The President’s Kitchen Garden – and a Year of Travel


Variety is the Spice of Life as I repeat tirelessly to my kids. Try something new, you never know it may be the best thing you have ever tasted! I never cease to marvel at all the new tastes and foods I come across. For me traveling and meeting people is a cornucopia of new tastes, new ideas, viewpoints and surprises. I admit I have been very, very lucky this year to travel home to New Zealand where we saw a great bunch of home gardeners and producers showing off the fruits of their toils – veggies, eggs, cheeses, jams, chutneys, cordials, seed mixes, cereals, breads and chocolates at the local farmers markets. One of the best new ideas was the OOOOby concept started up by a Waiheke Islander called Peter Russell. OOOOby or Out of Our Own Backyards is a new and energetic way of trading surplus foods via markets and pickup systems. We then went to my favourite of all spots in the UK, Hay on Wye for a chlly camping experience to see a group of pop up chefs turning out lovely local delights. We visited Rick Stein’s deli in Cornwall and went fishing in Salcome finding small businesses along the way proudly serving well crafted food at pubs such as the Cricketers in Beesands in Devon. I write this not to show how well traveled we are (and how extraordinarily lucky) but to make a point that there is a quiet revolution going on – just as those tired of relentless money profiteering are gathering force so to are those of us who are championing the cause of simple, local, sustainably produced good food. It’s hard I know to get kids eating wholesome green food free from chemicals and overprocessing but we must fight back and we are. From First Lady Michele Obama to a very pleasant chap we met on our half term break, none other than the President of Malta who recently opened The President’s Kitchen Garden above the San Anton Palace Gardens. The Maltese have a big, big problem with obesity and thus Diabetes type 2 and are rightly fond of their food (as am I – surely the best sun dried tomatoes in the world come from Gozo!) but they need to start eating more greeny bits and pieces and get out of their cars! We met the president quite by accident but I took the opportunity to compliment him on his initiative and to hope it will help kids understand more about where their food comes from! Let us hope it helps. I would be delighted to go back one day and get those kids cooking up a storm.

Meantime I am prepping today for a guest appearance at Quirkys Lunch room cafe with my own brand of veggie wholefoods Tex Mex. Quirkys cafe is the very first to pioneer Pop Up Chefs in our little city and you will find a different team cooking their every Friday evening. There’s be music and chat, laughter and fun if you care to join us but do please reserve a table as we are filling up fast (tel: 070 3808502.

I am making my Friday Night Red Lentil Mexican Soup followed by a wholewheat Quesidila served with organic brown basmatic spiced rice, fresh coriander chutney, greek yoghurt garlic sauce, and coleslaw followed by a choice of either egg free mascarpone tropical trifle or apple and strawberry crumble made with our own organic homegrown apples. Check out Quirky.com if you want to reserve. And if you want to make you own crumble please read below….

My Apple Crumble

Preheat oven to 175 fan c

serves 4-6 people

You will need

6- 8 good honest apples, cookers are best not to sweet! Peel if you like and core, chopping into small cubes of the same size

1 cup of frozen berry fruit or fresh if in season

half a cup of maple sugar or syrup or dark brown sugar

your favourite sweet spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice or cloves. I use about half a teaspooon of each but be careful about cloves they can be overwhelming.

1 and a half cup of wholewheat flour

3 good tablespoons of honest salted butter

a small handful of homemade museli or rolled oats, coconut etc to make your crumble mixture interesting.

Place apples in a pot with a very little hot water. Add in some sweetner such as maple syrup if they are sour. Add some spices to liven them up a little. Cook for about 8-10 minutes until they are tender. Place in ovenproof dish with frozen or fresh berry fruit. Taste for sweetness. I like them to be a little sour.

Mix your crumble. Mix flour, sugar, museli, oats, coconut, nuts, spices etc and rub in your butter using your fingertips. Your mixture should look like large crumbs. If you squeeze it together it should stay in clumps. If too dry add more butter. Taste for sweetness and to get the spices just to your taste. Pour onto the apple berry mixture and bake for around 25 minutes until the apple mixture is bubbling and the crumble top is golden and hard to the touch. Serve with ice cream, yoghurt, creme fraiche, creme anglais or just by itself! Yummy.

Jack and I have been making pasta with his friends. This is our pesto flavoured batch. We are gradually gettting the hang of it and look forward to more experimentation. It is fun but requires some time and a little prep but the end result if absolutely delicious. We are using Jamie Oliver’s basic pasta dough recipe which is working a treat.  I am preparing The Food Forum’s Annual Best of Food Awards for my December Blog. In the meantime I wish you many a good meal, much chat and time to chew over the day! Heavens, I better get cooking!

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