Ok, we have used our prickly pear fruit many times in fresh fruit cocktail. However, we have never used the lobes or paddles of prickly pear. Fresh, bright green ones are best. Cut off just above the joint on the stem.
This time, I wash the lobes and remove the thorns. You can gouge them out or rub them with a knife. For the finer thorns, use wire wool and rub it over the lobe (nopales). Try to keep the green skin.Cut off the tough, outer edge of the lobe. Wash and chop or thinly slice a lobe.
You can boil it in water with chopped onions and vinegar.Drain then add it to a dish like an omelette. How did it taste? It tastes of green runner beans.Maybe add some prickly pear lobe to a simple salad of onion, tomatoes and cucumber or perhaps a stir fry.
Instead of jam, lemon curd can be sharp and refreshing. The secret is to keep the sugar content low, just enough.
Simple ingredients for lemon curd
Whisk the sugar and eggs until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter. Cook in the microwave for one minute at a time, stirring after each minute. Once the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon you are finished.
I place quantities in squares of cling film to freeze. Whenever I need some lemon curd, I thaw a cling film sachet, undo the tie and squeeze the contents into a very small bowl, just enough for one or two helpings. This way, no lemon curd is wasted. It’s delicious on wholemeal bread.
For an extra tang, I place a layer of it over my Pavlova meringue. After this, I add whipped cream followed by chopped fruit to decorate. It contrasts well with the sweet meringue.
Do you like avocados? I like them but I have to disguise them for one family member. I serve them chopped or mashed and sprinkled with salt and lemon juice. Maybe I place them under chopped beetroot so the taste is disguised! For breakfast, I like them on wholemeal toast sprinkled with home-grown chilli flakes.
What to do with all those avocado stones? I allow them to get wet under a garden sprinkler and hope for shoots.
Just a few avocado stones
I may also place them in the soil around a plant in a shady container. They are watered regularly. The avocado stones enjoy the warmth. Eventually, they develop leaves and a strong tap root. Now I plant them in sunny and shady places. I think those in shade will thrive. The young avocado plant in full sun may not be so successful. We’ll wait and see. I surround them with chicken wire to keep them safe from our dogs who like to chew young, tender leaves!
A young avocado plant
As trees, they take some time to fruit but the foliage is attractive. I prefer them as a group or in a row.
We find our lemon tree laden with fruit from about December to May.
Our last lemons
The lemons are irregular in size and taste pungent.
Our irregular lemons
For our daily waking up drink, we use them sliced in hot water and honey. When there is a glut of lemons, I make a speedy lemon posset. I just whip about one pint or half a litre of cream. When it is firming up, I add the juice of about six lemons. Sugar is added to taste. I freeze the posset in bags to eat with a sweet tart.
Lemons slices are good for wiping dust off indoor plant leaves too!
We buy a basket of trailing plants. Don’t leave the plants in one container. Divide them into three or four containers. As the season progresses and the plants grow, you will have more plants for your money. Mix slow-release fertiliser pellets and water retaining granules (vermiculite) with the plant medium in the container. Plants in containers dry out quickly. Water regularly.
If these plants are seasonal, keep the empty containers when the plants are finished. Replace them with evergreen cold-withstanding plants.
Use containers to add interest to a plain area such as a patio, by adding a riot of flowers suitable for the conditions of the site: sun, shade or partial shade. Hang containers from tree boughs to add summer colour, once blossom has faded. A group of containers is more eye-catching, especially with the same plants. Brighten up a dark wall with white flowers. A view of white flowers looks particularly effective as light fades.
Sometimes cooking with others is more speedy and less work. Different tastes can be included without one type of food predominating.
Perhaps you eat almost any cuisine and prefer to try new dishes from recipes online. Others may be more traditional. I like to make a spicy cauliflower recipe with added plain steamed pak choi and roasted sweet potato chips. Preparation is simple and the dishes are colourful and nutritious. Someone else likes to make a traditional meat casserole using favourite recipe books.
So this way we both assemble and cook the dishes, serving them together.
The vegetables can be served alone as can the casserole, making two meals instead of one. So one meal can be frozen for another day. Time problems? Cooking can be shortened with the use of a microwave or pressure cooker for the casserole. Good food without one person doing all the work!