Dry January and rations return


The Post Christmas Slump: The turkey curry has been relegated to the dog bowl, the Christmas tree is on the bonfire… and to make matters worse the nation is gripped by the self-inflicted notion of “Dry January”. Luckily for those virtuous soles ‘going dry’, Seedlip has arrived on the scene to provide some much needed relief. The world’s first non-alcoholic spirit is a wonderful infusion of distilled botanicals- without the addition of alcohol and sugar. Drink with Fevertree tonic for a sober take on G&T. The brains behind Seedlip, tee-totaller Ben Branson, lives just down the road in Amersham- so we were only too pleased to be one of the first stockists in the Chilterns.

The farm is certainly not dry, wintery weather- freezing temperatures, sleet and even a smattering of snow- is making progress in the fields a tricky and muddy business. A problem felt only too keenly on the continent; images of frosty broccoli and rotting iceberg lettuces have made headlines as supermarkets report an unprecedented shortage of produce. Importing some 85% of vegetables from Europe may ensure that British shoppers have a full range of produce- from asparagus to aubergines- at their fingertips 12 months of the year; but it has also resulted in a real divorce from seasonality in Britons’ eating habits. At times like these the merits of seasonal eating seem even more apparent. Earthy roots such as potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, celeriac and turnips lend themselves perfectly to winter cooking. Don’t stop at roasts- try them in creamy gratins, spiced in curries, or pureed and served with fish or game meats. Experimenting with winter greens has never been easier with the plethora of cookbooks now on the market- buzz words such as “vegan” and “clean” no longer means dull and tasteless. Sprinkle kale with olive oil and salt before roasting into ‘crisps” or try an oriental style kale and sesame salad. Sprouts can be roasted and mixed with apples, parmesan, walnuts and bacon for a hearty warm salad. A recent meal at ‘The Mash Inn’, Radnage, (highly recommended!) included barbequed purple sprouting, delicate shavings of romanesco (a cauliflower variety), and lightly pickled candy beetroot with homemade curd – all seasonal, British, and totally delicious! Not a pricey courgette or rationed iceberg in sight- and all the better for it.