The artichokes are flowering on, I can hear the distant stir of the bagpipes. I know they are not related to the Scottish thistle; we have discussed this before. However, they are so thistle-like in form and flower, one could be forgiven for mishearing its background orchestra. Afterall, bagpipes and artichokes are two of my favourite things, there should be a song about that.
I wish I could tell you my go-to recipe for artichokes at our table. Hereto I must own, that I have never eaten an artichoke I have grown. (Ha! The first line of the song). I have good intentions every year however I wait for those soft purple flowers with such anticipation, I cannot bare to pick them and miss out on the show. Soft is to describe the colour by the way, not the actual flower which is sharp enough to deter even the most enthusiastic poddy lamb.
Artichokes have something for everyone: amazing architectural structure with their jagged silver leaves, they just look so impressive when grown in clumps. Then you can eat them of course or, if you are so inclined, leave them to flower and enjoy the show. I have picked the flowers and dried them and decorated an old outside mirror with the large flower heads. They lasted for years and then I spread their seeds around and grew seedlings. Honestly, you cannot ask for more than that.
Mr. Yates suggests you grow them in a corner of your flower bed, as they take up too much room in the vegetable garden. I would put them in both, to spread out your enjoyment. You can break off new little side shoots if you live somewhere that is conducive to this sort of gardening in summer (not Quilpie) or, as mentioned, they readily grow from seed. I have a good friend who grows a form of Super Artichoke in Tasmania: they are about as tall as me (very tall for an artichoke, average for a gardener), and her husband worries they will take over the island; I daresay there could be worse invaders.
There is no meaning for artichoke in my Language of Flowers, however symbolically they represent a strong heart surrounded by layers of tough leaves so I would take that to mean most of us who live in the bush. I see another definition suggesting hope for a prosperous future, which falls in with our hope springs eternal mantra.
In order to save you time, I have trawled through a myriad of recipes for you and have come up with the easiest sounding one I could find, well a combination of a few actually, but am sure will be delicious:
Cut off your artichoke stem and then the top inch or so.
Remove the lower leaves and any sharp ones as well.
Slice artichoke in half lengthways and scoop out the middle.
Rub all over with a wedge of lemon and brush with olive oil or butter and place on baking tray on baking paper.
Fill the hollow with garlic and herbs of your choice and salt and pepper, flip over and coat other side with olive oil or butter and salt and pepper.
Roast uncovered for ten minutes until brown and crispy, then cover with foil and cook until tender.
Drizzle with lemon juice and enjoy. I would think some melted butter for dipping would be an excellent addition here.
Best enjoyed with a cold white and the bagpipes stirring in the distance,
The Moble Gardener.
An Ode to the Artichoke
Hereto I must own, I have never eaten an artichoke I have grown.
I have filled myself replete, with armloads of silverbeet.
Eaten peas and beans till we burst at our seams.
Broccoli and cabbage, carrots and parsnips
Make for soup and stews and those de rigueur vege-chips
But the dashing artichoke, in its silver display
Stands ready for dining on, waiting day after day
While I ponder her beauty, admire that bold flower
And walk right on past to pick the old cauliflower.