Summer Harvest!

Harvest weekend is here at last!

Harvest weekend is here at last!

Imagine this:  a field of beautifully  golden wheat, it’s perfectly ripe and sways gently in the warm, humid, summer breeze.  Harvest  weekend has finally arrived!

Where I live, on a farm in Sussex, the harvest is a big deal for everyone, men, women and children alike.  Everyone  has to muck in and pull their weight.

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Tiger enjoying herself.

Tiger enjoying herself.

Loading up the trailer

Loading up the trailer

Long ago scythes and sickles were the only means of harvesting, but recently they have been forgotten because of modern technology such as combine harvesters.  Not only do combine harvesters do the job in a very short amount of time, they also save a vast quantity of human sweat.

Working in the early evening sun

Working in the early evening sun

Everyone helps out.

Everyone helps out.

Andy, our chief baker here on the farm, is incredibly knowledgeable about all sorts of grains, baking and the whole process from grain to loaf.  People say that he is one of the most learned people about wheat.  He specialises in something called heritage wheat.

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Heritage wheat is very old wheat.  Wheat that you might say is not used by any farmers anymore, except growers of this heritage grain.  It’s Andy’s passion to reintroduce these old varieties back into use.  You may wonder how he gets hold of the grains, well, that’s simple enough.  There are two different ways.  Number one is a seed bank, there are usually one each country.  For every type of grain that is ever cultivated, they save about 180g.  People can get it from the bank in tiny quantities. Number two is more romantic, but probably less used.  It’s  where you visit an old mill and with special permission, take up the floorboards and gather the ancient grains that have fallen through over hundreds of years.  The absolute maximum age that you can still grow wheat at is around 40 years old.

The main reason why types of wheat get wiped out, is because of illnesses.  Most types last 8-9 years before an illness that can take them over forms.

Once you have the grains, maybe fifty or so of them, you sow them.  Then when you harvest them, you find that each head has say fifteen grains in it.  Again you sow all of these seeds and the numbers keep multiplying.  Soon you have a whole field of heritage wheat.

Anyhow, because we were harvesting heritage wheat, it seemed only proper that we did it traditionally.  Plus we were all wanting to do it with scythes and sickles.

We must get it in before tommorrow, because it is due to rain.

We must get it in before tommorrow, because it is due to rain.

Before the harvest Andy worked extremely hard, sowing, reaping, sowing again, reaping once again, he’d been nurturing this wheat for 7 long years.  We just came to help with the cherry on the cake.

All weekend long us workers harvested, sometimes having breaks to sit in the shade and sip cool icy water or run down to the river and have a refreshing swim.  Our wide-brimmed straw hats bobbed among the long yellow stems, as we waded through, collecting the heads of the Orange Devon Blue Rough Chaff, which is dark and furry and leaving the tall, light, velvetty Old Ken Hoary.  Us kids would run up to the taps and fill jug after jug of cold water, then pour it into cups with a splash of ginger cordial for the other workers.  We’d cut sheaths of a certain type of wheat and tie it with tape, writing its name, whether Welsh Hen Gymro or Chidham Red.  We separated the weed from the wheat, all the while munching on crunchy grains.  Each tastes a little different, Old Kent Hoary is slightly spicy, ODBRC is more sweet.

Evan working hard

Evan working hard

Chewing grains of wheat

Chewing grains of wheat

where's Irys?

where’s Irys?

Ah! There she is!

Ah! There she is!

At noon we all walked down to the manor house for a delicious and totally traditional lunch of pickles, cheese and , of course, bread! We all talked pleasantly and discussed the afternoon’s work.  The puddings were all made by me, they included flapjacks and rhubarb & plum crumble. In the evening there was music, meat, a campfire and beer.

Yum!

Yum!

The grand finale of the harvest weekend was when we loaded all of the sheaths onto the tractor trailer and followed it up to the bakery were we unloaded and had a team photo taken on the trailer.  Then we all rode back to the field to do it again!

Such a wonderful photo, full of beauty

Such a wonderful photo, full of beauty

Daddy!

Daddy!

Tiger looks like a proper country girl here!

Tiger looks like a proper country girl here!

This is Andy proudly showing off his the product of his hard work

This is Andy proudly showing off his the product of his hard work

 

Lulu waiting to catch the sheaf that is about to be thrown down to her.

Lulu waiting to catch the sheaf that is about to be thrown down to her.

Well done!

Well done!

Overall I loved doing the harvest, getting a feel of how it used to be for people in the books I read, like Laura out of Little House on the Prairie, and learning so much.  This weekend has been part of my homeschool life education.

 AwesomeTeam photo!

AwesomeTeam photo!

ME!

ME!

Lulu, Evan, Tiger, Irys, Dad and Me

Lulu, Evan, Tiger, Irys, Dad and Me

Tiger and Ev on the trailer

Tiger and Ev on the trailer

 

A good view!

A good view!

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Wild Garlic and Nettle Pesto

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Eating locally is very important, it’s a lot, lot, lot healthier.  When food travels for miles from different countries it has to be sprayed with preservatives, chemicals and all that kind of stuff.  It’s much better to eat food from your own country.  Do you know what’s even better than that?  Well, it’s to eat and use things that haven’t been farmed or cultivated. It’s called foraging.

These two amazing plants go together very well in a super, duper recipe.  The  recipe is pesto!  This pesto is nutritious because nettles and wild garlic are good for……..

Nettles: contain lots of iron and vitamin C.  Nettles are super foods, good for you in every way. Wild Garlic: helps lower blood pressure.

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Me harvesting nettles

Harvesting the wild garlic

Harvesting the wild garlic

To find these two plants you must go to two different places.  Wild garlic likes to grow near water, in the shade of the woods.  Nettles; these grow in abundance in the hedgerows and around the edges of fields.  The ideal time to harvest these is in Spring. The wild garlic only appears in Spring and nettles are at their prime.  April is the BEST time, so the pesto is perfect to make over the Easter hols and over the rest of the month.

So which bit do you eat? With the nettles, you eat the first few leaves, the middle ones are okay too, but as you start to near the bottom of the stalk, stop picking. Here is where the leaves get too tough.  You can cut the sprigs with scissors or if you’re really brave, with your hands.  If you choose to be a hero, remember to pinch it really hard, so it doesn’t sting you!

Eat the leaves of the wild garlic.

Close up of wild garlic leaves

Close up of wild garlic leaves

Before I give you this yummy, scrummy pesto recipe, I must warn you of the foragers’ foe.  It’s poisonous. It grows in the same place as wild garlic and looks similar.  It’s called ‘lords and ladies’. So, how do you tell the difference between lovely snack and the deadly danger?  Well, wild garlic are slim and light green, their edges are straight. Lords and ladies are wider, darker green and sometimes speckled with purple.  They also have curled edges.  My top tip is not to eat anything you’re not sure about.

Lords & Ladies BEWARE

Lords & Ladies
BEWARE

Now finally, the recipe we’ve all been waiting for, ladies and gentlemen, the sensational Wild Garlic and Nettle Pesto!!!! Please try it and let me know what you thought!!!

INGREDIENTS

Wild Garlic

Nettles

Cashew Nuts

Olive or Rapeseed Oil

Salt and Pepper

METHOD

1. Go and forage a bag of wild garlic and a colander of nettles.  You can’t be exact with the quantities, so just get roughly double the amount of garlic than of nettles.

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Making pesto is fun "Give Us A Kiss"

Making pesto is fun
“Give Us A Kiss”

2. Take them home and wash them well.  Then take the nettle leaves off of the stalks and put in a blender. Blend until mashed. Scoop out and put in a large bowl. Then do the wild garlic to the same consistency.  This may take a couple of loads. Put it in the bowl with the nettles.

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3. Whizz up a couple of handfuls of cashew nuts in the blender and add to the bowl.

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4. Mix up. Then put a bit at a time back into the blender until it’s all in the blender. Add salt and pepper and a generous glug of oil.

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5. Put in a bowl to eat straight away or store in a jar to keep for later. Top up the jar with olive oil.

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6. ENJOY IN LOTS OF DIFFERENT WAYS

Eat with delicious WOWO bread

Eat with delicious bread

Share with a friend

Share with a friend

Enjoy with your dinner

Enjoy with your dinner

Give it as a gift

Give it as a gift

Melissa’s Rainbow Of Nutrition

My auntie Melissa is a expert on nutrition and she’s written a guest blog about it, I find it very interesting and I hope you do too. Eating the right things with the right nutrients, vitamins and minerals is really important for a balanced diet. Enjoy…………

 

Rainbows of Nutrition

Rainbows are nature’s amazing and beautiful way of saying there is sunshine to come. They are bright, cheerful, make us feel good and can be found in lots of ways in nature. One of the best ways of seeing a Rainbow everyday and helping you maintain good health is to include a wide variety of vegetables and fruits in your diet every day.

Eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables helps us to feel good as they give us lots of essential nutrients in the form of vitamins, minerals, plant chemical (phytonutrients) and fibre that can assist our wellbeing and good health.

We need a wide range of nutrients to support our body to carry out our day to day activities, make all the repairs it needs and help promote good health. By eating plenty of vegetables and fruit we also provide food for the ‘friendly’ bacteria that live in our guts in the form of fibre. This helps to support a healthy immune system, protect us from harmful organisms and also make some other substances such as vitamin K, which are also essential for good health.

Here are some examples of different coloured fruits and the vitamins and minerals they contain and how they may help us maintain good health.

Rainbow of Nutrition

Rainbow of Nutrition

 

We shouldn’t forget herbs and spices as they also contain lots of vitamins, phytochemicals and minerals. As well as being really good for us, they add extra zing and colour to our food. Spices such as Turmeric and Chilli are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, mint and ginger are good digestion aids, Rosemary is also anti-inflammatory and can aid concentration, Parsley is a good source of Vitamin C and A.

We are encouraged to eat 5 a day, why not see if you can include 7 a day?

My favourite rainbow is Tomatoes & Raspberries, Squash & Peaches, Bananas, Watercress, Kale and Avocados, Prunes, Blackcurrants, Blackberries and any purple vegetable, Onions and Garlic. What’s yours?

 

Quinoa – No Prob

I’ve just made an exciting new discovery, you can now buy quinoa that has been home grown here in the UK.

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You might think “Why is that so amazing?”  Well, I’m here to tell you.

Of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content, so it’s perfect for, and popular among, vegetarians and vegans. Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is a gluten-free and cholesterol-free whole grain,  and is almost always organic.

You will be interested to know that quinoa was a staple food for thousands of years in the Andes region of South America as one of just a few crops the ancient Incas cultivated at such high altitude. As such, quinoa is generally agreed to be an ancient grain that is, it is cultivated the same way now that is was millennia ago.

When the Spanish conquered South America, they considered the grain to be food for peasants and animals. They forced them to grow wheat and other grasses.  Recently people realised how good quinoa is for you, they bought loads of it off of the South Americans. It has gone from being food for peasants to being a really expensive super food. Now the people of South America can’t even afford their own staple food. The sad thing is half of them don’t even want to, now they get the opportunity they want to eat western food.

It’s wrong, me and my family decided to stop eating it, but now we’ve discovered British quinoa, well, they’ll be no stopping us.

Now you have an important dicision to make, pay slightly more for British quinoa or keep on buying South American quinoa for less? Let me know what you think.

If your choice is British then you can buy it at Infinity Foods Brighton or online at: http://hodmedods.co.uk/product-category/dried-pulses/quinoa

I’m going to have some for dinner tonight, I’ll let you know what it’s like. If you try it let me know what you make and if it was good.