A Lunchtime Find

When it’s cold or wet I tend to stay on campus, or even walk the corridors of the main hospital building for my lunchtime stroll. Today the weather was perfect, so I went through the housing estate, because I knew my secret pathway was looking pretty.

I’m glad I went because the daffs won’t be around much longer. I lingered a few minutes and then it was time to stride out. Next I came across this van,

and just had to investigate. Who remembers the days when the baker, the fishmonger, the milkman, the green grocer and of course the Corona lorry and the ice cream man came?

Now in Exeter, the farm shop comes to some areas.

With lots of lovely local produce.

You’re probably wondering if I was tempted.

Well, as I’m over the baking phase I had in the autumn, because if you make cake you have to eat it don’t you? That’s bad news for a chubba-bubba, so it had to stop. The only thing to do is buy the odd treat or ten, so I chose a brownie which I’ve left in my desk drawer until Friday afternoon, when I’ll need – uh – deserve a treat for surviving the week.

This lovely lady runs the mobile shop. She was a delight to chat to and said Love Local Food is based at West Town Farm, where they have open days for families and schools. Their mission is to produce and promote sustainable food, reduce food miles and to engage with people in the community.

We all like our food to be fresh don’t we? It really does have more flavour if it’s local and in season, rather than being chilled for goodness knows how long, while it’s being flown hallway around the planet. Have a look at Love Local’s pages, there’s even a ted Talk. If you’re near Exeter, watch out for the happy food van!

From Berry to Jelly

Jen H has chosen transition for this weeks photo challenge, and invites us to show and image or series. This is quite a tough one to be original with at least. I hope that you think my choice demonstrates transition.

There was an abundance of fruit this year, both cultivated and wild and home made jam and jelly is way better than mass produced.

The crab apple tree gave generously.

crab apples

One day went to buy some jam jars at Lakeland and got chatting to the lady there, she asked what I was planning to make. I said the next thing was crab apple jelly.’Ooo lovely’ she said, ‘but have you tried crab apple and hawthorn? it’s even better’. Hawthorn grows in practically every hedgerow in England and even the hungriest of birds can’t eat it all, and I do love a forage.
Being so tiny they take forever to pick.
There was enough to make a few jars. This is the gunge left behind after straining through a jelly bag.
This is the lovely jewel like juice produced.
Best of all, the Lakeland lady was right, the mix of Crab apple and hawthorn makes a delicious sweet jelly,

jellySee the colour difference, the hawthorn and crab together is at the back. Both are a delicious transition !

The Inspirational African Chef

On Saturday I met up with Malcolm, the African Chef . He and his lovely wife have gained a third beautiful child since I last saw him, a 3 month old baby boy. His delicious products are doing well and he’s added new and tempting things to the range, as well as the original favourites. We talked about social media, and he was really inspirational,  encouraging me to get on with my novel, thanks Malcolm, I’ll see what I can do!

Of course we talked about food and a recipe on his website that includes two of my favourite things, coconut and butternut squash, he kindly said that it’s okay to share it with you.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

1 Large Butternut (1.2KG) diced with skin on.
1/2 Small Lemon
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Inch fresh ginger
1 Tbs Organic coconut Oil (or any other oil you may have)
1 x Tin Organic coconut milk – we like Biona organic as it contains 50% organic coconut and water
Dried Pumpkin leaves (optional)
Handful of watercress
Drizzle of The African Chef – Fire Water 

I just love the squashes, they are so versatile, easy to grow, have a wonderful flavour can be made into so many healthy dishes and have a long shelf life, so can be stored for a few months before being eaten. This recipe is healthy, delicious, rich, creamy and 100% Vegan ! 

Method and Cooking time (35 – 45 mins)

Wash and slice the butternut in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds using a spoon. Chop the butternut into large cubes (approx 1 – 2 inches). Lightly grease a baking tray with coconut oil. Slice the lemon into rings, peel the garlic and leave the cloves whole. Slice the ginger and add all the ingredients to the baking tray. Season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for around 30-40 minutes until cooked.

Next add roasted butternut to a large sauce pan on a very low heat with the coconut milk, dried pumpkin leaves and blend until smooth. If the mixture  is a little thick add a little warm water until you get a lovely smooth texture, finally add the watercress and blend again and serve.
Garnish with a little watercress and drizzle with firewater. Copyright Malcolm Riley, The African Chef.

If you visit Malcolm here, he shares some really interesting information about the properties of butternut squash and coconut oil, as well as some more recipes,  like the best way to use leftover turkey, very timely. You can also visit the online shop, a treasure trove of unusual  flavours, check out the alcoholic chillies! From the website, I was delighted to learn the name of a mystery fruit, that I tried in Nigeria many years ago, safou.