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Pick of the crop

The latest offering mined from Hastings’ rich seam of culinary knowledge is Hastings Harvest, a seasonal cookbook. For each month a local person – food producer, retailer, baker – provides several recipes appropriate to that time of year.
The odd month out is February, for which 90-year-old Francesca Inskipp draws on her Dig for Victory! memories to provide us with some plain wartime recipes.
They are based on not very much – the eating was healthy then but the cook’s skill lay in making the plain fare interesting and flavoursome.
Nowadays we are spoilt for choice – the notion of seasonality has been submerged in a wave of imported this and that from all across the globe.
Now, as we question whether globalised food is sustainable, the reaction has begun, and Hastings Harvest is part of that movement, proclaiming the virtues of growing your own and buying locally grown produce from local stores.
The message is clearly spelt out in the notes about each month’s contributor by Rachel Holtom, whose brainchild the book was, and co-author Pauline Lee.
The cookbook is not meant only for those who are already familiar with the message. “I wanted to do the book not to preach to the converted, but hopefully to reach a few people who wouldn’t have thought about the importance of food miles and supporting local producers and local shops,” Rachel tells HOT.
The sales proceeds are dedicated to Friary Gardens, the Parchment Trust’s horticultural centre on the Ridge for adults with learning disabilities or mental health problems, where Rachel herself used to work.
“It made sense to promote what they do there, because it’s also about therapeutic horticulture which is something I feel very passionately about,” she says. “And it also made sense, as it’s a book about growing things, to do it for a charity which grows things.
The project was funded by Sussex Community Foundation with a £3,000 grant.
Once this part of the country used to be called London’s larder, as the cookbook points out. That is no longer the case, but London’s loss is the locals’ gain, and Hastings Harvest is a valuable addition to an ever-growing body of work aimed at bringing food production back home.

Hastings Harvest – A Seasonal Cook Book, by Rachel Holtom and Pauline Lee. On sale for £5 from Judges, Made in Hastings and Penbuckles (all in Hastings Old Town High Street), Trinity Wholefoods and Waterstone’s (town centre), McCarrons, Plenty and The Arts Forum (St Leonards).

Posted 23:51 Wednesday, Jul 27, 2011 In: Food & Drink

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