Saturday, 21 September 2013

(Almost) Free Food!

Soooo, I am luring you into my new blog with the promise of (almost) free food. How good is that?
I don't very often make desserts; I don't have a sweet tooth, I am currently built more for comfort than for speed, so don't need any extra food, plus, generally speaking, I just can't be arsed to cook anything else on top of the main meal.
But, when you have a guest, you have to push the boat out a little, right? OK, so, not much time to shop/cook/prepare and, in any case, money is in short supply in Carrot Towers at present, so it's time to fall back on my favourite dessert - Fruit Crumble.

I decided I could kill two birds with one stone and get the filling for free and get it for less effort by taking Carrot-Girl for a nice walk to pick blackberries and collect some apples from the house along the road who puts a nice big box outside with a "Help Yourself" label on.

When blackberrying alone, I always pick from above the height that I think a dog might wee on. However, Carrot-Girl is four, so the line between where she can reach and where a dog might wee is quite thin.

Best just to rinse well and not think about it too hard. Obviously, I decided not to share that information with Carrot-Man and the guest. And anyway, urine is sterile, isn't it?
Speaking of blackberries, years ago I once went out with a guy who had lived all his life in inner London (Elephant and Castle, for those who know London) but had, just before I met him, moved to the leafy (to his urban mind) Crystal Palace area.

He had a huge and fruitful blackberry bush in his back garden, so I suggested picking them and making some jam or desserts or something.

He looked at me as if I was utterly insane, saying "Are you mad? They are WILD! They will poison you!" To misquote Charlotte Bronte, Reader, I did not marry him. I didn't even stick around until the following blackberry season.

Anyway, enough about badly chosen boyfriends of long ago and back to the recipe. I am using a 2-pint casserole dish, which, if you have a set of three, is probably the middle one.

Rinse the blackberries well (even if you have picked from above dog-wee height), drain and put in the dish. Peel, core and chop your apples and fill the dish (I don't know the weights, I just fill the dish to the top, and left over fruit goes in the freezer until next time).
Next, make the crumble. You will need:
  • 170g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 110g butter or cooking margarine
  • 55g sugar (basic granulated works best - yay, the cheapest is best!)
And this is what you do:
  1. Sift flour and salt into a bowl
  2. Rub in the butter until it looks like lumpy crumbs (below)
  3. Add the sugar (don't forget this, I did once, not good)

Put the topping onto the fruit and cook at 200c for about 45 minutes.

Don't worry about the enormous towering pile, as the crumble cooks the fruit will soften and sink and you'll end up with a flat-ish dessert..............................

.................... a bit like this one:

Yum! It tasted great! We ate three quarters and I polished off the remainder for my breakfast, before anyone else could get up and snaffle it.

You can make this with any fruit all year round. If you use a very tart fruit, like gooseberry or rhubarb, sprinkle some sugar on the fruit and but a sugar bowl out when you serve, so people can sweeten to taste.

So, what free fruit is available in your areas? I swear by the book Food for Free, by Richard Mabey. I've had my copy for years and it's great. Tells you what's edible, what's not and how to use the edible stuff. Maybe I should anomalously post a copy to my ex-boyfriend.

Thanks all for now,
Carrot Cruncher


  1. That looks scrumptious.

  2. Thank you! It is! I love your blog too, I'm now following, I want to see your lovely afghan progressing, I am making a blanket too.

  3. Hi to you, you are braver than me, I still have not actually started a blog, but read (and comment) on quite a few. This is a post very close to my heart, foraging - I love it! Hubby does not understand "why?" but just love the idea of free food. We are currently living on a campsite in Hampshire (far too long a story for now) and whilst it is not the best place to stay, it has apples, a few pears and plums, I had a small batch of damsons, even field mushrooms (hubby does not realise he is eating these!) I have been collecting the windfall apples for the past couple of weeks since we arrived and eating the stewed fruit with porridge for breakfast, far better than the cereal I was having and cheaper too! Anyway, look forward to more postings, good luck with the blog. X

    1. Hi Alison!
      No, Carrot-Man doesn't totally get foraging either. Blackberries, OK, but mushrooms - he thinks I'll kill him. I do forage for mushrooms, I just don't tell him! He's still alive, he's got nothing to worry about.....

      Thanks for the good wishes, I have added a couple of "Follow" options, so if you'd like to keep up with what I'm doing, that would be great.

      You aren't far from me, so if you fancy a foraging trip sometime, let me know.

  4. Love your new Blog, and I think I'd love the crumble even more.

    Food for free (or almost) you just can't beat it can you. My storecupboard is filling up daily, I have to empty the freezer ready for our big move, so this year everything is going in jars, well there's no point in packing empty jars is there they still take up the same space!!

    1. The crumble is goooood! And so is eating the last portion for breakfast before anyone else gets up with the same thought.

      Love reading about Rosy the Dog on your blog - is she planning her own DVD? Am following your blog now, so I can keep up with your exploits!

  5. Alison, I just found your blog and have read it all--backwards. You had me many posts ago but you saved the BEST for last. I love love love crumble, or crisp as we call it here, more than my kids some days. It is the most delectable dish on the planet and there you are-making it and sharing your favorite recipe too. Thanks so much. Your newest follower....