In season in December, recipes and a few eco goodies!

10 12 2010

December is getting off to a white start this year, with widespread snow and bitterly cold temperatures.  Thankfully it’s also the festive season; a time of goodwill, good company and good food, so there is plenty to look forward to!

In this blog entry we’ve highlighted kale, including scrummy recipes such as Spicy Kale with Chickpeas and Kale & Roquefort Parcels.  We’ve also included two recipes that mix apples and celeriac (read on to find out more), and we have a special soup section.

Enjoy the blog and we wish you all a very merry, festive time!

The VegBox Recipes Team

PS. This recipe for Mushroom and Winter Veg Pie should not be missed.  It’s a perfect winter warmer that will turn whatever root veg you have into a divine treat!

In Season in December

As well as marking the start of winter, December is of course the festive season, and the way things are going you would be forgiven for thinking that here in the UK, it might be a white one!   So what can you expect in your veg box?  Forced Rhubarb and Purple Sprouting Broccoli is coming in, and plenty is still in season including: Beetroot, Celeriac, Kale, Pototoes & Swede.

Click through for the full list.

Veggie-in-the-Spotlight: Kale

Kale is a great source of Vitamins C, A and B6. It’s also packed with antioxidants, which are vital for a healthy immune system.  It’s in season over the winter, which makes it a useful ingredient in the vegetable box.  It’s strong flavour requires careful cooking, so it’s worth reading how to use it and checking out the recipes, to make sure you enjoy it.

Read more about this ingredient.

Try these recipes:

Celeriac & Apples!

And what about putting celeriac and apples together? Try these recipes:

Wholesome, Warming Soups

With the temperatures as they are, here in the office we have been bringing in soup to have for lunch, to warm our cockles and help power us through the afternoon.  Here are some of our favourite recipes which we think you will love too:

Ooffoo Community

These fabulous articles were uploaded to our sister site, Ooffoo, by community members:

Tips for Wormeries, by Maddy

…BEDDING – Add some additional bedding to your wormery such as shredded paper, scrunched up newspaper and/or a moisture mat as this can help to add some “insulation” and keep your worms a little warmer over the winter…

Read the full article.

The Joy of Mess, by Kerryb

…it isn’t just laziness or the comfort of soft furnishings and central heating that keep me inside.  It is not because I choose to neglect my garden, it is because I choose not to interfere.  This is armchair gardening at its best.  With a cup of tea and biscuit by my side, I sit back on my comfortable settee and watch, reaping the rewards of my negligence…

Read the full article

Marketplace Goodies

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Scented Drawer Sachets

Fair trade. Perfect for keeping drawers smelling sweet.


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Flower Embroidered Jacket

Keep the cold out this winter.


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Long Socks

Warm and cosy socks knitted from recycled yarn.


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Sustainable Gift Wrap

Sustainable wrapping kit using recycled material.


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Garden Sign

An amusing sign that makes the perfect gift for a green fingered loved one.


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Gardening Book

Organise your gardening year and make the most of your produce.



The Sprout Recipe Most Likely to Succeed…

21 11 2009

seven sprouts specials...

In honour of these much-maligned little greenies, we used to run an annual VBR “sprout peddling” competition to find the most sought-after of all seasonal cooking treasures … The Best Brussels Sprout Recipe. This recipe is recognizable by its magical power to convert entrenched sprout-loathers across the Northern hemisphere to “devout-sprout-touters” in time for Christmas.

As a result of this competition, we have accumulated a veritable cornusproutia of recipes to earn you rounds of approving nods and queues for seconds on Christmas Day whilst staying strictly seasonal.

Here they are.

Eco Christmas Drinks

21 11 2009

make mine organic!

Despite our reputation here at VegBox, you can rest easy – we’re not about to suggest that the only way to enjoy a tipple this Christmas is by making your own potcheen!

Because fortunately for us these days there are enough ethical suppliers around that it is relatively easy to source organic and even local plonk.

We wanted to share a few inspiring choices with you, but don’t forget to check out your local farmers market or to call your veg box supplier and ask them if they can deliver what you’re after or else make a recommendation.

Read the full article…

July’s First Veggie in the Spotlight: Tenderstem Broccoli

1 06 2009
a new veggie?

a "new" veggie?

We were recently contacted by the marketers of Tenderstem® broccoli. And I have to confess that I had never heard of it!

It turns out that Tenderstem® broccoli has its origins in Japan where it was developed using classical plant breeding techniques. The idea was to breed a more flavoursome Brassica by crossing Broccoli and Chinese Kale.

I’m told that British crops of this veggie are mostly grown in Kent and Jersey, and its season runs from June through to December.

Read on to find out how to buy, store and prepare this “new” veggie on the chopping block, and to access the brand new recipe for Barbecued Tenderstem with Melting Goats Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing, created by TV chef and food writer Jo Pratt and provided for us to use by the UK marketers of Tenderstem broccoli.

The Last of the Root Veggies … aka What to do with Swede

2 03 2009
ready to go in the lunch-box

ready to go in the lunch-box

March has arrived. And March is an important month in the seasonal food calendar. Because it’s the last month of the winter root vegetables. For many of you lovely folks, this isn’t coming a day too soon!

After all, how many swedes can one girl eat?

Just when we thought we couldn’t find any more ways of making root veg interesting for you, reader Paula J presented her trump card.

Paula says “I had the most enormous swede delivered in my veg box last week and was immediately returned to my childhood when mashed carrots and turnip was the standard accompaniment to all roast meats. This came along with boiled potatoes. Now I have not eaten boiled potatoes (except new!) since then, so you can imagine my trauma when faced with the prospect of swede!

Anyway a quick trawl through a recipe book left me inspired to adapt an Italian Style Turnip Soup with what I thought was a great result. And the end of my childhood swede trauma!”

Paula J’s Italian-style Swede Soup

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
3 rashers streaky bacon (optional)
1 large swede, diced
1 handful quinoa
chopped parsley

1. Heat 1tbs olive / rapeseed oil and 1tbs butter in a large pot
2. Gently fry a chopped onion and 3 rashers of chopped streaky bacon (optional) for about 5 mins.
3. Add the chopped swede and continue to fry for 5 – 10 mins until the swede begins to soften.
4. Add a handful of quinoa, cook for a couple of mins until coated with oils.
5. Add enough stock to cover and cook until the quinoa is tender. I added a little thickener at the end and also some chopped parsley.

Time From Cupboard-To-Table
30 minutes

When Can I Cook This?
Swede is in season in the UK in October, November, December, January, February and March

Over to you. Use the comments box below to tell us what tricks you have up your sleeves for getting through the last month of root vegetables for this year.

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

March’s First Veggie-in-the-Spotlight. Or “Someone’s Been Saving Our Cauliflowers!”

2 03 2009

Two weeks ago we wrote about the Brassica Growers Association’s campaign to Save Our Cauliflowers. The campaign was launched following the alarming reports that sales, and subsequently production, of British cauliflowers have gone into decline.

We invited you to remind us how good cauliflower can taste, and as always, you came up with the goods!

frugal cooking

frugal cooking

We particularly love this recipe for Cauliflower Bhaji, which has come from VegBox-regular, “Steve in KL“. Steve is passionate about green and frugal living, and this includes cooking his veggies on top of his cast iron wood-burning fire.

Now I used to think that a Bhaji was a little ball of veggies, but Steve’s put me straight. While a lot of people use it that way like me, it’s actually a more generic Indian word for a vegetable dish. Thanks Steve!

Steve’s Recipe for Cauliflower Bhaji

When Can I Cook This?
Cauliflower is at its best in the UK in mid-December, January, February, March and mid-April

How Do I Choose a Cauliflower?
Choose cauliflower that’s still white, rather than browning. If it’s going brown, just slice these bits off before using – but it’s a sign that you need to use it, fast! The leaves on a cauliflower should be green and not wilting. If the stalks don’t “snap” as you remove them, then your cauliflower has been hanging around for a while…

Does it Always Smell?
The stinky smell often associated with cauliflower is from the sulphur released during cooking. Want less stink? Cook it less!

How Do I Store the Cauliflower?
Store in a paper bag in the fridge for up to a week. In plastic bags, they tend to sweat, which can make the florets go mouldy.

Can I Eat the Leaves?
Traditionally only the white part (called the curd) of the cauliflower is eaten. However, the leaves and stalk can be added to stock, to improve flavour.

Bhaji Ingredients
Serves 4

1 very large or 2 medium potatoes
1 medium size cauliflower
2 tbsps oil
quarter teaspoon of mustard seeds
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 or 2 green chillies, according to taste
half tsp ground cumin
quarter tsp ground coriander
quarter tsp turmeric
three quarter tsp garam masala
125ml warm water
fresh coriander leaves to garnish


1. Cut the cauliflower into florets and dice the potatoes
2. Heat up the oil then throw in the mustard seeds. Pop the lid straight on and listen to them leaping up against it. Once they stop “trying to escape”, take the pan from the heat
3. Take the lid from the pan and add the potatoes
4. Saute for 3-4 minutes
5. Add the cauliflower and all other ingredients than the water, and fry for around 5 minutes, stirring
6. Add the water and simmer for roughly 15 minutes until the cauliflower and the potatoes are cooked (but not mushy)
7. Serve, garnished with fresh coriander.

Time From Cupboard-To-Table
30 minutes

Your Views…
Let us know if you use this recipe and how it comes out for you. And we’d love it if you took a photo of it to share with us here.

Any more cauliflower inspiration, anyone?