Cooking From The Garden

Story contributed by Margie Rowe,
Written by Tarla Kramer

Recipes accompanying this story:
Creamy Spinach and Rosemary Soup
Fresh Spinach and Mint Timbales

Margie RoweMargie Rowe has just retired from ten years of instructing cooking and sewing to Hawker Area School students.

During her final year at the school she became involved in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden there. Hawker Area School was in the very first group of South Australian schools to receive a grant in 2008, when the program went national. South Australian Ambassador for the program, Maggie Beer, officially opened the garden in August 2009.

Silver BeetMargie’s role was to teach the children to cook using produce from the garden. “The school garden had been growing lots of spinach, which is nutritious and easy to grow, same as silver beet. I have English spinach growing in my vegetable garden and if I pick it regularly the flavour is nicer and new leaves appear.”

Margie made the recipes given here, with the school children, having adapted one from the Australian Women’s Weekly.

“I’m passionate about food and recipes and I’m always reading recipes and adapting them.” Her favourite sources of recipes are Stephanie Alexander’s books, the Advertiser food and wine section, “and the internet’s terrific,” she says.

Margie lives on a sheep station out of town, which has been her home since the 1970s.

Wolhalla Station near Hawker, South Australia

Wolhalla Station near Hawker, South Australia

“I love growing vegetables; it’s a challenge to have a garden in this area because you can have wonderful rains and your garden will flourish, and then you can have heat like we had [in November 2009] where for over a week we experienced temperatures of over 40 degrees. I expected my garden to sizzle but it didn’t. I had dug trenches down each row of vegetables and filled them with old sheep manure. A good soaking of water down the trench and protection over the plants from branches broken from oleander bush or gum trees gave protection from the sun.

Margie's Vegetable Patch

Margie's Vegetable Patch

“It’s just wonderful to garden here and to live here because every day and year brings a different challenge and when you are able to harvest and cook with home grown produce, a great sense of achievement is gained. You plant seeds into the soil and when cared for they will grow and produce, add too much heat, frost or locusts and not good water and your garden can soon disappear.

“I get great enjoyment poking around a garden checking to see if the flowers have pollinated and formed a squash, cucumber, zucchini, tomato, bean or corn. Poking a finger around the beetroot bulb or carrot to see if they are big enough to pull. Staking and tying a tomato making it secure from the gusty winds; is there one tomato or two poking red under the foliage? Bundling up a hem of a t-shirt to hold the snow peas you didn’t think were big enough to pick. The best part of having success in the garden is being able to share fresh produce with friends.”

Recipes accompanying this story:
Creamy Spinach and Rosemary Soup
Fresh Spinach and Mint Timbales

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