Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Traditional Lamb

Recently we were contacted by producers Pip and Nigel from Brid River Lamb, Springfield in the heart of the lush North East. If you've been to Evandale market on the first Sunday of the month, you may have already tasted their famous lamb sausages.  Would we like to introduce their lamb to you, they wondered?  Their story is real. Nigel's been supplying lamb to the local Scottsdale butcher for 20 years and is a devotee of the traditional method of lamb production adopted by the Slow Food Movement. Lambs are grass-fed on quality pasture and air-dried during processing. "Modern production techniques and over-processing have taken away the quality and flavour of lamb," says Nigel. "We know our lamb tastes better because we put quality ahead of anything else." We'll be including their order forms and details in next week's hilbarn box for those of you who might be interested. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Grass is Always Greener...

Red and green should never be seen, except with something in between... The red soils of the Forth Valley looked ripe for planting this weekend as we collected firm, freshly picked and pert Brussel sprouts for this week's hilbarn boxes. The secret to cooking sprouts to a tee is the time: 3 to 5 minutes in salty boiling water. Or, slice them finely, like Liliputian cabbages, and braise them in butter. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Foraging for Fennel

Winnaleah farmer Frank Wagner (photographed left) shows us around his fennel paddock (all 15 acres), fringed by the mystical outline of South Mount Cameron. Grown for its essential oils for Essential Oils Tasmania, we learned yesterday from Frank that it's not the same fennel as the Florence fennel. While his fennel is used for its roots (photographed at bottom), Florence fennel is  bulbous, sweeter and milder, and eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable. Even though it's in season, we haven't been able to source local fennel yet (that is, fennel that doesn't come from Victoria), so hilbarn is hoping that with Frank's growing skills the gap might be filled. Watch this space, and thank you to Frank, who is also Chair of Natural Product Extracts, for sharing his expertise and time. His farm (currently 1000+ acres) has been in the Wagner family since the early 1900s. Respect!

Winnaleah Cheer

The swollen Ringarooma River, winter jonquils and a field of parsley (grown for essential oil) set the scene in Derby and Winnaleah yesterday as hilbarn went on the road sourcing fennel and shallots in the agricultural northeast.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Your Feedback

"Hilbarn is joy. My friends have often teased me on the basis of my rantings for all things ‘seasonal, local and fresh’. It’s in my blood. My grandparents are farmers, as are my partner’s parents and we’ve both been afforded the opportunity to grow up with the delights of freshly plucked Tasmanian produce for most of our lives. We’re both vegetarians and I’m a passionate cook. Despite my love for attempting a variety of dishes and for experimenting with various ingredients, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be creative with the tasty morsels so often found in our box. Jerusalem artichokes have so far been my favourite; my chestnuts were a disaster but I loved the chance to cook with them! The variety of tomatoes provided over Summer were the epitome of bliss and I cannot believe how you manage to provide such a vast and interesting mix of other quality items every week. We spend a lot less money at the supermarket since Hilbarn and even though we’ve always been healthy eaters, sometimes our dinners (and leftover lunches) consist simply of a melange of vegetables – each with its own special preparation and presentation on the plate!  I can’t imagine that there would be a better way to source produce, nor an easier way to stay healthy than being part of the Hilbarn collective. What you provide is great for us, great for our community and great for the environment overall. I for one am a fan. Thanks for making every week a foodie-Christmas." Melody

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thank You

Over the past 12 months hilbarn has delivered nearly 1.5 tonnes of potatoes, and over a tonne each of apples and carrots, along with an increasingly diverse range of other local produce. This represents over $24,000 that hilbarn has contributed to the local north and northeast economies. We wanted to take time out to say thank you to all the growers who have supported us and who work hard to keep up with the seasons, and to thank our customers for their support in keeping fresh local produce alive, as well as for their great feedback, like this from Wendy:
"Just a note to say how much I love getting our vegie box every week; you do well to give us a wide range of produce without repeating items from one week to the next. This week's watercress is a real treat! The standard is always very high and I like the fact that we try things we haven't bought before (eg jerusalem artichokes and chestnuts). The worms in my worm farm are also enjoying increased variety and quantity of the discarded peelings, leaves and 'tops'! Keep up your great work!"

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Capsicum Courier

Hilbarn's fleet of vehicles includes "Guido", a 1978 Ford Transit Van (named after the forklift in the movie Cars) bought from a pub carpark; "The Handbag", an ex Australia Post 1989 Ford Econovan (named by Hil because for some reason it reminds her of a Gucci clutchbag) purchased from a front yard in Beaconsfield; and "The Bus", Barn's 1985 BMW K100, which did the capsicum run to Bruce and Rowan's in north Lilydale this morning. Freshly picked green and red caps ready to pack into boxes tomorrow morning. Forecast: -1 degree Celsius. Yikes. No need to turn the cool room on tonight then!

Winter Landscape

The fog and cloud seemed inseparable as we looked down into the Pipers River valley over the hot houses this morning. Nature paints itself sometimes and all we need do is observe.

Lemon & Lime Hunt

If you have an overladen lemon or lime tree, or know anyone who has a surplus of either in their back garden, we're on the hunt for our hilbarn boxes. Just drop us an email at or give us a call. We're more than happy to come and pick them for you.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Swedes from Telita

For this week's hilbarn box, we've just picked up freshly dug swedes from Telita farmer Justin on a beautiful winter's afternoon. Swedes can be prepared and served in all the same ways as potatoes: washed and peeled, added to soups, stews and casseroles, or mashed and added to mashed potato for a slightly sweet taste.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fresh Winter Veg

Hilbarn fresh produce is on the road again - in Karoola. Spinach, cauliflower, spring onions, Chinese broccoli and Beurre Bosc pears - all fresh while they last.