In vegetable growing circles, Morton, Illinois, is the undisputed pumpkin growing capital of the world.
Yet this weekend, in the heart of the British countryside, monster specimens of this fascinating fruit, will be on display at the Malvern Autumn Show (28th & 29th September).
Amateur growers across the country have been busily growing prize pumpkins for the last few months and ten of the best will be among the bumper crop of 270 giant vegetables, ranging from parsnips, onions and marrows, to leeks, carrots and runner beans – all of them entered into the prestigious UK National Giant Vegetables Championship.
The competition makes its debut at the Three Counties Showground in Worcestershire this year, following its move from Somerset’s Royal Bath & West Showground, where it has been staged since 1997.
Pumpkins were completely unknown in Europe before the time of Columbus, although they have been grown in America for over 5,000 years! Like gourds and other varieties of squash, they belong to the Cucurbitacae family, which also includes cucumbers and gherkins, and in the peak growing season, a giant pumpkin can gain 50lbs in weight per day.
It’s easy to grow pumpkins in a home vegetable plot, though they do have a tendency to spread out a bit, so they need a bit of space to grow into. We’ve been growing them down on the plot for years now. There’s nothing more rewarding that sowing a few seeds in spring that lead to a crop of tasty winter squashes in late Autumn – this year we’re giving Waltham Butternut and Sweet Dumpling squashes a try and they’ve been coming on very nicely.
The show sounds like a great way to get a bit of inspiration for next year’s vegetable plot – there will be a Good Life Pavilion with edible gardens and Britain’s favourite baker, Mary Berry is a headline guest on Saturday.
What would life be like without the wonderful and versatile sandwich? They’re as perfect for picnics as they are for a quick and easy working lunch and are great to keep hungry kids happy whatever the time of day.
Tomorrow marks the start of British Sandwich Week and this year it’s a celebration of 250 years of sandwiches, because it was back in 1762 that the Earl of Sandwich made his famous request for some ‘cuts of beef’ to be brought to him between slices of bread so that he could continue his game of cards and eat without getting his hands dirty! Although ordinary folk had undoubtedly eaten various foodstuffs between bread before his legendary request, it was his snack that became known as a ‘sandwich’ and its popularity soared.
Who’d have thought the sandwich would come so far? According to the British Sandwich Association, we now chomp our way through a staggering 11.5 billion sandwiches every year, making and eating more than half of them at home. Cheese and ham apparently still rule supreme for the homemade sandwich, but outside the home, chicken is the most popular choice, with cheese, egg, ham and prawn completing the top five.
However, the combinations are endless and only limited by taste and imagination. How about homemade hummus and avocado with a squeeze of fresh lime cushioned between fresh ciabatta, or hot smoked salmon and lemon creme fraiche on crusty wholemeal? Mmmm, sounds delicious we think.
As part of its celebrations for the 250th Anniversary of the Sandwich in 2012, the British Sandwich Association has launched a new consumer website – www.lovesarnies.com – full of recipes and information about sandwiches as well as a competition offering a holiday for two worth about £5,000 in ‘The Sandwich Islands’ now better known as Hawaii.
Estrella Damm, Spain’s leading premium beer brand today announced that a series of exclusive Estrella Damm Beer & Tapas Master Classes will be available to visitors at the ‘Taste of London’ food and drink festival, which is being held in Regent’s Park, London between 16th and 19th June.
During the festival, Tapas Revolution’s Omar Allibhoy, who was trained by El Bulli’s legendary head chef Feran Adrià, will create a feast for the senses with demonstrations of how to create innovative tapas such as ‘Roasted pepper and anchovy’, ‘Endives & Valdeon cheese foam’, ‘Morcilla de Burgos’ and ‘Mussels in escabeche’.
Food and drink lovers visiting the Estrella Damm stand at Taste of London will be able to sample these exclusive tapas – and as they have been created especially to compliment Estrella Damm beer, they may well be tempted to try the match themselves!
The brand’s appearance at the event coincides with the premiere of Estrella Damm’s new short film, ‘elBulli’ which was filmed in the legendary Spanish restaurant. It follows four young chefs in training at El Bulli during an idyllic summer. UK cinemagoers will have to wait until August to see the edited clip, but the full-length version is already available for on-line viewing.