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I am seeing my mother-in-law tomorrow and I always like to have a small gift to give her, so I headed out this afternoon in the rain in search of some pretty flowers for her.
A short drive away from my home is a smallholding that had a garden/farm gate stall – it often is a treasure trove of locally grown produce and the most beautiful flowers (all of which you can see growing just through the hedge).
This is where I headed straight for, although you can often turn up and the stall be empty – such is the loveliness, I think, of a garden gate stall: you never know what you’ll find.
Luckily for me, today it was laden with buckets and jam jars of flowers from their patch. When I see such a sight, I usually go a bit doo-lally and if I had enough coins in my purse I would most likely buy the lot. Sadly I had limited funds and therefore had to choose what I wanted.
For my mother-in-law I chose a gorgeous bunch of ranunculus in hot yellows, reds, pinks and oranges; and two bunches of anemones in shades of purple, lilac and blush. Together they look like a rainbow. I also couldn’t resist a small bunch of sweetpeas for myself in delicate creams and pink.
Happy is a girl with a big bunch of seasonal, locally grown English flowers.
I am ever-so thankful for the beautiful sunny (if rather chilly!) autumn days we’ve had over the weekend and at the start of the week here in Cheshire – particularly so, because less than a week ago I was still soaking up the heat and basking under spotless blue skies in Greece. I’ve got so many lovely things to share from our holiday but before that I wanted to just enjoy a few snaps of all that I love about an English autumn.
There are pumpkins at the farm shop, I can’t help but fall in love with all those shades of orange – I just wish the little punks in our neighbourhood wouldn’t see a pile of them by my front door as a good excuse for some street football. B*%!@^#s.
This morning I made some chicken stock with a leftover roast chicken carcass, I am trying harder to find time to do this and it is so satisfying to have your own homemade stock. The best I’ve made so far went solid like jelly, which is a sure sign of its tastiness.
At school and University I was never any good at writing about things I cared passionately about, I always got lower grades for those essays, and did better in ones where I didn’t feel an emotional investment in what I was writing about. So I fear that as I write now I’m it’s going to all be a bit of mess – so I’ll try and keep it to the point!
I have been eagerly awaiting a box today, a box that contains three litres of real milk. Real milk, raw milk, unpasteurised milk, whatever you want to call it, this milk came straight from John’s Jerseys in Herefordshire without any fuss or tinkering with into a bottle and to my doorstep.
For those of you sweet enough to read what I share regularly, you may recall that I’ve mentioned some health issues I’ve had in the past few months. Whilst I still don’t feel in a position to write about them just yet, they have set me on the most exciting journey to ‘real food’.
I have done so much reading and learning recently and I am thoroughly enjoying it, soaking up everything I can. In my searching I came across a fantastic shop down in Alsager, Cheshire (not to far from us) called The Real Food Company. I took a drive there last week and spent nearly two hours in what is a pretty small shop chatting to one of the shop assistants and coming away with a basketful of goodies.
I am particularly interested (and excited) about raw dairy at the moment. Through a recommendation from some friends at Aspen House B&B I decided to order some raw Jersey milk from John’s Jerseys, and from The Real Food Company I also bought raw butter (imported from France – raw butter, is, to coin a term a friend uses, “as rare as hen’s teeth”) and raw yoghurt.
That raw butter is extraordinarily tasty, especially the salted version which I could quite happily lick off a knife (don’t tell my mum!). I’m also going to try using some of the raw milk to make my own yoghurt, using the raw yoghurt I bought to get me started.
Anyway, I really wanted to share my excited about these new discoveries, and hope to share some of my attempts at making yoghurt (it doesn’t sound too difficult) and other bits and pieces I have in mind to try.
We’ve been eating the raw butter on lightly toasted Biga bread (18 hour fermented from Tortoise Bakery) topped with a smear of amber coloured French honey…
Has anyone else tried raw milk, butter or yoghurt?
A couple of week’s ago I mentioned having one of the best breakfast’s ever at Aspen House B&B in Herefordshire – well, quite by accident Mr Rigg and I ended up back at Aspen House for a night on Saturday. This was Mr Rigg’s first visit but he’d already heard lots about the breakfast and how lovely Sally and Rob were – but going back again so soon has allowed me to remedy the lack of photos of the breakfast from last time.
Sally and Rob are passionate about real food, running their B&B and cottage with green principles at their heart. The bedroom we stayed in is so pretty, painted a lovely dove grey with a soft coloured patchwork quilt on the bed and a big window with built-in seat. But what I’m hear to tell you about in more detail is the breakfast.
It has been a while since I shared any pictures of what we’ve been cooking and eating at home recently, so I thought I would look back through my albums and share some with you all. Following on from my post about cutting out cheese temporarily for health reasons, this has now been extended to a lot more things, specifically wheat, sugar, and yeast. It has been a challenge recently, but I hope I will get to the point where I am happy to share more with you.
So here’s some of the food we’ve been making and eating during April and May…
Sorrel, fresh garlic and white asparagus frittata
This was inspired by watching an episode of Two Greedy Italians where they met an elderly lady who knew all the wild herbs and plants growing around her mountain home. She picked some wild greens and made a kind of frittata, popping the cooked greens through a mouli first to remove the tough bits.
I don’t think my sorrel had many tough bits, but being rather short in both supply and knowledge of wild greens, I wanted to try out the idea anyway. It was great fun mouli-ing the sorrel and then mixing into my beaten eggs.
We’d not tried white asparagus before, but it was available in our organic grocery – I sliced peeled the outside, sliced them in half, blanched them and then laid them on top of my fritttata. Topped with a dollop of raw basil pesto (this stuff is amazing and I live off it at the moment) it was pretty tasty.
Lemony garlic baked chicken with rice, asparagus and leftover aioli
For me, Hunstile Organic Farm in Somerset is pretty close to heaven on earth. Not only is it a stunning ancient farmhouse set on organically managed land, not only is surrounded by goats and chickens and pigs and other animals, but it is run by a generous and friendly family.
In my other life running a natural wedding business, I have got to know Lizzie from Hunstile Organic Farm as they host a number of weddings throughout the year and I promote them as one of the wedding venues on my directory.
Mr Rigg and I had a wedding in Cornwall last weekend (more on that to come) and wanted to break up the long journey south – we had tried once before to stay at Hunstile on our way to Cornwall but they were fully booked, this time we were in luck.
We stayed in the beautiful Panelled Room in a massive bed, so wide that we argued over who had all the duvet because we were so far away from each other.
I’m not even going to look at how long ago it was that I last wrote a post. March has been a mega month business-wise for me, and I’m quite looking forward to a calmer April.
Last weekend we (Mr Rigg, myself and the dog) spent a long weekend down on the River Severn, just near the Forest of Dean. We stayed at the most lovely wooden clapboard cottage called The Priory Cottages, with an outlook across an orchard and past the owners house views of the river. I’ve been determined to share some pictures of our holiday before another month passes, so I’m going to write less and try and mainly post pictures. They are a mixture of my phone and camera pictures.
On arrival we were greeted with a loaf of homemade (and still warm) bread, local farmhouse butter, a jar of homemade plum jelly, eggs from the owners hens, local cider, and garden grown flowers. You don’t get much of a better welcome in my books.
So immediately we tucked in…
Yesterday was my favourite local farmers market at Abbey Leys so it was a great chance to stock up some lovely food. On top of this, I braved the icy cold with the other stall holders to promote a website I’ve set up to promote local, seasonal food in my community. It was so blinking cold in the barn, and although I was so pleased with my display of seasonal vegetables and old-fashioned seed packets on stick, a number of people did mistake me for a grower. Oh well.
But enough of that and back to the real bread. For a while now, a fantastic bread lady (officially known at Jane’s Handmade Bread) has been coming to the market. She makes heavenly real bread. My favourite is her Miracle Bread which is stuffed full of all kinds of seeds and has a lovely golden brown colour to it. She never arrives before 10.30am, having been up since 3am baking, but everyone waits and queues for ages just to get their hands on some of her beautiful breads.
I was inspired this morning by one of my favourite food blogs Country Woodsmoke to share a snippet of our Christmas feasting – this was our Christmas meal yesterday snapped briefly before it all disappeared.
We had a roasted turkey thigh (perfect for two, and all delicious dark juicy meat), roasted carrots, parsnips and shallots, goose fat potatoes, and finely sliced sprouts tossed with crispy bacon. I also had a good dollop of homemade bread sauce.
This was by far the tastiest and most enjoyable Christmas dinner we’ve ever made. Happy Christmas everyone!
Today I had my first visit to the Altrincham Vintage and Craft Market – I wasn’t expecting too much but was bowled over by how good it was. I came away with a couple of pretty handmade things, a tiny old calendar and an earthenware footwarmer (to be reincarnated as a door stop).
I also met the lovely girls from The Silver Apples and bought a slice of cinder toffee brownie and a gingerbread. We are sitting enjoying a log fire burning away and munching on the cinder toffe brownie – yum yum.