Blog

Here you can find a collection of our thoughts, reports and ramblings together with some fun things we find along the way. We try to update the blog at least once a week and more often during busy periods so make sure you check back regularly.

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The blog is on the move!

Posted Tuesday, 14 May 2013  /  Written by The Twig

Dear blog readers,

You will have noticed that there hasn't been much action here recently. That's because we've been taking some time to work out how best to share our news with you. 

Having looked at the options, we've taken the decision to move all of our blogging across to our Facebook page. It's not a decision we've taken lightly - we know not everyone uses Facebook - but, having done a bit of research, we think the majority of you do. So, since you'll be checking in, updating and generally keeping in touch over there, we thought we might as well join you.

It's not necessarily a permanent decision; we'll see how it goes. If you hate it we'll reconsider, but we hope you'll join us to enjoy the same great seasonal food news and articles, just in a slightly differnt format.

Like?

 

The Well Seasoned Team

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The only way is.....pesto

Posted Thursday, 4 April 2013  /  Written by The Twig 1 Comment(s)

Joey Spring

Easter was notable this year for a number of reasons: it was ruddy freezing; there were only 4 legs of lamb to feed the entire country; we launched our Seasonal Pestos in our home county of Essex; and we were forced to construct this inept and frankly ridiculous picture of Joey of the same parish holding one of our Spring pestos. We're not reem and certainly not clever, but it has made us chuckle. 

On Good Friday, the Barn was fizzing with excitement as we prepared ourselves for Kelly's Bronze Easterfest where Patrick was joined by fellow local food producers and the turkey-meister himself, Paul Kelly. Classy birds over at Kelly's, we suggest you try them. On Saturday, Josephine and Patrick bounced out of bed and each spent the day at our newist stockists: the magnificent local-food megastore that is the Food Company in Mark's Tey near Colchester and the fervently seasonal Calcott Hall farm shop in Brentwood. No sooner had we started to hawk what was left of our samples from the previous day, than Essex responded in true style by buying the lot. What a day and what a weekend!

Thanks to everyone who popped in to say hello and in particular to Kelly's, the Food Company and Calcott Hall. If you live in Essex or are passing through, then please stop-by and support these great local businesses. 


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March-ing into Spring

Posted Sunday, 31 March 2013  /  Written by The Twig

We recently wrote a guest blog piece for Greener Scotland, the Scottish government-backed initiative to support healthier, more sustainable living. Here's the full piece including our recipe for home-made Wild Garlic pesto:

As a small island with four distinct seasons, we’ve always been conscious of the changes that signify the shift from one to the next. These days, seasonal living is much more of an optional thing; electricity, fridge-freezers and imported produce all mean we're nowhere near as in-tune with the annual cycle as our ancestors where. And yet, within all of us, something still stirs in Spring. We just can't help feeling positive about the longer days, the warmer sun and the beginnings of new growth all around us.

As if to hammer the point home, we've artificially created one of the most abrupt seasonal changes with British Summer Time when, in late March, the clocks suddenly reward our patience through the dark Winter months with an extra hour of evening sunlight. It’s a peculiarly British thing and, ever since the Summer Time Act was passed in 1916, as regular as...well, clockwork, we can expect a lengthy but inconclusive debate over whether we should abolish it. It almost, but not quite, coincides with the vernal equinox, when the days start getting longer than the nights (equinox literally means "equal night") and which, for many of us, represents the natural start of Spring.

However you define it, Spring is pretty much here and with it comes our hopes of some brighter, warmer weather. Unfortunately, as always, those hopes are bound to suffer a set-back at some point. The one thing you can guarantee about March weather is that there are no guarantees; one day it’ll be bright sunshine and the next we could have torrential rain or a blanket of fresh snow. The country proverb tells us that if it comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb...but even that is not borne out by the meteorological record.

No, there's simply nothing predictable about March and the fact that the Anglo Saxons knew it as Hyld Monath, or the stormy month, pretty much sums it up. Nevertheless, most of us still see it as a pretty optimistic and hopeful time of year. Whatever twists and turns we experience along the way, we know we're heading in roughly the right direction. The first Spring lambs will be out in the fields, daffodils will flower and we’ll see the early green shoots of the Summer crops, signalling the bountiful months ahead. It’s no surprise that nearly every religion that's ever been prevalent in the UK has some form of celebration of birth and new life around this time.

And so it is in the kitchen - optimism and a sense of expectation abound. January to March are comparatively tough times for the seasonal foodie but, by the time the clocks go forward, the end of “Hungry Gap” is at least in sight. It’s still not exactly party time; our seasonal cups runneth over not. But the first crops of broccoli, spinach, outdoor rhubarb and early lettuces are all with us. It’s a pretty good month for seafood too with cockles, brown crab and shrimps topping our list of under-appreciated fish to eat. For carnivores, whilst the game season has ended, there’s still good meat in the wild larder with rabbit and venison both on the menu alongside that most popular of pests, the wood pigeon (there are literally millions of them in the UK and they’ve all been plundering your local farmer's delicate Spring seedlings, so do him a favour and pan fry a wood pigeon!)

Talking of woods, it’s also the time when we can start to think about going outside without looking like we're planning an assault on Everest and, with the new growth all around us, it’s a good time to go foraging for some wild ingredients. If you go down to the woods this month you might be in for a slightly smelly surprise. Wild garlic (also known as ramson or bear’s garlic) is in season and you can find it easily because it has an unmistakable smell. The woodland air will be thick with the pungent, garlicky fragrance of any ramson crop for several hundred yards around. Once you locate your likely crop you can confirm its identification by looking for small star-shaped white flowers and waxy green leaves. It's unlikely you'll go wrong. In fact, so familiar and identifiable are wild garlic colonies that 'garlic woods' feature as landmarks on many old maps of the countryside.

Despite their strong smell, the taste is actually quite subtle and you can use the leaves in place of spring onions in most dishes. Gather what you need (taking no more that a couple of leaves from each plant) then get your foraged crop into the kitchen as soon as you can, especially if it's destined for the salad bowl. If necessary, you can revive any slightly wilted leaves by standing them in a glass of fresh water for twenty minutes or so. If you can't find any in the woods then you should have better luck at the larger farmers' markets and you can also now buy online from a few good shops.

Our recipe of the month for March is a simple Wild Garlic Pesto. Stir it into pasta or swirl it into a bowl of hot soup on those colder days. Either way, it'll definitely put a Spring in your step!

Wild Garlic Pesto

Have a great month, enjoy your Spring and remember, keep it seasonal!

Wild Garlic II


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Radio three

Posted Thursday, 28 March 2013  /  Written by The Twig

We made our third on-air appearance today as Patrick went on BBC Essex to discuss changing careers. Click the image to listen again to the Dave Monk Show (Etholle George filling in). Patrick's slot starts around 1h 21m:

Radio Essex 

 

 

 


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So Solid Chew

Posted Wednesday, 20 March 2013  /  Written by The Twig

Celery_Square

The celery season is now at an end in the UK (June – mid Winter), but we thought you might be interested in reading a little more about this much-maligned, but very useful vegetable given that Winter is currently outstaying its welcome. Its distinct taste, crunch and stringy texture is the stuff of childhood nightmares, but as we all start to cook more and value the change in produce that comes with the flux of the great British seasons, celery is making a comeback.

Planted around the end of February and harvested from mid-June right into the middle of winter, it is quite a hardy crop that is often grown in the rich soils of East Anglia. The Victorians were aware of its qualities and used

Field Celery_Squareto harvest winter celery right up to New Year’s day for sale in the Christmas markets. The traditional method for ensuring a good, white root and a sweet, nutty taste was to ‘blanche’ the celery by building up a deep bank of soil around the plant, which also protected it from the frost. This method has been broadly replaced by celery plants that are self-blanching, much to the disappointment of traditional horticulturists and growers. However, the traditional method is making a comeback thanks to producers like G's in the fertile, peat-rich black soils of the Cambridgeshire Fens  - G's have even made an application to the EU for Fenland Celery to be granted Protected Geographical Indication status, which is similar to the status granted to Cornish Pasties, Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb and Jersey Royal Potatoes. We encourage you to look out for traditionally grown, Fenland celery in your markets and shops.

We use the root to add a unique savoury element to our stocks, stews and soups. Fresh celery on a cheese board is also very popular in the Barn if we’ve been lucky enough to find some good Stilton. And perhaps the most well-known dish containing celery is the glorious Waldorf Salad. As Basil Fawlty was once repeatedly reminded, the ingredients to a proper Waldorf Salad are celery, apples, walnuts, grapes and mayonnaise. Here are a few more celery recipes for you to try when celery is back in season.


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Big blog news

Posted Wednesday, 13 March 2013  /  Written by The Twig 1 Comment(s)

We were delighted this week to see our products get not one but two rave reviews on other blogs. The first was from well known food blog, the English Kitchen and the second from Katy Truss, a member of the BBC Good Food team who named us as her Food Find of the Week.

Food bloggers are an increasingly influential bunch, not least because of their ability to tell it how it is (good or bad!) without being tied to advertisers or publishers preferences. By sending our products out for review we expect a frank and honest appraisal, so it's really pleasing to see, so far, they've all been really positive. Let's hope those aren't famous last words!


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Spring sustenance

Posted Thursday, 7 March 2013  /  Written by The Twig

Spring has pretty much sprung and there was more than a hint of sunshine across the country last week so we've started to plan some longer outdoor jollies. Naturally, we'll be needing some sustenance and over the weekend we looked to the Edwardians for inspiration. They knew a thing or two about outdoor eating and invented one of the most ridiculous, expensive and tasty sandwiches you’re ever likely to try. It’s called the Shooters’ Sandwich, it takes 24 hours to make with ingredients that cost about £15 and when we read the recipe we just knew we had to have one. Of course, Spring Pesto wasn’t in the original but we're pretty sure it would have been if we'd been around then, so we've added some in. Here's the basic recipe...

...and here’s the result. Go on, you know you want one.

Shooters sandwich


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It's Marvellous March!

Posted Friday, 1 March 2013  /  Written by The Twig

It's March and that means it's the start of our Spring season! We're ridiculously excited to introduce our two Spring flavours: Roast Spring Onion & Parsley and Wild Garlic, Basil & Mint. But wait....there's more. We've also launched our online sales AND announced several new stockists. Click HERE to get British Seasonal Pesto sent direct to your door!

Wild GarlicSpring Onion


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Has Spring already Sprung?

Posted Thursday, 21 February 2013  /  Written by The Twig

As a seasonal food business we often get asked seasonal questions like, "When does Spring start?" Well, that's easy.

You see, if you're a Pagan, it started on 2nd February with the festival of Imbolc (when the battle between the Green Man and Jack Frost is won by the sultan of Spring) although, if you're Irish, it was 1st February (the feast day of St Brigid, the lesser-known patron saint of the Emerald Isle), unless you're an astronomer, in which case it starts on the 20th March (the vernal equinox, when the days start getting longer than the nights) but, of course, if you're a Met Office weatherman it's 1st March (because March to May are the three Spring months). So, we hope that's cleared that up for you!

With all due respect to the alternatives, John Kettley definitely knows his stuff and so on 1st March we'll be launching our two Spring Pesto flavours, "Wild Garlic, Basil & Mint" and "Roasted Spring Onion & Parsley". We'll update you very soon with news of new London and Essex stockists AND, excitingly, from 1 March we'll also be offering online sales.

So, it's a very exciting time in the Barn at the moment. Keep an eye on the blog for more details - Spring is coming very soon!

Snowdrops


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Tasty pastry

Posted Monday, 18 February 2013  /  Written by The Twig

As you’ll know, the game season came to an end a few weeks ago but the last of the pheasants have been hanging until now so you can still find the odd one in the shops. Reader Nick H has been in touch with a photo of his impressive game pie creation celebrating the last of this year’s birds. And we thought a couple of pastry leaves on top was getting a bit lad-di-dah…

Pheasant pie (small)


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