The need for a more plant-based diet such as the Mediterranean tradition is becoming clearer every day, with (we humbly recommend) premium fresh olive oil at the heart of it.
Now there is new research regarding cellular ageing. See here for more detail on a new report highlighting how nutritious diets have a lengthening effect on chromosomal structures called telomeres, which help protect against chronic disease.
If you are among the many exploring vegan or vegetarian dishes you will find many recipes include the finest olive oil which, if sourced carefully, is loaded with antioxidants and has many health benefits. And it is the juice of a fruit, remember, so the fresher the better – note the beautiful scent and flavour.
We at Mother’s Garden here on our Mediterranean farm are very happy to answer any of your questions and, of course, to supply you.
But whichever olive juice you use, from whatever country, just be sure you know exactly where it came from, that it is premium quality, and the label tells you when it as pressed. For maximum goodness you need freshness as well as full provenance and premium quality.
And we also recommend keeping an eye on the Olive Oil Times for latest news. We are all still learning about this amazing, essential plant food.
Mother’s Garden online shop.
I have to share this. Maggie Whitman’s Mother’s Garden feasts deserve no less. Yesterday she sent my tastebuds into orbit again, this time with her hake and prawns, almonds and parsley dish. And for what it’s worth, it is loaded with omega-3 and omega-9 goodness.
Maggie says it is a simple dish, with easily accessible ingredients. It is bursting with lovely flavours.
4 hake or other white fish fillets (sustainably sourced).
2 tbsp (30ml) of ground almonds for dusting (our alternative to flour)
4 tbsp (60ml) of Mother’s Garden fresh olive oil
1 tbsp (15ml) lemon juice
4 cloves of garlic, crushed (less or none depending on taste)
Quarter of a pint (150ml) of fish stock
Quarter of a pint (150ml) of white wine
6tbsp (90ml) fresh parsley, finely chopped
Two thirds of a cup (75g) frozen peas
Cup full of small prawns
Freshly ground black pepper and salt
You will need a good-sized, open ovenproof dish and a sauté pan. (Be sure to give everyone a spoon to polish off the juices on their plates!)
While your oven is reaching 180 centigrade season the fish fillets and dust with the ground almonds.
Sauté them in half of the olive oil for about a minute each side then put them in the ovenproof dish and pour over the lemon juice.
Wipe the pan clean.
Now sauté the onion and garlic in the remaining oil until soft before adding the stock and wine, peas and 80 per cent of the parsley. Season.
This sauce can now be poured over the fish and the dish can be put in the hot oven for about 15 minutes (Cooking time always depends on the thickness/size of the fish, so adjust oven time accordingly). Add the prawns and then cook for another 4 minutes.
Sprinkle with the rest of the parsley and serve with steamed vegetables (although our children also like some mashed potato to soak up the juices).
NEW SHIPMENT LEAVING SOON – ORDER NOW
A new shipment of fresh Mother’s Garden olive oil will leave next week for deliveries in early February so if you would like some please get in touch as soon as you can.
And if you need some tips CLICK HERE to read cook Stuart Buck’s latest blog all about our olive oil.
“When you get oil as fresh as a daisy it has a spicy, grassy taste that’s really pleasing in winter cooking.”
We advise everyone to follow this foodie blog, particularly if you are in Norfolk where Stuart is based.
Meanwhile let us know what you would like to order from the shipment. There will be the usual selection of 500ml bottles (in cases of 6), 2 litre containers, 5 litre containers and 20 litre bag in boxes (as some food cooperative groups, ie our hubs, are now appreciating).
New labels are being printed but we will not use these until all the current ones have gone – why create waste?.
So we have also decided to delay the 2013 price rise for now too.
All olive oil now being offered is at 2012 prices – £39 for 6x500ml bottles, £17 for 2 litres, £35 for 5 litres and £140 for 20 litre bag in box.
SO HURRY WHILE LABELS LAST!! Click here to order or contact your hub if you are part of one.
Carrot cake with walnuts – so so yummy.
This nutty variation has been enjoyed repeatedly in recent weeks with our hard-earned Mother’s Garden afternoon tea, and made for us by two tremendous farm helpers Natalie Kinsley and Andrei Solomka from Norfolk, England. Among the many farm tasks we are collecting walnuts now and so it makes sense! Delicious.
100g Self-raising wholemeal flour
100g soft brown sugar
2 handfuls of raisins (soaked in orange juice for half hour, minimum)
50g ground almonds
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 180 C, 350 F. Grease a 20-cm round cake tin and line it with greaseproof paper.
In a bowl mix 100g of softened butter and 100g of soft brown sugar until fluffy.
Beat in 2 eggs and gradually add the flour to the mixture. Grate 100g of carrots into the mixture. Add the soaked raisins. Add 50g ground almonds. Roughly chop 100g of walnuts and add. Mix well.
Add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and grated ginger into the mixture and stir well.
Spoon into the cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes. The cake should be golden brown. When cold, top with icing – make this by simply mixing icing sugar with soft cream cheese until sweet to your own taste.
It is one of those barbecues where you can’t go wrong.
Calcots are a variety of onion that look like leeks and are meant to be burned to a cinder on an open flame, before being wrapped in newspaper to sweat before consumption.
This March and April Catalan tradition always affords me ample time to leaf through the necessary pile of old newspapers.
With Biba the dog snoring among the irises and frightening the chickens, I did a masterful job of incinerating everything while sipping a small ale and browsing articles about the disturbed childhood of someone called Angelina Jolie, and how insulin plays a significant part in weight gain.
How to eat a blackened calcot? Grasp it with a piece of the newspaper, pull off the outer layer to reveal the very tender and sweet heart, which you tip in a salsa, dangle into your mouth and chomp. Seriously yummy, but rather messy.
High behind the barbecue the surface of the balsa was calm for a change. The indefatigable grey heron which kept coming back like a boomerang to feed on our goldfish has been displaced by a cormorant.
A rare sighting has been a hobby, sitting obligingly on the wobbly top of a young fir in front of the farmhouse, long enough for me to get my binoculars and be absolutely certain for a change what I was admiring. These falcons normally migrate north from Africa in the spring, but the mild winter had obviously encouraged him or her to embark early. Too early, perhaps, because the swifts and swallows and dragonflies that are prey have yet to appear.
At ground level there has been a delightful and rare flash of white tail. Rabbits may be rife in your neck of the woods, but here they are scarce, perhaps due to the plethora of carnivores, Catalans included, and the limited grazing. But flash by it did, as if late, and we quickly gathered up the radar-nose dogs and headed in the opposite direction.
There was once, many years ago, the trauma of our old springer spaniels retrieving from goodness knows where a great number of very young bunnies, all dead. We tried to track them back to the source, off our land and into the abandoned almond grove that borders us, but found nothing. I don’t think we have seen another rabbit at Mother’s Garden, until now.
There are no badgers as far as we can tell, like at our friends’ farm across the valley. The sett is close to their farmhouse, half way up an almost vertical bank of ivy and bare oak roots, where soil spills out of a gaping burrow.
Maybe when we have finished thinning the main area of pine wood that already resounds with much more birdsong we can focus on the dyke in the north western corner, where there is about half an acre of dense undergrowth, including highly flammable cane and countless abandoned hazels.
This wilderness could contain be all manner of inhabitants, boar included. They come and go, as you know, along set paths worn to bare earth, then fan out across the farm, leaving trails in the soft ground.
I’m loath to disturb them or any other creature, but we cannot take the risk of leaving the area untended through yet another tinder dry summer. After all, our power line, trip switch and meter are on the edge of it and it is not so far from our neighbour’s house.
And amid all this undergrowth there are eight more ancient olive trees waiting to be freed.
This is not our recipe, but from the UK’s leading olive oil expert Judy Ridgway. Featured on her website www.oliveoil.org.uk it cites Mother’s Garden fresh olive oil as the standard needed. We are now going to give it a try here at the farm. Thank you Judy. Click here.
Here’s a Mother’s Garden favourite, not only because it is so so yummy hot or cold, but because we can source most of the ingredients here on the farm.
We are not vegetarians, but meat is absent from a great deal of our diet and our kitchen bookshelves feature recipes by the likes of Sarah Brown, Rose Elliot and the American Mollie Katzen.
This nut roast is quick, simple and can be enjoyed with roast potatoes and steamed vegetables, or cold with a fresh crisp salad.
For us, though, it is a slow food, as we enjoy sitting at the kitchen table, talking or listening to the radio, cracking farm nuts and filling the large jar that we know equates to two nut roasts.
Why not do what we do and always make double the mixture and pop two roasts in the oven, ensuring there will be some to enjoy cold. The use of an egg to help bind is optional, but we tend to put one in.
As I said, so many of the ingredients can be sourced on the farm – the walnuts, almonds, hazels , onions, garlic, wild thyme, extra virgin olive oil, breadcrumbs – and we then cook them in the little oven above our woodstove.
Ingredients for two roasts
Two tablespoons of Mother’s Garden arbequina olive oil.
4 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
25g of flour
thyme, fresh or dried, two or more teaspoons
300ml of vegetable stock
300g of mixed almonds, walnuts and hazels, ground or roughly chopped. We vary the percentages and sometimes replace one with bought cashews.
200g of breadcrumbs.
One fresh free-range egg(optional)
Juice of a lemon
Large clove of garlic, finally chopped
Gently saute the onions in a heavy pan until tender. Stir occasionally. This should take about ten minutes
Use this time to mix your ground nuts and breadcrumbs in a large bowl and, if time, line two loaf tins with saved butter papers or grease-proof paper.
When the onions are soft add the flour. Stir for a minute then add stock and and keep stirring until the mixture thickens. Turn off the heat.
Now the sticky bit.
Combine the onion mixture with the ground nuts and breadcrumbs. This is when we add a farm egg, but not essential.
Add the lemon juice, crushed garlic, thyme and salt and pepper to taste and then work the mixture together with a wooden spoon. It should provide enough mixture to three-quarter fill two loaf tins.
You can now leave these in the fridge for a few hours or, if your oven is heated and ready, pop them in.
We have tried baking at a high heat (200C) for 40 minutes, but prefer to cook them for an hour at a slightly lower temperature. It is always hard for us to gauge because of the personality of our woodstove, but all you have to do is keep checking. Sticking a knife into the roast is always a good test. If it comes out sticky it will need a little longer in the oven.
We have also learned to let them rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
If we are having it as a hot meal we always pour fresh olive oil on our steamed vegetables (so so good) but you may want to either make a gravy or, as we do regularly, some homemade garlic mayonnaise (ali-oli).
A popular gravy at Mother’s Garden is made with mushrooms, extra virgin olive oil, a little brandy, flour to thicken, vegetable stock and seasoning to taste.
Lightly saute the chopped mushrooms (400g) in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil , add a nip of brandy if you like the idea, stir until the liquid has gone and the mushrooms are brown then add the flour, stirring for a few minutes. In goes the stock. We let this simmer for 5 minutes, then allow it to cool a little before liquidising. You can then leave until you need it, or reheat immediately to serve.
Any leftovers always make a great addition to a “what’s left in the fridge?” soup.
Tell us how you get on! We love feedback…..
Christmas treat for foodies – the Mother’s Garden Beaujolais-style, new harvest olive oil run, with book launch