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March A Year of Seasonal Cookery

Kathy Cockcroft – The Learning Place


A Year of Seasonal Cookery - March We hope you are enjoying reading our e-books. This time we are going to be looking at the month of March. As well as simply reading the content, there will also be links to web sites and videos for you to watch. We hope you enjoy working through this book, there is a lot going in March. March March is an event packed month. St Patrick's Day gives us an excuse to try the Emerald Isles beautifully wholesome food, while Mother's Day allows us to treat the lady who you think deserves spoiling by cooking breakfast in bed. Spring Lamb Spring is nearly here and lamb is the seasonal meat which is at its best this time of year. Click onto the image below – it will take you to a YouTube video that will provide you with a guide to understanding cuts of lamb.

St Patrick’s Day March 17th is St Patrick’s Day; this is a religious feast day and the anniversary of St Patrick’s death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years. On St. Patrick's Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast. Why not download the recipes that are available on the course and have a go at making your family an Irish feast of your own to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland?

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Seasonal Vegetables The vegetables on the listed below are all available in Britain in March. They are plentiful at this time of year and widely available, which should make them slightly lower in price than any vegetables that are out of season. Go shopping at the local markets to pick up real bargains, try telling the stallholder what you want to spend and what variety of seasonal vegetables he can give you for your money. Parsnips Choose small to medium sized parsnips as larger ones can be fibrous. Always choose firm parsnips rather than limp or shriveled examples. Avoid those with lots of whiskers or brown patches as this indicates they may be rotten. Our delicious recipe for Honey Roast Parsnips can be found in the course folder (March recipes). Sweet Potatoes Sweet potatoes have a creamy texture and a sweet, spicy flavor that makes them ideal for savoury dishes – try topping your cottage pie with these for a change.

Jerusalem Artichoke The white flesh of this vegetable is nutty, sweet and crunchy. It is also a good source of iron.

Leeks These are very versatile and work well when cooked in various recipes or as a side dish. Two of the world's most famous soups, Scotland's cock-a-leekie and France's crème vichyssoise, are based around them. See our recipe for Leek and Potato Soup which can be found in the course folder (March recipes). Cauliflower Choose cauliflowers with pure white heads with no discolouration and crisp green leaves. The colour of the base is a good indication of how recently it's been picked - the whiter, the fresher.

Chicory Look for firm, crisp leaves and avoid those with green tips, as they will be very bitter.

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Purple Sprouting Broccoli Purple sprouting broccoli is at its best between February and April. Choose broccoli with dark greeny-purple leaves and florets. Discard any plants with yellowy florets or wilted leaves

Spinach leaves Buy loose rather than in sweaty plastic bags as this tends to make it mushy. See our recipe for Potato and Spinach Curry which can be found in the course folder (March recipes).

Peppers Look for glossy, firm, evenly coloured peppers, with no soft patches.

Greens and cabbages Full of iron and goodness, spinach, spring cabbage and spring greens arrive in the supermarkets and markets this month. Watercress Buy it in bunches and use immediately for fresh tasting soups or in egg sandwiches. Watch the video where Gordon Ramsey demonstrates how to produce delicious watercress soup.

Seasonal Fruits It is always worth asking the greengrocer what locally grown fruit is available. This reduces food miles, helps communities thrive by employing local people, tastes better because it would most probably have been picked in the last couple of days making it crisp and flavoursome. Use these lovely British fruits in recipes or eat as 1 of your 5 a day as a healthy snack. Bramley Apples Look for firm fruit, with no blemishes, bruising or wrinkles. Don't be fooled by a very shiny skin - many apples are waxed to make them look good; don't discard an apple with dry brown patches ('scald') - it's just the result of overexposure to sunlight and won't affect the quality. 17/06/2013

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Lemons Look for unblemished, firm lemons that feel heavy for their size and have no tinges of green (which indicates that they're under ripe). Avoid very pale lemons, as they are older, and will contain less juice. Apricots An apricot's colour is not always a reliable guide to flavour, but steer clear of very pale varieties, and always avoid wrinkled or blemished skins. The flesh should feel moderately firm with some give. Forced Rhubarb Look for firm, upright stalks. The leaves, which should not be eaten as they are toxic, will tell you how fresh the rhubarb is. Avoid rhubarb with brown or black leaves. See our recipe for Apple & Rhubarb Crumble which can be found in the course folder (March recipes). Bananas Although not grown in this country the bananas coming from overseas are at their best over the next few months.

Jonogold Apples The colouring is yellow of Golden Delicious, with large flushes of red. This is a crisp apple to bite into, with gleaming white flesh. The flavour is sweet but with a lot of balancing acidity - a very pleasant apple. See our recipe for Apple & Rhubarb Crumble which can be found in the course folder (March recipes).

Mother’s Day Mother’s Day is believed to have originated from the 16th century when children were forced to work away from their families, but allowed once a year to see their Mother and attend church with the rest of the family. It is believed that the children (often about 10 years old) who were in service were given this time off by their bosses or 'masters' for that one weekend in order to visit their families. Another custom seems to have been that although people went to their local church where they were living - it was seen that they should attend the 'mother church' or their family church and this coincided with the time they were given off work to visit their Mothers.

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Over the years it has just become a time to celebrate and give thanks for Mothers, Grandmothers and any other female carer for all the hard work she has done for you all year. What better way than let her have a lie in and to bring her a wonderful breakfast in bed using the Scrummy Mother’s Day Granola recipe (which you can find in the March Recipe folder) and a nice glass of orange juice?

Gardening Tip March is a month when you can really get started in the garden but a lot depends on our weather, which can be very unpredictable. Still, never fear if the weather is bad the plants always seem to catch up. March is the last chance to harvest leeks and parsnips. Any leeks you have left in the ground should come up now. Parsnips too should come out of the ground in early March before they try and re-grow. You can store them for a few weeks in damp sand but they know the season and will not hold for long.

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March ebook  

Designed to accompany our online course - a year of seasonal cookery.

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