Saturday, 30 June 2012


This week two "To Let" signs have appeared in Nailsworth's shops, this means that Nailsworth will have gone from three fantastic toy shops to NONE. Nailsworth being my ultimate favourite local town is by no means alone in this and I'm sure lots of towns have suffered much more. These are hard times for independent retailers and a bad start to the summer has not helped. More then ever they need our support, and they're not the only ones. Last week I had a tour of food bank in Stroud. A charity in need of our support. This year they have provided food for a 1000 meals. These go to people struggling to meet the most basic needs of feeding themselves and their families, right here in Stroud and in hundreds of Food Bank Hubs across the country. I've been invited by The Food Bank to assist them in developing recipes using food donated to them. By sharing the recipes in my weekly column, I hope to be able to find cheap, healthy, and tasty ways of keeping this charity in our minds whilst perfecting at home, recipes I hope will be useful for the people that need them. It's been a while, what with my E.D. adventure since I used tinned tomatoes and didn't make my own baked beans, but us Herbert's relish our next challenge, and I may even have to finally (in an emergency) after 18 months, revisit the supermarket to get my selection of tins. I will use the Horsley community shop firstly, then the Coop next. It would be great if any of you can let me know of any great independents stocking a wide range of tinned goods. So from next week we'll be cooking differently, see you then.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


I was asked the other day for my advise on where to go in Bath shopping,I was delighted, a speciality subject (Mastermind Worthy?)
Here it is..

I would start at, which is opposite Toast, would probably pop into on my way to our favourite coffee shop in the world, I dream about their coffee, the owner Maxwell was just named 6th best barista in the world.
After this I would be fully charged for these
Square,, this is where my sister got her wedding dress.
Bloomsbury is nice and has a nice jewellery shop too which is next door to an amazing kitchen shop. is a new discovery, we love their stuff.For men,, Tom has bought suits here.  great for lunch, fantastic vegetarian restaurant for dinner.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Feeding the 5000

We spent this sunny Saturday at the Fareshare event on College Green Bristol. Fareshare was raising awareness of the ridiculous levels of food waste in our country. They fed 5000 people by cooking up an amazing vegetable curry, with rice and hot pickles. College Green was packed with a great mix of people enjoying the sunshine and curry.
On a personal note I always think we are pretty good at not wasting too much food. We never throw away unused food, and it helps that I'm able to shop little and often to avoid this. Our problem is scraps; kids not eating their dinner or just cooking too much. I currently have one portion each of beef Thai green curry, sausage and mash, roast lamb and potato dauphinoise and some old rice in my fridge. The problem is how to fit them all together to feed the six of us. I am normally pretty creative at using up scraps, and this will probably form some kind of stew using up the aubergines from the curry and leftover meat all served with two types of potato! Ridiculous, but I refuse to throw it away. A good solution is to put these small portions in the freezer for an instant ready meal.
There is also a food bank in Stroud which like Fareshare redistributes excess food. You can leave items in Emmaus in Stroud. It says on their website that they currently need tinned foods and nappies.
This doesn't solve the problem of my one portion leftover but provides a fantastic solution to the greater problem. Put it in bellies, not in bins.

Squeak piggy squeak

We have been having a really lovely time, enjoying the glorious sunshine and eating out rather a lot.
This sunny, yummy, spell started with a fantastic evening in Nailsworth, the first safari supper organised by Personal Best Studio in aid of Cotswold Care. The safari kicked off in Wild Garlic with some Wye valley asparagus wrapped in brioche served with hollandaise. We then walked to the Hobbs House Bistro for a lamb feast. The finale was at Mark @ Street for a delicious rhubarb crumble.
After this we spent an amazing few days in Cornwall eating some seriously good grub. A common theme I noted was for 'deconstructed' dishes, taking a classic dish, breaking down the elements and serving them differently. What stands out for me is that each deconstructed element has to be stronger in its deconstructed form, than it is in the traditional dish, otherwise what's the point?
Obviously everywhere we ate was doing seasonal, so lamb was hot on the menu and twice we had great fancy lamb dishes. One was cooked by Anthony at Hobbs, slow cooked lamb, confit of lamb breast in divine deep fried cubes and a lamb broth, all on the same board. In the Pony and Trap in Chew Magna there was lamb sweet breads and lambs liver all served with a spiced aubergine purée, delicious. All this eating out culminated with a fantastic night in the Goods Shed Stroud as part of SVA Site Festival where Tom and Henry celebrated the cow, with beef cooked three ways.
All this consumption has left us inspired and in need of some exercise. Where better to start than getting out in the fields and picking the first elderflowers.


Last week when the sun was shining I turned off the oven, we have an oven that works like an aga with the ovens warming our hearth by being on all the time, this just left me with the hob and the desire for a different type of cooking.
On Monday we started out the week with a delicious piece of rump steak cooked on the barbecue. Then this week I had a good attempt at some seriously frugal cooking. Bramleys greengrocers had one of its demon mushroom offers. With a box of field mushrooms for £1 and some fresh peas from the 'overs' box we pretty much ate for a week. The majority of the mushrooms were used in an attempt at a classic Elizabeth David, mushrooms a la greque. The mushrooms were fried in a lot of olive oil with peeled tomatoes and seasonings of bay and coriander seeds, this made a great healthy lunch. The remaining mushrooms were served on toasted sourdough, mushrooms on toast remains one of my all time favourites, even if it's just for the smell of mushrooms frying in butter.
The fresh peas were used in a curry. I probably bought these just to have the pleasure of sitting in the sunshine and podding them. Somehow Tom got to pod them, but he did make a pretty good curry too.
Other meals this week were pretty thrifty, an omelette with new potatoes and a smoked haddock chowder. Our diet this week has attempted healthy, cheap with camouflaged vegetables for the kids, just a shame I have let the side down by eating any chocolate or cheese in sight.

Northern Ireland

We went away last week for the jubilee and the kids half term. We had a lush break with lots of cycling, log fires and DVDs. There was just one key component missing (other than the sun) to a great family break: the food. As I am sure you all know our life revolves around food, and therefore a holiday is always geared by where next to eat. Obviously this becomes harder when this isn't available and there is nothing like absence to make the heart grow fonder. We seriously missed our amazing food shops of home. We cooked some nice meals and had some reasonable ones out but the choice was restricted. What I particularly missed was decent meat and great fresh fruit and veg. Unfortunately this is probably all a sign of the times and what were once thriving towns have now been extinguished. For us this was just serious reassurance that supporting our locals is the only way to go.
We celebrated our return to Nailsworth with breakfast at Hobbs, followed by a good shop round our locals. There were some presents to buy in White Buffalo, an ordered audio cd from Yellow Lighted and some supplies from Shiny Goodness. The sun was shining so we seized the opportunity for a picnic and stocked up with some finery from Williams Kitchen my absolute favourite treat, a true homecoming. We love these five valleys. They taste so good.