Tuesday, 2 May 2017

May 2010: slow down your bread

Back from a holiday on some Tesco-less island, friends told us they had eaten only very little bread and their stomachs seemed the better for it.
Our ancestors knew that grains need careful preparation, so they soaked or fermented them. Because whole grains contain anti-nutrients, like phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors, tannins, complex sugars and gluten. All of these can play havoc with our health, causing allergies, digestive disorders, even mental illness.

Unfortunately, these days speed is what matters. Food is designed for appearance, for keeping quality and profits. However, even 'healthy food' should be looked at askance. Who made it, and why?
Buy your bread from a local baker. Pay a bit more. Stoneground is better, organic best.
By the way, did you know stale bread is easier to digest than fresh? And: you may not be allergic to gluten, only to bread which has not been given te time to rise properly.
Be kind to your grains, and your grains will be kind to you.*

Direct: beet, calabrese, carrots (though June sowings get less rootfly), french/runner beans, kohlrabi, lettuce, sweetcorn, swede, spring onions, spinach (beet), courgettes, marrows, (sugar) peas. If pea moth's a problem, wait till mid May.
In seedbed to transplant: leeks, cabbage, cauli, sprouting broccoli (early May), kale.
in trays: beans, courgettes, cucumbers, melon, pumpkins, pepper, sweetcorn, tomatoes.
plant out: cauli; cucumbers, marrows, pumpkins, squashes late May.

Attract beneficial creatures to your garden.
Buckwheat, californian poppy, candytuft, convolvulus, corn chamomile, corn marigold, poached egg plant, sunflower, cornflower, dill, french marigold, golden marguerite, nemophila, phacelia, pot marigold, and sweet alyssum are easy annuals which attract hoverflies and lacewings. The simple forms, rather than the 'new, improved' versions of flowers are usually best.
And the nettle supports 40 species of insect, including some of our most colourful butterflies: leave some in a nice warm spot.

May is 'hungry gap' month: sowing and raising of vegetables is at its height, but pickings are slim.
Make the most of it:

Veg: spring greens, cabbage, chard, spinach, salad leaves/lettuce, radish, rocket, asparagus, sorrel, watercress, rhubarb, cauli, seakale, sorrel.
Herbs: chives, parsley, mint, lovage, summer savoury and chervil.
Wild greens and herbs: broom buds, chives, dandelions, fat hen, hogweed shoots, hop shoots, meadowsweet (leaves), sea spinach, sorrel, watercress, wild fennel, wild garlic, wild rocket.
Game: wood pigeon
Fish and shellfish: crab, pollack, salmon, sea trout.
Good fishmongers sell samphire this time of the year - a sea vegetable that grows on shorelines and salty mudflats. It can be served fresh in salads or laced with melted butter as a vegetable. Wash thoroughly under running water and don't add salt.

Spring cabbage: cut finely and blanche, serve with bacon and just-tender puy lentils.
Spinach: simply wilt with butter, salt and pepper.
Rhubarb: cut into chunks, bake with sprinkling of sugar, combine with banana and serve just warm for pudding. Have any left cold for breakfast.
Pea shoots - the leafy tips of peas, delicious in salads.
Broad bean tops: wait till the plants flower, pluck the top cluster of leaves. Steam lightly or stir-fry, mix into risottos or soups, bake into a quiche. Do it just once and you won't damage the plant.


  • 2 small heads of spring greens, 
  • 2-4 table spoons sunflower oil, 
  • 2 cloves garlic, soy.
Chop 2 whole greens cross-ways into strips of 1cm or less. Chop almost down to stump: stems and leaf ribs are sweetest.
Heat oil over high heat. Peel and lightly crush garlic with back of a knife. Keeping cloves whole avoids burning. Cook for 20 seconds. Add greens (before the garlic browns). Cook 2 minutes, turn constantly. Add some soy, cook 15 more seconds, serve.

Asparagus and eggs: the perfect combination. Boil eggs, grill or steam asparagus depending on thickness, dip in yolk, eat! Don't overcook, it's better with some bite.
My own way is even simpler - but t
hen, I grow and have to eat them every day :-). It works best if you have loads of asparagus. For one person, you boil asparagus in slightly more water than usual, 10 minutes if that. Then poach an egg over them for another 1 1/2 minute. On buttered toast. Keep the water for soup.

* See also http://ourheritageofhealth.com/4-ways-modern-bread-different-traditional-bread/ and, of course, the Thought for Food issue of October 2016. 

NEXT MONTH: fat is bad?????