Saturday, 1 October 2016

October 2010: eat organic; honey

Don't like veg? Do not blame yourself, blame the tasteless muck you find on a nearby shelf. I don't like that either. Organic and/or homegrown is something else. Your vegetables will taste good on its own: no fancy additions or complicated recipes needed.

If you subscribe to a veg box, it does not even have to be dearer. 
Magdalen Farm in Chard (01460 30277) or Merricks at Langport ( do them. For local outlets elsewhere, see
Otherwise, to buy organic in Somerset see

HONEY is lovely, and also good for you. It may help: allergies; anemia; arthritis; bladder infections; coughs; digestion; fatigue; high blood pressure; insomnia; mouth sores; sore throat. But do use a raw, preferably local variety, and not the highly processed supermarket gunge. 

broad beans, land cress, round seeded peas (in milder parts?).

Plant garlic; autumn onion sets if the weather is good. The garlic should be suited for autumn planting: don't introduce diseases by using old cloves. Plant out spring cabbage. Use the top third of clear plastic bottles to protect seedlings. Plant out cabbages, winter/spring lettuce in the South.

cardoon, celeriac, turnip, beet *3), cabbage, calabrese, carrots, cauliflower, chard, fennel, kohlrabi, pak choi, french/runner beans, salsify/scorzonera, spinach, tomatoes, Jerusalem/globe artichokes, brussels', chicory, endive, swede, celery, (corn) salad, leek, peas/mange tout, courgettes, marrow, pumpkin/squash, (white) radish, rocket, spring onions, watercress, sweetcorn.
For meat, as well as rabbit and lamb, you can get goose, grouse, guinea fowl, partridge, pheasant, wood pigeon, duck, venison and squirrel. Damsons, quinces, elderberries, sloes and crab apples are there for the taking. For fish there is crab, clam, lobster, mackerel, mussels, king scallop, (sea) bass, sprats, dab, bib, cockles, black sea bream, flounder, grey/red gurnard *), red mullet (dear), pollack/colin **), witch, winkle and grey mullet.
Walnuts, like hazelnuts, should last you the winter. Collect them and spread out on a windowsill for a month or so to ripen properly: they'll give you stomach ache if eaten straight away! Did you know beetroot lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, increases sex drive, supports the liver, stabilizes blood sugar, treats anaemia and fatigue, and reduces the risk of osteoporosis and some cancers? It is one of the richest sources of folic acid, which protects against Alzheimer’s and dementia. for more info and recipes.

QUINCES: the best time to pick them is when they are just beginning to ripen and then brought indoors to mature. Don't let them get overripe. Use like apples and pears in savoury dishes: good with roast pork or braised meat. Or serve the sweetened pulp with cheese, particularly goat's. 


400g potatoes and 300g raw beet, cut into chunks; 3 tbsp olive oil; 4 fresh mackerel filleted or 8 mackerel fillets; pinch of cayenne pepper (optional); zest and juice of 1 lemon; 2 tbsp crème fraîche; handful fresh chives, snipped.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Put potatoes and beetroot in roasting tin with 2 tblsp oil and roast for 40 mins. When they have been cooking for 20 mins, prepare mackerel. Slash along skin side of the fillets and season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Heat remaining oil in frying pan with lemon zest and fry fish over high heat for 2-3 mins each side until skin is crisp. Put potatoes and beet in a bowl and stir in lemon juice, crème fraîche and chives.  


300g head of broccoli cut into small pieces, 100g spinach, 300g pasta, 50g butter, 50g flour, 500ml milk, nutmeg, 100g grated cheddar, 6 tblsp breadcrumbs.
Put butter, flour, milk on medium heat, stir with whisk until boiling. Simmer 2 mins, add salt, pepper, nutmeg. Stir in spinach, a handful at a time, so it wilts. Add ¾ of the cheese, remove from heat. Cook broccoli and pasta in salted water for 12 mins. Drain, stir gently into cheese sauce. Tip into dish, scatter over remaining cheese and breadcrumbs. Grill for 5 mins until golden.

400g diced swede (1cm cubes), 300g spinach, 1 chopped onion, 120ml white wine, 2 tbsp double cream, 80ml grated cheese, butter, salt, pepper.
Saute swede in the butter for 15 mins, stirring every so often. Add onion, fry for a few mins, and then the chopped spinach and wine. Stir, cover and cook till the spinach is done. Add cream, heat through, season. Add cheese at the last moment. Have with pasta or something like that.

Blend the flesh into thick soups, finish with a swirl of cream - a small pumpkin can provide a satisfying meal for one. Stir cubes of fried pumpkin into risottos or curries, adding sage or thyme, or warming spices such as ginger. Bake small pumpkins and stuff with rice and spices such as cinnamon, hot chillies and cumin. Or roast thick slices and serve with tomato sauce.


*) Lightly fry in olive oil 8-12 minutes: tasty light golden firm white fish steak.

**) If you're cooking fillets leave the skin on; it helps to keep the flesh moist. Use tweezers to remove the pin bones from the thick part of the fillet if necessary. Roast, bake, steam or deep fry (gorgeous in beer batter): it can be used in place of cod and haddock. Simple butters or olive oil make the most of this succulent and meaty fish.

Next issue: stock; leaves.