Roses, roses, roses – they are amazing this year, clearly loving the warm weather

So, we seem to be rattling through June – we’re just about at the longest day of the year! – eek – although longer days mean busier days so we don’t dread the darker winter evenings as much as we perhaps once did as they give us a bit of a breather. I’m not sure we’ll ever tire of the changing seasons, and it’s something we really missed when we lived overseas in a previous life.

Anyway, July is nearly upon us and we wanted to share a few thoughts on Plastic-free July. This is something Chris has tried to support for years now, with me thinking he was mad to start with (!) but now we’re on the same programme and we’ve gradually tried to eliminate more and more plastic in our everyday lives, not just during July. 

Our thought is that there is always opportunity to do better, whilst at the same time not beating ourselves up too much for the inevitable slip-ups..we definitely haven’t cracked it so we are trying to use Plastic-free July as a bit of a nudge to see where else we can reduce plastic. We wanted to share with you, in case you wanted to join us. Our top tip is that it’s a good idea to prepare for it – so you don’t start on July 1st realising you need something that actually you can only get in plastic (cheese is a tricky one -warning you now) and start off on the wrong foot which makes it much harder to stay motivated.

Also, it’s worth thinking about some goals, so it could be that you aim to get through the month without filling your black bin or swap to tea leaves from tea bags. One thing we’ve found has made a big difference is having a smaller bin in our kitchen – sounds weird but a massive bin that takes ages to fill makes it very easy to kid yourself you aren’t throwing much away. A small bin forces you to see what’s being thrown and gives you a chance to see if there’s anywhere you can make some changes. Let us know how you go if you do decide to take on the challenge, we’ll share how we do too!

Lemons: If anyone else wants to get a kg of organic un-waxed lemons (6-7) every 2 weeks as an add-on to their box, please let me know as we’ve just got a couple of spots left. They’re £2.80/kg.

Plug plants to grow your own veg: We’ve also got some plug plants for sale (£2 each) – tumbling tom tomatoes, jalapeno peppers (both of these will be fine in a big pot), courgettes, kale (both of these need to go into a bed). First come first served, there’s only a few.

What’s been happening this week at EYG?
Weeding list this week includes leeks, beetroot, tomatoes, lettuces, cucumber, aubergine, and probably others we’ve forgotten! We’ve done some weeding during the crazy rain storms – loud but cosy in the polytunnels! We cleared the broad beans and planted kale in their place – always feels great to clear a bed and plant again immediately. We planted out the squash and built structures for them to help them climb and hopefully spread out a little less vigorously. We harvested lettuces and lovely cabbages.
A word of warning – we have a glut of courgettes on their way to your all over coming weeks, so get used to courgettes in your box…!

A few ways we/you’ve used your veg this week: Dal with kohlrabi, home-made pizza with courgettes and cherry tomatoes, mushroom stroganoff, kohlrabi and carrot slaw with sliced almonds, raisins and yoghurt, potato hash with baked eggs and (so good!). Not in the box but we also foraged for elderflowers and made elderflower cordial. Keep sending us your kitchen concoctions as it might inspire others! 

A couple of recipe ideas… 

1) Courgette, cheddar and onion tart: I try not to suggest too many recipes I haven’t tried, but I’m feeling a bit cocky about making pastry having successfully made a steak pie the other day and have to admit I’m still to make a flan…this looks like a good recipe so am going to try. I’m not great at following recipes exactly though (as you may have guessed) so would probably throw some leafy greens in here, like the chard this week.
Preheat a baking sheet in the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C. Roll out 400g pastry on a lightly floured work surface to line a 20cm x 3.5cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Prick the base all over with a fork and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes. Line with baking paper and baking beans or rice, then bake for 12 minutes. Remove the paper and beans/rice, reduce the temperature to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4 and return to the oven for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, grate 1-2 courgettes into a sieve, toss with a little salt and leave over a bowl for 5 minutes. In a sauté pan, heat olive oil and butter over a low-medium heat, then soften onion and garlic  (finely chopped) for 5 minutes. Increase the heat, stir in the courgette and small bunch of thyme and fry for a couple of minutes until just golden.
In a large jug, mix 150ml double cream with 2 egg yolks* and one whole egg, about 80g grated Cheddar and some black pepper. Spoon the courgette and onion mix over the base of the tart. Pour over the Cheddar and cream mixture, then scatter with some additional cheese. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes until golden and just set. Serve with a crisp green salad. Taken from Delicious magazine online

*Charlotte (aged 4) taught me a great way to separate egg yolk the other day, after watching My World Kitchen on CBeebies. Break the egg into a shallow bowl and place a small egg cup (or something similar that fits over the yolk) on top then pour the egg white into a different bowl and hey presto. 

2) Cabbage Thoran: Use any cabbage, greens or even shredded curly kale if you don’t have a savoy. You can also try adding some grated carrots, or chopped French or runner beans. Serve with basmati rice for a simple, light supper. Riverford recipe here.