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 twenty-sixth week:
I finished making the Christmas puddings, steamed and then rewrapped them. Confined to the kitchen whilst steaming puddings for several hours (had to keep checking the water had not boiled away) I used the time to do some other preparations for our family Christmas dinner, which is in two weeks time.
We are having roast goose, a tradition for us. So to eat with the goose I have made cinnamon spiced applesauce and some bacon, sage and onion stuffing, seasoned with lemon and nutmeg – both are now packed away in our freezer.
We have tried some other varieties of English apples this week: Kidd’s Orange, Red Windsor and Egremont Russet. They are all excellent but the Egremont Russet are particularly special and perfumed – easily a match for a Summer peach.
The Jerusalem artichokes were made into a simple blended soup with some chopped parsley stirred in – this produced a good earthy root flavour and I have frozen some for another day.
I am really glad to have made extra food in the past and frozen it as stand-by suppers. We had some tomato soup this week with added sorrel which tastes like lemony spinach. We also had one of the pastry tarts with some Stilton, red onion and thyme.
Other good things have been: homemade chicken stock for chicken, bacon, potato and parsley stew, some stir fried root vegetables with garlic, parsley and thyme, and some spiced carrot and ginger soup.
But the highlight of the week has to be a supper at the home of some friends who provided us with delightful food and company. We started with the cheese course because, our host calmly announced, the oven had faltered and delayed the cooking of the chicken. This is a “slow” approach indeed. Of course no one minded and we all tucked in to some delicious British cheeses including Montgomery’s Cheddar and a new one for me, Sharpham, a delicious, ripe, soft cow’s milk cheese, which I am going to nominate as our cheese for this week.
We went on to a perfectly cooked dish of chicken with seasonal vegetables and a carefully, and very well dressed salad. And on again to not one but two stunning home baked tarts, one of apples and the other of frangipane and plums with – I pause here as this must be one of the highlights of my “slow food challenge” – mulberry syrup; but not any old mulberry syrup as this was home made using mulberries from a tree in our hosts’ Clapham garden - it was sustainable and delectable and memorable - a splendid evening.
I am half way through the challenge now. I am still enjoying it and so is my husband, and our family and our friends.