Category Archives: producers

Beetroot and Carrot Salad

Beetroot and carrot salad

I used to think beetroots had to be cooked. Now I am wiser, I know they can be  raw. And may be more nutritious as a result.

Grating beetroots makes crunching effortless while an oil and vinegar dressing adds luxury. Carrots, also grated, are a perfect companion.

You know what they say: eat for colour: orange, reds (and more), each colour containing different immune-boosting nutrients.

I first came across the beetroot/carrot combo at the Better Food Cafe about seven years ago, and copied the idea, working out a version at home. 

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Then turned it into a recipe for Grown in Britain CookbookI wish I had name-checked my inspiration so glad to be doing so now. My beetroots came from  the Better Food Company, too.

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I peeled the carrots and beetroots, above. Grown organically, slowly, biologically, they are chemical-free and needed only scrubbing, plus the skin has nutrients. (But I am not perfect and peeling is faster).

I was taken with the yellow, white and purple carrots, as they used to be before 17th century Dutch growers went monoculture orange to praise William of Orange. Poetically, these 21st century rainbow carrots were grown in Holland.

Bear Fruit Bear Pit
I had bought my Dutch rainbow organic carrots at the Bear Fruit stall (above) in the Bear Pit, Bristol.

The Bear Pit is, by the way, an example of urban regeneration from the grass-roots-up. A dingy subway on a busy city roundabout now transformed by locals into a lively market and meeting place.

Beetroot and Carrot Salad – ingredients for four

  • 600g raw beetroot
  • 600g raw carrots
  • 50g sunflower seeds
  • Dressing: 4 tablespoon olive oil + 50ml balsamic vinegar
  • oil for frying/toasting + soy sauce for seeds
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh herbs (parsley, coriander) or snipped salad cress.
  • 1.1. Scrub/peel carrots and beetroot, and trim tops and tails. Keep carrots whole for grating. Peel the beetroot and cut in half. Grate the raw vegetables, using hand grater or food processor. Combine in large bowl and add olive oil and vinegar dressing.2. If not serving immediately, don’t add dressing yet. Instead, store covered in fridge. Remove 1 hour before serving to bring to room temperature. Then add dressing (below).

    3. For the vinaigrette, put the oil and vinegar in a screw-top jar, put the lid on tightly and shake vigorously.

    4. Gently heat olive oil in a small frying pan and toast the seeds for 3–4 minutes over a moderate heat, stirring to prevent sticking. Add the soy sauce at the end of the cooking, if using. Most of the sauce will evaporate, leaving a salty taste and extra browning for the seeds. Store the toasted seeds in a jar with a lid if preparing the day before.

    5. When ready to serve, add the chopped herbs to the grated beetroot and carrot. Shake the screw-top jar with vinaigrette, then pour over the vegetables, and season to taste. Toss the salad gently until everything glistens. Scatter the toasted seeds.

Kedgeree

I ask Nadia over. Our plan: to make a video of cooking kedgeree, then scoff it convivially.

We assemble the ingredients, position Nadia at the cooker and I film the three-minute video on my iPhone without a script.

I like it fast and real, like my food.

According to Wikipedia, kedgeree ‘consists of cooked, flaked fish (sometimes smoked haddock), boiled rice, parsley, hard-boiled eggs, curry powder, butter or cream and occasionally sultanas’.

We use Organico Nerone (black) rice, into which, once cooked, we stir 1 tsp curry powder, quartered organic hard-boiled eggs, chopped dates, Fish4Ever peppered mackerel then lemon juice + chopped parsley.

We concoct curry powder with ground spices. Recipe for future ref: 4 tsp coriander + 2 tsp turmeric + 2 tsp chilli + 1 tsp ginger + 1 tsp mustard seed + 2 tsp cinnamon + 8 single cloves. We only use 1 tsp of this mix in the kedgeree. Would be wrong to overpower the rest of the ingredients…

No sultanas but miraculously I have dates, softening in water. We decide 8 cut-up small ones are fine. No butter because the fish is canned in plenty of organic sunflower oil. (I hope this encourages you to experiment when cooking).

Before Nadia arrives, I hard-boil eggs.  Note to self: try 3 next time.

I boil the rice.

250 g Organico Nerone rice simmers for 40 mins in 800 ml water. A whole grain, cook black rice as if brown rice: 1 cup of rice for 2 of water.

Listen, sometimes cooking is guess-work. Jamie Oliver uses 170g of long-grain rice for his kedgeree recipe but give no quantities of water. Water has to cover the rice generously because rice swells.

Amounts-wise, I’m a bit hit-and-miss. (Gad, how I hate reading posts like this when desperately seeking a recipe. Sorry). How do you cook your rice?

STOP PRESS: After saying on Twitter that I could not find a classic kedgeree recipe online, chef James McIntosh blogged this one! Fresh!

I was dying to try Organico Nerone rice. Known as ‘forbidden rice’, it did not disappoint. Dramatically black, the cooked grains are fragrant, dense and vibrant.

A speciality grain, it is grown only in parts of the Po valley. Charles Redfern, Organico’s founder and MD, is rightly proud of his artisan suppliers – Organico Nerone rice is cultivated and packed by the Picco family, growing it since 1878.

Organico Nerone rice recently won two stars in the 2012 Great Taste Awards. “Two stars = faultless” according to the Great Taste Awards.

Declaring interests, Organico and its sister company Fish4Ever are clients. I only promote what is Winkle-tastic real food. And I did the video just-for-the-love-of-it.

Fish4Ever, the world’s first sustainable canned fish brand, is store-cupboard convenience with a conscience. In organic world, everything is connected. Fish4Ever’s eco-practices include supporting local day boats, artisan fishing and local canning, and 100% organic land ingredients. The result? Quality fish. It’s a virtuous circle.

Here’s me eating it. Yup, I overcooked the rice a bit. And still, utterly delicious.

Black rice kedgeree served with grated carrots

And here it is, served the next day.

What is Tesco Real Food?

Tesco Real Food is the name of of Tesco’s recipe magazine and website, Tesco.com/realfood.

Launched by Tesco PLC in 2011,  the magazine is given away free by Tesco six times a year as a marketing promotion (see pic above).

Tesco sells real food in the sense it is tangible, not imaginary. But Tesco food is not what this Real Food Lover calls real food.

I have had this definition on my Real Food Lover blog since 2008.

“What do I mean by real food? As close to nature as it can get. I want mine grown organically – without chemicals and with respect, as close to my home as possible. And wholefoody and unprocessed too, please.”

Others have a similar definition.

The Real Food Festival says: “Real Food is all about great tasting, sustainably and ethically produced food.”

Real Foods, based in Edinburgh, has, for the last 30 years, sold: “healthy, natural, organic (real) food to the nation at affordable prices.”

In a blog post responding to Tesco’s recent use of the term “real food”, Real Foods writes: “… ‘real food’ is food from which the body can extract the maximum amount of nutrition with the minimum amount of waste; food in its most natural state with the best bits still left in rather than foods that have been processed so that the goodness has been removed and replaced by chemicals which, if not actually harmful, are nutritionally ‘empty’.”

Like the efficient retailer it is, Tesco has done its consumer market research and understands the nation’s need for nourishment. The result is its Real Food marketing initiative. Will it help people eat real food?

The magazine promises 32 “seasonal” recipes on the front cover.

Out of Tesco’s three “Season’s Best” recipes, one features mangoes from Peru. Mangoes are not grown in this country. They can never be seasonal for the UK.

Ten out of the 32 “seasonal” recipes were puddings with no fresh produce at all. Some were for Valentine’s day, Pancake day and Mother’s day. Are these annual celebrations what Tesco means by “seasonal”?

If so, Tesco has misunderstood the importance of seasonal for real food lovers.

Eating seasonally is about enjoying freshly-harvested produce. The fresher and more seasonal the produce is, the more nutrients it has and the better it tastes. That is one of the (many) reasons why local is important because it means the food is fresher when you eat it.

Tesco Real Food magazine’s current issue invites readers to Love Local and check out online its “wide variety of food from local producers around the UK”.

I checked out Tesco.com/local with my Bristol postcode and was directed to the Gloucestershire region. I was offered only eight products, four of which were beer. Yes, all good local produce, including Pieminister pies and cold-pressed rape seed oil.

But eight products do not a local-food-supply-chain make.

Like most supermarkets, Tesco sources globally not locally.

This article on apples gives us a clue.

According to the Telegraph, at the height of the UK apple-growing season in 2010, Tesco sourced only ten per cent of apples from Britain. The rest were imported. However its billboard ads promised ten different British varieties (subject to availability).

I get the feeling Tesco likes using words such as real and seasonal and local and organic because they sound good. But does Tesco subscribe to the principles and practices that underpin these words?

Tesco Real Food magazine’s current issue has an advertising feature for Tesco Organic. It says organic produce is grown “with reduced reliance on fertilisers”.

This is incorrect. Let me explain. Natural fertilisers – such as composted green and animal manures, and nitrogen-rich crops – are crucial to organic farming. This is how the soil is nourished.

On the other hand, chemical fertilisers are banned in organic farming because they strip the soil of life and cause environmental damage including water pollution.

Tesco’s Organic range is truly organic, and I am not questioning that [added after publication for clarification]. But does Tesco understand organic farming methods? Or is it using organic to make Tesco’s other products – such as intensively-farmed chickens - seem more wholesome?

Here is another example of the mismatch between Tesco Real Food and the reality of Tesco food.

As far as I know (please tell me I am wrong) Tesco still sells foods with trans fats despite a promise to ban them by 2011. Trans fats may make food last longer, but they are essentially candle-wax with huge health risks.

Trans fats are not real food. In fact, they are not even food.

Tesco’s Real Food magazine is glossy, handbag-size and beautifully-presented. In thick bold type, it emphasises words such as “nutritious” and “soul-warming”.

Is Tesco Real Food  the marketing version of trans fats, a cheap filler that tricks us into thinking we’ve been nourished?

Real food producers can tell you exactly what is in their food: how and when and where it was grown, reared, produced and processed – how the land was fertilised, and the farm animals cared for.

Why is Tesco spending its marketing millions pretending to be real?

               

Sheepdrove organic goose

There is no getting away from it. Eating meat means taking a life.

I understand the horror vegetarians feel. I love vegan cuisine.

But I am a meat eater. Maybe once a week. I can feel the nutritional value it brings to my body.

If I were a hunter – I imagine – I would kill the animal, and lie down and cry because I had killed it. (I saw this on TV once). Then eat it. Hopefully with reverence.

But I could be romanticising.

The fact is I cannot square killing for food.

At least I can make sure the animal was well looked-after while alive.

Which is why I choose organic meat.

On Christmas day, we cooked and ate a goose from Sheepdrove Organic Farm.

Declaration of interest: I work with Sheepdrove Organic Farm. But – you know me – I can only work with a cause or company I believe in.

Check out Sheepdrove Organic Farm. Lots of great info on its website: including the importance of grass-fed creatures and Eating less meat? Eat better meat!

Sheepdrove Organic Farm’s head butcher, Nick Rapps, is passionate about showing people how to eat organic meat in a budget.

For instance, buy cheaper organic cuts (not pre-cut packages) from an actual butcher who can provide the unusual cheaper cuts. Cheaper cuts need slower cooking.

Nick Rapps’s The Organic Butcher’s Blog at Food Magazine is a treasure trove of tips. Here’s Nick on the organic Christmas turkey on a budget.

My sister, Geraldine, cooked our Christmas goose.

Listen-up. True to our ancestors, she is a real food lover.

My sister said: “How did I cook the goose? It was good, wasn’t it? And simple to cook. I rubbed salt and pepper and fresh grated ginger on the skin. Then scrunched wet greaseproof paper, smoothed it out and covered the goose. The formula is 20 minutes per pound on a low heat roughly 150/Gas Mark 2/300  and 20 minutes over. Our goose took about 5 hours. Regularly,  pour fat off the roasting pan (and keep it later for roasting veg) otherwise the goose fat will overfill the pan. Most importantly, let it “rest” a good half-an-hour after taking it out the oven.”

We served the Sheepdrove goose with an array of colourful vegetables, cooked by other members of the family so not one person did all the work.

Red cabbage and apples, squash and coconut, cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts, gravy.

PS I lost my ‘phone over Christmas. However – curiously – on the day I lost my ‘phone, I sent a picture of our Christmas meal (above) to myself. Which was lucky as I had not backed up my images since November so the Christmas meal pic would have been lost. Funny, eh?

Sprouts and raw hummus

I was told yesterday that today is the last day of the Mayan calendar.

That means the end of 28,000 years of hierarchy and oppression.

Yippee!

And I have finally found a spouting system that works.

I bought this jar with its plastic perforated lid from Harvest, part of Essential Trading Worker Co-op.

DIY types can make their own. Or use old tights or muslin as the lovely Alys Fowler suggests.

Or buy one like mine (after years of experimentation, I can vouch that This One Works), and get loads of sprouting info from Living Food of St Ives.

First you put the dry (organic) seeds in the jar.

Add water and leave them overnight to bring them to life.

After that first long soak, you wash the seeds daily (or twice, thrice).

The seeds like being clean and wet (not soaked or drowned).

So after filling the jar with water, swill the seeds around then drain away the water (hence the natty perforated lid which makes life so much easier).

And how is this for a virtuous circle? I drain the water on the indoor plants so they get a regular watering.

After a few days, I have produced living things.

Here are some sprouting chickpeas, looking positively Lawrentian.

(DH Lawrence being one of my fave authors because he describes life on its different levels: soul, mundane etc and because: “Lawrence believed that industrialised Western culture was dehumanising…”).

So now I am going sprout-mad. Sprouts in stews. On toast with cream cheese.

Whizzed with Organico Artichoke Spread for instant hummus.

Hold on a minute. Did I say hummus?

I ask myself: WHY make hummus with cooked chickpeas when you can use extra-bursting-with-vitality FRESH sprouting raw chickpeas?

So, I substitute the cooked chickpeas for my Lawrentian darlings, add some turmeric and crushed coriander seeds (must sprout THEM one day) and of course lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, raw garlic, as in my usual recipe for hummus .

And it was delicious.

Fish4Ever challenges big brands

As a journalist and food campaigner, I help Fish4Ever with its communications. I cannot work for a cause or company I don’t believe in.

So, I have the privilege of asking nosy questions and learning about the politics of fish.

Lunch: a fried-medley of Fish4Ever sardine fillets (Steenberg’s Organic online £1.60) on a bed of organic rice vermicelli.

Medly: I fry sliced shallots/onions, garlic and chilli in the organic oil in which the fish are canned – Fish4Ever uses 100% organic land ingredients.

I add the sardine fillets, mashing them (was that respectful?). I snip-in fresh parsley .

Fish4Ever canned fish is in a class of its own, fished traditionally (70% MSC-certified, the rest artisan) and quickly-conserved for freshness.

I am a real food lover and here’s why: you do good – it tastes good.

Why is it important to look after the fish?

Fishing technology is too effective. Desired species are being hunted to extinction.

Its hunting methods are indiscriminate, killing turtles, sea birds, dolphins.

There are too many factory boats and not enough fish. Regulations to control catches are insufficient and often ignored. Out at sea, where no one is looking, rules can be flouted. Poor countries suffer from foreign piracy on an industrial scale.

Hugh’s Fish Fight on Channel 4 earlier this month focused on changing the fishing methods of the big tuna brands and own-label supermarkets.

The food corporations’ proposed changes are far better than nothing.

However, although the big brands may well promise a “pole and line” range, their primary business remains likely unchanged.

Each Fish4Ever can has a story - including the smallest tuna fishing boats in the world.

This is not an eco-add-on. Fish4Ever’s raison d’être is care of land, sea and people.

That’s what I call an ethical company.

Organic Food Awards 2011

This year I was a Soil Association Organic Food Awards judge, judging cheese (wonderful taste memories, quality outstanding).

So I was invited to the actual awards last Wednesday.

They were held this year at the launch of the 12-day Start festival to celebrate sustainable living.

And at Clarence House gardens, open to the public for the first time.

So I made an effort, bought a reclaimed frock for £25 at Dutty’s in Bristol, caught the coach (National Express not golden) to Victoria, and walked to the Mall.

                       

Me (in sister’s shoes) in front of earth house with grass roof and circular windows.

My first royal photo of Higher Hacknell Farm Organic Food Award winners, Jo and her husband Tim Budden, receiving rightful organic congratulations from HRH Prince Charles.

I had a touching royal moment myself exchanging greetings – I feel Prince Charles (and Soil Association patron) is an earth ally, and uses his position well. I award him the Winkler Seal of Approval.

It was an uplifting evening, meeting old friends and new, especially enlivening because it was held outdoors. Outdoors on a summer evening = good!

Here is a pic from the Bee keeping stall with Daylesford foundation

And a pic of the organic veg garden at Clarence House (could the bare earth do with more plants growing, permaculture-style?).

Here is a chest of drawers imaginatively filled with plants from Garden Organic

And an organic chicken

Pic of the Organic Food Awards certificates awaiting collection by their winners.

At the end of the evening, on my way to Green Park station, I saw the ubiquitous discarded Tesco plastic bag.

Funny. Because my day had begun by taking a Guardian photographer round Stokes Croft in Bristol for a feature by John Harris in next weekend’s Weekend Guardian on UK-wide campaigns against Tescos.

What does it mean?

PS Here is the pic that Guardian photographer, Jon Tonks, took of me outside Cafe Kino in my Dutty royal get-up.

Peaceful No Tesco Tea Party


Well, the No Tesco Tea Party has to be one of the most fun, friendly, heart-filled

musical protests I have ever been on.

Here’s a delightful news item from ITV: over a minute of dancing protest.

But it was also possibly the most stressful because – post-riot – it wasn’t just a matter of ringing up our local bobby.

Instead, we were invited to respectful, professional meetings with Silver and Bronze commanders, who supported our right for a peaceful protest but were thinking worst-case scenarios, and asking: how would we deal with them?

I realised the police, like the medical profession, are (bless ‘em) fear-driven.

So, for a few weeks leading up to the No Tesco Tea Party I felt the weight of responsibility. Dreamed of police on horseback bursting through my front door. Worried about upsetting local charities such as Relate and the Salvation Army who’d been damaged in the riots. Angsted about offending rock throwers, too.

(Rock throwing is not my style but anyone caught-up in those two crazy riot nights might need support so please contact BristolArresteeSupport@Riseup.net, mentioned in June’s edition of The Autonomist.

And anyone with unanswered questions about the Stokes Croft disturbances, please sign the petition asking Bristol City Council for a public inquiry.)

Our protest took place in front of Tesco in Stokes Croft. I was glad to talk with Tesco managers because this campaign is not against supermarket employees.

It’s against supermarkets destroying communities in their single-minded drive for market shares.

The truth is I am a communicator.

I find enemy positions deeply unhelpful. I would rather build bridges.

Listen, we are all victims of the same soulless system that puts profit before people. So let’s find our common humanity and work together for a better world.

When Monday 13 June dawned – bright sunshine after Sunday’s torrential rain – I felt confident. Our protest would be – as all our protests have always been – peaceful.

And it was.

I was moved by the joy and the dancing

and the homemade cakes

and cucumber sandwiches (note Princess Diana tea-tray)


and anti-Tesco knitting protestor.

I was moved by Mark who did not agree with our campaign but became a volunteer peace marshall because he supported our right to a peaceful protest.

For goodness sake, there is disagreement even when you are on “the same side”. So, shaking hands with Richard whom I had met online when our political views clashed made me happy: this is what community is all about.

The No Tesco in Mill Road campaigners had come all the way from Cambridge to join our protest. Thank you!

Our Tea Party protest was to create awareness for our appeal for a judicial review.

Our appeal was heard on Wednesday 15 June in Cardiff.

And we won.

Thanks to People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, Jake and peace marshalls

and People’s Supermarket for donating free food.

O and here’s one of me, thanks to Nadia of GRO-FUN.

Stokes Croft Tesco opens and butter bean salad


It’s hard to be happy about the 41st Tesco opening in Bristol (figure according to Tesco’s store locator).

93% of 500 locals surveyed had said No to Tesco’s in Stokes Croft. After over a year’s campaigning, it was bitter to see Bristol City Council bow to Tesco pressure last December.

Still, we are making the best of it.

On Friday 16 April, Tesco opened in Stokes Croft.

Friendly activists gave a Bristol-style welcome. They put a comfy sofa and lampshade outside on the pavement. Someone played a guitar.

Another strode into Tesco’s with a wad of Monopoly money. When he was not allowed to spend it, he tried to bribe a security guard with it.

A woman passer-by who also objected to Tesco’s monopoly, took up the Monopoly money-action.

On Saturday, a performer (see pic above) invited us in to ‘his’ Tesco, while outside on the pavement, stalls served free food, and promoted Picton Street’s local independent shops, in the street behind the dreaded Tesco.

Picton Street is a marvel, and includes the Bristolian Cafe, Yogasara yoga studio, vintage dress shops, an art gallery, Radford Mill organic farm shop and Licata, the family-owned Italian delicatessen.

Licata often has great bargains in olive oil and tins of beans. I am crazy about beans as they are a wonderful source of health. Licata has many variety of tinned beans, which to me = fast food.

I owe everything I know about beans to vegetarian hero, Rose Elliot. The Bean Book changed my eating habits for life.

The following recipe comes from there. Please consult The Bean Book for measurements, nutritional facts and top inventive recipes using dried beans and pulses.

Here is my sloppy fast-food version.

Gently fry sliced fresh mushrooms in (olive) oil so they are still succulent. Add a tin of drained butter beans and warm with the mushrooms. Add lemon juice squeezed from two lemons and chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or coriander. You can’t have too many fresh herbs so over-estimate. Mix it all in the frying pan, with salt to taste, and serve still warm with brown rice, or cold as a salad.

I used organic ingredients from Better Food organic supermarket, a 20-minute walk away from Tesco’s, and land cress as the fresh herb.

Rose Elliot’s recipe fries fresh cut-up garlic with the mushrooms and adds cumin spice, with coriander as the fresh herb.

PS I met a neighbour on Saturday who said she had to buy something at Tesco’s in Stokes Croft, and I am haunted by her anxious look.

So, just so you know: If it makes life easier to shop there, then do. Life’s too short for guilt and sacrifice.

I am not against people who use Tesco. I am against Tesco.

Bread – what’s left unsaid


Look, if you are not in the mood for cooking (a state I know) then make sure basics, such as bread, are doing you good.

Bread gets messed-around with. This sticky label, from the 2009 Real Food Festival, lists ingredients that might be found on bread – but are never listed.

The label said:

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“!!!WARNING!!!

This ‘bread’ may be made using the following:

Amylase, hemicellulase, phospholipase, peptidase, xylanase, protease, oxidase and other enzymes, some of animal or GM origin.

The law says bakers don’t need to declare them.

DISCLAIMER

These stickers are only for use in your own home. The Real Bread Campaign, Sustain and The Real Food Festival take no responsibility for any consequences, legal or otherwise, of you using them elsewhere such as wrappers of factory bread, supermarket shelves or advertising posters.”

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As Michael Pollan says: if they are more than five ingredients on a label, avoid.

The long list of enzymes above are “processing aids”. In other words they are used to make the bread rise faster, look nicer, last longer.

But because these processing aids are not classified as food ingredients then – by law – they do not need to be listed on the label.

Whaaat? You eat them but they are not food ingredients?

It reminds me of adulterated food sold to the Victorian poor

My real bread came from the Better Food Company in St Werburgh’s, Bristol where I also got marmalade made by their chef (as good as homemade…hey, it’s January, time for marmalade-making again) and organic butter from Nature’s Genius in Fishponds, Bristol.

Yes, the bread cost more than supermarket bread but I got more food for my cash. My grandmother would say money spent on un-nutritious food is money wasted. And I agree. Do you?