The Garden

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I have been in the garden for most of this time that I have been absent from here. I had no desire to do anything but be in the garden amongst the plants I have planted. I often didn’t even have the desire to finish my breakfast, because the call of my garden was a lot more alluring to me. It’s a child-like feeling – looking at the plants, watching them grow, hoping for flowers and fruits. I remember my father doing the same. Often walking out to the garden with his tea mug – too impatient to sit back and drink it at the table. He did just what I am doing now. There is no doubt that children often do what their parents do, even without first realizing it. There are so many things I notice in me that mimic my parents’ behaviour.

This is my first time trying to grow vegetables other than tomatoes. What I have learned is that gardening is not as scary as most non-gardeners think it to be. True, some plants do need extra care, but most just need a proper spot and good soil – and they want you to love them.  And the value of practice is indispensable for next year’s garden.

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My first harvest was some zucchini. I had a hard time picking it from the plant. It’s hard to pick the first fruit, trust me. Then came the effort of deciding what exactly to cook with the produce. No matter what you grow, when you pick your first fruit, you expect it to taste like nothing you’ve tasted before:  something out of this world, even if it is just a zucchini.

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The harvest from the garden is not in abundance at the moment. A handful of young chard leaves, a zucchini here and a squash there, maybe a pumpkin flower sometimes. I love to fill my basket. I love to think about what to cook with them.

So here it is, a recipe for my baby chard leaves. It makes a beautiful aromatic appetizer, or a light lunch.  And next on the blog, I promise to share what I did with the two zucchinis I harvested (so far).

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Steamed Chard Wrapped Shrimp with Lemon Balm, served with Aromatic Broth

Ingredients: For Chard wrapped Shrimp

  • Shrimp: about 15, minced
  • Lemon juice: 2 Tbsp
  • Lemon Balm: a small handful, minced
  • Garlic: 2 cloves, minced
  • Scalions: 2, green parts only, diced finely
  • Cornstarch: 1/2 tsp
  • Red Chili: 1, fine sliced (optional)
  • Young Chard: 15, small sized, slightly blanched
  • Salt: 1/4 tsp
  • Pepper: 1/4 tsp
  • While Oil: 1 tsp

Ingredients: For Aromatic Broth

  • Sodium free Chicken Broth: 3 cups
  • Ginger: 1/2 inch, sliced
  • Lemon Balm: a handful
  • Salt: to taste

Garnish:

  • Scallions, finely cut into stings
  • Lemon Balm, fine chiffonade
  • Basil, a few tips
  • Lemon juice
  • Red Chili, finely sliced

Method:

  • To blanch the chard, dip them in hot water for 50-60 seconds till they are pliable. Do not leave them in the hot water.
  • Remove the hard stems and set aside.
  • To make the shrimp filing, mix shrimp, lemon juice, garlic, scallion, lemon balm, cornstarch and a pinch of fresh sliced red chili if desired, add salt and pepper and let sit for 20 mins.
  • When ready to steam, lay a chard leaf up side down and drop a tablespoon of shrimp mix and roll the chard like a burrito.
  • Brush the bottom of your steamer with oil, arrange chard wrapped shrimps and steam for 12 minutes.
  • While shrimp is steaming, bring your broth to a boil with the ginger and the lemon balm. Once boiled, turn stove to lowest setting and put a cover and let simmer for a good 10 minutes.
  • When ready to serve, place a few steamed chard rolls on a shallow plate, pour hot broth and top with garnish.
  • Enjoy!
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