Having recently cut his first field for haylage, I got a mini taster into what I know life will be like in summer. Snatched meal times and visiting fields with food.
I have decided to let you know into some of my best kept secrets of quick and easy meal ideas for harvest time and really, any busy time on the farm.
Food has to be nutritious, filling and tasty and really, your best friends at this time have got to be the barbecue and the slow cooker.
You sometimes have half an hour to rustle something up if you are lucky, so having a choice of things with different cooking times really comes in handy.
For the barbecue, go for thinner burgers and steaks as they will take less time to cook.
Cook a batch of baked potatoes in the oven and then keep them in the fridge until needed and just microwave them. They will still have that delicious crispy skin but will be ready much quicker for hungry mouths. Top with tuna and sweet corn or have batches of chilli or bolognese sauce ready to heat up too.
Pies and quiches are a good option as they are easily transportable and can be eaten hot or cold. In the field, serve them as they are with cold potatoes and salad or hot potatoes at home. For the cold ones, you could even add salad onions and mayonnaise or sour cream for a potato salad.
Stews are always a winner-especially in the slow cooker where, when it is cooked, you can flick the switch to warm and allow workers to serve themselves if you need to go out (or go to bed). Use your slow cooker for joints of meat too. Pulled pork is a good one as it can be eaten with a meal or in sandwiches.
Similarly, a whole chicken, ham joint or roast beef is a good option as you can put it on sandwiches or let workers eat it as it is.
Soups are a good idea-either home made and left to warm in the slow cooker or in a tin and served in a flasks for on the go.
Flasks are a good idea to gather together just before busy periods for a check to make sure they are clean and ok. There are some options for insulated food containers too which might be an idea to invest in so you can send a stew to the field in the morning and it will still be warm at lunch.
As busy periods here usually coincide with summer, our hens are usually prolifically laying and eggs are such a fast food. Omelettes, pancakes, scrambled. I sometimes boil several at once and they get eaten as a snack
straight from the fridge the pan-who am I kidding? They can also be chopped up with any kitchen herbs you have (we like chives) and added to sandwiches or used as a baked potato topping.
My latest quick and tasty snack are Panini done on the barbecue. Our favourite is mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Sometimes I might add ham too. Wrap it up in foil and put on the barbecue for around ten minutes. It is really easy but tastes delicious and you can leave it in the foil if you have to take it to the field and it should stay warm. You could also make Panini pizzas in a similar way.
The last popular harvest food is what I call the all night breakfast. There has been any times I have rustled up a fried egg sandwich with a few rashers of grilled bacon. Another quick meal that will keep working tummies full until the next rushed meal.
I hope I have given you some ideas for what can be the hardest part of the year but also the most exciting.
What is your favourite quick meal?