A grand day out at the Edible Garden Show


Chick chick chick chick chicken


We had a great day out at the weekend at the Edible Garden Show, which was a great show for those who are keen on their food from first seed through to last mouthful. Or even those who are more interested in either end of the journey.

Given my last show wasn’t a wonderful experience, then the space at Stoneleigh, both to wander and sit down and eat was a joy. Although I think for the exhibitors it was a little too on the quiet side, most that I spoke to said it hadn’t been a rip roaring success for them. Certainly MFL said he had not seen or heard anything locally about it, and I only knew about it from seeing Mark from Gourmet Spice Co post on Facebook.

But we came away with heavier bags than we arrived with, and a growing wish list…no surprise there.


Bacon jam experiments ahead thanks to Syms Pantry


We will be attempting to convert the bacon refusenik in the tribe through covert use of the bacon jam from Syms Pantry. The store cupboard now has both the regular and smoked jams in it, along with a jar of the bacon mayonnaise. Can’t wait to play with these, some good eating ahead!


My kind of mint: lime mint from Urban Herbs


I also came back with some great new herbs from Urban Herbs. The lime mint was too tempting, given a mojito is up there on my list of favourite cocktails, and I’m sure a few sprigs in a G&T or in the Pimms would work well too. I also picked up the barbecue rosemary, smells like the most amazing combo of smoke and rosemary, and was highly recommended by Mark Lloyd.


Every kind of chilli you could probably want


Talking of Mark, watched him do a great demo of a chicken terrine, which was a raised pie by any other name. Always entertaining, not to mention educational. Mark has a book out very shortly, which is on a USB stick and self published, worth a look for in a week or so’s time.


Mark Lloyd getting ready to go


If chilli is your thing, then there were lots of choices, from ready to plant and grow from Chilli Bobs, through to the most amazing selection of seeds of every kind of heat level from Sea Spring Seeds. To be fair, they had a lot more than just chillis and proved that there is definitely more to veg than the average supermarket varieties.

Two things went on our mutual wishlist: knives from Flint & Flame (which both Mark and Rachel Green raved about, both had at home apparently) and an Aquaforno. In fact, I don’t think MFL has shut up about the Aquaforno since we got back. I will write about it in more detail, but it’s probably my favourite thing I found at the show.

Well, that and Pinkster gin, but that’s a whole other story.

Overall, I enjoyed it, but as usual with these things, if the exhibitors can’t cover their costs then there is little future to a show. We thought the ticket price was a bit steep for what there was (£16 for an adult, £5 for a kid, on the door) and the more people have to pay to get in, the less there is to spend. It’s not the ’80s any more. Be interesting to see if this one is back next year.


Doing your foodie gifts yourself


Let’s face it, they might tell us that the economy is recovering, but I’m not sure how many of us are yet feeling the benefits in our bank balances. And Christmas doesn’t get any cheaper.

So maybe if you have some skills you could do some of your own gifts, either making, baking or just assembling! Here’s some thoughts.

A few years ago I put together a cookie mix in a jar for my team, which was something that looked great, and was really simple to put together. There are loads of ideas around for this kind of thing, from cookie mixes to making your own muesli mix.


For cowboys and cowgirls in need of cookies - make your own gifts for food lovers of every type


I don’t think you can go far wrong with baking brownies, and I reckon most people can make a decent stab at some, and then wrap them up nicely. Or you could cheat, buy some from Gower Cottage and then pass them off as your own!

If you were organised then perhaps you have some sloe gin steeping away. I like mine best after a good year of developing, but 3 months might see it just about drinkable. Nice bottles, good labels, good to go. I don’t know many people who would turn their noses, particularly if you gave them a bottle of prosecco to go with it. The two mixed together are particularly good! I buy my bottles from JamJarShop.com as they have a great range of shapes and sizes.


Boozy bacon jam


What about rediscovering sweet making skills? Everything from peppermint creams to marshmallows, which go from the easiest of skills to something a bit more advanced, and are likely to go down well with most people. But the thing I am most inclined to try is making Boozy Bacon Jam. I mean, there is nothing at all bad in this equation. The best recipe I’ve found is here (beautiful photo from the Spoon Fork Bacon website too, well worth a visit).

There are so many great resources out there that homemade certainly needn’t feel second rate. In fact if anyone sends me bacon jam I shall be very happy! Go on, get creative! What would you make?