British Food Fortnight: Making Plans

21 08 2009
your invitation

your invitation

Since its launch, the British Food Fortnight (19th September – 4th October) has quickly become the definitive national celebration of our regional foods and drinks and the health benefits and pleasures of eating quality, fresh, seasonal and regionally distinct produce.

Here at VegBox, where we try to make every fortnight’s food as British and as local as possible, we’re more than ready to join in the festivities, and we’re wondering whether you’d like to take part too.

Amongst the acres of brilliant information on the Love British Food website, there is a list of “14 things you can do”. And that’s our kind of list!

Here are our favourites.


November Supplementary!

25 11 2008
wellies optional

wellies optional

Growing Your Own” has never been more relevant than now, and is a singular, powerful and personal choice in favour of a healthier economy, ecologically respectful living, physical well being and stronger communities.

With this in mind, and as promised in the last newsletter, at 7pm on Tuesday December 2nd the VegBox Recipes Team will host a live webcast dedicated to providing guidance on how to get started growing fruit and vegetables at home. We will be joined by writer, broadcaster and veritable eco-hero Penney Poyzer, who will dispel some of the myths surrounding the GYO lifestyle choice, before sharing priceless “How To” tips for beginners.

To take part in the call, simply click here. We are encouraging everyone to use the Q&A box at the link above to submit questions before the event.

“See” you there!

Claire, Clare and the VegBox Team

About Penney Poyzer

our eco-hero penney

our eco-hero penney

Penney Poyzer is an author, broadcaster, trainer and campaigner specialising in the communication of green issues.

She is co-owner of the Nottingham ecohome, a pioneering eco retrofit of a Victorian semi in Nottingham. She and her husband green architect Gil Schalom have lectured extensively on their home and the issues surrounding our existing housing stock. Their ecohome has been cited as an exemplar and has been featured in many case studies, hundreds of media articles and formed the basis of dozens of dissertations. She is mentor to a number of PhD students and green business entrepreneurs.

She presented BBC2’s ‘No Waste like Home’ which has been broadcast on four continents. She is also author of two books with a third out in 2009.

She is a regular guest on TV and radio and frequently appears as panellist at conferences talking on a wide range of green issues. Penney is an advisor to several strategic organsiations including the Environment Agency.

She is a Matron, Patron and trustee of several green charities.

Penney is 48 and lives with husband Gil and toddler Jasmine. Penney also has Lucy, her grown up daughter and her two children. Penney is a happy, busy granny working hard with others to hand our children a planet worth inheriting.

November Newsletter from VegBox Recipes

21 11 2008
going back to our roots

going back to our roots

Welcome to November’s newsletter!

Given our slightly more than passing interest in seasonal vegetable growing, we often start off our newsletters with a reference to the weather here in the United Kingdom … and yes, it has continued to be weird (snow in the UK? At the end of October?!) But this month, whilst hanging out on the VegBox sofa, we just couldn’t help shifting our focus to the climate in the US, politically speaking.

It’s been an incredible month, and from an eco perspective, I think it’s safe to say that new hopes abound. So as well as bringing you the usual round-up of what’s in season as we move firmly into the realm of the root vegetable, our feature article brings you news of two fascinating campaigns, one from each side of the pond, that capture the Zeitgeist of a renewed global focus on locally-grown seasonal produce.

As always, we’ve got recipes, this month to help you get cosy with cabbage and toasty with turnips as the nights draw in and the extra sweaters go on, plus an update on our new favourite online green community “ ooffoo”, and the launch of our traditional sprout-peddling contest.


Claire, Clare and The VegBox Team x

Back to the (Forties) Future…

Back to the (Forties) Future... Everyone worth their ethically-sourced salt (yep, including us here on the VBR sofa) is writing to Barack Obama, it seems.

In his open letter to the next President in last month’s New York Times, American activist Michael Pollan spoke of energy independence, climate change and the health care crisis and urged attention on the US food system. He says “You can’t deal with any of those three problems without dealing with the food system”.  He’s on the same page as ecologist Satish Kumar in this month’s publication of Resurgence. “People ask, “What can we do to combat global warming, environmental degradation and social injustice?” The answer …. is, “Let us start with food: let us eat local, organic, seasonal and delicious food…”

Hear hear!

Joining in the clamour for President Obama’s attention are the US-based Eat the View campaign and the White House Organic Farm Project, both of whom are petitioning President Obama to dig up his new “back garden” appoint a Farmer in Chief, and appear with the family, come January, not for the customary stroll, but rather with sleeves up, wellies on, picking their own…

And then there’s Boris Johnson. “What?!” you cry! “Has he been writing to Barack too?”

Well, not quite. But on Tuesday November 4th, he unveiled the Capital Growth project which is encouraging the capital’s residents to plant gardens on their empty, flat roofs (and pretty much any other available space) in order to increase the amount of locally grown food available. To be precise, the aim is to create 2,012 new food growing spaces by … you guessed it – 2012!

It’s not a new idea, of course. Think Second World War and Eleanor Roosevelt’s “Victory” Home Gardens. And the corresponding surge in allotments in here in the UK. Maybe the rise and rise of Grow-Your-Own 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 in the face of the obesity crisis and helping ease the current strain on our household budgets.

I’ll leave the (almost) last word to Satish Kumar. “We have to transform our [personal] relationship with food, as a first step towards transforming political, economic and social policies… Are we prepared to put our hands in the soil?”

Well, you know that here at VBR we are very up for the whole hands/soil relationship. And given that this is the perfect time to plan and prepare for next year’s crops, we are dedicating the next VegBox Recipes Club webcast to providing some practical guidance to all you would-be-home-gardeners out there to help you get started.


We can now announce that the webcast will take place in the early evening of Tuesday 2nd December, and I am DEEEEE-lighted to tell you that our special guest will be none other than the quite incredible writer/broadcaster Penney Poyzer – co-creator of the UK’s first radical eco retrofit of a Victorian house, author of “No Waste Like Home” and Matron of the Women’s Environmental Network!

In Season in November

In Season in November The tree outside my window, which was a-flame this time last month, is now looking decidedly naked. Mother Nature has definitely shifted her focus from branch and hedgerow and is now working most of her magic underground, summoning up delicious root vegetables for us to bubble and bake and stew and roast to keep ourselves warm till spring.

So, get ready to hunker down with November’s most likely box-stars – here’s a round-up of what to expect this month:

apples, beetroot, broccoli, butternut squash and all other winter squashes, cabbage, carrots, cauliflowerceleriac, Jerusalem artichoke, kohlrabi (whose time is now, finally, running out), leeks (now even sweeter since we’ve had a frost), onions, parsnips, pears, sprouts (don’t miss the competition!), swede, turnip, watercress

And here are some of our current favourite recipes:

Baked Butternut Squash with Apple Baked Butternut Squash with Apple
Baking or roasting squash gives it a sweeter flavour. Stuffing it with apple makes a delicious variation.

Spicy Cabbage Soup Spicy Cabbage Soup
Spices are a good way of boosting your metabolic rate, which can get sluggish in winter, so this soup should leave you feeling full of energy.

Celeriac and Other Root Vegetable Crumble with Cheesy Topping Celeriac and Other Root Vegetable Crumble with Cheesy Topping
This is a delicious recipe for carrots and other roots veggies. The secret ingredient gives it a warming kick. Make the most of your celeriac, kohlrabi, turnips, Swedes and parsnips.

Brussel Sprouts with Nutmeg Brussel Sprouts with Nutmeg
We thought we’d whet your appetite as we launch our annual “sprout peddling” contest. This recipe was rated 10/10 on the main website, but we reckon you guys can find something even more delicious. Read on!

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

The Annual Sprout Peddling Contest

Brussel Sprouts with Nutmeg There’s no denying it, the season has well and truly shifted … if the snow and the bare branches aren’t proof enough for you … check out the new arrival in our vegboxes. Yep. Sprrrrrrrrrrrouts!

Love ‘em or hate ‘em (perhaps sprouts are the marmite of seasonal food?), they are here for a while. So in honour of these much-maligned little greenies, we thought we would run the annual VBR “sprout peddling” competition to find arguably the most sought-after of all seasonal cooking treasures … I speak of course, in appropriately hushed tones so as not to scare my family, of The Best Brussel Sprout Recipe of 2008. This recipe will be recognizable by its magical power to convert entrenched sprout-loathers across the Northern hemisphere to “devout-sprout-touters” in time for Christmas.

Since the Going Back to my Roots (Yeah…) blogpost, we have already had one submission, and it’s sounding deeeee-lish (I will be test driving this one next week, Siobhan in London), so thinking caps on, friends.   The winner will be announced in the December issue of the VBR Newsletter, and will receive a copy of the very beautiful “ Grow Organic” courtesy of Natural Collection

WooHoo! It’s ooffoo …

Last month the hot tip from VegBox was to “Get Ready to ooffoo”. And now that the community is live and kicking, it’s surely only a matter of time before the sheer volume of green souls bartering, buying and blogging there every day make “to offoo” an official verb!

Front and centre on the homepage it says that “ooffoo has been designed to bring together a community of people who share the desire to create a positive vision for our world. ooffoo is for those who really do believe that the world is what we make it and that collectively, positive actions no matter how small, can make a difference.”

And when they put it like that … well, we just had to give it another plug!

WooHoo! It’s ooffoo …

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

Until next time, may your vegboxes heave with all the root-y beauties this season has to offer : )

Claire, Clare and the VegBox Team x

P.S. If you’re involved with a Box Scheme or other eco business, please do feel free to forward this newsletter to your customers.

Going Back To My Roots (yeah…)!

30 10 2008
green meanies?

green meanies?

So the clocks went back, we had the first snow (how bizarre was THAT?!), and now the leeks are even sweeter and the parsnips are arriving for the winter in droves.

There’s no denying it, the season has well and truly shifted … it is the time of mash and stews and chunky soups. And sprrrrrrrrrrrouts.

Love ’em or hate ’em (perhaps sprouts are the marmite of seasonal food?), they are here for a while, and likely to start making appearances in your vegbox. So in honour of these much-maligned little greenies, we thought we would run a VBR competition to find that recipe worth its weight in gold … the one that will convert sprout-loathers across the Northern hemisphere over the next few months.

We will officially launch the competition with the November newsletter and announce the winners in December in time for the festive season. Meantime, thinking caps on, friends. And if you get some in your box, start experimenting! The person who submits the most delicious suggestion (I can’t believe I am going to have to test drive all your submissions) will win a special prize and free membership to the VegBox Recipes Club.

So, going back to my roots before I sign off, I wanted to ask for your help.

The root in question was beetroot. Earlier in the week I decided that it was finally time to dust off my baking tins and try a chocolate and beetroot creation. I used gluten free flour, agave nectar instead of sugar and carotino oil instead of butter. And it was truly horrible. In fact my sister was adamant that it no longer classified as a food stuff.

I think the main problem was the carotino oil and the agave nectar, as I had struggled to find guidelines for substitution amounts.

And I’m hoping that’s where you folks come in. Where do you go when you want to make substitutions for less traditional ingredients and don’t know how much to swap in?

mind your clothes!

mind your clothes!

Meantime, I will leave you with a link to my favourite beetroot recipe:

Pink Mash – sent in by Natasha Mangion and always a winner in our house!

TOP TIP: use baked rather than boiled potatoes, remembering to rub the skins with oil and salt, then scoop the pink mash back into the skins, grate over some cheese, melt under the grill and serve.

Where Are We?

12 10 2008
Where has Veg Box Recipes Gone?

Where has Veg Box Recipes Gone?

Where has the Veg Box Recipes website gone?

That’s precisely what I wanted to know when I went online after a few days off this week!

My inbox was flooded with emails asking me exactly the same question.

So, despite it being a Sunday afternoon, I managed to raise someone who was half awake with our web hosting company.

It turns out that we got too popular on Friday!

So they’ve shut us down? Duh?!!!

And they didn’t even tell us. Nice people.

Obviously, we’re working away to find a sensible solution to this, as soon as we can. But in the meantime, please just bear with us.

We’re gutted and frustrated and hope to be back tomorrow – the peeps who turn websites back on at the hosting company don’t work weekends. Joy!

And if anyone knows an affordable, reliable, kind-hearted hosting company who can cope with a website as big and popular as Veg Box Recipes, without costing the earth, please let me know!

While we’re waiting, how about sharing some of your current favourite recipes or asking the questions you were looking for answers to, via the comments box on this blog post?

Thank you for your patience!

Clare x

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:

Go Beyond The Kale – Veg Box Recipes in the Evening Standard

20 08 2008

Today’s Evening Standard has a great article by Charlotte Ross, all about how to make the most of your veg box.

You know the kind of thing – how to avoid having to compost yet another cabbage or kohlrabi at the end of the week!

Veg Box Recipes - Evening Standard

Veg Box Recipes - Evening Standard

And she says some glowing stuff about the Veg Box Recipes website and our new Veg Box Recipes Club, in particular!

In her article, Charlotte talks about the challenges facing veg box users to find out what to do with all the different vegetables they receive – and to get out of the rut of just doing stir fries or pasta sauces each night.

Charlotte says: “There is little worse than admitting defeat and throwing your Jerusalem artichokes in the compost bin. My boyfriend… for one, will be thankful that help is at hand, in the form of a new veg box support group. Run by Clare Josa, who also hosts the popular website Veg Box Recipes, and billing itself as a private members club for vegetable enthusiasts, the helpline is fast becoming a hit.”

She goes on to say that she can see quite some demand for the club and she can see like-minded cooks teaming up to share advice on what to do with beetroot or, in her case, the first cabbage of the season, sitting stubbornly in her cool box!

As ever, it’s great to get publicity for the website. Everyone involved puts in lots of effort and it’s great to know it’s appreciated.

If you’d like to join the Veg Box Recipes Club today, we’re offering a free 28 day trial.

Join the Veg Box Recipes Club now.