Be Nice to Nettles Week: and a recipe for Nettle Pesto!

12 05 2009
be nice to nettles!

be nice to nettles!

VegBox Recipes reader, Carol G, contacted me yesterday, after the May newsletter went out, to let me know that May also brings with it “Be Nice to Nettles Week” (13th – 24th May).

It would have been a crime to miss an event like this, when nettles can be found and foraged in abundance without costing us a penny. So here are some nettle factoids and, more importantly, Carol G’s recipe for Nettle Pesto.

Will you be giving it a go?


VegBox Recipes Easter Simnel Cake Recipe

7 04 2009
something the kids can help with

something the kids can help with

The long Easter weekend is almost upon us. If you haven’t already made plans, here are some ideas:

For something to do with the kids on Friday or Saturday, how about having a go with this Easter Simnel Cake recipe, published over on ooffoo?

Making the almond paste balls and creating other decorations is a particularly fun and easy bit. You could use food colouring to dye the balls (which represent the Apostles, I’m told!) different colours.

Also, do check out this lovely article by our friends over at Small Homestead for step by step guidelines on painting Easter eggs.

Finally, if you decide to blow rather than hard boil the eggs, how about using the egg-y-ness to try Warborne Organic Farm’s Sorrel Omelette? It’s their Easter Open Day this Sunday, so if you’re in or near Boldre in Hampshire, that promises to be a great day out.

And if you have made plans, we’d love to hear what you’re looking forward to doing / cooking.

The VegBox Recipes Team

Earth Day Challenge

17 03 2009

In 1969, Gladwin Hill wrote in the New York Times:

earth day

earth day

“Rising concern about the environmental crisis is sweeping the nation’s campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam…a national day of observance of environmental problems…is being planned for next spring…”

That national day of observance has now become an international and annual event called Earth Day. And it takes place on April 22nd.

Which gives us just over a month to plan something :O

Now, given the VBR passion for seasonal eating and for growing our own food, it seems sensible to play to our strengths. And I personally have been promising myself that one day I will organise something designed to help create a more friendly community in the street where I live. So I guess this is my chance.

But I can’t decide exactly what to do. And that’s why I need you, dear reader!

1. Please vote in the poll to help me choose between three ideas:

2. And then please use the comments box down there to share ideas on how you plan to use Earth Day to promote seasonal / local / organic eating or “victory gardening”.

We’ll pick all the events we really like, publicise them for you here, and even see if we can get a bit of radio or print publicity for you when we issue our own press releases announcing whichever event gets the most votes.

Can’t wait to hear from you!

The VegBox Team

April’s First Veggie-in-the-Spotlight: Sorrel

2 03 2009
sorrel leaves

sorrel leaves

April means no more root veggies, and a big hello to sorrel (amongst many other things). We haven’t featured sorrel before, so it seemed about time, and who better to help us out than our friends over at the award-winning Warborne Organic Farm in Hampshire.

The lovely Sophie sent us the deliciously simple recipe below for Sorrel Omelette, straight from the kitchen of one of their own box scheme customers, a self declared avid fan of sorrel.

And while Sophie was chatting with us over the virtual farm-fence, we were excited to learn that the family at Warborne are once again holding an Open Day, this time an Easter-themed one.

Still reeling slightly from the resounding success of  the TV series about them (“Farm Life” on Animal Planet), the Heathcotes will be swinging the gate open from midday till 4pm on Sunday 12th April. There’s no charge for entry, and visitors can look foward to:

  • a self-guided tour and Easter Egg Hunt in their tunnels, veg fields and livestock to see where and how they grow delicious organic produce with minimal food miles and maximum taste;
  • food tastings;
  • shearing demonstrations in the barn, and
  • organic, homemade goodies and refreshments from their farm kitchen.

Address: Warborne Organic Farm, Warborne Lane, Boldre, Hants SO41 5QD

Tel: 01590 688488


sorrel omelette recipe

sorrel omelette recipe

Recipe Spotlight: Sorrel Omelette

(Serves one hungry person)

1 good handful of sorrel
40 ml milk
3 organic eggs
Salt and pepper
Veg oil or butter


1. Whisk 3 eggs in a large bowl, along with seasoning and milk.
2. Rinse the sorrel in clean water, and drain. Roll the leaves and roughly chop or tear the leaves.
3. Heat butter or oil in a small frying pan on a medium heat.
4. Pour the mixed eggs into the frying pan.
5. Let the bottom of the omelette cook slightly before adding the sliced sorrel.
6. Using a spatula mix the leaves slightly in to the eggy mixture.
7. Finish cooking the omelette until done as preferred.
8. Serve alongside a good crusty roll.

Time From Cupboard-To-Table
20 minutes

When Can I Cook This?
Sorrel is in its prime in the UK in April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December

Fact Spotlight: More about Sorrel

Sorrel is a green leaf (very easy to grow in pots if you have limited space) that can be used raw or cooked. It is usually the young leaves, that are lemon-y and have a little kick to them, that are best in salads. Later on in the season, sorrel is better cooked, and is traditionally used in sauces for fish or in soups.

As with all other leaves, the best flavour and nutrition comes from leaves that are crisp and bright in colour. Sorrel should only be stored for a few days in the salad drawer in the fridge.

So that’s all from us on sorrel… Let us know whether you’ve used it yet, whether you try out this recipe, and, if you do head over to the Warborne Farm Open Day, let us know all about it using the comments box.

The VegBox Team

Save Our Cauliflowers!

16 02 2009

chartWe suspect that you, dear reader, are NOT a statistic on a Government chart when it comes to cauliflowers.

Because apparently sales are declining, forcing production to fall. Which in turn has prompted the Brassica Growers’ Association to launch a campaign to Save Our Cauliflowers.

S0, to shamelessly steal a slogan, have YOU forgotten how good cauliflowers taste?

We can’t believe you have, but just in case … Let’s get recipe swapping.

Here’s our contribution for an early Spring lunch-box filler:

our recipe

our recipe

Cauliflower and Chickpea Pitta Pockets

This is a lovely way of enjoying cauliflower. The chickpeas give the meal a nutty flavour and the watercress means it’s packed with nutrients. If you can get hold of tahini (sesame seed butter), it adds to the flavour and is also full of calcium and essential fatty acids.

What have you been doing with your cauliflowers then, cauliflower-eating comrades?

Talkin’ ’bout a revolution…

5 11 2008

Well, what a night THAT was.

I couldn’t help it, I just had to stay up and watch the election results roll in.And while I watched and waited, I tried to work. I skipped back and forth between the usual array of food and eco websites and the online coverage of the votes coming in. Faster and faster I surfed, this way and that, until, mysteriously, the world of VegBox and the world of the US Presidential election had rather unexpectedly become one…

eattheviewpicWhat am I talking about? I’m talking about “The White House Organic Farm Project”. In a nutshell, two major organisations (Eat the View and The White House Organic Farm Project) are running simultaneous campaigns urging the First Family to ‘be the change they want to see’ by using five acres of White House lawn for an organic fruit and vegetable garden!

Now, of all the revolutions we might expect from this particular new President, this may seem at first glance to be a frivolous one to flag on the day after US citizens voted with such passion. And yet, scratch beneath the surface, and it has substance. In his open letter to the next President in last month’s New York Times, Michael Pollen (author, columnist and activist) spoke of energy independence, climate change and the health care crisis and urged attention on the US food system. “You can’t deal with any of those three problems without dealing with the food system” was the point he was making.

And so today, Michael Pollen, the Eat the View campaign, and the White House Organic Farm Project are all hoping that President Obama will be appointing a “Farmer in Chief”, and that Barack and the family will soon enough be photographed not strolling on the lawn, but sleeves up, wellies on, picking their own… It’s not an entirely new idea, of course. According to Michael Pollen’s research, by the end of the Second World War, more than 20 million of Eleanor Roosevelt’s “Victory” Home Gardens were supplying 40 percent of produce consumed by the American people. Maybe a similar initiative today can help all of us living on what Obama describes as “a planet in peril” to reduce our dependence on fossil-fuels and help address the problems of climate change. As well as improving our own personal nutrition and helping ease the current strain on our household budgets.

white-houseSo, rather unsurprisingly I’m sure, my household will be most voiciferously supporting the campaign. In fact (and yes, I know I know – but it  was 4am…) I used the online petition as an opportunity to send the new Commander In Chief some very seasonal congratulations, and assure him of a constant stream of VegBox Recipes to help his farming and kitchen staff make the best use of the veg they’ll soon be growing : )

Which got me to thinking … if they were there now, ready to bring in the daily harvest, what recipe might I offer them for their first supper at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW?

After some reflection, I doubt they could do any better than a wholesome and hearty root vegetable chilli non carne, to replenish their personal energy reserves and to provide them with strength for the road ahead.

Bon appetit, Family Obama!

What seasonal recipe would YOU have sent?

September Newsletter from Veg Box Recipes

2 09 2008
Patty Pan Squash

Patty Pan Squash

Dear All,

Welcome to September’s newsletter!

This time, not only are we bringing you your usual round-up of what’s in season this month, plus some lovely recipe ideas, we’re also talking about chickens, whether kids should know their broccoli from their broad beans and how to be an eco-shopper!

We’ve got news of an exciting live call you can join in on with Kate Lock (author of Confessions Of An Eco Shopper) and even a competition to win a copy of her new book.

So whatever your views on the current weather and whether or not we ever had a summer this year, hopefully we’re bringing some sunshine your way!

Clare x

In Season In September

Although September is often seen as the start of autumn, from a fruit and veg point of view, much of the summer produce is now at its best.

You only have to smell the tomatoes to know they love September!

So this is a month of transitions, saying farewell to the summer fare and welcoming in the earliest signs of the new season in the form of the winter squashes.

Here’s a round-up of what to expect in September:

apples, aubergine, butternut squash (just in, UK), beetroot, blackberries, broccoli (tenderstem), carrots, cauliflower (miniature varieties), chillies, courgette, cucumber, fennel, french beans, globe artichoke, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, patty pan squashes, pears, peppers, potatoes, runner beans, sweetcorn, tomatoes, turban squash, turnip, watercress

And here are some of our current favourite recipes:

Beetroot and Fennel Salad With Sage Croutons
If you’ve not tried this combination, it’s well worth a go and might even convert someone who’s not sure about fennel!

Blackberry And Apple Syrup
A delicious way of preserving a glut of blackberries – time to get picking!

Caramelised Onions With Goats’ Cheese
The sweetness of the caramelised onions contrasts wonderfully with the tang of the goats’ cheese. Enjoy!

Remember, you can find hundreds more recipes on the main website:

Getting Clucky

Aside from the fact that my landlord is sulking with me over a rude workman he sent round – and the fact that I kind of have enough to do already – the boys and I are getting clucky.



We’re thinking of getting some chickens – the egg-laying variety.

We’ve got enough space in the garden for them to run around during the day and have been doing our homework on what’s actually involved for the last few months.

But I figured there are probably plenty of people reading this who know far more than we do! So I wondered if you’d mind sharing?

The main reason I want to get hens is so that we know exactly what has gone into our eggs and also so the boys can start to learn to take responsibility for caring for animals. Is this a good idea? Are we nuts?!

I’ve started a blog on this one, to get the discussion going. If you’ve got any opinions, thoughts or ideas, please get sharing via the comments section. I’d love to hear from you! Thanks.

Confessions Of An Eco Shopper

Confessions Of An Eco Shopper

Confessions Of An Eco Shopper

I recently came across a fab new book from Kate Lock called “Confessions Of An Eco Shopper”.

Kate and I have been chatting about her experiences during the two year journey she took into the world of becoming a more eco-aware shopper.

She’s got a wonderfully down-to-earth attitude towards it all and there’s not a hint of preaching anywhere in anything she talks about, which is so refreshing! Also, she recommends Veg Box Recipes as a resource to her readers, which is very kind (warm, glowy moment coming on!).

Kate gets answers to the questions we just think about:

Are muddy carrots worth the effort? Can a natural deodorant survive a salsa class? Will clothes swapping ever beat clothes shopping?

Two years ago, shopaholic and supermarket addict Kate Lock set herself a series of ‘eco-challenges’, from kicking her Tesco habit to composting her kitchen waste.

The book shares everything she learned over those years, served with a large dollop of humour.

Kate has persuaded her publishers to run a special offer for Veg Box Recipes readers so you can get hold of your copy at a discounted price, with free P&P – very kind of them. If you’d like to find out more, go to:

And to find out how to win a copy of Kate’s book next Sunday, read on…

Live Call – Clare Josa & Kate Lock!

Live Call

Live Call

On Sunday 7th September at 2pm, we’re running a live call with Kate Lock.

She’ll be tackling, head on, the mis-belief that eco-shopping has to be more expensive!

Given all the talk about the credit crunch, Kate has pulled together her top tips for saving money on whatever you’re buying, whilst also doing your bit for the planet and its inhabitants.

I will also be taking you on a whistle-stop tour of the best bits from the Soil Associations Organic Food Festival that I’m off to on Saturday. I’ll be doing interviews with loads of the businesses there, so I can bring you, hot off the press, the latest eco shopping news.

This call is not to be missed!

And if you’d like to take part, you can call in live, listen live on-line via the webcast, or download the MP3 recording to listen to later.

Here’s where to go to register and book your place:

Everyone who registers will be entered into a competition to win a copy of Kate’s book!

Should Kids Know their Broccoli From Their Broad Beans?

In these “post Jamie days”, we’ve pretty much all picked up on the fact that lots of children don’t even know that chips come from potatoes.

And I was wondering what the fuss is all about?

A friend of mine was recently teaching a course on health to a group of children. Of the 7-9 year olds in the room, hardly any knew that chips are made from potato and few could identify vegetables beyond carrots, peas and sweetcorn. And this wasn?t in an area that could be called in any way “deprived” – the excuse we all usually make.

Are we, as a nation, making too much of a fuss about children knowing about fruit and veg? What could we be doing differently? In these days of readily available vitamin supplements, should we care anyway?

Let?s get some discussion going via the blog comments!

Veg Box Recipes Club

Thank you to everyone who has signed up for their free 28 day taster of the Veg Box Recipes Club.

We’ve been sorting out the techy side and this week are moving the main club area over to a dedicated site, away from Facebook, which we know had confused a few of us… So now you’ll get the chance to join in properly – with chat, your own page, discussion boards, posting photos and videos, getting access to your exclusive section on what’s in season in September, with loads of members-only stuff, and lots, lots more.

And we’ve also got some exciting news that the Veg Box Recipes Club has hit the radar of Gordon Ramsey’s team. We had them on the phone last week. Seriously. Club Members: we’ll be telling you more over coming weeks!

If you’ve not joined in yet, here’s how:

Quick Reminder: Zero Waste Week

My Zero Waste

My Zero Waste

A quick reminder from the last newsletter: if you want to get involved with Rachelle’s Zero Waste Week campaign, it starts today!

Whenever you’re reading this newsletter, it’s not too late to get going. So how about popping by her blog and letting her know how you’re going to get involved today? You could win goodies from loads of eco companies, just by cutting down your rubbish!

Anyway, that’s all for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed this newsletter.

Here’s wishing you bountiful butternut squash and sparkly saucepans.

Until next time!

Clare x

If you were forwarded this email and would like to receive your own copy next time, you can register here: