More from the allotment

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I have been very quiet over the last few months as it seems to have been one long harvest, runner beans by the sack load, courgettes by the tonne, so much salad, potatoes and onions that I now have two onion bags and four sacks of potatoes in the garage. I managed four aubergines, two large and one small butternut squash. A pumpkin, borlotti beans, cabbages, kale and purple sprouting have all done well.

The carrots were small but tasty especially when roasted in rape seed oil. The red chard has gown by the bucket load.
The artichokes have started to produce small buds which are delicious boiled for5 minutes, trimmed cut in half and covered in melted butter
The tomatoes have not really ripened but surprisingly seem to be turning red in the kitchen nearly two months after picking.

Still to come leeks, black kale and calebrese all doing well and I hope will overwinter
As an experiment I have planted out red and white onions and garlic- all went in at the end of September. In October I have under cover some winter lettuce, broad beans, beetroot and potatoes (to see if we can get any for Christmas.
Weeding has started in a flurry before the ground gets too hard or wet or both. I am leaving the runner beans up, there are still new beans forming, I hope the older ones have beans in the pods and I will be able to harvest these for the winter.
My herbs are flourishing, the Thyme below is flowering well as is the marjoram. Others need some cutting back.
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Aldeburgh Food Festival, Snape Maltings, Suffolk 24-26 Sept 2010

A somewhat belated post following a great weekend at the Aldeburgh Food Festival at Snape.

The layout was different this year with more stands outside and more demonstrations and other events. The weather was pretty terrible particularly on the Saturday afternoon  but I was lucky enough to see some fantastic cooking and  demonstration  from Gerald King, the Butcher from  the Suffolk Food Halls in Ipswich http://www.suffolkfoodhall.co.uk/ . I learned more about brazing steak ( three types from the shoulder blade plus chuck and skirt) than  I realised was possible.

Gerald also demonstrates for The Suffolk Safari who has a stand and were cooking up foraged fungi for passers by.

Gerald the butcher
Suffolk Safari with puffballs
The main marquee had some great producers including an newly started business The Suffolk Providore
who have sources some fantastic local food and will deliver to your door- if you are in  North East Suffolk.
Sheila Dillon from The Food Programme on BBC R4 chaired a lively discussion (she is in the yellow top, below)

The cookery demonstrations I enjoyed the most were from Galton Blackiston from Morston Hall

Galton Blackison doing his demo with foam
and by far the most entertaining Thomasina Miers of  Wahaca who really brightened up a very damp afternoon.
Tommi Miers entertaining the crowds
A mention for  the exceptional food available to eat and try.
I had an excellent veal burger from local rose veal supplied by the Suffolk Food Halls in very trying circumstances
If I had had room I would also have bought the great Fish and Chips  from the award winning The Fish Hut.
A final word about a great development in primary school education is that Suffolk County Council are encouraging schools to grow their own as part of the curriculum and participate in cooking as well.

Fungi forage

This autumn has been the best for many years and I have been careful to gather the species I know and love to eat. The fields around St Albans were full of field mushrooms this year in late August and September, I have gathered many, and still have some of the smaller ones in the freezer – they do defrost well and will go into a stir fry or stew. In the same fields we have been lucky to have a number of giant and other smaller puffballs, surprisingly they are slightly harder to spot as they seem to like to appear under the hedges.

This Giant puffball was fried in butter until golden brown and eaten with poached egg.

My sons school has given me official forager status (with no liability on their part) and they have a great collection of fungi appearing. The most tasty has been the parasol which appeared in great abundance.

Out in the woods in mid August I spotted some oyster mushrooms high in a tree. I eat some fried in butter with garlic but the rest were riddled with maggots which proved very entertaining..

Just a note of caution- please check and double check any fungi you are going to eat, it is very easy to make a mistake and this can be fatal. I use at least two books and stick to a very limited group of edibles but even then check all the characteristics.

The book I find the most useful is: Mushrooms: River Cottage Handbook No.1