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20 April 2016

A foodie welcome to me, from Bristol.

Hi everyone, My name is Alex and I'm a food blogger. Yes I know...another one. I'm a Midlands girl who recently moved down to Bristol and after just 5 weeks, I'm already loving the foodie culture here. To find out that the Food Connections festival is happening soon was just another reason why I'm already falling in love with this city. To really embrace Bristol life I've decided to do next weeks food shop entirely through independents and will only be paying in Bristol pounds. It sounds like a challenge but I've got sturdy legs and plenty of bags so I'm ready for it! I'll be back on here diarising my experience next week! Wish me luck :-)
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11 May 2015

Allotment Productivity Challenge: The End

Food Connections flew by but I did manage to give my allotment quite a lot of love. Admittedly keeping the grass on the paths and under the picnic table down is a job in itself at this time of year...but we also got squashes and brassicas planted in, and dahlias and welsh onions a neighbour gave me. We have been protecting seedlings that are coming up (including spinach and amaranth, beetroot, asparagus peas, munchen bier, salads, kohl rabi, chard and brassicas) from the wind, rain and slugs..and from weed competition. Our indoor seedlings, including celeriac and purple sprouting are now toughening up outside a bit and we have built a mini cold frame in the garden for our tomatoes, tomatillos, mouse melons and chillies. I have even got round to reading up on succession planting and can add in a bunch more crops to my yearly planting plan. Everything is looking set for a productive year.
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7 May 2015

Allotment Productivity Challenge: Day 7

I confess...I haven't made it down every day. Well you've seen some of the wind and rain we've been having! I went down this morning to check on the seedlings I planted. The wind has pulled off some of the fleece I put over them but mostly they are looking good - not too wind swept or slug eaten, though some of the salads have had damage from what may be flea beetles. I have used bits of flexible plastic edging material to create rings around some of the brassicas and courgettes to give them a bit of protection against the wind. On the plus side the rain has made everything grow really quickly...my rhubarb is bursting out of the chimney pot I use as a forcer, all my early potatoes are up now, and seedlings are putting out their first true leaves (making it easier to tell them apart from the equally enthusiastic weedlings)
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4 May 2015

Allotment Productivity Challenge: Day 4

So far so good! Definitely averaging over 1hour a day on the plot so far and Chris has been helping too. To add to the productivity I have also found takers for my spare seedlings - Incredible Edible planters on Dame Emily Park and an allotment holder on Windmill Hill. I have planted in my kale, brussels sprouts and cabbage seedlings and a couple of larger courgettes and now its stopped being so windy I've put some other seedlings outside in my garden to harden off. The beds are starting to fill up with their planned crops, so now I need to get busy working out what I can plant inbetween them, and after them, that won't get in their way. I've found resources of Charles Dowding's website really useful: http://www.charlesdowding.co.uk/learn/articles/ especially his growing timeline which tells you when to actually plant things (as packets can be so vague!) I'm going to plant my beans in pots today because the wind is a bit chilly still and Charles says I should! But I've also soaked some in water to germinate in a glass so I can see which of my saved bean seeds are the most vigorous. That's what passes for fun in my house :) I've also be sprouting my onion bottoms to grow new scalions...interesting but a bit smelly. Crops we are eating from our plot this week: kale, spinach, lemon balm (in drinks), mint, onion shoots (instead of spring onions)
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6 March 2015

Just some off our volunteers having fun

as you can see we cater for all ages at Springfield allotments lets grow project this is just some of our volunteers having fun from riding in the barrow or meeting the chickens to planting some onions if this looks like some thing you might find intresting the on the 2nd of April from 10,until 2 we will be having our Easter event come see what we do,see you there
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12 May 2014

Final weekend!

The second weekend of the Food Connections festival came along all too quickly - working doesn't half get in the way of the rest of your life so had to miss out on all sorts of things I'd have loved to have gone to - hopefully ill plan further ahead for next year and take some leave to do it all properly! But for the last weekend I still had time to fit in one last event, and a great event it was too. Cheese school held at the lovely Laura's Harts Bakery so gorgeous bread guaranteed! Beers from Wild Beer Company, wines from a natural wines company in London and then the cheeses..... Charlie Westhead from Neal’s Yard Creamery with lovely and creamy goats‘ cheeses Ragstone and Dorstone, Tom (The Cheese) from Westcombe with his proper cheddar, Gorwydd Caerphilly from Trethowan’s Dairy bought along by Todd and finally the incomer Yank, Joe Schneider and the blue cheese for the night, the Stichelton. The cheeses were all great; tasty, nutty cheddar with a good tang, smooth, creamy goats cheese that were just totally addictive, a crisp lemony Caerphilly and, the surprise of the night....I LIKE BLUE CHEESE!!! I've never liked blue cheese and it's taken an incomer yank to convert me to a traditionally English, hand made blue cheese! Lovely! And with Laura's delicious sourdough, it all went down beautifully, as did the wines and especially the first wine of the evening, a lightly sparkling rose called Festejar! Which apparently means 'let's party' and with this at your party, it would certainly be a great start! The beers on the other hand, sorry, awful! But then I'm not a beer fan so I'm sure for those that are the weirder mixtures offered by the wild beer company (one involving 400 plus frozen cucumbers!) would be a nice change! And then of course, there was the bread! Some lovely crispy thin slices of sesame sourdough brushed with olive oil and baked - the perfect way to use up bread that's a few days old - does anyone still have any of Laura's delicious sourdoughs left after a few days?? And then slices of fresh bread too as well as the chance to shape and take home our own loaves - perfect for breakfast the next morning after a rather heavy headed start to the next day!
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12 May 2014

Shopping-the results

I did actually manage to do some buying and not just eating over the food connections period! This is the result of my food producers market purchases, tasty it was too!
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10 May 2014

Day 10: The Last Supper

I woke up today knowing that this would be the last day of the challenge which made me sad. No more gorgeous local food and back to the basic student diet which mainly consists of pasta and pesto… But who can complain? Nothing smells as good as a bowl of pasta topped with pesto and cheese. Yea, I am not believing my own words here either! I am going to miss the incredible pieces of great quality meat that I got from Ruby and White and not to mention the various wholesome ingredients from the two shops: Wild Oats and The Better Food Company. One thing that will stay though is the veg box – that has been a cheeky order since January and doing this challenge has made me see how much more I should value it! Breakfast today was a mango that I bought from The Cambridge Farmer’s Outlet and it was only 50p! Amazing. The guy from the shop told me how he buys them in bulk as supermarket rejects and that if he didn’t buy them then they would either go to waste or be fed to livestock. Crazy to think that supermarkets can reject orders based on sales and demand. Makes it seem so much more important to cut the middle man out and buy directly from these farm shops and markets. And the mango was also juicy and delicious! Only 50p! Lunch was a little experiment with a combination of baked beans and kidney beans on toast. It was actually very tasty and a nice addition to your average tin of baked beans. Everything in this meal was organic and came from The Cambridge Farmer’s Outlet. Now I’ve never been too bothered whether my food is organic or not but since doing this challenge I’ve found that I feel better within myself, less hungry and better than anything I’ve lost a little bit of weight. I think that eating food which is less processed has really helped – I’m not even sure if my supermarket bran flakes are all that healthy! Processing food adds unnecessary sugar and salt when you can have a nice bowl of porridge and monitor your intake levels in a much more effective way. And to be honest, I’d prefer to eat a bowl of porridge with a sprinkling of sugar every morning; especially if it could help my bikini body on its way! Now you can never finish a challenge without going out with a bang! I can assure you that I well and truly topped this fun 10 days with an awesome meal. It could only be the one and only British favourite that is steak and chips! Oh my this was the best meal of the week and all homemade to boot. Again, every ingredient came from the same independent shop in Cambridge and this included steak, potatoes, onions, mushrooms and cream. I made this for my boyfriend and myself and I think it is safe to say that he enjoyed it too because he cleared everything on his plate! This may not sound like much but when you see the portion difference between his plate and mine then you may start to understand. So with the last meal of the challenge eaten and described it has to be the end of the Bristol Good Food Challenge blog… BUT don’t despair because I will be back! I am going to do another food related challenge so suggestions are very welcome although I do already have a few ideas in mind – they’re my secret though so stay tuned. I will be back after exams are over and I have a 4 month summer to write many more things on food related topics. Watch this space!

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10 May 2014

The challenge of leftovers - bread and tomato soup?

A recent e-mail from Foodcycle, a National campaign to limit food waste, has requested recipes for a cookbook to be sold to raise money for charity (image 1). Below is my contribution that I discovered recently as a means of using leftover hard cheese rind (always seems such a waste!), although this isn't strictly vegetarian as requested I tweaked it a little and left the cheese as optional. Bread and tomato soup: From the Tuscany area of Italy this is a great recipe for using up a few leftovers such as old stale loaf bread, fresh or tinned tomatoes, cut herbs, and even hard cheese rind. Though it is an hour cooking time you can walk away from the pot for large chunks of time while the smell fills your kitchen! Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour Serves: 4 Ingredients: 400 g of ripe tomatoes (peeled, de-seeded, and coarsely chopped; or roughly 1 tin of tomatoes) 1 celery stick (chopped; or substitute with 1 small white onion, chopped) 1 garlic clove (chopped) 1 tablespoon olive oil Salt and pepper 2 slices of stale bread (cut into small cubes including the crusts; although not sliced white packaged bread!) A handful of basil leaves, or alternatively flat leaf parsley or coriander (torn, at end of cooking) Recipe: Add the tomatoes, celery stick, garlic, olive oil and 1.2 liters of water to a pan with a pinch of salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer with no lid for around 30 minutes (adding leftover hard cheese rind here if using), then add the bread and simmer over an even lower heat for 30 more minutes with no lid. Note that at this point you essentially have a tomato soup you could just go ahead and eat, but it's also a useful way to use up bread. Taste and season to your liking then serve in warmed soup bowls topped with the punchy herbs, tear these by hand at the last moment so that the oils aren't lost on the knife blade. Notes: To easily peel whole tomatoes gently score a knife across the bottom and top in a criss-cross fashion and place in boiling water for 20 seconds, wait for them to cool then peel away the skin. You can add leftover hard cheese rind at the simmering stage to add flavour (e.g. parmesan or pecorino, buy vegetarian or only use rennet-based cheese for non-vegetarians).

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9 May 2014

Day 9: Only One Day Left!

I woke up again today with that annoying question: to go to my lecture or not to go to my lecture? But because this lecture in particular happened to be the last one of first year, I felt an irresistible urge to go. I decided to go back to basics for my breakfast this morning and went with a trusty bowl of porridge. I did however go with my walnut addition which was also very tasty. This was yet another locally sourced meal; the oats, sugar and walnuts came from the shop Wild Oats and the milk came from The Better Food Company. It's always nice knowing that the food came from a sustainable source and I also think it tastes better too! I am blogging from Cambridge tonight as I am visiting my boyfriend in university. I had to make a meal for the train so decided to make a cheeky bacon sandwich because the one I had the other night was sooooo good! Again, everything that made up the meal was sourced very locally - and my favourite butchers delivered yet another great couple of slices of bacon. And who can deny that a bacon sandwich is tasty? Always a good choice. With a three and a half hour journey done, I had to source some local food from an independent shop in Cambridge. What felt like an impossible task at the time (it was 17.30 and shops were about to close!), I managed to find an Aladdin's Cave of amazing food! This shop was called The Cambridge Farmer's Outlet and they supply a wide range of fruit and veg, local farmer's meat and dairy produce, dried and tinned organic foods and much much more! Amazed, I was walking round this great independent shop for 20 minutes just picking out all the great looking food and I think I got enough for the next few days even though my challenge is ending tomorrow... But who can resist some amazing looking organic food?? Especially when it's reasonably priced too! Tonight's supper was a nice and simple 'bangers and mash'. I do love my leeks so I added some fried leeks in with the onions to add another dimension to the dish. The leek was much bigger than I thought and it ended up being more like leeks with a bit of mash and sausage. Oopsies. This was another really tasty meal and even though I was on a time and money budget to source it, I managed to find the perfect shop. I think if I lived in Cambridge then I would seldom shop anywhere else. P.S. Sorry about the lack of breakfast and lunch pictures! My phone won't connect to the internet so I can't upload them - these photos were luckily taken on my boyfriend's phone.

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