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 tenth week.
4th August to 10th August
Apparently, due to the scorching weather, Britain’s harvest this year is the earliest in living memory. This means that apples, amongst other things, are larger and tastier than is usual and are available now.
There are also lots of lovely plums, damsons and greengages in the shops as well as redcurrants and blackberries. I have noticed lots of wild blackberries growing on Putney heath but they are not quite ready yet.
I tried a redcurrant jelly recipe from Google. After heating the redcurrants, stalks and all, adding sugar and boiling, the whole lot went into a muslin lined sieve set over a bowl. Unfortunately after a couple of hours only a few drops of jelly had made their way through the muslin. I decided to force the issue (risking that the jelly would not be clear). And so, I prodded, pressed and then squeezed the, by now very thick, mixture through the muslin. My husband joined me and finally, as our hands, arms and faces dripped in the crimson bloodlike mixture, he shouted “it’s a boy!” and we looked down at one and a half jars of delicious and in fact, fairly clear redcurrant jelly. The recipe did not specify the type of sugar to use and I am fairly sure that my mistake was to use “jam sugar” as it contains pectin which helps set jam and in this case the jelly set before it had time to drip through the muslin. Despite my mistake the recipe did in the end produce a very nice jelly and I will use it with roast lamb. I will try the recipe again and with granulated sugar but not just yet.
I was given some cobnuts too. They are young and green but I had no idea what to do with them so I checked on the Kentish Cobnut Association website no less. I decided to go for the simplest use and so I shelled them (using nutcrackers) and roasted them at 150c for 40 minutes. They are absolutely delicious and a very special treat.
The book on baking sourdough bread has still not arrived so I have yet to try that but I have made some very easy soda bread, which is good with cheese and also makes delicious toast.
The British cheese we have tried this week is Cornish Yarg, a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese and it is wrapped in nettle leaves, which form the rind. The flavor is lovely and I think it would work very well as a substitute for mild cheddar.
Other highlights this week have been some grey mullet roasted with sherry vinegar, rosemary and pine nuts. Smoked haddock braised in milk with bay leaves and spring onions all covered with sliced “Cara” potatoes. And some brown shrimp risotto.
My sister and several friends tell me they are trying the Slow Food regime too so I am pleased about that.
Slow Food London note: We're delighted that Susan's sister and friends are trying the challenge too! Why not try yourself too - let us know if you do!