Soy Sauce Toasted Sunflower Seeds

These simple seeds are so savoury, crunchy and moreish! The perfect salad or soup sprinkle. Here’s a quick video tutorial to show you the easy method. Otherwise read on below. You can buy organic seeds and soy sauce (or gluten free tamari) from our website along with the best organic fruit and veg. We deliver to every address in Ireland.

Liz x

Ingredients

  • seeds of your choice (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame or a mix)
  • soy sauce (or tarmari if you are avoiding gluten)

Method

Measure out your seeds into the jar you’d like to store them in. Make sure you leave some space in the jar though as they will expand as they are toasted.

Tip the seeds into a dry frying pan on a high heat. Keep them moving with a wooden spoon and toast them until they are taking on some colour, starting to crackle and pop and smell incredible!

Once they are toasted well, add a splash of soy sauce and quickly stir to coat all the seeds in the salty seasoning.

Take the pan off the heat and let the seeds completely cool down before returning them to the jar and securing the lid.

They should stay fresh for at least a month in the jar. Sprinkle them on salads and soups or eat them as a snack. Enjoy!

Earth Day & The Hungry Gap

People often ask, why do you produce your own food? Why do you grow it when it is so much cheaper to import it? It is a very easy answer, and the reasons are twofold: I love what I do, it is in my blood (we are third generation farmers) and I would not do anything else.

Secondly because it simply is the right thing to do. Having food grown locally makes sense, it cuts down on carbon emissions, it is fresher, it provides local employment, it improves biodiversity, and we are lucky enough to have the opportunity to do it. We need more people to do it.

With Earth Week starting today and Earth Day falling on the 22nd, it is a good time to reflect on our habits. We have seen such a shift to supporting local food over the last 12 months and this is one of the most wonderful changes we as individuals and families can make. It’s impact on the planet cannot be overstated, understanding where and how our food is produced can help us make better decisions and lead to a cleaner healthier planet.

Today as I write this, after a day in the fields, I feel lucky to be a farmer. Days do not come much better than this, the sky is blue, the sun is shining the birds are singing and we are on schedule with our planting. In the West of Ireland days like today are to be relished and enjoyed, and there is the added bonus that our office is a 5-acre field, I like that.

If there was one small thorn in my side, it is the planting machine. It is temperamental old and cranky and every year there is a requirement to find mutual common ground between (sometimes also cranky) farmer and machine, this year that ground has been hard to find and has led to a few choice expletives.

Nevertheless, if farming has thought me anything and it teaches a lot, is that perseverance with an air of optimism generally gets you through.

It is funny to think that just this week we finished harvesting the last of our kale which was planted nine months ago and today we planted the very first kale for the new year. This kale will take at least 8 weeks to reach harvestable maturity. We have also been very busy planting cabbage, Romanesco, broccoli, lettuce, and celery.

Myself being the impatient individual that I am can sometimes expect that we should have more IRISH food at this time of the year especially when the sun shines. But nature and farming do not work like that, and right now we are slap bang in the middle of what we call the “Hungry Gap”. There is a lull in IRISH food supply, of course that does not mean it is not available, it is, and we have loads, leeks, mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, salad, radish, and parsnips. But for the next few weeks it gets difficult.

Every year we get a little bit earlier and a little bit smarter with our planting and this year is the earliest yet, but even so, there are weeks starting now when supply is tight. Take tomatoes for example, we have our plants ready for transplanting, but harvest is at least 8 weeks away.

Right now, on our 40-acre organic farm there is a tremendous amount of work going on behind the scenes. For the last 2 months we have been busy ploughing, tilling, fertilising, planting, covering, uncovering, watering and sowing. All of this to lead to a rich harvest of local organic food in the weeks ahead, but it takes time, and it does not matter how impatient I am, nature cannot be sped up, it travels at its own pace.

So, although we are heading into the hungry gap now, be reassured that you are supporting a truly local food growing effort both here on our farm and through all the other amazing IRISH organic farms and producers across the country that we support. Remember in the famous words of Margaret Meade “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

As always, thank you for your patience and perseverance!

Kenneth

PS Don’t forget to do a little something for Earth Week, whether it is supporting more local food producers, or learning more about how your food is produced, driving less, turning off lights or eating less meat, what can you do? Just raising our awareness is a powerful tool in the fight for our planet.

FAST FAKEAWAYS – Thai Yellow Curry with Jasmine Rice

Being a chef, I do mostly make everything we eat from scratch, but Thai curry paste from scratch involves buying lots of specialist ingredients. Our organic sachets contain no nasty preservatives, have authentic, top quality ingredients and make life simple and delicious!

This is one of our most-made fakeaways at home. Thai yellow curry paste is absolutely delicious, quite mild so the kids love it, but absolutely packed with complex flavour. Simply simmer a sachet with a can of coconut milk, add some cooked veg and you’re good to hunker down with a steaming, vibrant bowl of Thai food. This quick method is so flexible, chuck whatever veg you have handy into the roasting dish with some firm tofu – cubed butternut squash, sweet potato, carrots, aubergine, peppers etc… and simmer any tender green veg with the sauce – asparagus, kale, spinach… I love it with fragrant jasmine rice or quickly boiled wide, flat rice noodles.

Let me know if you try any of our organic, ready made sauces and what your best recipes are with them. I’m working my way through them all to give you some fuss-free fakeaway ideas for those days we really can’t be bothered to cook from scratch.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 sachet of Thai Yellow Curry Paste
  • 1 tin of coconut milk
  • 1 pack of firm tofu
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 purple sweet potato
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 big pinch of salt
  • 2 handfuls of kale
  • Jasmine rice or Thai rice noodles to serve
  • optional toppings – fresh coriander, lime wedges, chopped scallions, toasted cashews or sesame seeds, salted peanuts, sliced red chilli…
Watch how I put the meal together here or read the method below.

Method

Preheat your oven to 200C. Cube up your tofu, carrots and sweet potato and add them to a roasting dish. Of course you should feel free to use alternative vegetables.

Drizzle the veg with a little oil and season simply with a big pinch of salt. Toss the vegetables with the oil and salt and put them in the hot oven to roast for around 20 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile make the curry sauce. It’s as easy as emptying the contents of the sachet into a pot with the contents of the can of coconut milk. Turn the heat on and allow the ingredients to mingle and simmer.

Then put on your jasmine rice. For two people I measure out an espresso mug of rice into a fine sieve then give the rice a good rinse. Then tip the rinsed rice into a small pot with 2 scant espresso mugs of water. Put the lid on the pot and put it on the hob on the highest setting. As soon as the rice comes to the boil, turn the heat to the lowest setting and leave it to absorb all the water. Do not stir the rice or remove the lid. This whole process should take about 15 minutes for white jasmine rice – brown rice takes considerably longer.

While the rice is cooking and the veg is roasting, turn your attention back to the pot of curry sauce. You can add tender, fast cooking greens to the pot just before the veg is ready to come out of the oven. I used kale this time. Strip the leaves from the tough stems and slice the stems very thinly. Add them to the pot of simmering sauce to soften well before you add the leaves. Add the leaves 3 minutes before you take the veg out of the oven.

Once the roasted vegetables and tofu are cooked through, take them out of the oven and scrape them into the pot of curry sauce and kale and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning. You may wish to add some lime juice or salt.

Serve the curry and rice in bowl and top with chopped coriander, spring onions, chilli and lime wedges. Additionally add toasted cashews or salted peanuts for some welcome crunch. Enjoy!

FAST FAKEAWAYS – Spaghetti with Lentil Ragu

We all have those days when we really really can’t be bothered to cook. Ordering a takeaway is such a nice treat, but it can take forever to arrive and be quite pricey. So on those days where you have no energy and your family is hangry, there’s always our ready made organic sauces for a bit of a shortcut. Look out for my ‘fast fakeaway’ recipes (if they can even be called recipes) using our range of organic, ready made sauces. I promise they are all super simple and extraordinarily tasty!

First up is this simple spaghetti with lentil ragu. This meal serves 4 or 5 people generously, takes less than 15 minutes and costs under €7 to put together.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4-5 hungry people)

Method

Simply bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add a tbsp of salt and the packet of pasta to the boiling water and give it a quick swirl to stop it from clumping together.

Then tip the contents of the jar of pasta sauce into a small pot. Half fill the jar with water, replace the lid and give the jar a good shake. Then add the contents to the pot again.

Drain and rinse the tin of lentils in a fine sieve. Then add that to the pot of sauce.

Simmer the sauce while the pasta cooks. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. I find the jar of napoli sauce is perfectly seasoned.

Once the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain it and stir in the sauce. Add an optional drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to the pot.

Divide the pasta into bowls (alongside a simple salad or some steamed greens perhaps?) and top each bowl with a pinch of nutritional yeast for that parmesan cheese like flavour and extra nutrition.

Why Organic?

It was many moons ago, in a life that was never quite meant to be, that I finally realised what it was we needed to do with my grandad’s farm.

You see 20 years ago I was very comfortable working away for the biotech industry in the UK, working in a laboratory researching different chemicals for this and that.

I am a scientist turned organic farmer and I have a very healthy respect for science. But there is one thing I do not agree with, it just does not make any sense to me, and that is the whole scale blanket application of chemicals on our food.

Chemicals that are meant for a laboratory should stay there, and if they are toxic to some life then generally speaking, they will be toxic to other life, it isn’t even that chemicals are ‘bad’ it is the prevalence and ubiquity of them in our food chain and our environment that is harmful.

They are in our food and they are not good for us, and they are not good for life in the  countryside either, they really aren’t. Take a family of chemicals called the neonicotinoids, deemed safe for years, but then it was found that they do irreparable damage to bees and other insects. How, on any level, can using a chemical like that as a blanket spray across our countryside be justified? 

Many of these chemicals do not just sit on the outside of the plant, they are systemic by nature. That means they are absorbed into the plant and do their damage from the inside out, so unfortunately simply washing veg and fruit doesn’t remove them.

Some produce are more heavily sprayed than others and two that regularly feature in the ‘dirty dozen’ are kale and spinach – which is ironic as both grow very well in organic systems. Eating organic of course is one of the easiest and best ways to avoid this unhealthy exposure.

It is possible to grow great food without the use of chemicals, it is a little harder, it takes a little more attention and planning, it requires more labour but isn’t it worth it in the end?

Surely the production of food in a way that contributes to our health and the health of the planet, a way that enhances and protects biodiversity, a way that encourages working with nature rather than against it must be the best way to grow food?

Thank you for taking a good hard look at how your food is produced and choosing to       embrace and support organic – a healthier way of farming for us and our planet.

Kenneth

Have a look at our full range of organic fruit, veg and groceries here and why not consider making your life easy with a weekly fruit and veg box from us?

Purple Sweet Potato Gnocchi

The best current gut health science advises that we should be including as much plant diversity in our diets as possible. According to Dr Megan Rossi, one of the worlds leading gut health scientists and researchers, we should aim for 30 diverse ‘plant points’ every week. Do you eat 30 different plants a week? We certainly hope our veg boxes help you along the way to hitting that target.

We all know about the importance of eating our greens, but did you know that purple foods are really important to include in our diets too? Purple fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants called anthocyanins? All brightly coloured fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which help prevent or delay cell damage. It’s best to get a full range of all the different types of antioxidants out there, so in the spirit of eating the rainbow, I’ve been trying out one of the new vegetables we have in, the vibrant, purple sweet potato! I’ve already made an irresistible classic – baked purple sweet potatoes with a bean chilli – and I couldn’t not make some gnocchi. Here’s the surprisingly simple recipe. I made a batch of butternut gnocchi at the same time for even more plant diversity on our plates. How will you eat purple sweet potatoes?

Enjoy! Liz x

Ingredients

  • purple sweet potatoes (one per person)
  • plain flour (amounts vary – see method)
  • salt to taste
  • butter/oil for frying
  • pesto to serve (make your own or we deliver a choice of organic pestos, add them to your fruit and veg order here)

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 200C. Scrub one sweet potato per person. Prick the potatoes with a fork and bake them in a tray in the oven until soft all the way through. Sweet potatoes cook faster than regular potatoes, so test them after 20 minutes.

Allow the potatoes to cool to a temperature you can handle. Then peel them or slice them in half and scoop out the soft flesh.

Mash or puree the baked sweet potato flesh in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Season the mash really well with salt (bearing in mind you will be adding flour).

Then start adding flour, a little at a time, and mixing it into the puree until you reach a soft dough consistency*. I generally use plain flour or strong white bread flour but most flours work. You can easily make these gluten free by using a plain flavoured gluten free flour like rice flour or a plain gluten free flour blend.

Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and gently knead into a smooth, soft ball. Do not overwork the dough, you want to keep it tender.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Get a frying pan and some butter or oil ready too.

Roll the ball of dough into a long snake about 2 cm thick. You may wish to divide the dough into manageable pieces, depending on how big a batch you are making.

Cut the snake into bite sized pieces. You can leave the pieces in the pillow shapes they are, or roll them into balls then over a gnocchi board to make little grooves. Alternatively you can roll the pieces over the back of a fork.

Boil the gnocchi in the pot of boiling water in small batches. Once they start to float to the top of the pot, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and fry them in the frying pan with a little oil or butter until they are hot and crispy and take on some colour.

Toss the hot gnocchi with some pesto (you can loosen the pesto with a little of the pasta water if needed) and enjoy with some peppery salad leaves.

*I made a batch of butternut squash gnocchi at the same time. The method is the same. But as butternut squashes generally contain more water than sweet potatoes, they need a fair bit more flour to turn into dough.

Spring is in the Air

Thanks to your generosity last week, we will be donating €900 to The Irish Cancer society.

A sense of possibility and new beginnings is naturally in the air in Spring. On the farm, maybe it is the start of the new plant and seed arrivals that kindles this feeling, but there is a sense that we can do things better this year, that we will try a little harder to get things right, that all will be well in the end.

Nature is waking up, the birds are singing, the daffodils are blooming, the new leaves are beginning to unfurl on the trees. The extra daylight means that life cycles are changing and growth increasing, it is a natural rhythm, and it resonates on a subconscious level, if you let it.

Even our lovely new season salad is responding well to the extra light, and we will be harvesting ours and also Mick and Audrey from Millhouse farm will be delivering their gorgeous salad to us for all the boxes next week.

The sun is higher in the sky and on clear days you can feel the first tendrils of warmth, there is more power too in its rays and from now on the capture of this power to make electricity works well. (We installed a large solar panel array two years ago and it sits on the roof of one of our sheds generating clean renewable energy.)

Frequently now we can see plants growing, hear the birds singing and the insects buzzing well before it is time. This can be symbolic of a world out of sync and it has ramifications for all living systems. Planning a season of vegetable growing on the farm becomes more of a gamble as the natural order we rely on can change unpredictably and dramatically.

Luckily to date here in Ireland we have been spared the worst of the effects of the climate emergency. The climate crisis is a complex global problem but maybe the solutions are also simpler than we think? Down at the level of you and I there is much that can be done. Planting trees is one of the simplest ways to help redress the balance, as farmers we have an obligation to plant trees, and as gardeners there is always space for a tree. Again, thanks to your support, we just recently planted another 1500 trees here on our farm. By supporting local food growers like us and Mick and Audrey you too are doing your bit to tackle the climate crisis.

The prediction of the weather for the year ahead was often associated with a saying closely tied to trees, “ash before oak you are in for a soak, oak before ash you are in for a splash”. It seems this year at least here in Galway that the ash has won the race. Nevertheless, if living and farming in the west of Ireland has taught me one thing it is that the weather is unpredictable. It changes fast and sometimes when you least expect it, it surprises you.

Here is hoping for a lovely, sunny Summer surprise this year.

Kenneth

PS – DON’T FORGET IT IS DELIVERIES AS NORMAL FOR US NEXT WEEK, AND MONDAY IS A BANK HOLIDAY BUT NORMAL ORDERING AND DELVIERES APPLIES!!

We are maintaining the FREE Delivery over €100 next week also!

PPS – You have until Monday evening to grab your place on the Green Fingers course part 1 as we will be sending out seeds and resource packs next week by post!

Purple Sweet Potato, Bean Chilli & Garlic Lime Kale

Have you tried a purple sweet potato yet? They are absolutely stunning and oh so delicious! I can never resist a baked sweet potato with a smokey bean chilli so here’s my quick and easy recipe. I’ve served it with lots or gorgeous garlicky kale spiked with lime too. So yum! What will you make with your purple sweet potatoes? I’m thinking purple gnocchi next, or maybe a purple sweet potato pie! Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 purple sweet potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp each cumin seeds, ground coriander, smoked paprika and chilli flakes
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • 1 tin black beans
  • 2 limes
  • another tbsp of oil
  • 4 large handfuls of kale
  • 4 more garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Scrub the sweet potatoes, prick them with a fork, pop them in a roasting dish and get them in a 200C hot oven to roast – they should only take about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile make the smokey bean chilli. Dice and then sauté the onion and garlic in the oil until soft and taking on some colour.

Add the spices and sauté for a few minutes to toast them and bring our their flavours.

Add the tin of tomatoes. Half fill the tin with water then swirl out all the tomatoey juices into the pot.

Drain and rinse the two tins of beans and add them to the pot to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or so then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile make the garlic and lime kale. Rinse the kale and tear the leaves away from the stems. Put the leaves in a bowl and the stems on the chopping board.

Finely chop the kale stems and the extra 4 cloves of garlic. Sauté them together in the tbsp of oil until soft. Then add the kale leaves and the juice of a lime. Season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 3 minutes to wilt the kale. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Serve the baked potatoes with the bean chilli and kale. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lime to the middle of each baked potato. Enjoy!

Nettle Soup

Stinging nettles are easy to identify and one of the most nutritious wild foods out there. Spring is the perfect time to forage for these tender and tasty greens. Studies suggest that eating nettles may reduce inflammation, hay fever symptoms, blood pressure and blood sugar levels — among other benefits. And they are so delicious! Why not grab some gloves and a colander and head out to gather some free food for your lunch? Just pick lots of the tender top 4-6 leaves, the tips of the nettles, like in the photo above. Then when you’ve filled your colander, take it home and give the nettle tips a good rinse. Always pick nettles away from polluted roads sides and avoid places that may have been sprayed.

Here’s my simple nettle soup recipe but you can do so much more with nettles. Pesto, salsa verde, add them to quiches, pies, stews… use it like spinach basically. I love nettles in a spanakopita type filo pastry pie. Share your favourite nettle recipe with use below in the comments? Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 or 3 carrots
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 stock cube
  • 4 large handfuls of nettle tips
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Dice and sauté the onions, garlic and carrots in the oil until just softening and starting to take on some colour.

Then dice and add the potatoes to the pot and generously cover the vegetables with water. Crumble in a stock cube and simmer with the lid on until the potatoes are soft.

Add the rinsed nettle tips to the pot.

Stir the nettle tip into the soup and simmer for just 2 or 3 minutes. Then add the lemon juice and blend the soup with an immersion blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.

Easter Feasting

Celebrate spring with some bright fresh flavours, have an Easter feast and bake some treats with the kids. There are loads of ideas up on the blog now. Let me point you in the direction of some delicious dishes which will work perfectly this Easter. Liz x

Hot Cross Buns

Homemade hot cross buns are always better! Try my plant based recipe.

Courgette Risotto

My courgette risotto is a celebration of this delicate green vegetable – there are silky soft, slowly simmered pieces and fresh raw ribbons to tantalise your tastebuds. Swirl through some of my low waste salad bag pesto and scatter over some crunchy toasted hazelnuts…heaven!

Devilled ‘Eggs’

After something Easter eggy with out the egg? Try these fun little devilled ‘eggs’ made with quick picked mushrooms and a vibrant yolky chickpea mixture.

Leek and Thyme Tarte Tatin

Leeks are in season now and this sophisticated dish is deceptively simple to make. Find the easy recipe here.

Shortbread Biscuits

Make an egg shaped batch of my easy as 1,2,3 shortbread and have fun decorating. I added the zest of a lemon to the dough and used the juice for icing. Just stir in enough icing sugar to make a thick paste, then split the icing into two bowls and add turmeric to one for a natural food colouring – make chicks, eggs, daffodils, daisies… Allow the icing to harden and set before storing in a biscuit tin.

Flourless Black Bean Chocolate Cake

Prefer your Easter chocolates in the shape of a cake? Why not melt down any unwanted eggs and make this flourless, fudgey cake?

Spring Sunday Roast

Lemon and herb roast veg, spring cabbage, a beetroot and butterbean loaf and gravy. A vibrant roast perfect for Easter Sunday!

Lentil Pie with Colcannon Mash

Forgo the sacrificial lamb and make this hearty lentil pie instead? It’s packed full of flavour and veggies and is a satisfying family friendly meal. Serve with seasonal greens. I always make a big batch and pop one in the freezer for a rainy day.

Raw Carrot Cake

The Easter Bunny’s favourite dessert? Try my raw recipe, it’s delicious!