The Fife Diet blog saga: Day 0

We index properly here at Kamikaze Cookery. That’s why our first season of shows was Season 0. In similar vein, we present our daily blogs from the first day of Fife Diet Week.

h1. Day 0 (29th March)

h2(#day0-alex0). Alex: Untitled. I have agreed, against my better judgement to go on some crazy diet that’s been floating around the internet recently.

p. This diet involves eating solely foods grown in Fife, and avoiding all else. As there is a rather limited amount which one can actually get from Fife, this could be interesting, especially with the apparently complete lack of butter, milk or bread (the damn wheat comes from Canada).

p. Yesterday was food getting day, which involved me, Hugh and Paul heading off on a trip to Cupar.

p. Although we’d looked up the names of the places we’d planned to visit, (as referenced by the guy behind the Fife diet, whose name escapes me right now), we didn’t actually bring maps. This led to a great deal of sitting in taxis. Fortunately, the taxi drivers had a bizarrely detailed knowledge of the economy and ecology of Fife*, and one of them managed to deliver us to a farm shop which could actually provide us with potatoes, as well as many other root vegetables grown in Fife, which we hadn’t managed to get from the hippy farm we’d just visited.

p. Vegetables secured, we headed to the Edinburgh Farmers Market today, to get some meat. As only the venison, pork and Bouvrage stalls were there this week, from Fife I bought a tiny amount of venison, a massive amount of pork and a small amount of Bouvrage.

p. So to eat this week I have:

  • Many oatcakes (probably not enough though)

  • about 12 eggs

  • 3kg various types of pork

  • 500g venison

  • 100g venison paté

  • Spinach, pak choi, and cabbage

  • Cail

  • A swede (the vegetable, the other type would be against the diet)

  • Parsnips

  • Carrots

  • Potatoes

  • Some cherry conserve

  • Some sort of fruit jelly stuff

  • 2.25l Bouvrage raspberry fizzy cordial stuff.

p. I’m also allowed salt and pepper, but not butter or any other type of non-fife-grown fat.

p{font-size: smaller}. ** e.g. when asked about a random, slightly grassy field of geese: “Oh those geese aren’t farmed, they’re wild, the farmers normally like geese, because they reduce the grass, but not in that field because that’s growing early harvest barley for the whisky distilling industry, and the geese are eating it”.

h2(#day0-hugh0). Hugh: The Fife Diet, Day 1. Up at the crack of half past nine to head to the Farmer’s Market, where we shall purchase Meat, From Fife.

p. On the upside, it’s amazing how your negotiation power improves if you’re pointing a camera at someone. We got some darned reasonable deals from most places, and really should have tried harder, or indeed at all, to negotiate with the very nice but frighteningly expensive venison stall.

p. We also discovered how few places at the market are from Fife. That would be two of them. Total. With a third right on the border, using Fife raspberries.

p. And thus comes our downside. Neither Jameson’s nor the buffalo place were along today, thus neatly cutting our meat options right in half. I’m feeling fairly well-heeled at the moment, and so have a few pieces of venison. For Paul and Alex, the pickings were distinctly thinner I believe they’re basically eating nothing but pig for protein all week. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I do believe you can have enough porker.

p. Now this *is** a problem that would affect someone living in Fife, too. Either they’re doing all their shopping for the week in one mighty Farmer’s Market shop, in which case they’re as vulnerable to the vagaries of the buggers not turning up as we are, or they’re driving all over Fife to visit each individual farm shop, in which case, erm, that’s a whole Food Miles situation right there.

p. We’re also rapidly learning how easy it is to underestimate how much food we’ll need when you’re really, really buying for the entire week. We assembled a mighty pile of oatcakes yesterday when we were buying them, but looking at them today, we’ve only got 4 packets on average each, and that’s not going to last more than three days. My dozen eggs should really have been closer to two or three dozen. I’m a bit worried on the potato front too, and I suspect I’ll be well and truly out of green veg by the end of the week.

p. And since we are allowed neither tea nor coffee under our rules (since both do actually weigh a reasonable amount, and come from Far Away), the Bouvrage people were very happy to see us, as we bought a crate of big Bouvrage bottles, looked at it, and decided that wasn’t nearly enough.

p. Having said all that, so far the food’s very nice. The eggs (from the aforementioned organic hippy farm) are absolutely marvellous, if a little small, and the venison pate on oatcakes I’ve been snacking on whilst writing this is marvellous.

p. Let’s just hope I’m not down to gnawing on raw swede as the only thing that’s left by Friday.

h2(#day0-paul0). pajh: The Fife Diet: Day 0. They say it takes two meals for civilization to lapse into barbarism.

p. By 2.30pm today we had reached the feudal stage.

p. Yesterday in Fife I bought ten, count ‘em, ten eggs–that being all that was left after Hugh and Alex had filled their baskets. Since I had to rush off for work, I got off the train a stop early and left all my food in the care of my trusted co-presenters.

p. Since I didn’t meet up with them again until this morning, that means I skipped breakfast today. The first meal of my Fife Diet Week was therefore probably the simplest

### Breatharian breakfast > > 1.

p. At the Farmers’ Market today I met up with my trusted co-presenters and collected all of my Fife Diet-approved groceries; which included eight, count ‘em, eight eggs.

p. Hugh declared that they had decided to redistribute the eggs, and that I hadn’t been present when the decision was made.

p. This is apparently because it’s my fault I have a job.

p. The rest of the Fife Diet-approved groceries consisted of vegetables–mostly green ones, which I have no idea what to do with–because, we learned yesterday, there is no bread in Fife. There’s a flour mill in Kirkcaldy, but the wheat comes from Canada. There’s no dairy either, because all of the smaller dairies have closed down.

p. No milk, no butter–no cooking fat even–and now, fewer eggs than I was expecting.

p. On the other hand, I have a line on some Fifeshire cheese. I had to go to one shop to check they had it and then cross town so that I could ask, at the fancy cheesemongers, where the milk came from. Success! Turns out that they have their own herd, so the milk is from Fife, the cheese is made in Fife, and it’s sold in Fife–and I can get it in Edinburgh.

p. With cheese I can have mashed potatoes, omelettes that don’t suck, and–frabjous day!–I can vary the stuff I put on my daily or twice-daily oatcakes.

p. The cheesemonger told me that it was pretty popular, too, and was selling out fast, and as a result I bought all of it–which wasn’t a lot.

p. There followed one of the most satisfying text message conversations I think I’ve ever had:

`From pajh` `I've got cheese.`
`From Hugh` `Woot! The deli?`
`From Alex` `Hurray. Must buy lots`
`From pajh` `I think you may both be misunderstanding my point here, which is that *I*'ve got cheese. How are those stolen eggs tasting now?`
`From Hugh` _rapid capitulation elided_
`From Alex` _rapid capitulation elided_

p. Hugh said in meetings that, in his role as Executive Producer, he “doesn’t do democracy”. This is fine. I don’t do democracy either, but sometimes, when it’s necessary, I will do social Darwinism.

p. I possess the entire supply of Fifeshire cheese available in Edinburgh and, as a result, I now control the entire dairy intake for three men. Though mighty and swift to anger[0], Ours is a benevolent rule. Upon payment of one egg each in tribute, We shall be prepared to meet at the negotiating table to discuss the regulation of my dairy cartel.

p. I’m off now to have some oatcakes (Fishers and Donaldson, Cupar) with venison pate (Fletchers, Auchtermuchty) and rowan jelly (also Fletchers). Perhaps I shall mix it up a bit by having some oatcakes with Cheshire cheese (Anster, Isle of May, Fife).

p. I haven’t tried the cheese yet, but I already know it tastes like victory.

p{font-size: smaller}. –

[0] Not least because of my low blood sugar right now.

h2(#day0-alex1). Alex: Day 1. A remarkably exciting and varied menu today:

### **Breakfast:** Oatcakes with Cherry Conserve > > 1. Get two oatcakes > 2. Spread cherry conserve onto each > 3. Consume >

p. Passable if a little dry.

### **Lunch:** Oatcakes with Venison Paté and some sort of fruit jelly stuff > > 1. Get two oatcakes > 2. Spread pate followed by jelly stuff onto one. > 3. Make a kind of sandwich with the other one, taking care not to break the oatcake (which is fragile) > 4. Consume >

p. Actually went quite well, though I’d have preferred bread or some sort of wheat-based biscuit to oatcakes for this one. Butter would have been nice.

### **Snack:** Raspberries (which I bought in a farm shop in Fife, but had forgot I had) > > > 1. Consume >

p. These were very tasty.

### **Dinner:** Roast Pork joint with roast potatoes and parsnips > > 1. Put all ingredients on foil, on a baking tray in the oven. > 2. Cook according to (misleading) online guidance (for 50 mins at 200C in this case) > 3. Take out of oven > 4. Devour parsnips > 5. Discover that the meat and potatoes are by no means done > 6. Cut potatoes in half, as the parsnips cooked real nice in the pork juices > 7. Get distracted > 8. 30 mins later take out of oven. > 9. Eat the rest. >

p. This was pretty nice, mainly due to the quality of ingredients, rather than any particular skill or attention on my part.

h2(#day0-hugh1). Hugh: Fife Diet: The Recipes: Day 1. So, looking over my pile of meat, veg and assorted Stuff, I have…

  • Some venison mince, venison steak, and venison heart. Save for later in the week when I’m starting to get pissed off.

  • A decent pile of pork: a leg joint, which I will be roasting or sous-videing for cold meat cuts, a pile of bacon, which I think is breakfast and last-day stuff, some chops, some mince, some pork belly for sous-videing, and some bacon bits for soups and stews.

  • 6 duck eggs. Should have bought 12.

  • 7–well, 5 now, post-breakfast–very nice organic hen’s eggs. Would have liked to buy 12, but we cleared the hippies out of their eggs as it was.

  • 4 packets of oatcakes - Not Enough - some rowan jelly, some cherry preserve which we are assured is entirely Fife in origin, and some lovely venison pate which I think is going to go very fast indeed.

  • A big bag of potatoes, 24 of them in all.

  • An equally big bag of carrots. Lots of stuff you can do with carrots. I’ve been meaning to try sous-vide carrots for ages.

  • Three leeks, which are rapidly assuming “rare resource” status in my mind.

  • A swede. I guarantee that’s getting eaten on Friday.

  • Three cabbages, a few parsnips, and some sprouts, which immediately scream “Stir fry me with the bacon!”. Which is quite disturbing, and probably more so for my neighbours. Bloody sprouts.

  • Some pak choi (yes, grown in Fife, by hippies), a bag of spinach, and a bag of kale, which promptly joints the swede on the “getting eaten last” list.

p. Any suggestions?

p. Currently, I’ve got a big pot of soup on the boil:

### Fife Diet Leek, Bacon and Potato Soup > > p. Slice up one leek - should technically be two, but I'm by now very aware I only have three vaguely onion-like things to last me a week. The recipe book says "discard the green bits", but it can fuck off - those are going in the fridge for later use. Get a big pan, heat it to a low heat, and drop in about 250g of bacon bits, which will promptly weld themselves to the pan in the absence of any sort of fat to lubricate it. Chisel them off again and keep them moving. > > p. When a bit of fat has rendered out, which may take a while since this is very good, lean bacon, whack in the chopped leek, and fry for a bit. Grab 6 potatoes, once again being worryingly aware that that's 25% of your week's potato ration, wash them, and slice them into quarters. > > p. After the leek has cooked for a bit, add the potatoes, add a bit of Fletchers' of Auchtermuchty (bloody hell, I think I spelled that right!) jellified stock--about a tablespoon for me--season with salt and pepper, and add boiling water until it covers everything. Cook until the veg is done.

p. Now let’s see how it comes out…

p. [UPDATE: was done very quickly indeed. Blended half of it, mashed the other half, and actually, it’s rather gorgeous. Now to save some of it in the “Pour And Store” bags I impulse-bought some time ago, whose hour has Come At Last…]

h2(day0-paul1). Paul: Fife Diet Day 0: retrospective. <clarkson>Tonight:</clarkson> slow-roasted pork with a root vegetable medley and kale.

p. Got back from the Farmers’ Market today with a rather nice-looking pork joint and a lingering concern about lacking any cooking fat for the whole week. The joint went in the slow cooker with a rather thin stock made with some of the concentrated venison stock from Fletchers–I have one tiny pot of that stuff, don’t want to waste it all at once.

p. Went for a walk, performed high-level manipulation of the free market economy, went to work, came back. Jehane’s flat smells marvellously of high-quality pork. Chucked in a couple of diced potatoes, a bit of the swede[0], and some carrot. Put some porridge oats on to soak for tomorrow morning and steamed some kale.

p. The kale. This was the bit I really wasn’t looking forward to. I was trying to explain my attitude towards green vegetables to my father earlier on, and all I could come up with was “They’re f’ckin’ leaves… who eats leaves?” Admittedly, he couldn’t come up with a reasonable answer for me either. I tentatively nibbled on a bit of the kale, experimentally, and it was disgusting. After I’d steamed it, it was all right–almost like food.

p. Jehane doesn’t seem to own a slotted spoon, so I fished the vegetables out of the stock with a salad fork and set half of them aside for another time.

p. Dinner on Day 0

p. The pork was incredibly tender, falling to bits when I poked at it. With some salt and pepper, our two permitted condiments, the vegetables were perfectly serviceable, even tasty–although I should observe that they’d been slowly stewed in pork and venison stock for a couple of hours. I even ate the kale.

p. There are enough vegetables left over for tomorrow, and enough of that glorious pork to make sandwiches for a week–or would be if I was allowed bread. Hopefully I can skim the fat off the leftover stock in the morning, which will give me something I can use to fry stuff in.

p. The whole thing was washed down with Bouvrage raspberry drink in an attempt to bolster my plummetting blood-sugar levels. I have a splitting headache, but I’ve yet to receive an official ruling on whether paracetamol counts as “locally-sourced”.

p. Also, now I have a stomach ache. This is to be expected. I have never eaten green vegetables before. My entire digestive system is saying, “what the fuck is this stuff?”.

p{font-size: smaller}. –

[0] Or turnip. Or “yellow turnip”. Or rutabaga. Or whatever.