I had heard a few rumours and seen a few hashtags, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I fully appreciated that the UK is currently losing their vegetables. The leading front runner of this campaign is the courgette, which has quickly established a #courgettecrisis and for good reason.
Although the outcry is somewhat dramatic, it is not unprecedented. According to online sources the scarce show of courgettes is due to heavy snowfall in Spain, who sources the majority of the UK’s supply. Unfortunately this doesn’t stop here as it has been noted that other vegetables like aubergines, cucumbers, and broccoli are at risk of becoming less frequent dinner guests too.
Trying to adopt a positive attitude this new year, it would be wonderful to to think that such a catastrophe could encourage more British consumers into “home growing”, or at least look at sourcing one’s vegetables organically by supporting local farms and their other produce. Now, this doesn’t solve the crisis, I know, but it does logically seek an alternative as opposed to declaring a code red situation, like one Guardian reader:
I too addressed the situation on Twitter, albeit less outranged more “well this is happening”, to which Sainsbury’s swiftly restored my faith in humanity:
I myself am a lover of courgettes, but it goes without saying that the crisis is not like swearing off something on par with the end of a species. The courgettes will return, but as demanding as we are, consumers can’t always have everything.
// Where: The Corn Hall 26 Market Place, Cirencester //
My link with Cirencester is that once upon a time I was a student at Cirencester College. Unfortunately I have since lost ties with the area, and as a non-driver it can be awkward to get there and back again.
With this in mind I had no issue with making the journey to Made by Bob after my friend, and current employee at the restaurant come deli, sung it’s praises.
We made our way into the restored market place for dinner on a Friday – the only day of the week when the dinner menu was available – and are welcomed into a clean, pristine, and open space.
For a small establishment Bob’s exerts an energetic and creative atmosphere. To the right is Bob’s deli filled with authentic country jars of dressings, jams, chutneys, and more. Moreover, and perfectly in tone with Cirencester’s agricultural heritage, there is also an array of meats and cheese on display.
We take a table for two by one of the large pane windows after contemplating taking a seat at the bar in front of the open kitchen – whatever I could smell, I was keen to see.
I go for the squid to begin with. It’s green, light and earthy, complimented by diced potatoes, rocket, onion and capers. Despite it’s initial size it has been coordinated perfectly with all elements equally portioned. As a starter, it has left me satisfied but not full and I’m eager for the next round.
Without hesitation, we’ve opted for the (rare) steak for 2 and were not disappointed. Elegantly displayed on a wooden board, we are generously presented with succulent steak accompanied by truffles/truffle oil, rocket, grated parmesan, béarnaise sauce, and pommes frites.
All textures and flavours are endorsed by the Pinot Noir which has been aptly recommended by our waiter.
I am left elated and now ready to throw my debit card at the situation. You are roughly looking to pay around £70.00 – £90.00 for 2 at Bob’s which includes a bottle of wine and service. Our bill came to a little more as we started with Prosecco and ended with sobet and ice cream (to my advantage, we did abuse my friend’s staff discount).
If you’re ever in this historic area, do pop by this elegant and straight-up serving venue for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Mixing country living with a modern and experimental twist, Made by Bob’s is worth the visit.
If you have had a gander at my previous blog posts, you can make the safe assumption that I’m into my food. I’m no pro, but I primarily upload food posts because of my enjoyment of cooking, and sharing is caring.
I’m super guilty, as I enjoy my fast food, but I do aim for balance. This year I have also started to do more exercise (mostly cross-training, but also walking the dog, aha) and I have started to notice a difference.
Everybody hits that moment where you actually want to be healthier than you currently are, but there are different routes to this conclusion. For me, it was through various documentaries that I watched on Netflix, and some of them hit hard.
I want to share with you some of my favourite and most recommended documentaries about diet and nutrition that I found, because as a viewer I was shell-shocked with some of the harsh facts. However, despite the seemingly bleak content in these films, I believe it is important that everyone should hear what they have to say.
In no particular order…
For me, this was particularly disturbing to watch as it focuses on Obesity in American children. Fed Up exposes how major food companies neglect the health of their consumers through marketing and advertising by means of ignoring the harm their products are actually causing.
From nutritionists and doctors, to parents and the children themselves, Fed Up examines the reality of what we consume, and how this effects our health both physically and mentally. It was quite horrific to see the amount of sugar in some products – ones which I have consumed myself – as the film then shows how this effects your body.
I think this film has prompted a huge movement in the health sector.
I love Joe, and I love this film – it’s personal, and proof of the possible. This doc follows Joe on his journey to lose weight by juicing. It’s an honest account of a man understanding and accepting that he needs to change his body and his mind – spoiler alert: he does!
It’s a really uplifting and inspiring film, and Joe responsibly then goes on to help others with their journeys – there’s a Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2 (which you should also watch). As a viewer, and someone who is maybe wanting to get in better shape, you can easily identify with Joe as he really does come out the other side by changing his diet, which effectively changes his life.
Food, Inc is a bit more of a stomach turner, and frankly, quite harrowing – very much proving that “the truth hurts”. However, this doc gives insight into the production of meat in factories vs independent farms, the effects of meat in consumers, and the conditions of the live stock and workers.
As a viewer, and consumer, we come to officially realise the control that large corporations within the meat industry have over us – unfortunately we are the ones that suffer. Moreover, we are equally condoning their actions by purchasing their products. We also see the ways in which our health is at risk as large corporations are exposed for taking cheaper and unethical routes to make their business thrive.
Hungry for Changes takes an in-depth look at; nutrition; the physical and mental effects of certain ingredients/chemicals found in food; and the benefits overall of a healthy diet.
There are a lot of nutritionists, doctors, and authors of well-being books. Some have criticised this tactic of authority and said it manipulates the viewer too much, because who wouldn’t believe a doctor? I agree to an extent, however I am pushing for this manoeuvre as I still maintain that this doc should be seen. We have hit that point where we have to listen to these facts, whether we like it or not.
I know these films don’t scream “entertaining”, but I assure you they are. More importantly they are films to support and educate you about things we should be aware of, but have in fact been hidden from us.
Learning the truth typically isn’t easy – it’s quite inconvenient. But, as these films demonstrate, there is so much wrong that needs to be made right.
For me, I notice when I’m happier, healthier and more productive, and I’m sure you do too. These films shed light on ways in which I can improve my health and well-being, so I am glad that I watched them.
When we’re eating food that’s good for our bodies, and exercising, our happiness goes through the roof – and although some times challenging, for me, it’s totally worth it.
So, we had a pretty full house over the Christmas period and essentially all my mum wanted was participation – for everyone to chip in a bit, bring a dish etc.
I made a few contributions, my braised red cabbage being one of them to accompany the Christmas dinner, a few others which I’ll put up later, and these delicious sausage rolls.
Now, sausage rolls are one of my favourite snacks – trying to pass a pastry shop without entering will generally be the hardest thing I’ll do all day. I am way more of savoury person than a sweet tooth, and I am still waiting for the day that I am given a disgustingly giant sausage roll for my birthday, rather than a birthday cake. Oh, it will be a grand day! However this batch I made were on a smaller scale.
A quick note before you begin: I ended up with a little mince left over, but I also had some more puff pastry, so made a cheeky few extra. The first batch made 3 rather grande sizes, which I then cut into halves, and halved again (still bigger than the mini shop-bought ones).
You will need:
2 medium onions, finely chopped
garlic garlic garlic (to your liking)
300g minced pork
3 tbsp dried breadcrumbs (or make your own)
1 tsp dried sage leaves (I went a little over)
a little mixed herbs (I just had them in the cupboard)
roughly 1/2 tsp nutmeg (or mace)
1 roll of [lighter] puff pastry
1 tbsp plain flour
1 beaten egg for glazing
pinch of sea salt and ground pepper
about 1 tbsp of sunflower oil
Heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan and gently soften the onions and garlic. Sunflower oil shouldn’t burn or crisp them. I also add a little of the seasoning now too. When done, place in a separate bowl and allow to cool.
I started prepping some other snacks while I waited for the onions and garlic to cool down, so entertain yourself for a couple of minutes!
Now, prepare to get your hands messy! In the same bowl as the onions and garlic, add the minced pork, breadcrumbs and rest of the seasoning, mixing it all in together.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6/Fan 180°C and get a large baking tray lining it with a baking sheet.
Roll out the pastry onto a surface with the flour and mark the pastry into thirds, then cut. Now, get the pork meat and place it in the middle of each third, leaving just less than an inch at the ends (length ways) for folding in. You don’t want them too thick, but I’d say about an inch wide (width ways).
Now, using the beaten egg and brush, glaze the sides/edges of the pastry.
Next you want to fold one side over, tucking it in a little and then bring the other side over (the egg should act as a kind of glue, so to speak). Fold both of the ends inward. Turn over and then place on the baking paper/tray
Make little sideways slits down the pastry and then glaze the egg over the tops and finally place in the oven for 25-30 minutes (do check on them – they should be golden, not burnt!)
They were the perfect little winter party snacks – the sage and puff pastry are great companions!
There was a great difference between mine and the store-bought ones – they just tasted so homely and way more flavoursome! And, as always, there is that gratification you get from making them yourself! Needless to say they were very well received and now on demand. If you do try this recipe, you’ll soon realise how quick and easy they are to make!
For my next try I want to go for something a little richer and use chorizo and some Spanish-inspired tactics, so stay tuned for those cause I already know they’re going to be insane!
Okay, so this side dish is literally my favourite thing! I’m not sure if it’s because I’m proud of of making it, or the fact that it simply tastes delicious! I’m really quite torn.
I looked up a few recipes online (to accompany my chicken pie) and honestly couldn’t decide which one to go for, so I went for a simple combination. I more or less looked at what was already in the cupboard and sought out the closest, and cheapest, way to replicate and combine the recipes. I bought a couple of things from the shops, but didn’t go for the things I was least likely to use again – I like to buy things that are handy to have in the cupboard, not ones that could waste away (not cool).
You will need:
red cabbage (I was feeding two so went for the smallest one – but again, left overs are never a bad thing)
sugar (preferably brown, but don’t hurt yourself if you have white)
1/3 of a tall cup or glass of balsamic vinegar
red red wine (also treat yourself to a glass or few)
1 or 2 red apples (I went for the pink lady variety to add some sweetness)
garlic (but that’s just me)
Now, braised cabbage takes a little while, but for me this was perfect! Simply start with the red cabbage and then move onto the main event. For instance, when I make the chicken pie, I get the cabbage on first and then move onto the pie – it allows the cabbage to simmer, soften and get all the more flavoursome.
chop the cabbage and garlic (or, crush the garlic, or not use it at all)
add a knob of butter to a sauce pan and melt
add the cabbage and garlic, covering in the butter and allow to fry for about 3 minutes
while the cabbage is frying, peel, decore and grate the apple(s)
once the cabbage has softened, get the apple and 1 & 1/2 tsp of sugar in there, mixing it in and allowing to fry for a further couple on minutes
add the balsamic vinegar and stir
add a few glugs or red wine – you don’t want to swamp the cabbage, so make sure it’s not completely covered
stir it all together and put on a very low heat to simmer, covering with a lid – do check/stir occasionally and if the pan is looking a little dry get some more wine and a little balsamic vinegar in there
when the rest of your meal is ready, the cabbage will be too, so serve alongside your main and enjoy!
Incase anyone is unsure, “braise” is a two-park cooking process which simply means to first lightly fry your food and then stew it – done.
You should be left with a really sweet, yet acidic, rich flavour – which is also lovely and soft with some crunch. It’s got something for everyone!
I first paired the cabbage with my chicken pie, but this will also be a great participant for a roast dinner. I also cannot stress the greatness of leftovers – I made pie, cabbage and mash for my partner and I, and this provided dinner for two nights (we may have given ourselves bigger portions than intended, but oh so tasty – I regret nothing).
Personally I love cooking, and my dad does too. But as with any typical parent the idea of coming home from a stressful day at work to then have to cook a family meal is quite distressing. So I opted for one of Jamie’s 30 minute meals to put it to the test.
**Guilty** I have a little more time on my hands these days as I have recently moved home, but I am trying to put all my unemployed energy into cooking – I like to think everybody benefits. But should finding a job fail, who wouldn’t want a domesticated goddess? Right…?
Now, I’m not going to lie, I’m not a fan of mushrooms and I struggle on a regular basis to find a chicken pie that is not accompanied by the buggers (not even Jamie’s). So I have exchanged mushrooms for carrots (just trust me).
Jamie’s/my ingredients for le pie:
720g free-range, boneless chicken breasts
handful of spring onions
3 large carrots (grated)
garlic (always garlic)
1tsp plain flour
300ml chicken stock
puff pastry (I use Jus Rol Puff Pastry Ready Rolled 320g)
1 small egg (for glazing)
mustard (optional – I’ve made one with and one without)
put some of the garlic in with the spring onions, then feel free to add some more with the stock
after the springs onions, add in the grated carrots instead of the mushroom.
I used a large steel frying pan and then transferred everything into an oven dish.
I left everything to sit and simmer for a little while longer on a very low heat (this enabled me to get my sides in check, and let the mixture get more flavoursome).
I used Jamie’s other recommendation and went for a chicken stock cube.
For the puff pastry (not mentioned in the video), allow it to match the size of your pie dish – this usually leaves an inch to cut off for a decorative piece on top (quite pleased with my leaves).
braised red cabbage on the side.
mash potato on the side.
Also, never feel bad about using puff pastry! If you have the time, by all means, crack on with your own! For this particular recipe and quick-cook ethos, puff pastry’s the one!
I’ve only tried the one, but after this success (it tasted amazing by the way) I will definitely be having a look at Jamie’s other 30 minute meals! And I would definitely recommend this one (but my one without the mushrooms)!
You should check out my recipe for braised red cabbage! It accompanies the pie so beautifully and adds some sweetness and acidity.