A little while back, we went on an organic veg cookery workshop run by the guys at Riverford East Somerset and it flipping inspired us! I guess we’ve fallen into a rut when it comes to meals. I don’t know about you, but we tend to fall back on the trusty old favourites during the week... and some of those have now become ‘not that much of a favourite’ anymore ;).
To be honest, we’ve also become a bit (a lot) unhealthy too... brightening up those cold, dark, Winter evenings on the sofa with a few too many with sweet treats!! We always feel so much better when we’re eating lots of fresh veg though, so the cookery evening was brilliant because it spiced things up for us! ;)
We got to cook with Bob Andrew, former Head Chef at The Riverford Field Kitchen, and with his help we learned to make some delicious dishes. How does a menu of Squash, Spinach and Chickpea Curry, Broccoli, Radish, Fennel and Kale Salad with Miso Dressing, and Romesco Sauce grab you? Well, it grabbed us firmly by the taste buds! ;)
Bob was brilliant and whether you're a beginner or more experienced in the kitchen, there are always lots of great tips to be learned.
As there were about eight of us at the workshop, we all had a go at preparing different parts of the meal together too. I got stuck in to tearing up the kale and finally learned how to cut up a squash properly... so I was properly happy ;).
And, once we’d prepared and cooked our meal, we all sat down round the table together and ate what we’d helped to create.
Anyway, fast forward a couple of months and we’ve been having a really good think about what we eat, how we cook and in reality, what time we'll have to create things we’ll actually love eating... food that will make us feel more energetic and less like curling up with a tub of Chocolate Brownie Ben & Jerry's! ;)
As part of that, we tried cooking with an organic veg box for a week, to see if we could build on what we’d learned in the cookery class.
We went through a veg box phase about ten years ago (wow, time flies) but at that point in our lives we weren't really using up the contents. So for us the question was, would it be different this time round?
Well, we were pretty excited to see what would be in the box Mike dropped off for us and we weren't disappointed! There were lots of things we felt comfortable cooking with (potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, tomatoes) and things we'd never tried cooking with before, like chard! :) We also got the ace Autumn and Winter companion cookbook... and I say ace because we like clear, colourful and lots of photos of how our food will hopefully look, so this was right up our street.
Graeme was going to be Chef for the week (he's better at following instructions than me ;)). I was going to be Chief Taster and we kicked off our 'try out' with Portobello mushroom rarebit and a simple salad. Wow, it was gorgeous... quick and easy to make and that's the thing. Sometimes we don't makes things from scratch because we think they're going to take forever, but this was literally ten mins to prep, twenty in the oven and it's definitely going on our new 'favourites that are actually our favourites' list.
For the rest of the week we cooked with the organic veggies most nights and when we didn't follow a full recipe from the book, we always used something from the box.
And our two favourite recipes from the week (apart from the Portobello mushrooms)? This amazing leek tart...
... and this awesome squash and black bean chilli:
Now, another of the reasons I love these recipes is that you can substitute some of the ingredients without losing the heart of the dish. The original recipe in the Riverford book is for Leek and Parmesan Tart, but we didn't have any vegetarian Parmesan, or enough leeks left, so we followed their recommendation by adding some onions too. We also tried a little improvisation of our own with Somerset Cheddar and it was amazing! It didn't look too far off the professional picture in the book either, right? ;) Go Graeme!
Before we went on the cookery workshop, we would never have tried anything with scary squash! We were a bit afraid of it ;) but after that, and because there was one in our veg box, we gave it a go. The result was so tasty! The softness of the roasted squash and the kick in the chilli gave us that warm feeling inside - and it's definitely another recipe we'll be trying out time and time again.
Overall, and for one reason or another, we probably went for the simple recipes this time, but on our list of things to try very soon is this...
...COR!! - and again, there's definitely something for every level of cook in the book!
So after the trial, what have we decided? Well, that particular veg box was kindly on Riverford but because we loved it so much, we’ve now ordered lots more on us because we’ve definitely got a taste for the way they live life on the veg! We’re going to experiment with some of their 'organic recipe boxes' next week (all the ingredients you need to make a recipe for two people from scratch) and with another organic veg box following that, to see which will work best for us and our lives.
Graeme can't wait to get his pinny back on (obviously ;)) and hopefully, getting in to a routine like this will mean we eat less... how shall I put it... crap! ;) If you fancy seeing how we get on, we'll pop a few of the meals we make in our Instagram stories.
We also want to give a huge Somerset cool shout out to Patrick and Tehmina who have run the Riverford delivery in East Somerset for 15 years so far! They are such lovely people with a huge passion for cooking. They're always posting awesome recipes and tips on their Instagram and Twitter feeds which really inspire us, and the way they approach food makes us smile. It's actually one of the reasons we're now giving cooking from scratch a proper go ourselves. When we were posting, on Instagram, the things we cooked, Tehmina messaged me to say:
“It’s great to see you enjoying the veg so much, and seeing how much people enjoy it always makes our jobs so worthwhile. We're still just as enthusiastic about what we do as we were when we started all those years ago. I hope your story encourages more people to get more veg in to their lives, wherever they buy it from"
How lovely is that? Well, we're already feeling the benefit of more veg. Plus, there's no way Graeme would've made that awesome leek tart a few weeks ago... so for that and so much more, we take our hats off to Riverford.
Roll on Friday when we get more of their organic veg in our fridge and cupboards! :).