Wednesday 30 May 2012

Visiting Erik - The Low Carbon Cookbook

This month our Low Carbon Cookbook meeting was held for the first time at Erik’s house in Hethersett. Erik had often spoken about his permaculture garden and experimenting with different methods of growing plants and herbs for food, but even I wasn’t prepared for the sheer quantity and variety of seedlings, pots, cuttings and dried seedheads I encountered - and that was just inside. Exuberant is not the word for it!

If I hadn't been feeling under the weather I think Erik would have had trouble getting me to leave that night or at least stopping me from asking him a million questions.

Erik showed us around his garden full of raspberry bushes, leeks, sage, salad burnet, fennel, endives, rocket, walnut trees and even an alexanders plant I’d given him awhile back. He grows a total of 74 different fruit and vegetable plants, bushes and trees - and that’s not counting the wild plants and herbs including a lovely patch of lady’s smock glowing in the evening light.

Dinner this time was Erik’s hearty pumpkin and sage soup to start, followed by Charlotte's spicy cauliflower bhaji and rice and a mixed green salad straight from our various gardens and allotments.

We then played a game where each of us asked the person on our right hand side to tell us the months a particular fruit or vegetable was in season. We didn’t fare too badly but the work of the Low Carbon Cookbook is not complete yet!

It was time for dessert. In one early Cookbook session we designed a game called Six Ingredients, where we imagined we were only allowed six foodstuffs each from outside the UK. I recalled that Erik had chosen chocolate as one of his, so I had brought along some of the huge chocolate cake Gemma from Sustainable Bungay had made for my birthday the previous week. It was totally delicious and so rich I think it could keep even the most redoubtable chocolate lover going for at least six years!

So the ultra local fennel tea was a perfect digestif, served from a pot with matching cups which Erik had made and fired himself.

At some point the subject turned to low carbon (and cost) DIY. I mentioned the hot tap in our kitchen which won't turn off properly. Nick asked me to describe the tap and then gave me precise instructions as to how to turn off the water supply and change the relevant washer. I was very excited and returned home full of zest for trying out my new plumbing skills! But I couldn't remove the top part of the tap. Nick? Anyone? Help. Please.

Just before we left Erik showed us his axe for splitting wood. This is another skill I'm ready to learn having felled a dead elm this year for firewood. But if Erik teaches me I think I'll definitely be standing beside him.

Pics (all MW unless otherwise ascribed): Erik's sage cuttings in various media; dried amaranth seedheads; Erik's permaculture garden; mixed green low carbon salad; my big fat birthday chocolate cake (Josiah Meldrum); Sophie pours the fennel tea; does anyone know how to remove this tap top?; Erik taking a swing

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