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 thirty-fourth week:
It has been a busy working week and so I have used some of the things made in the past and stored in our freezer – “slow convenience food”: carrot and lentil soup with the addition of winter greens, yoghurt and sunflower seeds; onion soup, with the addition of toasted cheese; bacon and barley soup with spinach leaves; one of the lovely chicken and potato pies with some purple sprouting broccoli.
I am finding that the fresh vegetables I buy at the weekend from the farmers market or, as was the case last week, from a smallholding in Norfolk, are staying fresh for at least a week and sometimes longer. I usually decide what to eat each day based on the vegetables that we have in the fridge and then add in the meat, fish, eggs or cheese that I have bought at the weekend or from the freezer. So, I rarely need to shop during the week.
The black kale has kept exceptionally well. So having washed, removed the stalks and finely sliced the leaves, I stir fried it with some bacon pieces, crushed garlic, finely sliced red onions, leftover pink fir apple potatoes and a spoonful of rapeseed oil mixed with a little English mustard and a spoonful of sweet plum vinegar. I bought the plum vinegar from a farm shop, it is good and I am going to try making my own when it is time for plums from late summer/early autumn.
The Howgate Wonder cooking apples were excellent. I cooked them with a little brown sugar, a stick of cinnamon and water (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan) until they softened. They were particularly good since they held their shape and the water turned to delicious amber syrup.
The British cheese we have tried this week is Kirkham’s Lancashire, a crumbly textured cow’s milk cheese which we toasted on sourdough bread and ate with some of the onion and raisin chutney made in week 21.
As a consequence of making use of so many good things in our freezer, I have spent very little money on food this week so I splashed out on a small rib of especially “slow” beef for a supper with friends. I roasted it to medium rare and we ate it with horseradish cream (using the preserved horseradish from week 32), chestnut chutney (made around Christmas time), roast potatoes and parsnips and some shredded cabbage and leeks sweated in butter. I also bought another lovely Phil Truin chicken, which I roasted with root vegetables for a family gathering.
Other good things have been; maple syrup sponge puddings; rice pudding with nutmeg, bay leaves and lemon; Seville orange gin; some Stilton cheese on a Cheddar shortbread with a little bit of quince jam (made in week 24) and thyme leaves for a canapé before the roast beef supper.
The preserves I have made over the course of this challenge, most of them fairly easy and some ridiculously simple to prepare, have proved to be delightful treats which have frequently elevated good food to a higher level and I am glad that I have bothered to make them.
I really don’t think I spend any more time on food preparation since starting the “challenge”. In fact I seem to spend less time. I do however think about food more but in a very positive and enjoyable way