Friday, March 11, 2016

Grow Your Own

This time of year is wonderful for a forage around on my walks with the dogs. Spring is sprung and everything is starting to bloom which is perfect timing for Bar sur Loup’s annual Fete de l’Oranger at Easter, when the whole village is decked with oranges and the main street is lined with stalls selling home made orange produce, be it vin d’orange, marmalade, cakes or sweets.

Depending on the time of year, you can find figs, grapefruits, olives, lemons and, of course, oranges (this is the orange valley after all) on my walk. Our mandarin tree is heavy with fruit right now so I came up with a great twist for dessert. Squeeze the juice from three mandarins into a pot of mascarpone and mix well along with the finely chopped rind from half a mandarin. Serve a spoonful (or two) with a piece of gluten free chocolate mud pie…delicious!

There is nothing quite like growing your own, wandering around the garden in the sunshine with a basket collecting figs, plums, chives, parsley, lemons, mandarins and rosemary. Cutting strands of herbs from pots on the windowsill is better than taking them out of a plastic packet in the fridge. But if you can’t grow your own, it makes sense to buy from the local producers who sell seasonal fresh fruit and veg at daily markets.

I have been buying from them for some years now, and if I happen to grab the odd bunch of carrots from a supermarket, Issy (who likes hers raw) refuses to eat them because they taste of chemicals. She solemnly advised me to avoid Spanish produce because it’s high in GMO. Another good reason to buy from local French and Italian growers.

I have just finished marinading my first harvest of olives. The crop wasn’t as plentiful this year but they still taste good, especially when rinsed and marinaded in some fresh lemon juice, garlic and rosemary.

It’s inevitable that I would talk about food today after a week-long stint at the VivaMayr clinic in Austria. When you are existing on 600 calories a day, it’s not surprising that you become obsessed by food. At one meal, I nearly cried when I dropped a cracker on the floor. If the dining room had been less busy, I would have picked it up and wolfed it down without a second thought.

On the upside, I did emerge a few weeks ago feeling lighter, brighter and more energetic after a barrage of exotic and bizarre beauty and medical treatments that keep Hollywood’s A list and various European heads of state running back for more. You can read all about my adventure in Austria in the first of my reports in The Good Spa Guide (spot the deliberate mistake regarding my age!)

As if one hard-core detox was not enough, I did a second self-imposed one last week to keep the FiveDays gang company. It was a walk in the park compared to vegetable broth, herbal tea and not much else in Austria. We finished last Friday with lots of fab feedback, kilos shed and people experiencing less inflammation, better sleep patterns and all round better general health than they had at the start of the week. If that doesn’t deserve a glass of champagne, I don’t know what does. I'm currently road-testing some delicious vegetarian spring recipes for the next FiveDays in early April.

Helen sent me a great tip for making pineapple tea using the skin and core of a fresh pineapple from a great blog called Now that the sun is shining, it's definitely one to try.

Bon weekend!

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