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 thirteenth week:
We have had stewed plums with yoghurt for breakfast a couple of times this week and we have also tried some “Katy” eating apples, and some damsons – all good.
We had some very special smoked bacon with English tomatoes. The bacon is especially delicious and can be ordered online from the Norfolk Bacon website and they will send it by first class post. They do very good ham and “Banquet” sausages as well.
I repeated the stuffed courgettes from week 11 for a family supper and we ate them with roast chicken and bread sauce this time. I might try the stuffing in a marrow, if I can get one.
We had rabbit casserole again for a family supper and after a degree of suspicion regarding its fat content (it is actually very low in fat) everyone enjoyed it with some green beans, boiled briefly then tossed in butter and lemon zest.
I baked some Black Bream with salt, thyme leaves and blackberry vinegar for a lunch with friends along with some pink fir apple potatoes and some dressed Little Gem lettuce. I am finding it difficult to find any other good variety of British grown lettuce now. We finished off this meal just as we had the family suppers earlier in the week - simple but delicious British cheeses with soda bread, fresh plums and damsons. The new British cheese we tried this week was Black Bomber, a mature and slightly sweet cheddar – it has been very popular with family and friends.
Other good things this week:
Toad in the hole using some of the “Banquet” sausages mentioned earlier, with red onion gravy and savoy cabbage, shredded finely and gently wilted in a small amount of butter.
A chicken, bacon and blue cheese salad with sliced Little Gem, honey and mustard dressing and some of the croutons mentioned in week 9.
Cheese on toast with tomatoes and Balsamic vinegar.
Some smoked prawns with brown bread and butter and Little Gem lettuce. I used the prawn shells to make some very good stock. Just put all the shells in a pan and cover them with water. Add some parsley stalks if you have them. Bring the whole lot to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes only. Don’t boil any longer than this as it will spoil the stock. Strain the liquid into a clean bowl and use for fish risotto or something else appropriate. The stock can be frozen too.
Not so good things – the plum chutney I made last week still tastes of too much star anise so I fear it is ruined.
I tried the green beans, which I had lovingly pickled in week 7. They are ok but honestly, not really worth the effort and their colour was so diminished by the pickling process, they look very unattractive.
I am a quarter of the way through the challenge now and I am really enjoying it. The changes I have made to the way I shop for and use food have proved beneficial in so many ways. What seemed like so much extra effort at the start now seems like no effort extra effort at all, it is just about changing habits.
I am looking forward to seeing what September brings.
Ed Note: Star Anise can become more subtle as time goes on. If you make a chutney like Susan with a touch too much spice, let it rest and try it a few months later