Go to your local show…

Regularly seen as something to do on a Sunday with the ‘olds’ the local show or village gathering is well worth a visit.

The day is often the culmination of many weeks of meetings by the organising committee and the highlight of the social calendar for many.

In the UK many such functions often have a theme which has been handed down for generations. It maybe an agricultural show, a County Show or maybe it celebrates produce such as Apples, Pears or Damsons.

One such show we attended recently was a local village show. To the city slicker it would seem rather quaint and a bit old fashioned, but that is just how it is. 

Cows and sheep, up until a few days earlier minding their own on the meadows and pasture, had been brought to the showfield to be paraded for a coloured rosette or maybe a trophy.  

Washed and brushed and smelling so clean that even the flies stayed away, the animals were trouped in front of fellow farmers awarded the position of Judges for the day.

Sheep

Sheep

In the old days this would have been an excuse for the selling and buying of stock and the Judges decisions may have added the odd few shillings to the price but now, it is just for pride and a job well done.

It is interesting to walk the rows of sheep pens or wait by the animals and just listen and watch. 

From the farmers you get the conversations about machinery and feed prices.  These are often mixed with memories of the good old days and stories about the family. Memories and money … the British farmers lot.

From the visitor comes a totally different view of the world, some arrive at the showfield, after parking their Chelsea tractors on real dirt, dressed as if they were going to a London restaurant or in to town shopping.  

It is always amazing watching the ladies avoiding the ‘cow pancakes’ and walking around on tiptoes over the soft ground trying not to snap off a heel.

Some visitors, who are ‘rural aware’ seem to think they need a uniform for coming to the country. Full length coats, in brown, Dubarry Field Boots, and the obligatory waxed hat seems to be the current vogue.  If warm, then a blue checked shirt, red tie and light tan trousers are the order of the day, topped off with a straw hat.

The fun for the locals comes when the city meets the village. Farmers know their beasts and visitors know the supermarkets, so when faced with a 500kg beast the shopper can learn much about the link between the grass munching dairy cow and the box of milk.

Bargains to be had

The experience of visiting a show is well worth it and along the way you may pick up a few good purchases. 

Most shows have trade stands selling locally produced goods. Don’t dismiss the quality either, just because it is not packed like you would find in a major store.

The backroom producers are experts at getting good value.  Jars are usually recycled, the travelled miles are very much reduced and the tastes are fantastic, due to being made from fresh local produce to ancient family recipies.  

Fresh beetroot

Fresh beetroot

One example of a bargain we made was that of fresh beetroot.  With the recent wet weather many root vegetables have rotted before they can be harvested. This is pushing up the prices in the supermarkets to around £1 per 300g of cooked beetroot.  

We picked up this bag, of ten fresh, or 4kg of beetroot for the same £1. 

Cooking beetroot

This is possibly one of the easiest items to cook.  Just lightly scrub and wash any earth off the flesh under a tap of slow running water. Leave on the root and about 2-3cm of stem (to avoid the beetroot bleeding and losing colour whilst cooking).

Pop them into a pan of water and put on the stove on a low heat and bring the water to a slow boil. I would keep a lid on the pan as the bubbling water can stain.

Peeling beetroot

Peeling beetroot

Keep them cooking until the flesh, when gently skewered  with a knife is soft. This may take a few hours.

Take them off the heat and remove them from the pan placing them on a non staining plate.  Allow to cool.

You can now peel the outer skin away and chop of the top and bottom of the beetroot and it is ready to eat.

Sliced as part of a salad it is a fantastic source of vitamin C, fibre, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and folic acid.

 

Useful Links

Seasonal eating: beetroot
The plant’s aphrodisiac qualities have been attributed to high levels of the mineral boron, which is thought to play a key role in the production of human sex hormones. So forget your oysters and your ginseng, beetroot is the true food of Aphrodite.

Beetroot juice ‘can tame blood pressure’
A daily glass of beetroot juice can help to beat high blood pressure, scientists have claimed.
They found that drinking 500 millilitres of the juice led to significant reductions in blood pressure within hours.
The effect was traced to nitrate in the vegetable which reacted with bacteria in the mouth. This led to chemical changes which resulted in blood vessels dilating to increase blood flow.

Love Beetroot
Fresh beetroot is enjoying a revival as people are discovering there’s more to this great British vegetable than they thought – and we don’t mean the pickled kind. And it’s good for you too.

Gluten free chocolate beetroot muffins
The problem with gluten free muffins, I often find, is that they are dry. Not usually when fresh out of the oven, but often the next day, and almost always on day 2.
When considering this dessicated dilemma, I remembered seeing some TV program or other where they added beetroot for moisture