The Great Veg Problem

I was sat the other day remembering the dark days of my past. The days that still haunt me, where I missed out on so much. There was so much opportunity for joy and I actively shrunk away like a violet in winter. Never will I live with such blinkered vision again, never will I deny myself the overwhelming joy that is Veg.
Veg are great, aren’t they? They come in all shapes, colours and sizes. Colleague Holly loves all things green, Housemate likes the rooty variety, Carpenter likes them raw, Granny likes them slightly overcooked and Brother likes them as long as they’re covered in truffle oil and shavings of parmesan three times baked.
Personally my champion is Broccoli. Broccoli is amazing isn’t it? Super healthy and versatile. Blanch it, roast it, stir fry it, pan fry it, eat it raw. I do all of the above on a nearly daily basis.
One of my favourite forms of broccoli is tender stem. I blanch it in chicken stock for a couple of minutes then take it out and pan fry it in garlic, butter and chilli, oh my gosh it’s…..Sorry had to stop as I was disturbingly close to drooling all over my keyboard.

I like most veg (except fennel. It shouldn’t exist), which means I eat a lot of it. This also means my bank balance takes a huge hit every time I go to Tesco as it’s not exactly the cheapest item going.
Also, as discussed in earlier blogs I’ve become much more aware of food waste recently and the adverse effect it has on the environment, although I haven’t quite gone back to throwing myself into bins yet. One of the big things I’ve also starting thinking about is plastic. *Insert Darth Vader music here*. Plastic is a dreaded substance that supermarkets love to wrap everything in. For example broccoli. Those little trees don’t need covering over, does it really make that much of a difference? It’s wasteful and you throw it away as soon as you open it anyway.
I started to think about other options to source my greens, I mean I try and use local producers such as Sharrow Marrow and Mr Pickles as much as I can, however, currently I live in the depths of Hillsborough which boasts a banging Morrisons but not a lot else. The local producers are all half way across the city for me; hardly on my route home when I’m searching for what to cook for tea tonight, so I end up with plastic covered veg more often than I’d like to admit.
I found a solution though. What a lovely, organic solution it is. Veg boxes. It started after I visited the Nether Edge market, whilst it was a tad crazy (you couldn’t move for cable knit jumpers and real ale lovers) it did make me realise just how many organic producers there are out there.
Sheffield is full of them and they’re great!!!!! Who doesn’t love those super ugly carrots that no-one else wants, the funky marrows and squashes that to me symbolise the excitement of Autumnal flavours, wild mushrooms foraged from soily homes, the list goes on. However, I do think Carpenter who accompanied me became mildly infuriated after the fourth time I squealed, shoved our loaf of spelt at him and galloped (like a nimble footed mountain goat) towards a pile of pumpkins.
After this I became determined to lay my hands on a veg box. There’s a few major appeals in having one:
1. Tonnes of veg. You get loads of veg. Yay
2. Eating Seasonally. Strawberries in summer (where they belong), Squashes in Autumn (where they belong), Salsa Verde whenever (who knows where that belongs)
3. The Surprise. The idea that I have a whole new week of cooking challenges. Roasted my first pumpkin this week. Didn’t carve it. Roasted it
So I picked carefully, shopped around and I chose Regather. They’re a lovely lovely group of people, super nice and they make a great box. Their mission is ‘to give people the choice and opportunity to live, work and play co-operatively and create a mutual local economy.’ Now, I’m pretty big into the community love so it felt like the right group for me.
I placed my order online, got to pick things I didn’t want AND tailor the box to exactly what I did want (Never fennel. Never. Ever. Fennel). It was great! The scheme was dead easy to set up and I got to pick whether it was delivered to me (the way forward) or if I went to pick it up. I chose to pick it up as I was curious about their shop which is near Porter Brook.

The lady I met there was lovely and didn’t mind me getting horrifically over excited about the curly kale I found. After sprinting home I discovered a smorgasbord of delights. Curly kale, tomatoes, carrots, salad leaves, edible flowers, onions, beans, a lot of chard, maybe too much chard, beetroot, spinach, of course the pumpkin, the list goes on (see picture above). I immediately roasted the pumpkin and beetroot, made some crispy onions and roasted the kale and loved every bite.
I do worry that I might have an excess of chard so some friends may have to help me out. I also didn’t move the box quick enough to avoid a near death accident where housemate discovered said box at the top of the cellar stairs, she’s fine. However, I’m definitely going to order again. The surprise of not knowing what veggies I’m going to get is vaguely intoxicating. Plus obviously the community spirit is a massive draw for me. These guys are creating a proper feeling of spirit in enterprise, events and food. Social impact and food what could be better.
If anyone has any particularly great rainbow chard recipes that would be lovely though.

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