Random ramblings and TV-inspired activities

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Mr Bloom's Nursery: Ladybird nibbles

We're not an especially green-fingered bunch. My daughter kills plants with kindness (over-watering) while I tend to kill them through neglect - with two kids and a cat, something's got to give! However Mr Bloom's Nursery rekindled my interest in gardening, and I like the idea of my kids knowing where their food comes from (and I don't mean Tesco).

The initial spark sputtered a bit after I realised just how quickly weeds grow back (who has time to weed every week?!) and that a bit of effort is required beyond chucking some water on when it's hot. My style of gardening boils down to sticking it in the ground and hoping for the best, and it delivers mixed results.

Our tomatoes, however, proved hardy sorts, and my daughter has enjoyed watering them with a special watering can from her grandparents. (The previous watering can was of less traditional construction, shall we say: an empty plastic milk bottle with some holes punched in the top end with a screwdriver. It did the job though.) After much waiting and watering, finally - finally! - we had some red tommies. Behold!

They were harvested with great enthusiasm, but when it comes to eating them, enthusiasm dips. I think perhaps Mr Bloom may have some responsibility in that area... I think the programme is great, teaching kids about how things grow and all that, but I wonder whether having animatronic vegetables - Sebastian the Singing Aubergine, Margaret the Cabbage, Joan the Fennel to name a few - is sending out mixed messages. Put it this way, when we are in the veggie section of Tescos, and my daughter points at the butternut squash, she doesn't shout out "Look, mummy, squash!", she shouts "Look, mummy, Raymonds!"

I had thought that having grown them she might have been more inclined to try them though. Baby Boy will chomp them down happily, but he's an undiscerning sort, bless him (and so was my toddler at that stage). Taking my cues from Mr Bloom and our garden friends, I tried dolling them up as ladybirds instead. I wish I could report that she then gobbled them up with gusto, but nay. But if you want to try similar, here's what I did:

2 tomatoes
4 raisins
Some balsamic vinegar

Using a sharp knife, cut the tomatoes in two.
Position tomatoes on plate with raisin placed at top, in the dent where the stem was.
Taking sharp knife again, dip it in balsamic vinegar, and draw a line down the tomato halves, and then dip again to add each spot. (This can be a bit fiddly).

Job's a good'un! I did try this with marmite instead of balsamic vinegar, which was frankly revolting, although more aesthetically pleasing. I also tried brown sauce, which was also less fiddly but possibly an acquired taste. Our tomatoes are quite intensely flavoured so with a blander (shop-bought) type, I'd give brown sauce another go.

Ladybirds are our friends, says Mr Bloom. I think my daughter has taken this too literally: every time we see a ladybird, she has to stop, greet it and give me a full report on what it's doing... Our walks have become epic. Thanks, Mr B...


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