Sunday, December 21, 2008

Vegging out!

One of the items I’ve had on my list of things to try for way too long is a vegetable box scheme. Well why wouldn’t I? It would be almost like receiving a mini green hamper every week and previous visitors to this little old blog know that ‘hampers are my one weakness’! But my reticence with starting one has always been the age-old ‘how do I deal with the inevitability of being absent when the box arrives?’ It’s not as if I can go to the post office to collect it and the nature of the box demands swift attention.
But my musings were reignited by a terribly kind offer from those lovely people at Abel & Cole to trial one of their legendary vegetable boxes. And on investigating their site and chatting to one of their helpful customer service reps I was given lots of handy suggestions as to where my proposed parcel could lurk in lieu of a handy shed before being lugged to my kitchen. So after informing them that tomatoes mustn’t darken my box, I stood by to give it a go. I knew that Thursday was my delivery day but I wasn’t sure if we’d established which Thursday it would arrive. On returning home I glanced at the couple of sites we’d pondered but there was no box however clearly it had gone into some sort of stealth mode and I didn’t see it until Saturday morning when coincidentally I was on my way to the shops to get some food for my proposed French feast. How I didn’t spot it with one of the bin lids resting jauntily over half of it was a mystery. Perhaps I thought it was rubbish waiting to be collected but there it was lying in wait and eager to be turned into something wonderful.
On revealing the fruit and vegetables therein I was certainly impressed by the bounty. I had a bunch of bananas that MC immediately squirreled away for future snacking knowing that bananas are just yellow tomatoes to me. The mangoes immediately settled what I could make as a light salad tomorrow after the rich excesses of my French feast and the tangerines would add to the festive supplies. The plump firm leeks were immediately pounced on to make a sweet leeks and cider-doused creamy sauce for my Normandy mussel dish; D had designs on the beetroot for their Sunday lunch and I never struggle to find a use for potatoes and even onions, as long as they are finely sliced. The cabbage could accompany the final rashers of smoky bacon or of course, there’s always colcannon. But the earthy mushrooms lurking in their paper bag caught my eye and gave me an idea for properly christening my first vegetable box.
It is Sunday brunch time and there are some leftovers from the lavish French feasting last night and surprisingly some of Harvey Nichol’s finest truffled Brie survived and has been carefully wrapped in waxed paper, perhaps it would like to join forces with my mushrooms and make a heady, highfaluting mushrooms on toast.
Whilst the sliced mushrooms sautéed in some butter and a soupçon of oil, the slice of bread received a slight toasting. The mushrooms are now all lightly bronzed and receive a good few grinds of nutmeg and a little lug of double cream to moisten them. The creamy elixir is tipped onto the slice of toast and topped with a few thick slivers of the truffled Brie and the merest sprinkling of thyme leaves from my sadly very reluctant, shy thyme plant. With a final burnish under the grill to melt the cheese slightly and the fancy-pants mushrooms on toast is ready for its close-up. And as I suspected, it tasted exceedingly good!
Let’s hope I get a chance to do the rest of the box justice before heading off for the Christmas holidays. I regrettably cannot avail myself easily of D and MC’s marvellously abundant allotment so the next best thing will have to a locally sourced, organic vegetable box scheme delivery to my door.
I already have the wonderful “Cooking Outside the Box - the Abel & Cole cookbook” from when it was released a couple of years ago so it’s only seems right and proper that I complement it with the Abel & Cole box, especially now I know that they are experts at dealing with the likelihood of their customers not being around to receive their parcel problem. I guess many of us will be reviewing our dining habits in the inevitable parsimonious months ahead so being creative with spanking fresh vegetables could definitely be a positive and healthy step. Now I know how my box might be camouflaged I wouldn't fail to spot it again.
I think for those of us who aren't vegetable-dodgers (you know who you are) 2009 will have to be the year of embracing the box, I for one am looking forward to it.

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