Dig-In Newsletter May 2018
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Happy May!

We're so happy to see the tulips blooming, the sun generally shining and local produce galore gracing our shelves - we can't say enough about the beautiful Cyrenians spinach or our rosy Isle of Wight tomatoes, then there is the UK Asparagus, Heritage tatties... 

Read on for an update on recent events, a profile of our 2018 Volunteer of the Year, recipes from the team, pantry essentials while we wait for those local veg and some new stock to celebrate.

We celebrated our 4th birthday in early May and we're so proud up have spent four years trading on Bruntsfield  Place, offering a range of fresh, local-as-we-can produce, playing our part in bringing beautiful Scottish growers and suppliers to you. Thanks again for your custom and support. Thanks as always to our volunteers and incredible shop staff.
Community, Carrots & Confidence - our 5th AGM
We held our 5th AGM on the wintery evening of the 27th February... 

A very big thank you to Rob Davidson, Farm Manager at the Cyrenians Farm social enterprise for being our guest speaker. We love offering a range of organic salads and vegetables from Cyrenians which is such a worthy organisation working with the homeless and vulnerable. A big congratulations to Cyrenians also on receiving their Soil Association certification recently also - super! 

We enjoyed presenting our 2017 end of year reports to you and were so proud to be able to announce that we made a profit, thanks in very large part to the hard work Morag, our Shop Manager, Claire and Katariina, our Shop Supervisors, have done in the past 12 months. They've really helped turn things around together with our incredible shop volunteers.  Post AGM we also welcomed Robyn to join Catherine, Isla, Stuart, Chelsea and Amanda on the Management Committee. More to come introducing Robyn next time!

We are looking to co-opt new committee members with experience in business and finance so please come to chat to us if you want to know more, you can reach our new chair Isla on isla@diginbruntsfield.co.uk for more info.
Shop, stock & seasonal updates

You may have noticed some disruption from building work to sort out damp problems in our basement over last couple of weeks - that is now all fixed - hooray! In other shop news we now have a second chiller for summery drinks, salads and more ... see what new goodies appear there! We are trying out some shelving changes too - let us know what you think.

We have some beautiful Scottish greens (perfect for Ian's recipe below!), local tatties, rhubarb, beets, carrots and neeps as well as our first UK Asparagus hitting the shelves; there's early strawberries and the promise of more and more local veg and fruit as we head into summer. 

In the Wholefoods Pantry we have some exciting new stock sourced from our wholefood suppliers, Green City - a Glasgow Worker's Cooperative. We would firstly like to talk ferments - and introuduce this fantastic local ferment from Good Nude Food. Aptly termed Superkraut, the folks there are offering three fantastic sauerkrauts packed with natural probiotics and superfoods... Each flavour is made from locally sourced organic ingredients - and it's the first retail Scottish sauerkraut - they're really something special. 

We presented our Shop Strategy 2021 to attendees - a vision for the next 3 years in the themes of the Shop, Marketing & Advocacy and Community Engagement. - and enjoyed getting some feedback on this and more generally on the shop. We really really appreciate your feedback - thanks to those who participated. 

The Beast from the East - a distant March memory now - hit hard the day after our AGM and we were proud to be able to remain open and stocking local produce throughout the winter madness which ensued... Huge thanks to our dedicated staff, volunteers and suppliers without whom we would have been snowed under. Read Isla's blog on 'The Power of Local' here.  
As well as our lovely fresh potted herbs, we're enjoying our range of tinned beans at the moment - including some recent tinned additions some from our friends at Hodmedods. High in protein, low in cost, air miles, water and energy footprints compared with other forms of protein... plus all the fibre, minerals and anti-oxidants - what's not to like? Great pantry staple for that spring minestrone or a spicy veg chilli! 

We've also got some beautiful soap and shampoo bars from Friendly Soap. We love that there is no plastic packaging, no palm oil and a very environmentally and socially conscious duo behind this great English soap Company!
Volunteer of the year .... Introducing Ian

Ian was presented with our Volunteer of the Year Award at our 5th AGM. A superstar volunteer, Ian donates his time to TWO shifts per week and is such a pleasure to have working in the shop... We caught up with him for a few questions... 
Why did you decide to Volunteer at Dig-In? 

I wanted to get some retail experience as it's a field I've never worked in and might help get regular part-time work alongside working freelance. I've always been interested in fresh food and growing things. And I'm interested in social enterprise and community and place-making projects in Edinburgh. For example, I'm a Friend of Saughton Park, supporting the Council renovate that great park and gardens, and I've worked with Edinburgh Printmakers (the fine artist printmakers' studio and gallery at Union St) to help them prepare for their move to the former North British Rubber HQ close to the new Boroughmuir school. So when I noticed Dig In properly, walking through Bruntsfield, I thought it was an ideal opportunity.

What do you like about Dig In?

I especially like the fresh seasonal produce, the variety of different customers there and the family dimension, and meeting all the people involved in running it. And I really like that there are lots of different nationalities using the shop, and hearing about people's food cultures.

What does a typical day at Dig In involve?

I usually do a Tuesday closing shift from 5 with Claire, the shop supervisor, and often other volunteers, then a Wednesday early to mid afternoon shift with Morag and often other volunteers. The Tuesday close can involve a lot of serving customers, and/or replenishing stock for a bit, perhaps helping Claire check Green City dry goods stock levels if she's doing the Tuesday order. There's a bit of an after work customer peak between about 4.30 and 6. Sometimes it goes on later, especially in summer and if it's dry - people appreciate there being a greengrocer open until 7. Then it's preparing to close and closing up - sweeping, cleaning, getting food ready to donate to FoodShare, that kind of thing.

I like seeing how things have changed or not by Wednesday early afternoon. That's partly because I may have had a hand in helping with the fresh produce order for George Anderson on the Tuesday evening. By the time I get in, the morning shift team have usually got all that new fresh produce out, and topped up the organic stock. Sometimes quite a lot of stuff has moved in less than 24 hours, other times less so - a lot depends on the weather! Wednesday early afternoon is often fairly quiet so it's a good time for us volunteers to keep stocking up, including dry goods, for the busier end of week. For example fresh organic produce arriving on a Thursday - we have to make room for that.

Then it gets busy just before and after schools and nurseries come out - it's nice to see families coming in together. I think Dig In staff and volunteers have a very positive attitude to children and young people being curious about what's in the shop and fresh food. Hopefully family customers agree! 
Favourite product from the shop...or recipe from shop's produce...?

I think we have some great seasonal fresh produce, especially organic and Cyrenians' farm salads and later, apples. I also really like the seeded rye bread from Andante - it's a light rye flour mix, slightly oily and slices beautifully thinly for home-made or open sandwiches and freezing.

An absolute regular recipe for me goes very well with broccoli, cauliflower, or other mustardy greens from salad bags, chard leaves or cavolo nero. So it's a kind of year round recipe. (See below for Ian's recipe)

When you're not Digging In what are you doing?

Working or looking for work - my professional field is People & Organisational Development. That's about how people and organisations flourish together, or you could say how organisations respond to their environment. Other definitions are available! Also other volunteering, reading and researching, spending time with family, housework, going to see films, art and music, gardening, walking, choir...
We're always looking for new volunteers! Find out more - email volunteer@diginbruntsfield.co.uk or pop into the shop for a form. 
Dig-In Inspired Recipes

Ian gave us a super recipe when we interviewed him as our Volunteer of the Year - a pasta that's flexible, seasonal and quick... He says I've cooked this thousands of times, we have it three or four times a month. It's based on a Diane Seed recipe from 'The Top 100 Hundred Pasta Sauces (Vintage, 2012), itself based on a country dish from Puglia, the province of the heel of Italy. There it is traditionally made with cima de rape, a kind of turnip top greens. They have lots of different kinds of such greens there - so make it with what you like. Once you've got used to this recipe you can do it pretty fast, certainly in 20 minutes. And just adapt it to your circumstances and equipment.
Ian's quick veg pasta 
Ingredients: Veg - greens such as spinach, broccoli, cauliflower - a head, a bag - proportions roughly 2/3 pasta to 1/3 veg in the finished product.... 

Pasta - a shortish pasta is best. Choose something that will hold or mix well with the vegetable at the size you've chosen to chop it to. The veg should coat or stay in contact with the pasta - tubes or spirals are great. 50 grams pasta per person for a small or starter portion, 70 to 75g per person for a main meal.
Equipment: large pasta pan, large frying pan (a wok would do), container to steam veg in in a microwave (or a colander or steamer), a pan for steaming if need be.

1. Wash and slice the vegetable(s). If using broccoli or cauliflower, cut into the smaller florets about a finger size or smaller if you have time. A quicker way is just to slice thinly vertically and then at right angles to get the small florets. It's not vital - you can leave it in larger slices if you prefer that.

2. If using mustard greens, cavolo nero, chard leaves or spinach, remember to buy enough for the reduction in the leaves from cooking. Take out any tough stems or big stalks. If using chard, set aside the stems for another time or chop into small batons and use them in this recipe before adding the leaves.

3. Get the veg ready to cook. Set on one side. I steam it in the microwave or over a pan of boiling water (see below).

4. Prepare your flavourings for the veg: slice garlic thinly, use dry small bird's eye chillies, or chop fresh chillies (traditionally red, use what you like). If not vegan, slice and dice 3-4 anchovies finely and keep separately. Those are the traditional flavourings. Variations: substitute or add sliced capers, olives, pine nuts, miso paste. If you want protein, add chick peas after stage 13.

5. Get the water boiled for your pasta.

6. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil of choice (or your preferred substitute) very gently and add garlic and chillies. The garlic can colour gently but should not yellow or burn. 2 or 3 minutes at most should do it. Now take frying pan off heat. Remove chopped garlic with a fork and set aside in a saucer or cup.

7. Put the pasta on once you've done this. Best to use a timer. While the pasta is cooking:

8. As soon as you can, steam the veg whether in a microwave or over boiling water for 3 minutes. If you're using broccoli or cauliflower florets they should still have a fair amount of bite left - they definitely shouldn't be totally soft. If you do want to boil the veg rather than steam fair enough, but go for the same amount of bite.

9. Drain veg well and set aside - you will finish it in the oil in the last 3 to 4 minutes of the pasta cooking. You can add the drained water to the pasta water.

10. Time the next steps for 3 minutes before the pasta is ready:

11. Get frying pan gently to medium hot again. Add chopped anchovies or substitutes. Anchovies should melt into the oil. Watch the oil isn't too hot when you do this or it will spit everywhere and the flavour won't be as good.

12. Once the anchovies have melted or the substitutes gently sautéed, turn up the heat on the frying pan to medium-hot. As soon as the pan is hot, pour in the veg, mix well with the oil and sautee, stirring regularly, for 2 to 3 minutes. If using cauli or broccoli, lightly browned is nice. You can add the garlic back in for extra just before you start for extra flavour. 

12 a)- add the chick peas to the frying pan if using and heat through.

13. Keep a tablespoon per person of pasta water then drain pasta. Then put pasta and pasta water into the frying pan with the vegetable. Turn heat off, add pepper, mix and heat through on the residual heat. The pasta water gives a very slight sauce and stickiness binding the veg to the pasta.

14. Serve with olive oil, salt and pepper and parmesan if you want them on the table. I don't usually bother with parmesan as it should be quite salty already. Take out any dried chillies as you find them - and/or garlic as you choose. 
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