Bake With Jack: Another Exciting Recipe

We were lucky enough to get a recipe from Jack last year – and now Bake with Jack is back! Chef Jack Sturgess is passionate not only about baking – but about spreading the message that anyone can make their own bread from home. He runs workshops, demonstrations and classes across Surrey to prove that ANYONE can make their own, and that it’s not scary!

He says that he started Bake with Jack because:

Modern bread in the UK is awful (my personal opinion). It is laced with processing aids and artificial additives. In my opinion the structure and texture of it alone is enough to give us a dodgy tum!

Because bread making shouldn’t be a confusing, scary process. Let’s keep it simple because you can do it.

Homemade bread is delicious, and all the more delicious because the flavour is elevated by the pride you feel for having made it yourself! With your hands and your heart.

We wholeheartedly agree with this, and were intrigued to see whether we could collaborate with him in any way. So a couple of weeks ago we sent Jack one of our seasonal veg boxes to see what he could make of it. We’ve been lucky enough to get something back, and we’ll be hearing from him with yet another recipe over the next couple of weeks!

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Here’s the recipe – enjoy. And thank you to Jack for sharing this with us, we are really excited that you’ve come up with something so brill! I can’t wait to try this for lunch one day this week.

 

Grilled Asparagus Ciabatta with Lemon and Tarragon Pesto

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Serves 2

 For the Pesto:

 

20g          Greener Greens organic tarragon leaves

80g          Olive oil

10            Toasted pine nuts

20g          Finely grated pecorino

Pinch of Salt

 

12            Greener Green organic asparagus spears

1               Ciabatta

1               Clove of garlic

½               Lemon

4tbsp     Greek yoghurt

 

Olive oil

Black Pepper

Salt

 

 

 

First make your pesto. Put the olive oil, tarragon, pine nuts and a pinch of salt into a mini food processor and blend together. You can make it quite smooth if you like but I like mine to be coarse. Add the pecorino and pulse until it is just combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust if you need to.

 

Trim the woody ends off the asparagus spears, peel and halve the garlic clove, and cut two chunks of ciabatta. Rub the cut side of ciabatta with a little olive oil.

 

Heat a griddle pan over a high heat until it is just smoking. Grill your ciabatta for around 2-3 minutes until charred and when they are still warm rub the grilled side with the cut side of the garlic and season with a little salt. Put the ciabatta toasts on two plates.

 

Next get the asparagus onto the grill. I like to hold mine down with a potato masher to be sure they get charred evenly all the way up the stems. Grill for 2-3 minutes, then turn them over and grill the other side the same. No need for oil at this stage as it’ll just make your kitchen smoky! When they are ready they should be charred and blackened in lines with still some bite.

 

Place the hot asparagus into a large mixing bowl, add three tablespoons of your pesto and a good squeeze of lemon. If your pesto is well seasoned you shouldn’t need to add any salt at this point. Toss the asparagus to dress it nicely all over then arrange the spears on top of your toasts.

 

Finish with two tablespoons of Greek yoghurt on each one, a drizzle of the pesto that’s left in the bowl and a little black pepper. Serve!

 

TIP: Any leftover pesto will keep nicely in the fridge for two days.

 

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National Vegetarian Week: A Rather Special Recipe

To celebrate National Vegetarian Week, over the next four weeks we will be collating recipes from a variety of talented cooks and chefs. All of the recipes have been inspired and created by the produce that we have provided. Our aim is to prove that – whether you’re a Michelin starred chef, a baker or simply somebody that enjoys cooking, organic and vegetarian food is for everybody.  We’re really curious to see the different ways that our selection of produce is going to be used!

This week, we have teamed up with Javier Lopez – Chief Food Evangelist for the Winton Group. By combining our beautiful, independently grown produce and his exquisite culinary technique, a truly stunning recipe has been created. This recipe is perfect for special events and dinner parties, or for somebody who just wants to try something different. Read on to find out how to make this fabulous starter – and remember – all of this produce can be sourced locally by us, which will make it taste even better!

 

 

Chard, Spinach and Wild Garlic Millefeuille

 

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Ingredients for 4 portions, as starter:

2 duck eggs

50g Maldon salt

30g coconut sugar

25g fennel pollen

100g goat’s butter

50g fermented wild garlic

50g chard

50g perpetual spinach

40g wild garlic

Flowering shoots to garnish

 

Method:

  • You will need to cure your eggs a day in advance; combine 50g of salt, 30g of sugar and 25g of fennel pollen in a bowl, place half of it on a flat tray or container and make a small well with the back of a spoon, place the duck egg yolk (ensuring no egg white remains) in the well and cover with the rest of the cure mixture. Refrigerate for 24hours.

 

  • Clarify (skim the surface of the liquid as it is heated to remove impurities) 100g of goat’s butter, saving the milk solids for other use, add 200g of fermented wild garlic leaves, buds and flowers and a leaf of raw wild garlic. Puree until very smooth and add a little fennel salt.

 

  • Blanch (scald in boiling water and remove after a brief  interval) the fresh chard, spinach and wild garlic leaves in salted water and immediately refresh in iced water, quickly drain and dry.

 

  • Layer the leaves one by one brushing a little fermented wild garlic butter in between each layer, build it up until is around 3cm tall and refrigerate. Once cold, portion it by timing into rectangular pieces.

 

To Serve:

  • Get the yolks out of their cure and lightly rinse in cold water. Set aside.

 

  • Place the vegetable millefeuille onto a plate and wrap it with clingfilm, place the plate on top of a simmering pan with water and let it warm for 5-6 minutes.

 

  • Gently remove the millefeuille of the plate and place onto your serving plate or bowl, cut the egg yolks in half and place half of it on top on the millefeuille. Garnish with a raw shoot and its flower (you can use peas, wild garlic, nasturtium, chickweed, etc)

 

Recipe by Javier Lopez, Chief Food Evangelist.

 

Keep checking back for our follow up recipe posts! In the meantime – enjoy this one!

Gleaner Greens: The Day I Went Gleaning

Last Saturday I spent the day gleaning on a lovely farm in Kent.

It was a last minute thing – a post came up on my social media from Feedback calling for volunteers for the next day. Feedback is an environmental organisation that campaigns to end food waste at every level of the food system. They fight for change – from local communities to governments and global organisations. Their aim is to change society’s attitude toward wasting food. As we at Greener Greens do, Feedback understand that food waste is a symptom of our broken food system.  By scaling back farming intensity and by eliminating the significant inputs that go into crop growing we can drastically reduce the amount of food that we waste.

The purpose of the glean on Saturday was to rescue as much as possible of the 1000’s of potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli and spring greens which could not make it to the market and would otherwise have been wasted.  These particular greens were potentially going to waste because of the recent weather speeding up the growth cycle. The farm would not have been able to harvest and sell them in time before they flowered and spoilt. The potatoes were going to waste because they were cosmetic outgrades- too big or too small for commercial market.

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We started by picking purple sprouting broccoli from a field that was due to be ploughed over the following day.  This particular field had already been harvested by the farm, but there was plenty left for us.

We then did a stint with some potatoes dividing them into sacks.  The best bit for me though was being given a bushcraft knife and the task of cutting the remaining spring green cabbages from the fields. I saw a red-legged pheasant for the first time too!

 

 

The veg will be passed on to various organisations, including The Felix Project, UK Harvest as well as various other local organisations, where they will be put to good use: feeding people who need them the most. Many projects such as homeless hostels, breakfast clubs, womens’ refuge centres, and services for the elderly will be flooded with delicious food.

Do have a look at Feedback  and the work that they do. They’re a brilliant organisation who have the same core values as we do.  They do have organised gleans that you can help with too – see their website for more information and to sign up. I’d recommend it – it was a brilliant thing to do, and I got to spend the day on a farm!

 

 

The Secret Life of Farmland

Last week, a report called The State of the World’s Birds was published by BirdLife International which comprises bird population data taken worldwide over the last five years. The results of this report are heartbreaking, but not entirely surprising. The report states that at least 40% of bird species worldwide are in decline and that one in eight species of birds is threatened with extinction. In total, 74% of 1,469 globally threatened birds are affected directly by the expansion and intensification of farming and agriculture.

This news coincides almost exactly with my finishing a book called The Running Hare: A Secret Life of Farmland by John Lewis-Stempel. In this book, the author describes (in words that are made of magic) the journey of a single field and the change in its  little ecosystem over a year as it is returned from an intensively farmed kale field to an organically nurtured wheat field.   Reading this book bought me to tears. Not just because of the joy I felt reading about how quickly this field welcomed back nature, but because of the reality that 93% of our farmland in the UK is intensively farmed using toxic chemicals and with no consideration for the wildlife that has lived on this land for generations. Since 2007 alone the Countryside Survey found that the species richness of the British field has declined by 8%. The landscapes of our farmland have gone from being sanctuaries for birds, mammals and wildflowers to stagnant, barren, quiet places that are so full of pesticides that they don’t really benefit us, and definitely do not benefit the wildlife that has been the pride of our country for generations. (The nineteen species of birds on the farmland bird index have decreased in number by 69% since 1970 due to drastic changes in farming practices – and the introduction of pesticides.)

Lewis-Stempel describes in his book watching a female pheasant leading her chicks through his wheat field into a neighbouring one which is intensively farmed using pesticides. She tries to lead her babies in to the wheat but – as it is grown so densely – she cannot.  Birds like pheasants and quails (a bird that is so rare now that it’s not even mentioned on the defra list) need the space between the stalks of corn for camouflage, food and nesting. If our intensively farmed cereal land is a hostile environment for these ground-living species of birds, then where can they go? No wonder they’re under threat.

Traditional farming methods that go back centuries allow for nature to thrive. Even now, non-intensive farming can enhance rather than harm the surrounding wildlife. I recently went on a walk in Sandwich with the Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory Trust, where the introduction of asparagus fields has actually created a new nesting ground for the Lapwing (the channels and ridges that are required for growing asparagus make a perfect cover.) By returning to our roots – in particular farming in smaller quantities and with no pesticides – who’s to say that we can’t reintroduce the harmony between the nature and our farmers? If the farmers didn’t have to utilise every inch of their fields in order to make the land financially viable, they may be able to see their land once again as a part of nature as opposed to a financial asset. In order for this to happen though, supermarkets will need to start buying the crops at a reasonable price.  This is where the consumer comes in.  It may be difficult to visualise the impact of your buying choices, especially when in the clinical, hardened environment of your local supermarket, but the way that we as a community and a nation (the ones with the purchasing power) decide to buy our produce is now a key factor in changing the environment around us for the better.

To borrow the words of John Lewis-Stempel;  ‘Every time one buys the lie of cheap food a flower or a bird dies.’ This perfectly summarises our mission at Greener Greens – we’d love for people to care about where their food comes from. As Lewis-Stempel slightly changed the landscape with his one field, our little business has an ambitious – but important – mission. We want to raise the bar when it comes to the food that people buy and eat. We strive to provide fresh, organically grown produce at a price that everyone can afford because it’s better for their own health, the economy and the environment.  If you would like to read more about our growers and hear their stories, you can do so here.

If you can, pick up a copy of ‘The Running Hare: The Secret Life of Farmland’. It’s a beautiful, funny and exciting read – a history of the field and the farmer.  It’s full of facts and stories about the wildlife that we are still lucky enough to have. For me, it’s been a bit of a wake up call to the condition of our farmland as well as one of my new favourite books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Growers: Michael Hall School

The 2 ½ acre walled garden at Michael Hall School unites many activities.  Within the garden, they grow about a hundred varieties of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and top fruit, all to Demeter standards – the largest certification organisation for biodynamic agriculture. Compost is important to biodynamic gardening and Michael Hall maintain a variety of compost heaps around the garden.  They have two old fashioned wooden greenhouses, three polytunnels, and the original Victorian propagation houses.  They’ve also just recently installed a new flow form which is used to improve the irrigation water for the seedlings, and to make nettle, comfrey and compost teas.

Because Michael Hall School, as well as supplying us with some of our wonderful produce, is also a Steiner school, part of the garden is entirely set aside for gardening teaching. There is a gardening classroom, the children’s propagation house, a bread baking oven, and tools for garden and woodland crafts.   Children have their garden beds there and it is where their gardening lessons take place.  In winter, they roam beyond the garden into the rest of the Michael Hall estate to learn about woodland management. What a fabulous way of learning!

The aim of Michael Hall School is to combine beauty in the garden with growing an abundance of good biodynamic vegetables for the school canteen, the garden shop and the local community.

We’d like to thank Laurie, the gardner responsible for providing us with beautiful produce that we can then pass on to you. At the moment, we have perpetual spinach, rainbow chard and lettuces from them. You can buy them online and have them delivered to you for free here.

 

WE SEA KALE

I’ve been walking on a lot of beaches recently – and one thing that I’ve found that I think is really fascinating is sea kale.  Here’s one – just sprouting through with its little purple leaves:

This is how it starts to grow – sprouting from incredibly sturdy looking stalks.

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Sea kale is a native perennial, which favours shingle beaches and those with coarser sands.  It’s incredibly rare in Sussex and across the UK, although it is often abundant where it is found. It’s actually protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981) and must not be picked without permission from the landowner. Its rarity has not been helped by the fact that the Victorians developed a pretty bad habit of digging it up and sticking it in their ornamental gardens.  It also hasn’t been helped by the introduction of sea defences along our coastlines or being crushed underfoot by people wandering along the seafront.

This kale was once quite a delicacy. It’s actually edible at every stage of its life – from its purple shoots through to the tiny blossoms (much like purple sprouting broccoli). It then becomes more ‘cabbagey’ when the leaves turn green, and finally, when the  little green fruits appear.  Don’t pick it though – as mentioned earlier, it’s illegal.

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You can purchase seeds though –  I would imagine that sea kale would be a great thing to try to grow yourself – they’re pictured above.  Once the leaves have died off, the dried pods then replant elsewhere. Clever little things! In the meantime, watch where your feet go next time you’re walking along a shingle beach, you might stand on a sea kale’s head.

Oh, and if this post has made you fancy a bit of kale, why don’t you take a look at ours?

 

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Our New Website & Online Ordering are Here!

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

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We’ve just launched our new website – complete with online ordering! It’s never been easier to get organic, fresh produce grown by local independent farmers delivered directly to your door!  With this in mind, it’s time to talk about your overall health and wellbeing….

It can sometimes feel quite overwhelming to really invest in your own health and adopt positive life changes, especially when it comes to changing your eating habits. It’s an investment well worth taking though – what you eat directly impacts how you feel, both in your body and in your mind. You wouldn’t fill a car with dirty petrol, so why fuel your own body with anything other than the cleanest and most natural of foods? Up until the beginning of the 20th century, good diet and physical well-being was the foundation of all medical treatment. Unfortunately, overtime, this basic knowledge that our ancestors had acquired about the importance of the nutritional benefits in the foods that were available to them.

We at Greener Greens think that it’s about time that we rediscover what our ancestors once knew and reconnected with our food. Our seasonal boxes contain the fresh produce that your body needs to maintain its health and vitality and is free from chemicals. Trust in nature! It knows best when it comes to growing our food. According to the changing seasons, our bodies need different nutrients to maintain great health. Nature has provided a range of produce that contains exactly what we need to ensure that we’re at our best all year round – both in our bodies and our minds.

Greener Greens offers a quality organic range of fruit and vegetables, grown by certified organic, independent growers, delivered to your door every week. Your first steps towards being healthy and making a positive lifestyle choice starts here!

Visit our website and make your first order today!

Monsanto: The Chemicals in our Crops

More than 365 lawsuits are pending against Monsanto Co. in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, filed by people alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and that Monsanto covered up the risks. Additionally, thousands of other plaintiffs have made similar claims against Monsanto in state courts. Plaintiffs’ attorneys estimate the total number of plaintiffs at approximately 3,500.

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Monsanto are the company who sued hundreds of small farmers across the USA for breaking their patent laws. One in particular case came about after a 75-year-old farmer bought soybeans from a grain store near his farm in Indiana and used them to plant a late-season second crop. He then used some of the resulting seeds to replant more crops in subsequent years. He was taken to court, along with numerous other independent farmers, for illegally growing patented Monsanto crops. Arguably, seed patents to this extent should never have been allowed to happen. Lawsuits such as this one do not appear to be because Monsanto are protecting their intellectual property – they appear to be infringing on independent farmers’ rights to grow food.

This time though, it is Monsanto who have been taken to court over their weedkiller Roundup, which has been accused of causing cancer in hundreds of people.  The accused carcinogen in Roundup is a chemical called glyphosate.  It is used to kill weeds, especially weeds and grasses that compete with crops. Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the history of agriculture, employed by farmers and landscapers as a powerful weed killer.  (Since 1974 in the U.S alone, over 1.6 billion kilograms of glyphosate have been applied to crops). The trademarked name – Roundup Ready, is the herbicide notorious for its use with GM seeds to resist the otherwise toxic effect glyphosate has on most vegetation. By creating Roundup and their GMO seeds, Monsanto have created an irresistibly useful (and enormously profitable) product: crops that can be sprayed with the most effective herbicide on the market without suffering any damage themselves.

There is no definitive outcome on whether glyphosate is a carcinogen – the World Health Organisation suggests that glyphosate ‘may’ cause cancer, and in the ongoing court cases,  an epidemiologist at the University of California has testified about how she evaluated scientific studies of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, to arrive at her conclusion that it can definitely cause cancer – in particular Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Monsanto obviously deny that there is any link between the two, and have numerous studies to back up this claim. Although early studies on glyphosate suggested that it breaks down quickly in the environment, more recent studies report the opposite, suggesting that its presence is more persistent and mobile than previously thought.

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So, what can we do to avoid this potentially fatal carcinogen?  Roundup is the most commonly used weedkiller across the globe, which therefore means that it is very difficult to avoid – particularly when you take into account the natural spread of tainted seeds, soil and water. Conventional farmers not only use Roundup as weedkiller, but also use it as a drying agent on grain and bean crops. In this common technique, farmers apply glyphosate to the crop as it is nearing maturity in order to speed the drying process up –  two weeks after a glyphosate application, the crop is dry and ready for harvest, a much quicker turnaround than waiting for the crop to dry down on its own. In November 2017, the EU also renewed the license of glyphosate for another five years, despite the potentially fatal side effects of its use, and the environmental factors. (There have been studies that suggest that the use of Roundup is extremely harmful to the bee population.)

However, glyphosate is banned for use with organic farming.  The glyphosate is most commonly found in bread – which means that even switching to an organic bread can massively reduce the amount of glyphosate that enters your body.  By sticking to a local baker or farmer, you can also ensure that the land on which the crops have been grown have never been contaminated by Roundup.

The importance of eating food that has not been contaminated by chemicals is really highlighted in cases like this.  It’s very easy to think that, because so much money and advertising is thrown at reassuring you that a product is safe, therefore it is. The truth is, that because of the reassurance that we find in branding and statistics, we’ve never actually been farther from the source of our food. For example – would you expect to be okay and healthy if you were sprayed with toxic chemicals routinely throughout your growth? If not, then why not think about the effect that these chemicals have on the genetically modified plants that are growing in contaminated soil whilst being sprayed with toxic chemicals that are designed to kill vegetation? We worry about overdoses of UV light from the sun as a carcinogen – which is something that we have evolved to need to survive. Why do we not worry about an entirely new chemical entering our bodies in large quantities, every time we eat? When thought about logically and from an entirely natural point of view, it’s a no brainer that GM free is better for your health,

So let’s break the cycle – lets reconnect with our food and the farmers that grow it. Let’s do it for the plants that work so hard to grow, and the land that needs to be nurtured naturally, and for our own health and the health of our families.

Trollburger – Organic & Ethical Fast Food

On a night out in Brighton, I recently stopped to get food at a hut under the station that sold burgers. Whilst waiting for my burger, (vegetarian – plenty of veggie options available) I noticed a few familiar friends on the shelves and quickly  realised that this wasn’t an ordinary late night burger bar –  the Biona ketchup and the bags of Cavolo Nero gave away the fact that this place belonged to someone who wasn’t just buying in cheap – this was an ORGANIC fast food place! So a few days later I went back and spoke to Paul Clark, the owner of Trollburger in Brighton.

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Paul is passionate about good, ethically grown food. All of his ingredients are organic or are locally grown and all of his produce is purchased from independent growers. He started out as street food stand in April 2012, serving burgers from a trailer in a car park as The Troll’s Pantry, before taking to a pub kitchen. In October 2016 he went back to his roots and created Trollburger. He says ‘I’m now done with pubs and feel the street is where I should have been all along.’ Part of the reason for this is that there is opportunity to engage with his customers which is an important part of what he does.   He feels (rightly) that there is a real problem with organic and ethical food – in that it is often seen as pretentious, and reserved for fine dining in expensive places.  A lot of people feel that eating responsibly is something that is not available to them, whether it’s unaffordable or just out of reach through location.

One of Paul’s reasonings about burgers is that they cross class boundaries – everybody loves a burger! This takes any pretentiousness away, as they are being cooked and eaten in such a relaxed and fun environment that it’s impossible to argue that this organic and ethically sourced food is not for everybody. Being face to face with his customers also allows Paul to talk to them about his passion for food (which is infectious) and to encourage people to do their bit for the ethical food movement.  As he said to me, he ‘feels part of a movement that’s swept across Brighton’, and it’s really good to see street food take such a strong stance on sustainable food, championing local produce, animal welfare and zero food waste.

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The beef in Troll burgers is sourced from Sheffield Farms, and the home-made seasonal sauces, pickles and veggie patties are all topped with High Weald Dairy cheese and served in a Flint Owl bun. Trollburger is about creating affordable mouth watering dirty burgers, made using the finest local and seasonal ingredients. If you’re ever in Brighton, you should definitely take a stroll under the arches and go grab yourself one. And in the meantime, remember that ethically sourced food is not for someone else, it’s for everybody. Organic and locally sourced is the way that food should be, even if you’re drunk and stumbling home at three in the morning.