I’ve tried blackberry leaf tea twice now. Adele in Nozedar in The Hedgerow Handbook suggests that this is best made with fresh young leaves gathered in spring, so I took home some of the tender new growth I saw on my Downs walk yesterday and brewed them up that afternoon. And today I cycled to the wooded area near Kings Weston House to sit outside with a book and a sandwich. I’d brought a flask of hot mint tea with me, which I’d brewed from some mint leaves I’m growing at home, but it wasn’t very strong. So I thought why not add some blackberry leaves from my immediate surroundings. The tea has a pleasant ‘green’ taste and is said to have a soothing effect on a sore throat. You can also dry the leaves to make tea and I’ve read that you can ferment them as well, which causes them to exude a floral scent. I’m intrigued and want to try this!
4 May 2015
4 May 2015
3 May 2015
I went out on the Downs today – where I was in full sun one moment and under sprinklings of rain the next - and gathered a selection of wild edibles. I assembled these into a mini salad which I plan to add this evening to some locally grown leaves from The Severn Project. I’ll add a scattering of sunflower seeds and walnuts and a vinaigrette dressing, mmm! Here is the list of wild salad makings I collected: daisy leaves and petals, dandelion leaves and petals, violet leaves and flowers, very young plantain leaves, blackberry buds, yarrow leaves.
2 May 2015
I recently went on an inspiring urban foraging walk in the heart of Bristol. Despite considering myself a bit of a seasoned forager, marking each spring with bundles of wild garlic, the summer with the perfume of elderflowers and the autumn with the juicy tang of blackberries, I discovered that there is a lot more wild food all around us in the city than we might expect! This has set me off on a bit of a wild food kick and I thought it might be a fun challenge to see how many different foraged foods I can make use of in the kitchen during the Food Connections Festival. Last night I started off in a very, very local way by adding a few dandelion leaves from the garden to my fish stew. They added a delicious bitter bite that went really well with the fish (pollock) and other flavours in the stew (potatoes, garlic, onion, carrot, a handful of chopped spring greens and a splash of creamy milk). I used organic veg and washed everything down with a bottle of locally produced ale!
1 May 2015
I want to see how much wild food, foraged from right here in the city, I can make use of during the Food Connections Festival in Bristol, 1-9 May 2015.
30 April 2015
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
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).