Championing local

Cooking under Lockdown

A keen member of Slow Food I used the timing of lockdown to exploit my very local food resource, our allotment.

Producing tasty, nutritious meals is always a challenge, and even more so under lockdown where the 5 mile rule for travel reduced access to our usual butcher and dairy – we drink raw milk.

However, the additional time that had been created allowed the chance to research online suppliers of ethical and organic meat and milk along with Port to Plate Fish Supplies.

In reality, though, it was the timing in March that helped most, as our allotment was just coming into delivery mode and fresh vegetables with a food distance of 150 yards provided fresh, seasonal and very local food. Eggs from a fellow allotment holder made a regular appearance too.

Luckily the ‘Hungry Gap’ was ending or we would have lived on leeks, brassicas and stored potatoes and onions

Instead an early Spring meant Asparagus sprang up on a regular and rapid basis. We have two beds, green and purple, that are in their third year of production so we limited ourselves to about 150 spears that were enjoyed whether steamed and buttered or served with a poached egg or went into a quiche or tart. The tougher parts of the stalks are all frozen for  taste of Spring in Winter as asparagus soup.

Rhubarb provided a tasty compote for breakfast with Greek yoghurt though as strawberries and raspberries came into season the rhubarb featured mostly in desserts!

Personally I love the taste of the first new potatoes and with seven varieties a range of textures and tastes boosted the carb content of meals, often accompanied by the first pickings of runner or french beans and lately peas. We grow Heritage varieties wherever possible and save seeds for next year.

There is always great delight at the first picking of figs from our tree in the allotment greenhouse, and this Summer we should have 20 or so, not enough to make jam but perfect on a salad with salty feta cheese.

We have lots of leaves growing for salad and have recently harvested the first cucumbers, tomatoes are still a work in progress as are courgettes and aubergines. Looks like Summer will see us eating well and I shall be flat out preserving, dehydrating, jamming and crystallising apples, pears and a range of vegetables such as beetroot before enjoying the Winter tastes of main crop potatoes, celeriac, parsnips and brassicas.

Luckily with an allotment, and a keen gardener in my wife cooking under lockdown passed without shortages or incidents.

Who knows what a second spike in Covid or Brexit will bring, but a Slow approach will prove a bulwark.