mirrorshard: Grass stalks against a summer sky (Summer grass)
2014-10-14 05:08 pm


Right, so we have (will have contingent on viewing and accepting, etc., but we will) an allotment, less than a hundred yards from our house. So now it's time for me to start making a list of plants I want to grow in it. I'm assuming that we won't have anything resembling a greenhouse, so some of these will be aspirational at best, but nevertheless I am going to list them, and in a few years' time with any luck I'll have tried the lot. Someone did suggest putting the wishlist up so we could be sent presents of seeds - if you do fancy that, we will be utterly delighted, but it isn't in the slightest necessary. (NB: I like turnips and Florence fennel, but Elly doesn't, and Brussels sprouts are low priority for both of us, so seeds for those would probably get passed on to someone else who'd eat the results. Same for chillies.)

I'm using The Real Seed Co. here, since [personal profile] kht originally put me on to them and they've done wonderfully in the past, but interesting seeds from any source are good. If anyone localish fancies going in on an order, their packets are large and plentiful, so it'd be very possible to split them between us.

For herbs and flowers, Thomas Etty have a much larger variety.

Beans: I have some 'Trail of Tears' beans, but some Cosse Violette stringless beans would also be good. I have some 'Wizard' field beans as well, which are supposed to be very cold-hardy.
Peas: I have some 'Serpette Guilloteau' peas, but it would be lovely to grow the 'Golden Sweet' mangetout peas too.
Squash: I'm looking at all the lovely varieties there and goodness, how does anyone narrow it down.
Cucumbers: Given the amount of cucumber we eat, growing our own is a priority. Edible skin is good, because I get annoyed with peeling things. Exploding cucumbers are probably not ideal, given wildlife and children. Neither of us are gherkin people.
Lettuce & salad greens: yessssss. Some seed, more always good. Rocket.
Tomatoes: ditto, all down the line, but concentrating on eating varieties rather than cooking varieties.
Peppers: sweet peppers yes, chillis no, because I can't be doing with the heat (can't taste anything else) and wouldn't want to risk them crossing into the sweet peppers.
Root vegetables: Interestingly coloured carrots, parsnips, and Hamburg parsley.
Potatoes, of course.
Melons: I would dearly love to grow melons, and it does seem to suggest that they can do OK outdoors. I would grow Prescott Fond Blanc for the look of them alone.
Kale: I have a fondness for Thousand-Heads because Soyer talks about it, but other varieties are also very nice indeed.
Leeks: I've never met a leek variety I didn't like, see. A combination of Jaune de Poitou and Bleu de Solaise looks like a very good idea indeed.
Broccoli: Green heading Calabrese & purple sprouting.

Herbs: Generally, my attitude to herbs is "the more the better" and I'd love to have as many as possible in the kitchen garden (the knotweed will still let us put herb plants in, I'm just reluctant to do actual vegetables next to it) and on the windowsills.

Soft fruit: We are Extremely Keen on growing a great number of raspberries, and I'm also keen on gooseberries. If the management like fruit trees, putting in a Mirabelle would be a very good thing - if not, we may do that in our own garden.

Flowers: We're both very keen on things which will attract and feed bees, and on British wildflowers.

(Admin note: the Livejournal version of this post will be locked for spam reasons, but the Dreamwidth one will stay open and should allow comments from people without accounts.)
mirrorshard: (Default)
2014-09-28 05:43 pm
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Vegan apple pie

On a whim, I ended up making the apple pie yesterday after all, so here's the (experimental) recipe.

Grease a loaf tin (or something else if that's what you have) with your butter substitute (I use Pure sunflower, since it's fine for the lactose-intolerant person, the milk-protein-intolerant person, and the person who can't have soya) and start the oven heating up to around 200C.

Three Jazz apples (it's what we had), peeled and cored and chopped into interestingly sized bits, go into the tin, followed by a handful of raisins & sultanas, and a hefty sprinkling of mixed spice.

For the pastry, take about three tablespoonfuls of white self-raising flour, about the same of your butter substitute, and a scant tablespoonful of sugar. I used builder's sugar, ie. granulated white, but next time I'll use something more interesting to see what difference it makes. Mix them all up till the mixture no longer sticks to your hands (add more flour if you need to) and add a little water, or almond milk if you have it. Roll it out thinly, drape it over the top of the apple mixture, brush it over with almond milk or the equivalent, and sprinkle more sugar on the top.

Put it in the oven till it's done - it'll take 20 to 30 minutes. Eat with cream or custard - the Alpro soya versions of either are delicious.
mirrorshard: Grass stalks against a summer sky (Summer grass)
2014-09-26 01:15 pm
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Not a Sunday roast

Yesterday, I roasted a chicken, and I want to talk about that for a while.

I've been trying to eat more vegan, partly for health reasons and partly because that's the easiest way to opt a little way out of the dietary Omelas of doing harm to animals and ecology and communities, but I'm not about to give up free-range chicken, for personal as well as ethical reasons. (It's a very resource-light meat, very low opportunity cost compared to other meat, and whilst I don't have the numbers it's comparable to processed vegan food.) Mostly, though, it's a family history thing - my mother used to cook roast chicken or lamb every Sunday, and whilst I'm not so bothered about the days of the week it's a nice thing to do. It still feels special, it gives another couple of days' food with the leftovers, and it actually works out quite cheaply.

There's another reason, too... )
mirrorshard: (Default)
2012-09-27 04:09 pm
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Recipe: One Dumpling Stew

Tasty vegan rocket-fuel autumn food. All the quantities are approximate, because it doesn't matter at all if you don't do it the same way as I do. When I say "250g", I mean "about half a 500g packet, more or less". Serves 6 or so hungry people.

If you're keen on de-veganizing it, add bacon in the first stage.

1. Dice a couple of medium-sized onions, and set them to sautee in sunflower oil (rapeseed oil or vegetable oil also work well - olive is usually too strong) until soft & golden. While they're cooking, chop two or three carrots and toss those in immediately. If you like garlic (and who doesn't?) then throw in half a dozen cloves to sautee too, roughly chopped.

2. When that mixture's done (ie. soft and golden and not dry - keep an eye on it and add more oil if you need to) then pour in two tins of chopped tomatoes. Add a generous helping of Scarborough Fair herbs (about a heaped teaspoon of each), sea salt & black pepper. Don't season it to taste at this stage - make it ridiculously strong and intense. If your taste buds & budget feel like it, then a couple of glassfuls of red wine won't go at all amiss - before you put the tomatoes in, turn up the heat to full, splash the wine in, stir it around, and let it bubble off. (This removes the alcohol, leaving the flavour.)

3. Toss in about 250g of lentilhas verdes (Puy lentils or lentilles vertes - to be carefully distinguished from green lentils), 250g of pearl barley, and two tins of chickpeas, drained & rinsed. You can quite happily substitute other pulses (black beans work very well) for the chickpeas, or green or brown lentils for the lentilhas verdes, or mix & match.

4. Add some vegetables: potato, swede, fennel, and aubergine all work well. You'll want roughly the equivalent of two large vegetables, or the size of four clenched fists.

5. Add a couple of teaspoons of vegan stock powder and top up with water till everything's covered, then another inch or so on top. Bring it to the boil, then leave to simmer for a while - it'll take at least half an hour, but might be more depending on the pulses. If you're using pre-soaked dried beans, boil them for at least ten minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

6. Make the dumplings. The reason this is called One Dumpling Stew is that I always make rather a lot of dumpling mixture, and they join up in the pan. Four tablespoons of flour (wholemeal bread flour works well, especially if it has seeds & grains in), two of vegetable suet, a heaped teaspoon of baking powder. Salt & pepper, and a teaspoon of herbs - I usually use tarragon, but caraway seeds work really well too. Mix them all around, put in about a wine-glass worth of cold water, and mix it all up till there's no loose flour and the mixture can be lifted up in a large wet glob clinging to the spoon. (You might want to put the water in a bit at a time - it's easy to go too far, and adding more flour is boring.) Drop the large wet globs into your simmering pan, one at a time, as far away from each other as possible. When all the mixture is in, stick the lid back on and leave it to cook for five or ten minutes.

Other good things to put in it include leeks, chestnuts, mushrooms, and garden peas.
mirrorshard: (Default)
2012-04-24 07:42 pm

Onion & black bean soup

Recipe by [personal profile] merrythebard's suggestion, after I invented it to feed them the other day. Makes a very thick soup to serve 4, more or less.

Take 4 largish onions (I used two red & two yellow, because that's what I had): chop & sautee them until soft & tasty.
Open & drain a tin of black beans (black turtle beans) and make up 500ml or so of stock. I used gluten-free veg stock, but if you don't need that then beef stock works very well indeed.
Scatter thyme liberally. Turn up the heat, & slosh a generous, er, slosh of brandy in. When it's bubbled off and smelling lovely, tip in the beans and the stock, and top up with about 200 or 300ml of beer. I used Bombardier, but anything on the darkish end of bitter works well, or stout.
Cover and leave to cook for 20 minutes or so.
Put in noodles, let them cook, and it's ready!

If you want to eat it the traditional way, put a slice of soft white bread and some mature cheddar in the bottom of the bowl before pouring the soup over.
mirrorshard: (Default)
2011-06-07 02:38 pm

Potato-turnip-leek-and-goat's-cheese pie

Peel potatoes (a mash variety) and a couple of turnips, chop them into small pieces, and boil them. While that's bubbling away, cook some leeks (steaming for preference; I boiled them lightly), chop a medium-sized onion into pieces about half an inch square, and grate some cheese. I used about 200g of firm white goat's cheese, but with the quantities I was making (based on about a kilo of potatoes) I really should have used more, perhaps twice as much.

At this point, it's also a good idea to start making the pastry. (I had the invaluable help of [livejournal.com profile] randomchris, so doing all these things at once was actually possible.) My pastry recipes are a bit slapdash, so if you're not confident then you probably want to look up a pie crust recipe and use that instead. Six large spoonfuls of wholemeal strong bread flour; a hefty shake of sea salt; a teaspoonful or so of whatever herbs look tasty; mix it all up, dump in a couple of large spoonfuls of butter or margarine (soya margarine in this case, since I was feeding it to [personal profile] merrythebard) and a hefty slosh of olive oil, plunge your hands in and mix it up till it's a nice uniform crumbly texture and barely sticks to your hands at all, and then slosh in some soy milk, squish it up, toss it around, whatever, till you get a squishy elastic ball which doesn't leave any mess on your hands.

Drain the root vegetables, and mash the cheese in with them - it doesn't need any extra milk or cream, but there's nothing to stop you putting it in if you like a creamier texture. Dump it into the pot you're going to use for the pie, and mix in the cooked leeks & raw onion. I added a splash of white wine too, because I had an opened bottle handy, but there's no need to worry about the non-liquidity of the filling.

Roll out the pie crust into a suitably sized thinnish blob, and drape it over the pie contents in a crust-like manner. Cut off the spare bits around the edge, make sure it's sealed down pretty well, decorate the crust in a semi-random and haphazard fashion, poke a hole in the middle to let some steam out (it doesn't have to be a big hole) and then shove it in the oven for about 45 minutes at 180 celsius or so.

Fed four, with everyone getting seconds and my cunning plan for leftovers-for-breakfast getting thoroughly thwarted, hurrah.
mirrorshard: (Default)
2010-10-07 03:23 pm

Autumn stew

Chestnut, fennel, and Puy lentil stew Yesterday's invention (or at least extreme modification from this):

Sautee two large onions in olive oil, putting in a finely-chopped bulb of garlic when the onions are turning. Chop three carrots and put those in too.

Chop 3 bulbs of fennel and throw those in, along with two tins of chopped tomatoes. Leave the mixture to simmer gently while you deal with the next ingredient, which is 500g (unpeeled weight) of chestnuts. Cut a cross in the tops (cut deeply) and boil them for 3 minutes or so, then peel off both the hard shell and the irritating brown skin inside. Chop into interesting-sized pieces, and throw them in, along with 500g of lentilhas verdes (Puy lentils), a generous slosh of red wine vinegar, some sea salt & black pepper, and a couple of teaspoonfuls each of lovage, oregano, and basil. (I used lovage because the original recipe called for celery, and I didn't have any.)

Top up to a sensible depth with water, and bring to the boil. At this point, I took it off the stove and put it in the urban haybox/slow cooker for three hours, but an hour to an hour and a half on a low heat would also work if you don't have one of those.

Vegan, gluten-free, serves around 10 or 12 hungry people.

I was slightly worried that the fennel would be overpowering, but it worked out just fine, and the mixture of textures is very pleasing. Lentilhas verdes, if you haven't used them, stay very firm rather than disintegrating when cooked like red or green lentils.

Other possibilities for this recipe would be smoked tofu cubes, mushrooms, chickpeas (but they go in anything), and actual red wine (a Rhone red, for preference) rather than vinegar.
mirrorshard: (Default)
2010-02-11 08:37 pm
Entry tags:

GM Crops & global food security

What the problem is

In a nutshell: people are starving. They can't feed themselves, for two basic reasons: incentives for others to prevent them, and lack of infrastructure. The incentives are easier to address, so I'll talk about that first.

To us, starvation is a tragedy. To others, it's a business opportunity. There is a strong strand of thought that views poverty and inequity as good things; they provide the motivation for improvement, and a motor for economic growth. This is a naïve view at best, so I'm not going to waste time refuting it here.
As far as infrastructure goes – well, let's think about what's needed to eat well )
mirrorshard: (Default)
2009-11-23 09:47 pm
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Alexis Soyer's famine soup

I was looking through Jane Grigson's book English Food, and caught a reference to Victorian celebrity chef (and inventor of the kitchen timer) Alexis Soyer:
The French chef of the Reform Club, the great Alexis Soyer, caused a sensation by nobly going over to Ireland in the potato famine to save Irish souls with his soup (like most benevolent soups of the time, it was not very nutritious).

Obviously, Jane Grigson is not to be argued with over statements like that any more than Elizabeth David is. I was curious about just how not-very-nutritious it was, though, so I went looking for the recipe.
recipes and comparisons )
mirrorshard: (Default)
2009-10-11 01:50 pm
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Terre a Terre, Brighton

[livejournal.com profile] mirabehn, [livejournal.com profile] mostlyacat, and I took the high road south to Brighton yesterday, for the joyous and long overdue occasion of [livejournal.com profile] angelislington and [livejournal.com profile] trukkle's wedding. It was an entirely delightful day, finishing in the Druid's Head (good beer, if a limited selection - Pride, Sussex Best, and Bombardier) by way of Brighton Pier. The sea air did us all good, and [livejournal.com profile] mirabehn was in transports and raptures of delight over finding a city with clean unpolluted air, at least on the seafront and in the south lanes.

We also stopped off for lunch at Terre a Terre, which I'd recommend to anyone[1]. I had "Himmel und Erde" - "Potato, apple, onion and cheddar latkes with frozen fresh horseradish sour cream, golden and crimson pickled beet slaw doused with caraway and dill oil, finished with apple snappers." It very much lived up to the name - earthy and sweet, with a taste rising to heights of deliciousness. My only quibble would be that the promised "apple snappers" turned out to be one thin slice of dried apple. Rather nice still, but neither snappy nor plural. The chunky chips I ordered on the side were pretty much perfect (though definitely approaching the extreme upper limit of how chunky a chip can get before becoming a wedge), but the promised aioli was in fact slightly garlicky mayonnaise, which is really not the same thing at all.

[1] At least, anyone who isn't an obligate carnivore.
mirrorshard: (Default)
2009-05-27 03:36 am
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Slow-rising bread

The bread turned out well, though a 7.5 hour rising time is not ideal for during the day. Something to make before bed and leave to rise overnight, really.

500g multiseed flour (Allinson's, quite nice)
8g sunflower oil
A generous tablespoon of fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon dried yeast
About 325ml water
Rather a lot of ground black pepper
1 pinch of sugar

I think next time I'll up the yeast a bit more, and see whether I can get it to rise within a couple of hours with this little sugar.
mirrorshard: (Default)
2009-05-26 02:09 pm
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Making bread

Elizabeth David maintains that dried active yeast doesn't need any sugar to reconstitute, and that letting it work slowly gives you better bread. I'm not entirely convinced by it, but Elizabeth David is one of the people with whom One Does Not Argue if one is wise, and I'd really rather not use any sugar if I can avoid it.

It's certainly clouding nicely, though not producing any perceptible froth (it's had about five minutes so far - one with the 1:1 mixture of yeast granules & sugar that the tin recommends would have a small amount of froth). If it hasn't done anything after another half hour I might add a pinch of sugar to kickstart it.
mirrorshard: (Default)
2008-11-24 11:15 pm
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(no subject)

I'm back from a weekend in the Raj - well, in Belper, actually. Which for those of you who (like me) had never heard of it is a small town near Derby. Nineteen of us stayed in a converted Baptist chapel and read through (the television adaptation of) Paul Scott's Raj Quartet novels. It was a lot of fun, with some fairly intense dramatic moments, and a certain amount of dressing up in Indian clothing and eating Indian food.
long )
mirrorshard: (Default)
2008-08-18 02:45 am
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Food meme

(via [livejournal.com profile] thekumquat

Usual drill. Bold what you've had, strikeout what you wouldn't want to eat (again), and italicize what you haven't had but would like to. Add an asterisk to anything you had to look up.

It's a remarkably American list, or at least includes all sorts of things that are quite common here.

long )
mirrorshard: (Tarragon)
2008-08-02 12:52 am
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Food & implement packing (pre-Bicon)

Cheers muchly to those who commented on my last post - it was almost universally really helpful.

And now, as they say, for something completely different.

The Bicon accommodation this year provides no useful kitchen equipment or utensils. I'm told they have a "two-ring hob and basic grill", microwave, kettle, toaster, fridge, and freezer. (This is for the standard rooms. Those booking for en-suite get an oven too, and a couple of extra hobs.)

If the hob/grill arrangements are what I think they are, basically you can forget about them for anything other than heating stuff up, and not fast at that. Also, attempting to cook more than one item at once is doomed to either failure, or extreme slowness.

So, having survived multiple conventions, LRP seasons, and other camping-type things on less, here's my guide to eating under those constraints.

Read more... )
mirrorshard: (Tarragon)
2008-05-07 01:05 pm
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Red lentil & bacon soup

Recipe as requested by [livejournal.com profile] weegoddess.

Part 1: Take a generous pile of red lentils - I don't generally measure anything so I can't be more precise. Pour in a generous glug of soy sauce and a sprinkling of sea salt, and top up with cold water. Put it on to heat, and cook the lentils as you would normally - boil them for 15 minutes or so. I skim the foam off the top when it's boiling, but you don't have to if you can't be bothered. Around that point, add in a generous dose of sage and marjoram and leave it to simmer till Done.

Part 2: Take a moderate-to-generous amount of bacon, ham, or other dead pig product, chop it into small portions, and fry it up. When it's nice and hot, mix in some spices - I used smoked paprika and some rather nice urfa biber imported as a guest-gift by [livejournal.com profile] sunspiral. After a while, turn the heat up to 11, toss it around a bit, and pour in a large glug of red wine vinegar or suitable substitute (either red wine or balsamic vinegar work well) and let that bubble off in a fun dramatic manner. When that's glazed on and there's no liquid left the bacon is done, so set it aside till the lentils are done.

Part 3: Add part 2 to part 1, and stir them around on the heat till they reach a suitable consistency. Then serve!
mirrorshard: (Default)
2007-04-27 10:00 am
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My oven is (at last) fixed.

[Poll #974233]
mirrorshard: (Default)
2005-11-05 03:13 am
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Food mememe

Courtesy originally of the BBC, more recently of both [livejournal.com profile] eddie777 and [livejournal.com profile] vashti. Bold the ones you've eaten, italicize the ones you dislike.
the list )