meals in fields

Essex huffer

During harvest, meals become moveable feasts both in location and timing. At regular intervals through the day, empty flasks and cold boxes are dumped on the shelf in the grain store to be replenished.

Food has to withstand the rigours of bumping up and down on tractors as they rush down rough tracks and be easily pulled from the cold box and eaten while waiting for the next load. It has to be chunky and filling; indeed, glancing in the cold boxes you might be forgiven for thinking that you’d slipped back a few decades. I might start off with imaginative offerings but I soon fall back on old fashioned foods like Scotch Eggs, slabs of fruit cake and hefty huffers, firmly compressed to hold in the fillings.

Everyone seems to like something sweet in their cold box, even if they normally declare an aversion to puddings and cakes. One of Celia’s Butterscotch Bars* is always a hit and this year I’ve fiddled with the recipe a little to create a Harvest Bar packed with extra fruit and nuts, which I pack for the late evening shift when everyone needs a little extra oomph.

Sometimes I use a mixture of plain and milk chocolate chips, sometimes just plain. The nuts tend to be a combination of whatever packets are started; last time I used 100g pecans and 40g almonds but I’ve also used walnuts, Brazil nuts and unsalted cashews.

Harvest Bars

harvest bars recipe

  • 250g butter
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teasp vanilla extract
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 200g chocolate chips
  • 140g roughly chopped nuts – such as pecans, walnuts, almonds
  • 100g raisins

Blend together the butter and sugar, beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and spread out evenly in a baking tin approximately 30 x 21 cms that you’ve lined with baking parchment.

Cook for about 45 minutes at 150C fan oven for firm bars or ten minutes less if you want squidgy bars. In the AGA – 10 minutes in the roasting oven with the cold shelf in and then 50 minutes in the simmering oven.

Leave to cool in the tin and then cut into bars or squares.

Are you a follower of recipes or do you tweak and alter? Some people get very upset when someone changes their recipe, which I find hard to understand.

Also, any suggestions for slightly more exciting meals to take to the fields would be more than welcomed (especially by those eating them).

*Such is the popularity of Celia’s Butterscotch Bars that I have passed on the recipe to many others and one of my sons has declared that they are on his list of “Last Supper” foods.

25 thoughts on “meals in fields

  1. I love to tweak recipes! I first learn the recipe as it is and then one I’ve got it down, I start changing things to my liking. My mother’s Italian spaghetti sauce took me years to master, but now that I understand why and how she paired certain ingredients together, I’ve turned mine into more of an arrabiatta sauce because I like things on the spicier side. Most of the time I just improvise as I go depending on what I’ve got in the pantry. I loved this post! I can only imagine opening up one of your delightful cold boxes. I’m sure it’s a treat! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I’m definitely a tweaker. Mostly it works, sometimes it doesn’t! I mainly tweak because my daughter can’t eat dairy products. These bars look delicious but I suspect wouldn’t be the same with a butter substitute.

  3. Oh I am a tweaker; Substitute ingredients we don’t like for those we do, or for ones I don’t have and add them in if I think it will improve the recipe

  4. Have to tweak, just have too. Drives my husband nuts if he tries to cook and I go, “don’t worry about that just do this”. Those bars look good and there is nothing wrong with the good old reliables. I think switch eggs are a bit of a treat actually. I wouldn’t complain 🙂

    1. This sounds so familiar. We often sit down to a meal and when someone asks what it is, I might say “well, the recipe was beef and tomato casserole but I used lamb instead and I didn’t have any tomatoes …”

  5. My brother in Lincolnshire has started harvest too Anne. My son is over there and helping soon. I hope they’ll be replenished with scrummy grub like yours! I think your harvest bars would go down well here during our chilly winter. Think I’ll give them a go thank you.

    1. I should imagine they’re zooming through the harvest in Lincolnshire with all the glorious weather we’ve had. You could put a harvest bar in your pocket when you go off to take your early morning photos 🙂

  6. Oh, my, not only do I tweak, when I give someone else a recipe I suggest tweaks! I learn quickly who’s a recipe follower and who likes to make adjustments.

  7. Love this Anne…my paddock food tends to slip back a few decades too! Funny isn’t it? I think these bars need to find their way into my repertoire. I find chocolate brownie is good for packing up, it is sturdier than cake and with nuts added it is even more substantial. Happy harvest baking/packing/delivering/cleaning up and doing it all over again. Are you still harvesting?

    1. Chocolate brownies sound a good idea- I’ll have to pack some up. I thought flapjacks would be good but once again mine just fell apart and nobody wants to scoop up a lapful of oats.
      Yes, we’re still harvesting.

  8. Love your phrase “meals in fields” and they sound very good. It’s possible to over complicate food sometimes, I think. Sometimes the simple well-tried staples are best. Yes, I do tweak – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse! A question about thermos flasks – how do you clean the stoppers? They all say you can’t put thermos flasks through the dishwasher which I understand as far as the flask is concerned but why not the stoppers? which actually I find are quite tricky to clean up properly. And although manufacturers all say “don’t store milk products in thermoses” of course milk goes in because people often like milk in their tea or coffee and it’s a faff to take it separately. Have a lovely harvest-themed weekend – weather looks quite promising for a change here and I can already hear a combine taking advantage in the distance as I type. E x

    1. I put the stoppers in the dishwasher. Our thermos flasks inevitably end up squashed under a tractor tyre or jammed in a door so they don’t last many years and though I used to buy new inners, now I just buy a new flask. Also, I just don’t look too closely at the flasks. Now feeling I should give them an extra scrub.

  9. I *usually* follow the recipe precisely the first time, and then I tweak endlessly thereafter. Sometimes tweaking isn’t to improve a recipe but rather to vary it.

  10. I always play with the recipes, substituting ingredients or adding new flavors. I think we always adjust food to our own taste. My mom used to bake huge sheet cakes for the working crew. Good luck with the harvest and feeding everybody.

  11. you can’t beat a slab of fruit cake – but my goodness, these bars look good.
    i’m a tweaker, and I get it from my mother. and I don’t bother doing it ‘right’ the first time – I tweak from the outset 🙂

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