Lots of fun making sushi at school this week…
Happy New Year to all our customers and thank you for all your support through the year. We are looking forward to discovering new flavours and exploring lots of yummy super foods with your children in 2016.
This pale green courgette-like vegetable (pronounced doodee) is a staple food in tropical climates such as India.
How to use it: Wash and peel it before adding to soups and curry dishes, or slice it raw into salads. The taste is quite neutral so it can be grated into cakes or muffins for texture.
Nutrition and health: Contains a good balance of B vitamins needed for energy and a healthy nervous system. With 0.7mg zinc per 100g, it’s also a good source of a mineral needed for strong immunity and fertility. Easy to digest when cooked, Dudhi is recommended as a food source for the elderly and babies.
Part of the gourd family, the Chow Chow from South America has a texture similar to a potato.
How to use it: Can be boiled, stewed or baked, or added raw to salads in a similar way to courgettes and carrots. It has a slightly bitter taste but becomes sweeter once cooked.
Nutrition and health: While this vegetable doesn’t stand out with any one particular nutrient, it gives you almost all you need in the right proportions. That said, the Chow Chow is high in fibre, making it good for digestion. It contains about twice the potassium and Vitamin C as the average cucumber.
It’s good to keep up with foods from around the globe and new trends, it can inspire you to get creative at home…when recently in Lisbon we discovered this great place:
The Time Out market – a fantastic selection of pop-up stalls serving all sorts of delicious dishes, combining Portuguese cuisine with influences from around the world. My favourite was the sushi bar serving fresh local sardine and cod…
Mind you there were some fresh fish that were a little scary!
Pumpkins are fully in season now but they’re not just for carving into scary faces. I spoke to Jakki Harriman, our local pumpkin expert and super-mum of five.
Jakki and Robert planted the first seeds just 3 years ago and every year since then the pumpkins have grown in size, variety and number.
“We now sell a large range of pumpkins at Christmas Tree Farm Chesham. Our traditional Halloween pumpkins are available in a range of sizes from the tiny munchkin variety to very impressive large ones and in a variety of colours. In addition, we also sell Rouge VIF D’Etampes, Baby Bear and Becky Pumpkins which make much better “eating” and Crown Prince squash which are superb tasting and highly recommended by celebrity chefs such as HughFearnley Whittingstall and Nigella. All of our pumpkins are homegrown by ourselves on our farm just four miles outside of Chesham.”
It really is a family affair with not only Jakki and Robert working on them but their children and Grandad mucking in too especially at ‘planting in’ and harvest time when its all hands on deck.
Jakki also told me about her favourite pumpkin recipes…
“My favourite variety to cook with are the completely delicious Crown Prince squash with their mysterious blue steely skin hiding their attractive smooth, creamy orange flesh. I often make Delia’s melting cheese pumpkin soup and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s pumpkin and lentil pasties with Crown Prince which Robert loves to find packed in his lunch box while he’s out working around the farm. But based on pure looks I would have to say that our Rouge VIF D’Etampes pumpkins are second to none, glorious bright red in colour they add some glamour to your doorstep or porch in the Autumn time”.
Pumpkins are like natures answer to tinned food and it is easy to see why the first settlers in America were so fascinated by them. Harvested well and in time with as long a stalk (handle) as possible and then stored in a cool dry, dark room or cupboard they can keep for up to 4 months, enough time to help you through the winter.
When we think of American food we may think of ‘junk food’…hamburgers and fries!
What is the definition of Junk food? When asked this the children seemed to understand that these were foods full of fats and sugars with very little nutritional value. The confusion came in the understanding of how you can turn a food like chicken into junk food by frying it and chucking it in a bun with a huge dollops of mayo and fries on the side. Instead grill the chicken and cook some oven baked spicy chunky potato wedges with a nice crunchy salad on the side.
We all too quickly associate America with junk food but they have a lot more to offer than that! Every state in America has their very own special dish from pumpkin soup in New England to potato salad in Idaho. They say that you can eat yourself around the globe in New York, which is famous for its delicatessens that sell all sorts of yummy stuff that’s good for you. Fruit, veg, salads etc. They also sell particular types of food, for example some specialise in Italian or Jewish foods. This is due to the huge migration to America. Each state has adopted or created their own version of other countries foods and some of their own. Here are a few dishes that are at the heart of the Big Apple and are as essential as the Statue of Liberty or the yellow taxis.
Fried chicken and waffles
Hots dogs and chilli sauce or sauerkraut
Pastrami on rye
Chinese ‘take out’
Hamburger and fries
Pancakes, bacon and maple syrup
How many of these are junk foods?
Come rain or shine we still eat the stuff, children and grownups alike love it!
Knock! Knock! Who’s there?
Ice cream who?
I scream if you throw me in cold water.
In modern day living pretty everything or anything can be made into an ice cream, from Oreos to snail flavoured. But how did this relationship with the cold stuff come about?
Snow cone facts
- Marco Polo brought back ice and noodles from China and ever since the Italians have been crazy about the stuff. In fact so has all of continental Europe since Marco in the 13th century .
- Historians state that Alexandra the Great (356-323 BC) loved to eat snow flavoured nectar and honey
- One of the most unusual ice-cream flavours invented is hot dog…yum sounds delicious , created in Arizona USA of course!!
- 90% of American households eat ice cream.
Our son Jack got a masterclass in lobsters from Valentis while we were on holiday in Halki this year. Using incredibly fresh lobsters straight from the sea it was a hands-on lesson with Jack learning how to hold lobsters (and keep all his fingers!) and much more…such as:
- If the shell is softer the taste will be better
- Female lobsters taste sweeter than males
- Tickle their eyes to test their reflexes and therefore how fresh they are
- Although they generally move slowly they can use their tails to swim backwards at over 10 mph – it’s those strong muscles that can nip your fingers if you don’t hold them correctly.
- Ice makes them sleepy and hibernate
We also learnt how delicious lobster spaghetti is when expertly cooked by Valentis and Livanos, sweet tender lobster with linguini in a beautiful sauce.
This year we have had a bumper crop of redcurrants at Cookies. Sharing is caring so we always leave some for our feathered friends to munch on. Redcurrants freeze very well and are delicious made into a sweet pastry tartlet filled with home-made vanilla custard and redcurrants dusted in icing sugar gently placed on the top. It makes the right combination of sweetness and sharpness that tantalises the taste buds.