25 August 2013

Food We Love - August 2013 - Homemade Food

August is drawing to a close and as the end of the month is nearing, I know I'll be in for a treat.  It's around this time that my monthly boxes are finding their way to my doorstep and after the fabulous box I received last month, I was especially eager to discover my new Food We Love and its theme.

First a little recap on the practicalities of the Food We Love Box.  The monthly theme is announced on the first of each month, so if you want to play it safe, you can wait until it has been made public before ordering your box. But in the end, we are talking food here, so whatever the theme, it can't possibly be bad. :o)

About the pricetag, for Dutch residents, the box costs 27.50 EUR for a single box or 24.95 EUR for those who opt for a monthly subscription.  For Belgian residents, the shipping costs are making it a few euros more expensive i.e. 30 EUR for a single box or 27.50 EUR for the monthly subscription.  It's also good to know that should you change your mind,  cancelling your subscription only requires one month's notice.

Back to this month's box, which came with the theme "Homemade Food".  If you have been keeping up with the blogosphere and pinterest, you will have noticed that homemade food is the talk of the town.  In an era, where every few months the newspapers are informing us of another food fraud, where more and more people of finding their way to freshmarkets and have gained access to organically grown produce, it shouldn't come as a surprise that a growing number of people are trying to control what they put into their bodies by going back to the roots of food, the food made at home.

The Homemade Food box was put together in close collaboration with Yvette van Boven, food stylist, illustrator and author of the Homemade Series.  I have to admit that I never heard of her before, but she seems to have reached a reputation of rather iconic proportions in the Netherlands.  I love the way she illustrated the leaflets that accompany this box and I put her books on my wishlist.  I'm sure they won't take long to appear on my shelves :o)

Let's take a look at the contents :

* Rhubarb & Rosemary Jam from Kate's Slow Jam (Estimated price : 4.20 EUR)

Handmade with patience, to make jam as it should be, simply lovely”.  I think this catchline says it all.  And patience is clearly an essential element in the concotion of these jams, because as her website states “The special thing about Slow Jam is that it’s made… well slowly, even though jam can be made in 8 minutes, Kate’s jam can take up to 3 days giving the fruit and sugar time to do its thing. Simple ingredients,  nothing added, leading to a slightly softer set”.   As this jam is gelatin free, it's also appropriate for the vegan jamlover.  I've never been keen on rhubarb but I'll give this one a try, after all my last rhubarb tasting attempt already dates back to two decades.

* Coconut blossom sugar from Royal Green (Price online : 5.95 EUR)

I never heard of coconut sugar before, heck, I didn't even know you could extract nectar from the coconut tree. Or how a food discovery box can teach you things :o) From the Royal Green website : The Royal Green Coconut blossom sugar is produced from the sweet sap of the tropical coconut blossoms. Traditional sugar farmers climb high in the coconut tree and harvest the sweet nectar from the blossoms. Once collected, the nectar changes by slowly heating into a delicious rich sugar. I'd say that sounds lovely. The FWL leaflet also has recipe for a sweet chile dressing using this organic sugar, which sounds really tempting on a fresh cucumber salad. To be tried.

* 75 cl bottle of beer #45 by Kompaan (Estimated price : 5.00 EUR)

This beer is one of the three types of beer produced by the relatively new brewery Kompaan (i.e. Companion/Mate/Friend) in The Hague. The box contained either the #20, which is a blonde, lagertype drink or the #45, which I got.  I prefer blond to dark beers, so I am slightly disappointed that I got the "wrong" bottle, but I'm sure that I know someone who will be more than willing to give it a try.  From their website : Kompaan #45 is a dark beer made ​​from 6 malts and three types of hops, which finds its inspiration with English Porter and Stout beers. The 45 is characterized by its dark appearance, fresh nose and bitter taste. And for a little trivia, apparently the number of the beer represents the numbers of recipes tried before finding the marketed one.

* Homemade granola by Gebroeders Niemeijer

As you can see from the picture higher up in this post, the leaflet in the box features a recipe for homemade granola bars and this organic granola by the bakery of the bothers Niemeijer will come in very handy for this.  Although I have to admit that this mix of nuts & seeds (pecans, cranberries, coconut flakes, almonds, oats, pumpkin and sunflower seeds) might not make it to the granola bars, as it is also a perfect snack treat. 

* Weck Jar from Brouwmarkt (Estimated price : 1.50 EUR)

I discovered Brouwmarkt this spring when I was looking for online sellers of rennet, which I needed in order to complete the Daring Cooks' Cheese Challenge.  This Dutch store doesn't only provide the necessary tools for the cheese trade, but also for a wide array of other DIY products like jam, or juices or wine or even beer ... Yes, you read correctly, even beer can be homemade these days. Sounds tempting, right?  You can also find lots of different types of glassware at brouwmarkt, among which these tulipshaped weck jars.  Normally weck jars are used for sterilising produce, but I will be using it shortly to store the homemade mustard I intend to make with the next item in the box.  I just love the shape of this jar, so no doubt, this will stay in my kitchen for a very long time.

* 100g yellow mustard seeds from De Stam Kruiden (Estimated price : 1.10 EUR)

Katinka Lamberts & Rob de Boer sell their fresh and dried herbs, teas and seasonal produce on several freshmarkets during the summer period and also have a website where those same herbs and spices can be bought. Yvette van Boven shared her mustard recipe in this box and these mustard seeds will this week be turned into a lovely mustard. I just have to decided whether I'll be adding some extras to it (garlic? tarragon? honey?) or not. Endless possibilities.

* Fregula Sarda Tostada from GranSardegna (Price online : 2.10 EUR)

Fregula is a type of semolina pasta from Sardinia and is similar to Israeli couscous.  It comes in different sizes and even tastes, as apparently there is also a saffron variation. The bag that was sent in the box holds the coarse and oven grilled kind.  I never saw this type of pasta on the supermarket shelves but as I like pasta, I am sure I will enjoy this one too. It can be prepared as a risotto and Yvette van Boven shared her recipe of fregula with tons of vegetables.  Although she proposed a vegetarian meal, I'll try to come up with my own version this week, which will probable combine tomatoes, zucchini, aubergine and pancetta.  If it works out, the recipe will undoubtedly make it to the blog as a separate post.

* Pink Lautrec Garlic Head from Car L'Eau (Estimated price : 1.45 EUR)

I was already familiar pink garlic from the many trips I have taken in the South of France and the numerous markets I visited there.  If you ever have the chance and love garlic as we do, you should also try the smoked kind, which is simply delicious.  Pink garlic is renowned for its fine and somewhat sweet taste, its nice and solid dents and its long shelflife.  Although knowing me, I will never have to put its preservability to the test. Garlic never lasts that long around here. :o)

* Extra gift : Recipes from Yvette van Boven (unfortunately missing from the box, but I let FWL know on their FB page and I'm sure I'll get it in the mail later on)

Verdict for this box?

I can easily say the same as when I received my first box. I really liked discovering these new products and as these are mainly products from Dutch shops, I wouldn't easily come across them in Belgium.  I don't regret my purchase and look forward to the future boxes.  I was (again) slightly disappointed that there was (again) an item missing from my box, but it goes to proof what I said last time, these things happen more often than not when I am involved.  Last time the error was set right by FWL within a week and I am sure it will be again the case this month.  Meanwhile, I can again say "Food We Love : two thumbs up".


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