Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Veg Bag Week

I've had a good food week this week, in part because the spring veg has arrived for the bags from Local Greens. One of my reasons for signing up with this scheme is wanting to eat more vegetables generally, and also have them as the starting point for more meals and the random collection each week is quite inspiring and occasionally overwhelming. There was a seductive selection this week - and as I now volunteer with them occasionally to help pack the hundreds of bags they send out each week I am gifted the bonus of some extras from the leftovers. Thursday was mountain of veg day, and also night out at the theatre day so nothing got used except lettuce and tomatoes for crusty rolls.

Friday was better - I've been wanting fish for a week or two so bought a couple of decent cod steaks from Paul on the Sussex Fish stall and simply fried them in olive oil, then finished them with thin slivers of new season garlic and chopped parsley in the last of the hot oil. For the accompaniment I roasted a couple of pointy peppers till blackened, peeled them and added them to cooked farro, and dressed it all with sliced red onions caramelised in basil oil. Perfect summer food.

Saturday we were out all day, gorgeous lunch at A Wong and a (de)light(ful) supper at Terroirs so the only food at home was made by the man strawberry and banana smoothies with coffee and toast first thing.

Sunday breakfast was more of the same and decadent as it seems we had lunch out again, roast at The Canton, which was uncharacteristically quiet for a Sunday which is lovely for us as punters but worrying for the owners if their numbers are dwindling. I had been dreaming of clove and honey glazed ham with creamy potato salad for days as I love the new potatoes served this way so that was Sunday supper with the rest of the barley salad from Friday and lots of lovely leftovers for a few lunches. There was one small disaster too - I had a pretty little purple kohlrabi and I fancied it as a slaw just grated with carrot and dressed with vinaigrette. For some reason I decided to make the dressing with eau de vie from a bottle I bought from one of the Armagnac producers in France. Tasted like you think it would - and no, it really does not work with coleslaw. Live and learn.

Monday I still had mushrooms and kale and I fancied a big robust salad, with walnuts and things. There was a hunk of sourdough left from the weekend that I could see as cheesy crouton, and still plenty of onions and garlic to fry off for flavour. Though it is a bit of a surprise to eat raw kale - it is quite metallic in flavour and a long way from delicate in texture - I have grown to like it very much. The trick I think is to discard the hard stems and then *massage* the torn leaves with olive oil and a little salt and leave to soften for an hour or so before adding the rest of the elements. I cooked lots of sliced onions and garlic in olive oil, then added sliced chestnut mushrooms to cook down and tipped the lot while hot into the bowl of *relaxed* kale. Tossed in a handful of walnuts, some sliced tomato then deglazed the pan with a splash of balsamic and mixed to combine everything before dividing between two big bowls.

The man poached a couple of eggs till just perfectly runny and added them to the top with a crunch of crouton. Seriously great dinner. More mess than I was anticipating but a total pleasure to eat.

Far simpler and much less mess was dinner Tuesday night - just the soothing stirring of rice and stock  for mushroom risotto made rich with butter and Parmesan and finished with celery leaves and parsley. For reasons I don't understand I always sleep well after a big bowl of risotto. Plenty left for lunches for a day or two.

Wednesday was time to use up the last bits from the bag - there was still a few new potatoes, a couple of onions and half a head of new season garlic, a paper bag full of broad beans. For a sunny day a warm potato and allium frittata with a side of broad beans doused in basil oil and a crunch of salt was a delight, and easier than pie.

I bought very little extra fruit and veg - apples, celery and more peppers for morning juice, strawberries and bananas for weekend smoothies and that was all. I used everything I had - the last of the kale and a couple of tomatoes went into the juicer mid week for extra healthy start mid week.

Don't know if the change to more emphasis on vegetables is significant or just that it's easier in summer to go for the delight of light when the sun shines, but I guess time will tell. Either way, it's a pleasurable way to eat.