imports and uk veg...

From Christmas onwards we are willing to compromise and start importing some peppers and tomatoes to compliment the hardcore of indigenous winter veg. from our own fields. Unfortunately the flavour of the tomatoes has been so disappointing that we have decided to revert to a more local box for the next month or so until something better is available.

The challenge for us is to make sure that we retain your custom, as the variety from our own fields declines through the winter and spring, until the new season starts in May. To do this I am generally quite happy to compromise and supplement with imports but if, having been trucked all the way, they are barely worth opening your mouth for I can't see the point. The mild weather is really helping so there is plenty of top quality veg. available here though the boxes are liable to have a repetitive theme for the next month.

In contrast to the tomatoes, the citrus from Spain, and now Morocco, has been fantastic recently. Rather strangely, all the citrus family bare their fruit in the winter. During our summer they have to come from the southern hemisphere and are expensive and, after their long journey, normally inferior. The Valencia late oranges arriving now are at their best; so wonderfully sweet and juicy they come very close to the explosion of flavour you get from fruit picked straight from the tree. We are expecting Seville oranges to arrive very soon and will be offering them on the extras list for the marmalade makers amongst you.

Out in our own fields we are plodding away pulling leeks and swedes and cutting cauliflower, sprouting broccoli, cabbage and kale. The weather map is constantly checked for any sign of a break in the weather allowing us to harvest the remaining parsnips and artichokes. If it gets dry enough we will start spreading muck and ploughing for the early crops. The first cabbage, lettuce and leeks have already been sown in blocks under glass ready for planting out to start in March.

Last week we talked about how to prepare the purple sprouting broccoli that appeared in your boxes, this week Jane, our resident chef, has a few suggestions as to what to do next... where we use PSB you can substitute with cape broccoli

Bagna Cauda - originating in Northern Italy, is an anchovy and garlic sauce traditionally served with crudit