Slow Food London set a challenge: could regular Londoners go slow for an entire year? Would it be easy? Would it be hard? Would there be times when it would (slowly) start to go wrong?
Here, Susan Paul talks us through her second week.
I can’t go to the shops today so have to make do with what is left in the fridge. I decide to make cabbage soup with some chorizo. I bought the chorizo when I went to Borough Market last week – one that was produced in Kent. I also have quite a few English tomatoes and some Norfolk White Lady Cheese so I am going to make some kind of salad too.
Our son and a friend, who is spending the day with us, are going to have some Scottish steak (from our freezer) as well as all the other things mentioned above. I also take some good Artisan bread from the freezer to use with the tomato salad.
These things are all very well received. I worked out the cost of the soup, which was around £3 per serving, expensive for soup but it was very sophisticated on account of the high quality chorizo and it was substantial too. This soup could also be very good with bacon instead of chorizo, which would bring the cost down to around £1.40 per serving.
Supper was simple; tomatoes on toast with some little gem lettuce and the Norfolk cheese.
I went to the Barnes shops today and bought a number of lovely things including some brisket of beef and some John Dory for a special supper tomorrow. I cooked the beef slowly with onions and a little butter and flour mashed together. When the meat was completely tender, I added a dressing of oil and vinegar with garlic, parsley and canned anchovies and the result was lovely – I have made this dish many times as it is a family favourite. I made too much on purpose so I have frozen two servings for a later date. We also had some chard – I removed the stalks and washed and sliced the leaves finely and let them wilt for a minute or two in the same pot as the beef.
The cost of all this was around £2.50 per serving.
I was out all day today and the best I could get for lunch was a supermarket pack of prawns with garlic and parsley - not good but not as bad as my husband who had a supermarket sandwich and not one but two mini non-artisan pork pies!
For supper I poached the John Dory fillets (they only took about three minutes) and we ate them with a sauce made by stirring chopped tarragon and chives into some yoghurt. We also had some Jersey Royals and a salad of fresh peas, radishes, broad beans and asparagus. I deliberately made a little too much of everything as I have plans to use them up in the next day or two. I thought this meal was going to take a lot of time and effort - shelling the peas and broad beans etc. but it really was a pleasure to prepare and it all took less than 45 minutes at a leisurely pace.
I have a really busy day today and am relying on leftovers from last night and a chicken. For lunch I use the remaining Jersey Royals, peas, broad beans and asparagus in an omelette – it is so delicious and a welcome break from work. Our son has friends over at lunch and roasts the chicken.
For supper we have some leftover chicken in a salad with some crisp bacon, spinach, red onion and radishes and a dressing made with the remains of the tarragon sauce from last night.
I am busy again today but we need some vegetables so I walk to our local garage, which has a supermarket. I opt for a pack of fresh English peas with leeks and spinach.
For supper I defrost some squid from our freezer, which I slice and stir-fry with the peas etc. adding a little bit of oil and some garlic. I also add the left over John Dory (broken into flakes). Just before it is ready I stir in a dressing of oil and lemon juice.
Went to the local farmers market today and bought 850g of bacon misshapes for £3.50 – I have bought these in the past and I know it is salty but it is good for soup and for making stuffing as long as you don’t add extra salt. I also bought lots of lovely vegetables; apples, raspberries, strawberries and a jar of raspberry jam.
I would love to make jam myself but we don’t use much of that type of thing and it is cheaper to buy this good quality one unless you happen to get your fruit for free.
For lunch I grate (using the coarse side of the grater) some large tomatoes and an onion – this produces quite a messy pulp but it is delicious spooned onto some toasted bread rubbed over with a cut clove of garlic, with some thyme leaves from our garden - this is so easy, tasty and inexpensive.
For supper we have lamb from the local butcher in Barnes, slow roasted with garlic and rosemary some new potatoes, mint (from the garden) sauce and a mixture of fresh peas, small courgettes, sliced little gem and spring onions. It is a special dinner for our son who is leaving tomorrow to go off to work abroad for the Summer so we have a pudding too; raspberries with homemade lemon curd ice cream. All this food costs around £5 per person. We also try some English sparkling wine.
For lunch I make a large omelette for me and my husband and use up some potatoes left and a few of the other vegetables from last night.
For supper I use the left over lamb, simply frying it without any added oil and stirring in some mint and lemon zest. I also added some spinach leaves. My husband is surprised that all the left over food provided such a tasty day’s eating.
In general I have enjoyed the ‘challenge’ this week. I have manged to reduce the number of shopping trips and kept better control on spending. I have become interested in costing and am surprised by some of the results: I have made some simple and delicious things with leftover food, which has also surprised me.
There are many lovely fruits and vegetables at our local farmers market, and at a good price, I have to resist the temptation to buy more than I need. I am glad I have quite a few herbs in my garden though I wish I grew vegetables too!
I have had my son at home all week, which has been wonderful but he does eat a lot! Two items in the media this week that have been much on my mind; the increase in food poverty in our country and the amount of unsold food wasted by supermarkets.
Susan's diary is again really fascinating, and making use of left-overs and buying seasonal food from the market is a great way of buying inexpensive food which supports local farmers and sustains our landscape. Canned fish - check if it's MSC certified - such as Susan's use of anchovies, is a great way of eating inexpensive protein . Line caught mackerel, and sardines are also delicious and inexpensive, either fresh or canned.
Next week other Londoners join Susan in posting their diaries