Tips on how to use your Autumn produce

Adapted from my article for Quench magazine

As we welcome the Autumn months and say goodbye to the hot sun, home growers and farmlands find themselves inundated with all those wintery fruits and vegetables that we all know and love. My family absolutely love growing their own produce and each year our garden is swamped with apples, pears, blackberries and butternut squash. We have become well versed in how to get creative in the kitchen and make the best of these foods without getting bored too quickly! Here are some of my faves.

APPLE FRITTERS

I love an apple pudding, and, when it comes to apple season, we have apple crumbles and apple cakes coming out of ears! I love an apple fritter because its quite different to a classic apple pudding and can create a refreshing change. The soft yet crunchy apple encased with a crispy, sweet batter and dosed in golden syrup is a deliciously unhealthy method to switch up your apple pud rotation! Here’s how you make it:

Firstly, put enough vegetable oil in a saucepan to reach about a third of the way up and put it onto a high heat. In a large bowl, mix; 180g flour, 35g sugar, ½ tsp cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, 1 tsp salt and 2 ½ tsp of baking powder. Then add 2 eggs and 180 ml of milk and whisk until combined. Peel about 4-5 large cooking apples, cut them into good size chunks and stir into the batter so that all the pieces of apple are well coated. You will know when the oil is hot enough when you drop a tiny bit of batter in it and it floats up and cook within 30 seconds. When it has reached this temperature, use a slotted spoon to drop the pieces if apple in and leave them to cook for about a minute. Remember to turn them as they cook so they brown evenly. Pat them dry with kitchen roll, put in a bowl, cover with syrup, and enjoy! You won’t regret it!

ROASTED SQUASH AND FETA SALAD

My favourite salad ever is this butternut squash salad and it’s absolutely perfect for Autumn as it’s so warming and makes perfect use of mum’s endless squash produce. It’s the perfect healthy accompaniment to a lasagne, fish meal, or even pasta! Its hearty, warming and here’s how you make it:

Set your oven to 200 degrees Celsius and cut up your butternut squash into 2cm cubes. Once cut, place on a baking try and toss them in olive oil, salt and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for a subtle heat. Put it into the oven and leave for about half an hour until soft, but remember to keep checking it so it doesn’t go to mush! Whilst this is in the oven, pour about half a packet of pine nuts into a small frying pan and dry fry for a few minutes until they begin to brown and soften. Set these aside. Take a packet of rocket salad and lay out on a large serving dish. Add the squash and pine nuts and then crumble over half a packet of feta. Mix together 1 part vinegar to 3 parts olive oil along with a good grind of salt and pepper to make a basic vinaigrette, drizzle over the salad, toss and enjoy!

POACHED PEARS WITH A CHOCOLATE SAUCE

I love a pear and, when perfectly ripe, can easily be one of my favourite fruits. The pears that grow on our tree at home are delicious, but its easy to get bored of a plain pear. My brother has been known to make a killer poached pear that acts as a perfect ending to a good meal. It’s sophisticated and a good way to get in one of your 5 a day! Here’s how he makes it:

Put; 1 litre of water, 300g of caster sugar, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 vanilla pod and the juice of 1 lemon in a saucepan. Then carefully peel 8 pears and place them into the saucepan. Bring the pan to a boil and then let simmer until the pairs are nice and soft. Meanwhile, melt 100g of dark chocolate in a bain marie until completely smooth. Then add 50g of butter, 250 ml of cream and 2 tbsp of caster sugar and stir until well combined. When both pears and chocolate sauce is done, serve together with vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

Sober for October; The first hurdle

“The university climate can be brutal and intense, but nothing I can’t rise above.”

My alcohol consumption may be deemed as marginally unhealthy by the average person (I go to University), and I’ve decided to make a change. On the 1st of October my co-editor, Indigo, from Quench magazine pitched her article idea of ‘Sober for October’ and her plans to write about her experience of a sober month. I thought it was a brilliant idea. That night as I was lying in bed my mind was consumed by this pitch.  Was this the inspiration I needed? Was this the perfect excuse to test myself? I am someone that lives for goals and I truly struggle to achieve without something to work towards. I sat upright in bed as it dawned on me. I needed to be a part of this. I text Indigo straight away to let her know that she had inspired me to follow suit. She immediately responded with the idea to co-write the article. I agreed. Suddenly, I was committed and had the ultimate goal to work towards.

It’s been three days and it’s safe to say that I have had no issues so far. The current social climate of Cardiff and the lockdown measures is definitely helping me due to the forced removal of all club suggestions. I watched my housemate enjoying a couple beers as we watched a film together last night, but, surprisingly, I found it to be light work. I am someone who thoroughly enjoys a casual drink as I genuinely love the taste of alcohol and the gentle buzz generated from that first drink. So, for me to have no inclination to participate in the beer drinking was my first win.

My boyfriend and my mum are my biggest supporters so far. They are both keen for me to cut back my drinking and put my physical and mental health first. This has added an enjoyable amount of pressure as I know that if I fail, I am not just letting myself down, but the people who care about me and I really don’t want that to happen!

I have never felt so inclined to achieve a goal, nor so at one with my decisions. Although many people would not believe a month sober is a big deal, it will be a big deal to me to know that I can do it. The university climate can be brutal and intense, but nothing I can’t rise above.

Stay tuned to find out how I get on!