November 2010

Our new polytunnel was up just in time before the wintry weather and stormy winds arrived, and you’ll be happy to hear that we’ve already planted some salad leaves in there to harvest in December.

With the nasty cold weather and heavy wet soil its time now for us to do more indoors work, to take stock and to plan for next years planting. We’ve already sent in our seed order for next year, and we’ve spent a lot of time discussing and debating. Now would be a good time for any feedback from you – about how you’ve found your vegetable boxes in the first year; any changes you’d like to see; as well as any other comments about your membership. Just contact Sue Bilsborough with comments (01554 810 894), or put a message in your returned boxes.

We plan to keep the boxes going until the week leading up to Christmas, with our own vegetables (including the leeks, parsnips, cabbages, kale, brussel sprouts, squashes, salads) and others which we have bought in from a local organic supplier (potatoes, onions, carrots and others). At Christmas time, we’ll stop the boxes for several months, to restart in June when we should have plenty of fresh vegetables to harvest again.

We’ve been looking at the figures and how things are working out, and we have made the decision to expand the scheme next year from the current amount (roughly 15 boxes) to 30 boxes, which should give us enough income to pay someone for part of the work (don’t forget that all of the labour is voluntary at the moment). Please speak to any friends or family who you think might be interested in joining Banc Organics and having a box, and ask them to contact our membership secretary Sue Bilsborough (01554 810 894). We’ll put their names on a waiting list for next year.


We’ve kept a look out for some special inspiring recipes for winter vegetables, to keep you going in the dark months. There are some lovely salad recipes at the end, which prove that its possible to eat seasonal salads all year round!

Mixed Roasted Vegetables

Prepare your vegetables by chopping them into large pieces: cut carrots & parsnips into large chunks, onions into quarters, swede & potatoes into 1 inch wedges. You could also experiment with chunks of celeriac, squash, sweet potatoes and sliced turnip. Place in a large bowl with a crushed clove of garlic, olive oil and chopped mixed fresh herbs – sage, thyme, rosemary. Mix thoroughly with your hands. Spread out on a large baking tray and season with salt and black pepper. Cook in a hot oven (220◦C, 425◦F, gas mark 7) on a high shelf for 35-40 minutes. They are ready when tender and browning at the edges. You should be able to easily push a skewer into the vegetables.

Potage Bonne Femme (a lovely french vegetable soup)

  • 1lb (5o0g) potatoes
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 large leeks
  • 1 1⁄2 oz butter
  • 2 pints water
  • Seasoning
  • To finish the soup – a little cream and parsley or chervil when available

Melt the butter in your soup pan, put in the cleaned and finely sliced leeks and diced carrots. Let them get thoroughly hot and saturated with the butter; add the peeled and diced potatoes, the water, a little salt and a lump or two of sugar. Cook steadily but not at a gallop for 25-30 minutes. Push the soup through a sieve (or put it in the food processor). Taste for seasoning, and when ready to serve add the cream and parsley or chervil (chopped very finely). (serves 4)

Root Vegetable Mash

Peel and chop equal quantities (about 1lb) of potatoes and any two of the following: carrots, parsnips, celeriac, swede. Cook the potatoes in one pan of salted water. Cook the other vegetables together in another, simmering until tender. Drain. In the larger of the pans, heat 4 oz butter with a little milk (add cream if you like). Season with black pepper and nutmeg. Add the potatoes and mash them until smooth. Rub the other roots through a sieve or process in a food blender, and put them in the pan. Mix well, and add more milk or butter if needed. Taste for seasoning. (to serve 4)

Glazed parsnips

Thanks to one of our members for this recipe for Cabbage Stir Fry:

  • Oil
  • Black Mustard Seeds
  • Chilli
  • Ginger
  • Shredded Cabbage
  • Sugar & Salt
  • Shredded Coconut

Fry first 3 ingredients for a few minutes. Add cabbage and fry until it wilts. Add sugar, salt & coconut. Fry for a couple of minutes. Yummy!

Gujerati Carrot Salad

12oz (340g) grated carrot; 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil; good squeeze of lemon juice; 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds

Put the carrot in a serving dish and squeeze over lemon juice to taste. Heat the oil in a small frying pan. Add the mustard seeds, cover and cook for a few moments until they start to pop. Pour them over the carrots and serve.

Raw Beetroot Salad with Honey and Garlic Dressing

Marinate a clove of crushed garlic for a couple of hours in lemon juice sweetened with honey to taste. Remove the garlic. Toss finely shredded beetroot in the dressing and leave for a while for the flavours to mingle.

Beetroot with mint and yoghurt

  • 1 beetroot weighing about 8oz, or 2 smaller ones, boiled or roasted in foil until tender and peeled
  • 500ml (16fl oz) natural yoghurt
  • 3⁄4 - 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 -1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 1⁄2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon olive / sunflower oil
  • 3 small cloves garlic, peeled, or one large clove garlic, cut lengthways into 3 sections

Grate the beetroot coarsely. Put the yoghurt in a bowl. Beat it lightly with a fork or whisk until it is smooth and creamy. Add the salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Stir to mix. Add the mint and beetroot. Mix gently. Put the oil and garlic in a small frying pan and set over a medium-high heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle, press it down with a spatula. Let it sizzle some more, turning the pieces once or twice until they turn a medium brown. Pour the flavoured oil and garlic into the bowl with the beetroot. Stir to mix. [serves 6-8]

Leek vinaigrette

Trim and wash some leeks (use small leeks if you can, and make sure you remove any tough outer leaves of larger ones). Make sure you get rid of any grit by slicing part-way down the green tops when you rinse the leeks. Cook the leeks whole or in large pieces by boiling in plenty of fast-boiling water until tender. Drain and put into a serving dish. Make a mustard vinaigrette and pour it over the leeks – the amount will depend on the amount of leeks, so you’ll have to experiment. Serve warm or cold.

(To make a vinaigrette: shake together in a clean jam jar a teaspoon of English mustard, 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon cider or white wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons olive oil and salt & black pepper to taste)