Monday, November 30, 2009

Common Sense

We love noticing the changing blackboard sign at a St Leonards' corner store during our hilbarn box deliveries. Today's homespun philosophy caught our eye: LITTLE POTATOES ARE BENEATH BIG POTATOES PROPPING THEM UP! Nice one.

Nearly Blue

Right now, Hil's young blueberry plants are tiny but lush with berries. Planted in autumn they've thrived in the wetness of winter, while hopefully surviving the worst of what the rabbits had to offer. We'll have true blueberries in hilbarn's fresh fruit boxes this Christmas - from established growers in nearby Lebrina.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Not So Lazy Daisys

En route to picking up hilbarn fresh produce today for tomorrow's deliveries, it's noticeable how Wesley Vale's chocolate soils of September 28th (see previous post) are now pretty with pyrethrum. It's the most effective natural insecticide on the planet, with Tasmania being Australia's sole producer.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Season Spuds

Craig's freshly dug Dutch Creams from Scottsdale are a feature in this week's hilbarn fresh produce boxes. Planted in June, they've survived floods, record rains, as well as frost (it's a well kept secret how, says Craig). Survival of the fittest - and tastiest!

Like Beans In A Pod

Broad beans from Tulendeena in the northeast are new to hilbarn fresh produce boxes this week. They're from Gail, who also supplied us with one of her favourite recipes to share (inspired by the ABC TV series "The River Cottage"):
Saute leek and/or onion and bacon. Steam or boil podded beans for roughly 5 minutes until tender, add to onion & bacon, serve on toasted bread with a squeeze of lemon. Eat immediately.
Thanks Gail! I especially like double-podded broad beans - remove both the outer fibrous pod, and, after cooking and cooling, the grey-ish, outer skin of the bean itself, revealing a bright green bean inside. Very sassy in a salad with olives, mozzarella and wild roquette (also in this week's hilbarn box).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Spring Garden Herbs

Our fresh herbs are flourishing now that the art of ruthless pruning has been learnt and applied. Hil's harvest this week supplied Pat and Rob at the local general store in Lilydale with mint, lemon mint, Vietnamese mint, parsley, Italian parsley and oregano. And we turned some of Alan's basil from last week's hilbarn box into pesto:
Blend together 115g Parmesan cheese, 115g pine nuts, 25g basil leaves, 2 cloves garlic, 75ml olive oil, adding salt if desired.
Top Tip: Margaret Picton, noting in The Book Of Magical Herbs, writes basil repels mozzies. Just crush a basil leaf and rub the juice onto your skin.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bunched Radish

Starring in this week's hilbarn box (for select new customers only because there were only seven bunches spare), are Desmond's ravishing radishes. Desmond is an older student who works with Barn at Lilydale School (see our post on Nov 7th). These are the first vegetables Desmond has grown from seed.

Delivery Day

Guido, the hilbarn delivery van, was full house this week, with fresh greens ready for drop off. Our round trip each Monday takes us from our Karoola packing shed to several central Launceston Pick Up Points then back to the last stop at Lilydale School, with home deliveries from St Leonards to Legana in between.

Chick Pix!

We were lucky to get as close as this, so it's a bit of a blur, but here's the first snap of Lyndy's mother hen Lacey with her brood of 8 new chicks. Lacey withdrew into the corner of her coop and managed to entice all of her babies under her feathers to avoid the glare of the paparazzi - except for one brazen young blonde who wanted a share of the limelight. Typical...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Coastal Caps

New to hilbarn boxes this week: the sweetest new season capsicum collected today from Johann (pictured) and Mariette in Lillico.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Episode 2: Lyndy's Chook Gossip

"Lacey, the mother hen, is now doing very nicely with her 8 new chicks. They are gorgeous and one of them is a little Barnevelder, smaller than the rest, probably because she came from a smaller egg we think. Like any babies they are great time wasters - you can stand and watch them for way too long. The grey pullet is still sitting and due on 22 November and Rusty the Silky has laid 11 eggs and should be thinking about sitting on them soon. I could be very busy."
Our neighbours Lyndy and Dave live on a certified organic farm and supply hilbarn's fresh organic eggs. We hope the chicks will pose for photos next Monday!

Snap-fresh Asparagus

Sorry but there's no asparagus this weekend while Jo weeds her patch. Meantime, here's a summary of Terry Durack's wealth of knowledge on asparagus - writing in Good Weekend.
* The natural sugars in asparagus start turning to starch as soon as it leaves the ground, so every minute out of the ground means less flavour and sweetness. (hilbarn collects Jo's asparagus on Saturday AM, and delivers by Monday AM)
* Asparagus is best cooked very quickly in a flat pan of simmering salted water and taken out while it is still bright green - about 2 to 3 minutes for thin spears and 4 to 5 minutes for fat ones.
* Those first few glorious asparagus suppers of the season are to be relished: just you, the asparagus, the butter, the sea salt and the pepper. No knives, no forks, no manners.
* The next time you have snap-fresh asparagus, don't cook it but serve it raw. Just slice the spears finely on the diagonal and toss in extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, pepper and grated parmigiano.
We asked Jo about her variety of asparagus (photographed below on November 3rd). "It's a very unromantic name," she told us. "VC157.1. It's a commercial variety which has been around for nearly 20 years, and is still considered to be one of the best varieties." Leave us a comment here if you can come up with a sexier name for Jo's spears...!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

First Strawberry

The Close Up! When you follow the seasons it's exciting when a new taste finally arrives. Enjoy in this week's hilbarn fresh produce box.

First Strawberries!

A perfect morning to pick fresh Seascape strawberries from Dave and Emma's Hillwood Strawberry Farm. With warm days the perfect berries have arrived a week early this year. Make sure you pop in to their farm on the East Tamar Highway if you're passing: their Strawberry Wine is lovely with a chat.

Keeping It Local

These are new radish being grown at the Lilydale District School Farm. Barn spends time each week working with older students to broaden their knowledge base and to offer them practical work experience. Desmond, who's been working with Barn, has also taken on the challenge of growing radish for hilbarn fresh produce boxes. Proceeds from the sale of the radish go towards supporting the participants at the school. You're doing well Desmond, keep up the great work of "keeping it local".

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Behind the Scenes #2

Barn trimmed, washed and dried the radishes before packing into hilbarn boxes.

Behind the Scenes #1

Weighing, bunching and tie-ing fresh asparagus on Monday night in the hilbarn kitchen.

Tender Tips

Spring hasn't really sprung until fresh asparagus has hit the shelves. But the hunt for locally grown asparagus has proved quite a challenge for hilbarn. We'd been making inquiries for some weeks, and thought we'd finally struck gold when (via an internet search) we found a local grower just up the road from us in Pipers River. Sadly, they'd stopped producing last year....too hard, they said, with supermarkets cutting the price and - with all the effort entailed - just no longer worth it. So, back to the start again. A blackboard sign outside a shop in Launceston which read "Local Asparagus" stopped us at the traffic lights. On investigation, "local" meant "it's from Victoria". Excuse me? That's not exactly local...Finally, after one of our trips to pick up fresh produce on the central coast, we found Jo. Yes, she'd have asparagus...not sure how much until she picked'd been a really hard year with all the rain... Well, Jo picked today's hilbarn box asparagus on Saturday morning for us. Just enough for all our customers...and there might just be enough in the patch for next week too. How sweet and tender it is. Don't stop Jo - you're the only local asparagus grower we know!