Thanks From a Little Robin

The money you spend in a local business generally goes back into the locality. It is often the unforeseen and indirect ways in which that support matters, take Green Earth Organics today.

Recently we have collaborated with two local small businesses. Rachel who now makes chutney and cranberry sauce for us and Liz who now writes our recipes on our blog. In the last week we have had dealings with our IT support company based here in Galway, our two web developers one based in Athlone and one in Cork, our electrician and plumber based in Galway. Our van company based in Dublin, our tractor mechanic and van mechanic in Galway. I am just out of a meeting with our accountant, he lives locally. A couple of local builders and steel workers help us out regularly, our agricultural contractors, and the purchases we make in the local hardware stores and shops all send the money back into the locality. Not to mention all the IRISH suppliers we buy from weekly and of course our employees. Here is an interview Liz did with Franck from the French market.

Your purchase today or tomorrow pays for all of this. It is also a well-known fact that a greater percentage of money spent in a small business stays in the locality, while money spent in big retailers disappears into investors pockets, and we know a little bit about dealing with supermarkets. A few years back we stopped supplying supermarkets, we had had enough. Despite what their marketing blurb might say their treatment of growers is the same. The price of produce on the supermarket shelves often does not reflect the real and true cost of food. The lower the price the more that has been extracted for less, from the land, the worker, the farmer and sometimes from all three.

To survive, the modern-day farm needs to expand, it needs to take on debt, it needs to push the efficiency of the animals and the land to the brink. Intensification it seems is the only route to viability. Disillusioned with the industry today, a career on the land is not generally what a young person aspires to, and who would blame them? The traditional model of the family farm is, we are told, “unsustainable”. Our government and the powers that be are insistent that the best way forward for food, is large scale intensification. Supermarkets are putting more and more distance between the farmer and the consumer, it is now impossible to understand where our food comes from our how it was produced.

While the conventional system ignores the true cost of food, and is driven by supermarket dictated prices, the sustainable food movement aims to value food fairly, create a connection between growers and consumers and reward those involved in the production fairly according to their input. Your decision to support us is supporting an idea, a sector, a farm, individual’s livelihoods, biodiversity, the soil, the environment, and other sustainable businesses. You are sending a message to the powers that be that you believe there is a better way and crucially you are taking positive action for a more sustainable future.

Thank you

Kenneth

PS our Christmas shop is now open! Treat your loved ones to some real, honest food this year with a box of organic fruit or veg and have a look at our lovely selection of hampers. Please get your Christmas week pre-orders in soon to avoid disappointment.

Leek & Thyme Tarte Tatin

I love a tarte tatin. It’s one of those deceptively simple dishes. One that wows your guests but is actually really very easy to make. A traditional tarte tatin is a French dessert made with caramelised apples and puff pastry. But you can take the concept and run with it in any direction. I love making savoury versions as a light lunch or fancy looking starter with beautiful, bitter salad leaves. Balsamic beetroot? Parsnip and apple? Red onion? Brussels sprout and chestnut? The list goes on. But my favourite by far has to be this luscious leek version.

Leek might be one of the most underrated vegetables. When highlighted like this and showcased as the main event, leeks really stand out as the beautiful, sweet, soft vegetables that they are. Mellow and silky, leeks go incredibly well with vinegar and thyme. If you want to take it up a notch you could add a slick of Dijon mustard to the pastry before tucking it over the leeks too. Another variation I make sometimes is with a sprinkle of capers in the base of the pan. That combination of sweet, sharp and fragrant is so incredibly good. I hope you enjoy it!

Did you try this recipe? Don’t forget to share it with your friends, tag us @greenearthorganics1 in any photos on Instagram and let us know how it went in the comments. Liz x

Ingredients (serves 8 as a starter)

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C. Get an oven and hob safe pan ready. If you don’t have one you can use a baking dish and do the entire process in steps in the oven instead.

Start by cleaning the leeks. The easiest way to do this is to split them down the middle, keeping the root end intact, then run them under a tap to quickly clean the mud out of each layer.

In an oven and hob safe pan, melt the butter then add the olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle over the sugar and half the thyme leaves. (If you want to add capers to the dish, do it now. Sprinkle a tbsp or two evenly into the pan for the odd little salty flavour bomb.)

Then measure the leeks against the pan and cut them in long slices to snugly fit, cut side down, the entire base of the pan. Try and keep the slices intact, don’t move them around once they are in place.

Add the vinegar to the leeks and then season them well with a big pinch of salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Add a few more fresh thyme leaves – reserve some for decorating the dish at the end. Allow the leeks to par cook on the hob so that they start to caramelise with the sugar and fat before adding the pastry.

Turn the heat off then, working quickly, cover the leeks with the puff pastry. Trim it to size and use the off cuts to fill any gaps. This will be the bottom of the tart so no need to be too neat. (If you’d like to add Dijon mustard, brush it over the pastry before popping it on the leeks, mustard side down.)

Tuck the pastry gently in around the edges then pop the dish into the oven to bake. It should only take around 20 minutes or so but just keep an eye on it. It’s ready when the pastry is risen and golden.

Then take the pan out of the oven and let it settle for a couple of minutes. Put a large platter or wooden chopping board over the pan, then in one swift, confident movement, turn the dish upside down (don’t forget to use oven gloves as the pan will still be hot!)

Carefully pick up the upside down pan and you should have a gorgeous dish! Sprinkle over some more fresh thyme leaves, slice with a large, very sharp knife and serve with a simple salad.

Here’s a quick video of the recipe. Hope you find it helpful!

This would be fantastic with a chilled glass of white wine. Check out our organic selection here.


Beet Bourguignon

This is my plant based take on the classic French stew. Beetroots have a beautifully earthy, almost bloody quality which seeps and simmers into a spectacularly rounded sauce. I roast wedges of beetroot and onion, chunks or whole mushrooms and whole, peeled cloves of garlic before starting the lentil stew to create a complexity of flavour you wouldn’t get from simply simmering everything together.

Roasting caramelises the edges of vegetables and brings little sweet and smokey flavours and textures to the finished dish. It’s those layers of flavour…the outer edges that caramelise, the middle that is sweet and soft, the simmering richness, the fragrance of bay and thyme leaves, the tang and texture of red wine…that make a simple stew into a memorable meal. Serve on mashed potatoes or with good bread, some wilted greens, whatever is in season, and a dollop of Dijon mustard. Enjoy in front of a fire on a chilly winters evening with a glass of red wine. Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

Method

Turn your oven on to 200C and put the beetroot, onion, garlic cloves and mushrooms in an oven and hob safe pot. Drizzle a tbsp or so of olive oil over the vegetables, season them generously with salt and pepper and mix well.

Roast the vegetables in the oven until they take on some colour and start to soften. This should take around 30 minutes. Take the pot out of the oven and stir the vegetables every 10 minutes or so to ensure each vegetable feels the full force of the heat and gets a little caramelised.

Then bring the pot onto the hob and add the mug of lentils, the thyme, bay leaves and mug of wine. Get the pot on to simmer and add the water or stock.

Let the dish simmer until the lentils are cooked through. This should take around 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it, you may need to add more water or stock if it starts to dry out.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper as you like. Then serve with good bread or mashed potatoes and some wilted greens.

Illustrations from my cookbook, Cook Draw Feed. Available to add to your next order here.

Did you make this recipe? Share it with us and your friends on our Facebook page or tag us on Instagram. We love to see our recipes leave the page. If you like this recipe, you’ll love my book. It’s available to buy from the farm shop here.

Plans, Progress and Polytunnels

Our very first polytunnel going up in 2005. Expertly erected by Jenny, my dad and myself! The little stone shed is where my grandad used to bring in the sheep when it was lambing season.

When we set out 15 years ago to create a farm and a home delivery business, we didn’t think further than the next week or two. We were convinced that what we were doing was necessary, driven by a deep desire to take care of the planet. Most business advisers would not buy into that, no plan, no detailed analysis of figures, no projections, it was effectively a week to week operation.

Looking back, although there wasn’t a detailed plan, there was a definite direction. I think anybody who starts a business, if they are honest, will tell you things don’t always turn out the way you expect. We did not know what to expect and really had no idea what we were doing. I was not trained in business or organic farming; I was a trained scientist! The road to present day has been tough, the goal posts kept changing and the challenges changed sometimes daily. But our ideology kept us going (just!) and kept us on the right track. Our vision was always strong and the core belief to protect our planet meant we kept on ‘keeping on’, kept on showing up even and especially on the days when we really didn’t want to get out of bed, to face the reality of the tough choices and hard work ahead.

Today we do have detailed plans, figures and projections. All the necessary evils to keep a busy business and farm afloat. If the last fifteen years have been challenging, this year has been exceptional. It has been tough for so many, the virus has changed everything and even the best laid plans have been thrown out the window, it almost feels like being back at the start again. We have not known, week to week, what to expect and we have been the lucky ones! We have been very busy and we are eternally grateful to you for that.

The ups and downs and the challenges and anxieties of this year have kept many people up at night. Businesses that don’t know if they will ever open again, the jobs that may be lost, the fear and anxiety in society, but there is so much hope also. Never in my years of sea swimming have I seen so many people embrace the sea, never have I seen so many people out on bicycles and walking and running and being out in nature. This brings a remarkable positive energy, because if more people are happier then that will rub off on others too.

Our shopping habits have changed too, we have all had to embrace the inevitable move to online shopping, but can we do that online shopping a little more wisely? Can we support local while online rather than funnelling the funds into the pockets of a very large and extremely powerful retailer(s)? Can we again bring our support back behind small local businesses that will need it now more than ever?

We too are asking you for your support. Can you get your fruit, veg and sustainable groceries from us? Can you give the gift of a Christmas veg box or hamper to a friend or family member? Can you support other local businesses too? We have a helpful guide here where you can find a few ethical and local businesses that we recommend.

This year has brought us back into the uncertainty of operating day to day and week to week, but one thing that has never changed is our commitment to growing safe, sustainable food. We wouldn’t be here today without your support, thank you so much.

Kenneth

PS Our Christmas shop is open, get your orders in now! 

Barleyotto, Roasted Carrots & Carrot Top Pesto

I’ve been cooking so much with the gorgeous, super-fresh carrots from the farm recently. Carrots are one of those staple vegetables that often get overlooked as ‘boring’ and sent to the side of the plate or the base of the meal. I love elevating these humble vegetables and making them the star of the show. Once you taste the difference between watery, bland supermarket carrots and the real deal from the farm, you’ll see why I bang on about showcasing each vegetable in its own right.

Root to Shoot

I’m sure most of you already know that the carrot tops are edible too. In this recipe, and in many of my recipes, I show you how to make a meal using the whole vegetable, root to shoot! I hate waste, not just because I don’t have the cash to splash, but also because of the environmental impact. Did you know that reducing food waste has been identified as one of the most effective ways to fight climate change? According to Stop Food Waste, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted each year. This directly contributes to food shortages, water stress, biodiversity loss and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, more than one quarter of food produced is wasted: with food loss and waste contributing 8-10% of total emissions. So we should all do our part in reducing food waste by learning how to use the entire vegetable and putting as little as possible in the compost bin (and certainly never put food waste in the general waste heading for landfill). Apart from the environmental issues regarding food waste, it is surprising how much important dietary fibre and incredibly powerful nutrients are found in the peels and other parts of vegetables we often throw away. Good for your body, your pocket and your planet, what’s not to like?

Ingredients (to serve 4)

Method

Start by removing the leafy tops from the carrots. Roughly chop them and put them in a food processor with the blade attachment. Then slice the carrots lengthways into halves or quarters, put them in a roasting dish, dress them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and pop them in a hot oven (180C) to roast while you get on with the barleyotto/risotto.

Peel and dice the onion and start sautéing it in a heavy bottomed pan with a little olive oil. You could also add a knob of dairy free butter to the pan for extra flavour at this stage.

Dice the celery and garlic. Add 3 cloves to to the pot (along with all the celery) and one garlic clove to the food processor where you’ll make the carrot top pesto.

Season the onion, celery and garlic with a little salt and allow it to cook down and soften a little. Then add the mug of barley grains, the glass of wine (you can replace this with a small splash of cider/white wine vinegar or the juice of a lemon), the stock cube/bouillon and 3 mugs of water. (If you are using risotto rice, add the liquid gradually, stir often and allow it to soak in before adding more). Add the drained butterbeans and let the barleyotto simmer until the grains are cooked through. Stir regularly and keep an eye on the liquid levels, you may need to add more.

While the carrots and the barleyotto/risotto are cooking, focus on the pesto.

Toast the sunflower seeds in a hot, dry frying pan until they are fragrant and start to pop and colour. Then add them to the food processor with the carrot tops and garlic.

Add the juice of half a lemon or a tbsp of cider or white wine vinegar, a few tbsp of nutritional yeast (this brings an irresistible, rich, cheesy flavour to the pesto), a pinch of salt, some freshly ground back pepper and enough olive oil to blend the pesto into a bright green sauce. If you don’t have very many carrot tops you can also add some chopped kale or spinach to the blender.

Pulse the pesto until it comes together into a loose green sauce. Then taste it and adjust the seasoning if needed with extra salt, pepper, lemon juice or olive oil as you like and blend again until you are happy with the flavour and consistency.

When the barley or risotto is cooked through, taste it and check the seasoning, adjusting it if necessary. Then serve in bowls topped with roasted carrots and carrot top pesto. Any spare pesto can be kept in a jar in the fridge for up to one week. Use it in sandwiches, to top crackers or dip vegetables in, stir it through pasta or drizzle it over steamed greens or roasted vegetables.

Enjoy! 💚 Liz

Did you make this recipe? Let us know how it went in the comments and share it with us and your friends on your Facebook or Instagram. We love to see the recipes leave the blog. If you like this recipe, you’ll love my book. And don’t forget to support your local, organic farmers here by signing up for a regular veg box delivery and adding our carefully curated groceries to your order as and when you need them. Thank you!

Raw Carrot Cake

Illustration from my cookbook, Cook Draw Feed – available to add to your next order here.

For a healthy cake, this tastes incredibly decadent. It’s not too sweet and full of great flavours and satisfying whole-foods. So simple to make too – it’s simply a case of squishing together the base ingredients and blending up the cashew-cream cheese frosting, then putting it together and letting it set overnight in the fridge. Easy! I love this cake with a big mug of chai tea, have you tried our new Rooibos Cacao Chai?

Ingredients

Method

Start off by soaking the cashew nuts – simply cover them with fresh water and leave to soak and swell up for at least an hour. Line a baking dish with baking parchment.

Base

While the cashew nuts are softening, grate the carrots into a large mixing bowl. Then pulse the dates and walnuts together in a food processor until they are finely chopped and sticky. Scrape this mixture in with the carrots. Then add the desiccated coconut, ground spices and a pinch of salt. Use your hands to mix the base ingredients really well, then squish the mixture evenly into the lined baking dish.

Frosting

Use the same blender you used to pulse the dates and walnuts, no need to clean it out, just make sure you scraped the date/walnut mixture out thoroughly. Drain the soaked cashew nuts and pop them in the processor with 50ml of water and the vanilla, lemon juice, maple syrup, melted coconut oil and pinch of salt. Blend until totally smooth, thick and creamy. You may need to stop the blender and scrape down the sides every so often to get a silky smooth cream cheese frosting. When you are happy with the texture, pour it over the base, cover the baking dish and refrigerate overnight to let the cake set. Then you can carefully take the cake out onto a chopping board, dust it with cinnamon and decorate it with walnuts. Slice it with a large, sharp knife and enjoy!

Liz

Tips: It’s best to keep the cake in the fridge when you are not serving it to make it last longer, and as the cashew cream can sometimes get a bit melty in a warm house. You can also portion it up and freeze it. It will last in the fridge for around 5 days and in the freezer much longer.

Did you make this recipe? Let us know in the comments how it went and please share your photos with us @greenearthorganics1 on Instagram or on our Green Earth Organics Healthy Eating page on facebook. If you like this recipe you’ll love my book. Available to add to your regular order from the farm here.

Cornish Pasty

The best thing you can do with a swede!

These hand held pies are so good, I’m confident that even a local Cornish person would accept my plant-based knock-offs as the real deal. According to the Cornish Pasty Association, which champions and protects the authenticity and distinctiveness of the genuine Cornish pasty, the pastry should be shortcrust (traditionally they use a mix of lard and butter, I use a quality plant based butter) and the filling should be diced beef, potato, swede and onion. I simply replace the beef with gorgeous umami chestnut mushrooms and add some deep, dark miso to bring out those mouthwatering savoury notes (if you don’t have miso, substitute it with a little splash of soy sauce). November is the perfect time to make these delicious pies. Most of the ingredients can usually be found in my weekly veg box from the farm at this time of year, but of course feel free to substitute ingredients as you like. Any root veg or squash would work well, you could even up the protein with a drained tin of beans or chickpeas.

The photos below are from my instagram stories where I often take my followers through a simple step-by-step as I’m making dinner. Don’t forget to tag @greenearthorganics1 on Instagram or share your photos on the Green Earth Organics Healthy Eating facebook page if you make this recipe. We love to see your creations!

For the pastry:

  • 500g strong flour (I like to use a 400g of white and 100g of brown)
  • 250g butter
  • a big pinch of salt
  • enough cold water to bring the dough together (usually only a couple of tbsp)

Method

Either use the tips of your fingers to crumble the butter into the flour and salt, or pop all the pastry ingredients (except the water) into a food processor with the blade attachment and pulse it together, until it resembles wet beach sand. Then add a small splash of cold water and blend if using a food processor, or gently knead the dough, just until it comes together into a ball. Be careful not to add too much water, be patient with it. Don’t overwork the dough, you want it to be tender, not hard. Then wrap the pastry with a damp tea towel and let it rest while you prepare the filling. Turn the oven on to 175C.

For the filling:

Method

One of the many beauties of buying organic is that there is rarely a need to peel your vegetables. Just give them a thorough scrub and you’re good to go. As is the way with many of my recipes, no need for exact measurements for the filling. I like an equal balance of swede, potato, mushroom and onion in my pasties. Once you have your veg all diced up fairly small (around a cm squared is good) into a large mixing bowl, season it generously with salt and black pepper. If you have miso, stir a tbsp of that through the mix, if not, either add a touch more salt or a splash of soy sauce.

Then you need to sort out the pastry. Tip it out onto a clean work surface and slice it into 8 equal pieces.

Then roll each piece into a ball and flatten it into a disc with your hand. If you need to, you can lightly flour your work surface to stop sticking and roll each ball into a thin circle. Aim to get the pastry around 4mm thick.

Then pile a generous amount of filling onto each piece of pastry, carefully gather up the sides and seal and crimp as best as you can.

Pop the pasties onto a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven (175C) for 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked through and steaming.

I always encourage creativity and this recipe is no exception. Although this is as close to a traditional Cornish pasty as you can get making it plant based, feel free to let your tastebuds run free. Why not try a curried pasty? Add some turmeric and black pepper to the pastry and some curry powder to the veg. And while you’re at it switch the veg for diced potato, cauliflower and onion with a drained tin of chickpeas. Or go mediterranean in the summer? Switch the veg for peppers, aubergine, tomato and courgette and add some basil, pop a sprinkle of fennel seeds through the pastry. What combinations will you try? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to see your creations.

Liz x

5 Pledges for the Planet

Here at Green Earth Organics we really care. We care about our impact and how we tread on this planet and we want to make it official. Being open and honest about the way we do business is important to us, so here are our 5 Pledges for the Planet. We will be doing a deep dive into each pledge soon so watch out for blogs on those coming soon.