Saturday, 11 April 2015

Manic Organic

First off, I have to warn that for some reason, when typing the word organic… well, it keeps proving tricky.  Bizarrely, my brain and fingers keep producing an entirely different word.  So if I start to enthuse about the taste of my pesticide-free fruit and vegetables as orgasmic oranges and mushrooms, please forgive me.
          As a very reluctant cook who recently made the switch from supermarket shopping to on-line farm shopping (no, just food, no tractors or bales of hay), I’ve discovered all sorts of vegetables we’ve never eaten before.  Suddenly cooking is a bit of an exciting adventure.  I’ve said that before, I know.  Last time it was because I’d bought a slow cooker. For four weeks I was enthralled.  And then the novelty wore off.  But right now, I’m in the grip of a fresh foodie romance, and like all new romances, it’s exciting!  So now I know why Nigella Lawson gets carried away by cucumbers and constantly touches her melons.
          My search for organic food began in the local supermarket. There I found some tiny bunches of broccoli and…that was it.  My sister suggested another supermarket (who shall remain nameless).  Here I fared slightly better – four apples, a small bag of potatoes and carrots, and a box of granola, all at astronomical prices.  Frustrated, I turned to Google.  There had to be an organic farm shop somewhere that delivered to towns like mine.  And there was!
          I discovered Abel & Cole where you can buy not just everything organic but also ‘welfare’ meat which assures the animals have led a good life and are pretty much sung to when their time is up.  I’m not a meat eater, but my family are.  Nor am I tempted to try meat again, especially after seeing a viral video on Facebook where a factory worker was injecting heaven-only-knows-what into tiny chicken carcasses to make them look bigger and more succulent.  That video was the turning point in overhauling what ended up on the family dinner table.
          Discovering Abel & Cole was a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand there was an abundance of meat, fruit, veg, salads and basics for the larder, but on the other it all required cooking from scratch.  When the delivery man arrived, I was overwhelmed with two emotions.  The first was joy at lifting lids on beautifully packed produce.  The second was fear.  Yes, fear.  As I peered into a paper bag containing what I thought to be giant pieces of ginger stumps, I wondered if – excuse the play on words – I’d bitten off more than I could chew.  Especially when I found a little label informing me that the giant ginger stumps were, in fact, Jerusalem artichokes.  I’d never eaten them in my life, never mind cooked them!  But a family needs feeding, so I set about cooking.  Day One resulted in a simple beef casserole (hello hotpot!).  Day Two, a sweet and sour chicken.  Day Three, lamb infused with fresh rosemary with a side accompaniment of Jerusalem artichokes, potatoes and asparagus roasted in herby olive oil.  Yes, simple stuff, but BIG stuff for me.  I’m used to peeling the lid off a ready-made meal, not peeling a mountain of veg.  But so far it’s actually been enjoyable!  Even more amazing, the weekly food bill was about one-third cheaper than the supermarket.  So I will be returning to Abel & Cole’s website and ordering again.  But don’t worry, Nigella, your job is safe.  Which reminds me.  My husband usually tells me I feed him like a God.  Every meal is a burnt offering…



  1. Debbie, I've just read this on a bright and sunny Sunday morning, laughed out loud and am nearly, yes nearly ready to follow your lead. However, not being one who jumps in where angels fear to tread, I shall wait for more reports of your newly acquired culinary skills before I follow suit. I might just have a peep at the A&C website though.

  2. Yes, do check them out, Natalie! But my culinary skills will never be fantastic. You can't teach an old dog new tricks!!

  3. My daughter is a big Abel & Cole fan, Debbie, though she does despair at the abundance of cabbage during the winter months. There's only so much you can do with it! Good luck with you future culinary ventures.
    Francesca Capaldi Burgess