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 forty-fifth week:
I had lots of carrots this week and so made soup. I used my own very simple recipe consisting of 750g of peeled and chopped carrots and 2 peeled and sliced onions, which I cooked very slowly with 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil in a covered, heavy- based pan for about 20 minutes. I added a litre of vegetable stock, a bunch of thyme leaves tied with string and a tablespoon of honey and let the whole lot simmer until the carrots and onions were tender (about another 20 minutes). I then removed and discarded the bunch of thyme and liquidized the carrots etc. to make a smooth soup and then seasoned it with a little salt and pepper. It was excellent and I am convinced that this is largely because the carrots, which were from the Farmers Market, are of such good quality and flavour and not as old as many you may find on the supermarket shelves. I sometimes add some plain yoghurt and seeds to this soup but it is not really necessary.
Our youngest son is home for the Easter holidays and was telling me how much he has come to v alue and never tires of eggs as a delicious, simple and economical meal whilst at university, having two or three each day, usually poached. He also commented “The best thing about not having had eggs for breakfast is knowing that I can have them for lunch.”
We did the usual shopping trip to Barnes for a leg of lamb amongst other things from the butcher and a Scottish line-caught wild sea trout from the fishmonger who told me it was the very first of the season. It was expensive but enough for 6 for a very special family lunch and given that I am saving so much money on food since starting the challenge I decided to go for this luxury. I also bought eggs and cheese from the cheese shop before moving on to the Farmers Market for fruit: this week Concorde pears, which are particularly large and delicious, Bramley cooking apples and rhubarb. I also bought some red mustard leaves (new to me) from the Wild Country Organics stall and, from the Perry Court Farm stall, the usual huge bag of vegetables, which included some young turnips, and cucumbers. I also bought two loaves of bread, a spelt and sunflower seed and a large white sourdough, and finally a short rib of beef and two pigs trotters (which were not available at my usual butchers), which were both very cheap. I have never cooked or eaten pig’s trotters and am feeling a bit squeamish about them, but I am cooking them very slowly in the oven as I write this and am hoping for a successful outcome.
I baked the sea trout with lemon and thyme wrapped in foil in the oven (180c) for 25 minutes and we ate it with boiled new season potatoes with chives from our garden and a salad of rocket leaves, finely sliced radishes and spring onions with a dressing of mild mustard, honey rapeseed oil and white wine vinegar. It was simple but special and very much enjoyed by all.
As well as chives, we have mint in our garden now and I cut a large bunch, which I put in a jug and filled with boiling water to make a delicious mint tea.
Other good things have been: homemade hummus with toast, radishes and young carrots; slow roast lamb with mint sauce and purple sprouting broccoli with anchovy dressing; rhubarb stewed with brown sugar; a salad of warm new season potatoes with bacon and chives; the red mustard leaves, fiery and delicious eaten with our British cheese for this week – Sharpham Rustic, toasted on sourdough bread.
I think Spring is such a special time of year and I am so looking forward to the exceptional amount of new things to eat that I hope it will bring.