Within a commercial kitchen, many forms of energy are being used and often wasted.

Gas, electricity, chemical cleaners, food miles and industrially produced ingredients all draw heavily on the world’s resources simply to produce plates of food. These issues are becoming more prevalent as we face up to the current and future challenges for ourselves and the planet. 

The fear and worry that is carried alongside these global concerns also draws energy, and if we concentrate too heavily on this negativity, I feel we could be destined to collapse. There is, of course, another side to all of this and something we often disregard - that is, our own energy to make moments of positive change, bring hope and care to each other, show empathy, and most importantly, open our arms and ask for help if needed. 

For me, the vegetable garden provides a connection between life, care, balance, death, decay and productivity. Trill Farm is a cyclical farm in some ways, there are many interesting efforts in place, using and returning energy into the same system. One of these is the cooperation between the Old Dairy Kitchen and Trill Farm Garden. On the surface, the restaurant buys vegetables from the garden, cooks them and sells plates of food, but if we look a little deeper there is a web of intertwined, complex connections that make for a strong synergy.

Consider, for a start, the mycelium; the hidden mushroom world which holds it all together, helping plants communicate, sharing nutrients and even working together to battle off unwanted disease and sickness. Could this undercover network provide a decent blueprint for us? The willpower of each individual is supported in a balanced and healthy network allowing growth, beauty and contentment. From the kitchen we add to this diversity and balance by returning our unwanted organic matter back to the soil, via the compost heap, helping with a delicious and healthy crop the following season.

There is also a circular economic side within the cooperation; as each enterprise’s productivity increases, so does their neighbour’s. This could be through the ODK buying more vegetables thanks to the garden team promoting a Feast event. Immediately, this means more customers for us, but it could then lead to the ordering of a veg box, which is collected on the Feast, and then those customers may become tempted by the idea of attending one of our courses and so on; a chain effect.

These layers and links go on and on and create a dynamic, well structured, positive energy flowing from kitchen to garden and back again. These exciting partnerships extend throughout Trill Farm. The farm’s overall rhythm has certainly shaped the food we cook and what we offer in the ODK. Our creative energy at this time of year begins to reach its peak due to the variety of ingredients and longer days. This, I feel, is a true and beautiful way to cook, run a business and feed one another, a natural rhythm decided by the summer sunshine and one that we can extend through connectivity, cooperation and opportunity using food and food production as a tool for learning and living well, both locally and globally.

FERMENTED TOMATOES

Makes 1 x 2l Jar

1l water
30g caster sugar
15g salt
2 bay leaves
6 allspice berries
65ml white wine vinegar
1 tbsp sunflower oil
500g large firm but ripe tomatoes
5 sprigs of dill, chopped
50g celery, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves
1 red onions, finely sliced

Bring the water, sugar, salt, bay and allspice berries to the boil in a heavy saucepan. Turn off the heat and allow to infuse and cool completely. Add the vinegar. Quarter the tomatoes.

Sterilise your jars by them washing well in hot soapy water, then place into a cold oven and heat to 150ºC. Leave them in the oven for five minutes, then carefully remove the jars from the oven. Boil the lids in clean water and drain.

Layer up your jars with the tomatoes, sunflower oil, dill, celery and garlic and top with the onion slices.

Pour over the cooled brine and seal the jar. Leave the jars in a warm place, about 25ºC, for ten days and then transfer to the fridge or cool larder. They will store through the winter if kept cool and unopened. Eat within a week once opened. 

Chris Onions runs the Old Dairy Kitchen. He caters for all our events, courses and farm lunches, hosts monthly feast nights, and teaches his own range of courses. olddairykitchen.co.uk