On Saturday 20th November, HEOG members enjoyed a with a difference! At fairly short notice 2 members of the committee, namely Ross and David (left), cooked a variety of delicious Indian dishes. All the dishes were vegetarian and used organic ingredients where possible.
As the demonstration went on, we began to wonder if the two chefs had fallen out. They kept rigidly to their sides of the kitchen, with duplicate sets of ingredients and utensils. They didnt share oil, spices or even salt grinders!
Between them they created 7 dishes simultaneously! This was achieved with the help of their secret weapon - a colour-coded timetable (you know the sort of thing: 1900 hours chop onions!).
Heres what we had: (see the recipes)
Tomato and Lentil Broth
Delhi-style Mint and Coriander
The dishes complemented each other very well and were, without exception, delicious. Seconds (and thirds) were had until nothing was left!
Thanks to Julia and Tony for the use of their fantastic kitchen.
A great turn out with 14 people enjoying the warm hospitality of Sue and David at Malthouse Lane in Kenilworth on October 16th 2004. The bar was well stocked with organic fruit juice, David's homemade wine and bottled organic beers (including Brakspear, Honeydew and Sam Smith's).
First of all, we watched the video "The Secret Life of the Farm", filmed by the groups' friend Rosamund Young of Kites Nest farm at Broadway and produced by Farming Books and Videos. Filmed with a home movie camera over the past five years, it is a 70 minute true record of the unbelievable and unique freedom that nature enjoys at Kites Nest. At the opening Rosamund asks why we are all glued to see herds of elephants on television documentaries yet choose to overlook the nature we have at our doors. The film shared the rare treats of calves galloping, sheep that could drive a Range Rover and a chicken with body guards, together with some wonderful landscape shots. The video is available as VHS or DVD from http://www.farmingbooksandvideos.com/ at £14.99 or from the farm shop at £13.50 (let Ross know if you are interested). The group owns a copy of the video on VHS which is available for members to borrow.
Sue then performed magic by turning her living room from a cinema to a dining hall in under five minutes! We ate well, with the great food prepared by the guests; bakes, curries and salads, breads and grains with fruit salad, cakes and cheese for dessert! Alan's face as he tasted one of David's lemons will last in the memory! Thanks Sue and David for a wonderful evening.
Osbaston Kitchen Garden
Osbaston village is not so easy to find, although its just off the road North out of Hinckley to Ibstock, just after the Market Bosworth turned off. Two groups travelling separately sailed past the village and had to turn back!
Flick Rhode greeted us and looked after us well all afternoon. After sixteen years at the garden she has a real passion for her work and for organic growing. She started her relationship with the garden when she took up the post of gardener to the next door Osbaston Hall. Over time, ownership of the Hall changed and Flick took the opportunity to take over the garden on a self-employed basis, keeping it going by providing tours and selling the produce locally.
The walled garden has existed since the mid eighteenth century, originally to provide a sheltered place to grow vegetables, fruit and flowers for the Hall. Flick led us as a group around the garden, often apologising for the state of untidiness (she should see our allotment!!). The garden is based on a bed structure, with thin mulched/carpeted paths between the beds and wide grass paths to get around the garden. Of particular note to me around the garden were the fantastic hanging red Borlotti beans (for drying) and the nectarines growing against the South facing walls.
In the large greenhouse Flick had a good vine and a fantastic range of tomatoes, including favourites such as Kenilworth and Gardener's Delight, and the exotic Black Russian, Green Zebra, Pink Peach, Orange Banana and Italian Heart (to name but a few). Walking out through the connecting door, Flick also showed us the work she'd been doing in the formal garden of the very impressive Hall for the current owners.
One final delight was the sunken greenhouse, originally centrally heated by a wood burner - and looking like a cold frame from above until you saw the stairs down!
Flick opened up her ad-hoc
café in the main greenhouse and made sure we were all happy before
we left, with herb teas and some great homemade cakes. Tomatoes, peppers
and cucumbers were all available on sale along with homemade jams and
Nest Farm 10th July
We walked back to the farm
and ate our picnics with Rosamund, Mary and Richard on their lawn, sharing
their company and drinking their tea! (I had promised they wouldn't notice
us). Just as we prepared to pack up the grey clouds rolled over and we
set out for our afternoon walk in somewhat cooler and damper weather -
much better for a longer trek. We walked up the hill over the farm in
search of a pyramidal orchid which we alas never found, although we did
see wonderful honeysuckle and were fascinated to find the stream which
calcifies all objects that fall into it.
A party of eleven came along to Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens on the evening of Thursday 24th June. They braved the 4Ws (Wimbledon week wet weather), were oblivious to a minor football match being played out in Lisbon, and had a real treat!
The gardens were restored from dereliction in 1985 and are now mature and largely complete. Some of the group had been before and were surprised to see how much had been achieved in just a few years. The weather cleared just as we arrived, allowing a low evening sun to light up the gardens against the backdrop of the retreating dark clouds. It looked beautiful, but felt rather chilly.
The Trust is run with a handful of employees, including two full time gardeners. The rest of the effort (guides, gardeners and visitor centre staff) is put in by volunteers. For the tour we were split into two small groups which meant we had plenty of attention as we walked around the gardens for just under an hour and a half. The gardens have been restored to the early eighteenth century design, using original varieties where possible, although years of regulation have made this impossible for the kitchen garden vegetables! We were assured by the guides that all the beds, lawns, the orchard and even the holly maze are fully organic, although some herbicides have been used to keep weeds from the paths!
After the tour Lorraine looked after us in the visitor centre with a simple tea of sandwiches and scones. The lasting impression for many of us was of a beautiful garden tucked away in a surprising corner of the city, maintained by a band of cheerful and wholly committed volunteers.
Pizza Organic is a small national chain of ten restaurants set up to offer interesting menus prepared with the best natural foods. It is fully accredited by the Soil Association, and has menus originally created by Jamie Oliver. Our local restaurant is at 33 Jury Street, Warwick tel. 01926 491641.
Eighteen people made it along to the Heart of England Organic Group Social Evening at Pizza Organic on the 26th April 2004. The party were expected by the very organized Holly who hade made sure that everything would be fine for our group. Her attention to detail included providing some useful information on the organic credentials of the restaurant and ensuring there was a place made out for our member in a wheelchair
The menu on a single large card had a variety of starters, pizza and pasta dishes and desserts, all prepared with organic ingredients. The wine list included organic soft-drinks, beers and wines. To save money the beers could be bought 'by the bucket', six bottles served in a champagne bucket packed with ice! With a party of eighteen almost everything on the menu was tried from bruschetta, dough sticks and olives, through crispy thin-based pizzas, bacon and mozzarella burgers and simply enormous sizzling lasagnas. Among the party was a 'pizza first-timer', who adventurously tried a folded pizza Calzone Verdura and gave it high marks!
The service was relaxed and friendly, and we did discover that we ordered more pizzas than could be fitted at one time in the pizza oven! The prices may have been a little higher than non-organic local alternatives but eighteen people were served for £306 including drinks and coffees, so not bad value.
One interesting part of the evening was the 'staff induction' which Holly left out for us to read. Written for new members of staff, the instructions had to be signed by every member of staff. They explained the ethos of the restaurant, the benefits of organic agriculture and food and the importance of only accepting traceable accredited deliveries.
A great evening out - regrettably this business has now closed.
HINTS AND TIPS
Stuck in the garden and need a hint? Just discovered something new? Please share it with the rest of our members, Don't worry about our members without access to the internet - the secretary keeps them in touch with everything that is going on.
If you would like to pay your
subscription for the Heart of England Organic Group, please request
a membership form. Cheques should be made payable to 'H.E.O.G.' and
sent to the address below.
We are always on the look out
for new members so they are always welcome at events. They can come along
as guests before they join for a small fee. Contact
Ross if youd like to come along.
for more details and directions please contact
Heart of England Organic Group