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Fruit in Season – November?

The clocks have gone back, Halloween & Bonfire Night have been and gone.  We’re now on the countdown to Christmas – although the weather doesn’t feel that way at the moment, with the incessant rain.

appleThe British fruit in season is reducing as the months grow colder and the days shorter.  But, we do still have some British fruit to celebrate, plus some fruit from other parts of the world.  At this point in the year, we can happily eat some of those imports to get the best from the produce at its peak.

British apples and pears are now in abundance, along with wonderful Bramley cooking apples.

clementinesChristmas feels like it’s approaching with the emergence of clementines, cranberries, pomegranates and exotic dates.  We also have lovely chestnuts, which can be enjoyed in both sweet and savoury dishes.

 

quinceOne of the more unusual British fruits in season is the quince – not something you’ll necessarily see in the supermarket, but should be able to spot in farmers markets.

So, embrace the changing seasons and enjoy the fabulous fruits around in chilly (I mean, wet!) November.

Apples

Bananas

Bramley apples

Chestnuts

Clementines

Cranberries

Dates

Pears

Pomegranates

Quince

pearschestnutscranberries dates pomegranate

 

bananas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Late in the Month, but Vegetables in Season – October?

This is a late in the month post – I really don’t know where the time goes sometimes.  But, it’s not too late to look at the vegetables in season for October.  We’ve already seen that it’s an abundant month for fruit and nuts, but what’s the situation for the veggies?

butternutWell there is certainly an Autumnal feel to them all, with the pumpkins and squash you’d expect and earthy vegetables such as beetroot and leeks being prominent.

Wild mushrooms are very much in vogue too, whipping up images of woods covered in gorgeous Autumn leaves.

We still get a feel for the Med though with peppers still being very much in season.

In my own garden, the late cropping runner beans I mentioned last month are now cropping in abundance.  Very late, but very welcome to say the least.  Just goes to show you don’t have to miss the boat by sowing a bit later.

swiss chardSomething that’s now a bit more common and at season now is Swiss chard.  Just a few years ago, it was classed as one of the more unusual vegetables, but I see it being used in cookery magazines more and more.  It’s certainly an easy crop to grow and can be very eye catching with the brightly coloured stems.

So, with all this lovely produce available, make sure you don’t pick up those imports and make the most of the variety before winter comes along with a little less variety on offer.

  • Beetroot
  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Potatoes
  • Marrows
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkins & squash
  • Shallots
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Wild mushrooms

 

beetroot carrots  new pots marrows

shallots

spinachleeks peppersmushrooms

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Fruit and Nuts in Season – October?

The nights are drawing in, the leaves are falling and the temperature is dropping.  As I’ve gotten older, Autumn has become my favourite season – I just love the light and the fantastic tree and leaf colour.  Absolutely stunning!

appleThe fruit and nuts in season is changing and it feels autumnal – we may have waved goodbye to the gorgeous summer berries, but there is certainly no shortage of British fruit in season.  It’s also a great time for nuts.

blackberriesThe summer berries may have gone, but we still have gorgeous autumn raspberries and, of course, blackberries.  I used to spend hours as a kid picking blackberries from the old railway line that ran behind our house.  I don’t think my mother was too pleased with all the pies & crumbles she had to make but spending my time picking blackberries certainly wasn’t hurting anyone.  There was always that really big, juicy one, just out of reach.

New season apples and pears are now with us and glorious figs.  I have a few fig plants growing in pots in my garden – I don’t get many (had around 8 this year), but boy do they taste good.  No comparison to shop-bought.

cobnutsThe nuts in season at the moment really herald autumn for me and hint at the Christmas celebrations that will be here before we know it.

So, with all this lovely British produce available make sure you check those labels to avoid imports.  Eating seasonally is not only better for you, it tastes better too.

Apples

Autumn raspberries

Blackberries

Chestnuts

Cobnuts

Figs

Grapes

Hazelnuts

Pears

Quince

Walnuts

raspberriespears hazelnuts grapes figschestnutswalnutsquince

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Help! I Want to Change My Food Habits….

So, you want to change your food habits?  There are many reasons why someone wants to change the way they shop or eat – food scares, health issues, animal welfare or simply awareness that a lot of the food we buy contains ingredients we really don’t want to be eating.

In addition, the overall goal could be a real v process foodsimple one e.g. to eat more seasonally, or it could be a bigger overall goal e.g. switching to 100% organic, locally sourced, seasonal, little or no processed food, cutting out specific food types, fair trade, ethically sourced…..

In fact the more you think about it, the bigger that goal becomes – to the point where it literally feels like your head could explode. If that happens (the goal being overwhelming I mean – not your head literally exploding), then it can simply be easier to ignore those goals altogether and not make any changes.

So, what’s the answer?

As with most things in life, when the goal is a large one, smaller steps are the way to go. steps to a goalLet’s not beat about the bush here – if your goal is to go 100% organic that’s going to hurt your purse strings if you do it all at once. Smaller steps will mean smaller hits financially – getting you used to things and prices before moving onto the next.

So, the steps could be as follows (but in whatever order suits you). Pick one, do it, get used to it, then move onto another. The longer you do something it becomes second nature:

  1. Cook from scratch – buy less processed food, start to look at ingredients labels and make more informed choices. Don’t buy that jar of pasta sauce, make it yourself. Does that jar of pesto have non-recognisable ingredients? Is there a better one you could buy, or can you make it yourself?

2.  Buy British buy British check labels and make sure fresh produce, meat, dairy etc., is British. Obviously some things will never be British – lemons, limes, spices. This one will help towards eating seasonally too – you won’t be able to get British strawberries in January, so won’t be buying them.

3.  Shop locally – source a local supplier for your fruit and veg or swap to a box delivery service. Similarly do you have a local butcher, baker or fishmonger?

4.  Make sure your fish is sustainable – check what’s safe to eat, check your sources, ask your local fishmonger, and substitute more sustainable varieties if you can.grass fed cattle

5.  Buy better quality meat – if the leap to organic meat and the corresponding price increase is too much, make your first step to buy free range and outdoor bred. Then perhaps move onto grass-fed, rare breeds etc. Check out online sources like farmison.com (and many others) for great quality meat you can source back to the individual farm. Once you do this, you will never, ever go back to ‘3 chickens for £10’ – the difference in taste and quality is second to none.

6.  Buy free range eggs – again, if you don’t want to make the financial leap straight to organic, change to free range eggs. Perhaps the next step could be organic for your dippy egg, but free range for cooking and baking.

7.  Buy organic milk – simple change to make, but one that gets you on the right road.organic chicken#

8.  Change to organic food one type at a time – milk, eggs, meat, all dairy, fruit, vegetables, (could even break those down to those being eaten raw and those cooked), rice, pasta, spices, herbs, flour, baking products, dried fruit, nuts, oats, oils – choose one food type and get used to buying that before moving onto another. But use what you have in the house already before replacing with organic.

However you choose to make better food choices, there will still be dilemmas to test you:

  • The organic potatoes this week are being flown in from Egypt whereas the non-organic are Welsh.
  • The local butcher doesn’t sell great quality meat, but you can get organic in the supermarket.
  • The local fruit and veg shop doesn’t sell organic, but you’d like to shop locally.

There is no ideal – you have to decide what’s important to you and what you want to achieve, but small steps will get you there.

 

 

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Vegetables in Season – September?

We’re already over half-way through September.  We’ve already looked at the fantastic British fruit in season, but what about the vegetables in season in September?  There is so much to enjoy before the root veg of winter kick in.

cucumberWe can still enjoy lots of salad items, such as cucumber, watercress and tomatoes, to make the most of any sunny weather that may come our way – remember autumn doesn’t officially start until 21st September.

 

peppersMediterranean style veggies like peppers and aubergines, are still prominent reminding us of sunnier climes with the memories of our summer holidays already fading rapidly.  Chillies are also now in season, so snap them up and dry or freeze to use throughout the year.

In my own garden, my courgettes are still cropping even though they’re not an official September veg and I’m looking forward to a late harvest of runner beans – I was late sowing, hence the late cropping.  Looking ahead, I’ve just bought garlic & onion sets to sow for next year.

The real autumn veggies like pumpkin and squash make an appearance making us think of dark nights approaching – in fact marrows are just large courgettes, so I guess my September courgettes aren’t unusual.

My favourite veg at the moment is corn-on-the-cob – there really is nothing nicer than a fresh, hot cob dripping with butter.sweetcorn

Next month autumn really kicks off so enjoy this lovely British produce while you can – and remember to check those labels as there really is no need to be buying imports from other climes.

Aubergines

Beetroot

Carrots

chilliesChillies

Cucumber

Fennel

Main Crop Potatoes

Marrows

Peppers

pumpkin & squashPumpkins

Shallots

Spinach

Squash

Sweetcorn

watercress

Swiss Chard

Tomatoes

Watercress

Wild mushrooms

aubergine beetroot carrots fennel new pots marrows

 

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Cooked From Scratch Rewards Programme

StrawberryFlan1We are delighted to launch our Rewards Programme.

It’s quite simple to join in – place six ready meal orders or meal box orders (minimum value £18) and receive a dessert for two people with your sixth order, completely FREE.

If you subscribe to our meal box subscription service and received your 4th box free, you are automatically transferred to our rewards programme for the duration of your subscription.

Continue reading Cooked From Scratch Rewards Programme

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Fruit & Nuts in Season – September?

cobnutsThe children are back in school, what we had of summer seems to be disappearing, but we can hold onto the last threads with the gorgeous British fruit & nuts in season in September.  After all, autumn doesn’t officially start until 21st September and we are now reaping the rewards of the long summer days with the fruit available.

In addition to the lovely fruit, it’s also time for nuts!  I love nuts and when I’m really busy with not much time to eat, I reach for my jar of organic mixed nuts to keep me going.  They are full of goodness as well as tasting fabulous.

With so much on offer, we can look at the September veggies on another day.

blackberriesOne of the lovely fruits in season are blackberries, which of course, are available for free all through the countryside.  Just make sure you don’t pick them from where the dogs have likely to have been relieving themselves.  We also have damsons and plums available all over the countryside.

My favourite fruit at the moment are figs – I grown some in pots in my garden.  I only get around half a dozen per year, but they are like nectar, absolutely divine!

We also have the early apples and pears, which are just the beginning with so many varieties coming into season between now and the end of November.

So, with so much fruit in season at the moment, there is really no excuse to buy imports – so check those labels and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you can’t find British produce in your local shops.

Fruit

appleApples

Autumn raspberries

Blackberries

Cobnuts

Damsons

Figs

Grapes

Hazelnuts

Pears

Plums

Walnuts

raspberries

damson

figsgrapeshazelnuts

 

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Vegetables in Season – August?

As we talked about last week, August is a fantastic month for great British produce, so it’s time to look at the vegetables in season in August.  Not only is it the time for drowning in the glorious berries and other fruit ripening, our vegetables are coming to a crescendo too.

courgettesYou can almost be fooled into thinking we are living in Mediterranean climes with veggies like tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, peppers etc.

We also have all the lovely salad vegetables such as salad leaves, cucumber, celery.  In addition there are the more unusual veggies such as samphire & Swiss chard.

Real summer produce for us to enjoy before the good old British root vegetables of autumn come along.lettuce

They can be enjoyed raw in salads, cold and hot soups, Mediterranean dishes, hot off the barbie – the list is endless.  I truly love the produce on offer at this time of year and we really should make the most of gorgeous British produce while it’s around.  Sometimes supermarkets will still import from other climes, so check those labels and make sure you buy lovely British, seasonal produce – better for you, better for the producers and better for the environment :).

Aubergines

Beetroot

Broad Beans

Carrots

Courgettes

cucumberCucumber

Fennel

French Beans

Globe Artichokes

Kohlrabi

Lettuce

New Potatoes

radishOnions

Radishes

Runner Beans

samphireSamphire

Swiss Chard

Tomatoes

aubergine beetroot broad beans carrots fennel french beans globe artichoke new pots onions runner beans

 

 

 

swiss chard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fruit in Season – August?

blueberriesI’m passionate about using British produce when in season and get extremely frustrated if I go into a supermarket when it’s peak season for an item to find there are no British products being stocked.

I remember going into Tesco a few years ago in August, which is peak time for British tomatoes and there were no British tomatoes available at all.  I did ask a member of staff why this was – in fairness, she went to find out, but came back with a standard response relating to the buyer not thinking the quality was up to scratch (what rubbish – the buyer could simply get them cheaper elsewhere).  tomaotesI came out of there with no tomatoes and feeling slightly depressed (depressed you cry – over no British tomatoes – bit of an overreaction!).   An overreaction it may be, but I feel it’s important to support British producers and buy British produce when in season – it’s better for us, the economy and the environment.

So, it’s August.  What fantastic British produce is around now?  It’s an abundant time of year that’s for sure with so much wonderful produce available it’s worth just concentrating on fruit for now – we can look at veggies, fish, seafood and meat a bit later in the month.

cherries

I love all the fruit in season at the moment – cherries are my absolute favourite and it’s imperative we buy British as the number of British cherry orchards have decreased dramatically in recent years.

So, with so much fruit in season at the moment, there is really no excuse to buy imports – so check those labels and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you can’t find British produce in your local shops.

Fruit

apricotsApricots

Blueberries

Cherries

Black, white & red currants

Gooseberries

Raspberries

Rhubarb

Strawberries

raspberries

strawberriesgooseberriescurrants

 

 

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Organic or Not Organic? That is the Question….

Anyone that knows me will testify how fanatical I am about eating great quality food that’s been cooked from scratch.  No nasty, processed food in my kitchen!

processed foodsI also use a lot of organic ingredients and find myself moving more and more to sourcing organic for everything.  The more I read* about what goes in our food – even what we perceive to be natural – the more I worry and find myself purchasing everything organic e.g. nuts, seeds, dried fruit, herbs, spices, fruit, veggies, tomato puree, flour etc.  I’ve been buying organic meat and dairy for a long time and people who purchase my meals will have noticed there is a mix of organic and non-organic ingredients listed.

And there lies the question?  As a business, do I move to all organic?  Would people be willing to pay for organic, because unfortunately, the cost of organic ingredients can be very expensive compared to non-organic?

organic chicken#

I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time – at the moment someone may purchase a meal from me that contains organic meat and dairy, but the rest of the ingredients may be non-organic.  Do they appreciate the organic ingredients being there?  Would they prefer all organic?  Or doesn’t it bother them – is the inclusion of organic ingredients just a bonus they’re not bothered about?

 

Then, I came to the conclusion that instead of a mish mash of organic and non-organic I should give people the choice.  I won’t be comprising my principles as everything is still cooked from scratch and I will still source high quality ingredients e.g. I would never, ever buy the really cheap, mass produced chicken, it would still be free-range at the very least.    organic dairy

So, that’s what I’m going to do – over the coming months prices will change on the website and customers will be given the choice.  Prices will have to change to reflect the higher costs of organic only products, but people will have the choice of whether to pay those prices or not.  It won’t happen overnight – there are a lot of products to change and it takes time, but it will happen.

In the meantime, if organic is important to a customer they simply have to let me know and we can take it from there.

* If anyone is interested in my concerns relating to eating organic, then I highly recommend reading ‘Swallow This’ by Joanna Blythman (and anything else she’s written come to that).

Swallow This

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News on Vegan Dishes

I’ve received a suggestion to offer some vegan dishes under the Vegetarian ready meals.  So, I’ve taken a look at the dishes under both Vegetarian and Soups to see what dishes are already vegan or can be easily adjusted to be vegan.

I’ve now flagged them to indicate if they are vegan or easily adjustable.

New dishes will be added to the site on a regular basis so please watch this space for more vegan offerings over the coming months.

If there is a vegan dish you would like to see offered (that is also suitable for reheating & freezing) then please let me know.

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Working with Local Meat Supplier….

I am pleased to announce that I am now working with a great local farm for my organic meat.  After many months of trying to source great meat locally I am finally taking deliveries from Penrhiwfer Farm http://www.fmiw.co.uk/?function=producershow&producerid=8.

Due to order turnaround I may not be able to get all my meat from there, but at least 80% of it will come from there, so you can rest assured the meat in my products is as good as it can get.

Working with local suppliers is very important to me so I’m really glad to be supporting a local meat supplier.grass fed cattle

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Menu of the Month Launched!

CherryTomatoBasilLinguine1I am pleased to launch a new menu of the month whereby a meal for 2 will be available for a set price.

The menu will be seasonal, making the most of the fabulous British produce available during a given month.

The new offer will be launched in May!

Delivery is free within 15 miles of CF39 8JL.

The dishes may also be available under the Ready Meals section of the website, but I will try, as much as possible, to introduce new dishes each month.

If there is something you’d like to see in our Menu of the Month, please get in touch.

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Marco Pierre White’s Restaurant – ‘White Room’ on Ventura

On the last night of our recent cruise on Ventura, we decided to dine with Karl’s parents at the ‘White Room’ by Marco Pierre White.2015-04-09 17.23.54

As with Atul Kutcher’s ‘East’ (also on Ventura) it wasn’t just about the food, but the overall experience and I have to say the service was exceptional – we were made to feel really special and waited on like ‘really important people’.

The restaurant was on the top of the ship with outdoor seating looking over the sea – bit cold for that when we were there, but the views were stunning all the same.

 

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We all had different meals for each course and Karl’s father was looked after extremely well – he is diabetic and they went over and above to ensure everything met his needs.

We were all given a peach Bellini on arrival, a basket of mixed Italian breads & an amuse bouche of tomato soup.

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Starters – Karl was adventurous and went for the tempura king prawns, oysters & scallops, Pam had Buffalo mozzarella salad, a diabetic Parma ham & melon salad for Mike & a wild mushroom veloute soup with a cappuccino foam for me.

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Mains – rib-eye steak with garlic snails for Karl (I tried one), lobster saffrito for me, halibut for Mike & duck breast for Pam.

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Desserts – tiramisu for Karl, diabetic chocolate cake for Mike, Marco’s special rice pudding for Pam, strawberry soufflé for me (made and cooked to order).

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This was all followed by handmade chocolate truffles with our coffee.

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Absolutely superb!

 

 

 

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Fun & Mayhem in New Chocolate Cookery Class!

CM1_9

My new chocolate cookery class launched on 18th March and was a huge success. Lots of chocolate, lots of mess and lots of laughter – oh, we also produced some fantastic chocolates. Thanks to my willing chocolatiers for making it such a great night. I’m really looking forward to the next chocolate cookery class. Check out the gallery for more great pics.