Michelle Darmody: How to help the planet through food

Michelle Darmody: How to help the planet through food

Today’s Weekend magazine is focusing its attention on environmental sustainability. This is a hugely important subject in relation to food, the emissions and damage that the current food industry inflict on the environment is unparalleled.

We now have a huge variety of food at our fingertips, no matter the season or where it was grown. Much of today’s food is ultra-processed in factories that resemble futuristic science labs rather than kitchens. Our modern food system has undoubtedly created some huge benefits for humankind, but it has also damaged our rivers, soil, seas, and skies. The recent global pandemic has caused cracks in our normality and I hope we emerge from the sadness with a cleaner world and a food system that is more in harmony with the natural world.

One thing we can do right now is to support local food production. We have nutritious and delicious produce here in Ireland and if we can help those that produce it, to not only stay in businesses, but even to thrive, we may over time rely less on imports and large producers.

We have always brought in foods into Ireland that we cannot grow in our temperate climate; spices and nuts, lemons and olive oil, but when we can create food here it is good to make the choice for the local product. Butter, milk, oats, honey, strawberries, rhubarb, sea salt, and eggs from the following recipes can all be produced on the island and as for the flour and oats we have some excellent smaller mills along with the larger ones. Irish coarse stone ground flours such as Macroom and Dunany, add a lovely nuttiness to the brown scones, which are sweetened with just a hint of honey.

Brown scones with coarse wholemeal flour

Michelle Darmody: How to help the planet through food

    Ingredients
  • 140g of plain flour
  • 280g of coarse ground wholemeal flour
  • 1 level tsp of bread soda
  • 1/4 level tsp of baking powder
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 60g of cold butter, cubed
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Enough milk, so when added to the eggs it makes 280ml altogether
  • 2 tsp of Irish honey

Preheat oven to 200 degrees and line a large, flat baking tray with parchment.

Mix the flours, bread soda, baking powder, and salt. Rub in the cold butter until it looks like roughbreadcrumbs.

Lightly beat the eggs and add enough milk so that you have 280ml in total. Stir in the honey. Add this to the other mixture and bring it together to form a dough.

Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and pat to about an inch and a half in thickness. Cut with a cutter so you get about 10 scones. Place apart on a baking tray and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, until golden on top and baked through. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Rhubarb and strawberry loaf

Michelle Darmody: How to help the planet through food

    Ingredients
  • 350g of rhubarb, stalksremoved and cut into cubes
  • 170g of soft butter
  • 160g of golden caster sugar
  • 1 egg and 1 extra egg yolk
  • 1 tsp of almond essence
  • 170g of self-raising flour
  • 170g of ground almonds
  • 100g of strawberries, green stalks removed and large ones halved

Preheat oven to 160 degrees and line a 2lb loaf tin with parchment.

Stew the rhubarb in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat until it is just about to go soft, but still holds its shape. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add in egg and egg yolk, as well as the almond essence, and combine them with the butter mixture.

Add in the flour and ground almonds andcombine them as well. Scoop the mixture into the prepared tin. Dot the rhubarb and strawberries on top and press down slightly.

Bake for an hour or until the cake mixture is baked through. Allow to cool in the tin.

Irish oat cookies

Michelle Darmody: How to help the planet through food

    Ingredients
  • 250g of soft butter
  • 130g of light brown sugar
  • 150g of self raising flour
  • 225g of porridge oats
  • 250g of chopped nuts or dried fruit, or a combination of both

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a large, flat baking tray with parchment.

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in the flour and oats and mix well. Add the nuts and mix again.

Roll into a log shape, wrap in parchment and refrigerate.The log can be easily sliced with a warm knife to the size you want, you should get about 10 large cookies. Bake them for 15 to 20 minutes until they are turning golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack.


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