New growth, grapevine. Image: Su Leslie 2018
Time’s a strange thing. It is defined by its measurement, objective and increasingly precise. Yet even as we observe the system, we experience time in our own unique and subjective ways.
I think about this every month as I begin to write my Changing Seasons post, aware that I experience the passing of different months in very different ways. Indeed I would say I’ve experienced November as almost outside of time, anchored by neither nature nor culture.
In my garden, plants seem to be flourishing, but not in dramatic ways. Blossom has given way to fruit but none of it is ripe. About the only thing that’s noticeably grown is the grape vine.
It never bears fruit, but in the words of 10cc “it hides an ugly stain (alright, fence) that’s lying there”. Image: Su Leslie 2018
In all the years we’ve lived here, the vine has never produced grapes. Its utility lies instead in covering — at least for a few months a year — a particularly ugly fence.
I am a utility gardener, and while I appreciate the masking properties of the vine, I want more from it. In one of those moments which, in a movie would carry ominous soundtrack warnings, I thought it might be fun to try cooking with the vine leaves.
Fondly imagining some tasty little herby halloumi parcels, I set off across the lawn with my secateurs.
Fresh vine leaves. Image: Su Leslie 2018
Online, I found lots of advice on blanching the leaves for preserving, and lots of recipes using preserved leaves — but not a lot on using blanched leaves more or less straight away.
With our little vine I can’t really harvest enough leaves to be worth preserving — and besides I wanted to cook NOW.
“NOW” has proved to be a very fluid term. It took me the better part of a day to figure out a combination of blanching, soaking and simmering that would render fibrous leaves edible, turning a quick snack into an edible marathon medal.
Blanched, soaked, simmered; topped with a slice of halloumi and fresh herbs. Good to go. Image: Su Leslie 2018
The parcels themselves are pretty quick to make. I added my new favourite herb combination of oregano and lemon thyme, and cooked them in a lightly oiled skillet for a few minutes on each side.
Vine-leaf wrapped halloumi. Image: Su Leslie 2018
Oregano and lemon thyme. Image: Su Leslie 2018
Halloumi-stuffed vine leaves with quick-pickled red onion and pomegranate seeds. Image: Su Leslie 2018
The verdict: the dish worked quite well. The pickled onions and pomegranate seeds balanced the salty cheese and I liked the background taste of the herbs. The leaves were ok; still a bit chewy and fibrous, and I wouldn’t serve them to guests.
The idea of garden to table living is incredibly appealing to me, and is indeed what I am aiming for eventually. In that context, the time spent fiddling about cooking leaves doesn’t feel wasted, and I’m not disappointed in the final outcome. I have discovered reserves of patience and tenacity I don’t always think I have, and learned quite a lot about a food I’ve only ever eaten in restaurants and as a take-away.
When I look back on my November, I realise I have spent a great deal of it on projects like this; learning and practicing skills that haven’t necessarily produced the kind of results I would want to photograph, but have changed me for the better.
About The Changing Seasons
The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.
If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:
The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):
- Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
- Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
- Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them
The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):
- Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
- Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
- Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.
If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.
Little Pieces of Me — Changing of the Season — November 2018 and Changing of the Season — November 2018 (Riding Edition)
Pauline at Living in Paradise
Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind
Marilyn at Serendipity — Seeking intelligent life on Earth
Lee at Ladyleemanila
Ju Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful
Joanne at My Life Lived Full
Tish at Writer on the Edge
Deb at The Widow Badass Blog
Jude at Under a Cornish Sky
Mick at Mick’s Cogs