20 April 2016
11 May 2015
7 May 2015
4 May 2015
10 May 2014
I woke up today knowing that this would be the last day of the challenge which made me sad. No more gorgeous local food and back to the basic student diet which mainly consists of pasta and pesto… But who can complain? Nothing smells as good as a bowl of pasta topped with pesto and cheese. Yea, I am not believing my own words here either! I am going to miss the incredible pieces of great quality meat that I got from Ruby and White and not to mention the various wholesome ingredients from the two shops: Wild Oats and The Better Food Company. One thing that will stay though is the veg box – that has been a cheeky order since January and doing this challenge has made me see how much more I should value it! Breakfast today was a mango that I bought from The Cambridge Farmer’s Outlet and it was only 50p! Amazing. The guy from the shop told me how he buys them in bulk as supermarket rejects and that if he didn’t buy them then they would either go to waste or be fed to livestock. Crazy to think that supermarkets can reject orders based on sales and demand. Makes it seem so much more important to cut the middle man out and buy directly from these farm shops and markets. And the mango was also juicy and delicious! Only 50p! Lunch was a little experiment with a combination of baked beans and kidney beans on toast. It was actually very tasty and a nice addition to your average tin of baked beans. Everything in this meal was organic and came from The Cambridge Farmer’s Outlet. Now I’ve never been too bothered whether my food is organic or not but since doing this challenge I’ve found that I feel better within myself, less hungry and better than anything I’ve lost a little bit of weight. I think that eating food which is less processed has really helped – I’m not even sure if my supermarket bran flakes are all that healthy! Processing food adds unnecessary sugar and salt when you can have a nice bowl of porridge and monitor your intake levels in a much more effective way. And to be honest, I’d prefer to eat a bowl of porridge with a sprinkling of sugar every morning; especially if it could help my bikini body on its way! Now you can never finish a challenge without going out with a bang! I can assure you that I well and truly topped this fun 10 days with an awesome meal. It could only be the one and only British favourite that is steak and chips! Oh my this was the best meal of the week and all homemade to boot. Again, every ingredient came from the same independent shop in Cambridge and this included steak, potatoes, onions, mushrooms and cream. I made this for my boyfriend and myself and I think it is safe to say that he enjoyed it too because he cleared everything on his plate! This may not sound like much but when you see the portion difference between his plate and mine then you may start to understand. So with the last meal of the challenge eaten and described it has to be the end of the Bristol Good Food Challenge blog… BUT don’t despair because I will be back! I am going to do another food related challenge so suggestions are very welcome although I do already have a few ideas in mind – they’re my secret though so stay tuned. I will be back after exams are over and I have a 4 month summer to write many more things on food related topics. Watch this space!
10 May 2014
A recent e-mail from Foodcycle, a National campaign to limit food waste, has requested recipes for a cookbook to be sold to raise money for charity (image 1). Below is my contribution that I discovered recently as a means of using leftover hard cheese rind (always seems such a waste!), although this isn't strictly vegetarian as requested I tweaked it a little and left the cheese as optional. Bread and tomato soup: From the Tuscany area of Italy this is a great recipe for using up a few leftovers such as old stale loaf bread, fresh or tinned tomatoes, cut herbs, and even hard cheese rind. Though it is an hour cooking time you can walk away from the pot for large chunks of time while the smell fills your kitchen! Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour Serves: 4 Ingredients: 400 g of ripe tomatoes (peeled, de-seeded, and coarsely chopped; or roughly 1 tin of tomatoes) 1 celery stick (chopped; or substitute with 1 small white onion, chopped) 1 garlic clove (chopped) 1 tablespoon olive oil Salt and pepper 2 slices of stale bread (cut into small cubes including the crusts; although not sliced white packaged bread!) A handful of basil leaves, or alternatively flat leaf parsley or coriander (torn, at end of cooking) Recipe: Add the tomatoes, celery stick, garlic, olive oil and 1.2 liters of water to a pan with a pinch of salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer with no lid for around 30 minutes (adding leftover hard cheese rind here if using), then add the bread and simmer over an even lower heat for 30 more minutes with no lid. Note that at this point you essentially have a tomato soup you could just go ahead and eat, but it's also a useful way to use up bread. Taste and season to your liking then serve in warmed soup bowls topped with the punchy herbs, tear these by hand at the last moment so that the oils aren't lost on the knife blade. Notes: To easily peel whole tomatoes gently score a knife across the bottom and top in a criss-cross fashion and place in boiling water for 20 seconds, wait for them to cool then peel away the skin. You can add leftover hard cheese rind at the simmering stage to add flavour (e.g. parmesan or pecorino, buy vegetarian or only use rennet-based cheese for non-vegetarians).
9 May 2014
I woke up again today with that annoying question: to go to my lecture or not to go to my lecture? But because this lecture in particular happened to be the last one of first year, I felt an irresistible urge to go. I decided to go back to basics for my breakfast this morning and went with a trusty bowl of porridge. I did however go with my walnut addition which was also very tasty. This was yet another locally sourced meal; the oats, sugar and walnuts came from the shop Wild Oats and the milk came from The Better Food Company. It's always nice knowing that the food came from a sustainable source and I also think it tastes better too! I am blogging from Cambridge tonight as I am visiting my boyfriend in university. I had to make a meal for the train so decided to make a cheeky bacon sandwich because the one I had the other night was sooooo good! Again, everything that made up the meal was sourced very locally - and my favourite butchers delivered yet another great couple of slices of bacon. And who can deny that a bacon sandwich is tasty? Always a good choice. With a three and a half hour journey done, I had to source some local food from an independent shop in Cambridge. What felt like an impossible task at the time (it was 17.30 and shops were about to close!), I managed to find an Aladdin's Cave of amazing food! This shop was called The Cambridge Farmer's Outlet and they supply a wide range of fruit and veg, local farmer's meat and dairy produce, dried and tinned organic foods and much much more! Amazed, I was walking round this great independent shop for 20 minutes just picking out all the great looking food and I think I got enough for the next few days even though my challenge is ending tomorrow... But who can resist some amazing looking organic food?? Especially when it's reasonably priced too! Tonight's supper was a nice and simple 'bangers and mash'. I do love my leeks so I added some fried leeks in with the onions to add another dimension to the dish. The leek was much bigger than I thought and it ended up being more like leeks with a bit of mash and sausage. Oopsies. This was another really tasty meal and even though I was on a time and money budget to source it, I managed to find the perfect shop. I think if I lived in Cambridge then I would seldom shop anywhere else. P.S. Sorry about the lack of breakfast and lunch pictures! My phone won't connect to the internet so I can't upload them - these photos were luckily taken on my boyfriend's phone.
9 May 2014
Admittedly there is nothing more in the war-time theme here other than the title - except perhaps for the fact that gardening was something my grandfather did during the war and passed on to my father who passed it onto me. I will be forever grateful of growing up in a home where having flowers to admire was equaled by having vegetables to enjoy all year around. Since moving to Bristol I have tried my hardest to maintain a kitchen garden, and fortunately given the space I have out back I have previously had a glass greenhouse and now several smaller polythene houses and tubs. When I first moved here I was delighted to find that the city was ostensibly a good place to think about growing your own food and buying locally grown and produced food (see image 4). I got on board and have been eating my own vegetables and herbs ever since including potatoes, carrots, mangetout, tomatoes, cucumbers (image 3), spring onions, radish, lettuce, courgette, turnips, as well as basil (green and purple), mint (English [image 1], spear, and chocolate), sage (green and pineapple), oregano (green and variegated), coriander, fennel, dill, Vietnamese coriander, lemon balm, parsley, and rosemary. While shopping at a well-known supermarket I noticed that a polythene wrapped back of herbs was 90p for around 30g. An entire plant was £1.50 – I sprung for the whole plant, with a view to planting it somewhere in our herb patch. However, by this logic my entire garden will be a herb patch by the end of the summer, so how can I prioritise? What herbs are most useful or practical to grow? Although I enjoy gardening I tend to attack the job in much the same way as my cooking, read the instructions, and then just have a go. Either it works, or it doesn't. Admittedly, I won't be running a farm (well) anytime soon, but it tends to work fairly well for me, but herbs? The bane of my life! Some I plant one year and the seeds never emerge from the soil, the next year I plant up the same thing and it grows and spreads ferociously (c.f. this years bountiful coriander, image 2). In the end I've resolved to plant herbs where I can without worrying too much about, while keeping in mind those that are a little more sensitive. If there's any advice I can give (and take myself) moving forward: mint should always have it's own pot (like potatoes it dominates and strangles other plants); and basil emphatically does not grow as well on this continent as it does in the Americas, don't put it outside, definitely don't put it outside before July, in fact probably keep it inside and nurse it like a child. Images: 1 - Preparation for mint julep cocktails, and perhaps more importantly, mint julep cupcakes 2 - Still trialing macarons, these from Stokes Croft with the soft green backdrop of our herb patch behind 3 - Cucumber seedling, grown from seed with a propagation table and hardening off in the greenhouse 4 - Bristol Food Connections talk at the Canteen, Local Food: Pollyanna or panacea?
9 May 2014
I have now had to expand my ‘shopping locally’ challenge to include the markets of the Food Connections Festival. I had a lovely weekend over the bank holiday – it was my Grandma’s 90th birthday, and I made her some lemon curd (with lemons, butter, eggs all bought on Gloucester Road, of course). Then my family and I spent a very enjoyable day wandering around the Food Connections tents in the city centre. I spent an inordinately long amount of time in the produce markets, including having a very lengthy conversation with the woman selling a range of unusual flour. I ended up buying some ‘Emmer’ flour, made from an ancient ancestor of wheat. God knows what I’m going to do with it, but she seemed to think it was the next big thing. At the harbourside produce market I bought these lovely tomatoes. Presented with pride by the stall trader, they were so ridiculously bright and juicy-looking that I couldn’t resist. I find tomatoes that are this good don’t need much else with them. I mixed them with some spring onions and pine nuts, and drizzled the lot liberally with olive oil (that I already had in stock, does that count?!). That’s what I love about produce markets, you can discover new ingredients that you wouldn’t otherwise. Being able to talk to the person producing them makes the whole experience much more personal, and infinitely more enjoyable than just picking something off a supermarket shelf.
8 May 2014
Well this will actually have to be the final day of the challenge as tomorrow I will be at @Bristol for the CBI South West Annual Lunch and on Saturday and Sunday I will be able to eat at home. Hot food today, with leftovers from earlier in the week, ie quinoa, kale, polony, peppers, tomatoes and some red onion... plus what was left of the avocado.I won't be back in London till late Monday night, so tried not to leave anything behind in the fridge that wouldn't survive till then. No #foodwaste! On a much more interesting note, today I chaired a session of the All-Party Agroecology Group in Parliament on local food policies - ie local food, and what national/ local policies are needed to support it. Joy Carey from the Bristol Food Council did a presentation on what has been happening in our city which was very well received. It's very clear that Bristol is in the vanguard on this - but we will lose all our Brownie points if we allow development on the Blue Finger. Seeing the Mayor tomorrow to discuss!