In late September I had the chance to go to Brazil for a quick visit to the family. It is funny how the place where you form your first memories can bring out so much inspiration.
I had not had the chance to spend much time at home since starting Get Pickled in 2020 (I wonder if anyone can guess why😉). It has been great being back in so many familiar places with different eyes.
I was able to go back to our family’s old country house, which is now home to my brother’s great passion – orchids. Daniel is an award-winning orchid breeder and it is great seeing the old place with teeming with new life. I enjoyed my favourite fruit, pitanga, straight from the tree – itself a cutting from a tree at my great-grandmother’s house. It felt as though I was tasting my own history in its tart and delicious berries.
As spring was just kicking in, I also had the chance to source gorgeous winter cabbages straight from out veg patch, to do my photo shoot for the Frome List. Who better to photograph me with my ferments than my very own plant-obsessed brother? Whatever I was not able to source at the farm, I found in our Mercado Municipal in SãoPaulo – the main food market in the area, a lot like the New Covent Garden in London. This triggered another trip down memory lane . . . in Brazil, we have one of the biggest Japanese communities outside Japan; many of them, when they first immigrated, ended up going to rural areas and doing agricultural work, not least because of the language barrier. And they excelled at it. Growing up, we would source fresh veg only from our weekly market – and the best vegetable stalls would be owned by them.
Going back to a proper market, I could still see the great impact these Japanese had on our food culture. A lot of the stalls are still owned by Japanese families, with a wealth of Asian ingredients like ume (sour plums), mooli and Napa cabbage. I also appreciated for the first time how much they value surplus, as they offer for sale the tops of vegetables and not the just the roots of produce such as carrots, radishes and horseradish. A truly zero-waste system.
This trip truly rekindled my emotional memories of all things plant from my home country and the many cultures that make it so unique!
During October, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Botanic Shed with new and exciting projects for this coming year. During this synergy, I was introduced to the work of the UK’s top medical herbalist, Alex Laird by Botanic Shed and their Food from Soil to Soul Instagram series.
I cooked up a Beetroot recipe to appear in the Botanic Shed diaries in which Alex writes;
“Beetroots are high in nitrates converted by us to nitrates relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Contains the unusual red-purple pigment betalain, strongly antioxidant and possibly an anticancer compound. A good source of folate, iron, potassium and many other nutrients. Beetroot may increase cell uptake of oxygen, hence improved heart and muscle performance. Try raw grated beetroot and celery with olive oil, lemon juice and parsley for its stimulating tonic effects!”
Between Alex and my evocative trip down memory lane, I could not help but think of how much surplus there is to make the most of at this time with all the crops and harvest time.
Cooking apples have had a particularly good season, with the heatwave making them sweeter and bigger than usual. Mine are still going on even now. However, for me, one of the biggest problem harvests at this time of year are pumpkins, with so many being wasted or discarded once Halloween is over.
I have been a busy bee in my kitchen coming up with new ways of using all the goodness in pumpkins.
A favourite recipe of mine is one that uses one of the most unsung seeds, a pumpkin seed butter.
When I was carving my pumpkins for Halloween, I made a point of saving the seeds and roasting them.
They make great snacks but it got me wondering how would they fare in a nut, or better said, seed butter. On the same weekend I took part on a Pumpkin Festival here in Frome, organised by the team behind the Field 2 Fork. I did a demo of pumpkin whole use recipes, and this one was definitely a firm favourite.
Going for the full zero waste approach I used the seeds whole and just slightly salted. However, shop bought seeds are perfectly ok to use as well... In this case I would recommend soaking them, to get them soft and to get rid of phytates. It also helps in case you don’t have any miso at hand – this was actually optional but if you want to add just a slight umami twist to it you can just substitute for a teaspoon of soy sauce or coconut aminos.
1 cup of pumpkin seed
1 tbp of white miso
1 tbp of agave syrup
1 tsp of cinnamon
You might need a high-speed blender or food processor.
Soak the seeds for 20 min. Blend all ingredients to desired consistency. Use immediately, it will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks.
I would recommend spreading it over rice cakes and adding some sliced apples or bananas! Or in any other way you use peanut butter.
1. Amethyst in London for my anniversary dinner . . . What an amazing and inventive tasting menu for the 12 courses for our anniversary.
There was a lot of fermentation being used there!
2. The Newt in Somerset, where I went for a whole-day adventure with my boy. We jumped stumps, spotted deer,
found mushrooms and much more . . .
3. Picked pumpkins at Palette and Pasture for Hallowe’en.
4. Went to Messums Wiltshire for tea and cake and some
half-term art gazing.
5. Took in the Wiltshire country-side at White Sheet Hill, part of the National Trust’s Stourhead Estate.