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Some lovely friends of ours invited us round for tea last night – a scrumptious Jamie Oliver recipe from his Italy book of Sausages and Green Lentils with Tomato Salsa.  It’s one I’ve been meaning to try for a while…and now we’ve tasted it I’ll definitely be making it myself.

It’s always nice to take a little gift when you go out for dinner, so with the sun shining I headed down the garden to gather a small edible bunch of herbs. 

I collected mint, golden marjoram, rosemary, fennel fronds, flat leaf parsley and some jolly purple chive flowers.  All tied up with some purple raffia it was a simple but pretty gift that not only looked nice but could be used in cooking as well. 

We are off this weekend to visit my family and do some more wedding planning – this weekend ‘food’ is on the agenda.  We want a seasonal May wedding next year so the idea is to go to Stroud Farmer’s Market to see what’s available at the moment and dream up delicious dishes for our wedding feast.

cheese at Stroud Farmer's Market

cheese at Stroud Farmer's Market

I am visiting my family in the Cotswolds for the weekend.  I have left N with his dissertation research, two naughty bunnies, and the rugby to keep him occupied.  After having a rather blonde moment and ending up four junctions down the motorway too far and nearly in Bristol (I have done this trip a million times so there’s no excuses) I finally made it down on Friday for lunch with my parents. 

Visiting my family in the Cotswolds always feels like I’m coming home, I just feel so relaxed and at ease here.  By the time I was 18 I had lived in over twelve houses, been to about four or five different schools, and lived in the USA, but this is my home, the place I will always come back to. 

home

home

This morning I dragged my mom and little sister (not so little anymore, nearly 16 as she likes to keep reminding us) to Stroud Farmer’s Market.  I visited this renown farmer’s market for the first time last summer and it was fantastic.  It is in the heart of Stroud, set throughout the small ancient streets and offers a huge variety of goods.  I was struck by the choice, which is often so limited at farmer’s market, especially by the stalls selling vegetables. 

extra virgin olive oil from Eleon

extra virgin olive oil from Eleon

Despite being a rather chilly and blustering early Spring day, we had a lovely morning and came home with a basket of goodies.  We weren’t there to do our weekly shop, although I wish I lived close enough to do my weekly shop here, so just bought some ‘treats’.  We also tried some scrumptious olive oil and cheese.  The little sister tried a lot of cheese. 

delicious cheese from Shepton Mallet

delicious cheese from Shepton Mallet

My basket contained: Monmouthshire air dried ham from Trealy Farm

charcuterie from Trealy Farm

charcuterie from Trealy Farm

…a Jammie (like a jammy dodger but made with shortcrust biscuits and homemade blackcurrant jam – I will be trying to recreate these at home) from Hobbs House Bakery

Jammies from Hobbs House Bakery

Jammies from Hobbs House Bakery

…a piece of Morn Dew (cow) cheese and a Little Rachel (goat) cheese made by a man in Shepton Mallet (this is the best cheese I have tasted in a long time); a bottle of organic whole milk from Jess’s Ladies Organic Farm Milk (I dream about this milk when I’m at home in Cheshire – it is to die for and how all milk should be)…

milk and yoghurt from Jess's Ladies

milk and yoghurt from Jess's Ladies

and a Mixed Berry Doughnut (yes I said doughnut) made by Pippin Doughnuts

doughnuts from Pippin Doughnuts

doughnuts from Pippin Doughnuts

Mom’s contained: a bunch of locally grown purple tulips…

locally grown flowers

locally grown flowers

…two Mixed Berry Doughnuts and a Cinnamon and Brown Sugar doughnut from Pippin Doughnuts

cinnamon and brown sugar doughnuts

cinnamon and brown sugar doughnuts

a loaf of bread from a lovely bakers whose name I can’t remember…

lovely bread - bottom left

lovely bread - bottom left

…an Organic Cotswold Brie from Simon Weaver (check out their website for some delicious sounding recipes); a Black Nancy (rolled in charcoal) and a Trickle both from the Shepton Mallet cheese man.  The little sister also polished off a vegetable samosa.

bread, brownies and hot cross buns from Hobbs House Bakery

bread, brownies and hot cross buns from Hobbs House Bakery

The afternoon was spent at the local garden centre where I picked up a couple of small trays of lettuce (oakleaf and red little gem) and some purple sprouting broccoli plug plants.  I will plant them down at the allotment and cross my fingers that the wild bunnies don’t annihilate them. 

All in all I have had a pretty perfect day – food and gardens – and my family thrown in for good measure.

lettuce :: Saumur market, the Loire Valley ::

As I sit at home recovering from an operation to remove one of wisdom teeth (eugh!) I am again thinking about happier times and things.  It is drizzling outside and I have let one of my bunnies out to roam the garden, although I’m sure he’s in fact hunkering down in his cosy house. 

Last night as I tried to get off to sleep I was thinking about the local farmers markets and the different markets I’ve been to around the UK and abroad, and ultimately got to thinking what it is that makes a great farmers market.  I have come to the conculsion it is vegetables.  There are some delicious offerings at farmers markets – homemade pies, deep ruby coloured streaky bacon, and crusty sourdoughs – but for me, a table heaped with fresh, straight from the earth, picked that morning vegetables is what I’m really after. 

My local farmers market it really good and swarming with people long before their advertised opening time, and has for sale many of those fantastic products I listed previously, but it does lack exciting vegetables.  There are two markets which stick out in my mind for great, stomach-tingling vegetables: Stroud Farmers Market (in Gloucestershire) and the Saturday market in Saumur (a bit far to go for most UK shoppers as it’s in the Loire Valley in France).  When I think back to my visits to these markets, it’s vegetables that I’m dreaming of – crisp lettuce the size of mixing bowls, boxes full of peas, heaps of heirloom tomatoes, new potatoes covered in soil. 

Vegetables are at the heart of what we eat, they make up (or at least should I believe) the bulk of our meals and can be so exciting.  Having a wide choice of vegetables encourages me to be creative, to eat simple, clean, refreshing food.  Some of my best meals have been made without a kitchen, just a bowl of beautiful vegetables, a sharp knife, some seasoning and perhaps the odd barbque-singed sausage and hunk of gooey cheese for good measure.  These are my best food memories.

simple tomato salad :: France ::

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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