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Archive for June 7th, 2009

It was Open Farm Day 2009 today, and we popped over to Shabden Park Farm in Chipstead where they had a variety of animals on display for the children to see.  Eden has started getting a bit distressed about the idea that animals have to be killed for meat, and I don’t think the sight of the incredibly cute baby animals, most of them a few days old, did much to dispel her reservations. There were baby goslings, little lambs and tiny baby pigs, which put the sausage we had eaten into perspective.  The day really reinforced for me the value of buying properly reared meat, that has been treated well.  The small farm shop sells only their own meat and that of other selected local farmers.

After a lovely sunny day, we went back to the Warren to see what was going on.  The brassicas have grown amazingly in only a week.

Cauliflowers

Cauliflowers

The gooseberries have come through and are looking extremely good, even though the leaves are getting eaten by something.

Red gooseberries

Red gooseberries

Dinner tonight was roast duck with vegetables roasted with thyme and bay leaf.

Roasted vegetables

Roasted vegetables

The final crop of rhubarb came from the plot this afternoon which we roasted in the oven for about 30 minutes with sugar and vanilla.

This afternoon

This afternoon

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

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These days, although we would all love to eat fresh, fully prepared, home cooked meals every day, it is sometimes hard to do much more than re-heat a ready meal in the evenings after work.  Especially, ironically if you have been at the allotment till 7pm (!).

But Saturday is our foodie day.  We love to think about what we can incorporate from the plot on the menu that night, and we have the time and energy to try something new, rather than a tried and tested recipe.

This weekend we had little else to do, so we worked in four new dishes with our own home grown stuff.

First on the menu was Chicken in Marsala sauce.  This is cheating a bit, because the only ingredients from the allotment were bay leaves and thyme, but it is worth noting nonetheless.

Ingredients:

Chicken quarters or thighs, skin & bone on.
1/2 bottle of Marsala wine
A few sprigs of Thyme
2 Bay leaves
1/2 head of garlic
Splash 0f olive oil
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to season
Fresh parsley
(optional) mushrooms

The basic recipe follows the standard chicken one pot meal, like chicken and tarragon.  You fry off the seasoned chicken in olive oil till it goes brown, then add the other ingredients, leave it bubbling away for a while, keep an eye on it, then reduce down the stock that’s left.

Reducing the stock is particularly important in this case, as you end up with a really nice sweet, sticky sauce, which coats the chicken really nicely. The final step is to chop the parsley and add just before serving.  We followed this with:

Strawberry and Vanilla Custard Tarts.

Strawberry tarts

Strawberry tarts

These were made with Colin and Gail’s eggs which we think explains why they have an amazingly yellow colour.

Ingredients:

Ready made sweet pastry
Vanilla pod
300ml Double Cream
5 egg yolks
75g granulated sugar (or vanilla sugar)

Line small tart tins with sweet pastry.  Bake blind for 10 minutes then allow to cool.

Make the vanilla custard, by heating up cream in a saucepan with the vanilla pod.  Beat together the egg yolks and the sugar in a separate bowl.  Carefully drip in slowly some of the warmed milk, and beat until smooth.  Continue doing this with about 1/3 of the milk then return the mixture to the saucepan with the rest of the milk.  Heat carefully.  When the custard begins to cool it will set, and then you can add the strawberries and custard to the tart cases.

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