Posts Tagged ‘organic’

Doing the Big Shop (Ham House style)

Yesterday was harvest day at Ham House. The day before, the kitchen staff had given the gardeners the shopping list and yesterday, bright and early, the shopping started to be delivered…

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…fresh from the ground! Have I showed you all the Ham House kitchen garden? I can’t remember if I’ve talked about it much before. Anyway, here’s some photos of the ‘supermarket’ where we get our vegetables and herbs and fruit.

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One of the most noticeable differences of working in a kitchen where the produce is fresh and  organic and homegrown, is the time it takes to get the food kitchen-ready.

The raspberries still have teeny tiny bugs wiggling around trying to eat a bit before they get washed off.

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The sorrel takes f o r e v e r to get dry. Even after a pat-dry, a spin and an air dry, each leaf still needs dabbing with dry paper…

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The green and purple beans have a kind of sticky furry layer on the outside that dirt refuses to come out of…

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The red orache has a shiny veneer on the leaves that makes it hard to figure out whether it’s still wet or not and so requires a sort through and a feel of every single leaf…

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The nasturtiums, on the other hand, are easy as pie. They arrive pretty clean anyway. Give em a rinse, spin em, they’re good to go.

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It took a good few hours but eventually all the perishable green leafy salad stuff was in the kitchen fridge, all the big vegetables had been washed and the kitchen staff were steadily getting them sliced and chopped and ready for the weekend’s meals and all the more durable greens were in a box of water waiting for their chance to shine in a quiche.

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From left to right, we have a huge marrow, some lovely out-of-shape carrots, round yellow cucumbers, long green cucumbers and a cauliflower. In the box of greenery we have lovage, chard, cavolo nero, sage and kale.

And that is how we do the Big Shop at Ham House.

A is for…

Ok, it’s April and, as far as I remember from last year, it’s AtoZ time! I haven’t seen anything about it this year but I reckon it’s still running and it was fun last year. So I’m going to go for it. You post one letter every day, missing out Sundays and finishing on the last day of the month. So here goes…

A is for….. Abel & Cole!

There has been a revolution in my world. Following my instructions few days ago, to try and reduce my air miles while shopping, I made sure that nothing I bought had been flown in from other countries. It was difficult because the cold weather prevents very much from being grown in England at the moment but I did it and it was fun because I had to be more imaginative with the ingredients I did find.

Then I spotted an Abel & Cole catalogue someone had given me because they order with them. Abel & Cole are a company who source local products and deliver to your door. They started in South London with fruit and vegetable deliveries and now do a whole load of stuff. You can get your meat, fish, eggs, milk, yoghurt, food cupboard stuff, etc from them, plus things that aren’t food, like bathroom and kitchen products, toilet roll, cleaning products…. The list is endless. Most of the products are organic with but some of the meat, you have the choice of organic or non-organic. Another fabulous thing about them is that when you’re ordering online, you can check the product information to see what country it is from. And even the things which aren’t from the UK, aren’t flown in so you know you’re shopping has zero air miles. Phew!

So I took the plunge and ordered from them. When ordering meat, I included venison because I know there is a deer cull at the moment and I don’t like the idea that perfectly good food is being wasted.

My vegetables came covered in dirt which, sucker that I am for anything farmer-ish, pleased me immensely.
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All my things were delivered in cardboard boxes that I was told to fold down and leave out when my next delivery is due. All the packaging was labelled to be recycled or given back to Abel & Cole for reuse.

And suddenly, I found myself falling in love with Abel & Cole. I just love them. I can’t help myself. I tried not to fall for all the cutesy notes about recycling and the stories about where my food had come from or the note telling me that I could log on to my online account and find recipes for the things I had bought. But I fell. And I have fallen hard.

Then a whole new world opened up to me…. The world of NOT SUPERMARKET SHOPPING anymore! A thing I’d never considered. And I am very excited! Today, in fact, I am going to a farm about half an hour away to go to their farm shop to see me over until my next Abel & Cole delivery.

I love the idea of seeing where my food is coming from or having a more direct link to the people who produce it. I have logged onto the websites of the farms and fishermen who provide the things I am getting through Abel & Cole and it’s really refreshing, knowing about who is feeding me!

So far, I haven’t been to a big impersonal supermarket for five days. Let’s see how long I can go for.

Laura to the rescue!

Yesterday, I resolved to get back to my promise to be more useful. Life took over a little at the weekend. But now I have my superhero outfit on again and I am totally on it. So here were my missions for the day.

Shop for something green – try the environmentally friendly option of something you usually buy.
(The Difference A Day Makes by Karen M. Jones)

Use organic toiletries
(Going Green by Simon Gear)

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Thankfully, they’re pretty similar and I needed to go shopping anyway, unless I wanted to feed Danda some quince jam and eggs for dinner.

Off I went, to my favourite Waitrose, and crossed my fingers that they wouldn’t let me down. And it went well, everyone. It went well. Check it out.

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This one isn’t too much of a revolution in my home, actually. When I took it to the bathroom, I almost laughed because the pack of toilet tissue that is currently sitting there is the exact same one! I’m not a stranger to being environmentally aware so I must have, on a subconscious level, whilst mindlessly pottering about shopping, grabbed it because I saw it was recycled paper.

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The next thing was conditioner, which I’ve needed for ages. I keep forgetting what it is I need and when I get to the shop, I pick up a shampoo, guessing it must be that. So I have about five shampoos and almost no conditioner. Yesterday, I finally remembered to get the right thing and looked for something organic, on the advice of Simon Gear. I found one called Avalon Organics, which I’ve used before, and then another one with a foreign sounding name and a useful list on the side. If the list is to be believed, it lacks all the usual crap that makes toiletries so bad for the environment. It was pricey (almost a third of the cost of my entire shopping!) but it’s one of those things I don’t buy often and what’s the point of having money, if you’re not prepared to try and do something useful with it.

Next I went to buy a card in a different shop and saw a chance to be environmentally friendly again.

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Now, Danda is a man who drinks a lot of coffee. And a lot of tea. Every day. All day. A lot of liquids. Very often. And he buys them at local coffee shops. All those paper coffee cups add up. More often than not, he brings them home and recycles them but it would be better to avoid using the paper cups altogether. So I saw this flask in the shop and got it straight away, knowing that Danda would be filled with glee at the prospect of joining me on my world-saving mission. Upon returning home, I presented him with this beautiful ceramic flask, a potential revolution in his coffee-drinking world. Excitement and apprehension flitted across his face…

“Don’t you like it? Should I have got a different colour?”

“No, I love it. I just know I’ll break it. I’ll try not to. But I’m clumsy. We both know this is true.”

I had to admit that it is perhaps true. I mean, I haven’t even told you all the story yet of him making dinner on Thursday and managing to somehow throw my entire plate of food across the kitchen floor. We crossed our fingers and decided to give it a good go. So far, he has had it one day. Let’s see how long he can keep it.

And lastly, a follow up from my second day of world-saving…

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This lovely renewable energy company sent along some info and contracts and will get started imminently. Excited!