‘Over Sea, Under Stone’ …… Archaic Vegetables…...Fraiku: 90 seconds to Midnight …

by Bernie Bell - 10:07 on 29 January 2023

‘Over Sea, Under Stone’ ……

And then, the tale moves to Standing Stones and maps which aren’t of the lie of the land, but of the outline of the land.  Echoes of ancient carvings which show the outlines of mountains, and stones on hillsides which point the way.  There’s more than one way to make a map….




‘Once Upon A Time….’

Brooch & cup by Andrew Appleby… https://www.harraypotter.com/harray-potter


On the subject of Standing Stones – a recent most excellent piece from Sigurd Towrie…  https://www.nessofbrodgar.co.uk/staneyhill-stone/


Archaic Vegetables….

We were talking about allotments as a way in which people can grow their own vegetables if they don’t have a garden, and remembering that when my parents retired they went to live in a small flat with no garden, so my Dad applied for and was allocated an allotment. He was from farming family and even when living in Bradford had always had a garden in which he grew vegetables. Though the neighbours had flower gardens, he had vegetables!

When he first retired, he went a bit ‘down’ – sat looking out the window a lot. When he started working his allotment, he picked up again – back to himself. The being outdoors and the exercise did him good, and he also liked it that he was providing food when they were living on their pensions.

They then moved back to Ireland where they lived with my sister in a small house with a big garden – and he set about teaching his grandson how to work it.

The allotment filled a gap and worked well all round.

I also recalled when friend Julie was living in a Council flat in Milton Keyes.  There was a patch of grass outside her window, but the Council scalped that regularly, so she didn’t have any garden as such.  She was, by nature, a gardener, so she applied for and was allocated an allotment where she started to grow her own food. She also made her own shed from bits & pieces scavenged from skips.

She grew the usual varieties of veg, but also took it into her head to research, source and grow old varieties which had gone out of fashion and are no longer commonly grown – and also how to cook them.  It was an interesting experiment. 

She’s since passed from this life so I can’t ask her what she grew, but Mike remembered that she grew a root vegetable called Scorzonera. We looked it up in an old recipe book which we have, which tells us that it’s sometimes called Black Salsify because, though it’s like Salsify, its roots are darker - almost black - hence its German name Schwarz wurzel – black root.  And that for cooking, there is no difference between the two vegetables.  So, for if you also feel inspired to grow archaic vegetables for the table – here’s a recipe for Steamed Scorzonera…

2 lb Scorzonera

2 oz butter

Wash and peel the Scorzonera.  Immediately after peeling rub the root with a little lemon juice to prevent it from discolouring. Cut into 2 inch pieces and boil them in just enough water to cover, having added a few drops of lemon juice to the cooking water first.  Strain when soft, and serve.  To improve the dish toss the cooked Scorzonera in 2 oz of melted butter.

I must admit it doesn’t sound very appetizing – maybe as a veg in a pie or casserole or in a cheese sauce with pasta shapes?

I remembered Julie growing Cardoons. She didn’t have much room to spare and Cardoons are huge - as tall as Julie herself - so she only grew a few. They’re weird-looking things.  The edible part is the leaf stalk - cooked as you would celery - being very careful to remove all the stringy parts.  Again, not exactly a tempting prospect - but food is food - especially when you’re on a low income.

The most unusual  veg we’ve ever grown was a variety of potato called Pink Fir Apple which we tried, just because we liked the name.  We only  grew them once - they were OK - the very devil to peel – fortunately we mostly don’t peel spuds as there’s a lot of goodness in the skin. 


Fraiku: 90 seconds to Midnight …

Bartholomew Barker …is a feckin’ marvel…. https://bartbarkerpoet.com/

Fraiku: 90 seconds to Midnight

We dodged the nuclear bullet

only to devise a slow extinction by climate

then got bored when that took too long


Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists


Here’s one I made earlier…..  https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/02/21/the-people-of-the-sea/



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