I come to you fresh from a bout of kicking myself.
You see, it is Tuesday, and that is the day, I have found, when Riverford Organic deliver their veg boxes. Well they would, had I remembered to order mine.
The scene of my ascent/descent to middle-class entrenchment is a long-winded one, so bear with me.
It has been a while since the last blog, partly because I have been busy working/seeing my girlfriend/catatonic and partly because the combination above means that I haven’t done much that is bloggable. I have done a few which were me just ranting about the state of affairs, but that was just dull pontificating. Sorry about that.
But last week I started to revive myself a little, when I decided to get myself a veg box from Riverford. Now I am not a huge fan of organic. Generally, as I wrote in one of my pontificating blogs, I regard it as slightly pointless these days when standard farm produce is so good. Yes, of course the world would be a better place if everything was organic but that isn’t going to happen.
However, after a shopping trip left me frustrated at the range and quality of veg on offer, I remembered a Twitter contact saying Riverford were good. I put the question to the masses again and generally was told that getting a box was a GOOD IDEA. So I went on t’Interweb and did it. Just shy of £12 saw a “small” box of soil-encrusted goodies delivered to my door. Double bonus.
And it was good. Within was: potatoes, carrots, spring onions, a lettuce, flat mushrooms, green beans and, best of all, purple sprouting broccoli and wild garlic.
Somewhere within this box was the touchpaper to rekindle my foodie leanings. I tend to leave veg to go off in the fridge far too much, but having paid a fair whack, and it being visually better than the usual stuff, I determined to “rub a little funk on it”. My excellent girlfriend was in town as well, which helped, as cooking is always more fun when there is more than just one person scoffing it.
I had a day off Wednesday, and we went to hippy central casting in Totnes for falafel and a wander down the Dart. While there we picked up some cheese and wine from Sharpham Vineyard (of whom more later) with which to complement the veggie feast I was planning in the evening. The only concession I made to being a Luddite was ready-rolled puff pastry…
So, we get back slightly fatigued from our trek and I swing into action. I have a box of veg in front of me and it needs eatin’.
So here’s the menu: Starter was the flat mushrooms with probably the most exciting thing for me on the menu – wild garlic pesto. I bought some at the Love Food Festival in Bristol a few weeks back and it was excellent, seeing the wild garlic in the list of box vegetables probably ensured I bought it in the first place.
And of course, there’s the fact it is dead easy to make: handful of washed and chopped garlic leaves, 100ml of olive oil, 50g of pine nuts, a chopped garlic clove, parmesan and seasoning. Blitz in a mixer or, better, “pesto” it in a pestle and mortar. Piece of piss and it was brilliant, drizzled across the grilled flat mushrooms.
For the main, I kept it simple with boiled spuds – they were really good quality potatoes – and the beans. In hindsight I might have whipped up a tomato sauce for the beans but couldn’t be arsed.
To go with these I used the broccoli and the goats cheese I got at Sharpham and made puff pastry tartlets. Again, easier than they look. The pastry was ready rolled because I’m a heathen; cut it into rectangles of the size you want – a pack made two tartlets and had enough left to make cheese straws later! Then top it with chopped leeks/red onion, some broccoli that has been steamed for five minutes and goats cheese, cut into small chunks. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes at 180C.
The result was excellent – ok so I burned the pastry a bit and the cheese didn’t melt as much as I thought it would, but the broccoli was very tasty and the whole ensemble went down a treat.
With it we had Sharpham’s Bacchus (£11), which was a truly superb wine, just to my taste.
But that was not all, oh lord no. I made another lot of garlic pesto and used it as a sandwich filler the rest of the week. Then Saturday came and my girlfriend reappeared. We used the rest of the potatoes to make a cheesy mash with some leftover parmesan and then used the spring onions (which personally I don’t like) along with chilli, ginger and garlic to flavour some salmon fillets I wrapped in tin foil with them and cooked in the oven.
But the piece de resistance was yet to come. I don’t like carrots, never really have. I had been given a few, all still encrusted with the earth from which they had been pulled. What to do with them? Finally, Saturday afternoon it came to me. I would make a return to my usually ill-fated baking experiments with a carrot cake.
This time however, there was no error. Four carrots, sugar, flour, eggs, cinnamon, walnuts, veg oil and baking soda/powder, mixed together and baked for 35 minutes and there was a soft, moist carroty masterpiece.
What all of this means is that a week on, all I have left are a few carrots, which I might use to make a soup later. But I was knackered after playing football last night and forgot to order this week’s veg box. A schoolboy error, because again it has some nice stuff in it. Greengrocers depress me with their boring array of goods and if I got to the supermarket I’ll buy loads of stuff that’ll just go off.
But one good thing has come of it, even though I’ll miss out this week. My foodie mojo, which took a work-assisted battering, has been restored. It’s good to be back.