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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.
I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps. See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Neighbours bring the taste of Bangladesh

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. This post looks at ways neighbourhood swaps bring the taste of other places into your kitchen - perhaps this will give you inspiration about what to plant or how to deal with the gluts? What feasts could you share with your neighbours? Words from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).


My windfall apples went to one family; bantam eggs to another couple. While the snake
bean and cucumber were very pleasing gifts received by my family.
This was originally written in May 2016 about autumn 2015. It's now September 2017 and I've just had a knock on the door with a lovely neighbour presenting me with a bag of green and purple runner beans. Not long after another came with some books to share at the secondary school... and a few days earlier another offered to take anything I wanted to the dump (recycling centre). Thank you so much to all of you.

Where I live, and like so many London streets, there are many people who are now Londoners but who were born elsewhere - Essex, Yorkshire, Bangladesh. So when it's harvest time (September)  there's a real buzz in our street as people share things that remind them of home recipes often using things they've grown over the summer.
For Essex this could be jam from the street tree pears - an echo of Tiptree jam perhaps? For Yorkshire it's the size of your marrows that counts. And in Bangladesh many families are expert gourd and bean growers.
While giving away a few of my windfall apples I met a Bangladeshi lady and her daughter coming back from their allotment with the most amazingly long fat beans. I know them as snake beans (or serpent gourds) that are hard to get fresh in London - unless you know a skilled gardener. I probably admired too much because the pair then gave me a chunk of their bean which had broken on the way back from the veg plot.  In return I gave them a couple of bantam eggs as my lovely new bantams are doing some great egg production at the moment (ie, one a day, so not very prolific).

This is the blackbird that pecks a hole into most of my apples. However his
lady friend is a fine snail eater and he is the best singer in town...
Snake bean in breadcrumbs for four.
I lightly peeled the snake bean and was able to use it in two meals. First lightly coated in bantam egg and breadcrumbs, which I then fried and added to the top of a noodle dish I was reheating (see photo). This turned out to be a really successful meal, partly because it was something different. The following day I made a spicy ratatouille using the last portion of snake bean instead of courgettes.

The snake bean peel was also enjoyed by my two bantams. No surprise, except that they can be ridiculously fussy thanks to being in such a small flock.

How lovely it is to share things you've grown with green-fingered neighbours who share their garden deliciousness too.

Places to find snake gourd and Asian veg seeds, as quoted in the Guardian newspaper are:

Over to you?
What goodies have you been swapping or sharing with neighbours?

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