots, swede and beetroot (give the beetroot some space though as the colour can bleed into the other vegetables). Leftover roast vegetables can be used during the week in salads, for example, roasted root vegetables are a tasty addition to a cous cous salad and beetroot pairs well with salad greens and a soft cheese such as feta.
- Bake a rice pudding and some seasonal fruit, perhaps pears or rhubarb, for dessert.
- You could also try making your own bread or pies and experiment with different types of flour, pastry and pie fillings.
- Homemade pasta is another satisfying activity in colder weather and a great interactive kitchen task for children. They will love helping to make the dough and roll the pasta. For an easy sauce cook up some onion, garlic, tinned tomatoes, anchovies and olives then add whatever green vegetables you have in the fridge or garden – silverbeet and rocket work well.
- Immunity boosting soups make great winter meals – try a chicken soup with lots of Asian greens, garlic and fresh herbs or a hearty vegetable soup with a base of dried legumes. Make a large batch and freeze in labelled individual serves for easy lunches, and freeze larger portions that can be pulled out and reheated for quick dinners in busy weeks.
The Medibank Community Fund is proud to be Principal Partner of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation. Find out more about the foundation at kitchengardenfoundation.org.au or learn about the Medibank Community Fund at medibank.com.au