Saturday 21 May 2011

A Leaf or Two out of the Low Carbon Cookbook

The Low Carbon Cookbook meeting this month took place at the Bicycle Shop cafe. The few minutes it took me to walk down Benedict St were the same few minutes it chose to rain in Norwich that evening and I arrived wet. But who’s complaining? After months of no rainfall and the ground so dry and plants, crops, farmers and gardeners all struggling any rain is welcome. Erik and I talked about the time we each spend carefully watering our respective plants, both of us getting up earlier in the mornings, both loathe to waste water. It’s good to know you’re not the only one!

I went downstairs to say hello to fellow TN blogger Helen and her gardener friend Jo. Main subject: We need more rain. Rain dance anyone?

This month we said goodbye and all the best to Kerry as she went up to Scotland to start her new green job. And welcomed Olivia, low carbon cook, writer and blogger, and permaculture practitioner. This was a great opportunity to review what we’ve been doing since we started last September, meeting monthly, cooking and eating food together, investigating where that food comes from and what goes into producing it. Paying attention. Gathering material for our cookbook.

“It’s quite a permaculture approach,” I said.
“Yes, that’s right,” said Olivia. “Observe for a year.”

It can take someone new to join a group sometimes to make you realise just how much material you have gathered.

So Charlotte took out a large piece of pink paper and as we went round the table taking turns to describe some of our favourite low carbon recipes (both those we have already brought to meetings and those for the future), she wrote down the bones and a structure for the book began to form. We talked seasons, seeds and lactofermentation. Herbs, flowers and fruits. Bee arrived a little later, entering the circle and the conversation. Going round the table like this is great - everyone gets to speak and listen.

And we all got very hungry! I’d already eaten, but normally we would have been enjoying Bee's winter slaw and omelettes, Charlotte's oriental slaw and tuk tuk salad, Erik's pumpkin soup and pickles, my freegan pizza and medicine jelly, and Olivia's Norfolk Black Turkey Egg n’ Nettle Quiche with Spelt Pastry, and all the compotes, breads, freegan gleanings and homegrown and foraged leaves, roots and sprouts right now!

The evening passed quickly and we were still swapping recipes, tips, wild Mexican marigolds and heritage cucumbers and courgettes as we took our leave.

I mentioned to Erik how lovely I found the flowers of salad burnet.
He looked at me askance. "Possibly under a microscope. They're just green and brown and dangly," he said.
"Oh no, they're a lovely rosy pink," I replied.
I said I'd take a photo of them.

We were both right. On the left is a flower from the plant Erik gave me last year at TN's seedling swap. The other two are from the smaller plants which grow profusely in my garden. The leaves taste very similar on both and give a good astringent tang to salads, a typical quality of the rose family.

So I'll leave you there for now. Who knows? In a year's time you may be reading The Low Carbon Cookbook, paper version.

Pics: Medicine jelly; Salad burnets by Mark Watson

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