Interview with Capability Brown

RoWAN:-How long has your business been around in Inverness , and where can local people sample your produce?

Capability Brown:-I have been trading since September 2011. They can buy my products directly from me via my Friday delivery boxes, at my Wee Croft Shop which is open Sunday afternoons from the end of April to end of September, at various different food events, Oil and Vinegar, Union Street in the Spring and Summer, River House Restaurant

RoWAN:- Can you tell us where your passion for using seasonal local produce comes from?

 Basically it’s in my blood.  My Dad was a farm labourer and my Mum was a full time Mum who cooked good basic seasonal healthy food.  Also my Dad’s family are Romany travellers and the old travellers have a great affinity with nature, seasons, zero waste etc and this is how I was brought up.  If all you have in your garden or in your cupboard is tatties, onions and oatmeal, then that’s what you eat and you make as many meals out of it as you can.

I love food and I love trying food and will eat just about anything once but if you eat strawberries in December in Scotland you can’t appreciate strawberries in July in Scotland because there is no comparison. I look forward to the different seasons and appreciate them.  We live in a country that has different seasons so why do we want to eat out of season, it makes no sense to me to have salad tatties all year round.

I also don’t want to eat things that have been flown thousands of miles around the world, coated in chemicals, then wrapped in plastic.

RoWAN:- We had the pleasure of trying some of your lovely baking today, can you tell us what inspires your recipe ideas?

Thank you.  Simple answer is everything inspires me, where I live, who I talk to, what I read, who I speak to, other bakers and chefs, TV.  I am pretty sure I have a good pallet because I enjoy food so much and ideas and recipes go through my head pretty much all the time.  I also get bored very easily so am always coming up with new ideas, which my customers seem to really like.  I do have some favourites like my Plum Duffs and my sticky black gingerbread etc and my inspiration for them is my childhood and my husband’s childhood.

I also have a passion for food history, for example the oldest recipe I use and have adapted is for seed cake, which dates back to the sixteenth century but my version of it has been published in several books.

RoWAN:- Can you tell us a wee bit more about the Real Bread Campaign you are involved in?

They are a National organisation who campaign for real bread and try to educate people about what real bread is and how bad processed bread is.  We have eaten bread for thousands of years and there is a version of bread in every culture but in the 1960s in Britain the Chorleywood process was invented which speeds up the bread making process, therefore allowing big commercial bakeries and supermarkets to make more and make them quicker.  It really is a scary process which you can google.  Although I cannot prove it as I am not from a scientific background, there were also NO known cases of Coeliac Disease before that time.

The Real Bread Campaign state that to be a member you have to prove your dough slowly and not use bleached flours or any artificial additives or flour enhancers. 

Bread has been given a bit of a bad name lately as there is an ever growing trend that states that gluten and wheat is bad for you, but I believe it’s not bad for you and we actually need it in our diets as it has important fibre, nutrients etc. 

RoWAN:-We were very interested to hear that you often used wildflowers and foraged goods in your recipes, what are some of your favourite flowers to use?

I love wild food for a number of reasons, its free, its local, its seasonal, again people have been foraging since the beginning of time, so why not.  Some of my favourites are Gorse flowers, nettles, rose petals, wild blaeberries, brambles and hawthorn leaves.  I could go on as I love elderflower and elderberries too.  And the lovely thing is, they are all on my doorstep and that’s a lot less stressful and environmentally friendly than driving to the supermarket.

RoWAN:-What is the best advice you could share with readers interested in reducing the impact their diet has on the environment?

Just do one little thing, I am aware that people are busy with work or with kids or both, but everyone can do something and a lot of little somethings mount up to a big thing.  I know for a fact (because I provide such a service) that you can have locally sourced food delivered to your door and this can be work.  There are also lots of little farm shops, honesty box schemes etc.  Also you might be surprised at how much money you can save.  I spend on average about £50 a week on shopping and that includes treats such as the odd bottle of wine etc.  I support local butchers, fishmongers and when we don’t have enough of our own veg growing in the Winter months I use a veg box scheme and our weekly meals revolve around what I get.

RoWAN:- It was lovely to see around your garden and meet the hens and bees.  What is your long term vision for Capability Brown in terms of to reducing your impact on the environment?

 

I think you have answered the question for me, it’s to take it further and further and leave as little a footprint on the Earth we live on as possible.  It’s not an ambition to be self sufficient, it’s an ambition to be self sustaining.

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