Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Merry Berry Christmas!

The fruit in this box was picked yesterday from orchards within a 20km radius of hilbarn ‘hq’ in Karoola. Our box of Hillwood redcurrants, Gravelly Beach blueberries, Underwood cherries and Pipers Brook and Lilydale raspberries is what hilbarn fresh produce is all about: the freshest local and seasonal produce that we can find. At this time last year, local apricots were in abundance. This season, though, the first apricots from Coal Valley orchards aren’t expected until after Christmas. (Apricots you see in the shops are most likely from interstate.) Our best efforts went into sourcing fresh strawberries, however all of our local strawberry farms are clean out from now until the later varieties start fruiting in the New Year. Thankfully the first blueberries have just arrived on the West Tamar (Lebrina blueberries start on Jan 4) and raspberries are in absolute abundance in the northeast after record winter rains. We hope you all enjoy the fruitful bounty of where we live.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Longest Day of the Year

Out early this morning, collecting local, seasonal fruit for hilbarn's Christmas fruit box. Redcurrants from Hillwood add festive shine and plenty of vitamin C. The flavour is naturally a little tart but still sweet enough to be eaten raw, sprinkled with sugar. Redcurrants go well with raspberries and strawberries, as well as lamb (as redcurrant jelly), goose or venison. They can also be frosted with egg white and sugar and used as a decoration for puddings or cocktails. Or throw them in a summer pudding for added zing. To cook, just poach for 4 minutes, sprinkle with sugar and serve with cream.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Very Cherry Christmas

We spent time visiting local cherry growers this week, sourcing fruit for hilbarn's limited edition Christmas fruit boxes. At one orchard, fifteen varieties were in varying states of ripeness. This early in the season fruit is generally still soft. But, we hope to have the pick of it by next Wednesday!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What You've Said About Hilbarn

Life wouldn't be the same without my hilbarn box. Damon

I hope you are both looking forward to a wonderful and very busy year ahead. It's a wonderful service you are providing. You are converting my non-vegetable eating husband. He even drank juice with kale in it today and he liked it! It's a Christmas veggie miracle! Thanks again. Georgia

We are loving the boxes! My husband was especially thrilled to see kale last week...he is a huge fan of that and it can be a bit hard to find at the supermarkets! Thank you. Yvette

Thank you again for providing such a wonderful and healthy food experience for the local population. Nicki

We are really enjoying the boxes and I look forward to Mondays! Michelle

Thanks for fresh vegetables, we enjoyed a nice salad for dinner and the children even enjoyed the radishes much to my surprise. Lynette

Thanks very much for the box of goodies we received today. We have enjoyed the freshness and variety of what we have received. Small amounts of a variety of things have been great and we have been impressed with the freshness of what you have sent us. Jill

Thanks for the awesome box! My husband is beside himself with excitement! Bernadette

Those apples we got today are bloody delicious. Even my nine-year-old son declared them sensational! Thanks! Mrs Smith

I was so excited to see strawberries in my box this week - and they were the yummiest strawberries I've tasted in a long time!! Thank you :) Rach

Oh my goodness is all I can say. I'm speechless. Those strawberries are so divine, I’ve been deprived for all of my 33 years having never tasted any like them. Who will buy strawberries at the supermarket again??? Tam

I was so happy to see asparagus in my Hilbarn box today! And to know the effort you went to trying to find it will make it taste even better! Thank you Hilbarn x Raewyn

Did I hear you say rhubarb? I LOVE rhubarb! I can't wait for my Hilbarn box, makes Mondays so much happier.

Loving the local veg, and trying out new recipes with ingredients I don't usually buy. Today we had mustard and cress sandwiches for lunch, and it felt all jolly vintage England, like living in an Enid Blyton novel. Jo

I was very excited to pick up my first delivery this morning and write this week's dinner menu around the goodies in the box... Thanks hil and barn, you are great hunter-gatherers. Jo

Thank YOU! And thanks to all the local growers who love to see their produce shared. Hil & Barn

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Try This!

Thank you to Sylvia from Sylvia's Kitchen in Launceston for sending us this inspired recipe featuring the humble broad bean.

Rough Mashed Potatoes with Broad Beans, Peas & Herbs served with Pan-fried Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon

Serves 4
FOR THE ROUGH MASH
450g peeled potatoes (eg Nicolas, Pink Eyes or Dutch Creams) cut into large cubes
140-160g (unpeeled) broad beans podded, blanched and then peeled out of their little grey jackets and set aside
60-80g new season peas, podded and blanched and set aside
4 finely sliced spring onions (white and green parts)
Chopped dill, flat leaf parsley and basil
About 2-3 teaspoons of butter, 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE SALMON
4 x 120-150g fillet pieces of Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive Oil and a knob of butter

1. Simply boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked, drain and shake them dry over medium heat until furry.

2. Add sliced spring onions, butter and a some extra virgin olive oil, partly mash the potatoes with a fork then fold in the broad beans, peas, some of the fresh herbs and continue roughly mashing until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed and you end up with a mash similar to our photo. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Set aside whilst you cook the salmon.

3. In a non-stick fry pan heat a little olive oil and a knob of butter, when the butter begins to bubble add the salmon presentation side down, cook for about 3 minutes and turn over to cook the other side to your preferred doneness. Turn the heat off, pop the lid onto the fry pan and allow the salmon to rest a minute of two whilst you reheat the mash.

4. To serve, place a portion of the gorgeous mash onto the centre of the plate, sit the salmon fillet on top. Garnish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and chopped dill. Enjoy!

Sylvia Devlin is a chef who runs cooking classes in Launceston. If you're interested in signing up, classes re-start in the New Year. For details: www.sylvia's kitchen.com.au

Present Harvest

This Farmer Christmas was spotted in a paddock while we picked up produce in the north west. Reindeers are soooo northern hemisphere...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Broadly Eating

Some of the things to be learnt about broad beans from a beautifully written and informative piece by Gay Bilson in the latest The Monthly magazine ("A Fava Fresca!" p 22):
"Pods that are very large and filled with beans so large that they swell the pod itself and push against the inside until the entire pod is hard, have been left far too long. The beans become woody. The perfect culinary broad bean is one whose pod is still soft to touch. The beans inside have not filled the furry, cushioned interior but they are large enough, perhaps not much over one centimetre in length, to be counted as perfect. The outer skin of each one will still be a bright, moist green but you know that in a day or two it would begin to grey. Italians serve young, moist beans raw with pecorino (salty and sharp) as an appetiser, and so should we."
Photographed: a mix of Liz and Gail's broad beans picked fresh on Sunday morning and tossed into this week's hilbarn boxes. After feasting on raw broad beans with salad, we podded the remainder, blanched and then froze them for later.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Tamar Food"

Featuring in hilbarn fresh produce boxes this week are perfectly formed, organic baby beet from Claire and Bruce at Yorktown. By sheer coincidence, Hil's Saturday lunch choice at Daniel Alps at Strathlynn was (at left, snapped) venison with broad beans and baby beet from (you guessed it) Claire and Bruce!
You know when your dining partner's plate arrives and sometimes you wish you'd chosen their dish instead of yours? Well, this wasn't one of those times. Wonderful contrasting colours and a jus that made you salivate like a pet dog. You might have spotted the glowing review of Strathlynn in one of the national weekend papers ("Terroir Tamar" by John Lethlean
Weekend Australian Magazine Dec 5-6, 2009 p. 52)? Lethlean's comments on Daniel's approach to food resonate with hilbarn:
"Alps' food is a testament to his growers....A daily changing menu using seasonal local produce, organic in many cases... it's not 'look at me' stuff but reflects what his winemaker colleagues call terroir - that sense of place. Fish, game, meats, fruit and veg from this lovely valley."
Not something ever to be taken for granted, and always something to be shared.

Bouquet of Kale

When we first met Yia earlier this year (he's one of hilbarn's regular growers), we asked him if he had any kale. "No", he replied, "but we can grow some for you." Today's kale is the result - good enough to make the most striking bouquet. Use it chopped in stir fries, steam or blanche it. Look for recipe inspiration at our taste spotting link (right, under Friends Of Hilbarn). Or, you could even try boiling it and drinking the liquid like Peter Cundall...!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Punnet Hunt

Punnet n. Chiefly Brit. a small basket for fruit, such as strawberries.
The hunt for punnets for our hilbarn Christmas fruit boxes has been a challenging one for us. We found local packaging companies who only deal in thousand units (thankfully we're not that successful!). And smaller companies too with all sorts of combinations of punnet sizes, with and without lids, with and without holes... but all plastic. We decided to source a non-plastic version. You know the sort you see in magazines (especially European) featuring luscious strawberries in balsa-like wood or woven carboard punnets? To cut a long story short, friends in London, France, Italy, Margaret River, even the Canary Islands, were at a loss to know where we could find these old-fashioned non plastic punnets. Calls to David Jones Food Hall in Sydney, Donna Hay's General Store, delicious magazine, Accoutrement, Your Habitat, and various other sources proved fruitless (pardon the pun!).
So, what were the alternatives? We found seedling punnets online from America that might have done, but a six week delivery date was past our deadline. We tried to source similar versions in Tasmania through garden wholesale and retail stores to no avail. Even specialist paper stores couldn't help us.
We're sure they're available somewhere (please do let us know if you have any clues!) In the end we decided to make them ourselves. Here's hilbarn's homemade version of the non-plastic punnet: limited edition, available at Christmas only! Hilbarn customers who have ordered their hilbarn fruit box will see the end product (stuffed with luscious, freshly picked local fruits) before throwing it into the recycling bin...Must go - only 40 more punnets to make!