January 2010


Well, we’ve come a long way since last year - from a bare sheep field:

First days at Top Meadow

To a productive vegetable garden – fresh boxes of organic vegetables for about 15 local families:

Young member at work

Thank you for your membership and we hope that you have enjoyed your vegetables.

What about next year? It should be better.

We will be doing boxes for longer. Next year we will be able to start the boxes in June we hope, and carry on through to February.

We will be able to offer a greater range of vegetables, including tomatoes and cucumbers, and also some more herbs and soft fruit.

We will have a better idea of what you want and so will try to tailor what we grow to reflect this. Also, we are working out a way for you to be able to change your weekly order more easily.

We will have more experience of growing on our site, improved the soil and found out what problems there are and what varieties do better - so should grow better quality vegetables.

We will be holding monthly volunteer events in the garden next year – like open days for members. Also – hopefully some other events – cookery workshops, twmpath.

We aim to grow for 30 families next year - could you ask around and help us to recruit new members? Sue Bilsborough has the ‘waiting list’ – 01554 810 894.

Here are three (borrowed) warming winter recipes to keep you going:

Shin of Beef with Macaroni (for 6 people)

(from Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall, River Cottage Year)

Cut a kilo of shin of beef into thick strips. Cut 250g of salted pork belly or pancetta into chunky cubes. Heat a little olive oil or dripping in a large, heavy frying pan. Gently fry the pork until it is lightly browned and the fat runs. Transfer to a casserole, but leave the pan and oil on the heat. Now brown the shin meat in the same pan in batches, transferring it to the casserole as soon as it is lightly coloured. Finally slice 2 onions and sweat them in the same pan without allowing them to colour. Transfer to the casserole when soft and translucent. Add a couple of carrots, peeled and in big chunks, a few sticks of celery, sliced, a couple of bay leaves and a sprig of thyme. Pour over a few cups of beef stock, adding a little water if needed – the meat should be covered by a couple of centimetres.[You can either use beef stock in this recipe, or buy the meat with the shin bone, and simply add that to the pot and use water].

Season sparingly with salt and pepper.

Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, at a very low simmer for 2-3 hours, until the meat is completely tender. You can cook it in a slow oven (gas mark 1, 140◦c) if you like. Check and adjust seasoning.

Cook 250g small macaroni, or other soup pasta, separately and add to the casserole just before serving.

Leek and lamb hot pot

(from Lynda Brown, The Cook’s Garden)

  • 2 neck or best end chops per person, trimmed of obvious fat
  • 2 lamb’s kidneys (optional)
  • 1 ½ lb (675g) leeks, sliced into rounds
  • 1-2 tomatoes, chopped
  • Large sprig of thyme
  • 4-5 juniper berries, crushed
  • 2lb (900g) potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
  • ½ pt (300ml) lamb stock
  • Melted butter for brushing

Sear the chops on both sides in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat.

Choose either a deep pot and arrange the ingredients in layers, finishing with potatoes on top, or a shallower casserole which will take the chops in a single layer, sandwiching between them the leeks and seasonings, with potatoes again on top. Deglaze the pan with the stock (use water if no stock is available), and pour into the casserole, adding enough hot water to come just short of the potatoes. Brush these with melted butter, cover , and cook in a low oven, 140-150◦C / 275 – 300 ◦F / gas mark 1-2, for 1 ½ hours. Uncover, raising the heat a notch, and continue cooking for another hour or so. If necessary, finish by browning the potatoes under the grill.

Aromatic Cuban white bean and pumpkin stew (for 8 people)

(from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian)

  • 450g (1lb) dried white beans (eg. white kidney beans, haricot beans, canellini beans), picked over, soaked overnight, and drained.
  • 340g (12oz) peeled and seeded pumkin or butternut squash, cut into 2cm (3/4 inch) dice
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons green peppers, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander (or culantro leaves)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 250ml (8fl oz) tomato passata
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest

Put the beans in a large saucepan and add the pumpkin and 1.2 litres (2 pints) water. Bring to the boil. Partly cover the pan, turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 1-2 hours or until the beans are tender.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the sofrito. Put the oil in a large frying pan and set it on a medium-high heat. When hot, put in the onion and garlic. Stir and fry for 1 minute. Now put in the green pepper and the coriander leaves. Turn the heat to medium and stir for 1 minute. Put in the cumin and stir once. Now add the tomato passata and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and simmer very gently, stirring now and then, for 10 minutes.

When the beans are tender, add the salt and the sofrito to the pan. Add also the orange and lemon zest. Stir and bring to a simmer. Simmer very gently for 10-15 minutes, or until all the flavours are blended, stirring now and then.