Tag Archives: food prices

Bread and organic ghee

This morning’s breakfast: toast from Hobbs House Bakery and organic ghee from Pukka, both bought at the Soil Association’s Organic Food Festival this weekend.

I have wanted to buy ghee for months – it’s a healthy fat that can be used at high temperatures without burning. But I have been deterred by the ingredients list. This ghee, however, has nothing in it but clarified butter from organic milk.

I have pledged to eat unpackaged local and organic during Organic Fortnight. As this is impossible, I Ask Questions instead.

“Why is the organic ghee from Austria ?” I sternly ask Pukka’s Helena Kowalski. Turns out Pukka works with an Austrian farmer who specialises in making ghee on his small farm. Perhaps this is a new way for west country organic farmers to add value to their milk?

My breakfast toast is from Hobbs House Bakery in Bath – local points there. The Hobbs people (see their colourful stall below) were jubilant about their win at the Soil Association organic food awards on Friday. So they should be – their bread is so damn delicious, I was heartbroken when I ate my last slice an hour ago.

The whole mood of the Organic Food Festival was buzzy and warm. It’s a wonderful feeling to be involved in something which does the planet good. And is successful.

At the festival’s launch, Barny Haughton from sustainable gastro-paradise restaurant, Bordeaux Quay, said business had never been so good.

The recent food price rises are linked to the price of oil. The lynchpin of industrial farming is factory-made fertiliser, a process that relies entirely on burning oil.

In contrast organic farmers fertilise their fields naturally, courtesy of the sun, by using crop rotations, nitrogen-fixing clover and composting. As oil prices rise, organic farming becomes more profitable.

In an oil-depleted world, local organic is the future. Common sense, don’t you agree?

Bean and beetroot comfort pie

Bean and beetroot topped with mashed potato on a plate

With a gale blowing outside, it was time to cook up some comfort food. No ingredient was safe as I ransacked the kitchen.

I boiled some potatoes, and mashed ’em with butter. Then I drained and tipped tinned kidney beans into a pan with a raw beetroot, cubed, and mushrooms, sliced. Plus a palmful of dried roasted buckwheat for earthiness (thanks, Chloe) and sliced fresh chilli, some salt and ground cinnamon for perkiness.

Once cooked (beetroot cubes still crunchy, or al dente), I poured the kidney bean mush into a greased casserole dish and forked the mashed potato on top, dotting it with butter. Then baked it in the oven for 40 minutes at a medium heat.

The dish looks dramatically red but there’s nary a tomato in sight – the colour is all down to the beautiful beetroot (and those kidney beans). And the minimalist amount I put on the plate for the dish’s photo shoot bears absolutely no relation to the amount I wolfed down.

UK food prices are soaring, and meat and dairy most of all. So if I had slowed on the butter, this would have been a topical economy dish.

But saving money on food should not be about depriving oneself, I think, but making good ingredients go further. So a bit of butter makes things better – especially when the winds are howling.

Couscous cousins

Plate with grated carrots, greens and couscous

Why do people eat pot noodles when there is couscous is in the world? Listen, all you do is pour boiling water over the grains (processed to a teeny size), let five minutes go by while they plump up with water, add olive oil and lo, instant food.

My current top favourite couscous is made from kamut (by Probios) which is good news for all you wheat-sensitive types.

Tonight I added to the couscous, chives (one of the few herbs I can grow as I have pink fingers). I fried onions, mushrooms and chilli, then grated raw carrots (organic of course) and served them with steamed kale and purple sprouting broccoli (cut up quite small).

I made one meal stretch for two unexpected guests, Sarah, my middle daughter, and Juliette, my eldest niece. Juliette, just turned 18, explained how traumatic it was. However she immediately noticed the benefits of being grown up.

How? quizzed Sarah, my daughter the social anthropologist.

Juliette said: “Like. Oh. My. God. I suddenly stopped listening to my story tapes.”

Juliette (pictured) jujudsc10013.jpgwas also disappointed with Delia. “People who are interested in food are just not going to buy Delia. She seems really old fashioned now,” she said.

My mum – the original real food lover empress – is also incensed with Delia for recommending convenience foods while so-called championing the poor. My mother’s letter begins: “Bleeding heart Delia has not done her sums right.”

My mother’s family, immigrants from Russia, lived in the East End of London. They had little on the table and very rarely meat. But they ate well because they knew about food.

Reader, such is my provenance.