Sunday, 19 April 2009

Boxing Clever

PEERING into the giant cardboard box I - for a moment - felt how Lucy must have been feeling when she took her first glimpse at Narnia from the back of that wardrobe.
Among the unusual sights and smells there were familiar ones too, such as the scent of fresh soil.
My imagination ran wild. So many exciting possibilities. Too many, maybe.
I delved into the box's darkest corner and made a purposeful grab, resurfacing with a glossy aubergine, which shimmered purple as I brought it in to the light.
This was my first box of organic fruit and vegetables from Abel and Cole and my mind raced with ideas on how best to use them.
Along with the aforementioned aubergine, the goodies were courgettes, potatoes, onions, cauliflower, lettuce, apples, Fairtrade bananas and oranges.
Oh, and a vegetable popular with the Dutch called kohl rabi. I only know this from reading all about it in my cherished Abel and Cole recipe book.
The boy and I pledged to make the most of this treasure trove, starting with a meal last night.
While he was responsible for our main course I agreed to tackle pud.
We headed to Birmingham's market to buy the extra bits we needed, including some free range eggs (a steal at 80p for six), some lemons (three for 50p) and some lamb. However, our favourite butcher A.P Doherty told us lamb had been in short supply this week, so instead we popped into Sainsbury's.
The boy opted for a middle Eastern-inspired dish of marinated lamb with aubergine and tomatoes from Bill Granger's Open Kitchen book, while I too looked to our favourite Antipodean chef for my banana and maple syrup upside down cake.
We used the flavourful soft lettuce in a side salad to accompany our main course, and some crusty bread to mop up the juices of the paprika-spiked aubergine stew.
The meal turned out beautifully and we savored every mouthful.
Vegetables and fruits were of paramount quality.
Plans for the rest of the Abel and Cole goodies include a spiced courgette soup and a apple crumble.
I am puzzling over what to do with the kohl rabi though.
Like Lucy, when she was invited to tea with Mr Tumnus the faun, it's a bit of a leap into the unknown.
My Abel and Cole cookbook recommends gratinating it, which is a definite possibility... any ideas?
For more details on Abel and Cole's organic produce delivery service, which also includes meat, fish and bread, visit


Heavenly Housewife said...

Fantastic :)

Emily said...

It was! I can't wait to cook some more using the produce!

Neil said...

I see veg boxes as the ultimate challenge, though I must admit must of my cooking relies on some staple veg and I wonder how I would survive without them.

Plus living in flats brings another challenge to the deliveries.

Leah @ Simply fabulous said...

Looks great! I love fresh produce!

Emily said...

Thanks for your comments both.
The fruit and veg box is certainly a challenge and I have to admit I did giveaway the cauliflower as it' my least favourite veg. I think I had my fill of of them as a baby!

I know what you mean about flat-living making deliveries tricky. I had my box delivered to my office.

Thinspired said...

We tried a couple of box schemes last summer but stopped because int he winter they got a little monotonous with the options! Abel and Cole was good and I think we also did Riverford? I love the mix fruit and veg. Maybe I'll look into these again for Spring. It really forced me to try some things that I wouldn't otherwise buy. Thanks for the reminder, Emily!

Anonymous said...

I too have been a loyal Abel & Cole customer - their veggie is spot on and often better than the vege I buy at Borough Market. Of course, having a mystery box also makes us eat some vege I would otherwise rarely touch e.g. Kohlrabi and the dreaded Cauliflower.

Their meat is so-so, obviously not as good as the top grade stuff from for example Ginger Pig or Farmer sharp, but nonetheless very good for the price you pay, and a darn sight better than stuff you get from Supermarkets.

Emily said...

Thanks for reading both of you! I was impressed with the quality of goodies from Abel and Cole and would be curious to try their meat and fish ranges too.

Funny you should mention the dreaded cauliflower G. I gave mine to someone who could give it a happy home... YUCK