Important discussion to follow re the importance of rationing for equitable food distribution. And growing your own. And not wasting.  a REBLOG:

a new nature blog

It seems inconceivable that it was only a year ago (tomorrow) when the UK was due to crash out of the EU under a no deal Brexit. Thankfully that crisis was averted. Leading up to that momentous non-event, I wrote about what might happen to our food supply in the event that our smooth trading relationship with the EU broke down utterly. One year on, we find ourselves in a remarkably similar position – thanks to a Pangolin, or rather thanks to people wanting to eat Pangolins & turn them into medicine. Don’t blame the Pangolin.

Our food supply is part of a small number of “essential” things on which life depends. Food, water, housing (and the means to heat it when it’s cold). That’s it. Anything else we might like to think are essentials – well, we are just kidding ourselves. That includes mobile phone signal, the internet, even…

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This an amazing book that we hope will help to usher in new paradigms in thinking about food in an increasingly precarious future.  Here’s a review I wrote for the fascinating journal Self & Society.

 

 

A feast to celebrate single use plastic.

I really don’t know what to think. I just cooked pheasant, from breasts bought from a small independent butcher in a small shop in a small village in mid-Wales, thinking about a food system of small players and traditional game as an alternative to industrial meats.( I made a lovely stir-fry with nettles and wild garlic, Chinese flavours. ) Yet, if you read this article, you’ll understand all the many issues surrounding these birds, related to general bird biomass, ecology, land ownership, and food supply. It’s chilling that this explosion of pheasant numbers, many more than can be eaten in this market, takes place at the same time as some people pushing for more industrial chicken sheds in the countryside: raising livestock birds for cheap meat, raising wild birds for the pleasure of the hunt and who compete with local birds in waning populations. You can’t drive around here in spring without seeing dead pheasants all over the road. Why did the pheasant cross the road? To make us aware of all these conundra.

Who Owns England?

This post is by Guy Shrubsole.

Go for a drive down a country lane and you’re almost certain to encounter a pheasant, most likely as it leaps, kamikaze-style, into the path of the oncoming car. Pheasants are a non-native species in Britain, introduced for shooting; and though we tend to think of them as a harmless (if rather stupid) species, their numbers are now vast – a staggering 35 million are released in the UK every year (20 million of which are in England, as we’ll later see). A recent study showed the biomass of introduced pheasants outweighed the biomass of all wild bird species in the UK. So who’s releasing all these pheasants? What’s the ecological impact of doing so? And who owns some of the estates responsible? Who Owns England decided to investigate.

The ecological impact of pheasant releases

To be clear from the outset: the science…

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It’s an infinite topic, all the interconnections of climate and weather, food,  tradition and diet,  worries and hopes.  And everyone is going to have specific stories, part of the human story of where we are going as People.  I find this short film moving in its particularity in Bangalore, and then imagining that the experience this narrator describes can be written anew all over the world.  Facing up to it seems the most important thing.

IMG_20180816_101206.jpgTwo fun things, and they both have to do with tortilla chips.  Perhaps this is because, as a taco fiend, I often have broken corn tortillas calling for rescue.

Watermelon Pickle, well, the rind at least, the green skin carefully pared from the white pretty flavourless bulk that contains the precious sweet pink flesh. You’ve heard about it this pickle… you’ve wondered.  You don’t see the point in vinegar really as you identify more as a fermenter.  You look up fermented watermelon rind and find a recipe that suggests you make a brine. You kind of decide not to make a brine– there’s so much water itself in the watermelon. Instead you pack the pared rind that you’ve saved by insisting everyone puts them in a special bowl, and a teaspoon of sea salt, and you pack it down in a jar, and observe it getting wetter and wetter, creating it’s own layer of brine.  It occurs to you to add some hot pepper, in this case a yellow jalapeño.  This was a good idea but you could use any herb or spice or flavour as watermelon rind is really so very mild and passive. “Do with me what you will,” it said.

You realise quickly it’s not going to keep a bite or crunch very easily, so you surrender. After several days you taste it, and you are like, wow, THIS is fermented watermelon rind pickle.  Here we are, this is it. And you get the urge to chop it up with spring onions and the jalapeño, and loads of fresh coriander, and make a salsa.

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Other salsas:

Fermented Orange Salsa; 

Fermented Gooseberry Salsa

Fermented Chili Salsa

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IMG_20180722_113707.jpgKIMCHI FAUXRITOS, 

or,

last time I ate spicy cheesy Doritos, along with, admittedly, red wine, I got such a killer migraine that I’m afraid to eat them again but do miss the whole experience so decided to try a DIY, perhaps healthier version:

Had some rather pungent kimchi in the fridge which I dehydrated in a very low oven.  It took a while….

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When it felt really dry,  I pulverised it as much as possible, mixed it with oil

two ways:

Fry the uncooked (corn) tortilla scraps in the spicy oil, or

Toss the broken pieces (or proper triangles) in the dried kimchi and oil and bake in the oven.

I made two batches of each, one with nutritional yeast (for a cheesy note) and one without.

Comments: These are really nice snacks, fun to make, serve and eat.  They didn’t have that WHAM of Doritos, but maybe that’s not a bad thing.  I might add extra chilli powder next time.

 

IMG_20180616_164137.jpgI knew that Rhubarb Ketchup was a thing, as I gazed upon all those stalks growing madly in the raised bed and asked them, what shall I make with you? They said, if you make a standard ketchup, you’ll have to sterilise the jars, and do you really have the energy to do that? Or would you rather make something probiotic and alive, naturally tangy, and furthermore….  why not use your vinegar from underripe green grapes, the vinegar that started life as a verjus, knowing it is ill-advised to jar, as in many vinegar preserves, with an unknown Ph.?

So Fermented Rhubarb Ketchup happened, and it’s wonderful.   It an EXTRA fruity tangy ketchup, or catsup as one used to enjoy saying as a child– and would be marvellous at a barbecue or with anything chicken or duck, kind of like hoisin.  My intention though is to use it as an ingredient in a BBQ marinade, for tempeh.

Are you all right with my giving loose recipes?  It’s how I like to cook.  Because I cook this way, I feel more empowered and creative.  If it seems challenging, refer back to proper recipes.  Feel free to play with your own spice combinations– Pam Corbin in The River Cottage Preserves book uses cumin and coriander for instance, others use bay leaves; I am a junky for warm, spicy cloves as a go-with for rhubarb.  Here’s how I made mine:

  • 12 skinny or 6 quite fat stalks of rhubarb
  • a loosely chopped, large red onion
  • a few garlic cloves, being aware you could over-do (which you might want to do!)
  • five cloves or a teaspoon of clove powder (I like lots, you might not.)
  • a big handful of brown sugar
  • a small American measure 1/2 teaspoon of salt (add more to taste)
  • a mixture of cider vinegar and sauerkraut brine to equal about a quarter cup, but really the proper amount to thin the mixture to what feels ketchuppy to you.  (I used a scrap vinegar from green grapes and a brine from a lactofermented cauliflower/ giardiniera.)   Some people might use whey here.

Roast the rhubarb, onion and garlic until soft. It might have been nice to add a little orange juice, and maybe I will next time.  I did sprinkle a bit of seasalt here to get the juices flowing.  The rational for roasting in my thinking (vs raw fermented rhubarb) — a) most fermented ketchup recipes start with tomato paste/ puree which of course is cooked and b) when I discovered world traditions of beginning fermented aubergine/ eggplant recipes by roasting, steaming, or boiling, ferments that had been meh became YEAH!

When cooled, puree the rhubarb mixture; I did this in my trusty food mill which makes for a very smooth texture and removes scratchy bits.  Add everything else, combine, and pot, which for me means a jar with a rubber gasket that I will burp; others prefer airlocks.

I’m excited to smother this over stuff, and have it as an element to play with in my larder.

LATE CHIPOTLE ALERT!  

I decided a spicy Chipotle Rhubarb Ketchup might be something I’d be more likely to use, as a marinade and ingredient in sauces.  As remedial action, I softened three (dried) chipotle chilis in a little fermented brine (water, juice, vinegar would have been fine too) and repureed them through the ketchup.  Clearly one could just add the soaked chipotles to the original mixture! You could control how hot you want this.  I find fermenting lessens spice (does anyone know why?) so you can often add more spicy than you think you like.

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Invite me to your sunny picnic, this is what I’ll make to bring!  Fresh and spicy, sweet and sour, savoury, crunchy, moreish, yum!

You all know I would never be strictly prescriptive in these salads that combine fermented elements with fresh fruit and vegetables. This one is simply

  • grated beetroot,
  • chopped apples,
  • a few tablespoons  of  Rhubarb Kimchi, pureed, mixed in with:
  • a vinaigrette of olive oil and orange juice
  • dash of toasted sesame oil
  • a sprinkle of toasted pecans

Add anything else– goats cheese, feta, other nuts and seeds, carrots, fennel, cabbage, herbs, wild greens, lettuces or leaves….  Whatevah!

You can always use cabbage kimchi in salad dressings too.

The rhubarb kimchi, pureed, is also a wonderful salsa / raw chutney with goat’s cheese and crackers.IMG_20180514_141627.jpg

And of course, scraps from the beetroot, apple, and orange, and a new stalk of rhubarb from the raised bed in the garden, make a wonderful kvass!  And nothing’s been wasted.IMG_20180514_141609.jpg

My old friend Lee Ann Brown wrote this poem about Polk Salad in her book In the Laurels, Caught.  She wrote it from notes jotted on a day with the herbalist Mary Morgaine Thames, in North Carolina, learning about wild plants.

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POKE SALLET

is cooked not raw

stay ahead
              of the red

Eat in spring
cook when 6 inches or less

lymph cleanser

2 boils

Do Not drink the potlikker

Eat the berry

1 on the 1st day
2 on the 2nd day
3 on the 3rd day

How far do you
spit out the poisonous seeds?

become a dynamic accumulator
bringing up minerals from below

Children in a school near here used poke ink
It was that with which they wrote

any daughter paints her arms

the way to play the plants

on paper the unfixed juice goes from bright magen-
ta to a dried blood color

the man who built our house

first dreamed of a pokeberry sky

but after a hot day of crushing berries
and smearing the boards, gave into Benjamin Moore

it’s “hard to fix”

that color more bright than cochineal


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BREADLINES is a new and very compelling internet publication exploring food justice in the UK.

“To unravel food justice in the UK – one of the world’s most impactful global empires – requires deep reflection, reconstruction of the systems that support injustice (with which we are complicit) and more shared conversation and collective action.  We hope that the content of this journal will focus on that awareness raising as it relates to the UK, but it will also draw connections with related issues and movements in other parts of the world.”

You can read the very first issue here with articles about food banks, the vulnerability of traditional public markets, land ownership, participatory work in practice, Nyeleni + 10, and much more.  It’s a deeply political and change oriented food journal, concerned with EVERYONE  having access to good food.

The work comes from an approach of “community centred knowledge” and activism. You can read about some of this, and access many resources, here.

 

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