20 April 2016
29 April 2015
12 May 2014
OK, so I decided to end on a high note! This is a picture of the absolutely delicious meal that I had on Friday at the Folk House, which has the most wonderful locally sourced and reasonably priced food, and where it is as easy as pie to pay with the Bristol Pound. I didn't think I would be able to top that, so I ended my challenge there a bit early. To sum up, it was more difficult to carry out my challenge than I expected. But I am going to carry on next year, and during that time I hope to help get more cafes, more market stalls at food festivals, more butchers, more late night eateries, more independent businesses and more buying groups around the city to discover the benefits of strengthening Bristol's growing local economy. Bring on 2015!
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
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?
8 May 2014
I woke up this morning with a question: to go to my lecture or not to go to my lecture? I think you can guess what my decision was, especially with exams on the way and panic revision kicking in! Since I had leftover batter from yesterday’s pancake mix, I decided to finish it off. I was really boring too and instead of mixing things up a bit, I had it in exactly the same way as yesterday too! I did however have a cup of Fairtrade coffee on the side for extra energy (these coffee granules came from another local independent shop as well so all tying in nicely with the challenge). My National Geographic subscription came recently and funnily enough the covering topic is FOOD. As a great food lover I would have been interested in reading this anyway but since I am doing a food challenge at the moment it made me especially eager. So I sat down after breakfast and had a good read. Apparently there is an ever-growing concern about the food shortages we may face in the future; it is estimated that the world population will have reached 9 billion by 2050 and this will challenge the world’s crop supplies demanding them to double in yield! Sounds impossible and very scary! One thing that actually seems quite rewarding with these facts though is that eating local helps this problem – supporting local farmers encourages them to produce higher yields and cutting out the supermarket middle-man gives them a much higher profit too. Lunch felt a little bit more wholesome after reading this crazy information and I had leek and potato soup again which was accompanied with some bread. It was all sourced very locally in all the little independent shops I know so the challenge is still going very well. I had circuit training tonight so wanted a nice big meal to treat myself after. This was pan fried veal, mash potato and steamed carrots with a red cabbage and onion sauce. I felt a bit nervous about trying veal as I had never had it before plus I didn’t really like the idea of eating baby cow :( – I am sorry but I had to put a sad face there! But, getting over this and remembering that I eat baby sheep often I managed to enjoy my veal loin and found that it was really tender and flavoursome. Then again to be honest it was yet another great piece of meat from Ruby and White and they haven’t let me down once throughout this whole challenge! I made a cheeky apple crumble as a treat for pudding and this was also very tasty. I am getting increasingly sad that this Bristol Good Food Diaries challenge is coming to an end and so I am going to have to try and think up a future project that makes me think about food in another different way – I have really enjoyed blogging too. Also, I am very open to suggestions on potential food diary projects for the future so if you have any ideas, let me know… But still 2 days to go so don’t panic!
7 May 2014
Today started beautifully with a fire alarm drill at 6.50am. If I had a lecture at 9 then I may have thanked whoever decided to do yet another drill at silly o’clock, but since today is a day off uni, you could say I was a little bit annoyed… ANYWAY after standing outside in the cold waiting for my name to be called for 10 minutes, I crawled back into bed where I actually managed to have an extra one and a half hours of sleep. After waking up feeling slightly more refreshed I decided to make pancakes! All of the ingredients were locally sourced and to accompany my lovely pancakes I had some strawberry jam which was made by a very amazing cook I know from South Wales called Tish. She makes awesome farmhouse food and I have never managed to find a Victoria sponge cake which tastes better than hers (she even gets the eggs from her own hens!). Due to yesterday’s severe lack of revision, I really had to go hell for leather and after almost three hours I had enough and the only thing I could think of was food. Lunch today was a take on last night’s meal because I bought two chicken legs at the same time so I thought I may as well cook them together then have the second one the next day with a salad. This turned out to be very successful and again I was amazed with how much flavour I got out of the chicken. Local butchers strikes again! My evening was a little bit busy so supper really came as an after thought. Firstly I had to attend the launch of a nature society in Bristol that I have been following since its start. This was named the Bristol Nature Network a few meetings ago and I think it is safe to say that its official launch party tonight was a great success! The evening didn’t stop there! I then went to a really fun ‘bat picnic’ where many of my course mates and I basically sat in a park at twilight with Ultrasound Transducers listening for bats as they flew overhead. This is why I love my course so much because it’s not always just about sitting through lectures and labs; we also get to measure bat frequencies, visit the Slimbridge bird reserve and also visit Bristol Zoo! Pretty cool huh! I came back at 10.30pm and immediately whacked some bacon under the grill and put some of my locally baked bread in the toaster. I had one of the nicest bacon sandwiches I have ever had! But this may have something to do with the fact that I was absolutely ravenous by the time I came home. This has been another successful day and I think I am really going to miss this challenge when it’s over!