Chorlton Allotments

One of the many cool things we saw in Manchester was the allotment that Graeme and Bernadette are members of along with a small group of other people.  It’s less than a block from their home and situated right on the edge of beautiful Chorlton Park.  One evening we walked through the park, watched a group of young men playing cricket for a while, then stopped at their Allotment before heading back.

In the UK, allotments are small sections of land often owned by local government and rented to individuals usually for the purpose of growing food crops.   They can also be self managed and owned by the allotment holders through an association. Some allotments are even owned by the Church of England.

– Original Allotments:
The history of allotments can be said to go back over a thousand years to when the Saxons would clear a field from woodland which would be held in common. Following the Norman conquest, land ownership became more concentrated in the hands of the manorial lords, monasteries and church. The reformation in the 1540s confiscated much of the church lands but they were transferred via the crown to the lords.

In the late 1500s under Elizabeth I common lands used by the poor for growing food and keeping animals began to be enclosed dispossessing the poor. In compensation allotments of land were attached to tenant cottages. This is the first mention of allotments. – from  www.allotment.org.uk

These days, growing concerns throughout the UK about genetic modification, chemical pollution and contamination of food as well as the desire for the freshest possible local, seasonal food have caused a rise in the demand for allotment spaces, empty plots are filling fast and waiting lists are no longer a thing of the past.

– Some things in season now:
artichoke, asparagus, aubergine, broad beans, broccoli, carrots, courgette, fennel, lettuces & salad leaves, mangetout, new potatoes, onions, peas, radishes, rhubarb, rocket, runner beans, spinach, spring onions, turnips, watercress, cherries, elderflowers, gooseberries, kiwi fruit, strawberries, basil, chives, dill, elderflowers, mint, nasturtium, parsley (curly), parsley (flat-leaf), rosemary, sorrel

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This is one of my favorite times of year when it comes to seasonal cooking, and Native Offerings Farm has hooked us up in the squash department.  I definitely see more of this dish in our Thanksgiving Day future.

This recipe is from the NY Times and it goes really well with a good old fashioned grilled cheese sandwich.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds butternut squash
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Chopped red onion for garnish
  • Chervil leaves for garnish

Preparation

1.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Using a large, heavy knife, split the squash in half and scrape out the seeds and discard them. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and roast until very tender, about 1 hour. Use a spoon to scrape out the flesh; set aside, discarding the skin.
2.
In a large pot set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion just turns golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the stock and squash and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Allow to cool.
3.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor and return it to the pot. Stir in the milk and cream and reheat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve garnished with red onion and chervil.
YIELD
4 to 6 servings