Food for free

  Along with the plankton that the basking sharks feed off comes the mackerel. A few folk have been out there and getting a good catch after a long awaited arrival of the tastiest fish in the sea. It is one of the more exciting fish to catch as you rarely catch one and every hook would be full with their irredecent bluey green and silver stripes making them easily identified. Although on occasion you can be proved wrong as an afternoon out pollock fishing and every hook was taken up by sathe and pollock which was very exciting and heavy to pull in! I thought I had got the hooks stuck on the bottom the way the rod bent! It has been a good summer for the crab and lobsters, this year there is two main boats with 4 or 5 creels each and a couple of other folk throwing one or two creels in so the, this is my patch wars have been going on, all in good jest really! With the big tides last month it was perfect for collecting the Spoots/Razor fish (if you are unsure what they are look at an earlier post called spoots showing a video clip of these strange creatures that live under the sand) 

Turning our foraging ways inshore the tasty wee morsals that can be munched on a wee afternoon stroll was the wild strawberries, rasberries, wood sorrel and gooseberry with the hazelnuts and brambles just ripening now. Other fruits which need a bit more attention are the Sloes, gooseberry, Rosehips and Elderberry. Around our community hall there is some established apple trees and the branches are heavy with them this year. I was a bit late in returning to the newly planted fruit trees in our community orchard to catch any 1st year fruits but I did get one picture of one lonely apple! Mushrooms are another seasonal favourite with the field mushrooms being the most common and a tasty treat of Chanterelles can be found here too, everybody has their very own secret location so, sorry no pictures can be taken for you to see! The latest buzz in the local food and the next obvious step is looking into processing our own meat. The first step with is a butchery course planned for next month so watch this space for Eigg’s own meat…

A few handy cooking hints…

 Mackerel – Lightly fried or grilled with garlic and butter. The simpler the better with mackerel as it is so rich in flavour.

Pollock – Can be fried in breadcrumbs, great in pies as it is so meaty but other seafood is needed as pollock is very bland. I think it is best in batter of which again a very simple recipe is 4oz Self Raising Flour, Half teaspoon salt, about Quarter pint of water. Whisk the water into the flour and salt until a smooth thickish consistency. Dip the fish in just before throwing into oil at a heat of 170degrees C, until golden brown. 

Lobster – Bring a large pan of water to the boil, after placing the lobster in once the water comes back to the boil cook for 8min. Beautiful to eat with salad or in a pasta or stir fry dish. If recooking the lobster only ever throw it in at the very end as it can go chewy.

Crab – Same as a lobster although to be cooked for 10mins. Crab is lovely as part of a salad, eaten on its own or in crab cakes.

Last but not least while I am on the subject of food for free – If any of you missed the BBC 1 programme called the Great British Waste Menu it is well worth a watch on iPlayer. It was astonishing how much food they managed to collect for free and then cooked an amazing banquet with it all. It was very interesting on the food waste subject and gave a very clear insight into how much is wasted not just from households but on a much larger scale from supermarkets disgarding it as damaged over ripe or on the sell by date. Not only this but we have all become spoilt and fussy about how our food looks rather than tastes, so used to overstocked shops and seeking visual perfection a huge amount of fruit veg and meat is disgarded before it reaches a supermarket as it does not meet the stadards of size, shape, colour and look. Globally this is quite tragic and opened my eye up to the bigger food waste issue. On Eigg we are lucky not to have such a wide scale problem with our one local shop sourcing local produce when in season and fruit and veg orders that are placed are carefully selected so the amount is judged from our predictable weekly ways and if we require a large amount of anything then you have to place your order a few days in advance. Our shop keeper does an amazing job at keeping the shop well stocked but with minimum waste along with keeping the variety and choice, maybe Tescos and Morrisons could learn a thing or two!

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