30 August 2010

Hop to it!

The next round of Cracking Good Food cookery classes gets underway on Saturday 11 September, and the first six weeks' sessions will be run in conjunction with Unicorn Grocery and feature various Unicorn members of staff who are also Cracking Cooks.

To kick things off, Kath (pictured) will be leading a Cooks On The Hop special outside Unicorn between noon and 4pm this Saturday (4 September). Kath will be working wonders with a wok and serving up samples of stir-fry to try. Come along and taste her heady mix of spices and seasonal vegetables, and sign up for some or all of our Cracking Good classes while you're there!

23 August 2010

Another food forage special!

On Sunday 12 September, Cracking Good Food are running another forage special! This time, we have arranged a hop at the pioneering Glebelands City Growers on the banks of the River Mersey in Sale. Glebelands operates under Soil Association organic standards to grow healthy fruit and veg without the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides, and sells its produce within five miles of the site to minimise carbon emissions: you can buy Glebelands grown vegetables in Chorlton's Unicorn Grocery, for example.

Cracking Good Food and Glebelands are inviting you over to forage, cook and eat fresh seasonal produce from the flourishing market garden. The hop takes place between 2pm and 5pm at Glebelands City Growers (between 94 and 96 Glebelands Road, Sale, M33 6JR): please come by bus or cycle if you can. We will ask for a small contribution on the day, but BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL! See our website for booking information.

20 August 2010

GUEST BLOG: Hopping in the great outdoors

By guest blogger VIC MASTERS

The weather managed to hold out long enough last Thursday for Cracking Good Food to join forces with Bite to offer two wonderful cooking sessions on the Nell Lane Allotments next to Southern Cemetery.

Bite is a Hulme-based project which works with people who have experience of mental health issues and its aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Manchester through the activities that take place around growing, cooking and eating food. Bite grows food on allotments and community gardens and uses this produce in cafes at day centres and hospitals to provide healthy, affordable meals.

The sessions were led by Nicola, who, as well as being a cook, co-runs Abundance, an organisation that redistributes spare fruit and veg from gardens and allotments to people and organisations who need it. Nicola was assited by regular Cracking Cook Kath (pictured below, mid flow!), who is a chef of many years and works behind the deli at Unicorn Grocery, which supports the Abundance project.

We got cracking gathering together ingredients from the allotment plot. We used delicious freshly picked produce such as sweet beetroot to make a mouthwatering beetroot and lime salad, and Nicola explained how beetroots are an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of fibre. The salad was a lovely accompaniment to our Spanish bocadillos, a kind of sandwich packed with tasty flavours and vitamins.

It’s amazing what can be cooked outdoors with a few simple, seasonal ingredients. And what’s more, the recipes we made were really healthy too and tasted so great, especially sat in the sunshine! If you fancy cooking and eating your five-a-day alfresco, check out the Cracking Good Food website for recipe ideas and to find out what's in season, and pick up handy tips for healthy eating here.

19 August 2010

Rain stops play!

Unfortunately, this week's Cooks On The Hop at Plover Terrace had to be cancelled due to Manchester's inclement weather. However, don't worry - we'll be back on Tuesday 24 August between 5pm and 8pm, dishing up healthy homemade grub to show you how quick, easy, cheap, tasty and fun cooking from scratch can be.

And the following week, on Tuesday 31 August, the Hop will be down on the Lost Plot community allotment on Nell Lane Allotments, cooking up fresh ingredients plucked from the ground and picked from bushes and canes there and then!

17 August 2010

GUEST BLOG: Plover Terrace Hop

By guest blogger AVRIL POVAH

Cooking on a windy field in the middle of Southway Housing's estate just off Nell Lane seemed a tall order, but once me and fellow Cracking Cook Lorenzo had worked out how to erect a gazebo in the gusts, we were away! (Never take us away camping!)

On the menu on Tuesday 3 August was pasta and homemade sauces, full of all those Mediterranean flavours of fresh garlic, purple and green basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil and plump fresh red tomatoes. There were lots of children around that evening, especially after we set up at 5pm; and while we set about boiling and chopping, Adele (our children's entertainment manager) kept them amused with a nutrition game explaining the Eat Well Plate and what foods to eat to follow a balanced diet.

It's so easy to make your own tomato-based Italian sauce for pasta and so much cheaper than buying ready made. Fresh sauces just taste so much nicer too, especially alfresco. We prepared different types of pasta, including wholewheat, and we added fresh broccoli to one of our sauces to get those extra vitamins. Everyone lapped up the tasters we provided and we couldn't cook it quickly enough, especially as we served up around their teatime!

The Hop at Plover Terrace was organised as part of the Lost Plot project on Nell Lane Allotments and funded through Action For Sustainable Living. You can see more photos of the Plover Terrace Hop on our Facebook page!

13 August 2010

GUEST BLOG: Cracking good forage

By guest blogger SARAH-CLARE CONLON

Back in April, I was all geared up for making Sunday lunch for my brother-in-law's family, but they cancelled at the last minute, so I decided to take advantage of the early summer warmth and go on an organised forage on Fletcher Moss in Didsbury instead. I'm so glad the plans changed - the herb hunt was brilliant, the sun shone brightly throughout and I met some really lovely folk, including Jesper Launder, the local herbalist who was running the event. We spent a good three hours rummaging around under bushes and alongside boardwalks, and came out clutching all manner of food, including aniseed-tinged Sweet Cicely, tangy three-cornered leeks, pungent ramsons (wild garlic) and even some meaty St George's mushrooms. We were taught how to identify the correct species and shown some failsafe doublechecking procedures, and, after our wander, I was pleased to source my own plentiful supply of fungi friends a bit closer to home, giving me a free and flavoursome addition to risotto and pasta well into May.

Cracking Good Food is giving you the chance to join Jesper in Chorlton for a wild food workshop and cook-up. The special cracking good forage on Chorlton Ees takes place on Sunday 5 September 2pm-5pm, and you can expect to find mushrooms as well as other edible plants.

Jesper has been collecting wild plants to eat for more than 25 years and this workshop will give you the chance to benefit from his vast identification experience and knowledge of local growing places, and will help you spot the first free bounty of autumn. The amble through the Ees will last about two and half hours and will be capped off with some wild food tasting using the results of your foraging.

The event is the usual £15 or £10 concessions, and full details on booking can be found on the Cracking Good Food website. BOOK EARLY TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT! The food forage sets off from Ivygreen carpark (opposite the Bowling Green pub) at 2pm. Don't forget to dress for the weather, although we will have shelter for when we get cooking!

2 August 2010


Thanks to everyone for making our cracking good cookery classes in June and July such good fun and so well attended! Following the success of these first sessions, we're pleased to announce that Cracking Good Food will be back in September (after a well-earned summer break).

The next round of cookery classes - where you and your friends and family can learn how to rustle up simple, delicious, affordable meals (and sit down together to eat everything you've made at the end!) - have been confirmed for September and October. The three-hour sessions cost just £15 (£10 concessions) and will take place every Saturday from 11 September, 11am-2pm at the well-equipped domestic science rooms at Chorlton High School on Nell Lane. Places are limited to 12 to give everyone a go at prepping and cooking, and so you have the chance to ask plenty of questions!

The sessions confirmed so far, and which you can book now, are...

Saturday 11 September: Gluten-free treats
You'll get your hands on the recipes for lemon and peanut and chocolate and raison biccies, marzipan sweets and non-bake polenta tart by Fernanda from Unicorn Grocery.

Saturday 18 September: Seasonal roots and squashes
Nina from Unicorn will be helping you make pumpkin cheesecake, borscht soup and other autumnal offerings.

Saturday 25 September: Great bakes
Moussaka and lentil bakes using seasonal veg will be among the dishes being made with Richard from Unicorn.

Saturday 2 October: Tasty tofu and tempeh
Lorenzo from Unicorn will be showing you how to use these adaptable vegetarian ingredients in various delicious recipes.

Saturday 9 October: Use your loaf!
Cracking Good Food’s Rob will be taking you through the steps to make the perfect loaf from scratch. So much better than the shop-bought stuff!

Saturday 16 October: Mexican tapas
Back by popular demand! Unicorn's Fernanda will be helping you cook up a fantastic feast of millet and potato tacos, guacamole, salsa, refried beans and tortilla chips. Lip-smackingly good!

(All these sessions are brought to you in conjunction with Unicorn Grocery.)

Book early to avoid disappointment! To book...
• visit our website www.crackinggoodfood.org/cooking-sessions
• pop in to Hickson & Black’s Deli, 559a Barlow Moor Road
• call 0161 881 7070
• email adele@crackinggoodfood.org or fiona@crackinggoodfood.org