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Saturday, 21 June 2014

Delicious fruit and veg box from Woodlands Farm



I've never ordered a vegetable box before mainly because of the very close proximity of a fine fruit and vegetable shop in the village but during my visits to food fairs across the East Midlands I have often spoken to the providers of such services. Such is the case last year when I chatted to the guys from Woodands Organic Farm, Kirton in Lincolnshire. I took one of their brochures as I often do for information and was delighted when, very recently, they asked me, as a food writer, to review one of their vegetable boxes. I was so pleased that I said 'yes'.

I rang and spoke to a very friendly lady called Rachel and arranged a delivery date. It turned out that they chose to send me a whopping great Large Veg box that would be worth £17 with no delivery charge. The box was very lovingly packed and it was a pleasure taking everything out and enjoying the fact that this was all organic. It was like a veggy box Christmas! And like the Christmas stockings of my childhood it had some oranges in too. And blueberries - one of my favourites!

Looking at all the contents I would say that it was great value for money, very fresh and some of the items gave me 'food for thought' as I wasn't quite sure what to do with them. The artichokes I recognised from various food programmes but the purple roots foxed me for a while until I discovered they were Kohl Rabi, (German name meaning cabbage-turnip) and very popular  across Europe as a flexible root and with the Chinese as it can be used peeled and thinly sliced in stir fries. When eaten raw the taste if peppery with a hint of radish.




So far I have created a meal of new potatoes, carrots, broad beans and chard with a small beef steak. There was something very satisfying about preparing all the veg - popping the broad beans, washing the soil from the potatoes, snipping the greenery from the carrots and even washing the fine soil from my kitchen side. The chard and broad beans were steamed over the carrots (kept whole) and new potatoes and I decided to cut the steamed chard up very small and added a little parmesan at the last minute.





It was one of the most satisfying meals I have cooked in a while and although quite simple and very tasty it was because of the love that had gone into the products that Woodlands Organic Farm had put into their products. Highly recommended and do check out their prices in the  picture below. I think they offer very good value for money.



The box contents would be different each week because of the changing seasons and you can tailor your box so that you can be assured of no waste. Well I can assure you that this delicious fare won't be wasted and thank you Woodlands for this opportunity to enjoy a fab fruit and veg box.

www.woodlandsfarm.co.uk

Tel: 01205 724778

email for info at info@woodlandfarm.co.uk

Friday, 6 June 2014

News of a new Rachel Khoo TV show airing very soon!

This is a copy and paste blog from an email I received today from Rachel Khoo about her new TV show. If you are as excited to hear about this as I was read on!

'For me, travel and food go hand-in-hand. I love nothing more than creating a recipe inspired by a recent adventure. My kitchen is sprinkled with bits and bobs that I’ve picked up on my travels, from enamelware unearthed at a French flea market, to handmade crockery from Sweden. Whilst filming my latest television show, I was lucky enough to be able to combine my love of food, with a touch of wanderlust.

I’m so excited to announce that my show (divided into two seasons) is airing in the UK next week! It has been lovely to receive feedback from my viewers in other parts of the world (ranging from Poland to South Africa!), but I’m really thrilled that the show will now be airing here in my own stomping ground.

Things kick off this Monday June 9 on the Good Food Channel (Sky 247 or Virgin 260), with back-to-back episodes from the new series. First up, I explore how fashion influences food in the first episode of Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: London.

The fun continues at 9:30pm with Episode 1 of Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: Cosmopolitan Cook (my second series), when we discover the culinary delights of bustling Istanbul. Click here to try some of the mouth watering recipes featured in my new show, all inspired by my adventures in London and beyond.





Did you spot my Instagram snapshots from my recent press trip to South Africa? It was great to meet some of you at the BBC Worldwide press events, and thanks for coming along to the Delicious Festival in Johannesburg.' Rachel.

Monday, 2 June 2014

The joys of being skint for two weeks. How I survived.

It's strange how adversity can make you more resourceful. On Thursday 12th May I discovered that I would be two weeks without any money at all and was overdrawn on my overdraft. This meant that I had two weeks to go without any money until I get paid this coming Friday. It was a shock. But from this have come some lessons and some positives.

The positives.

  • A few people have been kind enough to lend me a some money totalling £55 and of course I have to pay that back. But a big thank you to those who did so.

  • I have realised how flexible pasta can be as I was fortunate to have a fair amount in my store cupboard and have eaten rather a lot of the stuff.

  • Tinned chopped tomatoes are now my best friend. A sauce originally made for a liver and tomato stew can be added to for a sausage casserole and added to for a chilli. All the meaty ingredients dug out from the freezer rather than shopping for more.





 



  • Having no beers to drink of an evening has been a godsend as I am not constantly nipping upstairs to the loo and Harris the cat has been very happy to sit on my lap undisturbed due to this. Going to the shops and seeing the price of said beers (without the cash card as a way of paying) has made me rethink what amount I do spend on the bottles of beer and my intention when I am back in the world of money in the bank is too cut back drastically.

  • Having to be frugal has made me more inventive in what I can afford to eat although I draw the line at more pasta for breakfast!

  • A £4 Tesco voucher gained from my points allowed me to carry home ten tins of rice pudding at 15p each (makes a nice breakfast) plus four tins of tomatoes and a pack of mushrooms.

  • I used up four eggs by making a very nice omelette and the remaining two today in an egg sandwich with fried mushrooms and slices of tomato purchased a lot cheaper than supermarket prices from the local veg shop.

  • Again, using up what I have in the house I enjoyed a simple bowl of noodles flavoured with a light soy sauce the other evening.

  • I have discovered treasures in the freezer that I can use up over the next couple of days namely, some sardines, a trout, two mackerel, a breast of chicken, some cooked chicken, plenty of peas and sweet corn, a Moroccan lamb dish, and something that looks like meatballs in a bag except they are white (?). Plus the inside of the freezer part of my fridge is very frosted up so once all the 'treasures' are gone I can defrost the compartment.

  • My cupboard has some rice, plenty of lentils, un-opened jam and marmalade, un-opened peanut butter, two packets of (God knows what possessed me to buy) glass noodles, a jar of korma curry sauce, various small cans of tinned fish, an out of date (June 2013) opened jar of pickled cabbage and some old flour.

  • A 'reduced' 43p pack of asparagus tastes fine and you can rest assured that your wee will still smell funny afterwards too. Double bonus.


  • I have tea and milk so I have an essential drink to start the day. Without that I may well crumble!

  • On my visits to supermarkets (Sainsbury's, Tesco and The Co-Op) I have started to realise just how expensive things are and my previous thinking of 'oh it's only a couple of quid' are rapidly beginning to be revised and I may well find myself shopping more locally at independents. My greengrocer in the village is very good value for fresh fruit and veg.

  • I am discovering that the cheaper foods, liver, sausages, sardines, vegetables, rice, pasta, tinned tomatoes and rice pudding are really quite tasty. Inner and outer frugality may well be my watch words in the future.

  • Sometimes small amounts of help can come from surprising sources and bring a smile to my soul. For this I am tremendously grateful.

  • Today I made an apple and blackberry crumble for 49p. The blackberries were in the freezer from picking them locally last year and the apples were free to staff at Tesco yesterday because they had a short date. The crumble mix cost 49p. There will be three or four portions to enjoy.

 
  • The cooked chicken and Korma curry mix will make two days worth of evening meals.

  • I bought a bag of Tesco's own brand of cooking rice for 40p from Tesco the other day as I had run out of rice. It will be interesting to find out what it is like.

Negatives

  • I like to have a cup of tea at CaffĂ© Nero sometimes and I have missed this as the staff are very nice too. Not that big a luxury but all the same. Plus I had to do without my cheap cup of filter coffee at Broadway cinema on Friday morning before I go off to do my late shift and I missed the habit.

  • I have discovered that a few people simply don't care or don't want to understand the predicament a person like myself on a low to average wage might find themselves in from time to time. I try not to dwell on them and hope they never find themselves thus so.

  • Round flat tins of Fray Bentos pies, tasty and cheap though they are, are an absolute bastard to open especially when you get home tired after a long day at work and a ludicrously long two bus journey home. I just wanted to have something easy for tea without waiting hours or slaving over a stove. At one point I thought that I had broken the can opener. I got quite bad tempered and it almost became a Fray Frisbee!



Overall this has been a bit of a wake up call and there have been other good things in terms of keeping myself positive and those have been opportunities to continue to review plays and performances gratis. Whilst I may not be able to afford a drink before or at the interval I have been given chances to write and say lots of positive things about the various shows I have been given to review.

The lavender in my garden is starting to grow flowers and a hollyhock is standing proud in the front garden. I shall follow their example and blossom regardless. Here I am  (third picture down) waving and blossoming even though my belt is literally and proverbially tighter.