Kitchen Gardeners are great at buying seeds and seedlings, cow manure, potting mix and mulch but, for Christmas gift-giving, it takes stamina.
For the daughter overseas it had to be a eucalypt leaf leather bookmark which comes as a gift from Hans Dimpel Jr with your Ugg boots at Canberra Tannery in Oaks Estate. For the son, also overseas, from the National Museum of Australia shop, it was a microfibre lens cloth ($10) depicting the Canberra Federal Capital plan 1913 by Walter Burley Griffin, a Scott Leggo photograph of the Canberra landscape, a Guuliil Indigenous cork backed drinks coaster $6 and, for me, a few Alter Eco organic mint creme truffles with backyard compostable wrapping.
Two volunteer Friends of the National Arboretum Canberra who were working on the Christmas Harvest stall came to the Curatoreum shop to choose their favourite items. Margie Bourke went straight for the Annabel Trends Sprout long sleeve garden gloves ($39.95) with a wrist tightener band. The palms are natural goat leather and the tops are polyester, hand wash, drip dry.
Maggie Hawes chose a watering can ($21) from Haws, a company that was established in 1886 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. In a sage colour, with a removable fine rose spray nozzle, it would be great for indoor plants and as a children's gift.
At the National Gallery of Australia art store, Olivia suggested a shiraz red Moleskine wine journal ($50) with a corkscrew depicted on the cover for you to write your own wine guide. Designed in Italy, it comes with stickers of bottles, grapes and glasses.
What about the 100 per cent cotton T-shirt ($55) of contemporary sculptor Sarah Lucas Eating a Banana? It is said to be the most popular fruit in the world.
At the National Portrait Gallery Curatoreum, Lily showed me a serving board ($120) handmade in Canberra from Australian timber by one of her best friends, designer Jeremy Brown who has a Visual Arts degree from the ANU. Perfect for cheese, grapes. If you need to relax after too much weeding, go online to check out his Barnacle Couch.
Tea towels ($33) from Farrer Workshop in Canberra are designed by printmaker and jeweller Lisa Jose, who has a PhD in archaeology. Made from 100 per cent Russian linen they depict boobook, currawong, magpie or wombat.
The greatest Kitchen Garden fun provided by readers this year was the giveaway of The Flavor Equation by Nik Sharma (September 7). Favourite vegetable winner was Stephen Lawton of Weston who sent a photo of himself eating a cob of corn through his mask.
That prompted Hardie Grant to send us the book Three (Quadrille $49.99) by Selin Kiazim which uses acid, texture and contrast to redefine your cooking. The author is the chef and co-founder of Oklava restaurant in London, which she opened in 2015. She says to taste everything, starting with herbs, then oils, vinegars and salts. Kiazim's chief go-to is the lemon, part of her Turkish Cypriot inheritance.
There are glazes, purees, crispy things to go on top and marinades including Muhammara to go on toast - it includes walnuts, garlic, chilli, olive oil, cumin seeds, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses. Kitchen gardeners will revel in chapters on brassicas, alliums, mushrooms, beans and grains, roots and tubers. Under nightshades, Kiazim says she could write a whole book dedicated to eating tomatoes, she caresses them with chermoula and if she ever forms an all-girl punk band it will be called the Chermoula Beets. The recipe below combines the three elements.
To win a copy of Three, email your name and address to email@example.com and tell me your go-to kitchen garden ingredient.
1 onion, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 carrots, peeled and finely sliced
2 celery sticks, peeled and finely sliced
2 rhubarb stalks, finely sliced
2 bay leaves
4 thyme sprigs
300ml extra virgin olive oil plus extra for frying
3.5 tbsp vinegar (red, white, apple cider or moscatel)
8 sardines, butterflied
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