The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. A review.

One of the key reasons for getting an allotment was to have the space to grow more fruit and vegetables. Energy prices are rising and this ultimately affects the cost of food. By concentrating on growing as much of our food as possible we could eat a healthier diet, cut costs and reduce our carbon footprint.

But if we were to eat more vegetables where would we begin? How could we produce good, tasty, satisfying food? Most of the vegetarian dishes that I’ve tasted over the years have not been very good. Admittedly I first dallied with veggie food in the era of bean burgers and soya sausages. Long before stars like Ottolenghi stepped onto the scene.

As an absolutely traditional meat and two veg sort of person I imagined sitting down to the veg without the meat and possibly a few beans or lentils on the side. Not a great prospect for a carnivore.

We decided to grow as wide a range of vegetables, herbs and fruit as possible to give us the best chance for variety. We wouldn’t be cutting out meat and fish completely – just cutting down. But I wasn’t rally looking forward to the prospect.

Then I spotted that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall had written a new book River Cottage Veg Every Day!. I’m a big fan of HFW – so Danny ordered this book for my birthday. I think that this has been our best investment of 2011.

Hugh’s approach to vegetables is from the green, sustainable and ethical food and fitness standpoint. I agree with his premise – we eat too much meat and who has ever been accused of eating too many veg?

He does admit that he got a bit wobbly at the start of this eat more veg project. His honesty encouraged me. Until I picked up this book, I was thinking the same.

Beautifully designed and photographed the book is a delight in itself. The recipes are quick to prepare which has been a real plus for me. In the past I’ve found that vegetarian food has been a bit of a palaver to prepare. The recipes use ingredients that are easy to find locally. There are adaptations and inspiring suggestions from improving a simple packed lunch to hearty suppers and store cupboard check lists. As HFW notes – this is a workbook.

We have started to cook veggie meals from this book – it’s every other day for us.  Each recipe that we’ve tried has been a revelation. Tasty, satisfying and surprisingly good. Both of us are thrilled and relieved that we found this book so near to the start of our journey towards eating a more home grown and sustainable diet. Suddenly our new challenge is fun and no longer requires teeth clenching courage.

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  1. I love HFW and I’m sure he only brings out a new book to give me something to put on my xmas list!
    I have ALL of his books to date and use them more than anything else. My daughter also uses the Family Cookbook as the recipies are very simple, but nonetheless impressive (especially for a 12 year old!9
    I have the Everyday Cookbook, but I wondered that as the veg section in that is quite extensive,( to anyone who has both), does the Veg repeat a lot of the recipes in his other books?

  2. I’ve been a veggie for 20 years, initially on principal, now a habit I haven’t managed to make myself break! Happily cook meat (as long as it has been nicely reared) for others. I’ve got two standout cookbooks I use:
    “The Gate Easy Vegetarian Cookbook” really tasty food from a few ingredients quickly and “The Modern Vegetarian” by Maira Elia which is more of a weekend cookbook but isn’t overly complicated and again tastes great (Great recipe for a butternut squash tagine and a lavender and orange syrup cake).

    Started my first veg patch this year and have removed seemly endless catepillars from my brocolli to make soup this evening suspect that in a grim way I may no longer be vegetarian!!!
    Happy cooking!

  3. Thank you for the recommendation! I am also a big fan of HFW (even though I still make mistakes in his name, not easy for a non-native speaker 😉 ). I have only the River Cottage Cookbook and still hesitate which one I should buy next, but every single recipe I have made was a huge success too. I went even as far as making black pudding (even twice) in a cake form, as he suggested. It was excellent and I loved playing with blood in the kitchen 😉

  4. Kooky Girl

    Well done! I often go for a veggie option myself, and I love fish. I don’t make a big deal about meat and my little CC doesn’t like it at all. My latest book ‘The Great British Bake off’ is my must buy of the moment. All the best and Happy Cooking ! Kg.

  5. Seconded for Nadine Abensur’s Cranks Bible! She’s really imaginative, and her dishes are so tasty and intriguing that carnivores won’t notice the lack of meat. I love her vegetarian “bouillabaisse”. Some of the recipes are enough effort to be for special occasions only, but there’s simple stuff in there too. One of my favourite cookbooks. It’s out of print AFAIK, but look out for a second-hand copy on Abebooks or similar sites.

    Other good resources for home-growers are Jane Grigson’s Fruit and Vegetable books, because they are organised alphabetically by fruit/veg, making it very easy to find recipes for what you’ve got.

  6. Tanya @ Lovely Greens

    HAHA! I don’t think Hugh will stick to it 😉 You can clearly see his dedication to carnivorism from the rapture on his face while tucking into anything meaty. I’ll check out the book though! I’m a fan of veggie cookbooks and Veganomicon is another great one if you’re interested in experimenting with Vegan recipes. Some of them are excellent! On another note, I’m a dedicated allotmenteer and have to say that while it’s very satisfying and healthy to grow your own veg, having an allotment is unfortunately not going to save you much money. After yearly rentals (which are on average about £100), seed expenditure and poor summer weather are through, you’ll be lucky if you’re not spending more on your fruit and veg!

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