This is an attempt to document my efforts to grow and eat locally around Melbourne, Derbyshire. My family own a nine acre smallholding on which we grow fruit and vegetables and keep bees, and chickens, but that won't feed us alone, so the idea is to get to know our local produce and to see how easy/hard it is to follow a diet that is local to within 30 miles. The fun part is also trying some new (easy) recipes that use home-grown and local produce. Feel free to comment, send in recipes, and share your experiences of buying and eating locally.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Caramelised onion, lettuce and cheese quiche

  • 250g of plain (all purpose) flour
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 125g of chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • about 75ml of cold milk
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4 gem (baby cos) lettuce hearts, trimmed and quartered
  • 15g of butter
  • 250g of spring onions, trimmed and cut into chunky slices
  • 100g of cheddar or hard goats cheese, grated
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • 250ml of double cream
  • 200ml of milk
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to season
  1. Start by making the pastry. Using a food processor add the flour, salt and butter to the bowl of the food processor and process until the butter resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the milk, little by little, until the pastry just comes together. Turn out onto a piece of cling film and form into a disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius (350 fahrenheit) and roll out the pastry until it’s quite thin and large enough to line a 25cm tart tin. Line the tart tin and trim the edges.
  4. Line with foil and top with beans or pie weights and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the weights and return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minuts, or until the pastry is just starting to colour.
  5. To make the filling, place a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the oil. Add the lettuce and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the cut surface of the lettuce is just beginning to colour before adding the butter. Cook until the butter is melted and then using a slotted spoon remove from the pan and arrange in the tart shell.
  6. Reduce the heat and add the spring onions to the pan and saute gently for 5 minutes before adding to the tart shell.
  7. Top the lettuce and spring onions with the grated cheese.
  8. Add the eggs to a bowl and lightly whisk before adding the cream and milk. Whisk until combined and season generously with salt and pepper before pouring into the tart shell.
  9. Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden and serve warm or at room temperature.
To make rolling the pastry out easier roll between two sheets of baking paper. Once you have rolled the pastry out to size remove the top layer of baking paper but keep the pastry on the bottom piece of paper. Lift up the paper and use the paper to assist you with lining the tart case. Press the pastry into the case while still stuck to the paper and once you have it lined finally remove the paper. If you find it difficult to remove the paper simply place the pastry in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, or until the pastry has stiffened and the paper should come away easily

Thanks to River Cottage veg for the recipe.

Rhubarb and lemon tart

Made by Jo for a bring and share lunch. The pastry is like a sponge but made from Quinoa.  It was delicious and almost like a sponge.  Can we have the recipe Jo?

Eton Mess

Made by Helen for a bring and share lunch with home-grown strawberries.

Rosemary biscuits and lavender biscuits

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Blackcurrant lollies

These were made from the home-made cordial I made this week. Great for a vitamin C fix for the kids on a hot day like today. I also made elderflower cordial lollies, which I prefer myself.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Blackcurrant cordial

This is so easy to make and you can use the almost unlimited supply of blackcurrants you get if you grow your own.  Blackcurrants are easy to propagate from cuttings - just stick a cutting in the ground in Autumn and you'll have a new plant next year.  Just make sure the cutting is taken below a node (the bit where the leaves grow from).  Kids love it and it's great for getting vitamin C into them.  My kids used to call blackcurrant "Ribena balls".  Today I used frozen blackcurrants from last season, which need using up before the next lot arrives.  But that way you can make it all year round as it only lasts a couple of months after turned into cordial (I have kept it longer however with no problems).

This is my method.

  • 450g blackcurrants
  • 250g caster sugar
  • water
  • Whole lemon

De-stalk and wash the blackcurrants.  No need to top and tail.

Put blackcurrants in large pan, cover with water then simmer very quickly until juice comes out.  Try and keep boiling to minimum to preserve vitamins.   Add skin and juice of lemon during the simmering.  Then strain - either through a fine sieve or a muslim, depending on whether you are fastidious about the odd bit.  Then add 12 oz sugar per pint of juice - or 1.2kg sugar to 2 litres of juice.  You may need to then reheat slightly to dissolve sugar - but again keep this to a minimum.  Bottle up to brim and then seal bottles with wax.  Keeps for six weeks in fridge or cool place. 

Friday, 15 June 2012


This is a recipe from River Cottage, which I tried today.  I put the milk into a thermos flask overnight.  The milk powder makes the yogurt thicker.

* 500ml whole milk
  • * 25g dried milk powder
  • * 3 tbsp live, plain whole-milk yoghurt

  • 1. Pour the milk into a saucepan and whisk in the dried milk powder. Put the pan over a medium heat, stand a cooking thermometer in it and stir gently, watching the thermometer carefully, until the temperature reaches 46°C.
    2. Take the saucepan off the heat and pour the milk into a warmed mixing bowl. Check the temperature hasn't gone beyond 46°C. If it has, stir the milk until the temperature drops back. Whisk in the live yoghurt. The bacteria within it will start to work on the fresh milk, converting it into yoghurt.
    3. Cover the bowl with a lid or some cling film, wrap it in a towel and put it somewhere warm - in an airing cupboard or above a radiator are good places. Alternatively, you can pour the mixture into a warmed, wide-mouthed Thermos flask and seal.
    4. Check the yoghurt after 6-8 hours, or leave it overnight. If it's still runny, leave it wrapped up in the warm for another 1-2 hours. When it has thickened and looks set, pour it into a clean container, seal and refrigerate. Homemade yoghurt isn't as thick as commercial varieties. If you’d like a thicker finish, you can strain the yoghurt through a muslin-lined sieve over a bowl in the fridge for a few hours.

    Drop scones

    This is a recipe that my mum used to make. It's fantastic for a "coming home from school" treat.

    • 200g/8 ozs. self raising flour
    • 25g/1 oz. caster sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 250ml/½ pint of milk
    • Pinch of salt

    1. Put the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir together.
    2. Make a well in the centre and drop in the egg and milk.
    3. Whisk everything together thoroughly. The batter should be a creamy consistency. Add a little more milk, if necessary.

    *If preferred, a heavy frying pan can be used to cook the drop scones, but pre-heat it, and lightly butter it before starting to cook your drop scones. They can also be cooked directly on the Aga's simmering plate, but lift the lid a few minutes before cooking starts, and lightly butter the surface.

    Wednesday, 13 June 2012

    Elderflower cordial

    I made a mega batch of Elderflower cordial today - 4 times the quantity which meant picking 160 elderflower heads, which was actually very quick. The main difficulty is sourcing the citric acid, which always seems to run out at this time of year. The best and cheapest way to get it is on the internet where you can get 500g bags delivered next day. It also avoid the hassle of being asked in a chemist what you are using it for. Apparently it is used to cut drugs, but the thought of hoardes of middle aged ladies being asked what their purchases are for in May and June always makes me smile.

    Here's the recipe:

    Makes 1.5 litres

    20 heads elderflowers
    1.8kg of granulated sugar or caster sugar
    1.2 litres water
    2 unwaxed lemons
    75g citric acid

    1. Shake the elderflowers to expel any lingering insects, and then place in a large bowl.

    2. Put the sugar into a pan with the water and bring up to the boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.

    3. While the sugar syrup is heating, pare the zest of the lemons off in wide strips and toss into the bowl with the elderflowers. Slice the lemons, discard the ends, and add the slices to the bowl. Pour over the boiling syrup, and then stir in the citric acid. Cover with a cloth and then leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

    4. Next day, strain the cordial through a sieve lined with muslin (or a new j-cloth rinsed out in boiling water), and pour into thoroughly cleaned glass or plastic bottles. Screw on the lids and pop into the cupboard ready to use.

    Cook's Notes: To serve Elderflower Cordial: Dilute the elderflower cordial to taste with fizzy water, and serve over ice with a slice or two of lemon, or a sprig of mint floating on top.

    For something a touch more sprightly, add a shot of gin or vodka and a lemon slice, or add it to white wine and sparkling water to make an elderflower spritzer.

    Elderflower cordial is also brilliant in recipes such as gooseberry fool, and in vinaigrette - mix with wine vinegar, a touch of mustard, salt, pepper and a light olive oil (surprisingly good with a courgette, lettuce and broad bean salad). You might even try adding it to a marinade for chicken breasts. Try it in sorbets, or ice-creams, or just spooned over scoops of vanilla ice-cream, or use it to sweeten and flavour the fruit for a crumble.

    I use screw top wine or cordial bottles which have been sterilised. To keep the cordial for longer I drip candle wax around the screw top to make an air-tight seal.

    Saturday, 2 June 2012

    Courgette swap

    I swapped these green courgette plants for a yellow courgette plant. Also got a guinea pig house (to become a broody house for chickens) and some plants for the school food forest. Great way to do business with no money changing hands.