Farm members fall gathering

I am so excited to finally show you all the details of our first farm members gathering in our organic farm Masia Escrigas.

It has been a while since I wanted to personally meet our farm members and invite them to visit our farm and see the fields where the food that reaches their homes grows. I wanted them to experience a little bit of our daily work and see what and how we do things. 

With the fall’s arrival I thought the pumpkin harvest was the perfect occasion. 

The afternoon begun with a farm tour with Ignasi, head of our organic market.

In the fields they learned some details on how we manage our organic orchard. The summer crop, the winter crop and how we avoid plagues without pesticides. 

The tour continued to the hens house where they met our happy hens and discovered some curiosities such as why they stoped laying eggs during some days and the feather change they do in fall to get ready for winter. They still managed to pick some organic eggs!

Masia Escrigas organic orchard
 Masia Escrigas farm tour
Masia Escrigas farm hens house
Masia Escrigas organic hens

The most exciting fall crop are pumpkins. In addition to that, pumpkins are for us somehow special because thanks to a bad experience with pumpkins our organic farm project begun. That’s why we decided to invite our farm members to harvest the 3 types of pumpkins we have grown this year.

Masia Escrigas organic pumpkins

After harvesting we had an afternoon tea. I was willing to set a charming outdoor space where we could sit, eat, chat and get to know each other. Autumn is also apples season, therefore I thought there was no better option than enjoying the slow life in between those beautiful apple trees.

I love decorating with what nature offers us in each season. Therefore I used a jar filled with water and some floating apples as centrepiece in the buffet table.  Some pumpkins and quinces spread over the table and a bunch of our organic kale to give some green colour.

This beautiful wooden table was stored in the farmhouse attic. I had been waiting so long to use it for the perfect occasion.  This was the ideal event. I didn’t use a tablecloth because I wanted it to be seen. 

All the tables in the old days used to have a drawer in one of the edges and it was used to store bread. So I gave it the same use.

The idea was to prepare different recipes made out of seasonal organic products from the farm. Therefore I prepared a quiche with different organic veggies, out of quinces I made some quince jelly to blend with goat cheeses produced by our neighbours, cheesecake with some strawberry jam, apple pie, apple cake, pumpkin sponge cake and some of our traditional bread with tomate and dry sausages.  

In this space and around these table there was soon a beautiful environment. We managed to spend a slow afternoon sharing experiences and getting to know wonderful people.

The kids had their own space. Picnic inside a tent under the biggest holm oak tree in the garden. A basket full of pumpkin muffins, some water and they had their dessert picked direct from the trees.

I’ll be posting little by little the recipes of all these delicious goods. Meantime I leave you with some pictures. 

Buffet of goods made out of organic products from our farm Masia Escrigas.
Bread drawer
Kids picking their dessert
Kids picnic
Pumpkin muffins
Kids picnic

A piece of our orchard

As I mentioned in my last blog post, this season I am offering you “a piece of our orchard”. You will be able to be a member of Masia Escrigas and be part of our small organic family farm.

All members will receive a basket at home with different fresh products that we will be harvesting in the orchard every week or fortnightly (as preferred). Each season consists in 6 months, summer crops (april to september) and winter crops (october to March).

Becoming a member of Masia Escrigas contributes to:

Favor a small family project.
Contribute to the environment by supporting the effective implementation of organic farming.

Following are the benefits you will get as a member:

During the season you will be updated on the happenings in farm and vegetable gardens.

You will receive some recipes with seasonal products and any other surprise that we believe that will be of your interest.

Throughout the year we will organize some events in the farm where you will have preference to book versus the interested non-members; as well as a discount.

We invite members to participate in some crops and visit the orchard. So you can see the evolution of the crops and you will have the opportunity to harvest your own basket for that week.

You will get discount on some of the extra products that you can add to your baskets.

 

ADVANTAGES FOR THE CONSUMER:

  • Access to organic, healthy and very fresh products matured under the sun. Therefore you will be able to consume a product that preserves all its taste and its properties.
  • Get out of the routine in the kitchen with the same product throughout the year. Motivation for cooking new dishes with seasonal products. (Nature is wise and vegetables that grow at each season of the year give to the body the properties that we most need during that period).
  • Discounts on other products on the web.
  • For those who have children, throughout the year we will organize some activities in the same farm where children will also be able to participate and discover where the vegetables and eggs they eat at home come from. They will be able to make “theirs” a little bit of our farm.
  • You will be able to follow the whole process of your food, from being planted until it reaches your homes.

ADVANTAGES FOR US:

We will have the opportunity to know in first person all the people. I would love to meet all the people who believe in our project and consume our products.

It will be easier for us to plan the amounts we plant of each thing.

Having a forecast of monthly sales guaranteed, will allow me to hire a person to help me in the tasks of the orchard and therefore to grow a larger range of veggies and offer you more variety.

Before being able to harvest, we have to buy a lot of material (irrigation systems, biodegradable mesh, seeds …) and there are many long days and hours of work. Preparing the soil, irrigation, padding, sowing, pruning, pest prevention (through infusions of wild herbs that we first harvest in the forest), … The membership fees will helps us to make these months before harvesting less tough.

 

Are you interested in receiving more detailed information of the membership and fees? Send us an email: escrigues@casanovaecoturisme.com

Looking forward having you in our small organic family farm! <3

 

 

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Season about to begin

Days are slowly getting longer. Between 5th and 7th of January, the energy starts to wake up the soil and the ecosystem. The last few days I have been thinking about the orchard organisation and the veggies for the season about to begin. 

Deciding the varieties and amounts we have to seed has never been something easy. From one side, in farming, you never know what will happen to the produce. There is some factors that can affect the harvest. We have the weather ( temperatures, rains, ice storms…) and we also have plagues (specially in organic farming where we do not use any chemicals); One year a variety will work really well while the following one will be better for a different one. In addition to that, the last two years I found out that even commercialisation is really difficult, specially when there is intermediaries that do not value the farmers work, as I already spoke about in my blog post “hard beginnings in the farm“.

First of all I would like to thank everyone who trusted our products and bought our veggies last season. Either in our pickup points or in the market. Since we started with all your deliveries we didn’t sell anymore to shops. Therefore our veggies arrived freshly harvested and with all its essence direct to your kitchens, we can’t be happier! I feel so thankful to all of you after all the disappointments suffered during the commercialisation process.

Therefore I decided to focus on all of you this coming season. We will plant thinking about being able to serve all of you. Last season, the boxes were so successful that we couldn’t serve all the products you were ordering (we had not planted enough) so we ended up sharing between all the packages.

Those who know me in person or those who have been following me for a while, you know that I can’t stop coming up with new things, I love it! So This year we are coming back with some cool news!

The first one, and trying to avoid not being able to serve all your orders, I decided to share with you “a bit of my orchard”.

Some might be wondering what is that about… Stay tuned, I will share all the information within this week!

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Organic Pumpkin Risotto

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear risotto?

For me is a creamy rice with mushroom and parmesan. Do you like it? I love it! So today I am coming with a new recipe for a different but still delicious risotto.

After the huge amount of pumpkin kilos we harvested last fall in the farm I had to innovate in different ways of cooking it and this one is one of my favourite! We had 5 pumpkins left from the harvest so I decided to use one of them to have one more risotto before we eat them all.

I like cooking big amounts so my portions for 2 people are for people who like eating, like us!

  • 200gr of Rice
  • 300 gr of pumpkin
  • 2 medium onions
  • I use water because our organic pumpkins came out really tasty but you can also use 1/2 litre of vegetable or chicken stock.
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • Grated parmesan

 

Cut the pumpkin and the onion into small cubes. Put them in a pan with some olive oil and cover. Mix once in a while to make sure it doesn’t get burned. (You will know it is enough cooked when pressing the pumpkin with a fork it squashes easily.)

Once cooked add the rice and mix. Add the glass of wine and keep mixing while it cooks for a couple of minutes, until the wine reduces. Add salt and pepper.

Once the wine is reduced add the stock little by little. Do not add it all at once. Add some and let it reduce while mixing. Once it is absorbed by the rice add some more. Keep adding until the rice is enough cooked. The stock or water needs to be added warm, it is important that it doesn’t stop the rice’s boiling process.

Remove from the fire and add some grated parmesan on top, it will melt with the rice heat.

I think it is a really good options if you are going to invite people at home. It is not such a common dish and most probably everyone will like it  (I served it in a tasting we offered in our farm during a weekend of open doors and the 100 visitors who came loved it).

In addition to that, it is not an expensive dish. 1 kilo of rice cost about 4€, 1,5kg of our organic pumpkin cost 3€,  the onions 2€ and the wine 3€. So in total for 12€ you can prepare a delicious main course for 10 people, your guests will leave the house rolling.

For drink I would suggest a white wine, ours is from a local winery and they go so well together!

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Goat cheese and pumpkin Lasagna

Again… a quick and easy recipe for all those busy moms who still love inviting guests! As some of my Instagram followers have requested after seeing the pictures, I finally found the moment to write the goat cheese and pumpkin lasagna recipe I had promised!

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Although the pumpkin season is over in our part of the world… some might be about to begin! And for those who did like us or bought our packs, you can still enjoy the recipe. For those who are not aware, when our harvested pumpkins were about to spoil, I started peeling, cutting and packing them. We froze enough packs to be able to eat organic pumpkin from our orchard until october when the new harvest arrives. Those we did not need were sold in local shops or sold online and sent direct from our farm to the homes.

I won’t take longer, following is the recipe! I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Package of Candyliving Pumpkin – (800gr)
  • 250 gr of onion cut into thin strips or dices.
  • 125gr of goat cheese in pieces.
  • 6 slices of lasagne
  • Olive oil
  • Grated cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 50gr of goat cheese
  • 200ml cream
  • Salt and pepper

1. Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, cook the pumpkin at very low temperature, with salt and pepper. The pumpkin is ready when you can squash it with the fork.

2. In a different pan we golden the onion. Then you add the onion to the pumpkin and add the goat cheese. Blend at a very low temperature.

3. In the mean time cook the lasagna plaques in salty water.

4. For the sauce: we put a spoon of olive oil in a pan (low fire). We add the cream (salt and pepper)  and goat cheese in dices. We mix until the cheese melts and blends with the cream. (keep mixing until it thickens a little bit.

5. Take an oven tray. Paint with butter and then start preparing the lasagna. A layer of pasta, then add some of the pumpkin mix and some of the sauce and another layer of pasta. Keep adding as much layers as you want. Once you put the last layer of pasta, add some sauce on top and then some grated cheese.

Add it to the preheated oven at 180ºC during 15 min and then 5 more minutes cooking au gratin.

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Photography by Mercè Rial

Hard beginnings in the farm

You start a project with excitement and people around just move with interests and lack of word and commitment. And now I wonder which is the problem… Am I too young? Is it because I am a girl? Do I trust people too much? Are we farmers too naive?

After all the love we have put in growing our pumpkins, the soil gave us back its love with great results in quality and amount. After harvesting we stored our delicious and spoilt pumpkins in boxes. We were super excited to be able to start selling them. We had analysed a couple of them and they came out to be in optimum conditions in all the aspects; Colour, taste and great properties. So our dream was coming true. We managed to grow a great product and now we could give some families who believe in healthy food the opportunity of having them.

So I start calling the companies and supermarkets who had shown interest in our product. One had promised me a price and is giving me half of the price now once they are ready. The other said they would buy us, as much pumpkins as we would grow… I knock the door now and it is only excuses to avoid even a meeting. The next one will not even bother in listening to your proposal, they prefer buying cheaper/less quality product to a distributor but then they appear on magazines saying they value “proximity products” and organic food from local farmers.

Yeap… this is life.

I don’t know the answer to my questions about which is the problem. The only thing I know is that our product is wonderful and super healthy. So I won’t give up. I will continue selling in the small shops and restaurants who have trusted us since the first day and we might be setting a market stand until our pumpkins are all sold out and have meet our goal; to reach some lucky families who value our product.

We are ready for the next stage!

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Photography by Mercè Rial

Working with love and passion

I often hear friends or people around saying “what could I do?” ” I want to change job but I don’t know what to do” “I want to do something on my own”… In those cases I suggest to think of the thing you like the most, start doing it as a hobby and then think about how can you turn that into an income.

No matter what you are going to do… Do it with love and passion. Believe in your product, take care of it as if it was your kid.

Last may my dad and I were wondering what to do with the land. Farming prices are low and there is loads of working hours. But when you love the land… you can’t live without it.  It was spring, loads of seeds can be planted at that time so I did some research about health, products, production process, etc. And all of a sudden I bumped into pumpkins. I was amazed by all the health benefits they provide. So I decided to do a trial in one of the fields. I did some research about types of pumpkins, I bought the ecological seeds (if I believe in health I want them to be ecologic) of the ones I thought would have better results in the kitchen and for our climate and soil.

_ial3819After seeding we spoiled them with water day after day to germinate.

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I can’t express the feeling of happiness and excitement when we saw the first leave coming out of the soil to enjoy its first rays of sun.

Once most of the seeds were born, we planted those tiny plants in the field. After checking them everyday, watering, observing, discovering about this plant and its flowers the pumpkin fruits were born.

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A few months later they were ready to harvest so that’s what we did.

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They are now in the fresh house basements waiting to be sold.

I have felt so many feelings during the whole process. The wonder if they will all be born while seeding, the excitement of seeing their leaves come out of the soil, the happiness of seeing them grow everyday, the suffering during any climate threats (specially one day we had a big ice-stones storm in the middle of summer)… the surprise of the big amount of pumpkins that were appearing under those huge plants when we started harvesting, and now seeing them all together stored in the fresh home basement. Such a blend of feelings!

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Seeing the wonderful results of the nutritional analysis we did to 2 of the pumpkins and  tasting the amazing dishes that come out of  them… has been so rewarding after all the hard work.

Now it is time for the next step. Growing the amount of extension next spring. Looking for  clients to sell them. And I would definitely love to go further with them so… I will start brain storming what else to do with our delicious pumpkins. I know we can succeed with such a  wonderful product.

Any ideas will be welcome!

LC

Photography by Mercè Rial 

Fresh apples for the Apple Pie

The apple picking season has started, and I couldn’t think of a better way to start it but backing an Apple pie. So… if during any of the rainy afternoons this fall you wonder about what to do with your kids… Here is a great plan to have fun in the kitchen! Our delicious Apple pie recipe!

The kids and I go out, it is a warm and sunny fall day. We get our baskets and head to the fruit trees area in our garden. It is time for them to learn how to pick apples, they have to get the biggest ones with more reddish skin colour. Whenever we find a damaged one we put it in a different basket that we will later give to the horses. They love them!

 

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They start by getting on a chair to get them until they find out how to get on a tree. Jaume picks them and Candi puts them in the basket. Good team work kids!

When they get tired, we sit down and explore an apple. We taste it, I explain them how healthy they are and I show them how to choose the best ones to eat and separate them from the damaged ones.

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In the afternoon we decide to bake a very easy and fast to do but still delicious apple pie recipe so they can taste them cooked too. Following is the recipe for :

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  • Puff pastry
  • Apples
  • Sugar
  1. Pre-heat oven at 200ºC.
  2. Spread the puff pastry on the baking paper and place on an oven tray.
  3. With a fork make a few wholes within the pastry (it will avoid the dough from swelling when heated)
  4. Spread some sugar on top of the dough (aprox. 2 handfuls)
  5. Place the apple pieces on top of the dough. Make sure between pieces and rows there is no empty spaces. (The apple becomes smaller when heated and it would look empty).
  6. Put in the oven for 10-15 min. (keep an eye on it until the apples and the dough look cooked.
  7. When you take it out of the oven and the pie is hot you can spread some sugar on top. You can also spread some jam (it can be apple jam or any other taste you like to blend with apple)

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Enjoy your pie!!

📷 Photography by Mercè Rial

 

Onion beating cough

With the changing season colds are quite common… Sleepless nights because the kids (or yourself) can’t stop coughing. And first you try with some water, then swallowing something and it seems it worked (you have that moment of glory thinking it is finally gone) until you lay down in bed and the coughing nightmare begins again… Do you know what I am talking about? If so, this is for you!

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A solution to this problem might be easy in a city where there is always a 24h open pharmacy nearby but for me… Finding a pharmacy might take me more than an hour drive if I am lucky. In addition to that I am quite fond of natural remedies before turning to  medicine. So there we go, the best solution to a coughing nightmare: 1 ONION.

Cut the onion in half and place it near the bed. It sounds awkward but it really works well at home. The room will smell next morning but if you open the window it disappears completely.

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Today we are picking onions in our orchard. It is one of the kids’ favourite to collect since you pull the leaves and they come out from under the ground. They can’t stop shouting “Look mom! Look how strong I am !” and they feel proud of their power.

We will now store the onions in the fresh basements of our country house so we have onions for the entire winter, they last long. We will now be ready for any cough attack! We use onions in most of our dishes too

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📷 Photography by Mercè Rial

What is going on in the hens house?

Every day after school, the kids walk out of the car and run to the hens house. Candi (21 months old) is in charge of feeding them while Jaume  (3 years old) counts the eggs and puts them in a basket. When everything is set they bring the hens inside and close them for the night, to ensure they are safe from any wild animal roaming around at night.

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I just love observing them taking care of the animals, I try to interfere as little as I can so they can think by themselves and come up with different ways of doing it if they don’t get what they want at first. And it seems to work since they do it better everyday, quicker, and they still have fun, they always come up with new games and ideas during the task. I wish I had as imagination as they do! So much to learn from kids.

One day Jaume finds an egg with an unusual shape or colour and he shouts with excitement, sometimes Candi can’t open the lid of the trough and she asks for help to her older brother, who turns to her to help and patiently shows her how to do it… I could be looking at them all day long.

A couple of days ago, Candi got upset with a hen and she threw it an egg. Both Candi and Jaume were surprised when the egg broke and the hen started eating it. So they still learned something from it and Candi realised she can’t throw eggs anymore.

Of course it is not always this perfect, sometimes the situation can get complicated and then they start getting upset and before this turns to a fight or an argument between them or with the hens because something didn’t turn out as it should. Then I enter their “working-zone”, I tell them to calm down, the three of us sit down on the floor and discuss about it. First of all I ask them what happened, then I ask them why did this happen (so they realise by themselves what they did wrong) and then we think of a new solution in committee and give it a try again. My surprise was a few days ago when I see Jaume having some issues and all of a sudden when he is about to start shouting he looks at me, he points up with his finger 👆 and a smile on his face and he says “mom I have another idea!” And he tries a different way with a successful result. Then is when I realise I am doing it right. So proud of them!

In addition to all that… we eat yummy organic eggs and they love omelettes even more! Jaume already cooks them by himself.

I consider giving tasks to the kids since they are young very important. It gives them confidence, it develops the sense of responsibility and freedom. We need to grow kids that will be able to fend for themselves.  In the future they will need to make tough decisions and move on from difficulties. They need to be ready.

So here is their responsibility, my kids are in charge of the hens and the eggs. What about yours? Feel free to comment below.

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 📷 Photography by Mercè Rial