Picking my own ingredients freshly is a dream.
All grown to organic standards just beside the kitchen. This is surely every cooks idea of paradise! I felt like sharing a few pictures of what I’ve been harvesting of late. Good food comes from the earth, from rich soils, the very best vegetables are always local, seasonal and organic.
Cooking at Trigonos is always pleasure. You may not have visited Trigonos, or Snowdonia, and I know may of your are scattered all over the world. I’d like to bring this area to life a little, some of you are joining us for our Vibrant Vegan! Snowdonia, Cooking Holiday. We’ll be seeing you here soon. Can’t wait!
The Beach House Kitchen sits high in the hills in North Wales overlooking the Irish Sea, Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula. The views and sunsets are stunning. We are right beside Snowdonia National Park, a place of wild beauty, stunning mountains, lakes and valleys. We can jump over our back wall and walk up a mountain! We love the lifestyle and one of the highlights for me, being a cook, is the local produce.
I cook regularly at Trigonos, a retreat and learning centre, set in the spectacular Nantlle Valley. It’s a hidden gem, no one goes there (don’t tell anyone about it;) These pictures say it all really! Trigonos sits on a little shelf of flat, arable land, beside a small lake, surrounded by old forests and a disused slate quarry. Looking up the valley, we can see the mighty Snowdon which rises like a rocky crown above the other mountains. Trigonos has been described as “heaven on earth” by many people who visit us and I tend to agree. It’s one of the most beautiful spots in the UK and I feel very lucky to be able to play with veggies in their kitchens!
Trigonos has it’s own vegetable farm, a large field and a series of polytunnels, our resident horticulturalist was away in Canada, so us chefs were picking our own for a while and I loved every minute. I visit the polytunnels regularly to see how things are sprouting and blooming, but to actually get to pick my own was a rare privilege. I’ve been fortunate to be in this situation before, even picking my own fruits and veggies for the pot in Tamil Nadu, and it’s one of my favourite things to do. Hand selecting the ripest and most appealing produce, to then take to the kitchen to prepare. It doesn’t get any better!
But this behemoth (below) may well be the pinnacle for me, the giant and outrageously orange Crown Prince Squash. Veggie royalty for certain. The sweetest and most flavourful of the entire squash/ pumpkin collective. You can see they’re massive already, and will hopefully sweeten up in the next few weeks and we’ll be preparing dishes with them for Vibrant Vegan! A simple soup made with these squashes, home-made stock and a little onion, is a thing of rare beauty. With produce like this, simplicity is the key, enhancing their nature fragrance, textures and sweetness.
In these times of abundance from the land, we try our best to preserve the mountains of tomatoes, basil, cucumbers and other produce. My favourite method is fermenting them into a variety or saeurkrauts and kimchis, or just fermenting things like cherry tomatoes whole (they’re then called Tomato Bombs!) We also make lots of roasted tomato sauce for the freezer, as well as frozen berries and apples for crumbles and pies later in the year.
Chutneys, jams and pickling are of course another way of preserving autumn’s abundance and we have members of the team who love nothing more than making wine from everything! Oak leaves, no problem. But elderberries, blackberries and rhubarb are more palatable I reckon!!
This time of year can be a busy time in the kitchen, there is a buzz in autumn, a feeling that I’m getting ready for a long winter. The more little gifts I can preserve for those times, the better. I think we have to put effort and care into things to feel the true benefit, food is no different. Popping open some homemade tomato sauce on a drizzly Tuesday in February makes me very happy….
A passion for cooking is a life-long joy!
We love visiting Spain and have just returned from walking the Camino Portugese, post coming soon. Here are some of our Spanish holiday snaps, Vegan on the Road – Andalucia. The tomatoes in this polytunnel would be worshipped in Spain! Such is the reverence tomatoes have there.
The Beef Steak tomato below would be thinly sliced in a restaurant, drizzle with olive oil and a little sea salt and served as a starter or tapas, for a pretty penny too! Tomatoes are selected at markets with incredible care and cooked with sensitivity to the differing flavours and textures of the tomato in the basket. It’s this kind of ‘feel’ I try to bring to my cooking and my mind and senses are focused even more when cooking with hand-picked produce. How can it not be? There is so much subtlety to be aware of in the kitchen, every action has a consequence, good cooking requires a relaxed focus, it is mindfulness in action!
A natural groove…
Growing your own vegetables, cooking and eating them, seems like a perfect cycle. Something so natural, grounding and fulfilling. The ultimate healthy relationship, the happiest of marriages, with our food. Even if it’s just some pots of herbs on a window ledge, or a little tomato plant, some spuds in the garden or plums from the neighbours trees, this is food for the soul. We all feel that I believe. How many of our happy memories and meals as children revolved around such produce? I know I have loads, veggies coming from my Grandad’s gardens or allotments, pick your own strawberries and raspberries, pears from my aunties garden and of course, blackberry picking (we’re going to harvest our garden blackberries soon, it’s pretty intense out there at the minute, the brambles are taking over like rabid Triffids).
Growing our own food makes us more conscious of what and how we choose to consume and plugs us straight into our local environment, the seasons and a sense of wellbeing.
When I was younger (I’m not that old now, but you know what I mean…) there were many more opportunities to see and pick our produce, get up close and personal with our muddy potatoes. Many more people were growing things and sharing in the community and amongst families. This approach is a gift for any community and I’m grateful to Trigonos and local farms like Tydynn Teg who provide us with produce grown with care and love. Better for our environment, better for our health and better for our tastebuds (not to mention our souls!!)
If you’re growing your own or have memories you’d like to share about awesome produce, please leave a comment below.
Trigonos has many options for B+B, just give them a ring, 01286882388 or email – firstname.lastname@example.org, to check availability. We cook with as much produce from the land throughout the year, if you head down there soon, you’ll be tasting these tomatoes yourself!
Just to finish things off nicely, a bonfire on a chilly autumn night….