So we had Harvest festival at Big One’s school last week. I confess, I am very fond of Harvest festival, I think primarily because it brings back such vivid memories of growing up in the countryside in Kent, and of the Harvest festival at my primary school which always entailed displays of gigantic plaited loaves, us singing ‘We plough the fields and scatter’ at the tops of our voices, and taking baskets of produce round the village to the OAPs.
I decided to ask my son what Harvest actually means, and I have to confess, he looked at me blankly. Despite the celebration, he hadn’t really grasped that it was about bringing in the crops and the produce from the fields. This little city dweller didn’t know his orange pippins from his coxes. Something had to be done! And so we trundled off to pick apples and get back to nature at Pippins Farm in Kent. Raymond Blanc, who has been in the media recently, talking about how important it is to teach children where food comes from, would be proud of me. I was so pleased we did it – the children both picked and ate apples fresh from the tree and their enthusiasm was evident. It was such a success!
One supermarket that has a great awareness of the seasons and of local food is Waitrose. This spring they launched the national ‘Grow & Sell’ campaign with schools across the land to encourage schools to grow fruit and veg at school and help kids understand the journey from field to plate. And now British apples are in season – and this is apparently the best harvest season in years, making the apples even more delicious than usual – they are keen to celebrate apples with me and my readers.
So in honour of National Apple Day next Monday 21 October, Waitrose asked me to share my love of apples with you. They are stocking 50 apple varieties this year, of which 70% will be British. Hooray!
I made their wonderful Deep Filled Bramley Apple Pie using Waitrose Bramley apples and their Best of British apples. The pie was a rip-roaring success, with my husband declaring ‘Amazing pastry’ – high praise indeed from a man renowned for his homemade quiche (no, I am not kidding), and the children devouring it – they especially liked the addition of raisins . I served it with double cream, and for the time of year, it was just perfect.
The Deep Filled Bramley Apple Pie recipe is here – it works an absolute treat, and using the food processor meant the pastry was made in moments. The only thing that is a faff – and definitely cannot be done one-handed, folks, is peeling the apples. If only I had the miraculous apple peeler which the wonderful Margot Darling from Margot Tries the Good Life recently featured! Now, that would make life easier for this busy mama.
Waitrose.com is a magnificent source of recipes for everything under the sun, including apples, in fact they recently teamed up with some top food bloggers who contributed their own apple recipes,– they include recipes from the marvellous Becky from English Mum (Apple & Caramel Pie), Helen from Fuss Free Flavours (Estivale Apple & Blackberry Steamed Pudding) and Michelle from Utterly Scrummy (Michelle’s Utterly Scrummy Estivale Apple Cake). Take your pick! http://www.waitrose.com/content/waitrose/en/home/recipes/food_glossary/apple.html
Waitrose has even teamed up with online garden gurus Crocus, to sell apple trees online – they have a wonderful tree called ‘Scrumptious’ which is perfect for smaller gardens as it doesn’t need another apple to tree to pollinate it, and can even be grown in a pot! So, city dwellers with kids, there’s no excuse to not PYO apples next year J
What do you like making with apples? Pies? Cakes? Chutney? I’d love to hear!
Happy Apple Day everyone,
A couple of Fridays ago I tweeted an *extra Friday night tip*, on top of my usual daily tip for mums and dads, which said when you choose wine, make sure you go for ones with a screwcap because they’re easy to open one-handed – just grip the bottle between your knees. Which quite a few parents seem to have identified with (thanks for the comments!)…
Co-blogger Helen McGinn is an ex-supermarket wine buyer and wine guru (check out her brilliant blog www.knackeredmotherswineclub.com where she recommends one great red and one very slurpable white every week plus shares insights on her life as a knackered mother) and she’s kindly offered to share her favourite screwcap wines with me to share with you every Friday. Hurrah!
So, without further ado, this Friday’s screwcap wine is:
Waitrose New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, £6.99 on offer (normally £9.49) and available here. This one is made for Waitrose by renowned winery Villa Maria, so it’s a great wine but with an own label on it. Gorgeous, fresh lime-filled fruit flavours, perfect pre-prandial drinking, so buy some posh crisps to go with it. (Failing that a mini breadstick would just about do it.)
Now the nights are drawing in, warm hearty fare is on my mind as I plan and shop for family suppers. Pasta with bolognese sauce is a firm favourite in our house, but it can be pretty time-consuming to make (and time is one thing I am always bit short of…) So, one way to speed things up is to use sausage meat for your meat sauce – you still get a really tasty savoury sauce, but it takes much less time to cook. I usually use pork sausages with some fennel in for a bit of extra flavour (and having read about ‘kind meat’ in Hattie Ellis’ brilliant book What to Eat? earlier this year, I do my best to select free-range pork sausages).
The most time-consuming bit is preparing the vegetables, but remember you can chop them in advance and simply keep them a bowl in the fridge with a bit of cling on top until you’re ready to cook later. You can do the veggies by hand, or just whizz them in the food processor or mini chopper to save time. Or even quicker, use a bag of ‘soffritto’ from Waitrose (who said you couldn’t cheat? I do!)
Note, you will need a decent sharp knife to slit the sausage skins.
Now there’s a wizard idea.
Super Sausage Pasta Sauce
Dash of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 stick of celery, diced
1 red pepper, diced
400g sausage meat (approx. 6 sausages)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
A squeeze of tomato puree
1 tin chopped tomatoes (I’m a Napolina girl)
Salt & freshly ground pepper
What to do
- Sweat the vegetables in the olive oil over a medium heat until soft, stirring from time to time.
- Meanwhile, slit the sausage skins and remove the sausage meat.
- Add the sausage meat to the vegetables, and use your wooden spoon or spatula to break up the meat in the pan, until lightly browned.
- Add the red wine vinegar, and reduce. Once reduced, add the tomato puree and the chopped tomatoes and cook for approx. 20 mins until the sauce is reduced, thick and tasty. Season as required.
- Serve with pasta – we like farfalle or twists as the children tend to struggle with spaghetti.
Liz (aka TOHC) x