Friday 20 April 2018

'I get such a buzz from cooking with things I grew myself'

Paula McIntyre teaches catering in Northern Regional College in NI, and presents the cooking slot on BBC Radio Ulster's Saturday Magazine show each week. She published her first book 'A Kitchen Year' in 2008 and is a patron of GIY.

Where do you GIY?

I don't have a garden – just concrete, but grow in pots and borrowed greenhouse.

Why do you GIY?

I got into growing my own from a cooking perspective and the joy of growing something, preserving it and then giving it away or keeping it for later in the year.

I smoked my chillis this year and made them into hot sauce – lining up little pots of something I grew and made from scratch gave me such a buzz.

What do you grow?

I have pots of herbs, and a simple greenhouse in which I grew tomatoes, chilli and courgettes this summer.

My mother has a fantastic garden so I borrow her greenhouse to grow lemon verbena and lemongrass.

Your favourite veg to eat/grow?

Asking a chef their favourite vegetable to eat is a hard one. I love Italian truffles and wild mushrooms but if I was pushed I'd say turnip or kale.

Frank McCook at Slemish market garden grows the most beautiful baby white turnips and they're probably what I'd choose.

Your least favourite veg to eat/grow?

I used to dislike beetroot but have discovered recently that I really like it raw, grated in a salad with chilli, cumin, onion and a yoghurt dressing or lightly pickled and still retaining the crunch.

Your most useful gardening tool?

My hands.

What do you know now about GIYing that you didn't know last year?

I really had no idea that you could grow so much in this country – purple kohlrabi, and great pumpkins.

My finest hour in the veg patch was when ...

My finest hour in the veg patch was successfully growing lovage from seed and using it to create a dish with goats cheese, my own tomatoes and rapeseed oil.

Which 'Good Life' cast member are you? Tom, Barbara, Jerry or Margot?

I aspire to be Barbara but really I'm like a common country version of Margot!

If you are interested in being profiled for My GIY Life, email

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