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Archive for July, 2010

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.

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The rain we have been so desperate for has come at last, but it would be the day I am helping Lee to pack the organic vegetable boxes for delivery tomorrow.

I have come in with wet feet after discovering, too late, a hole in my work boots. I am very attached to my steel toe cap boots and generally can make them last for up to 2 years per pair. It doesn’t seem long but the wear and work they get  means they do work very hard for their living.

It was a lovely damp misty morning  on the farm and all the vegetables I have been picking and pulling were glossy with rain. The earth smells so warm and rich after heavy rain. Whilst packing the boxes I have been planning what we will be eating this week .

I will make a small salad with the lettuce, some of the onion, some grated carrot, some thin  slivers of the turnip, and some thin slivers of the lovely beetroot.

With the beetroot tops I will make a gratin. Simply steam the tops like spinach and pour over a rich cheese sauce. Sprinkle with a little grated cheese and bake in the oven.

Stir fry the cabbage with a little garlic and serve with cold meat and boiled new potatoes.

Par boil the new potatoes and store in the fridge until needed. Once par boiled you can quickly roast or skewer and BBQ or sauté.

I always make a vegetable soup with what’s left of the veg box every week, and freeze it. Most weeks it comes out of the freezer again and we eat it as a late supper with crusty bread,  garlic croutons, or cheese on toast. Something hot, tasty, and easy to eat when you come in late and tired.

The chard is one of our favourite summer vegetables and I will often just steam it and add a quick grating of nutmeg and some salt and pepper to serve. Treat it in a similar way to spinach, so you can eat it raw in a salad if you prefer. Chard also make a lovely sag aloo (potato and spinach curry).

Some of the beetroot can go into a moist and lovely chocolate and beetroot cake . This cake freezes very well. There are lots of recipes for chocolate beetroot cake but a quick and easy one is a simple chocolate sponge recipe (100g of flour/cocoa) with a fresh peeled and grated beetroot added. Bake as a normal sponge cake. I always add a tablespoon of milk to a chocolate sponge recipe to slacken the mixture. There are, however, some lovely rich recipes which contain real organic chocolate instead of cocoa powder which are worth making for a special treat.

 One of my favourite ways with beetroot is to roast it in wedges. Par boil the beets with their skin on. Rub off the skin (wear rubber gloves because the juice stains), cut into wedges, and splash with a little oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast in a hot oven until tender and caramelized.

If I can rescue the broad beans before the kids eat them all raw I will pod them and give them a gentle boil. They are nice crushed up and eaten on thick buttered toast with lots of black pepper – no need to share them!

We hope you all enjoy your organic vegetable boxes, wherever you buy them from.

You can look and see what we are up to on the farm on www.gandsorganics.com – check out the link to the farm blog.

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