Forthcoming Events

WORKSHOP ON WATER QUALITY IN THE LOWER THAME

Monday 25th April: 6-8.30pm at Stanton St John Village Hall (St John’s Church)

We are pleased to invite you to a workshop on water quality in the Lower Thame, with a focus on the Holton Brook, and how we are working to improve it and what you can do to contribute. (Refreshments provided)

 

VILLAGE LUNCH

Saturday 30th April: 12 noon – 2pm at Stanton St John Village Hall

Please join us for soup, bread, cakes, biscuits, tea and coffee to raise money for Stanton Church Restoration Fund. Also includes a bring and buy and raffle

 

PARENTS AND TODDLER GROUP

It would be lovely to see anyone with pre-school aged children at our regular coffee mornings in Stanton village hall. We meet on alternate Thursdays between 10.30 and 12pm, resuming after Christmas on January 7th 2016. For those who can afford it we ask for a £1 donation which goes towards the cost of hiring the village hall. For older children there is a short bible story, related activity and some singing.

Stanton St John Festival 2016

There is the possibility that Festival 2016 may not proceed unless decisions are made regarding its organisation, structure and format. After 5 Festivals, spanning 10 years, the team co-ordinated by Russell, Lorna and Christine would ideally like to take a step back. Whilst they are all prepared to help there is an opportunity for new blood to take the reins.

I know we would all be very disappointed if this event, which is every 2 years, did not take place. It is proposed that a meeting is arranged in February to agree a way forward. The date for the meeting in the Village Hall will be circulated through the distribution list.

Please step forward and circulate your details to Russell Warner on rwarner at ssdsupport dot co dot uk or contact Russell on 351817.

Restoration of the Church Bells

The bell-ringers at St John the Baptist church have just had PCC approval to proceed with a project to complete the final stages of restoration on the bells in the tower. We are looking for approval from the community about what we intend to do. Having community support will strengthen our case when making the applications for various funding and grants which we need to carry out the works by the bell foundry that we have selected.

The restoration will represent the final stage in bringing the bells and the bell-frame up to the standards which will make ringing them much easier, as well as improving the tonality of the bells and strengthening the frame structure to last for generations to come. Certain features of the first phase of restoration will be retained, this final stage will be for elements of works that couldn’t be undertaken at that time.

The project is in its very early stages and could take up to a year to bring to full completion, perhaps longer depending on the time taken to raise the funds needed. However, we are keen to gain support from the community. This in turn will help with the application for grants and funding, which is going to be very important. You can either do this by sending an email to me at paulieox22 at gmail dot com, or signing a support document which you can find in the Village Shop and The Talkhouse.

Bus Service at Risk

Thank you everyone for contacting the council and your MP John Howell about the risk to our buses. Unfortunately however it seems we weren’t listened to as Oxfordshire County Council have decided unless more money is forthcoming from central government, all subsidies will be cut. We know a certain Witney MP called David Cameron has criticized OCC for it’s cuts (which result from massive central government cuts to the grant to local councils) but we have not heard much from John Howell.

Without the subsidies we are unsure whether Heyfordian will keep the service going. Please continue to lobby your MP and councillors and you never know we may get a last minute reprieve.

Speed in the Village

Speed-Leaflet

The Star Inn

Our kitchen is now open and serving a full menu for lunch and dinner

Opening times:

Monday – closed
Tuesday – 6-11pm – Quiz night
Wednesday – 6-11pm – Pie night
Thursday – 12-2pm / 6-11pm
Friday – 12-2pm / 6-11pm
Saturday – All day from 12pm
Sunday – All day from 12pm

Our Facebook page is The Star Inn, Stanton Saint John and our website is http://www.thestarinnoxford.co.uk/

Contact us on 01865 358027 or at

A Word from the Allotments

Grow Your Own

A Word from the Allotments – May

May is typically a very busy month with warm soil allowing plenty of seeds to be sown directly into the ground. Beans of all varieties, Beetroot, Broccoli and Calabrese can all go in now. If this dry weather continues it could be worth either soaking your seeds in water or watering your drill before you sow. Pea and Runner Bean supports should also go up – signifying that the growing season is well and truly upon us!

Start netting fruit before the birds get to it and also make sure you dig plenty of manure or fertiliser into the soil earmarked for your courgette and squash bed. Finally, don’t forget to keep hoeing those weeds as they appear – cutting them down on a hot day will be even more effective.

DIG AND DINE:                                                            

Dust 4 chicken breasts with 1 tbsp flour. Heat 2 tbsp oil and a knob of butter in a large, wide pan with a lid, add the chicken, then fry on all sides until nicely browned. Add 4 chopped shallots or similar weight of onions, then fry for about 2 minutes until they start to soften, but not colour. Pour in 4 tbsp of brandy, carefully ignite, then stand well back until the flames have died down. Stir in 300 mls of chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover, then cook for 15 minutes until the chicken is just tender.

Add approximately 15 asparagus spears to the sauce. Cover, then cook for 5 minutes more until tender. Stir in 4 rounded tbsp crème fraîche and 1 tbsp tarragon and warm through. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

A Word from the Allotments – April

Hopefully by the time you read these lines Spring will have well and truly ‘sprung’ – although I do remember snow at the start of April a few years ago! Keep a check on weather forecasts and protect blossom of fruits if frosts are predicted.
There is plenty to sow and plant this month.

Plant runner beans in pots of compost under glass, for planting out in May. Leeks can be sown in short rows or in pots, for planting out in rows later on. Plant onion sets, 6in apart, and pushed into the soil until just the tip shows. Sow courgettes, cucumbers and outdoor tomatoes in individual small pots under glass. Prepare celery trenches and holes for runner beans and courgettes with plenty of manure or compost. Continue planting out potatoes, but cover the soil with a protective blanket of heavyweight horticultural fleece. Tomatoes, chilli peppers, aubergines, melons and indoor cucumbers need sowing now, one to two seeds per pot in a propagator or on a warm greenhouse bench. Sow peas, mangetout, carrots, beetroot and autumn-maturing cauliflowers. Plant out maincrop potatoes, spacing them about 12in apart When danger of frost has passed, uncover your strawberry beds/plants and keep them well watered.

DIG AND DINE:                                                            

Crab Open Lasagne – Serves 2.

Preheat a char-grill pan or the grill. Brush 250gs asparagus with 2tbsp olive oil, then char-grill or grill the spears for 6 to 8 mins, turning often. Cook 225gs spinach in a tiny amount of water for about 2 minutes, until the leaves have wilted. Drain well, squeezing out the excess moisture. At the same time, cook 3 fresh sheets lasagne in halves for 3 or 4 mins, or according to pack instructions. Melt 25gs butter in a frying pan and sauté 6 sliced spring onions for 2 or 3 mins until softened. Stir in 6tbsp pesto sauce, lemon zest and juice of one small lemon. Heat gently for a few moments, and season to taste. Drain Lasagne and layer in warm bowls with 300gs cooked crab, pesto, spinach and asparagus. Grate 4tbsp of Parmesan cheese on the top and serve.

A Word from the Allotments – March

There are plenty of jobs to do in March – some are more exciting than others. Lets hope that whatever happens it will be with cherry blossom above us.

Now is a good time to start adding any compost to your soil or sowing a green manure crop such as crimson clover, fenugreek or field lupins which can be dug into the soil later in the season to improve it. If you have fruit cages, then now is the opportunity to make any repairs.

If you are not bored of digging and you are in for the long haul on your plot then now is the time to plant new asparagus beds. Plant onion sets in modular trays of compost and peas in lengths of guttering under cover. Potatoes can be chitted and take cuttings from herbs like mint. In the greenhouse, cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines and peppers can all be sown. Later this month, move plants from greenhouses to cold frames.

Sow seeds of the following crops outside or under cloches: carrots, beetroot, broad beans, salad onions, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, leeks, lettuce, rocket, coriander, mixed salad or stir fry leaves, radish, turnip, lettuce and Swiss chard. Don’t forget that cloches or fleece over the earth will warm it for sowing.

DIG AND DINE:                                                            

Leek and Feta Tart

Either make or buy enough pastry to line a 24cm tart dish. Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Roll the dough out and line the dish, cover with baking paper and add some dried or baking beans to weigh it down. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the paper with the beans and bake for 5 minutes more. Rinse 5 sliced leeks well. Steam them in a covered sauté pan with a little salted water for about 10 minutes then drain. Beat 4 eggs in a mixing bowl and add 150g fromage frais and 150g feta cheese, then mix in 1tbsp chopped thyme and the leeks, and season. Pour the mixture into the prebaked tart case, place back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm with a green salad.

A Word from the Allotments – February

A very belated but ‘Happy New Year’ to all. February is here already with plenty to do in a very short month. If jobs are curtailed by snow this month then it could bode well for later in the year the old proverb says..

If February give much snow

A fine summer it doth foreshow

If we have another heavy blanket of the white stuff it is well worth using the time to plan what you want to do with your allotment, garden or plot this year. If you have any open packets of seeds left, then its worth sprouting a couple on a wet paper towel to see if they will still grow. Discard any that have poor results to save frustration later in the year.

It is also well worth beating the rush and buying your ‘Early’ seed potatoes, well, ‘early’ and keeping them cool. Leave them end or ‘eyes’ up on a window ledge or shelf to sprout.

Rhubarb, horseradish, asparagus and artichokes are among the perennial vegetables that can be planted this month. Start onions from seed in flats late in February and set them in a sunny indoor spot. Fruit trees will respond well to pruning towards the middle of this month. Thinning the canopy of the trees will provide much needed air circulation that will reduce the opportunity for fungal diseases.

DIG AND DINE: Chicken, Parsnip and Date salad (serve with rice)

Peel and blanche 2 cloves of garlic in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, refresh in cold water then crush to a paste with some salt. Peel 2 medium parsnips and shred or grate them. Whisk juice of 2 limes, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 4 tbsp vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar (light muscavado if you have it) and add the garlic. Add 400-450g of cooked chicken or turkey to the parsnips and dressing and leave to marinade for at least an hour. Before serving, drain excess dressing and beat in 5 tbsp of crème fraiche. Cut 6 dates into quarters and add with a shredded handful each of mint and basil leaves.

***

A Word from the Allotments – December

It might be thought that there is not much to do with your vegetable patch over the winter months except let nature break down the soil for you. However, with a bit of preparation, there are still plenty of crops that will grow and provide you with fresh produce and put off that trip to the supermarket vegetable section.

Lamb’s Lettuce and Land Cress don’t need any protection, but Polytunnels, Greenhouses, Conservatories and Cold frames complete with bubble wrap can all be used to provide protection for your seedlings. Beetroot, Carrotts, Celery, Long White Icicle Radish, Freckles Lettuce can all be sown late and added to your Parsnips, Leeks, Perpetual Spinach should give you a good choice.

Later Autumn sowings lead to mature overwintered vegetables that will keep growing until December under cover, stand for the winter and then comes away fast in February. Not only will this save you money – Rocket, Radishes, Parsley and Mint are all more expensive in the Winter, but having fresh vegetables will give you a vitamin boost – especially of Vitamin C which will help you ward off the winter colds.

DIG AND DINE:  Spicy Parsnip, Potato and Leek Soup

Sorry – Soup again! Melt 2 tbs butter and add 1 large diced onion and 4 chopped garlic cloves. Add 2 sliced leeks, 750gs sliced parsnips and 750gs diced floury potatoes. Stir to coat with the butter, then cook and sweat for 10 to 15 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add 6 cups chicken stock, 2 tsp turmeric and ½ tsp cayenne pepper. Season with some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until very soft. Using a stick blender, puree the soup, then pass through a sieve if desired. Taste and adjust seasoning as required.

Heat the olive oil and add 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp onion and 1 tsp mustard seeds. Stir in the oil until the seeds begin to pop and add carefully to the soup. Taste and add more cayenne if desired. Serve hot.

***

A Word from the Allotments – November

What fantastic growing weather we have had recently – the season has been extended and it almost makes up for all those ‘failures’ and countless, fruitless re-sowings. For the second year in a row, its been possible to grow tomatoes that ripen outside. Any that are reluctant to turn from green to red can be persuaded with the addition of a banana and perhaps a dark drawer.

Now is the time to start thinking ahead to next year. Japanese onion sets can go in now, but as it gets colder and wetter, they can be covered with fleece. Spring cabbages and a hardy lettuce like Arctic King can go in too. Broad beans and Garlic can also be planted. Leave parsnips in the ground until they are needed – they will benefit from a frost but remember to remove before the ground gets too hard!

Cut down any asparagus, turn over the compost heap and create a cage for fallen leaves which can be composted and added to your soil. Sadly its time for a bit more hard manual labour – turn over soil in clods for the frost to break down.

Strawberries can be tidied up, prune black and red currants and gooseberries. Remove gladioli and dahlia tubers to stop them becoming food for mice, then dry and store in a cool place. If you like sweet rhubarb then dig up a crown, pot it in a small bin and cover it with another to keep out the light. Overwinter it in your porch, watering twice a month and you should have thin pink stems to harvest by March.

DIG AND DINE:  Squash and Goats Cheese Risotto

Peel, scrape out the seeds and dice 1 large butternut squash. Melt 75g of unsalted butter in a saucepan, add the squash and 175mls of wheat beer. When the squash is cooked, then blend to a puree and season. In another heavy-based pan, heat 1 tbs of oil and fry an onion, 2 cloves of garlic and 1 dsp of chopped thyme. Add 400 g risotto rice and gradually stir in 1.5 litres of stock and 175ml of beer until rice is cooked. Stir in the squash and 250g of goats cheese. Garnish with parmesan.

***

A Word from the Allotments – October

What fantastic growing weather we have had recently – the season has been extended and it almost makes up for all those ‘failures’ and countless, fruitless re-sowings. For the second year in a row, its been possible to grow tomatoes that ripen outside. Any that are reluctant to turn from green to red can be persuaded with the addition of a banana.

Now is the time to start thinking ahead to next year. Japanese onion sets can go in now, but as it gets colder and wetter, they can be covered with fleece. Spring cabbages and a hardy lettuce like Arctic King can go in too. Broad beans and Garlic can also be planted now although these can wait until November if you have other things to be getting on with! Leave parsnips in the ground until they are needed – they will benefit from a frost but remember to remove before the ground gets too hard!

Cut down any asparagus, turn over the compost heap and create a cage for fallen leaves which can be composted and added to your soil. Sadly its time for a bit more hard manual labour – turn over soil in clods for the frost to break down.

Strawberries can be tidied up, prune black and red currants and gooseberries. New canes can go in and remember to feed with compost and bonemeal. Remove gladioli and dahlia tubers to stop them becoming food for mice, then dry and store in a cool place.

DIG AND DINE:  Squash and Goats Cheese Risotto

Peel, scrape out the seeds and dice 1 large butternut squash. Melt 75g of unsalted butter in a saucepan, add the squash and 175mls of wheat beer. When the squash is cooked, then blend to a puree and season. In another heavy-based pan, heat 1 tbs of oil and fry an onion, 2 cloves of garlic and 1 dsp of chopped thyme. Add 400 g risotto rice and gradually stir in 1.5 litres of stock and 175ml of beer until rice is cooked. Stir in the squash and 250g of goats cheese. Garnish with parmesan.

***

A Word from the Allotments – September

This wind and rain seem to be giving us an almost autumnal feel at the moment. At least everything looks a bit greener than it did in July and August. Hopefully the growing season will be prolonged accordingly – as long as all this wet weather doesn’t rot our plants!

Keep checking your plot regularly. With a little rain and plenty of sun, today’s courgette is tomorrow’s marrow. Don’t forget to keep eating and sharing with family and friends. Freeze, pickle and make chutneys and sauces out of anything left.

Spring Cabbage plants and Japanese Onions can go in and early vegetables can be planted in the greenhouse. Jobs include earthing up celery and winter greens. Lift and store root vegetables before they lose their quality – make sure you sort carefully and keep only perfect specimens or disease or rot may spread. Strawberry plants can be tidied up and planted and old fruited raspberry wood can be cut out. Blackcurrants can be pruned and cuttings taken. Gooseberry tips that have mildew can be cut and burnt.

If you feel vigorous, September is a good month to break up new soil – potatoes are always a good first crop to plant to clean it. Don’t let fallen leaves go to waste – rake them up for your compost heap or bin. Compost the foliage of the peas and beans but leave the roots in the ground as the nodules on them contain nitrogen. It might also be an idea to plant ‘green manure’. Try Hungarian grazing rye.

DIG AND DINE:  Thai Style Steamed Fish

Wrap 2 fish fillets (trout or similar of approx 6 ounces) in foil and add 1 chopped garlic clove, a cube of chopped ginger, one chopped red chilli, 3 pak choi quartered (or kale or spinach), juice and zest of 1 lime and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Leave a small hole in the foil parcel for the heat to escape. Steam over boiling water for 15 minutes. Serve with rice. Serves 2.

***

A Word from the Allotments – July

The proverb says “If the first of July be rainy weather, It will rain, more or less, for four weeks together”. If it is and it does, it will save a lot of time irrigating or carting water for those without a hose or with a hard-to-access plot. This water is vital for beans, courgettes and other ‘thirsty’ vegetables. Combine with a high potash tomato fertilizer for best results.

When not watering, this is the time to enjoy the fruits of your labours so pick regularly. This will also encourage Sweet Peas and Courgettes to keep flowering and producing.

Hoeing and mulching will also help to retain moisture. Put straw under ripening squash to stop them getting wet and to keep slugs off.

There are still plenty of things to sow in July. Get Spring cabbage, Pak Choi, Winter Spinach, Lettuces, Peas, and Radishes in if you haven’t already. On the herb front, sow Rocket and Parsley. Apples and pears can be ‘Summer’ pruned and there are now plenty of seeds to collect and dry, including poppies, aquilegia and aliums. Keep on top of the pests like Aphids and Blackfly with a soft soap or water.

DIG AND DINE:  Kimpira Stew

Wash, soak overnight, rinse and boil 250 gs of kidney beans fiercely for 10 minutes.Wash and chop 2 carrots, 1 small swede and 1 small cauliflower, blanch for 5 mins and then strain (keep water). Blend 2 cloves of garlic and a 2 inch piece of ginger in a little oil. Add 2 tbs each of sesame oil and Shoyu to a large, heavy pan and add in paste and 1 large chopped onion, cooking for 5 mins. Slice 2 courgettes and 1 oz mushrooms and add to pan. Cook for 5 mins and add blanched veg and water. Put 50g of Arame seaweed in a covered bowl of boiling water before adding to pan. Slice head of a small spring cabbage and add some Sweet corn and stir well. When beans are cooked, strain and rinse them and add to the stew. If using tofu, then cube it and add it to the pan. Add chopped Parsley and simmer for 30 mins. Season and serve.

***

A Word from the Allotments – June

What fantastic weather we have had this year – extreme snow and heat. However, whatever happens in the future there will be no more ‘Asparagus tips’ on these pages – a splash of rain and plenty of sun have seen the season delayed hardly at all.

LM Montgomery said: ’I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June’. Well for a month we are going to find out but I would suggest its going to be busy. As we move towards the longest day there is plenty of daylight to let you get on with things. This is fortunate, as there is plenty to do this month!

Salad crops should be available; lettuce, spring onion, radishes as well as summer cabbage and early peas and carrots. The first early potatoes should be ready for lifting this month too. You should be able to plant out broccoli and calabrese, brussels sprouts, summer cabbage and leeks. squash and courgettes can go in too.

Jobs include weeding and slug ‘management’ to protect your seedlings. Hoe during the dry weather and hand weeding onions helps to avoid root damage, the smell of which will attract onion fly.

If the top of the soil looks dry, insert your finger into the soil. If it’s dry at the tip, then you need to water. Don’t just sprinkle a few drops on the surface, it probably won’t penetrate and do any good. Far better to give a good soaking less frequently that will get to the roots of your crops and if watering fruit trees will result in a greater crop!

DIG AND DINE : Potato-Carrot Pancakes. (Makes 12)

Peel and shred 1 pound of potatoes and 2 medium carrots. Wrap in paper towels and squeeze to remove moisture. Put potatoes, carrots, a finely chopped onion, 1 egg, salt and pepper and mix well. Heat oil in a large pan and drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan – flatten and cook for 5 minutes on each side until brown.

***

A Word from the Allotments – May

This has been a most frustrating start to the season with much time spent going backwards and forwards to allotments and gardens only to return carrying most of your plot on your boots, barely used tools and water dripping (or even running) down the back of your neck. Hopefully by the time this goes to print that the situation will have improved and winter cauliflowers, spring cabbage, sprouting broccoli and kale will be ready now.

The luxury crop asparagus may be starting although even a day of May spent with butter and lemon juice dripping down your chin looks optimistic at the moment. There are still plenty of jobs to keep on top of in May. Hoeing weeds on a dry day as small seedlings will make the job far easier than waiting for them to grow and send their roots down.

If you have yet to sow parsnips or other roots then it’s well worth digging deep and removing stones to allow them the least resistance when they are growing. Failure to do so last year resulted in parsnips looking like dancers from the ‘Folies-Bergere’. Do get planting French Beans, Runner Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli and Calabrese, Cabbage and Cauliflowers, Kale, Kohlrabi, Peas, Turnips and Swedes. It’s fantastic to see fruit bushes budding up but well worth netting them early to stop the birds.

DIG AND DINE :     Wild Garlic and Radish Salad – Serves 2                                          

(For Dressing) Place 50g mayonnaise, 50ml chicken stock, 10g finely chopped onions, 1/2 clove garlic, 1/2 lemon, juiced and a large pinch of tarragon and blend until smooth. Divide leaves of 1 little gem lettuce into 2 bowls. Meanwhile, wash 16 wild garlic leaves and finely shred. Finely slice 4 spring onions and 4 radishes and toss together with salt and pepper and a couple of drops of olive oil. Pour over the dressing and wish for some sunshine.

***

A Word from the Allotments – April

There is an old saying that states ‘March winds, April showers, brings forth May flowers’. Well the saying is quite right, April’s weather is usually characterised by a mixture of sunshine and showers.

In April, we can look forward to the warm southerly winds replacing the cold northerlies and easterlies that brought all the snow and ice. All the ‘inclement’ weather means that the time to plant and sow some vegetables could be a bit later this year. Please consider the weather forecast and soil conditions before sowing all your expensive seeds. Warm sunny days can give way to frosty nights – on average there are four frosty nights in April so keep your fleece handy.

Later in the month should be time to sow onions, beet, broccoli, carrots, peas, beans, and lettuces. Potatoes and Cauliflowers can go in at the end of the month. Others to sow outdoors or under cloches include broad beans, beetroots, Brussels sprouts, summer cabbages, leeks, lettuces, hardy peas and radishes.

DIG AND DINE – Rhubarb Snow

1kg rhubarb, 1 tbsp caster sugar, 2 large egg whites,100g caster sugar. Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Rinse the rhubarb under running water, cut off the tough bits, pulling away any strings as you go, then cut into fat chunks. Put the rhubarb and tablespoon of caster sugar into a stainless steel or ovenproof glass dish and bake for 30-40 minutes until completely tender. (Alternatively you can put it over a low heat in a heavy saucepan, with a tablespoon of water and let it simmer gently.) Remove from the oven once it is truly soft and silky, and leave to cool. Mash the rhubarb with a fork so it is smooth and puree-like. Put the egg whites in a spotlessly clean, greaseproof bowl and whisk till they stand in peaks. Stir in the 100g of caster sugar and whisk again till thick and shiny. Now gently fold in the rhubarb puree. Spoon into glasses and serve.

The Village Shop

Cheryl and David welcome you!

Save fuel, save time, save money – Visit The Village Shop, 14 Middle Road

www.stantonvillageshop.co.uk

The shop window is available if you would like to come and book a date to advertise your business or charity.

Rectory Farm

Rectory Farm is now closed for the winter.  Watch this space for opening date 2014.