Archive for May, 2007

Allotment Vandalism followed by Happy Ending

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Plot holders at Bannerman Street Allotments in Clydebank were upset and disgusted when vandals smashed up their sheds, stole tools and even burnt down several sheds, including the communal shed. However when the Lord Provost of Clydebank heard about their problem he helped them apply to the Alexander Cross Cameron Trust for a grant towards replacing and repairing the vandalised and stolen objects. He also helped them generate publicity in the local press, with pictures and historical stories of their valuable role feeding the population of Clydebank during WW1 and WW2.

The resulting interest generated a spate of applications for plots, and for the first time in 20 years the site is fully occupied with a waiting list of 6.

Sorrel and other Herbs – Vegetable of the month recipes

Saturday, May 19th, 2007
May is a difficult time for vegetables on my Scottish allotment. The winter hardy roots and brassicas are pretty well over and the summer vegetables have germinated but are nowhere near ready to harvest. However it is a different story for the perennial herbs, which are really getting going, and some of which already need regular picking just to keep them under control. Many herbs are a rich source of vitamin C and in the old days in Scotland and the north of England they would cook a savoury barley pudding at this time of year, made from barley liberally mixed with the edible herbs in season including sorrel, young nettles and wild polygonum from the hedgerow, bound with an egg and boiled in a cloth for several hours. It was meant ‘to clear the blood’, presumably a euphemism for curing the first symptoms of scurvy. Herbs can make simple dishes taste really special. One of my favourite quick and easy meals is an omelette with lots of chives and a little parsley mixed in with the egg, filled with grated cheese and served with crusty fresh bread.

Sorrel is a very popular herb in continental Europe, but less usual in the UK, which is strange because it grows very easily. It can be added raw (in small quantities) to a salad or is cooked rather like spinach – wash the leaves and put them in a saucepan, add no water but start cooking very slowly and the sorrel gives out water and rapidly reduces to a puree. The puree can be easily frozen in ice cube trays for later use.  Sorrel has a sharp lemony flavour and so can lift an otherwise bland dish, for example try adding a couple of handfuls of sorrel to a standard leek and potato soup. In Germany they frequently add it to mashed potato. Sorrel makes a wonderful flavouring in sauces for fish (particularly grilled salmon) or grilled chicken breast. The recipe from Normandy given here is my absolute favourite, it is not at all slimming but just tell yourself that after all the work you’ve done growing the stuff – You’re Worth It!

Sauce a l’Oseille

Take a couple of handfuls of sorrel, cut off the course stems and reduce to a puree as described above. Bring 1/2 pt of single cream to the boil, and stir in the sorrel puree off the heat. Add a little salt to taste if you really have to.