My War on Waste recycling adventure continues, and I rediscover the joy of home-produced fruit and veg (as it came out of the ground) when I head off to support local producers at the Bolton artisan market at Heaton Fold Garden Centre.
So, rather disturbingly this week, it’s like I’ve had a tiny Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall perched on my shoulder, rather like a slightly less dapper Jiminy Cricket! I’ve been looking more carefully at everything I am throwing away, and thinking of ways of using up leftovers like never before. I made soup with veg trimmings and cauli stalks yesterday and used up the stale end of a French stick as croutons. Then, shamed to discover a limp head of celery sagging inthe fridge, chopped it up, braised it in stock and found it something of a taste revelation! I do tend to buy a head of celery with enthusiasm, only to realise that it’s still untouched a week later as my plans for the week have changed.
While the oven was on, I also roasted up some tiny home-grown aubergines that were too small to do much with, with garlic, olive oil and some sad and wrinkly cherry tomatoes, ready to puree as a tasty pasta sauce for tea tonight.
That said, I think it’s probably confession time. I have always been slightly OCD about my veg. Not bothered at all if they’re dirty or wonky, but I have been known to go through a pan of potatoes, after my husband has prepped them, to check for bruises and blemishes that he may have overlooked! There, I’ve said it. This means that the advice to make veg crisps out of peelings is something that I have to really fight with myself to try. (I also think an unwashed jacket potato that I once had in a hospital canteen may also have played its part – I can still feel the crunch of grit against my teeth as I write – eeewww!) I did have a tiny test with a few carrot peelings, but they cooked far quicker than expected and ended up black, shrivelled and unfortunately in the compost. I will persevere with this, though, as I do love veg crisps and they are ridiculously expensive.
With this in mind, I took myself off to Bolton Artisan Market at Heaton Fold Garden Centre on Sunday, in search of local produce, and I wasn’t disappointed. I have to say I gravitated straight to the fruit and veg stall, particularly drawn by the traditional ‘dirty’ veg on display!
I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to have a good chat about the unusual varieties on offer, with someone who knew their trade and was passionate about it. We got to taste the fruit: well-ripened pears, russet apples, even the unfortunately named kaki fruit – not local but interesting, nonetheless. I still have fond memories of going to our local greengrocers, as a child, and this took me right back. Good choice, British produce, a nice chat, time to browse and try, and even brown paper bags! Eric & Hayley, from Scallion Fruit & Veg., you made my day. Thanks also for the trial purple heritage carrots, which caramelised beautifully, just like you said, and tasted amazing.
They are also, as you can see in the photo, really beautiful when scrubbed up. In true Terminator style, “I will be back”.
Naturally I couldn’t resist a small selection from the tempting range by Rivington Chocolates. It was hard to choose but I plumped for salted caramel, lemon, amaretto and even one made with a Bank Top Brewery beer! Definitely a guilty pleasure. I also some waxed hard goat’s cheese from Cheese is Grate, which I am going to try cooking with next weekend, and I shall go back for the next market on 20th December to pick up my Christmas veg, a coffee selection from Second City Coffee and a few other last-minute presents and treats.
There was plenty to enjoy: artworks, wood sculptures, jam (I can recommend the Iheartjam Chuckleberry!), luxury soaps, biscuits, craft items, decorations, jewellery and plenty of food on offer, including pies and even a goat curry, being cooked by Nkono. Everything was under cover and even the iffy weather was overcome by the carnival atmosphere provided by Bolton FM. Don’t forget to put the next one in your diary and bob along for good quality food, gifts and a very warm welcome, not to mention a fun day out and a chance to get a last-minute Christmas tree or flowers from the garden centre.
I think I’ve now got everything I need to make my Christmas cake, pudding and mincemeat, so (as long as I can resist the call of the port) I shall be making them all in the next few days and sharing with you, in case you fancy having a go at your own.
Carole Ogden for Bolton Live