Thursday 21 October 2010

Low Carbon Cookbook #2

Yesterday was the first time since the Spring that I put on a coat, as we set out to Christine’s for our second Low Carbon Cookbook session. The temperature was 6 degrees at half past four and as we boarded the train at Lowestoft I wondered aloud to Charlotte about the banana plant and lemon verbena we need to bring in before the frosts.

Across the Broads the sun shone through a huge whale cloud sending out rays like an announcement on the big screen. Two women talked intensely about their work as carers for old people with dementia, 'she doesn't know where she is' and 'he won't let anyone near him but me'. They spoke of bedsheets and cups of tea and the work seemed endless. The man opposite went through the papers of a meeting and occasionally closed his eyes.

We sat with our bag of vegetables, herbs and oils and I took a photo through the train window.

It was warm at Christine’s (even without the heating), and it got warmer as we set to pulling food out of bags and boxes, discussing where it had come from and what it was: Erik’s exotic prickly achocha and rainbow chard home-grown in Hethersett, Christine’s garlic and tomatoes from right outside the kitchen door, leeks from Norman’s market garden near us, a bunch of fragrant herbs Charlotte picked from outside our door, walnut and avocado oils past their sell-by-date we had been given by a local shopkeeper, sweet chestnuts gathered from Thetford forest, Norfolk potatoes, courgettes and flat beans from Norwich market's Follund’s Organics, nasturtium flowers, Cathy’s chard from Bungay’s Abundance of Fruit project. (Bee and Kerry arrived a bit later with (local) potato and parsley salad and a compote of garden cooking apples and blackberries, sweetened just by the fruit itself.)

Meanwhile we got chopping and decided to stir fry the vegetables. Christine hooked out an awesome old pan she’d bought in the 70s on an overland trip to North Africa and not used for a long time. Everyone was slightly asphyxiated by the chillis (from Norfolk and Suffolk) as they sizzled along with garlic, onion and ginger in the pan, but it smelt delicious.

Before dinner we sat down and placed more focused attention on the ingredients we’d brought and also talked about particular books and films we'd read or seen and wanted to share as resources with each other: Felicity Lawrence's incisive investigation into supermarket food Not On The Label, inspiring local food documentaries The Power of Community and A Farm for the Future, David Gershon's visionary Social Change 2.0 and Masanobu Fukuoka's pre-permaculture permaculture classic The One Straw Revolution.

We talked organic, vegetarian, meat, fish, freegan, industrial! And how we saw The Low Carbon Cookbook taking shape over the coming year, who would focus on what areas. The meeting was self-organising and relaxed, we covered a lot of ground and choosing our areas within the project was effortless. Oh, and the stir-fry, salads and fruit compote were delicious and really hit the spot. Even a year ago I don't think I would have enjoyed paying attention to the food I eat so much. It must be the company.

Pics: Preparing a One Planet Community Kitchen Low Carbon Cookbook meal, vegetables, salad and the old African pan; sun behind clouds across the Broads; Low Carbon Cooks doing practical research!

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