Saturday, 29 June 2013


The Kitchen Garden is looking beautiful at the moment. 
I've just popped a dozen chocolate and lavender pekin eggs under a broody .. so watch this space because in 21 days we will have some more chicks.  

This week has gone in a flash. I love teaching especially when it involves Fairtrade products combined with local seasonal food.  It is perhaps my favourite thing to do.  On Tuesday a lady simply hugged me because she was so thrilled as we took her sourdough out of the oven and it was the best feeling in the world. 

I suppose I value my quiet time more then ever when I am busy.  The time to reflect is in my garden and even though the weeds are giving me a real run for my money ... and the cutting garden is a month or more behind I love it. The truth is that the garden is always slightly out of control .. but oh how time disappears when I am phone free and alone.  I never thought I'd say that I actually enjoy pulling weeds.

At heart I am a cook who gardens rather than the other way around.  I plant with my stomach in mind, and do my absolute best to plant and grow things that minimise our impact on the environment, herbs and salad being my first priority but fruit and vegetables are never far behind.  I grow my food,  talk about food, write about food, photograph food and teach other people to make delicious food.. so on the odd occasion I get totally fed up of food.  So where do I go when I am looking for inspiration?  I always end up in the same place.  I sit at my kitchen table with Nigel Slaters Tender I a cook in his vegetable patch.  It is my absolute favourite book because the recipes are delicious, practical and always get me back in the mood to cook.  

Thank you Nigel.  Your books are wonderful.  

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

No good turn goes unpunished

Made with 100% Fairtrade & British ingredients and it was as delicious as it looks. 

I was bitten by a mouse this evening trying to help it get away from the cat in the garden. It was a cute little thing and I went out of my way to help it out. I picked it up, much to the cat's disgust.  As I was about to pop it out of harms way the bloody thing bit me.  I don't suppose that it meant to hurt me, but it was a really deep nip that drew blood.  I dropped it and squealed.

Now I really wasn't expecting the mouse to stop and say thank you ...  but I wasn't expecting to get a nip either.  I washed my finger in hot water and sterilised it thoroughly and felt somewhat foolish. I had to remind myself that the mouse didn't know any better, but it's certainly the last time I ever help a mouse. By the time I got back from tending my wound I think that the cat had eaten it.

Silly mouse.

In the meantime I had a wonderful weekend with Lynn Hill from the Clandestine cake club.  It was lovely to finally meet her after so long of just chatting on the phone and online. It's really late and I have a class tomorrow so I will leave you with a photo of the Strawberry and Vanilla layer cake that we made and the audio we recorded.

Night all. 

Monday, 17 June 2013

A Poem

Walking in plantations green and lush.
A privileged moment.
A moment of hush.
Who made our world? Who made the flowers and the cocoa trees?
 Who made the midges and the sand flies?

This is the garden that supplies our need, 
this honeybee, I mean this one, here, who has landed on the flower next to me, 
this one who is collecting nectar from flower to flower in my garden, who is moving his bottom up and down back forth, collecting the cherry blossom pollen.
Who made him?

Now he snaps his wings together, and flies away.
This is the garden that supplies our need. 
Too green and beautiful to be abused with greed.
I don't know exactly what to do. You can’t fix this one.  He’s gone. He’s on his way. 
A moment here.
A moment gone.

A moment’s mindfulness gives me peace.
I pay attention, how the grass feels under my feet, cool and comforting, I remember how to kneel down in the grass. 
This is how to be idle and love the moment,  to stroll through my garden, which is what I would do all day.

Tell me, what else can I do and what could I have done?
Doesn't everything die one day, and always far too soon?
So I wonder what is it I must plan to do?
And how will I live this now -  my one wild and precious life?

Vanessa Kimbell 

Sitting in the garden. Remembering Mott.

Friday, 14 June 2013

The Life of a Chocolate Hero

For those of us who knew and loved Mott I believe that we are still part of his story & there is much still to be done ….
The past ten days have been hard. 

Three people I know have died in the past three weeks. 

My fathers oldest brother, my uncle Victor died.  He was my godfather, but I have to admit that although sad we hadn’t been close a family and I’d be lying to say that it affected me much other than reminding me that life is short.

Within a few days one of my parent’s oldest friends died.  I wept a little.  His son I consider to be a cousin, so for me I lost an uncle again only this time I’d known him since I was six years old or so and we spent allot of time together as families.   He wasn’t old, in his seventies, and I was really very fond of him.

I have managed to type until this moment, and now a surge of sadness has swept over me.  I am head in hands staring at the screen willing myself to continue.  I am waiting until the wave passes.

Somehow my fingers have found their way back to the keyboard as I must tell the story of Mott Green, who was killed tragically aged 47 just 12 days ago and explain why after a relatively short time of knowing him I am so affected by his death. 

When an associate of Mott phoned me a week ago on Saturday night to tell me the news of the accident I was standing on the hallway.  I found myself on my knees. My first thoughts were of his friends and family. I cried almost instantly, which is the first time in my life I have ever done so.  Over then next week I had so many people phone me.  Everyone was in tears, because the profound affect that Mott Green had wasn’t just on me, it was in everyone he came into contact with and for some strange reason, which I cannot explain, this gave me comfort.  When I ask myself honestly why I feel such deep loss it is for many reasons.  I didn’t know Mott long, but in the time I knew him I had as part of my reporting role got to know him very well.  I knew and understood his philosophy, his achievements, his hopes, dreams and plans for the future and by recognising both  Mott and Arjen Van De Veen and shared vision of a better way of living I suddenly felt able and confident to commit to my own convictions.  

Meeting Mott changed me. He made me want to be a better person.  He was my chocolate hero.

A chocolate making visionary he was a single minded, bright eyed, humorous, energetic, crazy, environmentalist ...... 

Mott was a maverick who showed the chocolate world that there is an alternative way 
When you unwrap a chocolate bar and take a bite, and it’s possibly the most widely acknowledge source of edible pleasure known to man, yet very few people stop to consider who grew the cacao that made your chocolate treat possible.

As part of my research read various reports of more than 15,000 child slaves working on cacao farms in West Africa that is well documented in books such as ‘Chocolate the Bitter truth’ by Carol off and countless references on the internet,

The accepted way is that the cacao is exported and even in the case of fairtrade the current system of exporting the beans means that there is no question that farmers are losing out because all the value is in the processing. Most of the profit is made by large corporations and so it has always been widely accepted that you just can’t make chocolate where the pods grow. It’s too hot, because cacao trees grow in a limited geographical zone, of approximately 20 degrees to the north and south of the equator.

Well Mott turned that premise on its head. Mott was a maverick who showed the chocolate world that there is an alternative way by founding The Grenadian Chocolate Company.

My friend Chantal Coady of Rococo Chocolate first told me about her anarchist chocolate friend Mott about 4 years ago. Chantal’s description of the plantation and her affection for Mott captivated me and once I’d tasted this smooth easy chocolate there was no returning to anything less. I wanted to meet him. The Grenada Chocolate Company was described as one of the only small-scale chocolate-makers producing fine chocolate where the cocoa grows. What is truly unique is that they are producing chocolate right where the cocoa grows and they do their own fermenting as well as using their own extracted cocoa butter Cocoa butter is an essential ingredient in chocolate.

When I was given the opportunity to visit Grenada I was thrilled.  It was one of the most intense weeks of my life.  The whole week was almost an overload. A combination of having freedom away from my domestic responsibility, meeting like-minded people and getting to know Mott was amazing. 

The cocoa beans are hand harvested & carried in buckets across the river over boulders.                          
Chatting to friend and writer Xanthe Clay who was with me in Grenada she said that "it was clear that Mott's no compromise attitude has resulted in one of the most delicious chocolate in the world and quite possible the fairest chocolate ever. Motts model is unique. the Company is 100% owned by the farmers and I having researched extensively I don’t think that any other chocolate company on the world that is 100% owned by the farmers. Mott believed that the cocoa farmers should benefit as much as the chocolate-makers. They are involved in every aspect of the production of the chocolate, from the planting and growing of the cocoa trees to the fermenting of the fresh cocoa beans to the processing."

The farmers do not use of any chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers and are certified organic. The sugar used is a fine organic raw sugar produced and milled by an organic growers’ cooperative in Paraguay organic soy lecithin is used as emulsifier in extremely small amounts.

Xanthe who was extremely knowledgeable about the world of chocolate explained to me that in most countries the cocoa is grown almost entirely on small family farms and "The Grenadian Chocolate at this point is no different from anywhere else in the world. The farming is a small and unsophisticated business as the way cocoa trees grow makes mechanization impractical.  In the case of this chocolate though the beautiful deep burgundy through to banana yellow trinatario Cocoa variety pods are organically grown and transported across boulders over a river to be fermented just 400 yards from where they are grown.  They are then transported to the chocolate factory. "

It’s a 3-day process from roasting the beans to becoming a bar. There are 10 farms contributing and about 30 people are employed.  When we got to the factory in Motts crazy van the smell of chocolate was heavy in the air.  The building rattled and hummed away like a living being itself and the contraptions in each room could only be described as Wallace and Gromit meets Willy Wonka. The combination of modified antiques and crazy looking contraptions are a testament to Motts determination to succeed.  As an engineering drop out student Mott invented, modified and altered both modern and antique machine to a job that had never before been done on this scale. 

Mott reinvented a press by using a standard 20 ton hydraulic car jack machined out of standard seamless pipe stock 
From the first moment where we were introduced to a modified a beautiful 1940’s coffee machine to roast the beans we were taken around the factory and Mott chatted about each machine like a father would talk proudly about a child.  He knew the capabilities, strengths and weaknesses of each machine intimately and you just couldn’t help being amazed by his ingenuity. Because small batch chocolate-making is very rare, Mott, Doug one of the three original founders and Edmond had to create their own processing methods, designing their own machines. For example Mott explained that you cannot buy simple, small cocoa butter presses theses days. You could only buy large-scale expensive, energy intensive presses so Mott and his partners, had to design and build their own small-scale cocoa butter press.

Refurbishing the antique equipment really appealed to his philosophy and was really in keeping with the ethical and sustainable ethos, which was echoed by the use of solar-electric energy to power the machines.

Mott Laughing with co Founder Edmond Browne
When Mott decided to add cocoa butter back into the chocolate he wanted to make it there, however the industrial presses use as much as 6000 psi, which require over a hundred tons of hydraulic pressure pushing on a press cylinder. So the challenge in cocoa butter pressing was achieving these huge pressures. Mott reinvented a press by using a standard 20 ton hydraulic car jack machined out of standard seamless pipe stock (6 inch diameter) sitting on a 2 inch thick steel press plate containing lots of small holes and a fine stainless screen.

His eyes lit up and he patted the contraption affectionately as he explained how the steel piston pushes down on the liquefied cocoa inside the cylinder, clear liquid cocoa butter squirts and drips out of the bottom of the press plate and into the collection bowl. The piston needs to be re-pressurised every few minutes by cracking the jack a couple of times. In all he explained that it takes about 45 minutes to complete each batch in the press whilst the press is continually heated using attached gas burners.

Mott Chatting To Xanthe Clay 
 As we chatted Mott told me that cocoa farmers are some of the poorest people in the world.  I’d read a recent report by the Fairtrade foundation which also explained that millions of cocoa farmers really struggle to provide our annual chocolate bonanza. Over fifty million people who depend on growing cocoa for their livelihoods – especially in West Africa – have to survive on $2 a day and most cocoa farmers are still not getting a fair price.

Mott, Xanthe and I worked out that typically the best most cocoa farmers can expect to make from their pods is about 6% of the final price of chocolate paid by consumers so The Grenada Chocolate Company, being 100% owned by the farmers as well as making the chocolate just a mile from where the cocoa pods are grown, has literally turned the chocolate model upside down. - You can read Xanthe's article here in the Telegraph
Mott wasn’t just an anarchist; he was an idealist who lived his convictions. People who live their convictions are rare to find and yet Mott managed to find a group of people who also share his passion and dream for a fairer world who are also making it real through a movement called Fair transport. The first to be pioneering in the new sailing cargo transport market is the ‘Tres Hombres’  - even the name inspired by the cooperation of the three friends who took the initiative for this project seemed to echo Motts ideals.  I know that the three men who now take in turns to captain the ship and their crew will also miss Mott terribly. He was so excited that this beautiful 32-meter Brigantine had just transported over 50,000 bars of the Grenada Chocolate back 5,000 miles and so the chocolate is carbon neutral.
Mott Green
Mott as the Tres Hombres arrived in Grenada
When the Tres Hombers arrived in Portsmouth just 4 weeks ago it was a celebration.  Mott was in really high sprits.  Demand for the chocolate had, for the first time outstripped supply.  He’d just bought a boat to deliver the chocolate from island to island to continue to move the chocolate without any environmental impact.

It is quite possibly the fairest chocolate in the world and possibly the model for a chocolate revolution that will enable cocoa farmers across the world to realise more then just 6% of the final profit made from chocolate.

 I’ve been typing for a long time now.

Rereading the words above I hope that they go someway into remembering and celebrating a remarkable man.  Mott was an extraordinary person.  I feel immensely privileged to have shared a small part of his life. 

The world has lost a visionary.  I hope that his vision will continue, without compromise & for those of us who knew and loved Mott I believe that we are still part of his story. 

There is much still to be done ….

Parts of the recordings I did with Mott, Chantal, Arjen, the crew of the Tres Hombres and the people of Grenada can be heard this Monday at 3:30pm on The BBC Radio Four Food Programme. 

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Mott Green RIP

Mott Green 3 weeks ago today .. brining in his Chocolate to Portsmouth. 
I was called by a mutual friend of Mott Green and I earlier today, with news that literally made me drop to my knees. It is with huge sadness and shock to write that Mott Green, founder of The Grenada Chocolate Company died yesterday in a tragic accident.

It's almost 2am. I can't sleep, my eyes are sore from crying, and I am reeling from the shock but as odd as it may seem I need to write right a blog post now. I am so angry. I want to scream, but instead tears simply roll down my crumpled tired face and I type instead. The chocolate world will be heartbroken. My friends at Rococo Chocolate will be heartbroken.  The crew and staff and the Belmont Plantation will be heartbroken. I am heartbroken.

There are some people who change the way that you look at the world.  Mott Green of the Grenada Chocolate Company is one such person. An extraordinary man. A maverick, a visionary and a person who lived every moment according to his beliefs and convictions - I spent a week with Mott in Grenada in February and he changed the way I see everything.

My heart and love goes to Mott's love ones and his friends, many of whom he considered to be his family.

Mott hands on on board the Tres Hombres.