Welcome to the first of our new series, in which we share what actually happens to all of the veg in our box. We want to break down what it all gets used for in real, busy lives. We all cook and eat differently, and it’s never cookbook-perfect.
First up is me, Saoirse, your friendly veg box admin and newsletter writer. I get my veg box delivery on Thursdays and it feeds me and my partner, Joe.
What I Get
Standard Veg Box
- White Cabbage
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Pak Choi (replacement for lettuce)
Small Fruit Bag
- Red Bartlett Pears
4 Pints Mossgiel Milk
Online Veg Box Shop Order (Lemons, Black Garlic, and Blackthorn Salt)
Putting It Away
I keep my potatoes in a homemade cotton drawstring bag- it has two layers of cotton to keep them dark and cool, and goes in the wash every now and then, so I can keep the potatoes muddy until I need them.
Onions go in a big tupperware box I lost the lid to in a cupboard; the tomatoes need to be at room temperature so they hang out on a counter while the pears and lemons go in the fruit bowl. Everything else has room found for it in the fridge.
Somehow I’m busy enough on the Thursday that I don’t start using my veg box until the following day, when I start with a quick WFH lunch. It’s always tricky balancing wanting a proper break with wanting a proper meal, so most often I eat leftovers, but today I go for a salad, using some non-veg-box lettuce I have in the fridge, a jar of olives from a cupboard, and a slightly old red onion that technically belongs to a flatmate (but which won’t be missed) alongside the incredible crisp and flavourful radishes and the sweet cherry tomatoes from the box. The radishes are the real star so I slice them as thinly as possible and dress the salad in a lemony vinegarette that will complement them. There’s also shaved parmesan and croutons in the salad to make it more of a proper lunch. I want to use the freshest things from my veg box first- the cabbage and whatnot will last a while, but the radishes and tomatoes are at their best eaten as soon as possible.
For dinner, I fancy the cauliflower. Joe is spending the night camping so I only need to make one portion. I chop it the cauli up into florets. Usually, I would include the leaves and stem, but as it’s just me I don’t- it would only go to waste. I toss the chopped cauliflower in olive oil, then in a mix of salt, ground cumin, chilli powder, and tumeric and stick them in the oven. Usually, I use a recipe similar to this one, which makes the cauliflower all caramelised and crunchy- but today I am feeling tired after a long week and, frankly, I can’t be bothered thinking about dinner more than I have to. So I just chuck the cauli in and make some basmati rice and a tahini dressing, and that’s dinner. It’s tasty and filling and that’s what I need it to be.
Well, I wake up all refreshed and ready to cook properly. I start the day with strawberry pancakes, served with golden syrup and freshly whipped cream. I use Nigella’s recipe for the pancake batter, then fold in the chopped strawberries. These berries are amazing- they smell so intensely strawberry-y, the way you’d imagine strawberries to be if you’d only had Haribo strawbs. Smelling them makes me think of sunshine, lazy picnics in the park that stretch out all the long summer afternoon. The weather isn’t suitable for that sort of day-dreaming at all, but I can at least make a good breakfast. The pancakes are fluffy and delicious on their own but I whip some cream while the first ones are cooking and that improves them immeasurably. I don’t make much of a dent in the batter at breakfast, but in the afternoon, Joe comes back from camping, and we polish the rest off with a cup of tea.
After that, we’re not terribly hungry, but I go off to do some clay modelling and Joe has a nap and we eventually do want dinner, so I decide to knock up some okonomiyaki. There is now, thankfully, a definitive Felicity Cloake recipe for these incredible cabbage pancakes for me to point you towards. They’re a wonderful dinner that makes so much out of just half the cabbage in the veg box, plus some spring onions, eggs, and flour. We eat them topped with okonomiyaki sauce and kewpie mayo and enjoy them thoroughly, ending a rare but lovely two-pancake day.
I don’t always roast a chicken on Sundays, but I do like to, since the leftovers are so useful and versatile they get you most of the way through the week. I always make stock with the bones, so that’s a risotto or soup waiting to be made; plus the cold meat usually stretches to two meals at least- a pasta dish, maybe a fried rice, maybe some noodles, maybe just sandwiches. Stretching the meat so far means it’s easier to buy well-raised chickens, which both taste better (and make far better stock) and are much better for the planet.
When I do roast a chicken, I very often now roast it on top of cabbage. This is from Smitten Kitchen, and if you haven’t tried it yet I can’t recommend it enough. The best aspects of the cabbage’s flavours are so encouraged by the heat and the schmaltz and juices running down from the chicken. The cabbage caramelises and seems to melt. The chicken is good too, of course, but this is really a cabbage recipe, and is invaluable in the months when we have a lot of cabbage and not that much else in terms of greens. If you don’t eat meat, I think roasting cabbage with lots of oil or butter and a little veg stock- maybe with a bit of marmite or msg stirred through for umami- would be pretty good. For extra flavour, I add a few quartered onions to the cabbage layer. This uses up the last of the cabbage from the box, and also a half a cabbage from the week before knocking about in the fridge.
I also roast some potatoes. I’m a registered member of the Chapel Farm Potato Fan Club, and roasting them has to be the number one way of celebrating them. I roast them hot in lots of fat so they get creamy in the middle and develop elaborate, crystalline structures of crunch on the edges.
The pears in the fruit bag are really pretty, pink and red and yellow, like little edible sunsets. I decide I want to use them in a crumble so pick up a couple of cooking apples to stretch them. I make a pretty standard crumble, with a classic butter-flour-sugar topping, and serve, due to laziness, with shop-bought custard. Crumble isn’t photogenic, but it’s delicious, and sometimes (all the time) that’s what counts.
After a few days of eating and cooking, most of my veg box has been gobbled up, with only a pak choi left. For lunch, I have some ramen noodles with a little leftover chicken, and simmer the pak choi in the broth (after taking the noodles out), then drizzle the whole thing with chilli oil. On Monday, there are still three days to go before my next veg box arrives, and I supplement it with produce bought elsewhere, planning all the while for what I’ll do with my next veg box.