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 twelth week
The weather has cooled down now and there is an occasional Autumnal feeling in the evenings. I have been thinking about what foods will cease to be available to me and what new foods will be available in the coming months. There are fewer English lettuces and courgettes around now and I will miss them when their season ends.
We have had friends from France staying with us this week and they have truly embraced the “slow food challenge” with us. One is diabetic and he emailed when he returned to France to tell me that his blood sugar level had shown significant improvement after spending the week with us, so another success for the Slow Food regime.
Breakfast has continued to be raspberries, strawberries and blueberries with yoghurt and a spoonful of honey. But this will have to change soon.
We have been out for lunch most days and enjoyed a number of good things including, oysters, steak and kidney pie, baked crab, fish and chips and lots of seasonal vegetables including marsh samphire.
At home we have had roast pork, grey mullet, bacon, sausages, lots of cheese and some very special vegetables.
Some of the particularly good vegetables have been curly kale, a purple variety and a green one prepared as follows: wash the kale and tear the curly leaves from the tough stalks (discard the stalks). Shred the leaves as finely as you can, then toss them in a little rapeseed oil, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar; spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake them in the oven preheated to 220c until they are crispy – this will probably take between 5 and 10 minutes. I have also tried simply tossing the kale leaves lightly in some salad dressing and that worked really well too.
Courgettes with stuffing which I mentioned in week 11 except that I cut the courgettes across to make several smaller pieces and we ate them as an appetiser whilst waiting for a friend to join us for a late lunch.
Pink Fir Apple potatoes, which I boiled and served with butter to go with roast pork, quince jelly (which I bought readymade) and some runner beans. The season for these weird and wonderfully shaped pink potatoes has just started so they are a welcome new additional food. There is no need to peel them but they need a fair amount of careful scrubbing because of their unusual shape.
Pink Fir Apple Potatoes
Our friends from France were delighted and impressed by the British cheeses we sampled which included: Colston Bassett Stilton, Mature cheddar, Wells Alpine, Mrs. Temple’s Copys Cloud and our new one for this week, Millstone. We enjoyed drinking some good English cider with the cheese.
Our neighbour has given us rather a lot of delicious ripe plums from a tree in her garden. I stewed half of them with some sugar until they had turned into heavenly scented softness. As if that was not prize enough they produced a luxuriously scented, deep crimson, viscous liquid, some of which I have drained off to keep as a sauce which I will freeze in small amounts for future special occasions.
I made chutney with the remainder of the plums. The recipe included some star anise, with which I think I may have been rather heavy handed, so I added some sherry vinegar and balsamic vinegar, which I hope, has balanced that.
Incidentally, all the recipes for plums I looked at required you to remove the stones from the plums before cooking. This is a rather glib statement in my view as it is exceptionally difficult to do this with plums that are not overripe and could completely put people off using this lovely fruit. For the chutney I left the stones in the fruit until the chutney was cooked and removed the stones by hand when it was just warm. For the stewed plums, remembering having these when I was I child, I just left them so that they could be removed when eaten which is no great hardship.
Sunday supper was a casserole of rabbit, leeks, bacon, potatoes and prunes. It was absolutely delicious. My husband and I made it together and it really was unique. This was mainly due to the prunes, which had been marinating in brandy for two years (yes really) because I had never before found a use for them. Even allowing for the prunes in brandy, this meal cost £6 and fed four people although I did buy the rabbit at a country butchers for £2.85!
We have had such fabulous food since starting the challenge and we really have spent far less on food than ever before.