When I was first asked to write a blog for the PLANT website on low-carbon cooking my first reaction was *??!! I’d never written a blog in my life and I’d barely even read a blog. And what on earth was ‘low-carbon cooking’?
But eventually I was persuaded that blogging was dead easy and that I must know quite a bit about low-carbon cooking since I have a garden, I grow vegetables, and I cook and eat them.
So, with someone to hold my hand, I took my first steps into the world of blogging – or rather writing a web-log; I so hate these contractions. At first I found the WordPress software a bit intimidating since it was full of scary stuff I’d never heard of. What was a tag? What was a pingback? (Still not sure about that one.) What was the difference between a post and a page? And, most importantly, where had all that stuff I’d just written disappeared to? (I’d forgotten to save it.) But it wasn’t long before I got the hang of it and was sending off a post to be moderated by an expert to check I’d done it right. I was encouraged to take photographs of crops and food and to send them to the ‘moderator’ to be added to the text. And my first post ‘Spinach – is it worth it?’ looked really good.
This was back in June when spinach was in season and I’d decided to write about seasonal vegetables and how I cook them. Because that’s basically what low-carbon cooking is all about. If you’ve ever shopped in a supermarket, and who hasn’t, you’ll have noticed how far some vegetables travel, especially the out of season ones. Asparagus from Peru, for example. Incidentally, the amount of water needed to farm asparagus is having a serious environmental impact in Peru. Imported vegetables have a huge carbon footprint, but a vegetable that only travels from the bottom of your garden doesn’t. And you’ll also know how it’s been grown, how fresh it is, and, apart from the cost of the seed and the hours of effort you put in, it’s essentially free. What’s not to like?
‘Spinach – is it worth it?’ was followed by new potatoes, with which I’d had some troubles, so I decided to make it a cautionary tale. Don’t plant potatoes you’ve bought in the supermarket! So, as well as providing recipes, I added a bit about my experiences of growing the particular vegetable – advice I wish I’d had when I was starting out. Because gardening, like blogging, is a learning process. As is cooking. And I’ve learned quite a lot about that too in the past year. I’ve begun to think more about ingredients and how far they’ve travelled. I read labels in the supermarket a bit more carefully (which means shopping takes longer), and I try, where I can, to buy meat from a local farmer’s market. We already had chickens, who provide a very low-carbon source of protein in the form of eggs, and so many of the recipes on my blog are egg-based.
However, writing a low-carbon cooking blog has had its downside, as my better half keeps pointing out. I like to plan what I’m going to cook on a weekly basis. Normally the plan is centred about what I’ve already got in the house that’s about to go off. (Being a dyed-in-the-wool Scot, I hate waste.) Now another element had to be factored in because I had a blogging schedule to maintain. If I was going to include a particular recipe I had to cook it in advance of writing about it – so we’d have a week of courgette-based dishes, for example. Also I had to photograph the result, and I’m not
the world’s best photographer (as those who’ve read my blogs might have noticed). Many’s the time something I’ve cooked has gone cold on the plate while I took pictures of it! But I’m improving. I’ve even started going to a photography course so that I can take better (and hopefully quicker) pictures with my fancy camera.
Gardening is, of course, seasonal, and there were times of the year when other things were going on, so I used the blog to talk about foraging for food and, later, how to make edible but low-carbon Christmas presents. And now, at this time of the year I have very little in my garden that I can eat, so I’ll need to get out to the shops and see what I can find that’s local.
So blogging for PLANT has been challenging and fascinating and I’ve learned a lot. Less than a year since I began, that invitation to blog for the PLANT website has changed my life in lots of ways.
I now know what a blog is and I’ve begun to read other peoples’ blogs to get ideas.
I’m now trusted with taking and adding my own images to the PLANT blog.
I’ve begun to take better photographs of crops and food after starting a photography course.
Having dipped my toe into the blogosphere with my PLANT blogs, I’ve now gone in up to my ankles with a (free) WordPress website and blog for my cat.
Recently I’ve taken a bigger plunge (up to my knees now?) and have set up a hosted website, also using WordPress, for another interest I have. This website is no longer free to set up, although it doesn’t cost much, but it’s a bit more challenging. (What’s a plugin?)
With regards to low-carbon cooking, I’m now much more conscious about where food comes from and when I buy food, I try to buy local.
I’m planning my vegetable and fruit garden for 2016 to give as long a season of fresh fruit and vegetables as possible.
I’ve learned that even an old dog can learn new tricks!