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.

Little Green Fingers

Clear your plate, finish your dinner, eat your carrots, stop playing with your food. Ever heard any of those phrases? Even more worrying, have you turned into the person who uses those phrases? I have to catch myself, I know I nearly have!

It is a tricky one though, never mind trying to tackle food waste but trying to do it with kids in the family is a double challenge.

The days of Hannah (our oldest daughter) eating raw broccoli are gone, although my sister Liz can get Joe my youngest to eat things at her house he point blank refuses at ours! Short of sending him there for dinner every evening we will need to come up with a better plan.

As a child I used to go picking mushrooms, there was nothing so magical as finding these beautiful white orbs in the fields that literally appeared overnight. The taste was amazing and it still stays with me. I was also fortunate as a kid to watch my grandad and dad grow vegetables in the garden; pulling fresh carrots, picking apples and eating peas from the pods are etched in my memory. 

I think these experiences as a young child must have had a bearing on my taste for vegetables, my eating habits, and my appreciation of nature today. I realise not all are so fortunate and times have changed. Even with an organic farm at our disposal it’s difficult to get our kids excited about veggies. But what if we could make vegetables and growing a little bit more accessible and fun? What if we could get kids excited about nature through touching the soil, through art, and through their innate love of living things? Then maybe we could get them amongst other things to eat more vegetables.

While this was not at all the primary reason that Jenny created ‘Little Green Fingers’, a new online practical course, it may well be a side effect! ‘Little Green Fingers’ is an interactive, get your hands dirty course. You and your children will plant seeds under my guidance from our polytunnels, and you will get to do fun and creative art, all with the theme of appreciating nature, with Jenny. 

There are limited numbers so if you are interested in learning more click here to chose from three options:

  • Part 1 is the first four weeks of the course
  • Part 2 is the second four weeks of the course
  • and Part 1&2 is the whole course

The first session starts on Saturday 17th April. We are looking forward to seeing many of you there!

As always, thank you so much for your support and as we kick off a new growing season, we hope you will stay with us, and keep going with the healthy habits you have developed over the last few months.

Kenneth

PS: All deliveries next week over €100 will have FREE delivery! We have a full range of organic groceries, it has never been a better time to stock up.

PPS: We will be donating 1% of all sales next week to the IRISH Cancer Society.

Mother’s Day Menu

Here’s a round up of some really special recipes we think would be perfect to serve this Mother’s Day. Treat the mother figure in your life to a tasty day with some fresh, organic, home cooked food. We also sell these lovely hampers if you fancy getting a special gift sent. We deliver to every address in Ireland.

Happy Mother’s Day! Liz x

*Click on the titles to be taken straight to the blog post you’re after.


Breakfast in Bed Ideas

Treat your mum to breakfast in bed. Why not add a bottle of Prosecco and some blood oranges to your order and make some simple but sophisticated blood orange mimosas? Chill both overnight then juice the oranges freshly in the morning and serve half a glass of Prosecco topped up with blood orange juice in champagne flutes with breakfast.

Fruity Oat and Chia Pots

These are perfect for breakfast in bed and can be mostly prepared the night before. Just assemble in the morning and top with freshly cut fruit.

Flat or Fluffy Pancakes

Not just for pancake day and the topping and filling options are endless.

Smoked Carrot and Scrambled Tofu

A special brunch with humble ingredients. Make the smoked carrot the day before.


Lunch

Light Lunch Inspo with Jay and Joy Vegan Cheeses

Vegan brie, blue or goats cheeses by our supplier Jay and Joy are absolutely incredible! They have to be tried to be believed. Have a look at my serving suggestions which are perfect for a light Mother’s Day lunch.

Beetroot and Butterbean Loaf, Lemon and Herb Potatoes and Carrots, Seasonal Greens and Gravy

Sunday is roast day after all and this colourful dish will make your mum smile.


Desserts and Sweet Treats

Kumquat Curd and Shortbread Biscuits

These would make a lovely homemade gift and are simple enough to make with children. A beautiful tin of biscuits and a jar of kumquat curd.

Clafoutis

This gorgeous, light and fluffy fruity dessert (that uses the aquafaba from the tin of butterbeans from the roast) can be tweaked to incorporate her favourite fruit.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

A firm favourite with my readers and for good reason! This rich, fudgy cake is a chocoholics dream come true. Also happens to be gluten free and very healthy.

Upside-down Orange Polenta Cake

Another gluten free beauty for the citrus lover in your life. Light and zingy with the perfect crumb. A beautiful cake to remember.

A Fresh Start

Every year it happens, we are waiting and waiting and then bang out of the blue it all starts again. I guess life is like that sometimes, we push and we shove and want to change things, and then when we finally just accept the ways things are (often because what we were doing was making no difference anyway) and least expect it things fall into place.

So it was this morning with my first farm walk in two weeks. We have been struggling with rain and frost and snow for the past two months, and then this morning bright sunshine, singing birds, and growth were evident all around.

We have been busy planting trees and doing some essential maintenance on the tunnels, thinking we had all the time in the world and now suddenly we do not.  The crops need to have our focus again, they are flying. We are finally restarting kale harvest and leeks, and purple sprouting broccoli.

We need to get back into the fields and that starts today.

The first new kale harvest is an unusual one, as we wait for the regrowth, having carefully nurtured the plants over winter, cleaned them and fed them nothing seems to happen for an eternity and then suddenly there is the new kale.

Nature is very subtle, we are always on the watch for change, and somehow just suddenly it changes without you noticing. Like a seed germinating, one day it is a seed and the next it is a plant is has germinated, just like that, this is the miracle and power of nature. It is the same with the kale regrowing, it just happens when the time is right. Or the birds singing a spring morning chorus they just begin.

I get excited at this time of the year, the start of a new growing season and the challenges and opportunities it brings fill me with hope for the year.

It is a natural cycle and as we emerge from the dark winter months there is a sense, at least on the farm, of a new slate, a fresh start, a chance to begin the journey anew.

Nature is wonderful like that, and up until this period in man’s history it has been stable and consistent. I read this morning that the Gulf Stream which here in Northern Europe we rely on for our stable weather patterns is not in good shape. As a result of climate breakdown the ocean currents that power our climate are in turmoil.

These complex global climate regulation mechanisms are hard to understand I would imagine, but there are clear signs that climate stability all over our one and only beautiful home is being compromised.

I do admit to getting frustrated with the slow pace of change, it doesn’t make sense to me. There is a phenomenal opportunity now to take the risk and invest in Green Energy, to cut consumption and do so much more. We as a small farm have done it, and we as a small country can do it.

But maybe it is like the kale regrowing or the seed germinating, you can’t force the seed to grow faster or the kale to appear faster, but all of a sudden without even noticing it has changed.

Maybe that is happening now too with movement to cut consumption, power our lives with green energy, moving to more plant based diets, all these things are happening.

You are causing change by supporting us and as always we could not do what we do without you.

Thank you.

Kenneth

Sign up for a fruit and veg box subscription or build your own box. We deliver to every address in Ireland! Head to www.greenearthorganics.ie to place your order. Thank you.

A New, Better Green Revolution

Over a century ago the American investigative journalist Alfred Henry Lewis observed that there are only nine meals between humankind and anarchy. 

It is always there, the food on the supermarket shelves. It never runs out, but how tenuous is this link to our perceived food security?

Disruption to food production is a whole different level of vulnerability. Climate change is hitting agriculture hard. The frequency of drought, storms, extremes of temperature, are disrupting the very delicate balance in nature required to grow food.

As with business, in agriculture if you are running a system at maximum capacity it takes very little to upset the balance and cause the system to breakdown.  We are pushing our natural resources, we are concerned with ever more production.  We open-up pristine rain-forest land for massive soya plantations, we attempt to extract higher yields from our current systems. 

We are looking for a second “green revolution” we are looking to technology to help improve yields, to continue with business as normal.   

At the very same time where we require more food to feed a growing population, we are seeing variability in our weather systems never seen before, the hottest five years ever recorded all occurred since 2014.

It is such a privilege to be living during this period of prosperity in our Garden of Eden, should we not be doing everything we can to protect it, not destroy it.

The flow of food from field to fork is taken for granted. A major climatic shift could leave us very swiftly with food scarcity. I don’t know what real hunger feels like, but our ancestors in the 1840’s certainly did.

There is no greater or more urgent need than to deal with man-made climate change now.

Producing different food in more sustainable ways, eating differently, consuming less, using renewable energy there are the changes needed.  A transition starts with pushing the burden for the destruction of our planet back onto the companies that are responsible, oil companies and plastics companies, agribusiness and large-scale food business. These are the companies that now run the planet, they dictate what we do and how we do it.

There is so much we can do, our choices matter and we can start our own “Green revolution”

Kenneth

PS It is ironic that “the Green revolution” in the 1950’s was the term applied to the change in agriculture that embraced artificial fertiliser, consolation of farm land and the use of herbicides and pesticides.

Thank you for joining the new green revolution by supporting our farm over supermarkets. You can set up a convenient veg box subscription by emailing info@greenearthorganics.ie or place specific orders over on our website www.greenearthorganics.ie

Beetroot Chocolate Brownie

Beetroot in a brownie is nothing new, but it’s still a delicious way to use up those beets in your box – especially if you live in a house of beetrootphobes. Beetroot keeps the brownies extra moist and although you can’t taste them, their earthy sweetness brings an extra quality to the overall flavour that just works really well. My recipe is egg and dairy free and totally adaptable. Leave out the beetroot if you like or replace it with something else. How about some raspberries or cherries? Or some walnuts or hazelnuts? A swirl of peanut butter and some raspberry jam? Let us know over on our community facebook group if you come up with a brownie addition that you’d like to share. Liz x

The recipe illustration from my book which is available to add to your fruit, veg and grocery order here.

Ingredients

Method

Boil about 270g of beetroot (usually around 3 medium sized ones) in plenty of water until cooked through. Then allow the beetroots to cool and slip off their skins using your hands or a small, sharp knife. You should be left with around 250g of cooked beetroot.

Pre-heat your oven to 175C and line a baking dish with baking paper (I use a 25x16cm dish).

Weigh out the dark chocolate and coconut oil into a large pan. 

Gently melt the chocolate and oil together on a low heat.

Whisk your favourite milk (I love creamy oat milk) into the pan and all the dry ingredients – the flour, sugar, cocoa, bicarb and baking powder.

Grate the cooked, peeled beetroot straight into the pan and stir well with a wooden spoon/spatular.

Scrape the batter into the lined baking dish, level it out ensuring you get into the corners of the dish, then bake it for 30 minutes or so until it is cracked on top but still has a slight wobble.

Allow the brownie to cool & firm up in the dish to make it easier to slice, you can even chill it in the fridge overnight.

Then carefully move it onto a chopping board, slice it into portions and enjoy!

Here’s a video of the process if you’d like to watch how I do it.

4 Ways With…Butternut Squash

Butternut squashes are the most common squash that we deliver on repeat at Green Earth Organics and it’s no wonder. Organic vegetables just taste better! If you’ve ever been disappointed by a bland, watery supermarket squash, we urge you to try one of ours. These vibrant veggies are sweet and nutty and their fabulous flavour is more than matched by their incredible nutritional profile. Butternut squash is a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals including A, B, C, E, calcium, magnesium and zinc.

Here are just 4 ways I cook a butternut squash regularly. Let us know your favourite butternut recipes in the comments or over on our friendly facebook group. We love to see what you’ve been making with our vegetables.

Head to our shop here to sign up for a veg box subscription or order from our wide selection of organic fruit, veg and groceries.

Liz x

Lentil Pie with Squash Mash

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 10 diced mushrooms or two grated carrots or beetroots (use any base veg that is in season or a combination of veg that you like, diced or grated)
  • 2 sticks of celery, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 vegetable stock cube or a big pinch of dried, crumbled mushrooms
  • 1 mug of green/brown lentils (or two tins of cooked lentils, drained)
  • 1 tsp dried/fresh wintery herbs eg thyme/rosemary/sage
  • 1/4 to 1/2 a butternut squash (or about 400g if you want to weigh it), peeled
  • a similar amount of potato as the squash, around 400g
  • salt, pepper and olive oil or butter for the mash – to taste

Method

Sauté the onion, garlic in a little olive oil over a medium-high heat until starting to soften and take on some colour.

Add the diced mushrooms/carrot/beetroot and celery and a big pinch of salt and sauté for a bout 5-10 minutes until they have cooked down a little.

If you are using raw lentils, add them now and the stock cub or dried, crumbled mushrooms and herbs if using. Cover with water and simmer and stir until the lentils are cooked through. Keep tasting and adding more liquid if needed.

If you are using pre-cooked lentils from a tin, add the stock/dried mushrooms/herbs and a mug of water and simmer the vegetables in that for 5 minutes first, then add the drained lentils to the pot and a touch more water if needed to make a nice (not too dry, not too wet) base for your pie.

Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed with salt and pepper. Pour the lentil pie mixture into a baking dish and preheat your oven to 200C.

Meanwhile peel, chop and boil the potato and squash together until soft. Drain and mash with salt, pepper and a little oil or butter. Taste for seasoning.

Top the lentil base with your sunny, butternut mash. Rough it up a little with a fork and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until hot, bubbling and crisp and golden on top. Enjoy with seasonal greens.

Butternut Squash Hummus

Ingredients (makes about 600g of hummus)

  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained over a jug to reserve the aquafaba
  • 1 heaped tbsp tahini
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 of a preserved lemon or the juice of 1 lemon
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 of a butternut squash (about 400g or so)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika and olive oil to drizzle

Method

Roast the butternut squash with a drizzle of olive oil, a tsp of cumin seeds and a pinch of salt until soft. This could take 20-3- minutes at 200C depending on the exact size of your squash, just keep an eye on it.

Place the drained chickpeas, preserved lemon, crushed garlic, tahini and cooked butternut into a food processor. If you are using lemon juice, start with the juice of half the lemon and see how you go.

Add a splash of aquafaba and a pinch of salt and blend into a smooth paste.

Taste and adjust the seasoning as you like with more lemon, salt, tahini, garlic as you prefer. If you like a lighter, fluffier hummus, add an extra splash of the aquafaba or some cold water and blend again.

Serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

Butternut, Beetroot & Tofeta, Lentil Salad

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 1/4 of a butternut squash
  • 2 beetroots
  • 1 red onion
  • olive oil, salt and pepper to taste to season the above
  • 1 mug of lentils boiled in 2-3 mugs of vegetable stock or water (or 2 drained cans of pre-cooked lentils)
  • dressing – 1 crushed clove of garlic, 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard, 1 tsp maple syrup, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, pinch of salt
  • 3 handfuls of chopped fresh herbs (dill, parsley and mint?)
  • 6 tbsp crumbled tofeta cheese

Method

This dish is really special with the addition of my tofeta. You can find the easy recipe illustration in this bog post here or in my book which is available to add to your order here. Otherwise use whichever cheese you prefer or replace the feta with toasted nuts or seeds.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C and find a large baking dish.

Boil green lentils in stock or water until cooked through. Drain off any excess liquid and leave to cool while your prepare the vegetables, herbs and dressing.

Chop the squash, beetroots and red onion into slim wedges, season them with salt, pepper and olive oil, then roast them until they are soft and slightly charred.

Mix up the dressing ingredients and stir it through the cooked lentils.

Chop the fresh herbs then arrange the salad into a large salad bowl or platter.

Put the dressed lentils on the base, spoon over the roasted vegetables, scatter over the fresh herbs and crumble the tortes on top.

Enjoy warm or cold. This keeps well in the fridge for no more than three days. Keep the tofeta seperately and it will last longer.

Butternut & Swede Gratin

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1/2 a butternut squash
  • 1 small swede or half a large one
  • 2 crush cloves of garlic
  • a small handful of wintery herbs like thyme/rosemary/sage
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • oat milk
  • 4 or 5 handfuls of breadcrumbs (add chopped herbs and nutritional yeast to your breadcrumbs to make them more flavoursome – or replace the bread crumbs with crushed nuts/seeds)

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

Thinly slice the butternut and swede and mix them together in a large, lidded baking dish with the crushed garlic, a generous drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to your taste.

Pour in enough oat milk (or use cream for a richer gratin) to cover about a cm of the base.

Put the lid on the dish and bake until the vegetables are soft all the way through. This should take about 30-40 minutes.

Remove the lid and add a little more oat milk. Scatter over a thin layer of breadcrumbs, drizzle with olive oil and return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes, lid off, to brown on top.

Serve with seasonal greens or as a side to a roast.

A Glimpse into our World

“Knock knock open wide, knock knock anymore, come with me through the magic door” do you recognise this? I thought I would bring you through the magic door of this last week on our farm. 

Frozen kale and purple sprouting broccoli, frozen cabbage and sprouts, frozen swedes and beets and leeks, frozen ground with parsnips and carrots, lettuce and spinach in our tunnels frozen, luckily, all survived but harvest was impossible. We had anticipated poor weather conditions in January and had prepared by bulk harvesting many of the more stable crops, like swede, parsnips, beetroot and carrots and we were lucky to get some greens harvested before Monday as all work on the farm came to a halt on Monday. We had also taken the pre-emptive step of getting all our other supplies in before the 1st because of Brexit. All of this did not prepare us for week 1 of 2021. It has been a challenging week, we have been insanely busy for many reasons, the lock down contributing its part and we have struggled. 

Normally you will never hear of any of the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into getting your boxes onto your doorstep, and rightly so. This week though, I thought it only right to give you a glimpse into our world. This week getting organic produce has been difficult, one of our main Irish organic farm suppliers cancelled two very large orders due to pressure from supermarkets to get produce out because of the lockdown, our Irish mushroom supplier could only give us half of our normal order. A supplier we work very closely with in Spain cancelled all their key produce, their organic farmers were also struggling with an intensely and unusual cold spell that had brought production to a rapid end.

The icing on the cake was Brexit which has meant further delays and requirements for extra paperwork and customs checks. There has been the behind the scenes scrabbling to get produce, the delays of pallets arriving, the poor-quality produce that has to be graded by hand because of frost damage, the long conversations, the hundreds of phone calls, all remains hidden. The turmoil of the crazy packing, the days have been exceptionally long, and it takes two shifts, the first one starting at 5am and the final one leaving at 10.30pm most days to get your boxes out the door. The temperature in the packing shed has been close to zero on most days and the packers have put in a phenomenal effort.

The frozen tractors that won’t start in the mornings, the fleeces that need to be added to the crops to keep the produce from freezing, the numb fingers and the layers upon layers of clothes that are worn to maintain a modicum of normal body temperature – these are the things you will not usually hear about. The crazy amount of administration and the long hours of the admin team and the tireless work of the drivers who are putting in long, long days in treacherous driving conditions to get the boxes onto your doorsteps.

Usually, the result is the same, the boxes go out, they get dropped to your door on time with what you expect. This week was a little different for some of you and for that I apologise. There have been delays, contents in boxes have been changed, and some items were not available to send to you.

Next week will be better. We are grateful as always to be of service and to have the business when many don’t. We know we are lucky and most of all we are thankful for your understanding, patience and continuing good will and custom.

Kenneth

PS. Ordering early or setting up a weekly subscription helps us a lot so please get next weeks orders in here or email us to set up a subscription (for Dublin and Wicklow addresses email dublin@greenearthorganics.ie, for everyone else email info@greenearthorganics.ie and our friendly team will call you back and get you set up).

All of our set boxes are plastic free and much of our grocery list is too.