Archive for May, 2010

Organic veg boxes

As you probably know, I farm a small organic farm with my partner Lee. We raise chickens, cattle, sheep, pigs, and grow vegetables, and deliver our produce locally through our organic box scheme.

These are just some ideas and an insight into the way we us the box at home.

My normal plan is to prep up the whole box when it arrives. If you have read any of my other posts you will have gathered that my plan for world domination is firstly to organise my own life, my fridge, and then take over the world. So I guess we are all pretty safe, for now!

This week I have made from the veg box:

  • Potato and nettle soup (nettles out of the fields)
  • Red cabbage coleslaw (using half a red cabbage, one grated carrot, and mayonnaise) to go with the salad bag, and eaten with cold meat or burgers, and possibly a potato rosti
  • Purple sprouting broccoli and cauliflower gratin, with an oat, bread crumb  and herb crust ( great kids tea or late supper dish)
  • Carrot and onion bhajis (one carrot and one onion makes 8 bhajis), served with some homemade pickle.

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I feel compelled, no, driven, to make bread. No ordinary bread, but a living breathing thing. After an amazing bread-making day with Mathew Rawlings of the Great Northumberland Bread Co I have become obsessed. I am in possession of a sour dough starter. Quite simply flour and water and a life of its own.

I’m lovingly tending it, feeding it, and watching it as I would a newborn. Waiting, just waiting, until the magical time when it’s ready to turn my strong flour into wholesome bread, no yeast required. Delicious sour dough loaves.

Once the starter has come to life and you feed it and grow it you can use portions of it to add to strong flour and make your own homemade loaves. It is possible to keep your starter alive and working its magic for many years.

Today is day one of the starters life with our family. It is now that I realize just how cold our house really is. Not many cultures grow in sub-zero temperatures and warmth is certainly required to grow and multiply my pet. Many recipes to follow.

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This savoury scone recipe is a must in your culinary armoury. It is so flexible and can be a simple afternoon snack, breakfast, or indulgent treat.

Cheese Scones

  • 175g  self-raising flour
  • 25g fat (butter, margarine or hard fat – it depends what you have in stock)
  • A pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard powder
  • 1oog grated really good mature cheddar (organic of course)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2 tablespoon of cold milk

Put all the dry ingredients, except the grated cheese, into your mixing bowl or mixer. Combine them with the fat, or rub in with light movements using the end of your fingers. You’ll achieve a bread crumb like mixture.

At this point add the grated cheese and stir to distribute. With the mixer running, very slowly add the beaten egg and the milk. You may not need all the milk, just enough so that the mixture comes together into a ball, but not sticky.

Tip the ball out onto a floured board. Gently and lightly shape into a circle approx 3cm thick. Cut the circle into four triangles. Place on a greased baking tray and brush them with a little beaten egg.

Bake in a hot oven (220°C or gas mark 7) for 15 minutes until golden brown. Keep an eye on them after 10 minutes as you may need to turn the oven down slightly.

Remove the scones from the oven and allow too cool on a wire rack. Or just eat with as much butter as you can get on them!

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I’m often teased about my list making – you are either a list maker or you are not. I’m an olympic list maker and when, after a bout of micky-taking, I stop making lists I am somewhat out of sorts, i.e. general household tasks and work just don’t get completed, and sometimes not done at all.

So yesterday I was exceptionally pleased with myself after making a rather comprehensive list in the morning. I dispatched George off on his school trip and arrived in work before 9 o’clock. I had rather a busy day serving customers (OK a lot of them are friends), and still made 3 cakes, 2 batches of date scones, and a tray of flapjacks.

Once home from work, Billy and I completed his maths homework. I hoovered and dusted whilst nodding in agreement (maths has really changed since I was at middle school). I made casualty chicken curry (long story involving a fox) and rhubarb crumble for supper. Nic, our neighbour, who’d called in the shop earlier complaining about cash flow (which I think we are all feeling at the moment) came round with her hair dye. The outcome of our financial  discussion resulted in us both agreeing we didn’t have anything left in the household budget to have a fancy salon cut and colour.

We cut and coloured her hair, and do you know it’s not quite as hard as you might think! In fact I got quite carried away with myself and rooted out some old curling tongs I must have once thought I may use, and set too curling and styling the newly coloured hair, and with quite satisfying results. I must say at this point I’m pleased I have boys – hardly any need to brush their hair. So last night I sat down glass in hand, basking in the glorious knowledge of list plus some completed, with pen and paper to write tomorrows list!

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