Tag Archives: farm

Penny’s gardening blog: get crafty with vegetable tie-die

Dying using veg and fruit is easy, fun and will educate your kids about the different uses plants have.

You can try beetroot, onion skins, blackberries, redcurrants, plums, to name but a few plus all sorts of spices like turmeric and saffron and different tree barks and roots.  Follow this link for much more information on what to use and how to do it. http://pioneerthinking.com/crafts/natural-dyes.

I decided to have a go last weekend and took some photos to show you my results. It does take some preparation and don’t expect really strong colours. Have a read and start collecting your dye materials.

Equipment, you will need:

  •  saucepans
  •  colanders or sieves
  • rubber gloves
  •  salt
  • vinegar
  • 100 percent cotton material
  • your chosen dye materials  (I managed to procure some red and yellow onion skins, some beetroot, red cabbage leaves, and a mixture of blackcurrants, plums and cherries).

I made a dye solution by boiling the dye materials, using twice as much water as dye material, for about an hour. I stained each one and set aside.

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I prepared some cloth by boiling in a fixative solution:

  • Use half a cup of salt to eight cups of water for berries.
  • Use four cups of water to one cup of vinegar for plant material.

Make enough solution to cover your cloth. And simmer for an hour, then rinse.

Place the dye solution in the pan with the wet cloth and simmer gently, stirring here and there until the cloth has reached a good colour. Rinse and dry out of direct sunlight.

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I borrowed my friends kids and had a go at tie dying some old shirts they had, using the dyes we had made.  Our results seemed initially good, the colour faded quite quickly but it was fun anyway. The colours will fade in sunlight, and with washing, which should be done separately from other clothes.

This method of tie dying using marbles or stones is quite effective.

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Place a marble or coin onto the material, pinch it and twist the material around it. Secure it in place with an elastic band. Be sure to secure the band very tightly for good results.

Livy using marbles and rubber bands:Image

Luke using a stick to spiral the t shirt:

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Tie up as tightly as possible using rubber bands and string.   We added several colours but of course you can’t boil these in, so using one colour is probably a better idea when using natural dyes.

 

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My Jackson Pollock design!

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Our results!

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kirsty’s cooking blog: samphire

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I don’t think there are many places in the UK where you get a feeling that there’s not another soul around, and most of those I’ve come across are in Scotland.

However, I managed to grab a brief Robinson Crusoe moment on home turf in Devon recently, stranded on the beach as the advance party for a group of food journalists who were invited to pick samphire with us on the Erme estuary, probably one of the most unspoilt in the South West. I was able to get there early and had a tranquil hour, quietly snipping samphire with only a few cormorants for company. Heaven. 

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Erme Estuary

We ate ours served with a huge sea trout donated by my dad (we were lucky to get it, as he had a little unplanned swim shortly after he caught it!)

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Freshly caught sea trout!

To serve samphire very simply, to accompany fish or lamb, simply boil or steam it for a minute, then toss in melted butter with a squeeze of lemon juice and some freshly ground black pepper. It’s good tossed in salads too. 

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Busy picking samphire

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Gathered around our camping set up – enjoying sea trout and samphire

Here are a couple of my favourite recipes; there are lots more on our website.

spider crab & samphire salad, with new potatoes & roasted tomatoes

In the early summer the spider crabs come into shore in vast numbers and are rarely eaten by us; most get sent over to the continent. They have a light, sweet flavour. If I go spear-fishing off the South Devon coast I pick a couple of these up on the way back; they’re a substitute for not catching any sea bass, which tend to be further offshore until the sea warms up later in the year, but by no means a poor one. Cooking them can be a bit whiffy indoors; I usually get the camping cooker out and boil them in the garden. If you can’t find spider crab, use the meat from a brown crab instead.

serves 4

  • 12 cherry tomatoes, cut in ½ crossways
  • 800g new potatoes, scrubbed clean & cut in ½ or ¼’s, depending on size
  • 4 tbsp good olive oil
  • 200g samphire, washed
  • 200g cooked white spider crab meat
  • a few basil leaves, shredded
  • a few tarragon leaves, shredded
  • (as an alternative to basil & tarragon, try some chopped fresh chervil if you can get it, or parsley)
  • lemon juice, to taste
  • sea salt (see note below) & freshly ground black pepper, to season

Put the cherry tomatoes on a non-stick baking tray and drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 180C for 30-40 mins, depending on your oven. They should be sticky and just starting to caramelise. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. While the tomatoes are cooking, put the potatoes in a pan of salted water. Bring to the boil and cook the potatoes for approx 10 -15 mins, depending on size, until tender. Drain and leave to cool. Cook the samphire in another pan of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and plunge into a pan of cold water, then drain again and leave to cool. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, tomatoes, samphire, crab meat and herbs. Add the rest of the olive oil and lemon juice to taste and season with black pepper. You probably won’t need any extra sea salt to season, as the samphire is salty enough, but taste before you serve. 

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samphire, sorrel & new potato frittata

samphire, sorrel & new potato frittata

Samphire doesn’t have to be served with fish or meat; if you’re vegetarian it pairs well with eggs too. I’ve included some sorrel in this set omelette, for a citrus hit. If you’ve grown some from your Riverford box to grow earlier in the year, use that, or try a garden centre for a plant; it’s not something you generally find in your local shop.

serves 2

  • 250g new pots, scrubbed clean & thickly sliced
  • a little butter & oil for frying
  • 4 large or 6 smaller sorrel leaves, finely shredded
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 50g samphire, washed
  • sea salt (add sparingly if at all, as the samphire will be salty) 
  • freshly ground black pepper

Cook the sliced potatoes for 5 minutes in a pan of salted boiling water. Drain them and leave to one side. Heat a knob of butter and a splash of oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the sorrel and stir for 1 minute (sorrel loses its green colour when cooked, so don’t be alarmed when it changes colour quite dramatically). Add the drained potatoes, beaten eggs, samphire, salt and a good grinding of black pepper to season. Cook for a few minutes, enough to set the bottom. Finish under the grill or in the oven, until the frittata is just set all the way through.

Happy cooking!

Kirsty’s cooking blog: making red onion & raisin chutney

Kirsty, Riverford Cook

Kirsty, Riverford Cook

Before I had my first vegbox, about 12 years ago now, I’d always made a few chutneys, because I love the mix of sweet and sour flavours, and their versatility. With my vegbox, I started making more chutneys and pickles to use up any gluts. Now they’ve become a staple in my kitchen cupboard.

Chutneys are one of the simplest of all the preserving kits we’re selling alongside the vegboxes. A bit of peeling and chopping, then let it all simmer gently away until you have a sticky, aromatic concoction. With our ready-weighed spice bags there’s no risk of over or under-spicing, so they’re great for beginners, or for those who don’t like to buy jars of spices and then find them a year later, languishing and stale in the back of the cupboard.

With its warm spices, you might think our new red onion and raisin chutney is more suited to wintry suppers, but if you make it now, it’ll mature in time to be a great addition to a summer spread. Take it on picnics; it’s good with pork pie or cheeses, or serve alongside barbecued meats. For veggies, try one of our giant portobello mushrooms, char-grilled and served on a griddled warm bun with a slick of mayo, preferably a garlic one, topped with a good dollop of chutney.

I’m making my jars now, while the days are still promising much, and squirreling them away for summer feasts on the river Dart and balmy seaside barbecues. Or, if the weather’s like last year, I’ll brave the beach in a mac, shovel in a quick cheese and chutney doorstop, head to the nearest pub to dry off and save most of the jars for bonfire night sausages.

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Riverford red onion & raisin chutney kit

Kirsty’s cooking blog: egg hunting, lamb recipes for Easter & best lemon curd & chocolate tart

My Easter Sunday will be spent taking part in our family’s chocolate egg hunt around the garden (tempest and ice-storm permitting). This highly competitive and occasionally combative sport might look a little odd to the outside eye, as we have more pensioners than pre-schoolers on the starting line these days. But traditions must be preserved and scores must be settled, so it seems set to continue for a few years yet.

How do you spend your Easter?
Without getting into a debate about what the festival means, I hope you get some time to share a meal (or egg hunt) with family and friends. Our Easter hampers have sold out, so many of you will be cooking our roast leg of lamb.

We’ve given you two ways to cook it – slow-roast or traditional, with home-made mint sauce. 

to prepare the lamb for both cooking methods:

ImageCut several slits in the skin of the lamb, just large enough to poke in a clove of garlic and a small piece of rosemary in each. Season the lamb well with salt and pepper.

ingredients

1.8kg leg of lamb
small sprigs of rosemary
a few garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to season

for slow roast lamb

Preheat the oven to 150C. Place the prepared lamb in a snug fitting roasting pan and cover with foil. Roast for 3 ½ hours, basting every 30 mins. Remove the foil and roast for another 30 mins to brown the skin a little.
Slow roasting doesn’t require the meat to be rested at the end as it will be very tender and will shred apart with a fork. It will shrink up as it cooks, so if you’re serving more than 6 or want leftovers, you might want to stick to the traditional roasting method.

traditional roast lamb

Preheat the oven to 220C. Put the prepared lamb in a roasting tin and put in the oven. Roast for 20 mins, then turn the heat down to 190C and roast for 50 mins for medium-rare lamb, or longer if you like it more well done.
Traditional roast lamb should be wrapped in foil and kept in a warm place for 20-30 mins before carving to let the juices settle and tenderise the meat.

for the gravy

Once the lamb is removed from the pan, skim off most of the fat from the remaining juices. Place the pan on the hob (make sure it’s a flameproof pan, or decant the juices into one) and stir in 2 tbsp plain flour. Stir for a couple of mins to cook the flour. Add a good glass of red wine and 1 tsp redcurrant jelly. Stir for 1 min, then add 300ml stock. Simmer for a few mins.

for the mint sauce

Put a large handful of chopped fresh mint leaves in a heatproof bowl with 2 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp boiling water. Leave to cool, then stir in 2 tbsp white wine vinegar. Leave to steep for an hour or so if you can.

for my lemon curd & chocolate tart

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If you’re not tucking into our homemade Bakewell tart on Easter Sunday, or have inadvertently eaten it already (easily done), I hope you try making our lemon curd and chocolate tart, to see the recipe click here. It was one of the most popular things I’ve ever brought into the farm office for staff to taste test. 
There’s no requirement to make pastry, and the curd is easy to make; just remember to keep the heat low so it doesn’t curdle. Pop any leftover curd in the fridge and spread on a thick piece of toast for an indulgent breakfast or afternoon treat. Better than a chocolate egg (and I may not find any).

Ed’s farm blog – duff plums and unseasonal veg

We have just about finished picking our plums and, like so many crops this year, the news is pretty disastrous. The trees were planted as saplings in March 2008 and have yet to reach their full potential; back in the spring things looked good but the rain knocked most of the blossom off and later in the season the trees dropped most of their fruit as they got overstressed. We picked over four tonnes last year and were expecting more (perhaps 6 tonnes) this year, but the final tally has come in at a mighty 427kg! Hearty portions of plum duff look to be thin on the ground in the Field Kitchen…

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View across the fields

On a lighter note the remains of the Broad Beans that we harvested in June were rotovated in and the last of this years lettuce planted in their place. The few remaining bean pods have apparently decided it is now spring and we have miniature self-seeded plants poking their heads up amongst the Cos. I picked a few sprouting tips for Rob, our resident genius in the Field Kitchen, so if anyone is heading in that direction this week they may get some of the most unseasonal veg I have seen in a long time!

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Broad beans mixed in with batavia and radicchio

Get into the spooky spirit at our Pumpkin Days

pumpkin dayHead down to your nearest Riverford farm this autumn and join us for a spot of good old fashioned fun at our Pumpkin Days. There’ll be plenty to do for children and adults alike. And it’s free!

Activities include choosing your own pumpkin for Halloween, pumpkin carving and vegetable games. When that all gets too much, the kids can settle down to paint spooky pictures in the creativity area and take a tractor ride around the farm to see where we grow the veg for your boxes.

There’s lots for the grown ups too. Green-fingered types can meet the farmers who grow your veg and find out more about

organic farming, and keen cooks will pick up a tip or two in the seasonal cookery demos. And everyone will get a sneaky first taste of our Christmas food.

We’ll serve up plenty of organic food and drink for you to buy, including homemade varieties of pumpkin soup (try one of our all-time favourite pumpkin soup recipes on the opposite page).

So, we hope we’ll see you there. Entry is free and there’s no need to book. All welcome – bring a friend or two!

wash farm pumpkin day
saturday 29th october, 11am-4pm
Riverford on Wash Farm, Devon

sacrewell farm pumpkin day
saturday 29th october
Riverford on Upper Sacrewell Farm, Cambridgeshire

home farm pumpkin day
sunday 30th october, 11am-4pm
Riverford on Home Farm, Yorkshire

norton farm pumpkin day
saturday 29th october, 11am-4pm
Riverford on Upper Norton Farm, Hampshire

kent pumpkin day
saturday 29th october, 11am-4pm
Hartley Lands Farm, Swattenden Lane, Cranbrook, Kent, TN17 3PS

see our events page

Growing salad pack on our farm in Devon

Our organic salad pack is made up of a mixture of seasonal leaves, freshly picked from our farm. In the summer the leaves grow quickly, usually being picked around 24organic salad pack from Riverford Farm in Devon days after being drilled.

To drill them, we make a raised bed, with a level surface and go over it with the cheesewire to get the bed clear of weeds. To find out more about the cheesewire, go here. The earlier crop is fleeced to keep it warm and later we use a net to protect it from flea beetle damage and to create shade. We weed it by hand, which can take a lot of effort, but we use an ortomec (belt harvester) to pick it, making harvesting quicker and easier.

Our salad pack is made up of 5 or 6 different leaves, these could be pak choi; ruby streaks mustard; baby leaf lettuce; mixed chard; golden streaks mustard; rocket or tat soi.