The Third Plate – an inspirational food-growing read

This book was so inspirational that I had to share. It’s a really easy read and anyone with an interest in cooking, eating or growing food will find it a delight.

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The author, Dan Barber, is a well known American chef with a restaurant on his farm and education centre in the hills outside New York. His thoughts on food and agriculture are widely shared and respected and he was been named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2009.

He’s also an incredibly engaging speaker and writer – I’d seen and thoroughly enjoyed a couple of his TED talks – How I fell in love with a fish and A surprising parable of foie gras – both stories are more fully explored in the book but they’re well worth a watch to give you a flavour.

In The Third Plate the author explores his vision for a new food system, one that is sustainable and an integration of vegetables, cereal and livestock management that produces truly delicious food. He challenges everything we think we know about food through his eloquent and entertaining tales of meeting people around the world who are working in harmony with the soil, land and sea.

It’s further inspired me to get more livestock and grow lots more food – I have an especial hankering to try some landrace wheat and make my own flour – the fact we don’t have the land, a mill or any knowledge for any of this is by-the-by 🙂

Not convinced – perhaps some of these reviews might tempt you…

‘Dan Barber’s tales are engaging, funny and delicious…I would call this The Omnivore’s Dilemma 2.0…a brilliant culinary manifesto with a message as obvious as it is overlooked. Promote, grow and eat a diet that’s in harmony with the earth and the earth will reward you for it’ Chicago Tribune

‘Compelling…The Third Plate is fun to read, a lively mix of food history, environmental philosophy and restaurant lore…an important and exciting addition to the sustainability discussion’ Wall Street Journal

‘In this compelling read Dan Barber asks questions that nobody else has raised about what it means to be a chef, the nature of taste. and what “sustainable” really means. He challenges everything you think you know about food; it will change the way you eat. If I could give every cook just one book, this would be the one’ Ruth Reichl (author of another favourite book of mine Garlic and Saphires)

 

 

13 Glorious Gardening Blogs (we’re one of them!)

img_2890We were delighted to hear that A Pentland Garden Diary has been listed as a ‘glorious gardening blog’ by the lovely people at Waltons Sheds.

Not only that, they kindly sent me this mug – if every there was one with my name on, then this is it – thank you!

Here’s their round-up of gardening blogs – why don’t you go check them out.

In other news, it’s feeling decidedly Spring-like today despite the weekend of blizzards and the biting Easterly wind – there’ something smelling amazing in the garden but I have no idea what it is (yet!).

Our Girls Will Soon Be Free…

Yesterday we had an update on the Avian Flu restrictions – good news and bad, the Prevention Zone covering Scotland will now be extended until the end of April, however, as it’s deemed a low-risk zone we will be allowed to let our hens out on the 28th February as long as we have enhanced biosecurity to minimise the risk of infection from wild birds.

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It doesn’t state what these enhanced biosecurity measures are so it looks like that’s up to us, so, as we’re interpreting this – as long as we’ve done the little things that we can, like remove bird feeders from the garden, we should be set to give the girls back their freedom.

It seems like an awfully long time since the restrictions first came in at the start of December – can’t wait to see them back out foraging round the garden and hopefully they’ll laying eggs again!

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Garden Planning for Biodiversity

A relatively clear weekend meant that I finally got the chance to settle down with a gardening magazine (I was given a subscription to Grow Your Own for Christmas. an excellent present), my notebook and some seed catalogues.

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This year we’re planning on being a bit more structured as last year was poor in terms of harvest – the weather didn’t help but we also sowed seeds way too late for them to come to anything and were just generally a bit disorganised.

This time round we’ll be growing things we actually like to eat and in the quest for beauty and biodiversity we’ll be companion planting too. Starting to get impatient now, however, the garden needs a really good Spring clean so there’s plenty to be done.

My latest succulent and cacti pots
My latest succulent and cacti pots

Am considering getting a heated propagator to get things started – saw an amazing looking one in a magazine but it was over £100. Think I may try a smaller one first to see how it works. I met someone a couple of weeks ago who uses one when making bread so at least it’ll have another use if it doesn’t work out.

In other news our new bulb planter arrived – it was one of those deals you get when ordering plants that seem like a really good deal – £5 instead of £15 – thank goodness it was only £5 as I can’t for the life of me see how it’s going to add much value, guess I’ll find out when our Summer bulbs arrive and I can put it into practice.

Bulb Planter - any good? or waste of time.....
Bulb Planter – any good? or waste of time…..

Rhubarb Rhubarb (and Potatoes)

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Cosmo the hover dog

It’s exceptionally mild today and my thoughts can’t help but look toward Spring. Despite the freezing temperatures for a large part of the Winter, we’ve had very little snow in comparison to previous years. I haven’t forgotten the heavy snow at the end of April 2016 that brought the chicken run down though.

Ice crystals on our gas tank
Ice crystals on our gas tank

The rhubarb is bursting out of the ground just now and our seed potatoes have arrived – this year I’ve gone for Epicure (had to be really :o), Mayan Gold, a favourite with top chefs, Salad Blue – they’re actually blue all the way through and some Pink Fir Apples because I liked the name. This year I won’t make the same mistake I did last year – I put them out too early and a few late frosts meant we didn’t get great yields in comparison with the year before.

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None of the Spring bulbs seem to be coming up – they were from two years ago and I replanted them using a multilayering method last year, guess they didn’t like it as they’re not playing ball. I have however ordered a load of summer bulbs for the front garden.

The rhubarb is shooting up
The rhubarb is shooting up

The hens are still incarcerated because of the avian flu restrictions – with an increasing number of outbreaks being confirmed down South the past couple of weeks I’m not sure they’ll have their sentences commuted on the 28th February either. I guess time will tell…