Every week I get a small mixed fruit and vegetable box from Abel & Cole. I get it for various reasons but am undecided as to whether they are the right or the wrong reasons. I look forward to it and dread it equally.
I am trying very hard to live responsibly and eat properly. Eating locally produced food that has been sustainably farmed when it is in season has to be the way forward. Although clearly the bananas and oranges are not local but at least they are either Fairtrade or they have had the shortest possible journey. So does this mean that by eating British root vegetables through the winter I am doing the Kenyan green bean farmers a disservice? I don’t know.
I know it costs more than going to the supermarket chains but I don’t have to worry (I hope!) about the bullying tactics these chains employ with their suppliers. The fruit and vegetables look more like “real” ones – they are not all identical sizes, shapes and colours or polished within an inch of their lives.
I love the way I get a delivery of different vegetables each week, many of which I would never put in my basket if I went to the supermarket: purple carrots, weird looking squashes, rainbow chard, many different varieties of potato. The problem with it is that I then have to find something to do with it.
This may already be obvious to most but I only realised recently that the majority of people are either bakers or cooks, very few are both. I am quite clearly a baker; I can spend hours making and decorating cakes and breads, and have no fear of pastry (except maybe the more complicated ones…). The fruit in my weekly delivery doesn’t scare me at all – I can either eat it or put it in a cake or a dessert. Luckily quite a lot of the vegetables lend themselves to cake making so the carrots and squashes generally meet a sticky end as well.
While I often enjoy cooking when I am actually doing it, I find the need to come up with a meal every night a real chore. My default setting is stew or pasta sauce. Chop it up and cook it slowly (stew) or chop it up and cook it quickly (pasta sauce). Maybe I should add stir fry to that list too… The problem is that I rarely have all the required ingredients for one or the other so my cooking tends to be a combination of what is in the fridge at the time. This method doesn’t always work brilliantly.
I was invited to dinner recently and had a brilliant meal that included proper homemade roast potatoes and gravy. If I make a roast I only ever serve baked potatoes because roast potatoes just seem like such a lot of time and effort. And while I wouldn’t dream of serving cranberry sauce from a jar at Christmas, I do serve Aunt Bessie’s roast potatoes, which even to me seems shocking! I don’t think I have ever even attempted to make “proper” gravy, it’s always Bisto (powder though, not granules, I do have some standards).
It really made me think about making more of an effort. For a while a couple of years ago I tried to plan my meals in advance and buy what I needed. It doesn’t take long and it really helps. I have to start doing that again and using my fruit and vegetable box as a base. I like to think I have renounced all processed food in my cooking (you’ll have to forget about all the refined sugar and flour involved in my baking) but when I look at it properly I could do a lot better.
So I thought a good challenge to set myself would be to take some of the ingredients of my vegetable box every week and make a meal with it that is worth posting. I decided this weeks ago and yet here we are, no sign of any recipes yet! I do have some ideas for this week’s spinach though so watch this space…