Kat Riach runs an off-grid bakery at her farm in the Fife countryside and regularly contributes to The Courier’s food and drink magazine, The Menu.
The above ground growth in the kitchen and market gardens is rapidly dying back. I love to imagine all the work starting to happen below ground to restore and strengthen the soil, so that it’s nourished and ready for another growing season in the spring.
We have now handed over a large area of this year’s vegetable beds to the chickens, who will feed on any remaining scraps, help us to control the ever booming slug population, and at the same time effortlessly fertilise the soil in the beds for next year.
This is the first time we have had our own mobile fertilisers and it’s great to see them fitting into the cycle of growth and regeneration at the farm.
In days gone by, this would have been done without thought or planning, but in recent years the importance of these natural interactions is sometimes overlooked.
Even as the variety of produce dwindles, there is still plenty to be enjoyed and cooked straight from the garden.
In our case, we have plenty of earthy, knobbly celeriac and deep coloured cavolo nero kale – two vegetables which still flourish well in a Northern Hemisphere autumnal season, but which can seem a little daunting to prepare.
To make these vegetables into a warming, nourishing autumn dish, start by peeling away the rough skin of the celeriac and chopping it into chunks.
Boil in salted water for 20 minutes, then leave to drain well in a colander. Meanwhile, melt a knob of butter in a frying pan, finely slice a leek and and cook for 10 minutes in the butter, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Strip the leaves of the kale off the tough rib in the middle chop into strips, add this to the leek with a squeeze of lemon juice, cook until the kale has softened before transferring to a plate.
Add a glug of oil to the pan and fry off 3 rashers of chopped streaky bacon, add in a small handful of thyme leaves, followed by 50g dry sourdough breadcrumbs.
Whilst this is cooking, roughly mash your celeriac, adding in some double cream and seasoning. Mix with the kale and leek mixture and top with the crisp breadcrumb topping before serving alongside sausages or simply cooked fish.