Thursday, 2 March 2017

March 2014: be kind


"Be kind, for everyone is fighting a great battle."
This is one of my favourite sayings, attributed to Plato. We don't always realize it, for most of those battles go unnoticed.
Everyone has their problems, even if they seem small to the rest of us. You might not understand why they act the way they do, but give them the benefit of doubt and be kind, if you can manage that.
What has this little sermon got to do with food?

1) Be kind to your body. Try not to poison it with rubbish. We all know - more or less - what rubbish is.

2) Be kind to your food:
don't force animals into cages;
don't force lettuce in January;
and think of all the grains we force through extruders, just to be able to eat cheerios instead of porridge or musli. (see Thought July '10)
don't waste it! [1]

3) Last but not least: be kind to yourself. Don't beat yourself up when you have, once again, failed to stick to some diet. When you have eaten the whole, large, chocolate bar, or packet of crisps.
And don't worry, either, if you don't exactly stick to rules 1) and 2) above! Just try, and try again. We are all of us imperfect. Which is, precisely, why we have to be kind.

And, on the subject of kindness:
Gleaning Network UK is an initiative to save thousands of tonnes of fresh fruit and veg wasted on UK farms every year. Farmers often have no choice but to leave vast quantities of food unharvested because they fail to meet cosmetic standards or because of overproduction. At the same time, 5.8 million people suffer from deep poverty in the UK and cannot afford a decent diet.
Gleaning Network UK coordinates teams of volunteers, local farmers and food redistribution charities in order to salvage this fresh, nutritious food and direct it to those that need it most. Do you want to help, or are you one of those farmers? See

broad beans, early carrots, leeks, brussels, swede, celery, parsnips, maincrop peas, radish, spinach beet (better value than proper spinach, and nicer), chard, turnip, lettuce, early/summer cabbage, spring onions, early cauli, bulb onions, beet.
Plant: potatoes, onion sets, shallots, asparagus.
And if you are really impatient for new greens, try growing pea shoots. [2]

Veg: sprouting broccoli, kale, cavolo nero, squash, cauli, spring greens, radishes, rhubarb, leeks, carrots, spring onions, salad leaves, parsnips, cabbage, chicory, sorrel, swede, beet, brussels, rocket, turnips, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, watercress.
Fish: dab, red gurnard, grey mullet, mussels, oysters, clams, mackerel, herring, megrim, scallops.
Meat: rabbit, turkey, wood pigeon, beef, mutton, pork, venison.

All about squash + recipes:
And for a fresh beginning, see 'Five ways to use stinging nettles' at

If you fancy a nice spring salad, use any of the following:
grated raw carrots, beetroot, parsnips, swede, celeriac, turnips, cabbage, brussels sprouts, (winter) radish, cauliflower all combined with a nice cooking apple,
and/or rocket, sorrel, corn salad, cress. And if you're brave, a few finely cut dandelion leaves.
Add nuts and seeds, nice oil and vinegar or mayonnaise, and you're laughing!

3 tsp olive oil, 1/2 sliced onion, thyme, 2 minced cloves garlic, 4 pork chops, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 30ml cup cider vinegar, 1 large chopped tart apple, 8 oz shredded cabbage.

Preheat oven to 190°C. Heat 2 tsp oil in ovenproof pan, add onion, cook covered, 4 mins, stirring often. Add thyme and garlic; cook and stir 30 secs. Transfer to bowl. Put remaining tsp oil in the same pan, also the seasoned chops. Cook 2 mins on each side until brown.
Remove chops and set aside. Remove pan from the heat. Add vinegar and pepper, stir and scrape cooked bits from pan. Add onion mix, apple and cabbage; do not stir. Arrange chops on top, overlapping to fit. Cover pan; place in oven. Bake 20 mins or until done to your liking.

PUMPKIN SOUP serves 2 as a main, 4 as a starter.
1 pumpkin weighing about 2kg, 1 onion, finely diced, 60g butter, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 3 blades of mace (or pinch nutmeg), 1‐2 tsp sea salt, pepper, 900ml stock, (leftover greens like kale stalks, leek greens etc, cut very finely), 1‐2 tbsp sherry.
Deseed and chop pumpkin into 1cm thick shards. Melt butter, add onion, pumpkin and spices, cover. Sweat with onions and greens for 20-30 mins ‐ add stock if it gets too dry. Once tender, tip in stock; simmer a moment, puree, season. Add sherry before serving.

1.5 litres stock, 3 large chopped potatoes, chopped, 4 grated carrots, grated, 4 chopped leeks, 6 tbsp oats, 350g grated Cheshire cheese (preferably a mixture of white and blue), grated, salt, pepper.
For the sarnies: 1 loaf white bread, thinly sliced, 110g butter, 200g slices Cheshire cheese, 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 small bunch watercress, leaves only, to serve.

Bring stock to the boil. Add potatoes, simmer for 5 mins, then add carrots, leeks, oats. Continue to boil until veg are tender. Mash using a potato masher. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add cheese and stir until melted. Season. Continue to simmer for 3-4 mins. Meanwhile, spread one side of each slice of bread with butter. Sandwich a slice of cheese between two of bread, buttered-sides out. Heat remaining butter and oil: when the butter foams, add a sandwich and fry until the bread is toasted and golden-brown on both sides and the cheese is starting to melt. Keep warm and repeat. Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle over the cress. Cut sarnies into squares and serve alongside.

SCRAG END of LAMB with LEMON, KALE and SPELT (meal soup) 
1kg scrag end of lamb; sea salt, black pepper, 4 tbsp olive oil, juice of 1½ lemon, lots of thyme, 800ml water/stock, 120g pearled spelt or barley, 100g kale, plenty of good bread to serve.
Season lamb all over. Heat oil in a pan that's big enough to take all the ingredients, add meat, let sizzle and spit for a few mins, turning regularly, until lightly browned all over. Add lemon juice, thyme and water barely to cover, season. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for about 1 1/2 hour. Add the pearled spelt and cook for 30-40 mins, until the grains are tender. Remove tough stems of kale and chop the leaves, add to pan. Cook until the kale is just cooked - 2 mins only - and serve with white bread to soak up the juices.

4 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp thyme, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 500g squash, up to 225g mushrooms.
Preheat oven to 190°C. Combine oil, salt, pepper, thyme in bowl. Cut squash into 1cm slices, scoop out seeds. Cut. Place half the thyme oil in an ovenproof dish, add squash. Mix mushrooms with remaining thyme oil, put in another dish. Place both in oven, roast for 25 mins or until squash is tender and mushroom liquid has evaporated. Stir mushrooms occasionally, and put in bottom oven if done before squash. Place squash pieces on plates, and top with mushrooms.

100g kale (or cabbage, or spinach) • 200g purple sprouting broccoli • 150g mushrooms • 2 cloves garlic • butter/dripping/vegetable oil • 3 tblsp tamari/soy sauce • 1 tblsp sesame seeds.

Slice kale roughly and chop broccoli into medium-sized chunks. Crush garlic. Chop mushrooms roughly. Heat oil in a wok, add garlic, mushrooms and sesame seeds. Stir and cook for 5 mins, until the mushrooms are lightly browned and their juice has evaporated. Add broccoli. Stir, cover for 3 mins. Add kale. Cover for 2-4 mins, until it starts to wilt. Remove wok from the heat. Serve immediately.

500g cooked sliced beet, 500g carrots, and a mix of: ginger, cinnamon, plenty of lemon juice & zest, a little nutmeg. 
Steam or boil carrots in lightly salted water about 5 mins or until tender but not soft. Drain. Cook spice mix with a bit of water, add veg and cook for 5 mins, serve.

1 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil, 2 sliced shallots, 450g trimmed Brussels sprouts, 240ml water/stock, 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper, (toasted sesame seeds).
Halve larger sprouts. Saute shallots and sprouts, until the shallots are starting to brown and the sprouts are browned in spots, 2-4 mins. Add liquid, thyme, salt, pepper; cover and reduce heat. Cook until the sprouts are tender, 10-15 mins. If you like, strew toasted sesame seeds over them.

[1] Tip for parents: if you butter and cover a slice of bread completely, edges and all, it's easier to persuade your kids not to leave the crusts. And don't give them too much: start with half a slice.

Next month: Arthritis.