Friday, 31 October 2014

Autumn on the farm

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Hello there!

Hasn't it been a lovely warm and sunny Autumn so far? We've been busy as usual, lots of fresh vegetables to harvest, orders to deliver and farmers markets to prepare for. Tomorrow you can see us at Horsforth Farmers Market along with many of our other local producing friends. We'll  have lots of seasonal, homegrown vegetables including potatoes, kale, beetroot, sprouts, chard, parsnips and lots more. Come and say hello to Vicky and her mum Heather from 9am - 12.30pm.

The boys have been busy planting up all of next year's strawberry crop. We're growing lots of different varieties, some early summer and others to take us up to the end of the growing season. Hopefully we'll have a bumper harvest!

All of our pumpkins have sold for Halloween but we still have lots of lovely squashes to make soups, stews and curries with. You can check out our previous post on squashes and pumpkins if you are looking for some recipe ideas. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall also wrote some great squash and pumpkin recipes in his Guardian column which you can check out here.

One of our favourite vegetables is the spiky looking Romanesco Cauliflower. It's flavour is somewhere in between broccoli and cauliflower with a sweet nuttiness. Try it in cauliflower cheese dotting the cooked florets with crème fraîche mixed with Parmesan, then sprinkling more Parmesan and some breadcrumbs on top and baking till golden. It's absolutely delicious and rich in anti-oxidants, fibre and vitamin C. It's a mighty pretty looking vegetable too!

Thanks for visiting our blog and all your Facebook likes, Twitter comments and retweets, we really appreciate the support you give us. We love sharing our recipe ideas and we'd love to know what you do with our produce. So if you fancy sharing your cooking successes then please send them in to us!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Sprout Loving

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This weekend the clocks change and it's officially time to start eating all of those autumn and winter vegetables. We're harvesting our own parsnips, squash, swede, potatoes, savoy cabbages, jerusalem artichokes and best of all, brussel sprouts! We love them down on the farm.

For a lot of us they word sprouts remind us of mushy, overcooked green things that we were forced to eat as children and so many adults have grown up hating them because of this. But sprouts can be cooked many ways and are so much more versatile than you would think. They can be stir fried, roasted, steamed as well as boiled. They also make a terrific pesto, risotto, coleslaw, gratin and even work well on a pizza. Sprouts are great teamed with strong cheeses, onions and bacon.

Vicky stir fries her sprouts in olive oil alongside some jerusalem artichokes (sliced like water chestnuts) and then dressed with a little onion balsamic vinegar from our selection from Wildon Grange. Jeni likes sprouts steamed but also eats a lot of them raw. We have customers who make a sprout curry and they very kindly brought us some in to try. It was unbelievably good!

We harvest our sprouts loose but also on the stalk. Buying them this way  means they stay fresher for longer and you can just pick off what you need at any one time. You can also use the sprout tops from the stalk for cooking and last Christmas we had many people coming in for these as they were featured on television by award winning chef Tom Kerridge. If you would like the sprout tops on their own, we are happy to go cut you some fresh from our field.

If you need any more ideas for ways to cook sprouts, go check out our Pinterest board below. Hopefully we'll convert a few more of you to being sprout lovers!

Follow Whiteleys's board Brussel Sprouts on Pinterest.

Friday, 17 October 2014

This week on the farm

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Hello there!

This week on the farm has been another busy one with a lot of rain. Waterproofs, wellies and thermals are the order of the day.  But thankfully this afternoon the sun appeared and it was beautiful picking the Russet apples from the trees. They are available in the shop now.

The Jerusalem Artichokes plants are flowering in the field and we have just started harvesting them for the shop, farmers markets and deliveries. If you have never tried them, they are utterly delicious roasted and only need a light scrub and there is no peeling required. Jerusalem Artichokes have a nutty flavour and are sweet and crunchy too. They also make a wonderful soup.

Our pumpkins have been proving extremely popular and today we've been featured in the Yorkshire Evening Post. A big thank you to Lucy, George and Harry for being our 'pumpkin models'!  If you haven't already picked your pumpkin then get in this weekend to the farm shop as they are going fast. Domino also decided to give modelling a go!

Finally, Vicky and her mum, Heather will be at Oakwood Farmers' Market tomorrow. They will have a selection of autumnal plants and lots of our lovely vegetables. Come down and visit the stall and get some of our homegrown parsnips, cabbages, cauliflowers, squash, potatoes and many more. Vicky has also been interviewed over on the Oakwood Farmers' Market website and you can check that out here.

We look forward to welcoming you to the shop soon!





Friday, 10 October 2014

Bedtime for the bees

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With the advent of the cooler autumn days it is time to make winter preparations for the bees. Although they do not hibernate through the winter they do go into a semi dormant state and remain in a cluster in the hive over the cold winter months surviving on their stores of honey.

As a beekeeper I need to make sure that each colony has enough to safely see them through the winter. This is done by hefting the hives to see if there is enough weight in there, if they are light then I make up a thick sugar solution which they will use to fill up their stores until the hive is the required weight.


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By now there are no males in the colony, the girls have evicted them as they have no use over the winter months (in fact they only have one use through the summer!). The girls have no intention of feeding them throughout the winter when the queen will just make some new ones in the spring. Sorry boys but you are completely dispensable in the bee world. Alas the boys will not be able to survive without the workers so the Apiary becomes a bit of a drone graveyard so there is a bit of sweeping up to do to get rid of the bodies.


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I have monitored the varroa count to see how badly infested the bees are and I need to treat all but one of my colonies. This is to reduce the amount of varroa mites that are feasting on the bees blood (varroa are the mini Vampires of the bee world). A heavily infested colony is open to getting more diseases which are transferred by the mite, this is a factor in many colonies dying out over the winter.

Finally I need to put on the mouseguards to prevent a hungry mouse from getting into the hive to steal the bees supplies. The bees would attack an intruder however it would result in losing a significant amount of bees when all are needed to survive the winter and establish the next generation in the spring.

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We have lots of Vicky's lovely honey in stock in the farm shop now!


Words by Vicky Whiteley. Photographs by Jeni Chillingsworth except images of varroa which have been taken from wikipedia. 

Friday, 3 October 2014

Beetroot

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Fresh beetroot seems to baffle a lot of us. It's a question we get asked a lot in the farm shop - what do you do with it? And how do you cook it? Most people are used to finding it pickled in a jar or pre-cooked and vacuum packed from the supermarket. But freshly harvested beetroot is in a class of it's own, tender with a deliciously earthly flavour. Roasted, shredded, steamed and mashed, there is a whole range of recipes to explore.

At the farm we grow four different varieties of beetroot. The familiar dark red, Chioggia (sweeter, bright red Italian, has pink and white circles when you cut into it), white (sweet and a little less juicy than the regular) and golden (orange colour, bleeds less). We're currently harvesting the regular red and chioggia varieties.

To help you get started cooking with our fresh beetroot we've compiled a Pinterest board of recipes, including simple salads, pasta dishes, risottos, burgers and even cakes! Just click on the link below to take you to our Pinterest page.

Down on the farm we like to cook with our own produce every day so here are our ways of using beetroot.  Vicky likes hers grated and mixed with other coleslaw ingredients (carrots, cabbage etc) and instead of mayonnaise, uses balsamic vinegar as a dressing.  Jeni roasts her beetroot in a dish with a little water and then covers the top with tin foil. Usually this takes about 45 minutes depending on the size of the beets. It's then peeled and served with some toasted walnuts and blue cheese.

We hope you enjoy some of these recipe ideas and next time you are in the farm shop or at one of our farmers markets, get some of our delicious beetroot and you'll never want to eat it out of a vacuum pack again!

Follow Whiteleys's board Beetroot on Pinterest.