Ditch the January blues, enjoy good quality, seasonal produce

Baked beans with smoky chorizoBaked beans with smoky chorizo
Baked beans with smoky chorizo
January can be a grey, dreary month at the best of times but throwing the concept of ‘Veganuary’ into the mix just adds insult to injury.

The idea is to cut out all animal products from your diet for the first month of the year. I’m all for cutting down on meat or at least concentrating on buying better quality varieties, but to cut out every animal related product for the most dreigh month is not the most sensible of ideas.

It’s the same as all those new year, new you, notions. Advertisers bombard us before Christmas making us feeling inadequate if we haven’t spent £500 on our

festive lunch. On New Year’s Day they turn the tables and tell us what greedy pigs we’ve been and need to go on a diet immediately.

Veganuary is a concept where we are encouraged to cut out all products from animals for the first month of the year for the sake of our health and the environment. When you consider that diet coke and smoky bacon Pringles are both certifiably vegan this doesn’t add up.

Look at the ingredients of a packet of vegan sausages and they’ll contain soya products, emulsifiers, stabilisers and oils. Most soya comes from the Americas and drives rainforest destruction in Brazil so it’s actually damaging to the environment.

I’m not adverse to the concept of veganism or vegetarianism but think it’s more important to source good quality, seasonal produce whether it’s meat, dairy or vegetables.

Jonny Cuddy is a charcuterie maker, based in Moira, whose salamis and cured meats are respected far and wide. He bravely opened up a deli in the town just before Christmas.

As well as his own products he sells local breads, cheeses, chutneys, oils and vinegars. A small amount of his smoked chorizo goes a long way.

My first recipe is for baked beans using this sweet smoky sausage as the base, with mustard, treacle, aromatics and all combined with tinned beans. It’s simple but very tasty and can be served with grilled meats, chicken or even with an egg on toast.

If you can’t get to the shop itself, Ispini have all their products available to order via mail on their website.

Another great ingredient that goes a long way is good bacon. When you render down a piece of perfectly cured pork until golden and with pure fat released, you have the beginnings of something great. My other recipe adds barley and beans to the mix to make a comforting risotto.

Barley is a lovely ‘soaker upper’ of flavours and it’s combined with some cannellini beans for a hearty dish. It’s topped with some sage leaves fried in butter and generous sprinkling of parmesan. Alternatively you could add some grated local cheese.

My favourite way of eating big bowls of goodness like these two recipes is with a spoon and a big hunk of bread to dip in.

I’ve added my wheaten bread recipe.

Never mind banana bread and sourdough, this timeless classic is hard to beat and devoid of any flaff.

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