Monthly Archives

August 2016

Mid Week Eats Seasonal Stomach

Mid Week Eat: Big Bean Stew

August 31, 2016

It’s easy to eat seasonally with a whole lazy Sunday and 6 hours to roast a joint ahead of you. It’s more difficult when you get in from work late and all you want to do is order a pizza. My Mid-Week-Eats recipes are all quick, really easy and made mostly using ingredients you’ll already have in your cupboards.

This stew is inspired by one I saw Rick Stein make, just without the overnight stewing. It’s great for using up leftover veg or meat, and it works as a meal in itself or as an accompaniment.

Makes 2 portions

1 onion (either red or white)
1 clove of garlic
1 tin of tomatoes
1 tin of butter beans
Any left over veg or meat

  1. Pre-heat your oven to a low heat (about gas mark 4)
  2. Chop your onions. I chop mine nice and fine but if you like a more chunky, rustically chopped onion there’s no rules here.
  3. Crush the garlic and add it to a pan with the onions and a glut of oil. Season. Cook them through on a low heat until they’re soft and see through (should take about 10 minutes). At the end I turn the heat up a little so they catch the pan – it adds a nice caramel flavour.
  4. Add the paprika, the tomatoes and beans. Season with salt, pepper and sugar, and pop in a Bay leaf if you have one. Heat through until it starts to bubble.
  5. Throw in any veg you have. I’ve used frozen peas because the spinach I was going to use was rather beyond saving. If you’re adding meat to the stew, cook it off first.
  6. Put the pot in the oven for 30 minutes.
  7. Serve. I’ve topped mine with feta, but it’s also great with sausages and lamb.
Seasonal Adventures

Where Do The Plants From The Chelsea Flower Show Go?

August 29, 2016

This is not a question that has troubled me for years, I must admit. But it is a good one – when you think about it, surely all those thousands and thousands of plants can’t just go in a skip?

I stumbled upon the answer over on the excellent 91 Magazine blog. On a jetty in North Greenwich, an initiative called Farmopolis takes in all the abandoned plants and gives them a new life in and around the restaurant and workshops that take place in a big polytunnel as they wait to be adopted into new homes. As soon as I found this out, I had to go. Like immediately.

And so this weekend I took along my florist friend for lunch, a workshop and to explore the plants.

Most importantly, the lunch. Well it was lovely. Farmopolis grow veggies on site and have a farm to fork philosophy which is so Simple & Season. A small and well executed menu is divied up into Soil, Land and Sea (vegetables, meat and fish) with two dishes in each category. This easily lends itself to a convenient tapas situation, and we shared the crispy chicken with coleslaw, smoked aubergine and popped rice and heritage vegetables with olive crumb and lemon dip. Plus bread, obvs.

Smoked Aubergine with Popped Wild Rice

Smoked Aubergine with Popped Wild Rice

Raw Heritage Vegetables

Raw Heritage Vegetables

Crispy chicken with Coleslaw

Crispy chicken with Coleslaw

We sat outside on the jetty where a borderline-bracing wind off the river was very welcome in these ridiculously humid days we’re having. We were flanked by the Emirates Air Line on one side and the Thames Barrier on the other, and toddlers staggered between the tables in search of face paints and ice cream.

Probably my favourite thing about Farmopolis is the atmosphere. It is so chill. We ambled around, glasses of prosecco in hand, and no one seemed worried. The staff were there when we needed them, but otherwise dissolved into the background – no one was worried about us paying the bill or leaving our table. Given that everyone else there lounged about on benches I think the homely feeling wasn’t just mine.

Farmopolis Plant Pot  Farmopolis Plant Adoption





Down at one end of the greenhouse is the ‘Home For Wayward Plants’. Here you apply to adopt one of the ex-Chelsea plants by filling out a form and wait to hear of your successful at the end of the month. A bit cutesy perhaps, and definitely impractical for out of town-ers like me. However it’s nice to see plants treated like living things rather than the commodities they are at garden centres – the adoption process makes you actually think about whether your capable of keeping this thing alive.

The one fail of the day was the workshop. We rushed to finish our lunch before the 2pm start of the Herbal Apothecary workshop where we were going to learn all about the medicinal qualities of plants and make a lovely herbal dream pillow. However, as we headed back inside we saw that the other attendees were all eager under fives with painted faces. Yup, it was a kid’s thing. Whoops.


Farmopolis is at The Jetty with workshops running until the end of October (for kids, and adults!).