Burns Night Supper

Robert Burns

Robert Burns

SCOTLAND’S National Bard, Robert Burns was born in Alloway near Ayr on 25th January 1759 to William Burness, a poor tenant farmer, and Agnes Broun, Robert Burns was the eldest of seven.

In 1785 Burns was a guest at a Haggis Club in Kilmarnock where five lawyers met for dinner. When asked to say grace he instead chose to address the haggis.

The following year the poem was completed and the ‘Address to a Haggis‘ became the first Burns poem to be published in a newspaper when it appeared in the Caledonian Mercury of 20th December 1786.

On the fifth anniversary of Robert Burns’ death nine Ayrshire gentlemen sat down in Alloway to what is now regarded as the first ever Burns Supper. The assembled dined on good Scottish fayre and haggis. They recited the ‘Address to a Haggis‘ and drunk several toasts.

The company agreed to meet in January of the next year to commemorate the poet’s birth and so evolved the custom of Burns Suppers held annually on 25th January.

Sliced, uncooked Haggis

Sliced, uncooked Haggis

The formal procedure for the ‘Address to a Haggis’ would be for a piper to lead the procession carrying the haggis to the dinner table. The cook would carry the haggis on a hot dish followed by the person entrusted with the recitation. After the address all three would be offered a glass of whisky and everyone would stand to toast ‘The Haggis’.

Even if you do not have a resident piper!! you are invited to join in this celebration. No matter how small your gathering take time to address the haggis. If you have no volunteers, pass the verse around and have everyone participate for a verse.

During the third verse, at line two the person addressing the haggis would insert a knife into the top of the haggis, breaking open the haggis and releasing the steam and ‘reek’. Scoop out the haggis and enjoy what has become Scotland’s national dish served with mashed potatoes and turnip.

Haggis Neeps and Tatties

Haggis Neeps and Tatties

Address To The Haggis

haggis poem

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.
Or…if that’s too much of a mouthful, here is the translationFair and full is your honest, jolly face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,
Stomach, tripe, or intestines:
Well are you worthy of a grace
As long as my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
The groaning trencher there you fill,
Your buttocks like a distant hill,
Your pin would help to mend a mill
In time of need,
While through your pores the dews distill
Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!
His knife see rustic Labour wipe,
And cut you up with ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like any ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm steaming, rich!
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit’ hums.
Then spoon for spoon, the stretch and strive:
Devil take the hindmost, on they drive,
Till all their well swollen bellies by-and-by
Are bent like drums;
Then old head of the table, most like to burst,
‘The grace!’ hums
Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?
Is there that over his French ragout,
Or olio that would sicken a sow,
Or fricassee would make her vomit
With perfect disgust,
Looks down with sneering, scornful view
On such a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Poor devil! see him over his trash,
As feeble as a withere


What January Blues!

What happened to the New Year HIGH?

Maybe it has been replaced by the LOW pressure hanging over the UK and this weeks storm has brought back reminders of the start of 2014 – wet, wet followed by more cold and wet!

I could go on about the January Blues, how they are possibly down to the fact that we have just had such a good Christmas and New Year and now we are back to work and everything seems gloomy….but I wont.

Don’t let the dark mornings and  gloomy days make you Blue. We have a rainbow of colours to brighten your January.

Eat the colours

Eat the colours

You can have all this colour on your plate…honestly!

Lemons, Oranges, Grapes, Apples, Bananas, Peppers, Chilli’s, Cabbages, Swedes, Tomatoes, Parsnips, Grapes, Leeks, Carrots, Broccoli (purple sprouting) and Beetroot.

Throw in a few bottles of Hill Farm Apple Juice or Isle of Wight Tomato Juice (bottled sunshine) to wake up your taste buds.

January's colourful Fruit and Vegetables

January’s colourful Fruit and Vegetables

Eat the rainbow and say goodbye to the January Blues.

Or, you could beat the blues by dancing like no-one is looking – but these days, there is always someone with a camera…

Dance like no one is looking

Dance like no one is looking

New Year New Diet New You

New Year’s resolutions, so hard to keep, so much pressure to make them. I don’t like to start my resolutions until a few days after New Year’s Day, too much food and drink in the house left over and it seems criminal to throw it away.

It is said that only 1 in 10 of us will achieve our goals! How about we change those odds. What if you break your resolutions into smaller goals, you could feel a greater sense of achievement when you reach them.  So, let Farmer’s Choice start you off with an easy one…start the day, the healthier way with a great breakfast.

Indian Scambled Eggs

Indian Scambled Eggs

How about our recipe for Indian Style Scrambled Eggs – a spicy way to start the day (courtesy of The Curry Guy). Or, if you are among the thousands of people that can’t face a meal first thing in the morning how about a smoothie! These can be poured into the travel mug and taken with you, no need to stop for that flat white.

Beetroots have been spoken about a lot already this year and it has been suggested that it is a superfood. Whilst we cannot back up such a claim, it is a healthy food, and a good source of iron and antioxidants – great colour too.

Try a beetroot smoothie? Sounds odd, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

Beetroot Smoothie

Beetroot Smoothie

It doesn’t have to be beetroot, how about bananas, grapefruit or avocados, a great way to get your 5-a-day in a glass.

A Rainbow of Smoothies

A Rainbow of Smoothies

These blended beverages offer you tons of nutrition as well as protein and fibre to help keep you full until your next meal. Check out Farmer’s Choice smoothie recipes to help kick start your day.

Alternative Christmas Centerpieces

Pig and Lamb hanging decorations

Want something other than Turkey? Here are a few alternatives; our delicious Free Range Beef, Lamb or Pork joints.

Getting the timing right

Getting the timing right!

BEEF | Roast Silverside | Temp 180ºC, 350ºF, gas mark 4 – 5 | Timing – rare 15 – 20 mins per 450g plus 20 mins, medium 21 – 25 mins per 450g plus 20 mins, well done 26 – 30 mins per 450g plus 30 – 40 mins.

LAMB | Rolled Shoulder of Lamb | Temp 180ºC, 350ºF, gas mark 4-5 | Timing – pink/medium 30 mins per 450g plus 30 mins, well done 35 mins per 450g plus 30 mins.

PORK | Loin | Temp 180ºC, 350ºF, gas mark 4-5 | Timing – 35 mins per 450g plus 35 mins.


Roast Silverside of Beef

Roast Silverside of Beef

Prep – 20 mins, Cook 2.5 hrs approx, Serves 6

Ingredients – 2kg boned and rolled Farmer’s Choice Beef silverside, 1 tbsp beef dripping or butter, 8-12 small red onions, peeled and slit in a cross at the pointed end (so that they do not burst in the oven), 4 heads garlic (halved), a few sprigs of thyme.


Preheat the oven to 220°C. Rub the rolled silverside joint with the beef dripping and sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper. Put the joint into a roasting tin and into the hot oven for 15 minutes to brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C. Add the onions, garlic and thyme around the beef with about 100 ml of water. Cover with foil and cook for about 1.5 hours, basting from time to time and adding a little more water if necessary. This will keep the meat moist. Re-cover with the foil each time. Uncover the meat for the last 15 minutes of cooking.

Remove the meat to a warm serving dish to rest with the onions and garlic, cover well and keep it warm. Slice the beef and serve.


Roast Loin of Pork

Roast Loin of Pork

Prep – 10 mins, Cook 2 hrs 15 mins approx, Serves 6-8

Ingredients – 2.4 kg loin of Farmer’s Choice Pork, and the skin deeply scored, 2 or 3 tsp salt, 6 small apples left whole with the core removed, finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon, 2 tsp soft brown sugar, 6 sprigs of rosemary, 500 g new potatoes


Preheat the oven to 210ºC/ 190ºC fan/ gas 7. Rub the salt all over the skin and deep in between the score lines, so that it will work with the fat to make crackling. Place the joint in a roasting tin leaving space to add the apples and potatoes later. Put the meat in the hot oven and cook for about 20 to 30 minutes to form the crackling.

With a sharp knife score a fine line around the waist of the apples so that they won’t burst in the oven. Mix the lemon rind and sugar together and divide this between the apple cavities, Pop a rosemary sprig into each apple. Set aside with the lemon juice until ready to use.

Reduce the oven temperature to 180ºC/ fan 160ºC/ gas 4 and continue cooking for a further 45 minutes.

Resisting the temptation to baste the meat, spoon off and discard any excess fat from the pan before arranging the apples and new potatoes around the meat. Spoon a little lemon juice into each apple. Return the roasting tin to the oven and cook for a further 45 minutes until the pork is thoroughly cooked, the potatoes tender and the apples are soft and sticky. If at this stage the crackling is not done to your liking, cut the whole of the rind away from the meat, cut it into strips with kitchen scissors and place them on a baking sheet and return to the oven at 200ºC/ 180ºC fan/ gas 4 for about 15 minutes, keeping the meat, potatoes and apples warm meanwhile.)

Serve with your favourite green vegetable or some leafy green salad.


Rolled Shoulder of Lamb

Rolled Shoulder of Lamb

Prep – 20 mins, Cook 1 hr 40 mins approx, Serves 6-8

Ingredients – 60ml/4tbsp pine nuts, 50g/2oz fresh basil , 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped, 75g/3oz pitted green olives, salt and freshly ground black pepper, 1 boned shoulder of Farmer’s Choice Lamb weighing 1.3kg/3lb, 500g/1lb potatoes, 2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks, 2 red onions cut into wedges.


Preheat the oven to 220ºC/Fan 200ºC/425ºF/Gas Mark 7. Place the pine nuts, basil, garlic and olives on a large board, then use a large sharp knife to chop them all together until you have a rough paste. Season with salt and plenty of ground black pepper. Unroll the boned shoulder and place skin side down on a board. Scatter the basil paste over the meat, rubbing it into all the crevices and cut surfaces. Roll up the shoulder of lamb and tie it together with string at regular intervals to make a neat parcel.

Place the lamb in the centre of a large roasting tin. Roast for 10 mins. Reduce the temperature to 180ºC/Fan 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 and roast for 40 mins.

Remove the roasting tin from the oven, add all the vegetables and toss together until coated in the pan juices. Roast for a further 40 mins. Transfer the meat to a board and leave to rest for 10 mins, covered with foil. Keep the vegetables warm in a serving dish.

To serve, thickly slice the lamb and serve with the roasted vegetables.

xmas presents

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Farmer’s Choice Free Range

A Dogs Life!

Waste not, want not!  Here at Farmer’s Choice we don’t like to waste anything.  When we receive the whole carcass we don’t want there to be anything left.

After all the orders have been taken and the meat has been cut, sometimes the only thing left is inedible bits and pieces (which get minced for petfood) and the bones.

DogsTrust Logo

Back in May 2013 we contacted the Dogs Trust and asked if they could take the bones and the mince – answer was obviously ‘yes please’. Since then we have been sending 4 boxes of bones and 25 packs of petfood mince a week to the Dogs Trust in Shoreham. We did consider sending it to other Dogs Trust centres but it didn’t make sense to send a courier when there was a Dogs Trust centre within our catchment area.

I think he likes it

I think he likes it

The Dogs Trust told us the advantages to the dogs when they eat the bones are:

  • Chewing is a very natural behaviour for a dog,
  • A kennel environment can be stressful for dogs, so chewing on a raw bone releases feel good chemicals which is great for helping them cope.
  • “Chilling out” with a raw bone is a great past time.
  • It helps to keep their teeth nice and clean.
  • They really look forward to their bones and it make them genuinely happy.
  • So to sum it up – the dogs LOVE them!
Some guests enjoying their treats

Some guests enjoying their treats

Founded in 1891, Dogs Trust (formerly the National Canine Defence League) is the largest dog welfare charity in the UK.  Here’s what they do in a nutshell…

  • Each year they care for around 16,000 dogs at a nationwide network of 20 Rehoming Centres.
  • Their Education Officers give thousands of classroom presentations every year. Free teaching resources are made available to all schools in the UK.
  • Their FREEDOM Project helps pet owners who are fleeing domestic violence by fostering their animals while they start a new life.
  • The HOPE Project gives preventative veterinary care to dogs belonging to homeless people.
  • They advise government on any matters concerning dog ownership.
  • They assist overseas animal welfare charities by training their staff in best practice.

Concerns…”Surely bones splinter and are dangerous.” Yes is the answer to that but ONLY if they are cooked, not if the bones are raw. Raw chicken carcasses are so soft they can be broken them with bare hands. You can purchase bones and petfood mince direct from Farmer’s Choice.

Boo enjoying his bone

Boo enjoying his bone

Our bones used to be collected in the “bone bins” and sent off to make SOAP of all things and candles. The history of soap dates back to almost six thousand years. Around 2800 B C E, excavations of ancient Babylon revealed cylinders with inscriptions of making soap. Later, in 1500 B C E, records from Egypt revealed how animal and vegetable oils were mixed with alkaline salts to prepare soap. No one really knows how the soap was actually discovered, however there are many legends surrounding the invention of soap. According to the Romans, soap gets its name from Mount Sapo. Animals were sacrificed on Mount Sapo. Rains washed the fat of the sacrificed animals along with the alkaline wooden ashes from the sacrificial fires into the Tiber River. This mixture helped people in cleaning their clothes.


Christmas Colouring Competition

Colouring Competition

We have been running a colouring competition, through social media, to give away a Christmas Turkey worth £68.

Free Range Christmas Turkey

Free Range Christmas Turkey

The competition was open to under 12’s and we had entrants aged from 2 – 12.

They were ALL very good but we couldn’t pick just one so … the winners are Jo’elle (aged 7) and Sophia (aged 11).

Competition Winners

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those budding  young artists for giving up their time to colour and to all the mums and dads for entering them. Your turkeys will be despatched very soon, have a Merry Christmas.

Some entries from the Colouring Competition

Some entries from the Colouring Competition

Look out for more competitions in 2015 for more giveaways.


Keep Warm This Winter!

There is nothing worse than getting home on a winters evening to a house that is full of drafts and colder inside than out. It’s a time of year when you want your house to feel all cosy and draught free.

colder inside than out

when it’s colder inside than out

You can whack up the heating (expensive) or you can also try the greener approach.

Draught excluders can help in a big way to keep the heat in the room without putting strain on the boiler. Simple to make and you probably already have all the materials you need to pull it together – an old cardigan, jumper or blanket.

Home Made Draught Excluders

Home Made Draught Excluders

Let’s imagine, like me, you don’t have a sewing machine….not a problem, all you need is a needle and cotton.

First, you will need your material to be slightly longer than the door frame and roughly 35 cm wide (just longer than a standard ruler).

Fold your fabric in half lengthways.  At this point your might want to pick a side you want on show and make sure that is on the inside of the fold.

Now, sew along one end and the long seam (if you have pins, pin it to stop the fabric moving around whilst you sew). Sew as close to the corners as you can, you want them to look neat and tidy.

Turn your tube inside out (you should now see the side of fabric you want on show).

Now grab your stuffing – this is something you probably have already, we line our delivery boxes with Woolcool, a fantastic product that is so versatile. Wool is one of the most sustainable natural materials but it just gets better…stuffing draught excluders, lagging pipes or keeping picnics cool (very hard to think about right now….).

When your tube is full, sew up the end being as neat as possible – this will be on show.

That’s it….you are now done and have a toasty warm room with no draughts. Time to cuddle up in front of the fire with a winter meal.

cosy winters night

cosy winter nights in