What are all of these words typed in close succession? I hear you ask. I get it. You’ve never heard of ground ivy and you’ve never heard of vedgeree, so how on earth can I reasonably expect you to eat either one of them.
Let me start with the least contentious of the two: vedgeree is simply the non-fish version of Kedgeree, that good old Scottish breakfast (which was actually an Indian dish appropriated by repatriated colonialists) of rice, spices, boiled eggs and smoked haddock.
When we went vegetarian, my whole family were in agreement that the only meat-related meal that we missed was kedgeree so many attempts to vegi-ify it were made. I’ll save you the £4.50 and tell you that the vegan smoked salmon was so foul that even I (Queen of the ‘eat it or wear it’ school of dinner management) did not eat it. Ditto a few other attempts.
Let’s suffice it to say that what happened in the kitchen last night was nothing short of a revelation. Get this, it was even wolfed down by my 7 year old, who has, in our uncertain lives of lockdown, decided that the only control he can exert in this crazy world is to proclaim he has a ‘texture issue’ with Every Single Thing I feed him (that is not chocolate cereal).
Ground ivy has small, heart shaped leaves which grow straight out from the tall single stalks at random intervals. Right about now (unless you live in Michigan, where it is apparently still snowing, or Florida, where nothing this delicate could survive the April sun) you will find the top of each stalk bearing a beautiful little purple flower, the exact size and shape of a fairy trumpet.
To make the vedgeree, I cooked 400 grams of rice in a pot of boiling water with a stock cube dissolved in it. While that was cooking I boiled 6 eggs (no, I will not tell you the best way to boil eggs, I’ve learned my lesson on that one) and removed the leaves from the stalks of ground ivy until I had a pile of leaves which fit nicely into the palm of my hand.
Then I went and made a Zoom call. I don’t recommend you do this in the middle of cooking – unless it’s your dad’s birthday. Which it was. So I did.
Anyway, then you may need to send one of your children into the freezer to scrabble around for all of the peas that may have fallen out of their plastic bags over the years if, like me, you realised a bit late in the game that you only had 1/2 a cup of peas left. You’d really need a cup for correct pea to rice ratio but these are crazy times. Next stir in 3/4 teaspoon of turmeric, and/or 1 teaspoon of curry powder and/or none of those if you don’t like spices, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 cup of milk. Chop your boiled eggs into about 12 pieces each (oh dear, I didn’t tell you to peel them…), mince your ground ivy into little tiny pieces and stir the whole shebang together.
What you will find is what the vedgeree loses by not having the smoked haddock flavours woven through it is entirely made up for (and even surpassed) by the fragrant yet delicate hint of spiciness imparted by the ground ivy.