Monthly Archives: January 2013

Red Cabbage and Yogurt Salad

So Jamie Oliver made this as a coleslaw with finely grated mixed cabbages and mustard to have with bean burgers, I liked it so much I added more yogurt and made it a little chunkier to enjoy as a yogurty raita style accompaniment to have with curry.  The amazing thing about this salad is the colour of it and the point where it changes colour…amazing.

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ingredients for the cabbage raita/slaw:

-1/4 of a large red cabbage finely sliced in the food processor (or by hand) or grated with a box grater for a finer texture.

-1 small red onion, finely sliced

-A tablespoon of chopped, fresh coriander

-The juice of half a lemon

-A big pot of fat-free  Greek yogurt

So you dice up the cabbage and onion, place in a bowl and squeeze the lemon over, you’ll see the cabbage turn from almost blue-purple to BRIGHT RED. Red cabbage contains a natural litmus property which changes colour with different pHs, so this is pretty cool. Add yogurt to taste, more yogurty for Raita, less for slaw, mix in most of the coriander, mix together and then sprinkle the rest of the coriander on top. Voila! YUM!

Cabbage Raita, Brinjal Bahji with broad beans, tomato and onion pickle and coriander naan.

Cabbage Raita, Brinjal Bahji with broad beans, tomato and onion pickle and coriander naan- and two tins of stella!

Brinjal Bhaji with Broad Beans

Brinjal Bhaji with Broad Beans

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We want ugly veg!

Image credit: PropogandaTimes on CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Image credit: PropogandaTimes on CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I just finished reading a report on the amount of food wasted globally from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. The report has been featured in the press because of the stomach-churning statement it makes- that up to 50% of the worlds food goes to waste!

In the third world and newly developing nations this is largely due to inefficient harvesting and transportation, in late-stage developing nations spoilage and poor infrastructure present problems (its well-known that India wastes up to 1/3rd of its food) and in developed post-industrial societies, where transport, storage and processing facilities are efficient, food is wasted through retail and consumer behaviour.

For some reason this type of food wastage is especially appalling, because it is not accidental wastage but behavioural, intentional waste. The report states…

“Major supermarkets, in meeting consumer expectations, will often reject entire crops of perfectly edible fruit and vegetables at the farm because they do not meet exacting marketing standards for their physical characteristics, such as size and appearance. For example, up to 30% of the UK’s vegetable crop is never harvested as a result of such practices. Globally, retailers generate 1.6 million tonnes of food waste annually in this way.”

Up to 30% of our veg gets chucked away because it’s ugly?! Not even ugly, but perhaps the wrong coloration, size or shape, or have blemishes, scratches or are in the wrong stage of ripening.

So who’s to blame here the UK supermarkets or us British consumers? Surely the supermarkets wouldn’t reject vegetables unless we wouldn’t buy the imperfections? If we have to pay 70p for a pepper, and one is half the size of the other than that lack of standardisation will leave the little pepper unsold and the supermarket out of pocket, the little pepper wasted anyway. But for items sold by weight this theory holds little traction and even in the pepper scenario if stocked correctly someone would pick that little fella up.

Previously the supermarkets could hide behind regulation; EU restrictions on appearance and varieties of fruit and veg were in place. But with the EU restrictions lifted in 2009, why haven’t we seen more wonky veg? I recently visited an Italian supermarket it was great to see the knobbly peppers and varying sizes and shapes of aubergines.

Also I just don’t believe as consumers we’d reject the ugos.

In 2012, after our crummy weather and terrible harvests, Sainsburys accepted some of the misfits.  Director of Sainsburys food Judith Batchelar even said that consumers were definitely Pro-ugo…

“This may mean a bit more mud on peas or strawberries that are a little smaller than usual, but our customers understand and love the idea.”

So why not all the time?

I think we’d actually enjoy a bit of variety as consumers, I’ve never known anyone to waste their time rifling through tomatoes for that perfect sphere of light red and last year we grew “Black Krims” (possibly the world’s ugliest tomatoes) on the plot.

“Black Krims” are heirloom tomatoes, originally from Crimea. They are a green/purple/brown colour and grow with a folded appearance, sometimes even engulfing their stalks, and have characteristic splits in them, yep, splits and scars on their skins.

Here is quite an attractive Black Krim courtesy of Marshall Astor on flickr….

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CCSharealike license

So, you get my drift, these tomatoes ain’t pretty, but they’re so sweet and tasty, we loved them and we’re growing them again this year.

I think consumers would buy ugos, like Krimmy above, and American supermarket ‘Wholefoods’ has embraced this philosophy, proudly displaying their bounties of heirloom tomatoes and even blogging about them, their scars and their imperfections.

So the next time you’re in the supermarket pick the most misshapen carrots you can find, maybe over time the straighties left in the pallets will force the supermarkets to stock more wonky ones, or just lament the wastage and celebrate your own ugly veg, like mine…

My yummy "ugly" veg :)

My yummy “ugly” veg 🙂

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Micro Salad!

It’s January, and it’s been ages since my last post. Last year’s harvest was pretty pitiful due to the bad weather in the UK, a couple of  kilos of tomatoes, a few onions, a sack of new potatoes or two and (admittedly) endless courgettes and marrows (courgettes are immortal…I swear).  Hence the lack of posts in 2012!

This year we’re going to put up our plastic greenhouse and try to grow a few plants which can cope with the weather, I wanted to get started nice and early, with some plants to grow indoors!

I was wondering what to do with a whole bunch of seeds left over from the last couple of years, some of which are, apparently, “out of date.” I didn’t want to risk them not germinating in a spot up the plot, and I’ve bought new varieties this year so I decided to plant a whole bunch in a seed tray as “micro salad.”

Micro salad is basically cress from seeds which are more expensive than mustard cress seeds- think celebrity cress.

Here’s some fancy food with a “micro herb salad” atop it

CC image by Michelle Muirhead (flickr.com)

CC image by Michelle Muirhead (flickr.com)

Micro salad can really be created from any plants which will have tasty young foliage.  But popular varieties, selected for their taste and colour are:

-Mizuna

– Radish

-Carrot

-Coriander

-Purple Basil

-Beetroot

-Chives

-Endive

-Chicory

-Land Cress

-Pea Shoots

-Kale

-Radicchio

-Red Mustard Frills

-Celery

Called micro greens in the US, this trend seems particularly popular in the states, with a number of shops selling portions of these posh cressies online, and some UK firms even following the trend, and seed companies cashing in on micro equipment and seed varieties.

So this seemed like a great way to use up my old seeds and get a teeny crop to add some class to my dinners in just days.

So I got two old vegetable containers (no drainage holes, easy peasy), filled them with seed compost and sprinkled the seeds on top (I used lemon basil, mooli radish, spinach, beetroot, carrot and onion seeds), covered with a little more soil and kept moist and just a few days later look what peeked out-

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The green shoots are spinach, the red beetroot, I actually took these pics a few days ago and I know have some cresses ready to cut- a great idea if you need a few sprinklings of greenery for your daily sarnie but hate watching bags of salad mould away in the fridge, or if you have a posh dinner party coming up in a few weeks.

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