This is an attempt to document my efforts to grow and eat locally around Melbourne, Derbyshire. My family own a nine acre smallholding on which we grow fruit and vegetables and keep bees, and chickens, but that won't feed us alone, so the idea is to get to know our local produce and to see how easy/hard it is to follow a diet that is local to within 30 miles. The fun part is also trying some new (easy) recipes that use home-grown and local produce. Feel free to comment, send in recipes, and share your experiences of buying and eating locally.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Almost local deli platter

From Derbyshire Food Festival. (spot the mouse)
OK so the olives weren't local, but one day we'll be able to grow olives here - I love them!

Derbyshire food festival barbecue

My eleven year old son (the foodie) and I went to Derbyshire food festival at Hardwick hall today and bought loads of local goodies to cook a gourmet barbecue for my dad's birthday. The most unusual thing we bought were Buffalo sausages.

Caramelised onion and rosemary rolls

I'm loving this bread making! Even starting to freestyle it.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Burgers on the barbecue

There's nothing better on a warm evening than a real charcoal barbecue and a good burger. These are Chantry lamb and rosemary burgers. Will the heat wave last until the jubilee weekend next week?

Runner beans

Me and the boys planted out beans today over a trench that hubby dug. The trench was filled with brassicas that had gone to seed, newspaper and cardboard. When the trench is filled in it's much better at retaining water, which beans love. We try and water as little as possible and use only rainwater from water butts, which means that any water retaining measures are also labour saving.

Chocolate and damson gin cake

What a beautiful cake and edible flowers. Thanks Jo.

Asparagus pizza

Another great use for asparagus, which is just put on the pizza raw, sprinkled with oil and then baked in a hot oven for 10 minutes. I didn't use cheese, but did make a tomato sauce (sadly tinned tomatoes, so not local), but local onions, home-grown garlic and loads of home-grown herbs. This was eaten with my friend Jo, whilst talking about local food and how to promote it (and make money from it? Not so easy!)

Chilli oil garlic flatbread

This was basic pizza dough, sprinkled with home-made chilli and garlic oil and sea salt (sadly no local sea!), and cooked in a hot oven for around 7 minutes.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Apple blossom

Apple blossom is so beautiful when you view it up close. It is the same family as the rose and you can see the similarities.

Asparagus soup

This was a cheap soup as I used only onions, veg stock and the woody stalks of the home-grown asparagus. I then liquidised and sieved. It made a very light but tasty soup which was perfect for this evening as it is so hot! Served with home-made bread.

Lemons on the lemon tree

The lemon tree enjoyed the mild winter ( wrapped up in the greenhouse) and has proven that you can have lemons in our climate!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

A great way to grow beansprouts

The patent beansprouters you can buy don't seem to grow long straight sprouts but this method, shown to me by my friend Robin, is the best. It's really cheap too, consisting of plant pots, plant pot stands and a bit of gauze ( or kitchen roll) in the bottom of each pot. You need to soak the beans first- these are mung beans bought from Swarkestone Nurseries. You then put them on damp tissue or gauze in the pots, and wash each day. Just keep it indoors next to the sink, The chink of light coming from the lids makes the sprouts grow straight. The photo shows how to do it, with the addition of an extra lid on top.


Loads of lovely asparagus has shot up in the last two days in the heat wave. It is amazing how it grows centimetres in a day. We ate it in a stir fry this evening.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Pavlova, raspberries and ice-cream

Pavlova is so easy to make, it's just egg whites and sugar, but makes the most luxurious desert. I served it today with home-grown raspberries from the freezer and Needwood Dairy ice-cream from near Burton on Trent, bought in Scaddows Farm Shop.

Lunch at Calke Abbey

Calke buy local produce for their restaurant. My lunch was Standley's Barn pork sausages with mustard mash. I bought a bottle of National Forest Spring Water but needn't have bothered as there were jugs of tap water in the restaurant. Lovely!

Stanton by bridge honey

Purchased from Melbourne Healthcare Centre.

Coq au vin

The best use of my home-made rhubarb wine from last year is to use it in cooking. It's getting drinkable now but I made enormous quantities. The coq au vin used Chantry Farm Shop chicken, local onions, our own garlic and lots and lots of home-grown herbs, which are all looking really healthy this year after a mild winter and lots of rain this spring. The parsley didn't die over the winter so we've got lots to harvest now before the new parsley seed that I sowed comes through. The next day I made a lovely looking chicken pie with the leftovers which I forgot to photograph.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, 17 May 2012

New chicks today!

This great mum hatched nine beautiful Pure Welsummer chicks today and Dad William was standing guard as proud as anything.

Another try at bread

It appears to be easy to make a good white loaf but wholemeal is a little more difficult. This one used half strong white flour, a quarter plain white flour and a quarter strong whole meal flour. I proved it for a long time as I put it in the greenhouse yesterday in the warm and then forgot it and left it there overnight. It doesn't seem to have harmed it though. Waiting for feedback from hubby on whether it's ok for his lunch sandwiches. I'm allergic to wheat so can't have it myself but will have to try a little as it smells so good.

Raspberry muffins

I made these with a standard Victoria sandwich sponge and added frozen raspberries to the mixture. Black currants also work well.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Bacon hotpot

I made this for dinner tonight and made enough to last for two days. Everyone enjoyed it.
I fried bacon and then added chopped onion, carrot, parsnip and cabbage (any seasonal veg would do) and fried gently until soft. I then added a tablespoon of flour and then a good couple of glasses of home-made cider and covered with water. I then added a tin of cannelini beans. The seasonings were sage (from the garden), veg stock cube, Worcestershire sauce and a couple of tablespoons of my friend's home-made crab apple jelly. I then sliced potatoes thinly and layered them over the bacon mixture in a shallow casserole dish. I cooked for 45 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.
The veg were from Heath's Farm Shop and the bacon was from Chantry Farm Shop. I should have used cannelini beans that I grew and dried from the garden last year instead of tinned, but hadn't got round to soaking them when I had the inspiration for this recipe!

Monday, 7 May 2012

White loaves and flatbreads

I bought some flour from Scaddows Farm shop.  It's milled by Claybrooke Mill in Leicestershire and is also organic.  What I couldn't find out from their website though (or the packet) was where the wheat was grown, which was disappointing.  It's also stocked at Bread First at Staunton Harold.  Being a novice breadmaker I decided to make a white loaf, which used 50% strong white flour and 50% plain white flour, from a recipe by Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall in River Cottage Veg.  I doubled the quantity and made the flatbreads first, and then two white loaves, which have worked beautifully.  The unseasonally cold start to May meant that I had the woodburner on so was able to prove the loaves over it, but I have also made bread rolls in the past and proved them in the greenhouse on a warmer day.  The only problem with that was that one time I put them on the chair in the greenhouse, covered with a tea towel, and my young son thought it was a cushion and sat on the rolls!  They were still edible though.
Lunch today was leek and potato soup (all local) and the flatbreads, drizzled with home-made chilli oil which I made last autumn from our home-grown chillis, garlic and rosemary.  I've been using it over the winter on pizzas and topping it up with olive oil to keep the contents covered.  It's much nicer than the chilli oil served in Pizza Express.   The children went mad this morning making pancakes and "Eggy Bread" with our own eggs.   Tea tonight will be (local) bacon quiche, which is everyone's favourite quiche.  Having been away we are indulging the kids with their favourites out of a measure of guilt at not having taken them with us.

Holland and Ginkos

I've been away for a week in the Netherlands on a cycling holiday.  I was really impressed at how widely they did "local" there.  The seasonal speciality at the moment is of course asparagus, and they had whole asparagus menus, and asparagus festivals, even with asparagus deserts!  It was wonderful to cycle past so many veg plots and allotments, and their allotments seemed really well organised - tidy and with matching sheds, all with water butts.  It was really interesting to see the different areas specialities, eg cheese, vegetables, flowers etc.  Our favourite place was Leiden Hortus Botanicus, the oldest garden in Holland, dating from the late 1500s, and I was particularly taken with this Ginkgo Biloba which was around 400 years old but had had a female branch grafted onto the male tree about 70 years ago.  Ginkgos produce edible nuts and I have planted a couple at home this year, but I don't think I'll live to see them to this size.