Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The impact of the credit crunch on farming?

Five months ago, when I round up this blog for a temporary pause, we were facing a situation of rising food prices. This was caused by a few factors, but largely by the rise in the cost of fuel. Of course, as we all know, this has changed somewhat now and the cost of fuel has come down to a much more reasonable price. But, what impact will the credit crunch have on farming and hence on our food? I found this video quite interesting, from Farmers Weekly Interactive:

Agriculture and the recession

What surprised me the most is that it seems that farming has historically done quite well in a recession, so we might expect to see more of the same this time round. However, of course, this time it is going to be much harder for farmers to get credit, which is likely to have some impact on their business. I have to admit that I really don't understand all the issues at stake here, but I will continue to look into it.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Cauliflower soup

British cauliflower should be coming into season in February, so I thought I'd post a relevant recipe, for cauliflower soup. I think cauliflower is one of those underrated vegetables, like sprouts, that get their reputation because many people only every experience them when they haven't been cooked properly.

Anyway, I'd recommend giving this a try, even if you don't normally like cauliflower. The base for this soup is a simple Roux, which is nothing more then a mix of heated fat and flower. In this case, we'll be using butter for the fat. A Roux is the base for many white sauces and some soups, such as this one.

However, to start with, you'll need to cook some cauliflower by boiling it in lightly salted water. At the end the cauliflower should be firm, but not crunchy. When it's cooked, place the cauliflower and the remaining water from the cooking into a bowl to cool. It is important that this is allowed to cool to nearly room temperature before the next stage.

To make the Roux, melt some butter in a saucepan and, once it is nice and hot, add flower. Some recipes suggest equal measures of flower and fat, by weight. I prefer to add the flour slowly, one spoon at a time aiming for the right consistency. Once the flower and butter are combined, you should end up with a thick, but smooth, yellow mixture.

Next, we need to thin the Roux, using the water we saved from cooking the cauliflower, which by now should have cooled to something close to room temperature. This water will contain some of the flavour from the cauliflower, which will help to flavour the soup. Add the water slower, stirring the mixture continuously. Once enough water has been added, we can put the cooked cauliflower in.
Now, all that remains is to thin the soup to the desired consistency, and to season with black pepper. Remember that the water we cooked the cauliflower in was already lightly salted! You should end up with something that looks like this:

Serve with crusty bread and a sprinkling of parsley!

A new beginning

After a lapse of around 5 months, I have decided to continue with the EatingBritish Blog! My last project, to try to live for a whole year eating only food produced in Britain was quite successful. In fact, one of my conclusions was that it is not only possible, but quite easy to do this, even with supermarket shopping.

So, I thought that there wasn't really much point in simply repeating the original experiment. This time, my goal is simply to promote British food. Of course, I have continued and will continue, to buy British food produce whenever I can. After getting into the habit with the original project, I find that I still buy my vegetables this way, if I can't get the British grown version, I don't buy it.

I will soon be moving to the South of England for a new job, so that opens up new possibilities with regard to local food. It will be interesting to compare the experience of buying local food there to that here in Edinburgh - I shall be sure to blog about this!

I also intend to post more recipes, so watch this space!