Sunshine and chitting

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Green shoots are coming!

 

Finally, it feels like the longest winter in history may be over, and the big yellow thing has returned to the sky. I misheard Best Foodie Friend last week when she said she had started chitting potatoes. Thought it sounded unusual.

Which means it’s time to start looking at the raised beds again, plotting to grow so many things, and then at least ending up with a glut of parsley and mint. Plus the glut from BFF’s allotment and new garden. But if you’re worried about food miles and provenance, not to mention taste, then no matter how amateur you are, you can always grow a few things yourself, and they’ll taste so much better. In fact, smug virtuousness ought to named taste number 6!

Need some inspiration? Here’s some of my favourites:

* I think this is probably the laziest way I know to get a veg garden going. A Rocket Garden voucher makes a great gift, for someone else, or even for yourself if you’re either a new gardener or a very lazy one. I have very little success with seeds, so someone delivering little plants already underway would be a huge bonus.

* If you’re going down the organic route, then check out The Organic Gardening Catalogue. If you’re good, you can choose from all kinds of seeds, or there are plenty of choices in plug plants too. Also try more unusual things, like growing your own horseradish, ready to accompany a great rib of beef later in the year.

* Want bragging rights and something unusual to show at the local horticultural show? Then try growing heritage varieties, things that haven’t been seen down the garden centre in a long time. The Heritage Seed Library is preserving species at risk, and if you become a member you get to grow up to 6 varieties a year. This would be a great gift for a foodie with serious green fingers, as they get to delve into the delights of Glory of Devon peas, Rent Payer broad beans and Bunyard’s Matchless Lettuce. If you just want unusual potatoes, then try Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes, dispatching now but act quickly, stocks are limited.

* Sarah Raven feels like the Daylesford Farm Shop of seed and plant catalogues, in that it almost suggests to me no mucky hands are involved, and she clearly understands her target market. Conforming to type, I will therefore be ordering the Foodies Tomato Collection, seedlings of 3 tasty species along with some basil. It’s like a tomato and basil salad waiting to happen. In a similar vein, just not quite so pretty, try Crocus and their plug plant collections, like Luscious Legumes and Credit Crunchy Veg.

So go pull on your wellies, get your trug out and at least have a look at where you might plant stuff. It could be on small step on the road to self-sufficiency. Or at least a tasty tomato crop.

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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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