The Joy of Swede . . . Or Not

Veg Box 10

• Potatoes • Carrots • Onions • Cabbage
• Swede • Parsnips • Red peppers • Celery

As you know, I’m not keen on ye olde swedee. My veg box scheme is quite basic – I don’t choose what comes, I get what’s available and that’s that, so they are going to keep on coming.

There are schemes available that let you add extras to your box or take away things that you don’t like. In a way I quite like having no control about what arrives each week. It means my diet gets a shake up with nutrients from veg I might not have chosen to eat. However, I would still like to wave goodbye to swede! Goodbye, salam, auf wiedersehen, arrivederci, adios, au revoir, farvel . . .

(You can find out how to say goodbye in lots of different languages here. And why not!)


The Squash and the Swede

Veg box 8, March 1st

This morning’s colourful veg box included:
• Potatoes • Carrots • Onions • Cabbage • Cauliflower
• Swede
(quelle horreur!), and the newcomers: • Red pepper • Squash.

Squash . . . But Which Squash?!

The newcomers are very welcome. I’ve enjoyed all the squash I’ve tried before but I’m not entirely sure whether this one is a buttercup or Japanese kabocha. According to The Cook’s Thesaurus, both varieties are orange fleshed and described as ‘dry’, so there’s no clues there either. I guess I will work it out when I taste it, apparently the buttercup has ‘a sweet and creamy orange flesh’, while the kabocha ‘tastes of sweet potatoes’. They sound pretty similar to me and at the end of the day, who cares what it’s called – it’s a squash!

A Breakthrough with Swede

I’m delighted to report that I’ve found a great new way to deal with the dreaded swede. When I opened the box this morning and saw this unwelcome visitor I decided I needed to find someone who would make it more welcome in their home. I texted my neighbour and asked if she liked swede and within minutes there was a knock at the door. Yay! My swede can now enjoy a happy life next door. Fantastic. So swedes are good for something after all – neighbourly relations.

Country Life/Dairy Crest

If you are looking for veg box suppliers you’ll find an ever-increasing range of companies to choose from. My box carries the Country Life brand – you know, the British butter people with the TV ad where the birds, rabbits, hedgehogs and squirrels rush unnoticed through a kitchen window to clean up while a lady savours her buttered toast. (The newest ads feature the great John Lydon.)

Anyway, Country Life is one of Dairy Crest’s brands (the milk people), which is how we get the link to the milkman. I think that having milkmen deliver the boxes is a great idea, especially as they were at risk of becoming an endangered species as more and more of us get our milk from shops.

As I understand it, the veg is sourced through farms under a company called Country Farm Produce (at least, their name is printed on the side of the box). Country Farm Produce has been licenced by the Soil Association and their veg boxes carry the Organic Standard mark. (You can read more about the Organic Standard mark in my ‘The Soil Association’ post.)

The website is not the easiest to navigate so here’s how you get to the relevant page. First click this link then put your post code in the ‘Can We Deliver’ box on the left to see if there are deliveries in your area. Then click the ‘Organic’ section to see all their organic ranges which include the fruit and veg boxes.

There is a range of boxes to choose from, including: • Vegetable box • Salad box • Fruit box • Mixed box • Small mixed box. Currently the prices range from £8.00 to £14.50. The boxes I get are priced at £11.50.

One of the good things about this scheme is that, if you know you are going to be away, you can call them and ask them not to deliver. But you don’t have to have a box every week of the year. If you have a Dairy Crest milkman you can use the order form, which can be downloaded from the page at the link above. Simply mark it with your choice of box and then tick either, ‘This Week Only’, ‘Every Week’ or ‘Fortnightly’. Then you just leave your form for the milkman to pick up. You can order by web or phone, too.

Win a veg box for a year

As you know, I was lucky enough to win my weekly supply of organic veggies and the prize lasts a whole year. I was just browsing the site where I won the prize and I thought you’d like to know that the competition is still on!

Go to the Country Life website by clicking this link and you could be a winner, too! All you have to do is fill in a short form and you can enter once every week. There are weekly draws from 23 Feb to 14 April, so you’ve got lots of chances. Good luck

[UPDATE: This competition is no longer running]

Veg Box 7

Veg Box 7, February 23rd• Cauliflower • Onions • Potatoes • Bean sprouts
• Swede • Broccoli • Carrots • Cabbage

Eeek! It’s veg box day and I haven’t made it very far through the last box yet. I seem to have a glut of bean sprouts and onions, and decide that stir fries are made for days like these.

I get out the biggest onion and the entire pack of bean sprouts then I notice that I still have the brussels, too. I chuck it all in the wok then add a couple of eggs at the end. I’ve run out of soy sauce so I grab the Worcester Sauce instead!

Sometimes these ‘throw in whatever you got’ type of meals turn out to be the best, don’t they. This meal is OK. At least I know it’s healthy.

But back to this week’s box. Sweeeeeeede . . . YARG!

Veg Box 5

Veg Box 5, February 9th• Brussel tops • Potatoes • Greens • Carrots
• Swede • Bean sprouts • Red onions • Broccoli

I’m happy this week that there’s a bit more green and a bit less root veg. I’m also happy to see red onions. Just look at the colour of them – they look fantastic. As a single person, it has been tough to get through five onions each week! There’s five again this week but at least they’re a bit different being red so I’ll be inspired to do something different with them.

Right in the middle of the box this time I found my arch-nemesis lurking! The dastardly swede. I puff my cheeks out and wrinkle my nose at the thought of it. OOF!

My First Jerusalem Artichoke

Jerusalem artichoke • Bean sprouts • Carrots • Cooked beetroot • Greens
• Jerusalem artichoke • Onions • Potatoes • Broccoli

It’s veg box morning and I’m pleased to see a box of bean sprouts among the contents. Since my veg box scheme started I’ve got used to adding them to anything and everything, and now I’d miss them if they weren’t there. But hang on . . . what’s this?

I take a photo of the strange knobbly thing in my box and email it to my mum who tells me it’s a Jerusalem artichoke. OK, new one on me! I guess I just treat it like any other root veg.

Also in the box for the first time this year is broccoli. Yay, I love broccoli. The only problem is that, because there hasn’t been any broccoli up until now, I bought some yesterday. So now I have three heads to use up in a week. The broccoli in the box is a little on the soft side, too, so I should think of something to do with them fast. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t know what you’re going to get.

Veg Box 4

Make Your Own Vegetable Crisps

Veg Box 3, January 26th

Saturday morning dawns and I spy though the cat flap Veg Box 3 which has:
• Red-skinned potatoes (1Kg) • Onions • Carrots • Cabbage • Brussel tops • Parsnips • Cooked beetroot • Celery.

Because you don’t know what you’re going to get, it’s always exciting to see what’s inside! As this is the third box I’ve started to see a pattern – it seems that potatoes, onions, carrots and cabbage are a regular fixture this season.

In this box I also have celery for the first time along with Brussels tops, cooked beetroot and more parsnips. Oh no! I haven’t finished the last parsnips yet. I’m not especially keen on parsnips, which is why they’ve been left until last, and I don’t know what to do with them.

Then I remember my book Matthew Drennan’s Soup. This book packed with great soup recipes, but it also gives you recipes for accompaniments such as mini rosemary scones and pumpkin crisps. I like the idea of making vegetable crisps so I give it a go.

How to Make Your Own Crisps (in only 5 minutes)

This is easy – and you can make crisps out of all sorts of veg, including potato, parsnip, carrot, beetroot, pumpkin, sweet potato and plantain.

  • First I poured olive oil into a saucepan until it reached a depth of about a centimetre.
  • Then I peeled the skins off the parsnips, but kept the skins on the potatoes.
  • Using a knife I cut very thin slices to make the crisps. You can use a peeler if you want really thin slices.
  • The slices were fried in batches in the hot olive oil for 2–3 minutes or until golden and crispy. The fatter your slice, the longer you’ll need – unless you like chewy crisps. And if the slices overlap they may not cook properly.
  • I fished out each batch of crisps with a metal spatula and set them on kitchen paper to drain while the next batch got fried.

So . . . anyone for crisps? There’s loads to go around – you can get so many out of one large spud.

They taste just like shop bought crisps, but fresher and without all the chemicals – and you can add whatever you want: salt and pepper, vinegar, cheese, garlic salt, celery salt, parmesan . . .

Next time I fancy crisps I know what to do.


Veg Box 2

Veg Box 2, January 19th • Potatoes (1kg) • Onions • Parsnips • Carrots
• Raw beetroot • Cabbage • Pack of greens • Yellow Pepper
• 2, 227g packs of mixed bean sprouts

Wow, this box is even bigger than the first! I rustle around and among the cabbage leaves I spy a bag of parsnips and two boxes of mixed bean sprouts. I haven’t cooked too many parsnips in my time and at this point I don’t know what I’m going to do with the bean sprouts . . .

Meanwhile, I’m hungry and there’s a celeriac to use up so I take the largest parsnip, a couple of onions and some potatoes, and make another root veg gratin.