The many interesting things told to me while I was working at Barley Hall.
The Nosegay Blog Too
The nosegay experience continues, and as promised in the first instalment, we will be visiting alternative realities, plus jumping hoops and drinking mud (participation is optional)
This is one:-
So let me guide you through a marrow recipe. I used this:-
It isn’t a marrow.
I couldn’t find one anywhere. I had promised myself I would take one with me to Norway as a surprise.
There wasn’t one left in the whole of the allotments.
There was a marrow plant still growing there.
And I knew of one marrow plant in Norway. One. Just one. Big statement coming; the only marrow plant in the whole of Norway. Here I was, on my way over to visit it.
I am rushing ahead here however, because nobody knows what a marrow is or what to do with it. These two facts become true when you put them together. Well, not many know what to do with a marrow – the vegetable which has the potential to be the food of the gods – stay with me to find out how.
People might stuff one, but that is about it.
No one in Norway has heard of a marrow – extensive searches have been done by chief amateur researcher Tove.
Following the success of my recipe she just had to have some at home, but no. Norwegians (and possibly those of other nations) aren’t even that good at knowing what a squash is.
(I stole this pic)
There are squashes everywhere, (over here).
Squash is the generic name for these type of things, but if you ask for a courgette in Norway you get two in a bag labelled ‘Squash’. No. That’s not true, you would have to point, ‘There, those!’ ‘Those are them.’
So, no butternut, no harlequin, no patty pan, barely a pumpkin and nary a marrow.
The wonder of the marrow must be introduced to the world! I took some seeds over, with detailed instructions on how to grow such a delicate plant; start early in a warm protected place, plant a few at a time, so you aren’t putting them all out at the same time, and wait till they are robust before they have to brave the elements.
But no, they all got planted at once.
Rule number one – only ever leave them outside after the last chance of frost, (in Bergen that’s around early July, just before the rainy season properly kicks in). Out they went. A post frost plant is a sorry sorry sight.
There was one seed left.
I popped it covertly in a pot, (in a tub with the pepper root which is a plant which requires a future expose in Britain), it quietly secretly grew.
Now is the time to roll in the big cameras and for the lights to flash – “Here, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the only marrow plant in the whole of Norway…”
As much excitement as there was about this blooming monster plant I had a private worry. As the only one there it wouldn’t be pollinated. I had another secret, an illicit import. Two flowers donated by an allotmenter in a disposable coffee cup. Ooooo the excitement – I unpacked; I unpacked a cup fill of slop, brown slop. We fed it to the Bergenesque flower by droplet.
Despite the hope there might be a miracle and it stays sunny right through October most of our hopes are for the future.
The plan is to plant them in stages and introduce them to the veranda gradually. The home plan.
The rest of the plan is to fill the whole of Norway with big beautiful marrows.
We shall start with two magical places. Organic seeds will be donated to Otternes Farm and to organic garden centre Sogn Jord – og Hagebruksskule (www.sjh.no).
Let’s get cooking.
I have two recipes for you. The glorious (afore mentioned food of the gods) marrow pancakes. Plus my famed dish from Gudvangen Viking Valley, and from even further back in time, Neolithic Cave Bread.
Pancakes – Start with your squash – I couldn’t get a marrow.
So I got a harlequin squash.
I said I got a harlequin squash.
Yes, I said I got a harlequin.
I chopped it.
I saved the seeds.
Right: Littleish lumps, (the ones in the frying pan picture below are a touch too big), drop them in boiling (possibly salted) water. Make sure they are well cooked.
No, really well.
(That pic is actually marrow btw)
Now make the batter.
Here is the gung-ho method…
[Again this is actually marrow and just the right size btw btw]
Big bowl, bit of salt, bit of pepper, chuck in flour (my mum says self-raising flour is lighter but I say it is for wimps), bang in a bit more, a couple of eggs and a tiny bit of baking powder if you have it.
Mix with a splosh of water (mum says some people add a bit of milk too). It needs to be thick, creamy and able to run.
Alright, you want to add finely chopped onion? Well, OK, but not very much…
Right have you got your pan hot yet!
Just a little oil, well swirled.
Mix the cooked marrow with the batter and drop in small amounts. Remember to turn them!
Stop, you have cooked them at the wrong time. They are not a meal. They are a surprise. Sneak off, cook a batch. Pop them on little plates. Now then I strongly recommend; heavy on the salt.
No, a bit more than that.
Go through and stick a plate on each lap. They will look horrified.
Get in that kitchen and cook another batch.
Be assured, they will want them.
And will come back for even more.
We go hurtling back in time – for – Neolithic Cave Bread.
Here are ones I made at home (in Bergen).
Really they should be done on an open fire. On a hot stone or slate.
Whenever I start cooking them in Gudvangen I am dishing them up all night.
Once you have learnt farming techniques, harvested grain and milled it, (here’s my attempt), you will want to make this.
(or just pop to a shop)
Here’s the secret – Bang it all in; veg, berries, meats, dairy products and an ostrich egg.
Here is the Bergen kitchen version.
This is some of what I used.
(It would be better with Elk and Fenalår.)
Chop that veg n stuff (and any cooked meat).
Simmer the bacon and garlic in bits.
Mix the lot.
Get it in your batter (this time feel free to be heavy on the eggs and cream and experiment with flour types).
(At Gudvangen I used 44 different ingredients and people at around twenty tents tried a bit)
(Not sure who took this pic btw)
But before you go rushing off to cook by a cave…
I did not plan to do a blog which was about recipes, not at all, and I have many aspects of my life and writing bubbling away ready to share as soon as I get them down. But, I am being asked for the recipe for my favourite dish so I must oblige.
It is hardly Viking or life at the festivals or such, but we all gotta eat…
And look at this!!!!
The first thing I’ve got to tell you is that I never cook the same thing the same way twice. There won’t be any measurements in here either. There will be love, and yumminess.
Ingredients; well you are going to need courgettes! (baby marrows for those of you who have heard of marrows, or don’t they call them zucchini in some places?), and cheese and eggs. The rest is mainly to do with what I have in, bear with me, it will work.
Saute onions and garlic, I like a mix of butter and olive oil. Steadily brown them. What else have you got? I’ve added mushrooms, herbs, and last time I thinly sliced parsnip and potato because they needed eating up. It worked great, as long as it is all well browned.
Then tip them into your oven dish leaving the oil to fry the chopped courgettes. I think last time I did the courgettes a little too slow because they are going to go in the oven too. They do need to be browned though. Then pop them on the onion mix.
Pour over something tomatoey, a pasta sauce you like, or chopped tinned toms, maybe add a little chilli and some herbs.
We are going to make the thing work. Crack three or four eggs into a bowl, add a small tub of cream (milk will do), salt and pepper, and loads of grated cheese (enough to make the mix fairly thick). Then fold that over the other stuff carefully.
Pop that in a moderate hot oven for twenty minutes or until it is golden brown.