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Friday 21st June, 2019
What's Rob got to do, got to do with it! No it's not a lyric!
Dinner for Eight
It was dinner for eight the other Saturdays and we were working that weekend. Now I have a thing about cooking in other people kitchens and it stems from years ago when we all did pot luck dinners. On this particular occasion I had made a lovely thick pumpkin soup which I was duly heating up on the stove in the hosts house. Well I'm sure you all know what happens... when the heating gets going the soup really throws these massive plops of soup into the air. I think I had possibly had a tad too much of the wine and probably had the heat too hot to start with so the soup splattered the ceiling. There was quite a bit of it up there and I seem to recall doing the highland fling with a dish towel as I jumped trying to clean it off, needless to say the host was less than amused... the things that you do when young LOL
Working the Saturday, one has to be organised to have a course ready to take outand so I fell back on my Indian cook book written by Madhur Jaffreys. Chicken with tomatoes is pretty easy, well really easy, and I served it on Polenta with chicken stock and Parmesan, all made the night before and able to be (carefully) warmed in the oven, plated and served.
you need olive oil
1 tspn whole cumin seeds
1 Cinnamon stick
6 whole cardamom pods
2 Bay leaves
1/4 tspn whole peppercorns
2 Onions, finely chopped
6 to 7 clove garlic, finely chopped
2.5 cm fresh ginger peeled and finely chopped
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1300 gm chicken thighs, halved length ways
1 1/5 tspn salt
Cayenne pepper or chilli flakes for some heat
1/2 tspn Garam Marsala
Heat oil in an oven proof casserole style pot, when hot throw in the spices, cumin seeds, cardamon pods cinnamon stick, bay leaves and peppercorns. Stir once and then add the onion, garlic and ginger. Saute this for a while until it looks translucent with some brown flecks happening, then add tomatoes, salt and chilli flakes, when back to the boil, add the chicken thighs.
I finished cooking this in the oven but the recipe simmers on the stove for 25 mins with a tightly fitted lid, then remove the lid to reduce the liquid and also add the Garam Masala.
To make the Polenta
Take 250 mls of Polenta, 1000 mls of stock, 3 table spoons butter, 1 tspn slat, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, chopped parsley.
Bring stock to the boil, add butter and salt, drizzle in Polenta, whisk while it is boiling for approx 5 mins. Add Parmesan, chopped parsley and keep whisking for a further 5 to 10 mins. I read somewhere the longer you manage to cook the Polenta the creamier the end result.
Once cooked I poured it into a flat tin, onto baking paper, that I could then cut into neat squares and serve with the chicken and tomatoes spooned onto a corner and plate... a couple of small piece of blanched broccolli and chopped coriander completed the plate.
Really simple and we had several meals out of this.
I was lucky enough to work for Noel McMillan some years back, he was famous for breeding polyanthus and bearded Cyclamen. Now I add this because I used to watch him, with his assistant, as they brushed pollen from the male parts of one flower onto the female parts of another flower. If I remember correctly the female flower had to have its male parts removed and be covered to prevent other male pollen getting in on the act. There was much recording and note taking.
Why is this relevant? Well the life span of polyanthus is relatively quick and you have progeny and a new generation reasonably quickly but for those that breed roses, I'm sure that the principles of the crossing are the same but it must take years to breed a rose.
Potentially one generation of seed per year, checking out the flowers looking for something special and then evaluating the roses performance over the next few years.
Rob is passionate about roses and first started breeding roses in 1983. He has the philosophy Health is king! 'Healthy' is paramount as we now need a generation of roses that will perform without the need for spraying. I am often asked about roses and how to care for them, usually when there is a problem with a rose and when I ask 'do you spray them and, if so, what with and when' it is often found that it is a lack of spraying or a combination of these factors that has lead to a roses poor growth, or even it's demise. There are many older rose varieties that are predisposed to downy mildew, for instance, and with the current lack of effective sprays available to the home gardener to combat this problem it is more important than ever that our breeders have a focus on breeding high health roses.
Only the best parents are used in his breeding programme, he says "You are unlikely to breed a Melbourne Cup winner from an old farm hack! Good health is the most important characteristic I breed for followed by flower numbers and then plant habit"Robs first release was Blackberry Nip, released in 1996 this is a popular rose, even today, with it's gorgeous deep purple blooms that just ooze fragrance, you could get drunk just smelling them, no wonder it was named after that rather potent liqueur of our pasts. He says his favourite so far is White Romance due to it's large flower numbers, shape of the bush, dark glossy foliage and white, white flowers.
So far Rob has released 40 roses which have predominately been Floribunda or Hybrid Teas with the exception of a few climbers and patios. A stranger to awards he is not, having a grand total of eight Gold Stars of the South Pacific awards and in 2017 was awarded, by the Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture, NZ Plant Raiser.
Rob's 2019 releases stocked at Wairere are...
Love Bug. Floribunda with subtly fragrant, dark cardinal red blooms offset by dark, very glossy green foliage. A medium sized bush with good disease resistance. Gold star winner. (Sold out)
Night Light. Hybrid Tea. The lemon yellow blooms, who's outer petals age to cream, are Hybrid Tea form but will often change to an old fashioned form as they fully open. A medium height bush that produces large number of blooms has very good disease resistance. Certificate of Merit achieved. (only 4 left)
Otago University. Hybrid Tea. Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the uni this rose has shapely, warm, yellow blooms with a subtle fragrance on a plant that never seems to be without a flower through the season. Good for picking, mid green foliage with good disease resistance.
Skyla Rose. Floribunda. Glowing pink blooms that open in quartered style. They have an alluring fragrance and are produced in good quantity on a compact medium size bush.
Tropical Essence. Climber. Large peach blooms on long stems with a sweet tropical fragrance. Dark glossy foliage on a compact climber that has shown good health.
Daphne has been used, since almost the beginning of time, to fragrance our lives. Whether it is in perfume, skin care products, flowers in the toilet, sprigs in the car, candles, pillows, bath salts or just wafting in the air from the bush in the garden. Our grandmothers loved it and now so do we. It is a shade lover, but that doesn't mean put it in the dark and it likes acid soil just like Rhodo's and Azaleas do. This year the Daphne plants have enjoyed an excellent growth spurt and so there is nothing small about them, the current stock is all big and bushy. We have both white and pink varieties of Daphne Odora Leucanthe, the Daphne our grans used to grow, but we also have Burkwoodii a smaller variety and some newer varieties which are more tolerant of sun and soil conditions. Perfume Princess produces masses of flowers all up the trunk and branches and Helene is to all intents and purposes a vigorous plant. All of these are highly fragrant.
Meet the guys from Waikato Rose Society, this weekend presents our first sessions.
It's on this weekend. We have our friends from the Waikato Rose Society here on Saturday and Sunday and hopefully they will be kept busy with lots of people coming to put them through their paces so you can learn more about how to get the best from your roses. Check out the dates and register your interest on facebookor send us an email to let us know if you are coming. There's a mid week date for those of you who are already booked for the weekend.
I'm sure that these guys from the rose society will be able to answer just about anything you want or need to know from pruning, varieties to choose, rose diseases and help enable you to grow the perfect rose.
You'll get the longest sleep tonight, or is it the shortest amount of work done today, either way we are at the turning point in the year, the shortest day, roll on summer, I'll be watching the days get longer.