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Useful And Fantastic: The Garden Cook

"Use what you can and can what you canít. There are many garden cook books, so here are just a few ideas that donít make it into most books, using the easier plants to grow,'' writes Val Yule.

Unripe Pumpkins

Pumpkins that will never ripen are often a feature of the Melbourne garden - turning soft and yellow instead of blue and solid in the soft autumn sunshine.

Never mind. Pick them before they start to rot, and make Pumpkin soup and scones.

1. Make Pumpkin Soup - and if that turns out all right, go no further and eat the Pumpkin Soup - made with cooked pumpkin, diced onion microwaved with a little cooking margarine, add a tsp grated lemon rind, blend with a little stock, then add salt, pepper, nutmeg, lemon juice, heat and add more stock to taste if you are going to treat it as Soup.

2. Pumpkin Scones. 2 cups SR flour, rub in 1 tbs margarine grated, 1 tbs sugar, add 1 cup thick pumpkin soup and 1 egg. Roll lightly on floured board, cut into scones and bake on floured tray in hot oven. Eat any old way, but nice hot with butter, or warmed in microwave and eaten with butter. Will keep at least a week if people dont know where they are.

Rhubarb

Has the advantages of being fairly proof against pests and the cooked stems are good for you.

But they are nice stewed with apples to go with breakfast cereal, or, for some tastes, add some oranges. Add a crumble and bake for a crumble desert.

Broad beans

Not to everyoneís taste, unless . .

When the pods are tender, pick and chop them like other beans, for casseroles and the like. When the pods are bigger, only cook the tender beans inside.

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