Sustainability

The art of scrumping and the great British apple

Scrumping – a great way to make the most of our autumn abundance

Yes!  It’s that time of year.  Apples are falling from trees and we’re loving them.  But I find something very sad about piles of crushed and fermenting apples scattered around pavements and fields, left in piles to rot around trees.  What a waste.  I’ve been travelling quite a bit around the UK recently and seen many great apple trees, laden with fruits, fit and ready for a good scrumping!

There are over 2500 varities of apples growing in the UK, so I’m not talking about the handful of varieties we can pick up in the supermarkets, I’m talking about the real deal, heritage, local apples.  The ones which flourish in certain areas because of the specific climate, regional apples, that’s what gets me excited.  Most of these are growing wild and many may be falling right now, grab a bucket and get out there!

A neighbour kindly donated this bucket load to the BHK

When I travel, I love nibbling global dishes, exotic fruits and the like.  But there is one thing I miss, sensational UK apples!!  Best in the world.  No question.  (Although, they’re pretty good in France too.)

 

Wild Fruits, Great Names 

Most of the apples you’ll pick up in the supermarkets are pale imitations of a proper apple.  Something local, and in my opinion, the more bumps, the uglier the apple is, the better it tastes!  We have such a rich history of apple cultivation, which is still there, if we shop local and take advantage of the natural abundance at  this time of year.  Many of the best apples I find come from neighbours gardens (please don’t tell them;)

Jane’s Mum sent across a fascinating little article that prompted this post, I find the names of heritage apples so inspiring. They just sound fun! Here’s a selection, just a wee taster (by region).  Do you know some of these?:

 

Scotland – Coul Blush, Bloody Ploughman, Scotch Dumpling, Tower of Glanis, Dog’s Snout 

 

North England – Golden Spice, Cockpit, Carlise Codlin, Rilston Pippin, Lord Hindlip

 

South England – Newton Wonder, D’Arcy Spice, Crawley Beauty, Fearn’s Pippin, Pitmaston Pineapple, Oaken Pin, Tom Pitt, Cornish Gilliflower

 

Wales – Bardsey Island, Pig’s Snout, Cissy, Ten Commandments, Saint Cecilia, Croen Mochya

 

Ireland also has some great varities and names going on:

 

Ireland – Greasy Pippin, Lady’s Finger of Offaly, Kilkenny Pearmain, Irish Peach, Ross Nonpareil, Scarlet Crofton, Ecklinville Seedling   

 

Maybe you have some of these growing in your garden?  Or a local park?  I love these names, many are poetic, rustic, some amusing, but they all speak to me of a different time of food production.  When it wasn’t just about business and high yields.  I think it’s paramount to protect the heritage and diversity of locally grown food, in the UK and around the world.  Most of the varities are just about hanging in there (no pun intended), mainly growing wild or in gardens, but we can always ask for them in our local shops and supermarkets.  If we can get together, in enough numbers, and demand real, local, British apples, maybe we can see apples like the ‘Dog’s Snout’ back on the shop shelves where they belong.  These names really brighten up my day.

 

The Legend of the Bardsey Apple

There is a great story here in North Wales about a local fellow, Ian Sturrock, who discovered a single apple tree on a remote island off the Llyn Peninsula.  Bardsey Island.  When it was tested, it was the last of it’s kind in the world.  This variety has now been saved and it’s grown around the world, from Japan to the USA.  We have one in our garden.  Lovely golden, sweet apples.  There is also a variety of Snowdon Pear which is very rare, tastes like sweet fennel and has a light pink colour inside.  You just don’t get such variety and range of flavours in the most shops.  We are missing out big time!  This is one of our greatest British foodies assets.  Our amazing fruits.

 

Here’s our article from a few years ago all about our love for the Bardsey Apple.

 

The Art of Scrumping 

Scrumping!  It’s a doorway to the best of British apples and fruits.  Go find some nice looking trees, grab a bucket and go and fill your boots/ bucket.  I know people who only scrump at night, but we’re day light scrumpers.  Unabashed.  It’s loads of fun and leads to a bounty of fresh and delicious local apples.   A few basic guidelines for new scrumpers:

 

Just make sure that you’re picking edible apples.

Don’t climb and fall out of trees.

Don’t blatantly nick your neighbours apples, this can lead to bad vibes and unneighbourly jams.

If councils or land owners have put up signs saying ‘DO NOT PICK THESE APPLES’, best to leave them dangling.

 

Local apples, ready for cookies/ crumble

Scrump Away!

Picking fruit gets me in touch with nature again, you plug straight back into the natural world, it’s relaxing and a great excuse to get out in the fresh air.  One friend told me that the art of scrumping is to not get caught.  I think there has to be a slightly more moral approach than that.  Plus, scrumping is not illegal anyway, there’s nothing to feel guilty about if we’re following a few, common sense guide lines.

You don’t need to live halfway up a mountain like us to scrump well, urban scrumping is on the rise.  Inner city fruit foraging.  It may take a little research at first, trying to understand what apples are best for eating, which are best for cooking etc.  But once you’ve identified a local tree, that’s it.  Every year you can pick a crop of delicious local apples.

The benefits of scrumping are free food!  Plus, no packaging or plastic and the only food miles are the steps you take.  I just don’t understand why we don’t plant more fruit trees.  Local councils, lets get more orchards going, even if they’re beside motorways or near pavements etc.  We can organise groups of fruit pickers and jam makers, free neighborhood jams and chutneys all year!  Some local councils have done this in the past, after complaints from residents about being hit by falling fruit and apples impeding their driving.  They provided fruit pickers and yes, gave the chutney away for free!  This seems like a wonderful idea.  We know people who pick your apples for you if you’re too busy/ can’t be bothered and make them into a cider and sell it.  Their business is based on free or donated apples.

 

Apple Recipes

What to do with your new found apple bounty?  Chutneys, apple sauce, soups, add to stews and casseroles, make into jam….the list is almost endless.  Here are a few of our recipes to get your going :

 

Simple Apple and Oat Crumble

Jane’s Apple and Plum Chutney 

Apple and Beetroot Sauerkraut

Apple Mint Herbal Vinegar

 

We’ve even written a step by step post about How to plant your perfect apple tree.  We’ve got all the apple bases covered.

One of the best ways of using up LOTS of apples is to make your own cider.  You do need loads.  You will also need a cider press for this, but again, there will no doubt be someone in your local community who has one you can borrow or use.  Especially if you offer them a small cut of your cider.

Of course, we’re not just looking for apples when we’re in scrumping mode; sloe berries, rosehips, blackberries, damsons, mushrooms, bilberries (see our Bilberry and Spelt Scone recipe), pears, there is a bounty of fresh fruit growing on trees and bushes all around the UK.  We just need to get out there and have a look.

If you are really not fancying scrumping, you can still access local fruits.  Check out freecycle, there may well be someone in your area looking to offload some apples or other fruits.

 

If you do scrump, remember that it is illegal to profit from the fruit you harvest from common or council land.  On private land, you’ll need a ‘scrump pass’.   If you are not a comfortable single scrumper, it can make for a great family activity or form a small local group.  Scrumpers unite!  Some people feel scrumping is a bit cheeky, but that’s the fun bit!

If you’re a serial scrumper of have some scrumping tales or advice, please let us know in the comments below. 

National apple day in the UK is 21st October ’18.  Let’s celebrate local apples, fruits and produce!  Autumn is the perfect time of year to cook and shop local.

 

Look out from my next post if you’re an apple lover, we’ve got an Apple Crumble Cookies (Gluten-free) recipe coming your way very soon.

 


 

Come and join us in North Wales this month for our:

 

Abundant Autumn: Yoga and Vegan Cookery Day Retreat, 20th October ’18 

We’re teaming up with the wonderful Claire Mace from Inspiratrix Yoga for a relaxing and rejuventing day of yoga, a cooking workshop, nourishing smoothies, cakes, plus I’ll be preparing a plant-based Autumn feast using local organic ingredients.

 

You can book now right HERE.  We have a few places still available.    

 

Categories: Autumn, Foraging, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Local food, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Sustainability, Wales | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Dinner at the Farm – Photos of our Kashmiri Feast on Tyddyn Teg Organic Farm

The well-travelled BHK dhaba

A few pics from last weekends Dinner at the Farm. The first of many we hope, we had a blast!!

Tyddyn Teg farm is a beautiful location and we cooked exclusively using their stunning organic produce.  What a treat!  A variety of summer squashes, a plethora of heritage tomatoes, many shades of kale, peppers, aubergines, really interesting Peruvian mint, sweet foot long cucumbers, plus a lot more…..we even offered homemade wine!  Food miles for the dinner ingredients were around 200 metres!!

Tyddyn Teg Organic Veg Farm

It was a pleasure to cook and work with the TT team, it is such a positive project, focused on maintaining and developing sustainable and ethical food production and ways of living.  An inspiring place to hang out for the day.   They have so many exciting plans for the future.

Jonjo was the master of bhaji’s

The sun came out in the afternoon and the bookings rolled in, benches and tables were made (by the onsite wood genuises) and numbers toppled well over 60.  This took some classic ‘creativity’ and ‘problem solving’ techniques in the kitchen that all cooks know about.  But being on an organic farm, if you need another squash, you just pop out and pick one!

“Simon, any chance of a bin bag full of three varieties of fresh picked kale.” 10 minutes later. “Is this enough!!” The beauty of cooking on a farm:)

Here’s what we made:

 

Dinner at the Farm – Menu

Kabocha & Uchuki Kuri Squash Rogan Josh

Kashmiri Masoor Daal Tadka

Jonjo’s Onion Bhajis

Haak Saag – Kashmiri Greens and Red Cabbage

Roasted Masala Potatoes and Onions

Brown Basmati Pulao with Toasted Cashews

Chopped Salad with Beefsteak Tomatoes, Cucumber and Chaat Masala

Organic Leaves and Flowers

Beetroot, Mint and Lemon Raita

Griddled Chillies and Lemon Pickle

Beautiful sunset at dinner time

Thanks to everyone who came out and supported a brilliant cause, all proceeds going to Bigger Stronger Bridges. aimed at supporting permaculture communities and networks in the Middle East and Kashmir.

Curry for 60. That’s a lot of toasting and grinding spices. The whole street smelled like Kashmir!!

“Help us join hands with like-minded folk across divides of geography and culture to create the world we want to live in!”  Alice, Tydyyn Teg

If you live or run a restaurant/ cafe in North Wales, Tyddyn Teg has a brilliant veg box scheme, a big one or a little one.  You just pop in and pick up the veg weekly.  You can also order wholesale.  Drop them an email – info@tyddynteg.com for more info.  Prices are very, very reasonable. 

Having an organic veg farm close by is a real blessing.  It’s the healthiest and most delicious way we could ever wish to eat!  Fresh, local, seasonal organic fruit and veg.  Yum!

Working together, anything is possible!!

We’ve a load of events coming soon in the UK and Spain, check out the event page here.  I’m also supposed to be writing another cookbook…….

Leeks…..coming soon

If you have a local organic veg farm or hero producer, please let us know below.  Inspiring local producers and growers are at the heart of a healthy food culture and community, it’s always nice to share the good news and positive vibes.

Here’s our next event, on Sunday, in North Wales. Food for the Soul: Yoga & Plant-based Cookery

 

Categories: Events, Healthy Eating, Local food, Organic, photography, plant-based, Sustainability, sustainable, Vegan, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: , | 2 Comments

5 cookbooks that inspire my cooking (and eating!) – Happy Foodie Article

If you’re trying out vegan living this January with the awesome Veganuary or just looking for some interesting cookbooks, here’s a little selection I picked for the Happy Foodie site:

Lee Watson, the author of vegan cookbook Peace & Parsnips, has shared the 5 cookbooks that shaped the way he thinks about (and eats!) food. Find out more about Lee’s own cookbook here.

The New Good Life – John Robbins

I have been cooking vegan food for many years, I’ve always been fascinated by the creative way we can use plant-based ingredients to produce stunning dishes to suit any palate. Veganism for me was a gradual shift, it seemed liked the more I learnt about it, the more it embodied the lifestyle I wanted and my ethics and hopes for the future. The New Good Life was one book that made a big impact on me. Being a vegan has many positive effects, not just relating to animals, the environment and our health. This is a passionate book which gives practical steps to move away from the view that happiness is gauged by our status or what we have lurking about in the bank. We can live well on less, whilst moving ever closer to harmony with nature, the planet and ourselves. This is certainly my approach. Diet is a major part of this and John explains the health benefits of a plant-based diet, planet-friendly food that saves money and much more.

John was a big part of the popular ice cream brand ‘Baskin and Robbins’ until he went through a complete change of heart after realising the true implications and costs of the dairy industry. John became an advocate for a vegan lifestyle and has now been campaigning for years, living the good life and writing many books, ‘The New Good Life’ is my favourite.

As a sign of the times, Baskins and Robbins are now releasing their first ever vegan ice creams. I’m looking forward to trying some soon.

Diet for a Small Planet – Frances Moore Lappé

This book came out in the early 70’s, it was before its time, one of the first books to highlight the hugely negative impact of meat production on the environment. It is also filled with meat-free recipes and tips on a healthier diet. Frances argued for ‘environmental vegetarianism’ and veganism naturally takes this further in the right direction. The book also highlighted issues like world hunger and how it is affected by our still highly ineffective food policies.

It can be baffling and frustrating to read this book and know that we’ve been talking about the same issue for over 50 years. I think one major issue is that we just aren’t offered the correct information about the environmental impact of our dietary choices.

Going vegan or choosing to eat more plant-based meals minimises the support for large-scale animal agriculture, which is the number one source of global warming, much more destructive than the entire transport industry put together! This is a contentious issue but gradually, the true impact of animal agriculture is being understood. Environmental issues like these certainly influenced my reasons for becoming a vegan and cooking planet-friendly foods.

World Peace Diet – Will Tuttle

For anyone interested in veganism or moving in this direction, on any level, this is the first book that I recommend. There are precious few books out there that speak from the heart of veganism, which for me, is rooted in compassion for all beings. Will looks deeply into the implications and rationale of a vegan lifestyle; from ethical, health, historical, cultural and environmental perspectives. He really breaks it down in a highly readable, logical and illuminating way.

Veganism is a profoundly positive and peaceful way of thinking and acting, many global issues can be linked with the food we consume and how it is produced. Will brings this to life with realistic examples, scientific support and an open approach. I think the secrets to a truly better, more peaceful and sustainable world are tucked away in these pages.

How to Cook Your Life – Dogen

I admit to not reading many cookbooks or watching food programmes on TV. I work as a chef and once I’ve been cooking all day, then cooked dinner, I’m ready for something a little different. A nice slice of peace.

Mindfulness is becoming more and more popular and How to Cook Your Life takes us back to the 13th century, the writing of Zen master and philosopher Dogen. It reveals the rules and etiquette of a Zen kitchen and how cooking well is an integral part of living well.

I believe wholeheartedly in this approach, every part of the cooking process is important, from buying or growing the food right up to the washing up!

I see mindfulness as being inextricably linked with a vegan lifestyle. The more mindful I become, the more sensitive I am to the way that my thoughts and actions affect myself and others.

In a Zen Monastery, only the abbot has a higher status than the cook (or tenzo), who is always an experienced monk. The abbot looks after spiritual matters, you could say feeding the mind, and the cook takes care of the physical side, feeding the body with wholesome food imbued with good energy. This book helped me to realise a more conscious and focused approach to the way that I cook, eat and live.

The Mystic Cookfire – Veronika Sophia Robinson

This is one of my partner Jane’s favourite cookbooks. It was a tough choice as there are so many amazing vegan chefs out there writing brilliant books; Aine Carlin, Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Angela Liddon to name but a few, but my cooking influences come from all sorts of angles.

The Mystic Cookfire is beautifully written with an open heart and lovely illustrations. It’s the rare kind of cookbook that you could quite happily read like a novel, tucked up in bed, with some hot chocolate. On the rare occasion that I have a day off playing with pots and pans, this is Jane’s go to cookbook, we eat from the ‘Mystic Cookfire’ (what a name!!).

I love eating food with soul, something so intangible, but you know the kind of food I’m talking about. Home cooked happiness! These recipes are simple, plant-based and nourishing; the kind of food that can make a house a home, dishes that will become family staples for years to come.

This book also focuses on the deeper relevance of food and cooking. How it is much more than just throwing some ingredients together. Cooking can be a daily routine that accentuates the lives of cooks, families and loved ones.

I’m a sucker for a good quote and this book is packed with amusing and informative references and quotes. Good cooking for me comes from a place deeper than just sound technique. There has to be some love in the mix!

Originally posted on the Happy Foodie site.

Categories: cookbook, Environmentalism, Healthy Eating, Sustainability, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feeding the future – My recent article in the Barefoot Vegan Magazine

The new Barefoot Vegan packed full of inspiration and joy

The new Barefoot Vegan full of inspirational articles and reasons to be cheerful

Many of you may know that I’m a regular contributor to the Barefoot Vegan Magazine.  Its a place where a positive and vibrant vegan message can be found.  Something so peaceful, healthy, natural and inspiring for all!  Vegans and non-vegans are bound to find articles of interest and this edition focuses on kids and young people.

Subscribe to the Barefoot Vegan here.

My recent article - subscribe now and read it in full

My recent article – subscribe now and read it in full

I think it is so rare to find a publication that is based purely on love and positivity.  The focus in the Barefoot Vegan is creating a better world for all, a powerful message that is deeply effecting and in the magazine you get all the good news!

There are so many people out there pulling in the right direction, making efforts and putting energy into creating a more peaceful, accepting and harmonious global society.  The Barefoot Vegan is like an antidote to what we see on the news or read via the media in general.  Its empowering and full of hope, without which, positive change is hard to muster on any level.  We’re off to the Americas for a while very soon, but hopefully I’ll be able to write an article or two on the road.

There are so many reasons to feel proud of each other and the efforts we make, no matter how small, to reverse the trend of a depressive world view and destructive approaches to living.  Going vegan is massive step in so many wonderful ways and has profound effects.  It’s much, much more than simply changing our diet.

The Barefoot Vegan is like a sanctuary where optimism, compassion and peace are virtues to be celebrated and are ultimately realistic and hugely transforming.

Peace and Happiness, lee

'Feeding the future!' - a vegan diet is wonderfully nutritious for children and all ages

‘Feeding the future!’ – a vegan diet is wonderfully nutritious for children and all ages

 

Categories: barefoot vegan, Environmentalism, Healing foods, healthy, Healthy Eating, Inspiration, magazine, Sustainability, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

People Food Music – Permaculture in rural India using community, food and music

LEARN AND CONTRIBUTE HERE

I spent time at Solitude Farm in Auroville, Tamil Nadu (India) a couple of years ago.  I was writing Peace & Parsnips at the time, something I did in six different countries whilst travelling around the world.  In a strange way, the more I travelled and spent time with local, proactive farmers, the more I realised my passion for ‘local’, ethically produced food.

Wherever you are in the world, local food plays a critical role in so many ways; it connects us with our local environment, it maintains our health and provides our bodies with all they need to thrive and it can help us build stronger communities, sharing knowledge and working together in positive projects based around an ethical approach to life and society.

Solitude Farm Thalis - All organic and from the land (even the rice and wheat)

Solitude Farm Thalis – All organic and from the land (even the rice and grains)

Krishna was always very kind, Solitude Farm is a place of action and energy, but I occasionally spent late afternoons in my little hut keeping up with the book submission deadlines.  Outside of my typing, I spent plenty of time harvesting papayas, watering and tilling the parched Tamil earth, learning from Krishna about the incredible flora and fauna and cooking.  I did loads of lovely cooking.

I cooked in the Solitude kitchen with local women, who after weeks still referred to me in Tamil as ‘the tall beardy man’.  We prepared the dishes over wood fired stoves with a whole host of exotic ingredients; radhas consciousness (a flower), varagu (like millet), green papaya, plantains, banana flowers, red amaranth leaves……so many wonderful ingredients that we picked freshly every morning.  The food was naturally and effortlessly vegan.  It was an awesome experience!

I have never seen such fecundity, in one small field we had a diverse range of fruits, leaves, nuts and roots to eat.  One small field could provide many, many people with a diverse and nutritious plant-based diet.  At Solitude Farm I saw a vibrant window of what farming could be, when we turn our attention away from the industrial and towards more sustainable, sensitive and enriching practices, namely permaculture and the teachings of Masanobu Fukuoka.  The earth provides us with all that we need and nature is perfect!

Soltitude Farm was such a fertile place to write and be, a place of inspiration in so many ways, much of which hit the pages of Peace & Parsnips.  The sense that when we pull together, anything is achievable and that the future is bright when we turn to the earth and watch, learn and most importantly, act.  The answers to all of our problems are here; in people, food and music.

I hope you get the chance to read more about Krishna’s wonderful project and help to support it, allowing the people of Tamil Nadu access to invaluable training and knowledge that can transform lives and communities.

There are only 12 more days to go to contribute towards this important project and there are some inspiring ideas for last minute Christmas presents.  Really unique and precious.  Embracing and learning about local food is at the heart of a better tomorrow and I thank Krishna for his constant dedication to spreading the seeds of positive change, from the heart to the plate.

Learn more and contribute by clicking below:

PEOPLEFOODMUSIC

  

Categories: Environmentalism, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Inspiration, Local food, Music, Organic, Sustainability, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Real Food – The Sustainable Way

Barefoot Vegan Nov_Dec Lee 1

Read my new article for the beautiful Barefoot Vegan Magazine here.  You just need to quickly subscribe for free.

The way we chose to eat is so important and has huge and far reaching effects on the environment and the world in general.  In the article I discuss practical ways of eating and cooking in a more sustainable way.

Join the Natural Revolution

Have a wonderful week!

Leex

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Categories: Environmentalism, Healthy Living, Inspiration, Press, Sustainability, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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