My Favourite Things

We are now over 3 months into buying only British goods and our larder is getting more and more sparse. Many of the things that you would normally associate with any store cupboard are now, quite sadly, absent from our larder. We have a small amount of whole wheat spaghetti and one tin of chopped tomatoes left along with a couple of tins of chickpeas among our non-British stock.

This has led me towards thinking about what we become used to eating as a family and how our tastes are quite quickly changing. It would be very fair to state that before this year we were a family dependent on pasta and anything with a tomato sauce. We are having to cut this dependency and find other forms of starch to fill us up in the evening. Neither of us are great fans of potatoes (in non-chip form) but we are having to get through more than we used to. This is where we are stuck for the moment as Spring is springing very late and the variety of vegetables is not huge, and is the same as it has been for the last 3 months.

It would seem that while the produce is better quality and cheaper, getting used to a narrower range of foods is not perhaps as easy as I had thought. I have found myself drawn back toward my Nigel Slater cookbook, where he documents a year of eating through the seasons. Also James and I are loving the new Hairy Bikers Best of British tour on BBC 2 at the moment and are hoping that they will give us inspiration to diversify our meals.

In the meantime James has taken up the cooking baton (and pinny) to try his hand at pasta making so that we are not quite so far from what we are used to. I have planted 3 trays of tomato seeds today so that hopefully by the end of July we will have enough tomatoes to store some of our own. We will let you know how the pasta operation goes.

Happy weekend, whatever you are up to 🙂

– Emily


  1. Still impressed with your efforts. Bet it will be a challenge to find a British Made spaghetti machine! Remember being very impressed watching a chef miraculously produce hand made spaghetti by a very clever rolling, twisting and looping process that started with a lump of pasta. Was never sure whether it was for real or a trick!

  2. Suzy batters says

    If I can find my potato book, I will send it down.
    Yes a whole book on cooking with potatoes! May have gone in the last clear out though….. Potatoes are awesome. There are so many things you can do with them. Gnocchi is a great pasta substitute.

  3. I had a go at making my own tagliatelle once, purely because I had a glut of eggs. It worked well, but would have been better for rolling out thinner before cutting into strips with a knife. Although not cheap to make, you could easily make your own tomato pasta sauce with bought British tomatoes, just as a treat, until your seedlings produce fruit! In addition, if you end up with a surplus of green tomatoes in the autumn, you can wrap them in newspaper ( just like apples ) and store them in a cool place. Mine kept, slowly ripening, until Christmas! Obviously not quite vine fresh, sun warmed sweet and juicy like those harvested in August – but free and home grown. In addition to that, green tomatoes can be used to make a very passable mincemeat at Christmas time- although you still need some dried fruit and spices.

  4. Well done for keeping going. It’s true, we do fall into a trap of flavourful convenience. It’s a hard habit to break but with an incentive such as yours no doubt you will truiumph.

    Keep up the good work and enjoy the rest of the weekend whilst we at tinyeco UK keep on making stock for the real nappy week 2013!

  5. If you want to have a go of the pasta without maschine here is how:

    and here’s a version without the eggs:

  6. dazdread says

    I think that all British food might be a step too far, even the Transition movement which is actively involved in relocalisation to rebuild community resilience and to reduce carbon footprints recognises that there are things that we can’t and should not even try to produce in this country.

    A more sensible strategy should be to support local seasonal produce… for legumes try

  7. Best of luck with the home made pasta, tried it once without a machine and was amazed at how much it swells in the water – it did indeed taste like pasta but wasn’t the prettiest dish I’ve ever concocted and not tried it since. Agree that the new Hairy Bikers series is an awesome source of inspiration – found the episode about the 1970’s very interesting. Since banoffee pie is a british invention, do your rules allow you to use non-british ingredients to make it?

  8. This is wonderful! And I wish you well with your project. I try to buy everything from as close to home as possible. Can’t imagine not liking potatoes! You should try my Perfect Mashed Potatoes. Can’t imagine life without mash!

  9. I have always been interested in historic British cooking and have quite a big collection of recipe books. Inevitably old recipes use mostly British ingredients, so may be a good place to look for ideas.

    My personal favourites are Dorothy Hartley’s Food in England, and Florence White’s Good Food in England. Do you allow yourselves to borrow books from libraries, as I suspect the books were printed elsewhere… Some recipes, even very old ones, do employ spices sometimes, but there are still lots of delicious-sounding things to cook using British produce. You could try growing your own saffron (!)

  10. If food is leaving you a bit uninspired at the mo, why not think about what you eat the food from? It is surprising how lovely presentation on a beautiful plate can really change how you think about what you eat. Cressida Borret is one of the newest makers on Her favourite season is spring and we thing eating your home made pasta out of one of Cressida’s bowls just might lift your spirits….Just a thought. Keep up the good work of supporting all things British!

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