It’s so important to highlight what a fantastic industry we work in and the solid foundations you can build from it, not only as a career but for general life. As a child I was very lucky that my parents were caterers so I was introduced to so many wonderful things very early on.
These days, tomorrow’s meal doesn’t have to be as well planned as it was years ago because we can find good food everywhere. Seasons are extended due to demand and of course we have everyone providing home food delivery services.
In days gone by, if you were faced with the task of feeding your family through the winter months from your own larder, you would have to be a lot more adventurous with the produce to ensure today’s ingredients could sustain your family tomorrow.
My mother was very gifted in the kitchen, not only as a cake decorator but as a hedgerow cook. She would make homemade wine and there would be rhubarb, gooseberries, apples, quince, tomatoes, herbs and all sorts of other wonderful ingredients growing in our garden, which she would nurture and prepare.
The fruits of the moment would be made into crumbles, pies and pastries while others would become jams, preserves and jellies for another time. Vegetables that were grown but not used were pickled, brined or placed in a cold store. Every part of every product was used, and if by chance there was waste such as peelings, they went onto the garden as she felt it improved the soil.
If I ever dug a hole in the garden as a small child I can guarantee you the first words out of my mum’s mouth would be, “it’s good soil that Rich, look!”
Of course the eating of all this wonderful stuff was fantastic, but it’s the ever-lasting memories that she has created for me that’s amazing. The fact that you are giving somebody a life skill is pretty cool too don’t you think?
Now, I won’t pretend that I grow my own produce at home like my mum and have a cookery masterclass with my sons every Sunday lunch, far from it. But I do still prepare things such as Rumtopf, Beetroot wine and sorbet. We pick berries, I show them edible wild plants and I know for a fact that my eldest, Lennon, can tell you when it’s Wild Garlic season from the smell - that’s a food memory that will stay with him for the rest of his life.
I am sure every parent has made pancakes with their little ones, baked a cake or made cornflake cakes. The point I am trying to make is that food is powerful, it brings us together, gets us talking as families and unites us. It can even make us a living and help us travel the world and if you’re lucky it will keep the kids away from watching Ben 10 on your smartphone or tablet long enough for you to have a good root through Facebook!
I have included a very simple but close to my heart recipe by my mother that you can all have a go at and please don’t forget… get your kids involved today to help give them super food powers for tomorrow.
My Mum’s Pickled Beetroot
- 4 bunches of baby beetroot
- 1 star anise
- Vinegar to taste (preferably white wine)
- Brown sugar to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 sprig thyme
- Good quality course grain salt to taste
- ½ onion, chopped roughly
- ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
- 2 pieces of mace
Simmer your well washed beets in well salted water until slightly tender but firm. Strain the beetroots onto a muslin cloth, place over a conical strainer set over a large pan and retain the liquid.
Whilst still warm, peel off the skins. My mum had a separate pair of gardening gloves she would use just for this and wash them each time as she thought you could get more grip and it was quicker and easier.
Into the cooking liquid put sugar to your taste and vinegar until you are happy with the acidity and taste, before seasoning any more with salt.
Place all of the herbs and spices into the mix and simmer for 10 minutes, then take off the heat.
While the liquid is still hot place the beetroots into well washed, sterilised kilner jars. Make sure you leave enough space at the top of the jar to cover the beets in the pickle and allow for them to soak quite a bit up. Stored correctly the pickles should last for at least 8-12 months.
You can enjoy Richard’s pickled beetroot as part of his signature Beetroot dish served in the award-winning 4 AA Rosette Orangery restaurant, find out more.