26 June 2015

What vegetables should I grow in my garden?

When starting to plant a new vegetable plot a question asked by many gardeners is what should I grow? This is particularly so for the novice gardener, faced with the huge range of seeds and plants available. Over the last eight or so years, I have had three vegetable plots of varying sizes, plus lived in a flat with a balcony, which I crammed with as many plants as possible. Over this time I have tried growing a fair few varieties of veg, with differing results, and have built up a list of favourites.

18 June 2015

Emmer sourdough

One of the joys of baking my own bread is experimenting with different flours. Sometimes that might be seeking authenticity baking a ciabatta using an Italian type 00 bread flour, or baguettes using French T55 flour. What I particularly enjoy is baking with heritage flours, from grains such as spelt or emmer. Humans have a long history of growing grains, and over the millennia have developed and cross-bred countless varieties. The pace of this advance has been particularly fast since the Second World War. As I wrote in another post, mainstream varieties of wheat grown commercially today are quite different to those grown 50 or even 30 years ago. Often, yield and disease resistance, rather than flavour, are the major driving forces behind the development of modern cultivars. (And in many ways this is understandable, we live in an increasingly crowded planet and have only a finite amount of agricultural land.) By baking with heritage flours, we can inject more complex flavours into bread, as well as getting a taste of the breads our ancestors ate.

9 June 2015

Fritto misto di mare

After a week of gales and rain, the weather finally came good last weekend, and we got our first real dose of summer. One of the great joys of living by the seaside is that when the weather turns good, it feels like you are on holiday, without having had the hassle of catching a plane or train, or endless hours of driving. I decided to go with the holiday vibe, and cook an Italian classic, fritto misto di mare (literally ‘mixed fried seafood’ – like many food descriptions, it sounds sexier in Italian).

6 June 2015

What's in season in June

June is the first month of summer (although at times in the fickle British weather it doesn't always feel that way). In the veg plot, June can herald something of a hiatus - the sowing and planting out of spring has finished, but most of the main crops are not yet ready to harvest. Excitingly, June heralds the beginning of the British summer fruit season, giving a real taste of summer. If you fancy a bit of foraging, elderflowers are at their peak in early June and can usually be found in both the town and countryside.