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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 13 December, 2018
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'Gardening can be a major turn off for people but food growing is not about gardening, it’s about food'

“It’s been a particular bugbear of mine for years that food growing is always presented as a gardening thing”, writes Michael Kelly.

Michael Kelly Grower

I WAS LOOKING through some old notes and things this week, and was surprised to discover that we did our first real pitch for a GIY TV series way back in 2011. Seven years later and we’re finally getting GIY in to sittings rooms everywhere.

So, that didn’t take long, did it??! GROW COOK EAT will be on for seven weeks presented by yours truly and the wonderful Karen O’Donohoe.

Each week we will take a particular veg and take viewers on a plot-to-plate journey showing them how to grow and cook with the veg. Along the way, we will be visiting GIY projects in communities, workplaces and schools, and getting tips from some amazing, sustainable commercial growers.

Watching a preview this week I was struck by how incredibly odd it is to watch yourself on TV – you really just have to park any sense of pride or vanity and just go with it. It goes without saying that this is a huge moment for the GIY movement. I mean, of course the media landscape has changed utterly, but in Ireland there’s still nothing quite like TV to reach a large audience (we hope).

In a seven week run, I guess it’s reasonable to expect an audience of well over a million people. If we can get even a minority percentage of those viewers motivated and informed enough to crack on and do some growing that will be massive. Particularly since we know that even a small amount of food growing can have a transformative effect on people’s diets and overall health.

Unashamedly about food 

Perhaps of equal significance is how food growing will be portrayed in the show. It’s been a particular bugbear of mine for years that food growing is always presented as a gardening thing.

In books, in newspaper articles and on TV it’s always a bit of a gardening after-thought, sandwiched in between information on growing good dahlias and deadheading rhododendrons.

For me, food growing is not about gardening at all, it’s about food. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with gardening, and I love my garden – but making it about gardening can be a major turnoff for people, particularly younger people. So, GROW COOK EAT is unashamedly about food. Growing it, cooking it, loving it. In the process, we want to keep it really accessible – so, don’t expect any weird horticultural terms or Latin names.

Expect plenty of craic, a bit of banter, a little innuendo, but above all, lots and lots of food. I will be watching from behind the couch.

The Basics – Sowing Aubergines

Aubergines can be a little tricky to grow well. They require a reasonably fertile soil, good ventilation and a long growing season. You need to sow them as early as possible, certainly by mid March. Sow five seeds in a 9cm pot and place it on a warm sunny windowsill or on a heated propagator. They will need temperatures of about 18-20 degrees Celsius to germinate.

About a week after the seedlings have appeared, prick them out and put each seedling in a 7cm pot. About a month later (when 5cm high) pot them on again in to 10cm pots.

Recipe of the Week – Garlic Confit Yeast Bread

So the supermarket shelves are empty of bread? Fear not. Here’s our Head Chef JB’s recipe for amazing garlic confit yeast bread rolls that you have to try.

Ingredients

  • 1 large whole garlic bulb
  • 30cl olive oil
  • 500g strong flour
  • 1 small tea spoon of sea salt
  • 25g of fresh yeast (or 7g of dry instant yeast)
  • 30cl warm water

Directions

For the roast garlic: place the whole garlic bulb (skin on) in a small oven proof dish, pour over the olive oil and bake for 1.5 hour at 110˚c. Let the garlic cool in the oil. Take the garlic out of the oil and squeeze the soft confit garlic pulp out of the skin on to a plate.

In a large mixing bowl mix the flour with the salt. In a smaller mixing bowl whisk the yeast in the warm water (for the warm water I use 20cl of cold water and 10cl of boiling water). Knead the water in the flour for 7 to 10 minutes until the dough is firm and elastic. Put the dough in a clean mixing bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place for the first proof of the dough. The dough should double in size.

Knead back down the dough and incorporate the garlic pulp and add a little more strong flour if needed. Work the dough for a further 5 minutes. Shape the bread rolls (100g each), place them on a parchment paper on a roasting tray and leave them in a warm place for the second proof. When the bread rolls doubled size, bake for 17 minutes at 190˚C. Let the bread rolls cooling slightly before serving.

Michael Kelly is founder of GIY and GROW HQ. GROW COOK EAT starts on Wednesday 14 March at 7.30pm on RTE 1.

Click here for more GIY tips and recipes.

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About the author:

Michael Kelly  / Grower

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