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One Pot, Three Courses


One Pot Project is a series of community meals being held in Sefton libraries throughout 2017-18 as part of At the Library and the Human Library, Bootle. The meals are organized by Fairland Collective, a group of five artists, designers and cooks.  Each meal is prepared, cooked and eaten in the libraries by the Collective and a growing group of volunteers. Prepared using a single induction hob and only one pot, the making of the meal is a collaborative task.  

A One Pot meal might consist of dumpling stuffing, spoon making, tablecloth printing, recipe collecting, pickling local produce, and always lunch alongside 20-30 strangers, fed from the communal pot. Alongside the cooking, library users are invited to add to the developing One Pot Kit – a portable set of crockery, tableware, recipes, ingredients and library-made products which, at the end of the project, will become part of Bootle library’s permanent collections: a resource for future meals and a physical record of the year’s activity. In the project’s final act Fairland Collective will hand over the reigns and the One Pot Kit to the library and its volunteers with a feast hosted by Bootle library, a meal in celebration of everything achieved which also acts as an extravagant advertisement for future One Pot meals.

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Library Eating

Sucking on crisps to neutralize the crunch, an illicit rustling packet hidden behind plastic protected covers – that’s about the only kind of eating that I’ve ever associated with libraries. ‘People can bring sandwiches now’, one librarian assured us,  a reflection of the slackening of the rigid library rules that most of us grew up with and a move away from hushed tones, from


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Libraries have changed. Out of cuts-fueled necessity they have diversified, absorbing roles previously held by other, now defunct, service providers. They are a rare, free, daytime refuge for job seekers, teenagers, English learners, mothers with young children, the elderly and the recently arrived, as well as many others.  

As community spaces disappear the library heroically takes up the slack. 

When Fairland Collective were asked to ‘do something’ in the 6 libraries in Sefton, the borough North of Liverpool, and particularly in Bootle library, we proposed the sharing of meals in all their clinking, crunching, slurping glory. Eating together seems a natural progression, in line with the library’s own — away from quietly sucked crisps or solo sandwiches in the newspaper section and towards serving each other – towards ladling, spilling, apologizing, portioning fairly or unfairly, and towards conversation from the awkward to the raucous.  

The meals are a way of bringing a new network of people into the libraries – whose continuing fight for survival depends on user numbers and engagement. One Pot meals have involved contributions from local allotments, beekeepers, youth projects, carpenters and cooks as well as any member of the public who expressed an interest.  

The first meal that Fairland Collective cooked was the showiest. Three courses were produced from the same pot for a group of 20 in Bootle library. It was the ultimate One Pot meal, a showcase of the possibilities of one pot.  

The ambition of the meal reflects the many hands that are inevitably involved in getting any kind of food to our tables, in growing, preparing and serving, and in the design and production of mealtime paraphernalia.

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Three Courses, One Pot:

Asparagus Dumplings, Miso Milk Soup, Honey Lemon Custard Buns.

Serves 20


PREP: Doughs – Custard - Dumpling Filling - Dumpling Assembly - Bun Assembly

SERVICE (one pot, no washing up!): Buns - Broth- Dumplings-Soup



For the Dumplings

  • 200g asparagus
  • 100g diced water chestnut 
  • 100g chopped carrot
  • 10g chopped coriander 
  • 6g salt 
  • 2g white pepper 
  • 360g dim sum flour
  • enough warm water to form a stiff dough

For the Soup  

  • 1kg potatoes, carrots, onions, oriental mushrooms or any sort of vegetables, chopped and shallow fried with salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1.6 litres water
  • large piece of kombu
  • 8 tablespoons miso
  • 1.8 litres milk (soya or dairy) 
  • salt, coriander and pepper
  • 10 boiled eggs cut in half (boiled for 8 mins, from cold water)

For the Buns


  • 750 ml warm milk
  • 9 tablespoons honey
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 9 tablespoons flour
  • 150 ml lemon juice
  • drop of vanilla essence


  • 450 g flour
  • 6 teaspoons baking powder
  • 150g sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 300g yogurt
  • 3 tsp oil
  • drop vanilla essence 


  1. Make the dumpling dough: mix flour, salt and enough warm water to form a firm dough, knead until smooth. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for one hour.
  2. Make the honey lemon custard: mix eggs, sugar, honey, lemon juice, flour and vanilla essence together in a pan. Pour over the warmed milk and whisk constantly over a low heat until thickened. Remove from the heat and allow to set and cool.   
  3. Make the bun dough: beat together flour and baking powder, then add sugar and mix again. Add all remaining ingredients and mix.

  4. Make the dumpling filling: mix the chopped vegetables with the remaining ingredients. Season to taste.
  5. Assemble dumplings: divide the dough into small balls (around 45-50) and roll them into thin circular sheets using a small rolling pin. Place a teaspoon of the veg mixture in the centre of each circle, dampen the edges slightly, and fold in half, pinching or pleating to shape the dumplings. ENLIST HELP. An excellent group activity.
  6. Assemble buns: place a tablespoon of dough into a teacup lined with baking parchment, add a generous teaspoon of custard on top. Recipe makes 24 buns.


  • Steam buns: Arrange steamer in ONE POT, add an inch or two of water and steam buns in batches for 10 mins, or until light and puffed. Top up the water level between batches.
  • In the ONE POT, make the dashi broth. Simmer kombu in the water for around 10 mins, taking care not to let the water boil as this will make the kombu slimey. Remove kombu.
  • Simmer batches of dumplings in the dashi broth until tender, tossing each cooked batch in a little sesame oil. Serve with a dip of soy, sesame, rice vinegar and a pinch of sugar.  Keep the dashi broth in the pot.
  • Make the soup: add veg to the dashi broth and simmer until tender. Mix the miso and milk together, add to the broth and return to the heat. Finally, add milk, salt, coriander and pepper. Serve, floating half an egg in each bowl and scattering with fresh coriander leaves.
  • Serve buns to great fanfare.
  • Wash the pot, and return to the One Pot Kit.         
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The above article features in the Feast publication Hot Pot, a collection of essays, creative writing and recipes responding to the work of Anthony Burgess.

Taking Burgess’s recipe for Lancashire hot pot as a framework, the publication discusses and interprets the varied activities of preparing, producing and consuming food. Each contribution to the book presents a unique take on Burgess’s recipe for hot pot and the role of food more generally throughout his extensive oeuvre.

Hot Pot is available to read online or to purchase a copy please click here

All photos courtesy of Motoko Fujita/Fairland Collective

Poster design courtesy of Francesca Ulivi/Fairland Collective

Fairland Collective

Fairland Collective are Niamh Riordan, Francesca Ulivi, Motoko Fujita, Brenda Kearney and Emily Cropton: a group of artists who have collaborated for the past two years through their work with Grizedale Arts and who now work as an independent collective. With a wide range of skills to draw upon beyond their arts education - from photography to landscape architecture, cheese mongering and baking to carpentry, Fairland Collective produce projects which build on the idea of arts being useful in the everyday and the artist having a functional role in the community. Current projects include One Pot Project in Sefton Libraries, A Dream for Shimonoseki (with Grizedale Arts) in Kiwanosato Japan, and Park Feast (with Grizedale Arts), Beckenham Place Park.