What do foodies do in Spring?

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There are very vague signs of Spring: mornings are lighter, if I slink off sharpish it’s still light when I leave work, and there are some small green shoots in the garden.

 

Green shoots are coming!

 

And in the kitchen all sorts of things change for me. I know that it’s Spring when I start reaching for Bill Granger cookbooks and put away Delia’s Winter Collection. I start craving different things to eat, lots of South East Asian, lots of lighter stuff. What else might be going on?

1. The casserole might be heading back into the cupboard, and the wok might be heading out more permanently. Quick, easy and full of fresh flavours!

2. The grow your own foodies will be busy prepping their fruit and veg plots, as well as working out what seeds to order in. I am really keen on Seeds of Italy, and there are some really unusual varieties of tomatoes and basil, as well as things like spelt and garlic chives. I am told I should be chitting potatoes, but misheard that the first time. If you’re not great with seeds, then order in seedlings ready to go in the ground. I like Sarah Raven and Thompson and Morgan, and I won’t tell your more green fingered friends if you don’t!

3. The pancake loving foodie will be dusting off their crepe pan ready for Shrove Tuesday. The less well co-ordinated will be looking at their ceiling and worrying. The really inept amongst us might choose an electric crepe maker!

4. The globe trotting foodie will be lured around the world to track down a huge variety of flavours. They were probably in San Francisco yesterday at the Crab Festival, and next weekend they could be at Menton in the South of France for the Lemon Festival. And you could head anywhere with a Chinatown next weekend ready for Chinese New Year.

5. Those of us with just Oyster cards will be enjoying a Parisian experience in W1, by heading to Pierre Herme’s instore patisserie at Selfridges for some truly magnificent macaroons. These are exquisite looking, and taste as good as they look. If you want to try recreating them, his book is only avaiable in French through Amazon France, although I can recommend a read of the experiences over on the He Eats blog. I particularly want to give the Salted Caramel and Apple ones a go.

So, even if more snow comes, just hang on in there, the Spring is on it’s way along with all the bounty that will bring.

Interesting shot of shoots by sciondriver over on Flickr.

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Snowed in? Plan your veg garden!

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Getting planning your home grown goodies!

 

 

Lets face it, it appears we are in the worse winter since God was a boy and sent us the last Ice Age. Which means we don’t have to feel remotely guilty about not setting foot out of doors. Personally, this is the time of year I like to spend curled up with the seed and plant catalogues, full of good intentions of all the things I am going to grow.

Regardless of how much space you have, you can grow something, and it will taste better than lots of stuff you can buy. There’s nothing like leaning out the conservatory window to pick some rosemary that goes straight into the kitchen. I can think of no shorter supply chain!

You can either buy seeds, plants and kits for the foodie in your life, or just order in the catalogues and let them make some choices. Here’s where I’m looking for some inspiration this season:

1. Seeds of Italy is new to me, and I want to grow loads of stuff from here. Given that we have 3 raised beds and a patio, I shall have to be strict! There is an amazing choice of varieties of tomato though, and I really do like the look of the Costoluto Fiorentino and the Yellow Pear Shaped. Something to keep even the most experience vegetable grower interested and trying something new!

2. Sarah Raven has lovely things, although not necessarily the cheapest. If your foodie is new to growing their own, then the Beginner’s Garden Veg Collectionis a great gift for a beginner, as it says on the tin. Looks very pretty, and useful seeds like french beans, lettuce and parsley. For the more advance, there are things like Beetroot “Burpees Golden” and Courgette Trombomcino (yes, it does look like a trombone, kind of) not to mention edible flowers. If you’ve got mini gourmets to buy for, then also worth taking a look at the Easy Veg for Children kit.

3. If you want to grow unusual, heritage varieties, then the Heritage Seed Library is a perfect choice. You have to become a member, and you get to grow up to 6 varieties a year. It’ll certainly give you something different to show at the horticultural show, not to mention benefit from tastes that have all but disappeared. Membership is just £20 for the year, definitely an unusual but useful foodie present.

4. Lets not dismiss Thompson & Morgan just because you can get them in every garden centre. They are big on research, and are big on seeds and plants for small spaces. Check out the vegetable pouch collection, which allows you to grow things like salad leaves and runner beans in a pouch hanging on a wall. Only got patio space? They have varieties for you to be able to grow everything from blueberries to cucumber, not to mention some patio veg planters.

5. I’m not brilliant with growing from seed, with last summer being my most successful. If you really want the lazy route, or a brilliant gift, then check out Rocket Gardens, who will send you little plants all ready to go in the ground. They offer everything from patio container and window box versions, through to a full Mediterranean vegetable garden. You can order and give the vouchers any time of the year, and the plants will be sent when the time is right for planting. You do have to plant them yourself and tend for them, but this is lazy gardening that should lead to great and tasty results!

So, get snuggled up in front of the fire, get your graph paper and coloured pens out and all the seed catalogues, virtual or otherwise, and put these cold nights to good foodie use!

Shot of great looking raised beds by greengardenvienna on Flickr.

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