Tag Archives: gardening

In my veg box this week – stripy courgettes, lettuce, whitecurrants

16 Jul

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve written this series, and so much has changed. The endless brassicas and roots are being replaced by salads and fruiting veg. Over winter and spring the fruit in particular got very repetitive, often the same three things week after week, and now we’re getting soft fruits and berries. It’s so exciting! This week we have:

Stripy courgettes
I absolutely love courgettes, they’re one of the things I really look forward to coming into season. I’m even looking forward to my own courgette plants going bonkers and producing them faster than we can eat them, as long as the weather holds out and we don’t get any more pigeon attacks. I’ve got lots of old favourite ways of cooking them, from including them in scrambled tofu or pasta dishes, to preserving them with wine and oil. I’m also really looking forward to trying some new recipes, in particular I’d love to try making courgette cake or muffins. Luckily I can tell the veg box company to stop bringing certain items, so as soon as my own plants start producing more I can switch off the courgette delivery.

I have to admit I am getting a little bit bored with lettuce. We’ve had exactly the same sort of lettuce almost every week for the past couple of months now. It’s lovely and crisp and fresh, and it goes with pretty much anything, but the flavour is not particularly exciting and there’s not many different things you can do with it. Any unusual ideas would certainly be welcome!

I don’t think I’ve had these before. They taste very similar to redcurrants, they might be a little bit more tart but that could just be because they’re not fully ripe yet. I could cook these for a dessert, but they’re just as lovely on their own. What I particularly love is their translucency, there’s something about being able to see the seeds that reminds me of eggs or frogspawn – is it weird that I find that appealing?

Also received this week: kale, broccoli, cucumber, carrots, new potatoes, mushrooms, oranges, a lemon, apricots.


Mrs Veg is back

15 Jul

I’m finally back after my annual hiatus! I work as an administrator at a university and around exam time I’m so drained that I can’t quite articulate myself as well as normal, and I have to have a little break from blogging. I’ve not been sitting at home doing nothing though, I’ve been doing all of the usual Mrs Veg things (growing, cooking, and eating vegetables). Here are some of the things I’ve been up to over the last couple of months:

Our gardening so far this summer has been a bit hit and miss. The pigeons damaged our garlic and broad beans which was really frustrating, but I’ve replaced both with courgette plants which have now started producing. Courgettes are one of the things that are definitely worth trying at home – they’re easy to grow and they taste about a million times better than anything you can buy in the shop. Our strawberry plants are taking a while to get established, but we got our best ever crop this year – about seven of the little beauties in total. As with courgettes you just can’t beat home-grown ones.

In June I went to a vegan food event at my local yoga centre. I could tell that most of the people I told about it were a bit baffled by the idea (after all, vegans just eat plain tofu, brown rice, and kale don’t they? What else is there to know?) It was really interesting and I had such a lovely time. We had a really helpful talk on nutrition, which might have been a bit too scientific for some but as I’m a bit of a geek I found it fascinating. After the talk we had a beautiful meal including ful medame (made of fava beans – my new favourite), a vibrant green tabbouleh, courgette rolls, and a few different salads and dressings. The other people there ranged from veg-curious all the way to long-term vegans. I really enjoyed sharing a meal with new people who I had a common interest with, and the the nutritional information that I learned is really sticking with me and guiding my food choices.

2014-06-22 15.37.06

One of the people I met at the yoga centre seemed to be as interested in experimenting with food as I am, and told me about his adventures making his own tempeh. I had eaten and enjoyed tempeh a couple of times before but it never occurred to me that I might be able to make it at home. I bought some tempeh starter and some whole, dried soya beans and tried it myself. Mr Veg helped me make a makeshift incubator using a wire cooling rack set over a terrarium heat mat (pictured above). It was very extremely time-consuming but totally worth it. If you ignore the labour costs of the hours I spent sat in front of the tv dehulling the beans, it works out much more cost-effective than the tempeh you can buy in the shops, and it’s tastier too. I will definitely make it again, but with hulled beans next time. I will take pictures when I do and I will write more about it.

Last week I went to the V Delicious show at Olympia in London. I’ve never been to a vegetarian food exhibition before and I’m so glad I did because I had a whale of a time trying (and buying) different veggie foods. As soon as I decided to go I developed a really strong craving for jelly sweets, which I’ve not eaten for a long time because of the gelatin. When I found the Goody Good Stuff stall I was thrilled, and as embarrassing as this is to admit, when I tried a cola bottle sweet I actually felt a bit emotional, and of course had to buy several bags of them.

Another thing I was particularly interested in trying at the show was vegan cheese. As a former cheese fiend I find the idea of pretend cheese more than a little bit horrifying, but at the same time I’ve been curious to find out what it’s actually like. I tried several of the cheeses made by Vegusto, the texture was a bit too soft and homogeneous, but a couple of them tasted kind of nice. It was interesting to try but I don’t think I’d ever buy it, I’d rather replace dairy with more naturally creamy foods like avocado, tahini, hummus, or cashew cream.

Amongst other things I bought an awful lot of snacks (mostly Nakd bars, which are my absolute favourite), a couple of good books, kombucha (which I’m now thinking about making at home), aloe vera juice, delicious veggie sushi, Round Ups vegan wagon-wheel-style biscuits), tea, crackers, and some habas fritas. It was a great day out and I’d definitely go back or to a similar event again in the future.

Now the hungry gap is well and truly over my vegetable box deliveries are finally interesting again, and the “In my veg box this week…” series will resume this week.

I’m really looking forward to getting back into writing again, and to catching up with people. I’ve got a few recipes and other things to write about and I can’t wait to share them with you.

In my veg box this week – winter purslane, celeriac, red cabbage

19 Feb

I’ve not managed to write about my veg boxes for the past couple of weeks. As much as I’ve wanted to, the last few weeks have been a little bit repetitive so I’ve not had anything new to write about. As we head into the hungry gap (the part of early spring when almost nothing is in season) I might have less interesting vegetables to write about. I’m really excited and impatient for it to be summer, when every week’s delivery is diverse and exciting and colourful!

This week we have:

Winter purslane:
Sometimes this is labelled winter purslane, other times they call it claytonia, but as far as I can tell they’re both the same thing. Whatever you call it, it’s a soft and mild small-leafed salad green. At this time of year, after months of living off root vegetables and cabbage, I find it so exciting to start getting salad.

I love celeriac so much, it’s always a joy to get one. It can be a bit of a pain to prepare, you need a really good vegetable peeler (I’d recommend a ceramic peeler rather than metal) or failing that a really sharp paring knife. It’s worth it though, it’s warm, spicy, earthy, and totally unique. You can use it to make some pretty damn fine soup (like my celeriac and cider soup). I also particularly enjoy making alternative chips or wedges, by roasting it with curry powder, or chilli flakes, or just a bit of salt and pepper. Gorgeous!

Red cabbage:
OK, this wasn’t actually in my veg box, it is a home-grown gift from my mum (who you might notice commenting on my posts as tuthersue). Mum has a lovely, well-kept allotment, and grows tonnes of fruit and vegetables, so whenever I see my parents I always get a bag of home-grown vegetables. My brother lives much closer to home and occasionally gets home from work to find a surprise marrow on his doorstep. Anyway… red cabbage. I’ve got two favourite recipes for red cabbage, and while they have similar ingredients they’re completely different. The traditional way of cooking it is to braise it for an hour with a cup of vegetable stock, a knob of margarine, three-quarters of a cup of vinegar, and a tablespoon of sugar. To get a more intense flavour, or if you’re in a hurry, you should try Valentine Warner’s recipe for (in his words) red cabbage done properly. He’s got a really entertaining way with words, it’s worth reading his recipes even if you’re not planning to make them.

Also received this week: two different kinds of oranges, apples, bananas, carrots, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, two cute squashes that will almost certainly end up being stuffed and baked, cauliflower.

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