I’m starting to write this blog primarily to share ideas with others about how to use the veggies in their weekly bags/boxes. I help run a scheme which is based in Burnley, Lancashire (not widely recognised for its bountiful harvests or carrot crunching population) and every week I do have to grapple with a bag of local, organic, seasonal veg myself which frankly can sometimes be challenging especially for those who don’t have access to a compost heap. Many people I meet say they would like to sign up to the scheme (which is not-for-profit and supports local producers), they know it makes sense but hey what on earth do you do with all that beetroot and kale when you just want to get a quick tea on the table for the kids before they reach for the cornflakes! Sadly, for many people it is a case of No Can Do unless a bucket load more motivation, inspiration and dedication can also be brought to the table.
In due course, I’ll tell you more about the scheme and about me and why I spend most Friday mornings weighing out muddy spuds in exchange for the slightly mouldy carrots and soft onions which can’t be put in bags for people who are actually paying. But first, er …why the Political Vegetable? Because vegetables ARE political. Trust me – I hope to eventually explain. And of course The Political Vegetable is a ‘double entendre’. I have to admit that hitherto, I have been a bit of a political vegetable and not much of a political animal. So I thought it might be interesting to think about why this is so and to explore the animal and vegetable in us all.
But back to this week’s bag. First the kale. It’s green and leafy, rich in iron and folic acid, so yeah really good for you. I tear the leafy bit off the stalk cos the stalk is tough and then cut it up small and steam or maybe stirfry with fresh ginger and soya sauce. If you are not going to use straight away, wash it and drain and put in a plastic bag in the fridge. You can actually blanch it and freeze it too. Beetroot – the purple goddess of goodness! There are lots of creative recipes for grated raw beetroot (carrot, beetroot and celeriac with toasted pecans and dried cranberries), or beetroot cake or savoury beetroot tarte tatin but invariably due to time pressure I end up boiling mine (or roasting if I’ve got the oven on). Peeled and dressed with vinaigrette or just balsamic vinegar, it is SO useful to have beetroot in the fridge for bread and cheese snack meals. Especially when imported tomatoes are so lifeless and tasteless at this time of year. There really is no contest …….
Some people say they can’t get through their veg every week and may give up on the scheme as a result. I struggle to comprehend this. A fish and leek pie tonight with steamed kale as a side dish. Some carrot sticks with hummous with your first glass of wine. Maybe a sophisticated cauliflower and stilton (left over from Christmas) soup and the veg is virtually all gone by Tuesday. To get through a standard bag each week on your own you do have to eat vegetables every day – but so you should – at least 5 a day actually. But twosomes or threesomes who don’t manage a small bag? I don’t get it.