Sunday, September 30, 2012

Veggie Box Meal Planning...

Last week I took delivery of my first organic fruit and veg box from our local box scheme Four Seasons Foods.  I have used their excellent service in the past and have decided to go back after a break of over a year.

Why? Mainly because I am feeling it is more and more important to support small local businesses in these increasingly difficult times. Supermarket fruit and veg prices are only going to go up and we have no local greengrocer, only Co-op (probably one of the most expensive supermarkets) to shop from locally. Although I get my main food shop online I am reluctant to allow a 'picker' to chose my fresh fruit and veg for me and every time I have done I am invariably disappointed with the quality.
Organic produce boxes are about as fresh as fruit and veg can get (apart from harvesting them from your own back garden) and I have the satisfaction of knowing that this food didn't travel halfway around the world to reach my plate.

And besides, who could not be inspired by this box full of loveliness?

This week we had potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, red pepper, cauliflower, two cobs of sweetcorn, a Patti Pan squash, a big bag of salad leaves (including lots of my favourite peppery rocket), apples, oranges and a bunch of the sweetest black grapes I have ever tasted!  Four Seasons grow much of their produce themselves while the rest is sourced from farms and growers locally. Some of the fruit may come from a little further afield but they promise that none of the produce is air-freighted.

My challenge each week is to plan our meals around these boxes, ensuring that none of this lovely produce goes to waste! I hope to share some of these meal ideas with you on this blog and would love to hear ideas and recipes from those of you who also use a veggie box service!

So far this week we have had carrot and lentil soup, cauliflower cheese and lots of salad. I am still hunting down good stuffed squash recipes so the patti pan doesn't go to waste (although I am told it can be used as a courgette substitute). The recipe I would like to share with you this week comes from the good old BBC Good Food website - Easy Oven Frittata. It is a perfect veggie box supper! 

chopped veggies - use whatever you got!

The recipe calls for leeks, peas, pepper and sweetcorn but is easily adaptable. I added some sliced runner beans to mine and used corn sliced off a cob rather than the tinned in the recipe.
After reading the comments, I also used 100g of pasta rather than the 85g recommended, used a little more Cheddar as we have no Parmesan and mixed Italian herbs rather than lemon thyme.

Oven baked Frittata on the plate

I confess I was a bit dubious about the eggy pasta bake idea but it worked really well and tasted just as good cold for lunch the next day. Add a large salad and maybe some crusty bread and it will easily feed a family of four and get them well on their way to five a day.

This is definitely a veggie box recipe I shall be using again - you really could use any vegetables you have around. Grated carrot and courgette, broccoli, peas and spinach would all work well and the egg and cheese mix makes it a more substantial meal than just veg and pasta.

Are you a member of a veg box scheme? Most areas have their own local scheme, many of which deliver for free, but there are also a few national box schemes that deliver all over the country.
I would love to hear any recipes you may have tried. If you are on Pinterest why not check out my board 'Veggie Box Recipes' for ideas and inspiration? And if you want to add your own pins to the board give me a shout and I will add you as a pinner.

If you live in the Forest of Dean/Wye Valley area and would like to try a veggie box for yourself give Four Seasons Foods a shout. Visit their website for contact info or tweet them @4SeasonsFoods

Monday, September 24, 2012

Growing up . . .

I haven't blogged properly for a while. Computer problems have been part of it. Minor loss of blogging mojo (it happens) has also played a part. But the main reason, for which I make no apology, is that I have been trying to cram in as much time with the Little Man as possible before he started school...

On sunny days we have gone for walks in the woods or over to Nonny's house or just hung out in the garden tending our teeny veggie plot. On rainy days (there have been many!) we baked, got the craft box out or just snuggled on the sofa, watching movies.
There have been a couple of family BBQ's when he has stayed up late, running around the garden until the light faded.
We even convinced Daddy to close the shop for a couple of days and went on holiday to Devon, having a great time splashing about in the sea, clambering over rocks and into caves, investigating rock pools and eating ice cream on the beach.

I would be lying if I said there weren't times this summer when I wished for some time to myself, some peace, an opportunity to tidy up and for it to STAY tidy for more than five minutes. There have been days when he has driven me almost to distraction, days when his behaviour has been 'challenging' (to put it mildly) and he has spent more time in his room for 'time-out' than he has downstairs. Some days I just felt over whelmed by his constant demands for my attention - from bouncy 6am starts to when he finally dropped off to sleep between 8 and 9pm (damn those long, light summer days . . . )
Some days his stubbornness really got to me - can't imagine *where* he gets it from - and I had to remind myself just who was the adult here.

But it's all par for the course and now the era of 24/7 mummy/baby time is over. He's growing up. It's time to hand over a portion of responsibility for his education, both academic and social - to other people. I will no longer be completely in control of who and what he is exposed to. It feels like I am letting him out into the big bad world on his own and I worry a little about whether he is ready.

To be honest, it's probably me that is not quite ready . . .

On Monday afternoon I waved goodbye as he and the other newbies were led into their new classroom for the first time. He stands a good couple of inches taller than the others, despite being one of the youngest there, and looked so grown up in his gray and navy blue uniform. He had been so excited in the weeks leading up to this day, and that morning he could barely contain himself, asking for lunch at 9:30am because he knew he was going to school after lunch! Watching him walk across the playground I could see his mixed emotions playing across his face. He was happy and excited, yes, but I could also see a little apprehension as he entered this new environment full of people he didn't know. Just before he went round the corner and out of view, he turned, smiled and waved and I knew he was gonna be just fine . . .
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