If you’re a little hazy about just what biodynamic is, you’d be forgiven. Is it organic? Something to do with the lunar cycles?
Well, we delved into biodynamic research to bring you the answers…
What is biodynamic?
In a nutshell:
It’s a growing methodology that promotes harmony with nature, healthful crops and biodiversity.
A little more detailed:
It’s a holistic, ethical approach to agriculture pioneered by Rudolph Steiner in the 1920s in reaction to the industrialisation of agricultural practices.
Steiner was alarmed at the increasing devastation of topsoil health with the introduction of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The quality of produce and livestock were affected, and the long term sustainability and benefit of intensive farming methods were called into question.
In Steiner’s philosophy, the farm is a living organism. All components must operate in a harmonious and self-sufficient manner. The name ‘Biodynamic’ comes from two Greek words: bios meaning life, and dynamos meaning energy. Makes sense, right?
How do biodynamic farms achieve this?
Through crop rotation, biodynamic composting preparations and a prohibition of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
It’s one of the most successful and sustainable forms of organic agriculture today! And – truly – it’s the polar opposite of conventional farming methods where profits are prioritised over planetary health.
Steiner was a proponent of certain spiritual and homeopathic methods (such as following a lunar cycle and using herbal and animal preparations in composting). While this is scoffed at, for many growers, a personal connection with their land is essential. If you’ve ever tended to your own piece of land, you have an idea of just how deep a connection goes! Plus, biodynamic herbal compost preparations contain the nutrients and chemical composition needed for healthy soil for plants to thrive in. Why is it better than conventional farming practices?
Topsoil is precious. It’s the reason we have food to eat. It’s the reason we can exist.
There is, however, a limited amount of topsoil to feed, well – everyone.
Biodynamic farms hold a powerful stance in a corporate world that prioritises agribusinesses, where intensive farming practices leave this soil depleted of essential nutrients.
Biodynamic yield will probably never feed the masses as crop yield will never match those of industrial farms. But, with the philosophy feed your neighbor (or, the Sussex community), you can do a pretty good job…
So, is it ‘organic’?
Yes! Biodynamic food is organic – plus more.
Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are prohibited in biodynamic farms. And, while organic certified produce allows the use of organic imported fertilisers, biodynamic growing methods require a farm to produce its own fertility, through composting and crop rotation.
Whatsmore, 10% of a biodynamic farm acreage must be set aside for the sole purpose of biodiversity!
What do we think is the best benefit here at Fin and Farm?
The best thing? The taste and quality of produce – it’s like homegrown! Rich and healthy soil does have definite impact…
What biodynamic veg do we have right now at Fin and Farm?
While they may seem to go hand-in-hand with Christmas in the British kitchen, there’re many ways to enjoy this comforting root veg. We’ve got a few ideas up our sleeve to keep them as a cool-season staple – not a once-a-year show.
From breakfast (really!) to dinner, parsnip’s wonderful earthy sweetness is one you simply need in your life.
Other than their palatability – parsnips are good for you.
Want to create the most delicious food you’ve ever cooked in your life?
Homemade stock is the answer! You’ll wonder how a stock cube could ever compare…
There’s no limit to what you can put in. Simply slowly simmer veg, fresh herbs and seasoning of choice. Sieve the liquid from the main ingredients once cooked, and use immediately or freeze for the future.
Aromatic and sweet parsnips are the key to creating an intense stock. Here’s a recipe for inspiration (plus how to make your own stock powder).
Surprising, I know. But it may just be one of the most delicious things you’ll eat. Flavoursome and dense in texture, carrots can step aside and let parsnips steal the cake show for once.
Finely dice the tomatoes and place in a bowl. Crush the garlic, tear up your chosen herbs and add to the bowl. Season well and generously drizzle with Mesto olive oil.
Let the tomatoes sit and combine with the flavours for 20 minutes or so. Once combined, grill or toast your homemade bread. Top with the tomato mixture and enjoy! Garnish with parsley and little extra olive oil if desired…
How do you love to enjoy fine quality, delicious Sussex tomatoes? Let us know in the comments, on facebook, twitter or IG.
Pumpkin season is finally here! This delicious and colourful season only comes about once a year – so don’t miss out. There are a million delicious pumpkin recipes to play with, but we love this Spanish inspired chorizo-pumpkin stew for it’s punchy flavours. Oregano, chilli, chorizo and sweet pumpkin combine for a meal that won’t fail to please family and friends. Hearty, bright and warming, this seasonal stew is the perfect thing to ease you into this grey and stormy October…
Slivered almonds Parsley
Fresh crusty bread
In a large pan, saute the onions, garlic, spices and chorizo in the olive oil until the onions are translucent and the spices fragrant. Add the pumpkin, oregano, fresh tomatoes and stock and simmer until the pumpkin is tender and flavours have melded. Towards the end of cooking, add in the beans and kale, continuing to cook for 3-4 minutes until the kale soft, but not overcooked. Finally, add in the tomato puree to thicken.
Garnish with a swirl of olive oil, seasoning, slivered almonds and fresh parsley. Enjoy with friends and family, and good crusty bread!
Using the whole pumpkin
Don’t forget that the seeds and the skin are edible – and, more importantly, delicious! Scoop out the seeds and rinse, and toss with the pumpkin skin in some olive oil, salt and spices. Bake in the oven at 180c for 20-30 minutes (Keeping an eye on the pumpkin skin to make sure it doesn’t burn!). These make for a tasty, healthy and zero food waste snack!
Recipe inspired by GourmetGents.Blogspot.Co.Uk/ Image 1: Pumpkin by Michael Brown/Flickr (CC)/ Image 2: Cuddle in a Casserole by Manipa Mandal/Flickr (CC)
August and September have been plentiful, busy months. The weather this summer has been kind to us (despite what many cynics may say) and this has reflected in the quality and the abundance of produce. Trying to make the most of every seasonal miracle is near enough impossible for this very reason: there’s too much of it and too many varieties to try and squeeze onto the menu! By the time we find space, it can already be too late and you have to wait until next year – but that’s all part of the fun!
We said at the beginning of the #EatSussex campaign that the real challenge would be using all of the available produce, not struggling with what to cook. So we gave it our best shot, and here are some of our favourites…
One of our earliest and fondest dishes. So simple but only excels when the highest produce is used. There is little to hide behind.
Slice the tomatoes as you wish. Coeur de boeuf tomatoes a better sliced but the mixed varieties are best chopped randomly. Season lightly with salt, pepper and olive oil.
Arrange in layers slices of mozzarella, basil leaves and tomato onto on a base of homemade pesto. Garnish with crushed nuts, more olive oil and smaller tips of basil leaves.
Arundel Basil Pesto
This pesto is a staple at the café. It varies slightly every time depending on the time or who is making it so is always unique.
· Large bunch of Arundel basil leaves
· 2 cloves garlic
· Extra virgin olive oil 50ml
· 50g Nuts (Hazel, walnut or pine depending on season)
· Pinch of salt
· 5 drips of lemon
In pestle and mortar, start by crushing the garlic with the salt. Followed by crushing in the basil and nuts, and gradually pouring in the olive oil to create your desired pesto texture. Season to taste.
If you have ever been to Greece you will be familiar with these ingenious lunchtime staples. Batch cooked and kept warm, they sell out fast as a wholesome, delicious and seasonal lunch. They’re also dead simple to cook. We made pork stuffed tomatoes using our recipe below. However, we’ve also made veggie ones using pearl barley and cranberry risotto with Grana Padano – but I have no measurements or quantities for that one. We made it up as we went along!
Carefully slice off to tops of the tomatoes with the stalks on, about an 8th of the way down. They will be lids. Using a spoon and a small knife if necessary, scoop out the inner membrane and seeds of the tomatoes doing your best to retain the structure of the tomato. Cook the innards of the tomatoes with 50ml of olive out and a clove of garlic, nice and slowly. Meanwhile we can mix the pork mince with the remaining oil, garlic and oregano, a good pinch of salt and pepper then roll it into six 150g balls to stuff into the tomatoes. Place the lids back on and bake for 1 hour at 180 degrees Celsius.
To serve, blitz the tomato innards in a food processor to form a rich sauce and sit the baked tomato on top, serve warm, not hot.
Tibbs Farm Raspberry Ripple Yoghurt & Granola.
I didn’t know the real taste of a raspberry until the punnets arrived with Nick, just picked from Tibbs farm that day. We had to immediately reorder them. Such was my excitement about these dark, blood red, sweet, juicy flavour-bombs, that I shared them out to every customer and member of staff we had. Do yourself a favour: eat raspberries that are LOCAL and IN SEASON and NOTHING ELSE! The kind you buy in the supermarket are not even from the same planet as far as I’m concerned…
Granola is great, you can keep it in the dry store to be sprinkled on all sorts.
· 500g jumbo oats
· 150g South Downs honey
· 70g soft dark brown sugar
· 250g mixed Sussex nuts (cobnuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, sweet chestnuts)
· 50ml Mesto olive oil
· 1 tbsp cinamon
· 1 tbsp sea salt
· Dried fruit (optional depending on season)
Making the granola is simple. Combine all of the above granola ingredients thoroughly in a bowl and, when combined, spread onto a large baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven at 150 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes. After 30 minutes crudely break up the granola to form large nuggets. Leave out to dry out, turning every 5 minutes or so. If it’s still a bit moist afterwards either bake it again for another 5 minutes or leave in a warm dry place such as the airing cupboard!
The raspberry ripple component is make by a simple maceration process. In a mixing bowl place your fruit with the sugar and a few drops of lemon. Toss gently just using the bowl and leave in the fridge for 20 minutes. This will intensify the flavour and create a wonderful natural syrup.
To put the dish together, combine a spoonful of the macerated raspberries with a portion of yoghurt and loosely marble. Top with as much granola as you like, some fresh raspberries and extra honey if you wish. (We also love sprinkling on some bee pollen!)
Butterhead Lettuce & Smoked Chicken Salad.
We love butterhead lettuce. Big leafy multi-textured ears of crunchiness, bitterness and sweetness. It’s also beautiful to look at. We tend to keep them whole, retaining the natural structure and contours. They’re so perfect.
As for smoked chicken, it’s a wonderful ready-to-go ingredient with so many uses and is an interesting alternative to regular chicken. Ensure it’s a naturally smoked free-range bird. We buy ours from Springs Smokery, Edburton. You can put all sorts with salad – so go wild!
For the dressing, combine the oil, mustard, vinegar, honey and a pinch of salt and pepper using a whisk or in a food processor and taste. Using a minute splash of boiling water will help to emulsify the mixture. Add more acidity, salt or sweetness depending on personal taste. Throw in an inch or so of finely chopped chive stems from your bunch.
The rest is self explanitory really! Tear the chicken, half the butterhead (washing and drying gently), thinly sliced radishes the remaining chives and scooped teaspoonfuls of the avocado all together and dress with the dressing.
Thinly slice the shallots and caramelise in a pan without busting them up too much. Toast the walnuts. Add to the salad with any spare chives.
Making you hungry? Check out the award winning cafe on Holland Road for delicious and seasonal eating. Visit their website, instagram and facebook for more mouth-watering and inspiring seasonal dishes.
Fancy contributing to our blog? Let us know! And don’t forget to use the hashtag #EatSussex in your seasonal, locally sourced and delicious creations this autumn…
A freshly grown, naturally matured pepper is a joy to eat with a sweet richness that time and forced growing hasn’t completely been bred out to leave just a crisp watery shell.
Tangmere Airfield Nurseries are sited on the historical ‘Battle of Britain’ airfield near Chichester just ahead of the Sussex South Downs. Following the airfield closure in 1970, the land fell into decline until it was regenerated as farmland. Tangmere have been growing peppers there since 1988.
In 2001 they bought a farm in Spain so they could supply peppers all year round – which for us as consumers is great as we have complete traceability from responsible growers; Tangmere are a LEAF demonstration farm (Linking Environment and Farming) which aims to combine traditional farming with environmental awareness.
We buy their peppers because they are hands down, the sweetest most delicious and fresh peppers we’ve tasted. Even green peppers, which are usually mildly bitter, have a softer sweeter flavour as they’ve had time to develop their flavour naturally.
Ways to use Bell Peppers
The edible capsicum family are all rich in nutrients, particularly Vitamin C and has fantastic antioxidant properties when eaten raw or lightly cooked.
Cooking can really highlight the sweet, almost fruity flavour and peppers can as easily stand up for themselves with strong meaty textures as well as light, fragrant salads.
We had never really thought about a curried gravy to add to a Biriyani or dry curry before, but this blogger Swathi’s recipes has opened our eyes to a number of possibilities to create a sauce which can be used alongside various main courses for all our vegetarian/meat eating guests…genius.
A more earthy take from these Great British Chefs borrows flavours from Greek cooking to take a quintessentially British lamb stew up a notch with their Lamb and Red Pepper Ragout.
Finally, peppers are so sweet but we haven’t come across them as an actual sweet before and not sure why. We love this Great British Chef site so much for their unusual and creative spin on old favourites. However, these red pepper tuile biscuits are extremely impressive and we think would work equally well alongside a sorbet as a canape.
Our organic spinach from Fletching Glasshouses is brilliant to have in the kitchen for more than just taste reasons. The leaves are larger than baby spinach but not as large as the huge mature broad leaf. This is a godsend in that it’s pretty versatile as it’s mild enough to shred in a salad but also robust enough to wilt – which is pretty hard to do with baby leaves.
Anyway you care to use it…it’s freshly picked when we deliver so we couldn’t possibly waste such a lovely bag of nutritious goodness!
How to cook spinach
The best way to cook spinach is to wilt it gently. Just be careful not to overcook and lose the vibrant green colour and rich flavour.
1. Clean the spinach thoroughly to remove any grit from the leaves. Heat a large pan with a knob of butter
2. Add the spinach – the leaves touching the base of the pan will wilt very quickly, so stir occasionally to ensure all of the raw leaves make contact with the base. Season with salt
3. Once the spinach has just about wilted, remove the pan from the heat and strain off any excess liquid. Serve immediately.
How to store
A bag of slimy wilted leaves is pretty offputting. Obviously, the best thing in the kitchen is to use up greens as quickly as possible to make the most of their nutritious benefits – but given that it isn’t always possible, you can extend the life with careful storage.
Here is a link to storing spinach with The Kitchn which gives you tried and tested resultsusing different storage methods. We love these blogs where people give really useful tips! NB – this is why our leaves are always sold in plastic bags. Not because we don’t have environmental concerns but but because even freshly picked leaves can dry and wilt while we are driving around the Sussex roads in the few hours from picking if they are put into brown paper bags.
Alternative Ways to Use Spinach
There are loads of regular ways to use spinach…sauteed, soups dah di dah… But here are some more ways that may well be useful if you’re looking to add more greens to your diet…
Torta Pasqualina – OK this is a little late for Easter, but a delicious spinach, artichoke, parsley and egg pie is a perfect dish for either a vegetarian main course or even picnic slices (if the rain stays away).
Quick Quesadillas – these are our daughter’s favourite snack from school and she can cook a pile of them in minutes. Keep them healthy by using feta cheese and avoiding the sour cream. Combine with a strawberry salsa for full antioxidant benefits.
Puree spinach and add to pancake batter for super-healthy pancakes. They genuinely go with sweet fillings like banana and blueberry so if your kids are up for green pancakes, these really do work.
Spinach and aromatic herbs are perfect partners. Combining with sage and parmesan makes this a perfect quick supper dish as Spaghetti Piemontesi
When our daughter was small, we kept pureed spinach in ice cube trays in the freezer and added it to just about everything. We lost the habit as she got older and ate adult food but it’s a great way to add extra iron, vitamins and minerals to a dish quickly and without any hassle…whatever you’re cooking…pasta sauce, soups, stews etc.
Add to scrambled egg or scrambled tofu. The flecks are pretty and it adds earthiness to any breakfast dish…and a bit less washing up than making a traditional Eggs Florentine.
Use pureed spinach as a pizza topping instead of tomato. Just as delicious and a perfect partner for rich cheese melted on top. Try this spinach garlic puree or even a spinach pizza base…(just don’t let anyone see the raw dough…it looks amazing cooked, but raw…really not a good advertisement for a delicious dough.