|Boskoop Rouge apples from Chegworth Valley at Borough Market|
1've come to give you fruit from out my orchard, Of wide report.
I have trees there that bear me many apples. Of every sort:
Clear, streaked; red and russet; green and golden: Sour and sweet.
This apple's from a tree yet unbeholden, Where two kinds meet,
So that this side is red without a dapple,
And this side's hue is clear and snowy.
It's a lovely apple. It is for you.
Within are five black pips as big as peas, As you will find,
Potent to breed you five great apple trees Of varying kind:
To breed you wood for fire, leaves for shade, apples for sauce.
Oh, this is a good apple for a maid, It is a cross,
Fine on the finer, so the flesh is tight, And grained like silk.
Sweet Burning gave the red side, and the white is Meadow Milk.
Eat it, and you will taste more than the fruit: The blossom, too,
The sun, the air, the darkness at the root, The rain, the dew,
The earth we came to, and the time we flee, The fire and the breast.
I claim the white part, maiden, that's for me.
You take the rest.
Louise Bogan (1987-1970)
Sadly, my favourite tender vegetable crops are disappearing as the first frosts appear in November, but it is not all doom and gloom. This is a good month for hardier vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, leeks, parsnips, potatoes and sprouts as well as traditional British fruits such as apples and pears. And keep an eye out for my favourite quinces. Not only do they taste good (in cakes and crumbles or as an accompaniment to game, lamb and pork), but uncooked, their fragrance will actually imbue your house with enticing fruit aromas.
Now is the time to start searching out game, the season of which is now in full swing. I can also thoroughly recommend a trip down to Borough Market to explore all their game and wild food offerings. Actually sourcing game should actually be easier for us city dwellers, since supermarkets such as Budgens and Marks+Spencers have started selling it; (as a result of a change in the law. Hurrah!)
Although while I shall probably be looking for partridge, pheasant and pigeon, as I think I may have to draw a line at squirrel; (as Julian Barnes wrote, the are just a "rat with good PR"!) Remember that wild game in particular is low in fat and high in protein. If you're feeling squeamish about fluffy animals being killed in the wild, well in many cases, for example with herds of deer, the herd needs to be kept to a particular size to maintain the health of all the deer. It's a case of culling to be kind. So why not benefit for this, rather than letting it go to waste? Besides, it tastes good too.
This is the time of year that I start making my favourite winter warming soups - mushroom, celeriac and blue cheese, and pumpkin. A hearty beef and ale stew or a soothing but spicy curry won't go amiss either.
And before I forget, the last Sunday before Advent is Stir-up Sunday - the traditional time to make your Christmas mincemeat, pudding and Christmas cake. This year, it is on 23th November and there is a good mincemeat recipe from 2011 or one from 2012. .
vegetables, herbs and wild greens:
artichokes (globe), artichokes (Jerusalem), beetroot, borlotti beans (for podding), broccoli (calabrese), Brussels sprouts, Brussels tops, cabbages (various green varieties, red and white), cardoons, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chard, chicory, endive, greens (spring and winter), leeks, lettuce, nettles, onions, oyster mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins (and squashes), salsify, swede, turnips, watercress, wood blewits
fruit and nuts:
apples, chestnuts, cranberries, hazelnuts, medlars, pears, quinces, raspberries, rosehips, sloes, walnuts
meat and game: beef, chicken, goose (wild), grouse, hare, mallard, mutton, partridge, pheasant, pork, rabbit, turkey, wood pigeon
fish and shellfish:cockles, cod, crab (brown and hen), hake, herring, lobster, mackerel, mussels, oysters (native and rock), prawns, scallops, sea bass, shrimp, sprats, squid, whiting