Sunday, 23 October 2011

House Beautiful Magazine - my web feature

Some of you may have noticed that I was featured recently in House Beautiful magazine's November 2011 edition. I was chosen as one of the three finalists for the Grow It Cook It competition and as a runner up won £2,500 of Neff appliances. 

There is now a feature online about myself and the other runner up Emma Parkes-McQueen. 

To see the feature follow this link -

The transcript of the article is as follows: 

Meet House Beautiful’s Grow It! Cook It! winners

In this month’s issue there’s a chance to meet Wendy Brazener, winner of House Beautiful’s Grow It! Cook It! cook-off in association with Neff, and try her winning recipe. Now here’s your chance to find out more about our two runners-up, Rosemary and Emma (far left)...

Rosemary’s in charge

Customer service advisor Rosemary Rolls, 23 from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, lives at home with her parents Pamela and Steven and 18-year-old brother Timothy. The Rolls family share an allotment and enjoy eating the fresh produce – Rosemary’s Cheese and Beetroot Pie won plenty of plaudits from the judges and was made with five types of beetroot grown on the allotment.
‘When we first took on the allotment two years ago it was a wasteland,’ says Rosemary. ‘We cleared sacks of broken glass and old bits of brick, we even found a bike buried under the weeds. It took a lot of work to turn the land over to growing vegetables but it was extremely satisfying. In the first year we grew spinach, chard and plenty of root crops and since then I’ve been hooked. ‘The allotment is definitely a family affair, but I’m chief organiser as I love to plan the growing seasons and get the seeds started off in the greenhouse at home. Mum describes me as the ‘Garden Foreman,’ while the rest of the family are the workers.
‘I try and get to the allotment once or twice a week, but love to spend a whole day down there. Over the past year we’ve enjoyed a bumper harvest of runner and dwarf French beans and marrows. It’s just as well my Nan likes them!
‘I like to try new things too, and this year I’ve planted Asparagus Peas. Apparently you just lightly steam them and they're delicious, so I can’t wait to try those.’

Emma’s family favourite

Company owner Emma Parkes-McQueen, 35, lives in Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, with her husband Simon McQueen, 39, and their two kids Scarlet, six, and Frederick, two. She’s had an allotment for four years and loves the rewards growing her own can bring. Her Butternut Squash Curry is a family favourite.
‘When I was growing up my parents were self sufficient, so the garden was always full of produce and chickens running around. I had a tiny plot of my own, and have enjoyed it ever since. Even living in flats I’d always have a pepper plant or tomatoes on the windowsill.
‘Now I have to juggle work and kids I don’t have much time to dedicate to the allotment, but I love to take the family down and spend a few hours digging and planting. I used to play lots of sport, but now the allotment is my gym, with the added bonus of fresh vegetables.
‘We’re so used to buying perfect specimens, I think people forget what real fruit and vegetables look like and turn their noses up at nobly potatoes and spotty apples. For me fresh ingredients are just as important as a great recipe so I love experimenting in the kitchen with whatever’s in season.
‘Scarlet now has her own little plot and some of her school friends' parents have allotments so they all play together. Showing them how plants grow and where food comes from has been really rewarding.’

Rosemary and Emma – what the judges said

Simon Boyle, Restaurateur
‘Often with this type of competition there’s one clear winner, but it wasn’t that easy this time. The level of skill on display was exceptionally high and it was impressive to see so much home grown produce being used. Rosemary’s pastry was perfect, Emma’s curry had just the right amount of spice and the winning tiramisu had an amazing elderflower syrup Wendy made herself.’
Lynn Williams, Senior Home Economist for Neff
‘Rosemary's beetroot pie was a very interesting vegetarian idea and despite cooking with electricity for the first time it was a good effort. I did feel a little glaze on the pastry would have enhanced it but was impressed by her combination use of fats which gave good flavour and texture to the pastry. Emma's Butternut squash curry was delicious and attractively served, and she worked really well and was comfortable in her kitchen. She even brought her own music along.’
Jeni Wright, House Beautiful’s food writer
'Whittling down the entrants to three finalists was difficult, but nowhere near as difficult as choosing between Wendy, Rosemary and Emma. All three used their own homegrown ingredients to best effect, and I was bowled over by their confidence and expertise when it came to the cooking – no mean feat with the judges watching their every move.'

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