Meet: Sheridan Rogers, food writer
Photo - Robin Powell
Sheridan Rogers is a food writer and broadcaster. Robin Powell talks to her about her work and her vegetable garden.
You write in your book, The Cook’s Garden, about the garden having been a retreat for your mum, and the place where she could always be found. Does the same apply to you?
Not to the extent that it does to my mum but my garden is certainly important to me. I’m lucky because it’s a bit like a secret garden; it’s quite enclosed. When people come to the house they are quite surprised by the way it is revealed as they walk through the house.
Do you have a big vegetable garden?
No, I don’t have the room or the time, but I grow a few things here and there, and I do have a new area out the front that I’ve planted up with herbs and other hardy things. It was a little triangle of land that the council left vacant after they did some work, so I got in some soil and plants. It’s like a neighborhood herb patch. I like that people help themselves. This is the first spring for that little patch and I’m absolutely delighted. There is sorrel and thyme and parsley, nasturtiums, lavender and borage. I love borage.
How do you use the borage?
I like to eat the flowers. I put them on cucumber sandwiches or salads. They are so pretty. They have a lovely fresh cucumber flavour. And of course they bring the bees, which is fantastic.
To make Sheridan's cool summer canapés, trim crusts from finely sliced white bread. Spread half the slices with softened cream cheese and sprinkle with a little cayenne or chilli pepper and snipped chives. Top with another slice of bread and cut into fingers. Top each canapé with a borage flower. Photo - from 'The Cook's Garden' by Sheridan Rogers, published by New Holland.
Which food would you love to grow if you had the right conditions?
My fantasy is to have an orchard full of every fruit I love – oranges, lemons, Tahitian limes for margaritas, plums, peaches, all the stone fruit and apples. I’ve dreamt of moving to Orange, somewhere like Borrodell on the Mount, which grows 170 varieties of apples! I live in the inner city so that’s just a fantasy. I would really like a kaffir lime, though, and I could manage that. I could keep it in a pot on my deck. In fact, I’m going to do that this weekend. That’s a great project! I love to cook with those leaves.
You teach children’s cooking classes in school holidays. Do you find that the kids are quite knowledgeable about plants and how food grows?
I do get some funny answers to questions! I have a curry leaf tree and I rub the leaves and pass them around. They all go ewww! They all recognise basil, but they are not so good on bay or chervil. They are fascinated by chocolate mint though, They always want to taste that!
If you had to choose just one, which food do you think everyone should have growing in the garden?
Italian parsley. It’s so good for you and you can use it in everything – on top of soups, casseroles, pasta. Combined with lemon zest and garlic it’s a gremolata which brings zing to a lot of dishes. And then there’s tabouli and all the other salads. And it’s so easy to grow.