Green tomatoes – Preserving group day!

Well done, and many thanks, to all our wonderful preservers who did amazing work last Friday making green tomato chutney to go in to our veg share boxes during the 2015 hungry gap!

green toms

No food whatsoever is wasted at The Oak Tree! Green tomatoes make a lovely chutney, so this is a wonderful way to keep our supply of food up throughout the year as we only put vegetables grown on the farm into our veg share boxes, we don’t buy veg in when the supply gets slower in the hungry gap.

Our preserving queen Christine was mistress of ceremonies:

Preserving queen Christine!

Preserving queen Christine!

Ably assisted by many members of our Community Supported Agriculture Scheme

Janus busy chopping green tomatoes

Janus busy chopping green tomatoes

Kirsty gets stuck in!

Kirsty gets stuck in!

 

 

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A late November veg box….

vegbox_200914

This weeks veg share box contains:

- 2 Brussels sprout tops OR 300g Brussels sprouts

- 100g Swiss chard

- a generous amount of butternut squash (or maybe a large slice of Crown Prince squash toward the end of the week)

- a large leek

- 400g parsnips

- 350g carrots

See below a list of recipes provided & tested by the oak-tree-farm members which uses one or several of the above vegetables. And please, if you do have one of your very own, please send it over! Thank You.

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Chard roulade

Running out of ideas on what to do with your mountain of chard? Here’s a quick and easy but unusual recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Plenty of chard (up to 500g ish). You may also use spinach.
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g pack of cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Optional extras:
Add garlic and different herbs to the mix for more distinctive flavours. Thyme, Oregano, Nutmeg and Cloves are all good options. Or add chives to the cream cheese.

Method:

  1. Chop or tear your chard (or spinach) and steam or boil it till just soft.
  2. Squeeze out excess water and work it a bit to make a sort of chard mush.
  3. Leave to cool down, then add salt and pepper and 2 beaten eggs.
  4. Spread the mixture on to a GREASED rectangular baking tray
  5. Bake at 180′ until it JUST starts to brown on top.
  6. Leave to cool a bit and remove from the tray onto a flat surface
  7. Spread on the cream cheese and roll up like a Swiss roll
  8. Serve sliced

Bon appetite!

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This week’s veg box

In the veg boxes this last week (check out Joanne’s size 7 boots at the bottom of the picture for scale!):

- 1 big squash or two smaller ones

- a big leek

- 350g carrots

- 400g parsnips

- 70g salad leaves

- 150 g tomatoes

- half a big white cabbage or 1/4 of a huge one

See below a list of recipes provided & tested by the oak-tree-farm members which uses one or several of the above vegetables. And please, if you do have one of your very own, please send it over! Thank You.

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Nadia’s Lentils and Squash

Lentils-squash-carrots-recipe

“This is an adaptation of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe (from River Cottage, every Day book). The recipe is called “lentil and Squash pasties”. I am not that fond of pasties, so I have adpated this and serve it with either rice or potatoes….I have doubled the ingredients, cooking for two meals at once :-).

I love the contrast between the sweetness of the squash, and the sharpness of the mustard!” Nadia

Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 500g butternut or other squash, chopped into 1cm dice.
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I put 5, I love garlic!)
  • 250g green or brown lentils
  • 600ml stock (any kind, I used beef)
  • 2 tablespoon rapeseed or olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons apple balsamic or other balsamic vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons hot english mustard
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 200g of lardons (My add-on, not in original recipe!)

Additional ingredients in original recipe that I have not used, provided here for completeness:

  • 200ml white wine
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • A sprig of thymes

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and some salt & pepper.
  2. Cook gently for 10-15 minutes until soft.
  3. Optional: add the wine if using it, and let it bubble away to nothing.
  4. Add the lentils and stock, season well.
  5. Optional: Add the bay leaf and thyme, if using.
  6. Stir well, cover, and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
  7. Add the squash and lardons and simmer for another 20 minutes or until both lentils and squash are tender.
  8. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and mustard and check the seasoning.

Serve with rice/potatoes/couscous.

Bon appetite!

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Feline furry visitors to The Oak Tree

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny November day. A number of Community Supported Agriculture Scheme members were merrily getting on with the harvest of autumnal veg including parsnips, leeks, salad leaves and more when we all heard some high pitched mewing, and a couple of tiny tabby-furred delights appeared through the hedgerow!

The harvest was put on hold for a while as we got to know our two visitors…

pussy1 pussy2 pussy3

We were all set to adopt them as The Oak Tree kittens when our stable yard neighbours started calling for them… young Milo and Max then returned home! But we are hoping they will be regular visitors here at The Oak Tree!

pussy4

 

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This week’s veg share box

This week The Oak Tree veg share box takes on a distinctly autumnal, or even wintery, mood!

vegbox5_11_14

- 1 Harlequin squash

- 1 large leek

- a large slice of red cabbage

- 500g winter carrots

- 250g beans (runner or French) OR 300g beetroot

- 200g tomatoes

- 70g salad leaves: rocket, lettuce, baby kale & beet leaves

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The Flower Farmer’s Year by Georgie Newbery – Book Review

Here on The Oak Tree website I only ever bother reviewing books that I find genuinely useful. There are so many gardening and farming books out there that I don’t really see any point in criticising poor ones. I’d prefer to just draw attention to the useful ones! The publishers Green Books often seem to bring out interesting volumes, so if they publish a book on a topic that interests me I’ll always take a look.

FLower farming book

It just so happened that the evening before I heard about the upcoming publication of The Flower Farmer’s Year by Georgie Newbery I had been looking at her website, and dreaming of attending a Flower Farming course with her. She’s a long way from The Oak Tree, and the farm was too busy at the time to seriously plan a trip down to Somerset, so I had reluctantly abandoned the idea. The timing of her book could not have been better!

First flower shares of 2014

First Oak Tree flower shares of 2014

We’ve been growing cut flowers here at The Oak Tree for a couple of years. Flower shares are an ever more popular option in our veg share boxes and I had been planning to branch out into selling flowers beyond the farm community, but had never quite found the time to do so. Also, if I’m honest, I wasn’t really confident about the best way to go about preparing, packaging and marketing them.

Wedding flowers

Wedding flowers

A couple of years ago a lady came onto the farm via the hedgerow to ask if she could buy some of our sunflowers for her daughters’ wedding (we said “yes”!) and we had lots of fun preparing the flowers for Eric and Rose’s wedding this year. The dream of offering local Low Carbon Flowers from The Oak Tree for weddings and other special events has been growing ever since!

Georgie Newbery’s chatty, friendly and approachable book is just what we need to help us make the jump into expanding the cut flower venture here at The Oak Tree. Previous books we’ve looked at are either written for the (rather different) US climate, or are for the amateur gardener seeking to grow cut flowers for the house. The Flower Farmer’s Year gives advice targeted to our mild, dark-in-winter climate, and also gives practical advice on both preparing flowers for sale, and most importantly of all perhaps, how to actually sell them!

We all instinctively know that the story behind cheap supermarket year-round flowers isn’t pretty, but I hadn’t realised just how chemical-infused the “conventional” flower industry actually was until reading Georgie’s book. I feel better prepared to explain the environmental benefits of locally grown flowers produced without chemicals now: a genuine addition to our Low Carbon range of produce.

So look out for news on how to order Low Carbon, Suffolk grown flowers from The Oak Tree for your wedding, or other event, here soon. Thank you Georgie Newbery!

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Chantelle’s Cabbage and Leek Bake

Recipe-Leek-Fennel-Bake

Leek & fennel bake

Ingredients:

  • 8 to 10 potatoes (with skin on: it’s where all the goodness is and saves time)
  • Grated cheese
  • One leek
  • A quarter of cabbage
  • Salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Boil the patatoes
  2. Thinly dice leek and a quarter cabbage and steam in a pan with the lid on with half a cup of water in the bottom until the veg deepens and becomes more vibrant in colour. Season to taste.
  3. Make a mash with the cooked patatoes. Add a couple of handfuls of grated cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Mix the potatoes and veg together transfer to a casserole dish, top with cheese and bake @200 for 20mins or until the top is golden.

Enjoy with baked beans :-)

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The week’s veg share box

This week's veg share box

This week’s veg share box

In the veg share boxes this week…

- 1 Harlequin squash

- 5 Cobs sweetcorn

- 1 “Morton’s Mix” lettuce

- 1 Courgette

- 300g Baby beetroot

1 Florence fennel

- 350g tomatoes

- 150g green beans (runners or French)

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