Thursday, 12 January 2012

The pork pie recipe

Guide for the Pork Pie mix in this week's box

I can only describe this as massive treat. A home-made pork pie is something you can’t compare to the inferior offering you find in the supermarket. Hot water pastry, which you use to encase the moist, tasty, and fabulously meaty mixture in the packs, has rather a mystery and perceived difficulty that people steer away from.

Well don’t go telling your friends, because I still like to produce the pork pie to "woos and aaahs" and lots of praise as to how skilled and amazing I am, but hot water pastry really is child's play. In fact if you still feel a little shaky about it let the kids make it, they have no such fear!

To make a pork pie...

We have made up the mixture of pork meat, which you simply pack into the pastry case you are about to make. Remember raised or hot water pastry is super easy and very forgiving. The mix is made from diced pork leg meat and a sage and sausagemeat stuffing.

If you feel short of time pop the mix in the freezer to go back to later, or you can just bake it in a loaf tin like a meat loaf or terrine. If you do make one, please pop a picture on our facebook page and we can all enjoy each other’s handiwork!!! Just search for G and S Organics if you haven’t found us yet.

If you want to make one "with me", I will be making mine on Friday and tweeting the instructions as I go, along with pictures, so join in by following @Organicbeth and @gandsorganics

You will need:
  • Your pork pie meat 
For the hot water crust:
  • 50g lard, diced
  • 50g butter or another 50g of lard if you would prefer (I like the flavour of the butter!)
  • 100ml of water
  • 275g of plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 medium egg, beaten plus some more beaten egg to glaze
  • 175ml of good stock that will set to jelly, this is not essential but adds the traditional jelly round the pie. 
Make the pastry first. Put the lard and butter in a large pan with the water. Heat gently until it has all melted, don’t let it boil as you don’t want the water to evaporate. Put the flour and salt in a large, mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the beaten egg, stir gently with a knife to half mix them together. Pour in the melted fat and water and mix together until you form a soft dough. If you feel the dough is a little dry add a little extra warm water. Knead gently, add more flour if the dough is sticky. Wrap in grease proof or clingfilm for ½ an hour and leave to one side.

To make the pie:
  • Reserve ¼ of the pastry for the lid. 
  • On a floured surface roll out the remaining pastry to make a circle approx. 1cm thick, to form the case for your filling.
  • Gently use this to line a small, greased cake tin approx. 10inch diameter. A spring form tin is easiest but not essential. Push the pastry into the corners and flatten the pastry up the sides 
  • Fill with the pork mixture
  • Roll out the pastry for the lid into a circle the size of the tin, brush the pastry in the tin with a little beaten egg and place the lid in the top. Crimp the to pastry edges together to seal in the porky goodness. Cut a 1cm "steam" hole in the centre of the lid 
  • Bake the pie in a moderate oven (gas mark 8 or 180c) for 20 minutes then turn down the heat to 160c or gas mark 3 for a further hour. If you have a loose sided spring form tin carefully remove the tin sides and glaze the top and sides of the pie with the beaten egg, return the pie to the oven for 10 minutes to set the glaze. Alternatively just glaze the top.
  • Take the pie from the oven and allow to cool a little
  • Once cool pour the warmed jellied stock in through your steam hole in the centre of the pie, if you are using it. Allow it to settle in and fill any gaps inside the pie. You may find a small funnel rather useful here. I like to tilt the pie a little this way and that to encourage the stock to settle in. stop when the stock starts to come out of the hole.
  • Leave the pie to completely cool and refrigerate. 
The pie will keep for up to 10 days and will serve a host of hungry mouths. Serve with winter salads like coleslaw made with the green cabbage, mustardy potato salad and pickles.

Events Diary

Heres the potted view of our events diary, click the link to the facebook page for more info, or drop us an email.

The G and S Organics Events Calendar 2012

“Put your wellies on!”

Your family and friends are always welcome to come and join in the fun. Keep in touch with our G&S Organics Facebook page for event updates, photographs, recipe ideas, news from the farm and more.

Booking is essential for the events

21st January
10am for bacon butties for workers
4pm burns supper

Work party and Burns Night supper
Help Build the Potting Shed – wear something tartan!
£15 a head for Box Scheme members £20 for non- scheme members
4th February
12pm start

Farm focus dinner
Woodland and Game lunch party with a walk to the woods
£15 a head for Box Scheme members £20 for non- scheme members
3rd March
5.30pm dinner

Farm focus dinner
Come and see newborn lambs, learn about lambing on the farm and enjoy a tasty vegetarian lunch
£15 a head for Box Scheme members £20 for non- scheme members
17th March
10am for bacon butties for workers
4pm dinner
Work party planting day and St. Patrick’s Day lunch with Irish Stew

£15 a head for Box Scheme members £20 for non- scheme members
7th April
5.30pm dinner

Farm focus dinner Poultry Come and join in the Great Easter Egg hunt, see the newborn chicks and learn about poultry farming.

£15 a head for Box Scheme members £20 for non- scheme members
5th May
5.30pm dinner

Farm focus dinner Pork May Day Weekend – a pork supper, farm walk and butchery demonstration
£15 a head for Box Scheme members £20 for non- scheme members
2nd June
12pm start

The G&S Diamond  Jubilee Party – Bring your picnic blanket and come and enjoy a traditional afternoon tea with Beth’s home baking
£15 a head for Box Scheme members £20 for non- scheme members
7th July
5.30pm dinner

Farm focus dinner Lamb A lamb spit roast dinner and farm tour
£15 a head for Box Scheme members £20 for non- scheme members
28th July
Ship ahoy! A mackerel fishing trip from the Fish Quay in North Shields
£35 a head for Box Scheme members only (numbers strictly limited to 10 people)
4th August
5.30pm dinner

Farm focus dinner summer The G &S Summer Barbecue and farm tour and talk
£15 a head for Box Scheme members £20 for non- scheme members
18th August
5.30pm dinner

The G&S Camping weekend for kids (and their grown ups!) with a campfire supper cooked by the kids

£15 per adult, £5 per child – tea and bacon butties on Sunday morning will be available for £5 a head
1st September

Farm Focus Dinner  Beef – Beef butchery and cookery demo, farm tour and supper
£15 a head for Box Scheme members £20 for non- scheme members
6th October
Shooters at 2pm
Dinner at 4pm

Farm Focus dinner Game Clay pigeon shooting  event and game supper
£15 a head for Box Scheme members £20 for non- scheme members plus £10 each if you would like to shoot
3rd November
10am bacon butties
for workers
4pm bonfire and dinner

Work party Tree planting and Bonfire Night party with a Hog Roast
£15 a head£15 a head for Box Scheme members £20 for non- scheme members
17th November
12pm – 4pm

Charcuterie  Demonstration with produce sale
£15 a head for Box Scheme members £20 for non- scheme members
1st December
More info to follow

Christmas Lunch, make your own Christmas wreath and Christmas tree sale
£15 a head for Box Scheme members £20 for non- scheme members

Friday, 6 January 2012

New Year Message

Happy 2012!

I’ll try not to sound too much like this post is the G and S Organics New Year message, but being the first blog of 2012 we are full of vigour and excitement about what the year holds and have had a few days off with little to talk about but the future. A future which is looking ever brighter since Beth accepted my proposal of marriage on Christmas day. We are planning on a summer wedding party in the kitchen garden, so I have a firm deadline to get the garden looking acceptable!

Reflecting on the year gone by, we are pleased to be through it and remaining in good mental health. It’s been our hardest year since starting the business in 2005. The recession, crazy weather patterns, running the coffee shop longer than we should have and moving house have all taken their toll and it’s great to be on the other side. Closing the coffee shop means the farm gets Beth back full time which will have a dramatic impact on our veg production and having less customers means it should be truly achievable to produce most of the produce going in the boxes through the whole year.

Production in 2012

I’m going to list the rough plan for what we want to grow and produce here so you have an idea where we are heading but this is the basics and we would welcome any requests for specific veg or meat that you would like to see in the boxes. You’ll see that there are some obvious omissions like maincrop potatoes, onions, celery, parsnips and cauliflower. These are things we cannot grow profitably (if at all) or like maincrop potatoes, get from top quality growers locally and easily so will use the space for other things. It won’t stop us growing our own earlies and different varieties like pink fir apples etc. It just doesn’t make sense for us to turn half the garden over to potatoes. We will do lots of one off veg varieties to keep things interesting but the following will form the bulk of the what we grow this year:

  • Red Cabbage
  • Savoy Cabbage
  • Spring Cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Salad Bags
  • Garlic
  • Herbs Mixed
  • Courgettes
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Chillies
  • Radish
  • Artichokes Jerslm
  • Artichokes Globe
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Spring Onions
  • Beetroot
  • Fennel
  • Turnips
  • Swede
  • Leeks
  • Sprouts
  • Romanesco
  • Broad Beans
  • Runner Beans
  • Peas
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries
  • Currants

On the meat side of things we aim to do more of the same with a mix of our pork, lamb, Dexter or Angus/Dexter beef but we are also aiming to grow more poultry. We’d like a large enough flock of hens to produce all the eggs for the boxes throughout the year which means three times the hen houses too. Alongside the hens we’ll be producing chickens for the table probably 8 times per year, ducks and geese once or twice and turkeys and geese for Christmas which means you’ll get poultry from March and every month onwards in your boxes. I’m dreaming of getting an old dairy cow to try and raise some organic rose veal but this is in the same dream as Beth allowing me to get some Highland cattle so it may be wishful thinking. Georges ducks will hopefully come onto lay in the spring so there will be the odd box of duck eggs too.

As part of the poultry enterprise we would like to hatch eggs ourselves rather than buying in day old chicks, this means we can try small batches of different breeds. However most incubators need power 24 hours a day for 28 days which may be difficult being off grid. We are looking for alternatives but in the meantime if anyone would like to try their hand at hatching eggs and have space (about the size of a microwave) let us know. The incubators are fully automatic so it’s just a case of keeping an eye on the little eggs until the big day.


We have two major products that need progressing urgently. The cattle need housing in case the weather gets really bad in the next few months so I’m trying to get this finished before the months out. The Dexter’s don’t need much in the way of luxuries, just a dry bed of straw to sleep on if they’ve been out in the rain and wind all day along with plenty of feed and water of course.

The other construction is going to be an undercover outside kitchen, demo and dining area in the garden that will make hosting the farm focus dinners a little less stressful and a lot more professional (not to mention dryer!) Once this infrastructure is in place we should be able to invite some schools to bring pupils for educational visits too, which is a long held desire. The idea of planting, harvesting, cooking and eating; all in the garden with children helping in every stage is truly what we are about here and it’s going to be great to share it with more people in 2012. Not sure the kids will enjoy the compost loo as much though. We’ll have to move the small polytunnel to accommodate this, which is a good opportunity to re sheet and fix up the damage that we had in the storms last year. Re-sheeting the big polytunnel may be on the cards but a small lottery win is needed before this becomes a certainty. If nothing else it will provide a good sheltered growing area benefiting from some of the pigs being in there over winter turning straw and feed residues into the soil.
Those that came to the tree planting day will see change in the form of a track going through this area which will make it easy to turn around without going into the farmyard and provide a bit more parking for the open days.

Box Scheme

The box scheme deliveries will be carrying on as previously arranged but we would like to change the packaging of both the meat and the veg boxes. We are trying to source some uniform boxes so we can squeeze all the boxes onto the van neatly and make them easier for you to handle. We would like to replace the cool bags with the customer leaving a cool box or bag out for us too put the meat packs in. This will ensure that the meat keeps perfectly chilled in the summer months as you can drop your own ice pack in the box before you put it out on the evening. We’ll possibly look into bulk buying a load of cool boxes and then hand them out closer to the warmer weather approaching. Whatever happens we’ll keep in touch and give you plenty of notice.

Another change that we may make is to swap the bread in the boxes for more veg, fruit or another box of eggs. We have done this with the Wednesday deliveries quite a while ago and it has worked well, but we’d like some feedback before making any changes to those who receive there boxes on Thursdays. If you have an opinion on this please let us know. It’s really in the interest of us producing more of the box ourselves so ideally we would make up the value with an additional box of eggs or extra veg.


We have an event taking place on the farm every month, the details of these will go onto the facebook page and the website so do keep looking for more info.

Best wishes for 2012,

Lee and Beth

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Pork Butchery

I only had one pig to do in the butchery today so had a bit of time to do a few pics to show what goes on when turning pig to pork.

Butchery is something I really enjoy, but it's a rare thing indeed to have as much time as I would like to try out new things and experiment with different charcuterie techniques and recipes. And the pig is of course, the butchers best friend with nothing but the squeek going in the bin traditionally!

With pork, as with any meat the first thing we need to know is how the animal is reared; this along with how it died will have the biggest impact on what comes to the butcher and if these two pre requisites were not satisfactory the butcher will be fighting a losing battle. I'll talk more about these things in another blog but what we do is try to give the animal a happy life and our local small abattoir gives them a professional, compassionate death.

Some of the photos below may seem a bit much but I think everybody who eats meat should see the stages that the meat has gone through before ending up on the plate. If you would like to know or see more please get in touch.

So for this post the basics are:-

1. The carcass comes back to us-we check paperwork is correct and the pig has our organic stamp on it,then assess the fat level and confirmation to get an idea how the animal has performed. This gives us information about our breeding, feeding and husbandry of the animal. Too much fat indicates the diet needs adjusting, a run of pigs with huge shoulders but small legs may be a sign of a bad breeding programme etc.

The size, fat level and confirmation also give me clues as to how best to butcher the animal..I prefer to have no pre conceived cutting lists until I see the animal on the cutting table. Its seem silly to cut a leg into joints if it would make a perfect ham or to cut chops out of a loin that would be great bacon.

2.So once we have the cutting list in our head it's time to remove the head and trotters and sort through the offal. Beth normally likes some of these for stock and making potted meat, pate and terrines for the house.

3.Then breaking the carcass down into primal cuts..shoulers, legs and saddle. From here as todays pig was quite small and really suitable for joints and chops, I take out the bones from the shoulder and leg and roll these tying with twine after scoring the skin.

4. From here it's just a simple case of portioning according to needs, so cutting chops from the loin removing any excess fat and trimming the bone if needed, slicing joints into 1-1.5kg and slicing belly pork.

It really is that simple with a small pig, I'll do a post when we do a large pig for processing into variuos sauages, burgers, bacon and hams to give you an inside view of what goes on at the farm.

A quick word on the tools of the trade..four things i wouldn't be without are my 5" boning knife, large chopper, steel and butchers saw. All are cheap from butchers suppliers, give years of service and are extremely useful bits of kit to have in the kitchen too.

I'd love to hear if your interested in seeing more of this kind of info on the blog so do please comment or get in touch.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Barry's Last Stand

Yesterday we weaned the piglets from our welsh cross sow and moved her back into the serving paddock in a bid to keep our boar 'Barry' in his rightful place. He's been absolutely impossible to keep in despite having eveything a man could dream (apart from a lady friend)for the past three months.

After only a few hours together he was back out in the fields having smashed his way through a fence again. Obviously love was not in the air.

Unfortunately at this time of the year when much needed grass, veg and fruit are grwoing we can ill afford a rampant boar on the loose so for the sanity of all concerned tomorrow 'Barry' is going to the great unfenced pig paddock in the sky..

RIP Barry

Monday, 9 May 2011

A New Dawn, A New Diary

So after a few weeks of struggling by with an ever slower laptop things finally came to an abrupt end last week when after 2 hours of photo editing and writing the newsletter the laptop died completely losing the work I'd just done.

Normally we'd just calmly find a solution but this particular day it just happened that everything else had also gone wrong and it coincided with a delivery day which means a silly o'clock start and up to an 18 hour shift at work so the laptop was promptly slammed shut smashing the screen!

With no possible chance of recovery, the only choice was to replace the old girl with a newer and hopefully more reliable beast. And that's why I'm back to blogging, having a new laptop brings renewed vigour for using this resource a lot more.

So the plan is to do a few lines each day, more as a farm and business diary for us (and you if your interested) to see what went on during the year. Which brings us here.

3 Pigs back from abattoir. Probe depth 14,14, and 19mm. From the pure Berkshires, note reduced back fat and intramuscular marbling compared to last weeks draw of Berkshire/welsh/saddleback cross of same feeding regime. Under 50kg seems to be optimum carcass weight.

Beth planted approx 50 raspberries from runners in garden.

Extremely hot, temperatures up to 23.More rain.

Last ewe still to lamb.

Monday, 3 January 2011

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