It's been a while since I wrote anything here. I've not stopped cooking - no sir - nor eating! Partially in the winter both Liz and I crave comfort food and I fall back onto the staples that I've already written about; stews, casseroles, roasts and so forth. Now that the grey, but mild, Winter seems to be passing and Spring is in the air with blossom on the trees and daffodils flowering thoughts turn to what to grow in the garden and a walk around the Farmers' Market in Ealing is a more attractive prospect as rain won't be trickling down my neck.
So on a sunny Saturday morning we took up our reusable grocery bags and visited the market. First up was a pair of red mullet from the fish stall. They had some nice looking crabs, mussels, oysters and clams as well but shellfish doesn't agree with me (apart from scallops for some reason which I love). Mackerel, fresh and smoked, monkfish, hake and gurnard also looked good on the ice. I chose the mullet because I'd never cooked with it before and it looked good and fresh so two of those were filleted and popped in my bag.
Next up was a cheese stall where Liz chose, after much sampling, a piece of Wife of Bath, a mild creamy semi-hard cheese. Bread next, a loaf of fig sour-dough, crusty and not too dense, an inspiration for my next baking session perhaps.
Two meat stalls, both from the Chilterns to the north-west of London supplied us with a rolled venison shoulder, some sausages (hickory smoked and Lincolnshire varieties), a kilo of beef shin (possibly the best cut for slow cooking) and a pheasant pie.
Some purple sprouting broccoli, winter purslane and land cress from the vegetable stall along with two punnets of mixed tomatoes (red, yellow, green, striped and deep purple) from the Isle of Wight (stretching the local aspect of the market there me-thinks!) would provide an accompaniment to the pheasant pie and the fish later. Last up a mixed half kilo of apples; Egmont Russets, Braeburns and the wonderfully named D'arcy Spice to see us through the week.
After a lunch of pie, salad and apple at home we strolled down our street to the where the local allotment centre was having their Spring Show. I had no idea there were so many types of daffodil! From pure white to deepest golden yellow. From simple trumpets to frilly doubles. From single large blooms to multiple small ones there must have been at least thirty on display!
Cakes, jams, marmalades, sausage rolls and handicrafts were also on display for judging all crammed into the church hall. We bought some seeds from the HAAGA (Horsenden Allotments And Garden Association) stall and trundled home with a copy of the show schedule where Liz seemed quite keen for me to enter one of the classes in the Summer Show.
As to what to grow this year in the garden. The same as usual for the most part. Runner and broad beans, tomatoes (several kinds), Jerusalem artichokes (mainly because once you have them you can't get rid of them!). Courgettes, herbs, rhubarb (already 15-20cm tall and may be ready for harvest soon), apples and salad greens. If I see something interesting in the garden centre later this month I may stretch this list a bit more but let's see.