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Good Housekeeping Food Awards – win a luxury weekend break

We’ve been nominated in the ‘Favourite to-your-door food supplier’ category of the Good Housekeeping Food Awards. Please vote for us  – you might even win a luxury weekend break while you’re at it! Voting closes 21st December.

9/10 from Giles Coren

Field Kitchen sharing food 2Giles Coren reviewed our Field Kitchen restaurant in the Times calling it “the lunch of my life” and giving it a score of 9/10. It was following an unexpected visit on a fraught day last month – Jane Baxter our head cook had an accident earlier in the day and was rushed to A&E. A credit to Jane and the rest of the team that they can pull it off on possibly their trickiest day of the year so far!   Read more

Veg of the month – squash and pumpkin

With the recent warm dry weather, our squash are developing good hard skins to store well over the coming months. Squash and pumpkins are part of the Cucurbitaceae family, along with courgettes and marrows, but are distinguished by the fact that their fruits are harvested mature and can last very well, making them a useful staple through autumn and winter (and often beyond).

squash

storage and preparation
Squash are one of the few vegetables that like centrally heated houses. Keep them warm and dry and they can sometimes last through to the following year. Squash look attractive on a kitchen shelf, so even if you’re not a great fan, enjoy them for their decorative qualities. The downside is that they can be a nightmare to cut and peel; cut the bottom off with a strong sharp knife so you have a flat surface to work from. Butternut is the easiest variety to peel (try a good vegetable peeler) but if you have a thicker-skinned squash, you could roast it in segments with the skin still on, to be removed at the table.

cooking
Butternut is probably the best-known squash and works well for risotto or soup. Large pumpkins can be soapy and watery and are generally best used for Halloween lanterns. If you need cooked squash for a recipe, you could skip peeling it and instead cut it in half, roast and scoop out the flesh when soft; just don’t be tempted to roast it whole or it will explode. Squash is also a good choice for thrifty cooks. Roast the seeds in the oven for a few minutes for a moreish snack to serve with drinks. The inside trimmings can be used in veg stock to add vibrant colour to soups or risottos. Just add to other stock ingredients, simmer in enough water to cover for about an hour and strain through a sieve.

Guardian Response

Zoe Williams’ attack on all things organic (The Guardian 26/9/09) is comprehensive but incoherent. Does she really think we should condemn all organic farmers for the misdeeds of one criminal like Neil Stansfield of Swaddles Green? Or write off every organic buyer who shows a modicum of trust as a mug who deserves to be ripped off?

My 23 years of growing organic vegetables have given me a different view of organic buyers and growers (though box scheme buyers may be a little more considered than those snatching organic labels from the shelves of supermarkets or Fortnum and Mason). The vast majority are searching for a safer, fairer and more sustainable way of growing and enjoying food. Far from being unthinkingly compliant and accepting, or driven by fashion, they generally seem to me an argumentative, questioning and varied lot, making their own pragmatic judgements after balancing up a host of issues including local, fair trade, scale of production, use of packaging, animal welfare, food safety and environmental impact to name a few. Food safety and particularly the avoidance of pesticides (not covered in FSA report she quotes) often head the list of motivations for new organic buyers but, in my experience, this is soon supplanted by flavour. Few believe that organic is the only, or complete solution, but most share a belief that our food and farming needs to change and that in most instances organic offers a better alternative.

I have more sympathy with the second half of her article, condemning a perceived hijacking of all food issues by the organic movement.

Riverford mini cucumbers win food Oscars

Our mini cucumbers from Wash Farm have won the Fruit & Vegetable category in the Soil Association Organic Food Awards closely followed by our pointed cabbages awarded commended. Judges called them ‘delicate, sweet, fresh and crunchy’. We couldn’t agree more! cucumbers2

Guy awarded an honorary degree

Our founder, Guy Watson, has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Law from Plymouth University.  Guy earned a distinction for his campaigning work for the organic movement and more recently for promoting practical home cooking using seasonal veg.

He was in the company of the likes of Pen Hadow, polar explorer who picked up an Honorary Doctorate of Science and Juliet Davenport founder of the Good Energy Group who also picked up an Honorary science degree.

Veg of the month – sweetcorn

The current spell of bright, sunny weather means now is the ideal time to enjoy corn at its ripe, sweet best. Our field workers judge when a cob is ready by feel alone; if you peel back the leaves it will quickly desweetcornteriorate. The most damaging (and unlikely-sounding) pest to the crop is our local badger population. Badgers have a sweet tooth and adore wreaking havoc through a field, grabbing mouthfuls of sweetcorn and generally delighting in destruction. An electric fence can keep them at bay, but even then they have been known to outsmart us.

Keep sweetcorn in the fridge encased in its outer leaves (the best sort of packaging) and use within a day or two for the best flavour. It tastes great on the BBQ, if you haven’t yet packed it away for winter; soak the unpeeled cobs in water for an hour, then cook very gently for 25-45 minutes until the leaves turn brown. If you are boiling the cobs, pull off the outer leaves and silky threads, before cooking for 5-10 minutes in unsalted water until tender.

You can stand a cob on its end and slice the kernels off with a sharp knife, although the most satisfying way to eat sweetcorn is undoubtedly to grip it with both hands and gnash off the kernels. For a new slant on the traditional, serve with red pepper and chive butter. Put skinned roasted red peppers, butter, garlic and chilli sauce in a food processor and whizz until combined, then stir in chopped chives, season well and smear on the cobs. Or make a quick soup. Cook a chopped onion and crushed garlic cloves in butter until soft, add the kernels from three corn cobs and cover with a mixture of half water and half milk. Simmer for 10 minutes then purée and pass through a sieve. Cooked sweetcorn is also good in a frittata with kidney beans, grated cheese and red onion. We have chosen sweetcorn fritters as the starter in our ‘box to share’ menu to introduce new people to Riverford; you can find the recipe on the website.

Summer party, Home Farm

We had a great time at our summer party  at Home Farm, Northallerton. We hope you did too…

sack race  fruit hoopla  bales kohl rabi shy  facepainting  Peter leading tour

 

good looking boxes

big-lunch-boxit’s been a good growing year so far and our boxes are looking great. Our most recent box is the Big Lunch Box, enough to make scrumptious salads for 8 people with fresh fruit & cream for dessert. Find out more about our box on our website.

Tasting french carrots

carrot tastingWe’ve been tasting carrot varieties today, all grown on our French farm in the Vendee. Our stored Devon carrots last until the beginning of May and we have a 4-5 week gap when we import carrots to fill the gap before our Devon bunched carrots come into season. The plan is to bridge this gap with carrots from our French farm and as we tasted 8 varieities the decision was unanimous –  Namur is the best. So you’ll be seeing these in the boxes this time next year.