Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from hilbarn

Hil's neice, Grace, helping to weigh apricots and stamp our handmade berry boxes on Sunday. Thanks Grace!
A finished hilbarn Xmas berry box featuring Penna Valley apricots, East Tamar & Pipers Brook raspberries, blueberries from Gravelly Beach, Hillwood strawberries and cherries from Somercotes, Ross.

 Xmas Eve at The Nuns' House. 
A beautiful handmade Christmas card from Edie, who's 4, thanking hilbarn for all the fruit and vegetables throughout the year. We love her Xmas tree fruit!

Thank you for visiting us here.
Have a peaceful holiday & happy new year
from Hil & Barn.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thank You to our Tassie Growers

We wanted to introduce you to Simon from Meander Valley Berries and Lisa a grower from Burnie who we discovered recently in the local paper.  Simon is photographed at his recently opened farmgate shop in Hillwood where they make cream, butter and grow some of the best strawberries in Australia. If you subscribe to hilbarn fresh produce boxes you would have tasted them over the past few weeks. Lisa is photographed in the pouring rain at Launceston's Harvest Market last Saturday morning, where we too got drenched just picking up her family farm's wonderful garden peas. To all our growers, *thank you* for the most bountiful year, we really appreciate your hard work, and wish you all the very the best wishes for the coming season, rain, hail or shine.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cocktail Jam #1

Rhubarb, strawberries, roses... Cocktail Jam by Kate Smith for hilbarn features in this week's hilbarn box... Rhubarb from Moriarty, strawberries from Hillwood and Mr Lincoln rose petals from the Nuns' House garden. Kate says she tinkered with a favourite recipe from Uncanny Preserves, adding more strawberry lushness, and replacing peonies with roses to "enhance the swoon factor". Love it on scones, in yoghurt, atop a cheescake, in a cocktail, or just straight from the jar... which is why we chose jars you can swipe your tongue or fingers round the inside in order to savour every last smidge. Please refrigerate after opening. Best consumed within a month. Jars will be happily recycled. Next month: Kate Smith for hilbarn's Three Lemon Marmalade. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Shades of Carrot

We loved Dee's bunches of mixed carrots from Brighton/Tea Tree in this week's hilbarn boxes. A mix of white, pale yellow, soft and traffic light orange - sweet to taste and good just eaten raw. We've just placed our orders for next week's boxes and will collect this weekend from growers. You can check the hilbarn Facebook page for a list of contents each Monday morning.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Spoils of a Tasmanian Day #3

Pear and apple ciders from the Tamar Valley Cider Company in Rowella; Yondover's Bangor Chevre, Miller's Orchard cool store apples from Hillwood and Mersey Valley strawberries (from Hillwood, too). Perfect afternoon for a picnic.

Berry Boxes In The Making

It's been busy in the hilbarn shed this week. We finally decided on the design for our new limited edition Berry Box. The last two years we've recycled fence palings but there seem to be less of them around these days. This year, we've chosen pine along with these lengths of beautiful Tasmanian myrtle veneer we were lucky enough to pick up for a song from a Launceston timber yard. So far, no nails. We're weaving the peachy myrtle veneer together to form a base. Next step: to join the sides. It only took us three weeks, and a few heated discussions, to make them work and look the way we wanted them to. And after three prototypes, we got it right. Repetitive tasks are interesting. Like starting a bush walk or mountain climb. For the first half hour you think you're never going to make it, but once you're in the groove, the task seems to complete itself. Come back on Christmas Eve to see them finished and filled with luscious local berries, ripe for the table on Christmas Day.

Friday, November 30, 2012

hilbarn goes to Campbell Town

hilbarn is now delivering fresh produce boxes to Campbell Town. Your box can be collected on Tuesdays from The Book Cellar, located underneath Foxhunter's Return. It's an amazing location: while you're there, say hello to Michael (left) and Cath, browse the fascinating collection of new and second hand books, and think about the lives of the convicts once held here while they built Campbell Town's famous Red Bridge. 

The red brick line that Michael is standing on goes right through the Midlands town and marks the kind of "crimes" for which young people were transported to Tasmania in the 19thC. For example: James Duffy, age 20, from Dublin - he stole a plate and got 7 years. It was one way to build a colony... Thanks to Michael and Cath for making contact; we're glad we could make it work. If you're in Campbell Town and fancy discovering fresh, Tasmanian produce, drop us a line: hilbarn@bigpond.com, or pick up a hilbarn brochure from The Book Cellar.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Remembering Marita

We've known Marita since almost the start of hilbarn. First she was a customer. Then a grower, offering us Jerusalem artichokes and limes from her family garden in Launceston. Pretty soon she became a Pick Up Point when she offered Egremont B&B for customers to collect their boxes each week. She cleared out an old shed previously used for storage and loved to see it full of boxes waiting to be picked up. We became good friends. She helped Hil with archive material and contacts for her book, and when Hil needed space for its final edit, Marita offered her the family shack at Low Head to hide away in. Marita Bardenhagen was a generous, funny, intelligent friend who passed away last week. We planted an Australian lime tree in The Nuns' House garden in her memory. Thank you Marita. Rest peacefully.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Today's bounty!

This morning we travelled west to collect Nicola potatoes from Wolfgang (centre) and his gang: l-r, Phil, Maxine, Wolfgang's wife Andrea and Shirley. They'd started early, harvesting in the cool of the morning, and we timed our visit well with the bulk of their morning produce already boxed and loaded onto the back of the truck ready to go. 

Next stop, Kindred, where we collected capsicums, chillies, and these stripey eggplant from Ann (above), who told us it's the first year they've tried growing eggplant and they're really pleased with the results. "What's the best way to cook them?" we asked. "I think the simplest is always best," said Ann. "Just barbecued - no salt or oil. Just sliced and as they come. Rob cooked some like that last night and that's all we had. They were beautiful!"  On the way home we spotted a couple picking on a hillside. They were backs bended over buckets in the middle of a paddock of magnificently tall broad beans. We stopped and let them know that we'll be putting in our order next week! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Just Great Feedback

We just wanted to say a big thank you to Alison for sharing her experience of receiving a hilbarn fresh produce box with her young school class. Reading stories like this helps keep us going! 

"Thanks so much for organising my first fruit & vege box delivery today - it was perfect!

After it was delivered to work, our wonderful office lady bought it down to my classroom. I was working with a small group of children who were just as excited as I was to see what was inside.  

We stopped our reading activity and spent time reading the details on the delivery tag and the message stamped on the lid saying ‘THIS BOX MAY CONTAIN EGGS’.

We spent time predicting what type of fruit & vegies might be inside the box and noticed we could smell something interesting.

The children helped snip the binding and lift the lid... WOW!

We all spent time smelling the strawberries and mint; laughing about the funny names on the list like ‘bok choy’ and ‘pink eye potatoes’; wondering what the purple plant was (beetroot) and what the long green plant was (spring garlic) and EVERYONE had to have a turn of holding the carrots with the green tops still on!

Someone noticed that the produce list told where each item came from. Someone else noticed the recipe with clever drawings and that the procedure was written in beautiful fancy writing - which also told the name of who grew each ingredient.

Finally, someone decided that the strawberries smelt so good we should all try some... so we did! Everyone agreed they were so sweet and juicy!

The fresh produce is now packed away in my kitchen, minus some butter lettuce, garlic chives, potatoes and carrots that my family and I enjoyed for tea, although they did ask why the list mentioned strawberries but there weren’t any in the box!

Thanks for the wonderful freshness, great range and stress free delivery."

Boxes to Bicheno

Thank you to Helen and Subi from the Bicheno Post Office who sent us this photo of hilbarn fresh produce boxes arriving at sunny Bicheno, 57 Burgess Street. Boxes filled with freshly harvested produce that we've sourced directly from farmers and growers across the state can be picked up from the Bicheno Post Office (also an Art Gallery featuring Tasmanian artists) after 4 pm on Mondays. Interested in ordering a box for the shack? Drop us an email for details: hilbarn@bigpond.com.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Broad Bean Recipes

Thanks this week to artist and sommelier John Wilkinson for his spirited recipe illustration for our hilbarn boxes, featuring two recipes using Spreyton broad beans as the star. We've been scouring the region and managed to book these beans for their debut appearance a few weeks ago. We often wonder why some things are harder to find in large quantities than others, especially when broad beans can sow themselves in your own back yard! John, and his wife Fiona, were visiting us again this week, on their way to new jobs in United Arab Emirates. When we were without an illustration for our hilbarn boxes, John offered to spend the day playing with watercolours to see what he could come up with, while Fiona and Hil podded broad beans and Barn helped test the recipes. We hope you enjoy playing with beans!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Welcome Spring Garlic

We're sharing a first in hilbarn boxes this week with this wonderful spring garlic from Paul and Sandy of Pelverata, in the lower Derwent Valley, who tell us their farm is well on the way to organic certification. Paul says that all of their produce is spray free and that they're awaiting organic certification from the Biological Farmers of Australia
When we asked how their produce was grown Paul told us: "We have never used any chemicals or artificial fertilisers on our property. Blood and bone and BFA-certified chicken manure pellets are as harsh as things have ever been on our farm. We also make our own fertilisers from our leftover produce on-site. And we use a rotational method on our farm so as not to exhaust our soil." 
You can see the care they take in the way their garlic is washed, bunched and tied in beautiful spring bunches. Thank you Paul and Sandy - it's a pleasure to share your beautiful produce. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

New hilbarn Pick Up Points

Great news for people who live in the regions and want better access to superbly fresh and local produce! Along with Scottsdale, Windermere and Perth, we are now delivering weekly to Campbell Town, Bridport and Bicheno. If you'd like to subscribe, click on How to Join on our home page or contact Hil and Barn via email hilbarn@bigpond.com

In Campbell Town, you can Pick Up between 10 am - 4 pm on Tuesdays from Cath and Michael at the Book Cellar. They're located at the Foxhunter's Return, 132 Main Road (right).

For people in Bridport, we're now delivering to Kate and her team on Mondays at the Bridport Cafe, 89 Main Street (left).

And in Bicheno, we are now delivering our fresh produce boxes to the Bicheno Post office in Burgess Street where you can pick up your box from Subi and Helen on Monday after 4pm. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chicken Episodes

Chickens are curious things. Hil is extremely relieved at having finally found the nest Marilyn and Monroe (left) have been hiding from her for the past two weeks. When all the time she'd been scrabbling around the nether regions of her garden trying to find them, there they were yesterday - a whole two dozen - nestled perfectly in the middle of a bush of lemon balm right in front of the kitchen window.  Now that they've recovered from the separation from their eggs, and the weather is warming up, they seem quite taken with the idea of sunning themselves on the Nuns' House sun lounge. 
This morning, we collected the final dozen of organic eggs from Lyndy because they hadn't quite laid the required number  for us on packing day. Lyndy told us she was waiting on Blanche: "I kept telling her, Blanche, how long can it possibly take you to lay one egg!" We love Lyndy's hen stories.

Last week, in Stanley, as the sea mist rolled in around the Nut (above) and down the streets of the deceptively placid town, the richly-feathered hens and roosters of historic Highfield House proved equally entertaining as they tried to find shelter from the coming storm. You see how much hens are a distraction? We happen to have fresh Turners Beach strawberries in our boxes this week, and do they get a mention? Next post, promise...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Episode 3: Lyndy's Chook Gossip

Lyndy and Dave emailed during the week to let us know they are proud parents again.  Handsome Wally (pictured below)  has had new chicks (pictured above, with "mother", Rusty).  Lyndy says Wally's Australorp colours are definitely showing - except for the two yellow ones - and that Rusty the Silkie is doing a great job at mothering, although Lyndy says you have to wonder whether she notices they don't look quite like her... It's not surprising they have a happy brood when they live in hen heaven at Pinners' Organic Farm Stay B&B . Congratulations Lyndy & Dave, and thank you for the eggiest eggs you provide us with each week. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Herb Bounty

Lovely early morning picking herbs and edible flowers from the hilbarn garden to take to Gina at the Yondover Goat Dairy in Tunnel where she uses them to dress her cheeseboards and cheeses. These are the things we love doing in a day. As well as noticing that while Mike was hosing out the dairy, Gail was getting the cheese tasting room ready for opening, and the goats had arranged themselves in the paddock like a posse of supermodels on a shoot. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Clever Re-use #3

We spotted these broad beans and peas growing on an old front fence in nearby Lilydale yesterday. Last year's hydrangeas have been ripped out and replaced by  the prettiest flowering vegetables: a  doubly good idea.

PS. Carmencita from the Lilydale Village Market just dropped us a note to say it's her fence! Watch out for the baby broad bean elves (they might come knocking soon....)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New season's produce

We hope you're enjoying the new fruits of the season: this week, the first rhubarb for a few months, from Latrobe; new season potatoes from Penguin with skin so thin it's transparent; and, the crispest, sweetest snow peas from Northdown.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower Salad Recipe

We hope you're enjoying and using the recipes slipped inside your hilbarn box? We like to spend time choosing a recipe from Hil's collection, using some of the ingredients that we source fresh each week from local farmers and growers. We hope you're also as inspired as we are by Masako's recipe drawings. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tomato & Leek Tart Recipe

This week's hilbarn box includes baby leeks from Brighton and cherry tomatoes from Turners Beach - plus a simple recipe that uses both. Hil made this tart today for a pre-packing snack.


1 sheet puff pastry
2/3 punnet cherry tomatoes
1 bunch baby leeks
knob of butter
Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
60 g goats cheese (or to your taste)
salt & pepper
fresh oregano

Leave sheet of pastry to defrost for 10 minutes. Sauté leeks lightly in knob of butter for 10 mins. Add garlic and sauté for a further 5 mins. Leave to cool. Chop cherry tomatoes in half and mix in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Grease/spray oven tray with olive oil. Lay pastry sheet on tray. Leaving a two-inch gap around pastry edges, cover centre of pastry with a circle of leeks, followed by crumbled goats cheese, and a layer of tomatoes on top.  Brush outside edge of pastry square with milk. Fold in outside edges and pinch roughly for a rustic look. Bake in moderate oven (190 Celsius) for approximately 20 mins or until top starts to brown and tart smells lovely. Remove from oven and sprinkle handful of fresh herbs on top. Serve warm or cold.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The 24 Hour Rainbow

It's been rainbow-crazy in the valley. Yesterday it seemed we were being surrounded by them as the weather went from rain to sunshine and back again. Then Lyndy rang to say her rainbow salad silver beet leaves were ready for this week's hilbarn boxes. We'll be collecting fresh rainbows from the Pinners tomorrow then... And today, after dropping in at the Devonport Farmers' Market to pick up a few tomato plants for the garden, and before heading across country to collect caulis from Laurie in Barrington, we couldn't help but stop by the roadside at Penguin and snap the rainbow-coloured nature trail - at its floral best in Spring.

Monday, September 17, 2012

This week's box

In today's hilbarn boxes, you'll find red fantasy potatoes from Wayne in Holwell; kale and pak choy from Alan at Northdown; carrots, red onions and parsnips from Glen and Dinah in Scottsdale; baby spinach from Brighton; Shearwater bean sprouts; organic roquette from York Town, and a recipe for Fennel Pasta to go with Va and Pheng's Florence fennel (left) from East Devonport. 

FENNEL PASTA (makes 2 to 3 serves)

250g spaghetti or other long noodles
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. red chilli flakes
1 bulb fennel, halved and thinly sliced
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Parmesan, pecorino, or asiago cheese for garnishing

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until tender, reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid before you drain the noodles. Heat the oil in a large frying or saute pan. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until it just starts to turn golden and brown at the edges. Add chilli flakes (or fresh chilli), stir to combine. Add fennel, fennel seeds and salt and cook, stirring, until fennel softens a bit, about 2 mins. Add wine, cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook until fennel is quite tender, about 5 minutes. Stir through parsley. Add drained pasta and reserved pasta liquid, stir to combine, increase heat back to medium high, and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed/evaporated and all the flavors combine, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with plenty of parmesan, pecorino, or whatever hard cheese you like on top of your pasta.