Thursday 31 May 2012

Jars of Sunshine: Something for the Weekend


Last Friday it was nothing short of a pleasure when I returned home from the last school journey of the week, the one that means emptying the car of all the paraphernalia collected astonishingly in five short days from the various excursions. I didn't even mind the wet swimming kit slapping against my trousers as I veered down the path laden with bags to my front door. For there, waiting for me, was a bumper sized delivery from Aarstiderne.
When I say "bumper sized" I do mean it for we had a birthday BBQ on Saturday and used the opportunity to try some boxes that aren't on our regular list. Therefore I returned home to a box of Prosecco, a box of wines, a beer box, the cured meats box and the cheese box. To round the order up I added a box of tomato passata, it slightly lessened the extravagance of the other purchases and eased my alcohol soaked conscience.

With the Prosecco safely in the fridge I needed to make dinner for the children and my first thought was to try the cured pepper salami cooked quickly with passata as a topping for some wholemeal pasta. A regular ‘fast food’ for us and I opened the tomato jar without thinking, until the aroma hit me, that wonderful smell of tomato, sun ripened healthy as they come, tomato.
Pasta with Passata and Pepper sausage

The tomatos used in the passata are grown on the farm of Manolo Vals, his wife Rosa and their three children, Reuben, Daniel and Maria. Based deep in the countryside of Northern Spain the family tend to their third generation farm from where they grow tomatoes, olives and refine citrus fruits from the best breeders in Spain. All their production is biodynamic and the raw material ends up as fruit juice, jarred olives and tomato produce of various kinds.
The love and care that this produce received whilst growing just pours forth in it’s taste and texture. As soon as I smelt the rich puree I took a sip and then another and another, it really was delicious and that was straight from the jar. My son walked in and caught me mid sip which caused him to exclaim “Mama are you drinking it!!?” well quite frankly I would have happily stuck a straw in and thoroughly enjoyed a tomato smoothie but something in his tone bought me to my senses and I returned to providing a very tasty, super quick easy supper. Curious to try I subsequently made cold tomato soup with avocado and a light seasoning (very good) as well as a pasta and bean soup topped with gorgeous pancetta.

Empty Jar number 4

We are down to just two jars out of the six and I will certainly be ordering again next week and not just to make up the numbers, this is one ingredient I cannot live without. 

Now, where did I put the straws? The children are at school and I feel like a smoothie...

To try some for yourself click here

6  jars of passata cost 145 kr

Text and photographs by Sally McWilliam

Sunday 27 May 2012

Thanks for a lovely day, Aarstiderne!

We couldn't have asked for a more lovely day at which to enjoy Aarstiderne's farm at Krogerup at its best. The sun shone, the bbq sizzled and the sound of children laughing hung in the air as guests (young and old) climbed and played on the hay bales.

It was a special day at the farm for us at Soil to Stove and Annette Hartvig Larsen, CEO, gave an introduction to Aarstiderne (in English!) and told the inspirational stories of how humble dreams of organic farming were born and cultivated to the wonderful community-spirited enterprise that Aarstiderne is today.

There is no doubt that the warmth of the spring sunshine played a major part in drawing visitors up from the city but truth be told, the people at Aarstiderne know how to throw a good market day! In their straw hats and blue cotton shirts, the smiling teams of bakers, baristas and the gard butik staff all worked hard to put on a day of fun for everyone.

It is days like these that remind us why we are so excited about this blog and the opportunity we have to share the Aarstiderne story with you. It was lovely to meet those of you who made it to Annette's presentation (not least the wonderfully enthusiastic agriculture students from the University of Copenhagen) and to all those who we didn't have the chance to speak to - thank you for coming along and we hope you had an enjoyable day.

Wishing you all good weather and good cheer for the rest of the long weekend!

(Katherine, Sally & Isabella)

Saturday 26 May 2012

Soil to Stove: Something for the Weekend

What better way to celebrate the return of the glorious summer than a trip to the farm this weekend for the Pinsemarked....

Sample fruit box

Fruit box
Join us as we celebrate the launch of Soil to Stove, our new English blog. CEO Annette Hartvig Larsen will be there to welcome you and introduce you to Aarstiderne before we all go outside and join in the wonderful celebrations of Aarstiderne's Pinsemarked event.

Inside the shop

Pinsemarked is an opportunity to welcome in the summer and what great weather we have been enjoying recently, with some delicious food and drink in a warm and friendly family environment. Children are very welcome, in fact you may have trouble getting them to leave! The event is free to join although we do suggest bringing some cash in case you are tempted by the delicious smells emanating from the kitchen at lunchtime. 

The farm shop will of course be open and the photographs today are a peak at some of the delicious goodies on offer.

Aarstiderne is located five minutes away from Louisiana or a brisk walk away from Humblebaek Station.

We look forward to seeing you all there!

A view from the hill

Sunday 20 May 2012

Dreams, determination and vegetable juice - an inspirational cocktail(tale)

There are few experiences as inspiring as being in the company of someone who is living his dream, for whom sacrifices come easy and who thrives on “making difficult tasks easy”. One such person is Søren Ejlersen, co-founder of Aarstiderne and main attraction this past Wednesday evening at Books & Company in Hellerup.

Followers of this blog will be acquainted with Søren and his vision for Aarstiderne, but what truly came across to an engaged and interested audience this week, was not just how proud Søren is of Aarstidernes accomplishments thus far, but more what it looks like when someone has a dream (one that may seem farfetched and even at times includes a shift in fundamental societal thinking) and just seems to constantly have his eye on the ball and not waver despite what at times seem like pretty serious opposition and doubt.

What we know about Aarstiderne and what we will of course continue to include in this blog regularly is the food, the produce, the ideas and the concept behind the boxes, the producers and you, the customers.
What may not come across as often, because we don’t have a personal stake in it (yet) or are not (yet) involved in, are the “other” parts of the Aarstiderne vision.

Søren believes strongly in the need for an increased and strengthened connection between people and nature. He believes that it is only through a stronger connection with and a deeper understanding of nature that we will be able to keep the earth intact for future generations.

One of the ways he sees the creation of these stronger ties is through direct participation in the planting and harvesting of the produce we eat. Not that we should all give up our jobs, our lives and our creature comforts and move to the countryside, but perhaps by spending just a couple of hours a month in nature, on a farm, planting, tending to and harvesting our own vegetables and fruits. It sounds simple, yet we don’t do it. The challenge for Søren will be in actually getting us all out there.

What is more doable and indeed being done is another of Søren Ejlersen’s favorite projects - Haver til Maver (Gardens to Bellies) project. The best place to start when dreaming of a better future for us all, is of course to look to those with whom the future rests, our children. With Haver til Maver  school children arrive at the farm in Krogerup, jointly choose a plot of land, do a "worm dance" that brings out - yes you guessed it - the worms, plant their vegetables and come back about 8 times throughout the year to tend to, harvest and finally cook and enjoy their final product.

As Søren was leaving the farm on Wednesday to join us at Books & Company, 100 or so such students were on their bikes riding home after having cooked potato pizzas in the outdoor pizza ovens! Now, who can argue with that?
And then, of course, there were the juices. Juices, juices, juices. We were treated to the most delicious juices and to think that they were also extremely healthy……Aarstidernes juice book will be out in October just in time for cold season!

A few tips from Søren: Don’t worry about the loss of fiber when juicing, just appreciate the great amounts of vitamins and minerals that come from the juice and eat a carrot for fiber!

Also, if possible, use a “slow juicer”, as this type of machine does not oxygenate the vegetables, keeping them fresher, longer.

And here are a few of the blends we enjoyed:

The brain booster
100 gr. large leafed Spinach
2 pears,
10 gr. ginger
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

The blood cleanser that also increases your oxygen intake
1 Beet root
1 apple
4 gr. horseradish
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon or lime

And a couple that were just really tasty
1 red pepper
1 pear
Lemon juice
a bit of ginger
1/2 kg carrots
3 apples
Lemon juice
ginger to taste (app 10 gr.)
We will, of course, tell you much more about the juice book closer to publication, but one thing is for sure, you will never look at your vegetables in quite the same way again!

“When every one of our customers grows his or her own vegetables, then we’ll know we’ve made it”, Søren said.

Well…..fortunately for those of us who have yet to plant a carrot, it looks like Aarstiderne will be around for a while!

Text by Isabella Mousavizadeh Smith
Photographs by Sally McWilliam and Isabella Mousavizadeh Smith

Thursday 17 May 2012

An hour at the farm: Something for the Weekend

I took my ever inquisitive two year old son up to Krogerup on Tuesday for a stroll in the sunshine and to get some fresh inspiration for future writing. I realise that toddlers are not always the easiest of company but at the farm he is in his element and as soon the constraints of the car seat were released away we went. I decided to let him lead the way, sometimes the best inspiration comes from a different perspective and I was happy to follow his wandering path taking pictures as I went. 

There were lots of school children working when we arrived, busy creating a history with the soil as they worked alongside classmates and helping hands. Tempted by the sound of water at the sinks that were being used for hand washing, the little one and I made our way across the courtyard and into the Garden Kitchen. The first time my family used the Garden Kitchen was for an event that encouraged children to choose their favourite vegetables, collect a handful of bread dough and get to work on the outside tables chopping and prepping. Vegetables cooked on the repurposed steel drum stoves until they were tender and sweetly delicious and ready to be the topping on freshly toasted flatbread. Rustic, delicious and oh such proud faces on the children that cooked them.

There was no cooking that day as the school groups were busy cultivating rather than harvesting and it was great to see and hear their enthusiasm as they worked. As one of us was fascinated by the stone steps leading down to the sinks the other was able to take a wonder and some photographs, I’ll let you decide who was who! Planted around the central washing area are raised beds containing mixed herbs, chives, lemon verbena, lemon grass and many more. My companion was fascinated by a pair of ladybirds that we found resting on a leaf so we watched them for a while before taking a look at some of the long beds that are home to various fruits and vegetables, it’s all very inspiring and accessible.

From there to the giant hay piles that just beg small people to climb aboard, actually age is irrelevant when it comes to this kind of fun. We had a rigorous game of ‘tag’ at a brunch hosted earlier in the year with some friends and thanks to CrossFit and a heavy training schedule I leapt like an ( admittedly older) gazelle across the bales remembering what it feels like to be a child. This time one of us jumped repeatedly whilst the other counted to three, again I’ll let you decide who. 

Before we left we stuck our heads into the farm kiosk to see what we could have for dinner and left with enough vegetables for some topped flatbreads later that day. Although it is not staffed, the kiosk is open all day and once you have chosen your goods you place payment in the honesty box so it is a perfect one stop veg shop.

A very satisfying hour or so spent wondering, exploring and enjoying the farm. If you have more time than we did that day is it possible to go further and take in a tour of the wood and surrounding fields which are often home to the farm machinery that excites children old and young. I left with lots of inspiration and pictures to accompany but I thought this week I would start at the beginning and a walk through the space that gave them to me, after all the roots are where it all begins. 

For more information on the farm shop opening hours click here

If you haven't yet been to visit the farm at Krogerup or tasted the delicious farm kitchen cooking and baking then the launch party for Soil to Stove on 27 May 2012, will be the perfect opportunity. This will be the official launch event for this blog and the CEO of Aarstiderne, Annette Hartvig Larsen, will be there to welcome English speaking guests with an introduction to the farm and a warm invitation to join the celebrations at the Pinsemarked which will be taking place on the same day.
Find out more here - we look forward to meeting you!!

Text and Photographs by Sally McWilliam

Sunday 13 May 2012

Fresh from the bakery: Charlie's cinnamon rolls

If you visited the Christmas and Easter Markets at Krogerup and tasted the delicious freshly baked 'kanelsnegle' (cinnamon rolls) still warm from the bakery and oozing with cardamon, cinnamon and icing, you will already know what the fuss is about. If you have since been hankering for a worthy accompaniment to your morning coffee, then look no further. Aarstiderne have 'released' the cinnamon roll recipe on facebook and so this week I donned my apron and set to. I am delighted to bring you a tried and tested translation of Charlie's recipe and I think you'll agree that if you can't make it up to Krogerup for a taste of the real thing, then this is the next best option.

This is the third cinnamon roll recipe that I have tried since coming to Denmark and they all have one thing in common: they are incredibly simple to make. If you're not baking for a big event or if you are short of time on the day, there are ways to adapt the recipe too so that the rolls can be prepared in advance or frozen for future baking. It's very versatile. So, without further ado, here it is:

Charlie's cinnamon rolls

To make about 15 rolls, you will need:
For the dough:
200 ml milk
25g yeast
1 tbsp sugar
175 g butter
1 heaped tbsp ground cardamon
1 beaten egg
500-600 g plain flour ('hvedemel')

For the filling:
3 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamon
250 g softened butter
200 g raw cane sugar

Icing or chocolate to garnish

To make the dough, start by melting the butter and then let it cool. Warm the milk a little and then stir in the yeast until it dissolves. Add the sugar, cardamon, the beaten egg and the melted butter - in that order. Finally mix in the flour (I found about 550g was enough) to make a dough and knead the dough until it is soft and smooth but not sticky.

Leave the dough in a bowl to rise for about 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the fridge. (As I mentioned, at this point the dough can be made ahead of time and then the rest of the recipe left for the next morning.)

When the dough has risen, knock it down and roll it out to a rectangle about 1½ cm thick. To make the filling, mix all the ingredients together and spread the mixture over the dough. Roll the dough as you would to make a swiss roll and then cut the 'snails' about 2 cm thick.

Charlie baked the rolls on trays with each one in an individual paper muffin case. If you can't find the large muffin cases then she suggests using baking paper instead. I have found that using baking paper can mean that the pastry spreads during cooking and the filling can escape.

An alternative is to bake a dish of cinnamon rolls. Place them in a greased dish with a little space between each one. This way any filling that escapes during baking doesn't get burnt (or lost!). This is me going 'off piste' but I do find that the rolls are easier to transport this way too (if you're making a batch to take to brunch, for example).

In any event, once you have decided upon your preferred method of baking and the rolls are ready, leave them to rise for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 200º C and then bake them for about 12 minutes. If you are baking them in a dish, they may take a little longer. Either way, this is a good time to start preparing a cup of your favourite coffee...

When they are ready, garnish the cinnamon rolls with icing or chocolate. It's best to decorate them a couple of minutes after they come out of the oven whilst they are still warm (but not too hot) and so that the icing or chocolate melts in. I use 2 tbsps of just-boiled water and mix in 100g of icing sugar and then drip it over the pastries. After that, it's completely up to you how long you wait before diving in!

As I mentioned earlier, I think that the pre-baked rolls can be frozen for future use. Again, I am going off piste here but after they have been left to rise a second time, the rolls can be frozen on a tray and then stacked (separated by squares of baking paper) in a ziploc bag. When you are ready to use them, defrost them overnight and then bake them in the morning.

If you haven't yet been to visit the farm at Krogerup or tasted the delicious farm kitchen cooking and baking then the launch party for Soil to Stove on 27 May 2012, will be the perfect opportunity. This will be the official launch event for this blog and the CEO of Aarstiderne, Annette Hartvig Larsen, will be there to welcome English speaking guests with an introduction to the farm and a warm invitation to join the celebrations at the Pinsemarked which will be taking place on the same day.

Find out more here - we look forward to meeting you!!

(Katherine Ball)

Friday 11 May 2012

Hot Chocolate: Something for the Weekend

Maybe it’s the Brit in me but my writing and I are inextricably linked to the weather, is it possible to even have a conversation without mentioning the weather? I do not think so!  Weather in all it’s different guises runs like a thread weaving together the meals I choose to prepare and of course the seasonal flavours that are so important. It also means that when it is cold outside I long for a hot drink to warm my insides or vice versa. 
On this May morning with the magnolia in full bloom, rain is falling with such steady conviction that we can only watch from the window as the magnificent tree is forced to shed it’s delicate leaves. It feels like a perfect moment for a warm drink and the most comforting one at that, Hot Chocolate. 

There is only one drinking chocolate that I use and that comes from Clipper, my favourite brand of tea from home. Clipper produce a range of fairtrade drinks sourced from around the world. This includes a large selection of tea as well as coffee and of course hot chocolate. Their tea is made using products free from artificial ingredients presented within unbleached tea bags. In fact  I think Clipper teas are so good that they were an essential item as I packed to leave England for life here in Denmark not knowing if I could buy them in our new country. Thankfully I can and best of all they will come to my house as and when I run out which is quite frankly much more economical than a flight home!
Aarstiderne have teamed up with Clipper to now offer a beverage box containing a selection of the Clipper range:

Instant coffee Papua New Guinea 100 g
Hot Chocolate 250 g
Indian Chai 20 tea bags
White tea with Orange 20 tea bags

195kr for all of the above products, click here to order or find out more.
The children are safely at school, it is still raining and I have just written this piece, there seems to be only one thing left to do. A warm soothing mug of milky sweet bitter chocolate, topped with a good helping of cream and a sprinkling of chocolate powder to finish. Now, I’ll find a good book, a quiet corner and settle down for an hour or two in view of the magnolia tree. The rain will make way to sun, for Summer is surely on it’s way...

Text and Photographs by Sally McWilliam.

Monday 7 May 2012

An evening with Søren in Hellerup

Meet one of Aarstiderne's founders, Søren Ejlersen, at Books & Company in Hellerup in one of a series of events on the Nordic Kitchen. Aarstiderne, his vision for 80/20 and a sneak peak at some of the innovative creations to be published in his upcoming book on juicing - Søren has lots to talk about!

He is always up to something and Søren's passions and inspirations take him from one exciting project to the next. A self confessed 'urban chef' and managing restaurants in Copenhagen, Søren discovered the agricultural scene and launched Aarstiderne, with his business partner Thomas Harttung, in 1999. He had been searching for the 'next step' from restaurant life and when a friend introduced him to Thomas and he saw the small local veggie box scheme he was running from a farm in Jutland, it 'blew his mind'. It was the inspiration he had been looking for and a week later the urban chef bought a tractor and signed a contract for 35 hectares of biodynamic farmland!

It wasn't long before these two like minded entrepreneurs decided to pool their expertise and vision and to take the organic box scheme and make it big, setting their sights on delivering to the capital. On 1 January 1999, they founded Aarstiderne and within 2 weeks were sending boxes of organic fruit and vegetables to 500 customers in Copenhagen.

The early years were 'crazy' - the business boomed and as the company grew so did the workforce with like minded people adding more and more passion and inspiration to bring it to where it is today; three large farms delivering organic boxes to more than 45,000 households in Denmark, Sweden and Germany. And Søren has visions for the future too: achieving the 80/20 principles of farming and food consumption, in particular reducing the use of fossil fuels, are high on his list of priorities for Aarstiderne - mighty aspirations for a farm that is also a retail business!

Søren has always kept a hand in the kitchen and he works with a team of chefs at Aarstiderne to develop the healthy and tasty recipes that appear on the website, in the meal boxes and on the 'Food cinema' cooking demonstration videos ('Mad Bio'). This summer he is working on a new juicing manual (due to be published in September). This bible of fruit and vegetable concoctions promises to make juicing experts of us all! The innovative recipes take smoothie making beyond the standard yoghurt and fruit based drinks and use seasonal vegetables to create more sophisticated blends.

The Books & Company evening event is on Wednesday 16 May from 7 to 9 pm. Tickets cost 50 DKK. To reserve a place email the bookshop at

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