Summer’s not over yet!

The weather shows no sign of change as the kids prepare to go back to school, although I did see the first dewy morning as I left the house at first light.

bbq garden view people

BBQ’s are still very much an option for a quick fix evening meal – making the most of the warm evenings and family meals.  But, if you are after something different, why not try our recipe for turkey kebabs or chicken fajita packets.

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234Our free range chicken nuggets are even easier, the kids sit down with your version of a home cooked takeaway and you could have our chicken kievs, filled with succulent garlic and herb stuffed chicken breast.

We have plenty of cooking sauces from chilli con carne using our grass fed award winning mince or our sausage and onion casserole using our free range pork sausages1054A

If you are looking for gluten free sauces, how about our Little Turban Curry Sauces, mild enough for the little ones or a little spicier for those wanting more heat.

We even have an Easy Cook page from Goulash to Sweet and Sour Chicken to make it that little bit easier.

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Escape to the New Forest this Summer

New Forest Escapes, rent five very special homes on or near the seaside in the New Forest National Park. They specialise in luxury, beautiful and eccentric properties, all have been designed to be a relaxing and interesting family bases from which to explore and enjoy the New Forest.
 
They have summer holiday availability and offers on breaks in July, August and September, starting from £40 per person per night at Eat me Drink me Cottage that sleeps 8 + kids.

Whether you’re wanting ‘Swallows and Amazons’ beach adventures for all the family or you’re coming to birdwatch, cycl the Forest or celebrate a milestone birthday. They can help you organise a story-teller to wow you with tales of Roman soldiers walking out of a parting sea, a chef to do an Alice in Wonderland tea, or just sandcastles, marshmallow cooking and sparklers on the beach – just ask.

Pitts Deep sleeps 9. Metres from the door is the amazing beach in the pics which few others visit or can reach. It is utterly glorious and still a hidden secret.

Pitts Deep Special Offers:

29th – 5 Aug. 7 nights.
12th – 19th Aug 7 nights.
26th – 2nd Sept 7 nights.

Was £3900 per week now £3600 per week. Or £514 per night, or £57pppn.

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Gins is right next to the Beaulieu River, and sleeps 8 + kids, in super-duper luxury. You can travel from here to Bucklers Hard by boat taxi and eat at The Master Builders Hotel with 10% off your food bill with our discount card. Perfect crabbing, reading and picnicing from the jetty which has a park bench on the pontoon on the end too….

Gins Special Offers:

25th -29th Jul. 4 nights.
Was £2000, now £1700. Or £500 per night, now £425 per night, or £53 pppn.

12th to 19th Aug.
19th-26th Aug.
26th-2nd Sept.
Was £3450p/wk now £3000. Or £53pppn

Or we can do short stays in these dates. Approx £500 per night.

5th to 7th Sept.
Was £2000, now £1700. Or £500 per night, now £425 per night, or £53 pppn.

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Don’t forget, you can get your locally sourced/produced food delivered by us and put away, just select what you want from the website and we will do the rest. How about a free range Sunday roast or a grass fed British steak on the BBQ.

Contact: www.newforestescapes.com    +07723319970 for more information.

Eat Local Stay Local

When it comes to things to do, places to visit and food to eat, you can’t beat Hampshire! Offering a wealth of attractions and events for all the family, from messing around on the water, wildlife walks deep in the heart of the New Forest, to a picnic full of Hampshire produce to enjoy on those perfect summer days.

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Hampshire offers miles of idyllic countryside to explore, stretching from the South Downs National Park in the east to the New Forest National Park in the west and the North Wessex Downs in the north of the county.

With its unique mixture of rolling hills, chalk streams, country parks and bustling market towns, Hampshire’s countryside offers the perfect rural escape for short breaks or day visits for all the family.

We’ve teamed up with New Forest Escapes a small team who rent five homes on or near the seaside in the New Forest National Park. They specialise in luxury, beautiful and eclectic properties, all of which have a touch of magic. Each has a properly well set up kitchen and enough kit to cook and serve smart meals.

Gins MF kitchen2

Would you like to arrive at your holiday destination, put down your bags and relax without having the hassle of going to the supermarket? How would you like your holiday food waiting for you when you arrive, already packed away? We are pleased to offer a unique local food and drink service supplying the best Hampshire has to offer, delivered and packed away at your holiday destination.

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From five very special cottages on offer, catering from 6 – 10 people, from Beaulieu to Lymington – whether you’re wanting ‘Swallows and Amazons’ beach adventures for the all the family or you’re coming to birdwatch, cycle the Forest or celebrate a milestone birthday, New Forest Escapes help busy families create slow holidays. All holiday places have been designed to be relaxing and interesting family bases from which to explore and enjoy the New Forest.

Gins MF jetty back to house low res

Rachel, who runs the business, says, “Mainly I’m a match-maker. I match houses and people every day. Family get-togethers and 70th birthdays are our mainstay and we go out of our way to help busy people create slow holidays, full of cheap (and luxury) thrills. I signpost people to story-tellers, help organise Alice in Wonderland teas, or just tell people where the best sandcastle and marshmallow cooking beaches are near or at our houses. It’s great fun. We have very creative guests and I especially love helping people cook outside or find fab private picnic spots”.

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Rachel says, “Our top picnic spots are:

1: on the beach at Pitts Deep Cottage. It’s 2 hours from London and has a beach 10 metres from the front door. The beach has private access so there are rarely other people there. It faces the Isle of Wight and gets all the evening sun – amazing for foodie treats and picnics”.

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2: on the Gins Barn jetty (80 metres into the Beaulieu River). Great for low key picnics and it’s just the best place to read a book, nibble on cheese and biscuits, drink some good wine and boat-watch the passing traffic.

3: bonfire in the garden at Eat me Drink me Cottage with the kids. This is a great house for families with lots of kids than like to run wild. It sleeps 10, has a giant trampoline and best of all a bonfire area. Kids can forage for wood. Make their own fire. Cook their own sausages and scoff them down with hunks of fresh bread and tomato sauce. Then roast marshmallows for pudding before racing to the beach 1 km away down the lane and tracking the wild ponies that live there. Heaven.

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It’s lovely to get away, but sometimes you want the freedom of your own place, in beautiful surroundings, and with all the comforts of home. What could be better than having fabulous British free range food from Hampshire/South Downs/Isle of Wight to enjoy on your Hampshire holiday!

When booking a holiday with New Forest Escapes enter NFE30 at the checkout to receive a discount.

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Eggcellent News

Farmers Choice Free Range Ltd awarded for contribution to farm animal welfare

We are pleased to announce that Farmers Choice  has been awarded a Good Egg Award by Compassion in World Farming in recognition of our commitment to laying hen welfare.

Compassion’s Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards recognise food companies that are making it their policy to produce and source higher welfare good egg 2012eggs, meat and dairy produce.

Compassion has run its flagship scheme, the Good Egg Award, since 2007 to celebrate organisations that source only cage-free eggs. The programme has now expanded to include the Good Chicken Award, launched in 2010, the Good Dairy Award in 2011 and the Good Pig Award in 2012.

Over 287 million hens, chickens, pigs and dairy cows and calves are now set to benefit each year as a result of award winners’ policies.

“We seek to source all our requirements (food, ingredients and other consumables) in a ‘responsible’ way, and in line with our values. To source local and seasonal produce to support British businesses, reduce haulage costs and the environment impact of transport” Director – Farmers Choice.

We source our eggs from Blackacre Farm and they are passionate about producing award-winning free range eggs that are delicious and nutritious. They have been farming for over 35 years and understand that truly free range hens, ducks and quails lay the very best eggs, and we totally agree.

Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion in World Farming said: “It is so great to see Farmers Choice taking animal welfare into consideration as part of their sourcing policy. Higher welfare produce isn’t just the responsibility of the large corporations, but something that can be achieved at all levels. Well done to Farmers Choice Free Range Ltd – keep up the good work!”

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Celebrating British Food

We have just come to the end of British Food Fortnight, the biggest annual celebration of British Food and Drink.
Buy British Food FortnightEvery year, since 2002, British Food Fortnight has become an opportunity to promote the benefits of buying and eating from our home produced British Larder.

Britain has so much to offer but it sometimes gets overshadowed by the supermarket giants and their ability to showcase ripe strawberries at the end of September! But with new labelling laws, we can now see where the food has come from – Peru, South Africa, Kenya, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and the list goes on. Have we all forgotten how to eat seasonally?

Choosing British means you will be supporting the local farmer/producer.

Take Charlotte Brown’s Handmade, Catch, Wild Island, Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil, Hampshire Honey, Hampshire Chutney Co – all products are produced locally from produce collected within Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Charlotte Browns Handmade

Catch Isle of Wight

Fruit and vegetables always seem to taste better when you know it has just been picked! It is also cheaper if bought in season than out of season. This also affects the carbon footprint.  Seasonal food = Local = little or no carbon footprint, Out of Season Food = more expensive to cover the cost of transportation and freezing or chilling = large carbon footprint.

Wild Island Dressing from Isle of Wight

Cold Pressed Oil Company Ltd

Farmer’s Choice has teamed up with local farmers and producers to bring you the best Britain has to offer. A very high percentage of our products come from Hampshire/The Isle of Wight/the South Downs, and all our meat is British Free Range, reinforcing our ethos of Supporting the British Farmer!

Eat Seasonably Chart

Eating British fruits and vegetables in season is better for your health and your pocket. Foods in season contain the nutrients and minerals that our bodies need at particular times of the year.

British beef and sheep industries are the envy of the world; sometimes exporting our breeding livestock as they are much sought after by farmers in other countries. Our British chicken is the safest chicken meat in Europe!

British pig farmers operate by UK law to standards of welfare that are higher than those of nearly every other EU member state. “Buying pork that is not British means there is a 70% chance that it comes from a farming system that would be illegal in Britain” – extract taken from Love British Food. Farmer’s Choice make sure that not only is all our meat British but it is ALL CERTIFIED FREE RANGE.

Enjoy your Delivery

Mother Nature shows us that at the moment, apples, courgettes, cabbage, cauliflower, plums and squash are all in season.  With the change in temperatures comes the change to our diet, it’s time to dust off the slow cookers and build up that immune system ready for the temperature drops.

We have lots of seasonal recipes online for you to cook your local, seasonal produce, delivered by Farmer’s Choice, direct to your door!

Farmer's Choice Free Range Ltd

Avoid Food Poisoning from Chicken

Who would have thought the chicken could cause so much upset….stored in the wrong conditions, not cooked properly, cross contamination, the list goes on. Last year alone hundreds of thousands of people in the UK got food poisoning from chickens (extract from report by Tom Heap on Countryfile on BBC 1 25th January 2015).

A survey carried out by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) previously found that almost three fifths of shop bought fresh chickens tested positive for campylobacter.

Don't play chicken roulette

Don’t play chicken roulette

At Farmer’s Choice we FREEZE all our meat. Freezing does not harm the chicken (or any other meat product) it preserves the meat, nutrition, texture and freshness. “Freezing is a proven effective intervention to control campylobacter contamination of poultry meat (extract taken from http://www.food.gov.uk.

A free range chicken is much more like a wild bird, in that it has much more meat on the legs than an indoor bird, largely due to the fact that it is able to roam around at will. The flavour will be more intense due to the diet – more natural habitual pecking.

All this chicken goodness can be enjoyed if you refresh yourself with the steps to safely cook a chicken.

  • If properly packaged, frozen chicken will maintain top quality in a home freezer for up to 1 year. Be Aware – Freezing cannot reduce the number of bacteria naturally found in chickens. Freezing foods renders bacteria inactive but doesn’t actually kill anything. That means if your food went into the freezer contaminated, once thawed it will still harbour the same harmful bacteria.
  • Thaw chicken in the refrigerator — not on the countertop or in cold water (Did you know that washing a chicken does not remove the bacteria, it can actually spread the bacteria. Spray from washing a chicken can travel up to 3 ft. That’s a lot of contamination area! It takes about 24 hours to thaw a 4-pound chicken in the refrigerator. Cut-up parts, 3 to 9 hours.
  • Chicken may be safely thawed in cold water. Place chicken in its original wrap or water-tight plastic bag in cold water. Change water often. It takes about 2 hours to thaw a whole chicken.
  • Always wash hands, countertops, cutting boards, knives and other utensils used in preparing raw chicken with soapy water before they come in contact with other raw or cooked foods.
  • Free-range meat is lean, and that means that slower cooking times yield better results. Slow and low brings about a sublime roasted free-range chicken, where it could make a conventional one soggy and overdone.
  • Skinless Breasts – Free-range chicken breasts are so moist and tenderly textured if they are done right!  Here’s the Rules… Hot sear (pan-fry with butter or oiled BBQ) for 2 minutes per side …and then in to a 120ºC oven (convection if you have it) for 20 minutes.  It doesn’t get any better than this!!
  • Leg and Thighs – you should get consistent results if you cook like this… season, lay skin-side up and uncovered, then just bake (convection) at 175ºC for 2 hours. The skin crisps up so nice and the meat is SO tender and delicious!
Farmer's Choice Free Range Chicken

Farmer’s Choice Free Range Chicken

Our chickens are not pimped when packed which may make them look a little flat, and if you are lucky enough, you might even get a left over feather or two.

Be safe and Enjoy!

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.