Archive for June, 2011

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.


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.

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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!

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