Friday, November 30, 2012

Foodie Penpals - black is the new black!

'Any things you really dislike? Like liquorice, who can like liquorice!' said Gareth. So it didn't start well.  Ms Tagalong's foodie penpal turned out to be her arch nemesis in foodie tastes but came up with the goods anyway! ( Sorry folks the formatting on this post has all gone haywire! Don't seem to be able to correct it.)
A black cube emblazoned with the logo Black was   the first thing Ms Tagalong zoned in on. Dark          chocolate coated chili liquorice –a combination       made in Danish heaven! She counted out the            lozenges dusted with salmiak and chili powder,         fifteen days supply if she rationed them out carefully and probably hid them from Mr Ideasman. 
An exquisite wooden butter knife was next to be     examined. Something which will find its way back to Australia, for sure. 
Swedish Pepparkakor biscuits are still sitting in their bright red box waiting for a happy occasion, maybe  Christmas? Lovely to have with cheese maybe.   MsTagalong did her best trying to decipher the writing  on  the box but had to resort to looking at the          pictures!  Looks like they are spiced with ginger,     cinammon, clovesand fenugreek. Yum. 
A little pot of home-made traffic-light chutney, so    named from the different pepper colours and a little bottle of bourbon flavoured gourmet sauce were      also in this wonderful box. Thank you Gareth, says Ms Tagalong. 

Pia Schmedt who was so lucky to have Ms Tagalong as a foodie penpal has sent in a little post about her parcel as she saw it! 
This month I was lucky enough to receive my foodie penpal parcel from Meryl, who lives in Dorset.
I always love to open the foodie penpals packages and this time it was real fun:
She sent me different kind of products, some I know and some I don't know and had to look up on the internet.
It was the nuts &breadsticks for the Romesco sauce, which I didn't know,   but found out that it is a nut and red pepper-based sauce from Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain.
You can serve it with seafoods, which is perfect, because guess what, I live at the North Sea just 1km from  the ocean and we eat a lot of fish in our family.
The other thing I had to look up is the tagine spice from Morocco, it is used for the slow cooked meals in a traditional Moroccan tagine pot.
One of the best items was the Paella seasoning, because my family loves Paella and I will use this seasoning  the next time I cook this dish.
Then there were the oatmeal & honey cookies from a local company, which were delicious and disappeared quickly together with the yummy lemon & ginger tea.
But the BEST the absolutely BEST were the real ale chutney together with the cheese bites and the rosquellitas (savoury biscuits, which are so delicious that I have to find a store, where I can buy them or a recipe to make some myself).
I had some tomato chutney left and my husband and I had the perfect evening snack!!!
Meryl sent me a lovely card from the Biddulph Grange Garden in Staffordshire.  
Thank you Meryl for the wonderful parcel, I loved everything :)
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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grow some, take some - Todmorden Incredible Edibles

Ms Tagalong, her friend Darling Loggins (from The World from my Window fame) and her Yorkshire resident daughter Ms Would You Rather, threaded their way up the long narrow valleys into Todmorden.

Ms Tagalong could hardly contain herself. After having seen this TED inspirationalvideo via a newsletter from Changing Habits, Changing Lives recently, the chance to see Todmorden and its incredible edibles in all its verdant glory was opportune.

Outside the police station! 
' I thought this was a village,' Ms Tagalong commented as they drove down the grey, rain-slicked road into the town of 14,941 inhabitants. She looked around craning her neck to spot some incredible edibles in the winter weather.

'Better park here,' she said as they pulled up outside the police station, 'ooh, look, beds and veg – it's a fair cob, I mean cop, says this sign!'

So she sprang out of the car, camera at the ready. Ms Would You Rather loaded up the green route on her mobile and off they went.

La Neige Blanche in the window
Admittedly there was a detour. La Neige Blanche, garishly painted, sitting in pride of place in a window display of every possible piece of themed china produced, pulled the trio into the shop where they met Margaret of the chinashop's husband.

'This is a true story,' he kept saying as he regaled them with tales of royalty and near royalty purchasing his wares and of his wife (Margaret) lurking behind a a bin on the offchance that Prince Charles, who he said had visited the Incredible Edible town three weeks earlier, might wander on down from the market to say hello.

Herb picking at the station
'It's a true story,' he repeated taking off his glasses so he couldn't look them in the eye!

Back on track the trio spotted vegetables, vegetables everywhere, to pick and to share. Onions outside the adult education college, herbs outside the train station, beans in the churchyard and an apothecary's garden by the canal.

Grow it, map it and share it!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Onion knowledge!

Ms Tagalong has been looking through some of the photos she has taken of various great gardens this past year.

One garden in particular stands out. Another National Trust property, chanced upon as a detour off the great M5 motorway was a wonderful break.

Hanbury Hall and gardens , a William and Mary style house built in 1701, has its share of history with a family including ne'er-do-wells and squandered fortunes.

The stunningly restored parterre garden is a highlight,
'My sister would love that! All that perfection and order,' said Ms Tagalong.

The walled garden is once again a working, producing, viable veggie garden supplying the cafe with its greens, fruit and of course eggs from the happy chickens!

Ms Tagalong has probably mentioned before how excited she is about the course the National Trust is taking with all this sustainability and local produce. Fantastic!

Wandering into the greenhouse Mr Ideasman spied onions drying on a table. He cupped one in his hand impressed by its size, 'I certainly know my onions!' he quipped.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Autumn Feast at River Cottage Canteen

Autumn in the canteen

Ms Tagalong works hard at getting what she wants and so it came to pass that she, Mr Ideasman,
Ms Pintsize and Mr Gentlegiant arrived at the door of the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster in time for lunch recently.

It was busy, still busy, even though the holidays were over, all the children should have been back at school but then Ms Tagalong remembered that half term holidays were in fact a week early in some counties and hence that explained the little rugrats running around harassed parents.

Actually that last bit is just not true. Two darling little girls at the next table sat quietly and patiently crayoning and drawing waiting for their food.

The menu was full of seasonal specialities but Ms Tagalong was keen to try the kale speltotto with goat's cheese, this cheese being her new best- loved food...after rhubarb,admittedly, and perhaps ginger, and maybe even aubergine (eggplant).

Kale speltotto with goat's cheese
'Speltotto?' questioned Ms Pintsize, 'What on earth is that? Sounds like it could be Italian...'

So Ms Tagalong hauled the River Cottage Veg Every Day book off the shelf behind the bench seat and looked it up.

'This is very similar to a risotto but based on nutty grains of pearled spelt,' she read out.

'Spelt?' Ms Pintsize asked, 'isn't that the past tense of spell?'

Mr Gentlegiant smiled fondly at his wife and Ms Tagalong vowed to find out more about this ancient grain not the ancient verb!

Will someone please buy me the veg book?
But first she was going to have to eat it.

And it was creamy and perfect for a cool Autumn Day.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Eden Project - a bite of the apple

Have you ever been to Eden? Adam and Eve of course think of it differently but Ms Tagalong and Mr Ideasman thought of it as a haven for all things botanical but still thought it wise on a visit not to bite into any proffered fruit.

This morning, snow fell, so to keep warm  Ms Tagalong recalled the heat in the Eden Project and smiled.

Tim Smit's dream to convert an eyesore of a clay pit into the eighth wonder of the world ten years ago came to fruition and Ms Tagalong's remembrance of the plastic flowers (recycled drink cups and washing machine hose, of course) were no longer in sight.

The gardens have grown since her last visit beyond all measure and the towering palms threaten to pierce the plastic pillows hexagonally placed to make the impressive domes.

Mr Ideasman hotfooted it to the rainforest biome, the world's largest rainforest in captivity with steamy jungles and waterfalls says the website. Mr Ideasman was at this time feeling the need for some Australian heat and stickiness as Cornwall had not been providing this for him up to now.

He sweated and stripped as he looked at all the familiar plants in the Australasian section. How exciting to see a Wollombi pine! How disappointing not to be able to ascend the lookout as the possibility of fainting right away had closed it for the day!

Ms Tagalong loved the vegetables planted in the beds outside the cafes, edible and decorative. That’s the way! Fresh rocket and salad from bed to plate.

Big Brunch here has become the Big Lunch. Feeling sad about missing the Big Brunch this year Ms Tagalong and Mr Ideasman realised that they had also missed the Big Lunch. Heigh, ho. There will be another year.

Instruction boards remind all of the educational purpose of the project. The workshops available; the instructional messages on the production of tea, cocoa and coffee; environmental and ethical purchases in the shop; all add up to the Eden experience.

Ms Ideasman is still enjoying his wonderful Guatamalan coffee and hoping to go back for some more humidity as it gets colder and colder...

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