the freshest choice


it’s been a thought-provoking week. a number of friends, who are lucky enough to have a garden and grow their own vegetables, have given us some of their produce. potatoes, courgettes, runner beans, green beans and elephant garlic all arrived in my kitchen thanks to these generous folks, along with a jar of honey produced by the bees owned our friends kate & steve.

kate & steve also provided us with a meal full of products they were responsible for producing, including blackberries, courgettes, peppers, tomatoes and eggs. it was this, plus last night’s supper, which featured a salad made from the potatoes and beans that we had been given, that started me thinking.

everything tasted so good. and why wouldn’t it? freshly-picked produce grown with love and care is always going to be better than something that is mass-produced and slow to arrive on our plates. i want more of this home-grown/produced food!

i love my urban life in london but having the outside space to start producing some of my own food just isn’t possible within that context, especially given i live in a flat where space, for a pot of tomatoes or grow-bag for rocket leaves, just isn’t available.

there is, of course, the option of an allotment but, according to a recent report the waiting list can be as long as ten years in some london boroughs! not very helpful even if i can get my head around the hard labour involved!

so what else? visits to farmer’s markets and the regular thought i have about getting a fruit and veg box (not being able to choose exactly what i want always puts me off) seem to be the only options remaining while i want to retain my city life. that and, of course, continuing to encourage donations of spare produce!

this is my contribution to grow your own, an initiative from andrea of andrea’s recipes, which celebrates the bounty of the garden. 

a summer salad

boil, until just ready to eat, some potatoes (cut into bite-sized pieces), green beans and fresh borlotti beans.

meanwhile make up a dressing using olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic and a generous spoonful of wholegrain mustard. put the dressing in a large salad bowl and as the vegetables are ready add them, while still hot, to this and mix well. the warmth of the vegetables means they absorb the flavours of the dressing better than they would if everything is mixed when cold.

add a handful of chopped pepperdew peppers, some thinly sliced red onion and some flat-leaf parsley.

we ate this with grilled buttery tilapia* fillets: season on one side and squeeze over some lemon juice. place under a hot grill, turning the fillets over when they are almost cooked. top the fish with a few slices of butter which will melt as it finishes cooking under the grill.

* tilapia is a lovely fish which we used to eat in malawi where it was known as chambo. it is classified as a

sustainable choice