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Adventures with my box

I have a new box. It is a fashionable type of box – possibly the most fashionable kind you can get without surgery. It arrives once a week, and contains fruit, vegetables, and approximately 18 metric tons of middle-classness, as far as I can work out.

Yes, I’ve got an organic box (0898…). I was always assuring my Little Mother that yes, I was eating all the fruit and vegetables I could possibly stomach and oh, yes, if I had the choice I would be getting an organic box, but oh, no, all the commuting meant I couldn’t.

And then I stopped commuting. So on Friday morning, a nice man knocks on the door and he hands me a box, and I hand him a flattened box, and we smile and we nod, and then he buggers off again, and I take my box and bring it inside and look at it for a while and decide not to open it for now, because I made that mistake last week, and was suddenly confronted with a bit of an anticlimax. Or ‘some vegetables’.
Some vegetables AND a bit of an anticlimax.

So, all the rumours I’ve heard turn out to be true. Getting a “Locally-sourced blah blah blah something something box” (TM) basically involves getting some of the vegetables you might normally buy, if given the choice, and some other boxes, that you never buy (or, in my case, have never heard of) and they’re not bad looking, but filthy – all covered in dirt, oh the inconvenience, damn them, what do they think we’re going to do, wash them etc.

This week, my box was particularly exciting – unlike last week, when my box was quite fruity – as it contained several things I quite literally could not identify. By Saturday night I was desperate, and was sending my first-ever picture texts to friends, begging for them to explain what this THING was. “It’s the size of a baby’s head. But solid. And nubbly. I think I may have discovered a vegetable. Or the decapitated head of a tiny mutant child. Pls help me.”

Sadly, I hadn’t. I held in my hand, we eventually discovered, some celeriac, which I had eaten, mashed, but never seen (not an adventurous eater, traditionally. I’m working on that). I had to send a follow up text asking ‘what the stuff that looks like celery might be, then?’ – only to be told that it was probably celery.
And discover one despicable Bloody Mary later that it was fennel.

Still, I’m quite proud of myself, because this I’m finding a new kind of productive to work through sad-holes, because my god, but I’m utilising my box (0898…)

Today, heh-hem, I made Soup, which was lovely and winterish, if eye-wateringly peppery due to a miscalculation and gruel-foolingly lumpy due to a lack of one of those electric blendy things. And also, also – my friends – I made muffins.
I made Courgette Muffins (some may call’em Zucchini, whatevs: as long as you can make muffins out of them, who cares).

And so it begins. I’m quite pleased with my new plan of ‘Finding Some Random Recipe On The Internet’ (which clearly plays second fiddle to the ‘Naming the Vegetables Filling My Box’ plan (0898) which, I’m guessing, is often going to come first by necessity) so I may document some of my variable triumphs here.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to become a bakey-blogger. Because mainly, I still can’t really cook.

But for as long as this weekly-box stubborness pervades, I’ll try and note down some of the nicer things I’ve managed to badly make.

Now. What the fuck am i meant to do with pears. Are there pears? Well whatever. If they are, what the fuck am I supposed to do with them?

  1. Pear Muffins!

    Comment by nationwide — 9 October, 2007 12:26 am

  2. Poach them in something alcoholic– then drizzle them in chocolate. You’ll forget they were ever supposed to be good for you.

    Comment by asta — 9 October, 2007 3:12 am

  3. Wait. Fennel in a Bloody Mary? You could probably sell that idea to some uber-trendy bar, you know…

    Peel, halve, core. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Microwave until soft. Serve with vanilla ice cream. (Or, just what Asta said. But don’t forget the ice cream.)

    Comment by jimD — 9 October, 2007 4:08 am

  4. you know, you can still become a bakey blogger even though you allegedly can’t cook. i’ve only seen one television cook actually cook something from start to finish (alton brown from the food network).

    the rest of them do a lot of chopping and mixing stuff in a half-assed sort of way – all the while telling you not to do it like they are doing it, but to do it properly since at home you have more time. then they magically reach under the counter or open the oven and voila, the thing is already cooked.
    they take a bite, moan orgasmically at how divine it tastes while the camera zooms out, giving them enough time to step off camera to spit the thing into a napkin and disinfect their mouth with some gin.

    Comment by kermit — 9 October, 2007 7:00 am

  5. honestly any fruit you can put alcohol, chocolate or caramel on is a fantastic piece of fruit to have. there are a ton of recipes for pears, i’m sure you’ll find something good. if you ever get pumpkins do let me know as i have fabulous recipe for pumpkin bread and another for pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. :)

    Comment by Lynn — 9 October, 2007 7:14 am

  6. Weirdest thing.

    I was SURE I read “Courgette Muffins” in your post yet not one person has commented on such an atrocity. So I must’ve been imagifying it, right?

    Comment by Gordon — 9 October, 2007 8:14 am

  7. Might I suggest making a pizza with pears and gorgonzola?

    Comment by JonnyB — 9 October, 2007 8:25 am

  8. Next time you get a celeriac try this… It’s the laziest, simplest recipe ever (I can’t cook either) but it’s taste fan-fecking-tastic, and you can go to the pub while it’s cooking!

    Welsh lamb shanks (Or Pork rib chops)

    1 tbsp olive oil
    4 garlic cloves – crush and chop
    2 red onions – roughly sliced
    4 rosemary sprigs
    1 small celeriac – peeled & sliced up in chunks about ¼ inch thick
    ¾ pint Cider
    4 tbsp white wine vinegar

    1.Brush lamb shanks ( or pork rib chops) with oil. Put in casserole dish, and place in hot oven for 10 mins to seal.

    2.Reduce oven temp to 160 C, Add other ingredients, and cook for 3 hours, or until meat falls off the bone.

    Comment by Greenmantle — 9 October, 2007 8:56 am

  9. Next time you get a celeriac try this… It’s the laziest, simplest recipe ever (I can’t cook either) but it tastes fan-fecking-tastic, and you can go to the pub while it’s cooking!

    Welsh lamb shanks (Or Pork rib chops)

    1 tbsp olive oil
    4 garlic cloves – crush and chop
    2 red onions – roughly sliced
    4 rosemary sprigs
    1 small celeriac – peeled & sliced up in chunks about ¼ inch thick
    ¾ pint Cider
    4 tbsp white wine vinegar

    1.Brush lamb shanks ( or pork rib chops) with oil. Put in casserole dish, and place in hot oven for 10 mins to seal.

    2.Reduce oven temp to 160 C, Add other ingredients, and cook for 3 hours, or until meat falls off the bone.

    Comment by Greenmantle — 9 October, 2007 8:56 am

  10. What about celeriac chips?
    Cut celeriac into chip shapes, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt add a couple of twists of black pepper and place on baking tray in oven.
    Oven must be turned on…
    Take out about 25 minutes later and hey bango, you’re eating chips that are nearly good for you.

    Comment by arch stanton — 9 October, 2007 9:10 am

  11. The title gripped my attention straight away…

    Kinda lost it after the first line though.


    Coat and getting…

    Comment by Brennig — 9 October, 2007 9:17 am

  12. Pears – peel, leave stalk attached, poach gently in red wine. They look fantastic and taste even better.

    Comment by It's Just Me — 9 October, 2007 9:32 am

  13. We have one of them too, but we are naughty and have the one without the mud, having tried the one with the mud and got sick of having a muddy kitchen. Apparently the food miles aren’t that great on our new one. But we get lots of melons.

    Comment by clare — 9 October, 2007 9:32 am

  14. Here’s my business suggestion for the next time the nice man comes. Free, gratis, to you.

    How about suggesting the addition of a legend to the lid of the container? (ala a chocolate box.)

    There is a small photo of each vegetable (two versions, normal or rude, to suit different demographics) and alongside a humourous description, possibly created by er, a freelance writer.

    As most people in Brighton won’t have seen the strange vegetables before it seems perfect opportunity.

    Comment by William T — 9 October, 2007 9:45 am

  15. Yes you can make cookery programmes based on what you wrote up there. And you been on the telly. Trust me, I made gazillions of them, including Anthony Worral Thomson boiling an egg. I thought he was having a snack between takes but I was shooshed and told to eff off as it was a ‘take’ on How to Cook with the Bearded Rotunda. I think the next programme was toast. Or possibly getting the bread out the packet.

    Comment by nationwide — 9 October, 2007 9:50 am

  16. You can’t beat a nice pear.

    Well, you can. But it’s very painful for the owner?

    Comment by Mr.D. — 9 October, 2007 12:23 pm

  17. Nice pears? (0898)

    Comment by Richard Gillin — 9 October, 2007 1:05 pm

  18. You can always eat the pears raw you know, wash them first of course. But poached in red wine with some pear sorbet – yes. And you can even eat the pear too.

    Comment by joeinvegas — 9 October, 2007 4:01 pm

  19. My great recipe for Celeriac:

    Put two lamb chops under a medium grill, for approximately 5 minutes each side.

    While this is cooking, finely chop a lare celeriac and place in the fridge to cool. When the chops are done, remove the celeriac from the fridge and sprinkle into the waste bin.

    Finally, eat the chops.

    Comment by Camberwell Carrot — 9 October, 2007 4:41 pm

  20. peel the pear and cut it into small-ish pieces, then put on a mixed greens salad. Use a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. simple, takes only a couple of minutes, tastes excellent.

    I too get a box, but I have to drive out to a farm (8 miles…not that far, I know) to get mine. Whenever I don’t know what the stuff is, I give it away. I pretend I know what it is, but I don’t–I just hand it to someone and say “here! enjoy some lovely produce from our local organic family farm!” and then walk away real fast and shut my office door until they go away.

    Comment by teri — 9 October, 2007 5:39 pm

  21. You know, I haven’t the faintest clue what a celeriac is. I thought it must be something to do with celery until somebody mentioned chips.

    Comment by clare — 9 October, 2007 6:31 pm

  22. Clare – like a baby’s head, but solid, and more turnip-like and knobbly, and without a face.

    So possibly more like a turnip then. But tastes of celery. Fucking odd; makes nice soup.

    Comment by anna — 9 October, 2007 6:45 pm

  23. I would be with joeinvegas – take pear, eat it. Skips all that tiresome cooking business. But are pears too like apples for that to be an enjoyable experience?

    A local organic farmer has just started visiting the campus where I live on Saturday mornings, which is a Good Thing, but does mean I have to be awake on Saturday mornings, which can be a bit of a challenge. His name is Jesus, which I do find unwontedly hilarious (insert tasteless jokes here). Last week he was actually selling a vegetable that even he couldn’t identify, but I’m afraid I was cowardly and didn’t buy the enormous white root-type thing. I find it hard to resist feeling obliged to buy more vegetables than I realistically need, but I have decided to stand firm on the rabbit meat… I tried it once and it really is too much like cooking half a dead rabbit. Especially when he proudly tells you they should be really tender because they’re only two months old…

    On a happier note, I have also been making muffins recently: mango and banana with cream cheee frosting. Possibly oh so slightly less healthy…

    Comment by Eloise — 9 October, 2007 7:17 pm

  24. *cheese. Obv.

    Comment by Eloise — 9 October, 2007 7:18 pm

  25. The only thing I do to pears is eat ‘em. Slurrrp.

    Comment by guyana-gyal — 9 October, 2007 8:17 pm

  26. Pears are a nightmare.

    To start with they are so hard you can use them to hammer in nails.

    Then they are deliciously ripe and heaven to eat – this lasts approx. 2.5 seconds

    Then – with a turn of speed generally only achieved by Olympic athletes on nandrolone – they turn into fruit soup.

    Comment by The Garden Monkey — 9 October, 2007 10:09 pm

  27. Pear sauce with a pinch of ginger. Great on lamb chops. Just chop up and boil. It looks just like applesauce when you’re done.

    Or core and fill with Stilton and serve it at a fancy dinner party.

    Comment by Maria — 10 October, 2007 12:00 am

  28. Agree with Garden Monkey on pears and ripeness. Didn’t Eddie Izzard have a routine about them back when he was funny? “Right chaps, wait until he leaves the room, then RIPEN…”

    Still, pears and cheese – good, pears and chocolate – better.

    Comment by Tasha — 10 October, 2007 11:46 am

  29. leftover celeriac can also be eaten raw, grated with mayonnaise (think coleslaw style).

    Comment by stroppycow — 10 October, 2007 1:40 pm

  30. I’ve been reading this blog for a while and thought, well, eventually I will leave a comment and it’ll be witty and clever like so many of the witty and clever comments that are left here. But it is not. It is three little words that can cause more excitement than many an (0898): chocolate pear cake.

    Comment by Oscar — 10 October, 2007 9:11 pm

  31. The French do a celeriac salad called “céléri rémoulade” which is dressed with oil, mustard and lemon juice. If you want to get technical, you sort of beat the oil & mustard first until they blend and then add the lemon juice (and salt and pepper). Quantities ? Whatever suits your tastebuds. You “should” cut the celeriac into julienne strips (just to give you something to do in your next spare moment on Internet) and blanch (ditto) them quickly beforehand, but I just grate the stuff straight into the dressing and it’s pretty fab – a bit pokey & full of flavour.

    If you ever get celeriac & watercress in the same box make a soup out of them.

    Comment by Victoria — 11 October, 2007 10:17 am

  32. There is a recipe from France which involves rehashing some rotten old fruit that has passed its ‘best by’ date called ‘Poivres Bretonique’, or, Brittany’s Pears.

    Isn’t this box business all a bit Margot Leadbetter? How big is your garden?

    Comment by Camberwell Carrot — 11 October, 2007 12:09 pm

  33. Poires, dammit.

    Comment by Camberwell Carrot — 11 October, 2007 12:14 pm

  34. We used to get one of those boxes. We ditched it after they gave us kale and little else for six weeks.

    There is not much you can do with kale.

    Celeriac mash is great. So is Jerusalem Artichoke Soup.

    And I think half the fun is trying to identify the different things they sent you. Although it did nearly cause marital strife when Mrs Albion found a bookmark for a website called http://www.englishroots.com, or similar. It was a site that listed all the different sorts of root vegetables – not a site utilising the slang name for a certain reproductive sexual event.

    Happy chomping.

    Comment by Damian — 11 October, 2007 3:14 pm

  35. We really love , the online home of Bon Appetite + Gourmet magazines. The main cool feature is the sheer volume of recipes for EVERYTHING. You tell Epicurious that you’re long on Apples, Curry powder and Pork Rinds and out pops 100s of recipes that will help you use all three. Then they’re rated by others who’ve tried them. If you stick to the ones that are largely 4-forks (with the occasional “I tried this, but didn’t have any onions, so I substituted garlic, and I’m alergic to flour, so substituted sugar — and I really didn’t like it at all!” — you can ignore those), you can get some really great stuff.

    We do, anyway, and hope the same good fortune for your searches :)

    Comment by olie — 11 October, 2007 5:32 pm

  36. (weird. taht previous was supposed to say “We really love www . epicurious . com…” not sure how it got eaten in the 1st post.

    Comment by olie — 15 October, 2007 6:55 pm

  37. What’s with all the celeriac recipes and none for fennel? I love fennel. Makes roasted veg more interesting. I’m not very good with vegetables though. I roast them or stir fry them and there is very little in between. Never tried making muffins out of them, and, really? Do they honestly taste good?

    Chocolate pear cake though, that sounds GREAT.

    Comment by the B — 15 October, 2007 9:38 pm

  38. Thank you all. After all that good advice the pears did as comedians said they do, and turned from ROCK to ‘nasty’ while we weren’t looking.

    We did roast the fennel, though, and then this week, in an attempt to get rid of the whole box of stuff and make it freezable before we both suddenly had to go away, I have made spiced red cabbage, and banana cake, and borscht, and curried apple and carrot soup, and all manner of other …

    Oy oy oy, I’m turning into someone else entirely.

    Comment by anna — 15 October, 2007 10:14 pm

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