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Lemon Curd

We have lots of fabulous eggs at this time of year with the hens and ducks laying for all they’re worth. So it’s this time of year that I make lemon curd. It’s the most fantastic yellows orange colour from the  egg yolks and there is nothing in the shops to compare with the flavour of this home-made delight!

Jars of home-made lemon curd

Jars of my home-made lemon curd

Serve it on hot toast, use it as topping for cakes, put it in tiny tarts, dollop on porridge, the list goes on and on!

Ingredients

You will need:

  • 2 x 1lb jars with lids, sterilised.
  • The juice and finely grated zest of 3 large lemons, organic of course!
  • 225g organic butter
  • 450g of organic sugar 
  • 5 beaten hen’s eggs (or 3 duck eggs)  

Method

Place the juice, zest, butter and sugar in a pan. Heat very gently and stir (don’t rush this) until the butter and sugar have dissolved.

Remove the pan from the heat and strain in the beaten egg.

Put back on a gentle heat, stirring so the mixture doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.

Cook gently until the curd coats the back of a wooden spoon, starts to thicken, and sets!

Jar up the curd into hot jars and seal with a disc of waxed paper and a tight fitting lid.

This will keep for a month refrigerated, although we’ve never been able to test this!

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Rhubarb and Ginger Sticky Cake

Please forgive me – this recipe lives in my head in “old money”, i.e. Imperial rather than metric – sorry!

  • 6oz self-raising flour
  • 6oz butter
  • 3oz sugar
  • 3oz black treacle( the secret ingredient)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger (can be substituted with cinnamon)
  • 2 sticks of washed and roughly chopped rhubarb (can be substituted with seasonal fruit such as berries)

Combine all the ingredients except the rhubarb together, until smooth. You may need to warm the butter to soften before you add it.

Scrape all the mixture into a well greased and lined cake tin. The raw mixture should only come halfway up the side of the tin. Scatter the top of the uncooked cake with the chopped rhubarb and bake in a pre-heated oven at 190°c for 35 – 40 minutes, or until the cake is firm and springy to the touch. Serve warm with cream or ice cream, or just with a cup of tea!

Pork Escalopes

Bash out some pork steaks with a meat tenderiser or a stout rolling pin, or use some thin steaks cut from a joint.

Dip these in some seasoned flour, then beaten egg, then bread crumbs, and finally add straight into a  moderate to hot frying pan with a little pork fat, or half vegetable oil and half butter. The animal fat helps with the flavour and the crispiness of the bread crumbs. Cook until golden brown on both sides – make sure the pork is properly cooked through. Eat as whole escalopes, or slice up into strips and serve with a mixed salad and new potatoes.

Spicy Lamb Bites

For this recipe you will need diced lamb, either ready diced or diced from a joint  ( you can marinade lamb chops in the same way, but they will take a little more cooking).

Marinade the lamb in:

  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 clove crushed and chopped garlic
  • 1 chilli chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper

Marinade overnight, or at least for a few hours, then fry hard in a hot pan until the meat begins to colour on the edges, stirring just occasionally. If you are using chops grill or bake.

The diced meat is also great on kebabs for the BBQ, and you can also treat other meats (pork, beef, or chicken) the same way.

Spinach

It’s a shame to cook spinach at this time of year, but if you prefer it cooked why not gratin, lightly steam, smother in a rich cheesy sauce, and grill.

Alternatively, curry with crushed new potatoes and serve with yogurt and the spicy lamb.

Spinach is a great breakfast food in a pancake or omelette, with a little cheese if you like. I steam the spinach lightly, chop it up very small, and drain of any excess water. I then add the chopped spinach to the omelette or pancake mix and cook as normal.

Sprouting beans

Use in stir-fries or salads.

After  two beautifully clear and boiling hot days, the temperature dropped by more than 10° and the day of our Pork and Lamb Farm Focus Dinner last Saturday dawned with grey skies and cold wind. Typical! The farm needs rain so we didn’t grumble but forged on with the necessary preparations – it was no mean feat accommodating and feeding the 20+ expected guests.

The veg shed, where we pack and prepare vegetables to go out on deliveries, has to double as the “dinning area”, but I smartened it up with big jugs of herbs picked from the kitchen garden, twinkly fairy lights, and straw bales for seats  (which were quite comfortable if I do say so myself!).

Table decorations

Table decorations

The butchery, which is more Lee’s domain, is always clean and scrubbed, but the cutting tables had to be rearranged so that everyone had an opportunity to see what was going on. The butchery knives underwent a health check to make sure they were super sharp, because a blunt knife is more dangerous than a sharp one!

The main idea behind Christmas farms monthly farm focus dinners is to have the opportunity to just get a little closer to how our food is produced. We started with a short farm walk to see our flock of organic sheep with their lambs at foot. Lee guided the group of  box scheme converts, and their friends and families around the main sheep field, answering questions and posing some for discussion. In this area of Northumberland, tupping (which is when the male sheep known as tups or rams go out with the female sheep, known as ewes) is normally at the beginning of November, so the ewes will start to lamb at the beginning of April.

The guided walk then took us into the main pig area of the farm. We currently have dry sows (sows that currently have no litter of young), weaned piglets,  and nearly “finished” pigs for pork. All these pigs are kept outside with arcs for shelters and wallows for hot days. Our pigs are very used to people and dogs, but it always pays to be a little wary of any livestock. especially when around their young.

Outside the pig area

Outside the pig area

We finished the tour and wandered back up to the farm buildings to look at the lamb and pork carcasses. Lee does all the butchery for the box scheme, preparing joints and other cuts to go out each week on deliveries (he’s also the box scheme delivery man!).

Butchery demonstration

Butchery demonstration

As Lee demonstrated and talked our group through the varying options to butcher the lamb and pork carcasses, lots of questions flew through the air. It’s so very positive for us as farmers and producers when people really are interested in how their food is produced and processed. We converted to organic production some 7 years ago because we were so passionate about how our food was produced. These farm focus dinners give us the opportunity to share a little of the knowledge and experiences we have gleamed over the years.

Following the butchery demonstration we snacked on pork escalopes and tandoori-style lamb, which I quickly cooked with cuts Lee produced during the butchery demonstration. The smells and sizzling sounds from the pan soon had all our taste buds ready for supper. It was quite a treat when we all eventually sat down together in our makeshift dining room come veg shed to enjoy a feast of pork, lamb, potatoes and salad. The last of this years rhubarb was served up as pud in a sticky rhubarb and ginger cake.

Crispy pork joint

Crispy pork joint


Fresh salad

Fresh salad

“Not a bad night was had by all”  I’d hope you’d say!

The Big Spring Clean

The birds are tweeting outside and all things turn towards spring, and with the sun making a little bit more of an effort to poke out its face I can see just how dirty my windows are.

So I start to think of the need for a good spring clean, throw open the windows, freshen the air. Here are some simple recipes for homemade cleaning products, and yes they are all based around good old white distilled vinegar.

Did you know that vinegar kills germs? But because it’s safe to eat, poses little or no threat to our pets, family, or the environment. How great is that!

So here’s a opportunity to save some money on cleaning products and save the world! Well you’ve got to start somewhere. I just wonder how much we’d all save if we didn’t fill our lungs and shopping trolleys with various different branded cleaners…

Room Deodorizer

Mix together:

  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp white distilled vinegar
  • 1 cup water

Spray into the room to freshen and remove stale odour.

Floor Cleaner

Mix together:

  • 3 drops washing up liquid
  • 1/3 part white distilled vinegar
  • 1/3 part alcohol
  • 1/3 water

Use this sparingly as a spray and mop or wipe the floors clean.

Wood / Panel Cleaner

Mix together:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 2 cups warm water

Use with a soft cloth.

Other Suggestions

  • To polish and clean your kitchen sink, spray with neat white distilled vinegar and scrub with a little baking soda and rinse.
  • If washing bedding or clothes in a machine, add a little white distilled vinegar to the drawer together with the powder. The vinegar will deodorize and freshen the cloths, and also helps to remove grease stains (sorry, but I’m thinking of baby sick here!).
  • To remove mildew and mould, wipe with a little neat white distilled vinegar on a sponge.
  • Use neat on door handles etc., to kill germs (due to its acidity).
  • For a sparkly toilet, leave 2 cups of white distilled vinegar in the bowl overnight, scrub in the morning, and flush. The vinegar will remove limescale, soap scum, germs, and also deoderize.

Well just a few uses to get you going. A lot of these come from a little  notebook my Gran used to use. They’re very old-fashioned, but work just as well now as they did back then. Give them a go, and get the kids helping too!

Saturday Night Beef Curry

This curry is great made ahead. Good to come home to if you are going out for a long and blustery beach walk, and ticks all of Lee’s foody boxes. In a nutshell, “hot and tasty” – a bit of a Christmas Farm motto!

The recipe below makes enough for 4 to 6 adults when served with rice, and you should be able to find all these ingredients organically.

You will need:

  • 600g diced organic Dexter beef stewing steak
  • 1 small organic butternut squash. Deseeded, washed and diced into the same size as beef.
  • 8 shredded leaves of organic cavelo nero
  • 1 x 400g tin organic chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g tin organic coconut milk
  • 2 peeled and chopped cloves of organic garlic
  • 1 -2 red chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 level tsp ground ginger
  • 1 level tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 level tsp curry powder
  • 1 dessert spoon of fish sauce
  • Good pinch of salt
  • Good grind of black pepper

Method

Sauteé the beef with a little oil or fat in a large heavy bottomed pan over a medium heat. Continue until the beef starts to colour and brown, stirring occasionally.

Add the diced onions, butternut squash, garlic, chillies, pepper, and spices. Stir and cover with a well fitting lid.

Allow to cook and sweat together over a low heat for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add the cavelo nero to the pan and pour in the tinned tomatoes and coconut milk. No need to stir, simply replace the lid and allow the cavelo nero to steam for 10 minutes.

Add a good pinch of salt and the fish sauce. Stir, and taste to check seasoning. You may need more salt or pepper.

Replace lid and cook for 45 minutes or until meat is tender and cavelo nero has melted.

Serve with brown rice and some carrot and chilli chutney.

Just putting together September’s menu, lots of lovely home-grown organic ingredients.


Saturday 4th September

£18.95 for 3 courses plus after dinner coffee
(please place your order upon booking)

At the Village Coffee House, Longframlington

All the dishes are home-made by Beth, using
organic, home-grown, and local ingredients.


Menu

Starter

Mackerel, beetroot and new potato salad with horseradish dressing.

Courgette fritters with tomato and feta salsa

Mini toad in the hole with roasted baby onions

Main courses

Steak and ale pie with twice cooked chips

Fish pie, made with chunks of seasonal line caught fish, topped with creamy mashed potato

Couscous with roasted seasonal vegetables, preserved lemon puree and balsamic dressing

Pudding

Plum tart with clotted cream

Summer pudding with cream

Sticky chocolate fudge cake ice cream


Bookings only, and please bring your own wine.

E-mail: beth@gandsorganics.com

Fresh from the veg garden

The weather is really all over the place. We have had heavy rain storms (with the rain running down the road) followed by blistering sun; all on the same day. We’ve put up with quite a dry spell, the driest for over 100 years, but not being one to complain, it can stop raining now!

There is a lot of failed germination in the field due to the drought, and really the rain is too late for these crops.

Good news, the kitchen garden is growing very well and is providing us with lots of lovely fresh vegetables and some fantastic fresh garlic in the boxes this week.

Fresh Garlic

The best way to use your fresh garlic is straight away. If, however, you want to save it for use later I would recommend peeling and putting in a clean jar and topping up with olive oil. (The oil can be used after the garlic has finished, it has a lovely flavour.) You can peel and finely chop the garlic and store in a clean jar with white wine vinegar with a splash of olive oil on the top to keep out the air, just like the lazy garlic you can buy in the shops. It also saves a lot of time when cooking later.

Store both these methods in the fridge.

Chard, Beet Tops, or Spinach

These greens are one of my favourite fresh summer vegetables, and can be prepared in a number of ways:

  • They are lovely and tasty just washed and lightly steamed with a little butter, sea salt, and a pinch of nutmeg.
  • Wash and rip up and serve as a robust green salad with mustard dressing.
  • Wash and steam, stir into a rich cheese sauce and wrap in savoury pancakes.
  • Wash, steam, and chop to add to the egg mixture in a quiche
  • Or simply stir fry in a splash of oil and some lovely fresh chopped garlic

If you need to freeze your fresh garden greens, pack them tightly in a plastic bag and freeze. They are not the same once frozen, but cook well and can be used for all the cooked recipes.

Squash

What a beauty. These squash are so fantastic to look at, I feel compelled to cut off the top like a hat and gouge out the insides. Make a savoury stuffing for the squash bowl. Stuff the cavity and replace its hat, brush with olive oil. Place the squash on a greased baking tray and roast in a hot oven until tender and hot all the way through.

Stuffing

Mix together:

  • Diced squash minus the seeds;
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped onion;
  • 1 clove of chopped garlic;
  • ½ cup of cooked rice or bread crumbs;
  • A pinch of mixed herbs;
  • 1 chopped tomato;
  • Salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

You can mess about with the stuffing and add some cold shredded cooked meat or some curry spices, perhaps a teaspoon of pesto, or some grated cheese.