Monday, 24 October 2011

Sowing the aniseed of love...

...or hate. There is no middle ground with the sharp, liquourish stain. For detesters it gets right up your nose, forcing an instinctive recoil. In the garden, it's tarragon and fennel seeds where you can find the scent lingering, and for some people there is just no point planting either. 

Now, I'm possibly one of those rare people on a steady path to being converted from recoiling to embracing this flavour.For reasons I shall reveal, I'd really like some fennel in my garden.  And as luck would have it my friend Ruth kindly gave me a bagful of fennel heads the other day, with the instructions to shake all the seeds off and then scatter some in the ground for my own annual supply...but beware, it spreads.

And I can see why! The seeds get absolutely everywhere with the slightest touch - delicate little things.

So, the first challenge was to capture these seeds without getting them all over the floor. It's a fiddly task believe me, and if you're not good with fiddly things then just relax think logically and be firm but gentle (note to ex-girlfriends - really no need to comment here, as I've always said bra straps just seem to have it in for me), 

And if you follow my advice (on the fennel at least) then before you know it you'll have hit the jackpot

Now, for those of you who found it pure embarrassing hell to gather your seed and have buried your head in shame at finding more seeds on the floor than where you intended, worry not. I have the perfect pick-me-up...

A burger. That staple of satisfaction.

Adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Everyday, this is the source of my conversion to fennel seeds. Take 750g of minced beef, add 50 ml of red wine, a couple of teaspoons of smoked paprika, 2 of salt, 1/4 of cayenne pepper and 1.5 of fennel seeds, a clove or 2 of chopped garlic, get your hands stuck in and mix like you never have to fiddle again.

Shape your burgers, fry, put in bun, sauce of choice, devour, kick back and enjoy satisfaction of a seed well sown in your belly.


Esther Montgomery said...

We are fortunate here in that fennel grows wild in our hedgerows. I am unfortunate in that it is one of the plants one is advised to avoid if one has epilepsy - which I have.

Hapless gardener said...

Oh no! I hope there are plenty of other hedgerow treats that you can enjoy? Foraging really can be a risky business

Janet said...

The fennel does have a tendency to spread it's seed around.... I pot of the seedlings for Plant Sales. Aren't you impressed?!

Shaheen said...

I really like fennel so no need to convert me. Yes its invasive, but Its really a beauty to have in the garden border.

The Hapless Kitchen Gardener

My photo
I only feel hapless because some people make it look easy to grow 10 ft marrows or a banquet of greens whereas my courgettes got nabbed by killer slugs and I only got one raspberry. So tips and stories from people less hapless than I are more than welcome. As a disclaimer though, none of my comments should be taken as expert advice on which you can rely! © Unless stated otherwise, and with the exception of guest content where that guest retains copyright, all photos and posts are the copyright of Tom Carpen and may not be used without permission.