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This past weekend we went to Bath for a weekend away with friends.  On Saturday morning whilst I was waiting for Mr Rigg to arrive by train, I ventured in to the Bath Farmer’s Market – and what treats awaited me!

Incredible veggies – like these pink stripey beetroot and mixed carrots.  I bought a bunch of each.

Wonderful cured meats and sausages – bottom right is pancetta and Coppa, both of which found their way into my shopping bag, along with some Italian pinwheel sausages (back top left). 

Mushrooms of all kinds – I bought a box of those teeny tiny ‘Paris Browns’.

Cheeses of all kinds, including the award winning Bath Soft Cheese – somewhere between a Brie and a Camembert.

This is the lovely oil man, selling rapeseed oil made from his farm’s crops, and also making a selection of delicious dressings.  I usually make all my own salad dressings, but I couldn’t resist a bottle of his creamy Quince and Cider dressing.

The quince lady…well that’s not her real name (a bit more on her soon) selling a selection of beautiful homemade quince products.  Syrups, jellies, sweets and quince paste.

The choice of vegetables available at the farmer’s markets is outstanding.  All farmers markets around the country should have this kind of choice.  Everyone around the country should have access to vegetables like these.  Dark bunches of cavolo nero and pumpkins of all sizes and colours.

The aforementioned flowerpot bread – cheese and herb I think, baked in a terracotta flowerpot to give it that unusual shape.  Also deliciously tasty!

If you ever thought winter vegetables could be boring, here’s a picture to change your mind – amber pumpkins, pinky-purple onions, muddy carrots, fat beetroot, stalks of sprouts, bundles of spinach, dark curly kale, crisp stalks of celery, fresh broccoli, and the wrinkly savoy cabbage or those tinged violet.

And this stall selling their own cheeses, and various cheese products and accompaniments – chutney, cheesecake, soft cheese, and curd tarts.  I bought some of their ewes cheese which was incredibly delicious.

Truly I am.  What has it been…a week since I last posted?  And it’s not for lack of eating nice things or doing nice things.  This week we have eaten … ugh, I forget without photos to document it!

We have eaten far too much Dunham Massey ice cream with homemade chocolate sauce that I do remember – but along with pizza making we leave chocolate sauce making to Mr Rigg.  My attempt resulted in a near disaster!

Tonight we are making Jamie’s lasagne – the sauce part is busy bubbling away in the oven with the fragrant scent of cinnamon filling the house.  This lasagne has a mixture of beef and pork mince, roasted butternut squash and flecks of crispy pancetta. 


Image: Jamie Oliver

We’ve also made slow cooked chilli con carne with leftovers for lunches – delicious with wraps, sour cream and grated cheese.  This one is worth a post sometime soon when I’ve reinstated a camera into our lives. 

I’ve bought locally grown quinces to make quince jelly after trying some on crumpets at work – yum!  Tomorrow night we have friends over for dinner and are planning a Moroccan chicken tagine with couscous – another Jamie recipe.


Image: Radish NYC

My week has also included a two-day headache (ugh!), an exciting time in the life of my website, lots of log fires, happiness that Mr Robin is back and singing in my garden,  and a visit to the dentist (I’ve had a numb cheek and face all afternoon).  Hoping for a less painful week next week. 

I also came across this lovely blog, a post from the same blog on an incredible looking gourmet shop in New York (wish there was somewhere like this near me!), and amazing lunchboxes.


Image: made by OOTS

So following on from yesterday’s post about my much shortened trip to London, I went to the National Trust Fine Farm Produce Awards on Thursday evening.  The awards are given to National Trust farms, orchards or gardens who produce products of the very highest standards – environmental, welfare, and taste.

The awards have been running since 2006 and this year’s panel of judges included Tom Kerridge (winner of the Great British Menu this year) and Henrietta Green (FoodLoversBritain).

There were incredible displays of the winning produce and productscider and apple juice from Barrington Court Estate, golden beetroot from Wimpole Walled Garden, late season honey from Lyveden New Bield, golden hot chilli sauce from Gringley Gringo

steak and ale pie from F Conisbee & Son Farming Partnership, flour from Clyston Mill, hogget lamb from Calke Abbey, and rhubarb jam from the Brockhampton Estate – to name just a few!

We sipped delicious drinks all of which were made from the awards winning products – Apple Bellini’s, incredible apple cocktails some with mint some with cinnamon, cider, ale and beer.  The Apple Bellini (exquisite fresh apple juice with champagne) is one for my wedding drinks list next year I think!

We ate delicious canapes til we could eat no longer – tiny beef pies, mini hamburgers, spoonfuls of golden beetroot and garlic risotto, bite-sized tarts with blue cheese and chutney, rice pudding with honey, and miniature scones with cream and rhubarb jam.

The producers were recognised with a short film and speech from the National Trust and judges, and this year’s Overall Winner – rhubarb jam from Brockhampton Estate – was awarded their prize. 

I watched Richard McGeown (the Executive Head Chef from Couch’s in Polperro, Cornwall) give a demonstration on how to cook the perfect steak.  He had been giving cooking demonstrations throughout the evening, and as I watched I snacked on my first ever piece of hogget lamb. 

Tips I picked up on how to cook the perfect steak? 

  • Make sure the pan is really hot (if you have asbestos fingers like Richard test it with your fingers…!!). 
  • Only add a tiny drop of oil to the pan before adding your steak. 
  • Season with salt but not black pepper at this point – it will burn and taste bitter. 
  • Cook for about 15-20 seconds on each side to seal. 
  • Season with black pepper then finish off in a hot oven (220°C) for about 6 1/2 minutes if you like it rare, 7 minutes for medium rare.

The evening was finished off with more networking and nibbling on delicious canapes, before heading off with a goodie bag

…included was a bag of flour from Clyston Mill, a small bottle of the incredibly fiery Gringley Gringo gold hot chilli sauce, some of the new National Trust ‘Lancashire lemon curd’ biscuits, apple chutney from the Killerton Estate, and a treasured jar of the award winning rhubarb jam.

Friday morning breakfast: a soft chewy slice of Kaiserbrot from Barbakan, spread with goat’s butter and Brockhampton Estate rhubarb jam.  Yum.

As I mentioned previously last weekend we headed down south to Hereford for a friend’s wedding.  On our journey home we decided to take a leisurely trip stopping off at food place along the way.  We didn’t really have a plan, just to see what we found.

The first place we came across we whizzed past, which is funny because it’s such a huge blot on the landscape it’s hard to miss!  In the midst of countryside as you head out of Hereford you come across a HUGE ‘barn’, if it can be called that, which reads ‘Oakchurch – farm shop’.

We entered this building with some apprehension and were greeted by what I would describe a confused food-cum-home-cum-DIY-mega….something-or-other!  It’s identity to me was unclear, it was utterly bewildering.  Imagine a farm shop supermarket and that’s part of the way there. 

There was a huge meat section, cheeses and produce – all local the labels told us; there were wines, beers and a selection of local cider and perry; there was a whole section dedicated to homewares (china plates and mugs, jam jars, bread boards, baskets, and every baking item under the sun).

We came away with a small bottle of local perry and a couple of packets of greaseproof bags (ideal for wrapping up edible Christmas goodies).  After visiting a friend of mine we crossed the River Wyre at a toll where the lady collecting money looked like she should have sold us some eggs and home produced honey as well as our crossing! 

From there we travelled via Eardisley and pulled in at the last minute to a natural cider and perry producer called The Orgasmic Cider Company – who couldn’t resist but stop at somewhere with a name like that?!  A friendly man told us about their different types of cider’s and perry’s and we tried some before buying a bottle to take home.

Our next foodie stop was Monkland Cheese Dairy – here we found a small shop and cafe selling homemade cheese, and a selection of preserves, chutney, bread and other local goodies.  We tried some of their different cheese and settled on their Oak Smoked for Mr Rigg and their Garlic & Chive for me.

The last place we visited was the Ludlow Food Centre, the one place I had planned to visit in advance.  The food centre is a large red brick and black timber clad new build that is light and airy inside.  It was bustling with people and on entering we were greeted by buckets of gorgeous locally grown bouquets, and local fruits including Victoria plums.

There was lots of local produce to choose from with pumpkins and squashes, purple beans, and sweetcorn.  There were modest meat, cheese and deli counters.  There were some delicious looking breads (even bread shaped like a tiny teddy bear!) and all the normal store cupboard items. 

We bought some sourdough bread sprinkled with poppy seeds, sweetcorn, Victoria plums, a bunch of local flowers, the first of the Hereford apples, two types of sausage and streaky bacon (at least that’s all I can remember!).

For lunch we ate in their Conservatory Barn Cafe – cheese and chutney sandwiches and a sausage roll for Mr Rigg, and for me roasted red pepper soup.  It was nice if slightly uninspiring food, but it tasted good.  I was very tempted by their ‘award winning’ Victoria sponge cake, but I resisted knowing that we had a tupperware of homemade chocolate cake in the car.

With my head full of thoughts of food for the week ahead, I thought I would start with a quick weekend round-up. 

Friday saw more of Mr Rigg’s incredibly good homemade pizza topped with buffalo mozzarella, Serrano ham and rocket.  An unbeatable favourite.

On Saturday we spent lunchtime collecting a HUGE tub of homegrown raspberries at the bottom of the garden.  I am amazed by how many there were – and there are still lots more to come that are ripening.

Mr Rigg and I made some of our delicious homemade granola – I will definitely post more on this as it’s a staple in our house and best enjoyed on a base of plain yoghurt and fruit purée (even the purée was homemade this time!).

Last night we ate an omelette with eggs from Abbey Leys filled with grated yellow courgette, baby plum tomatoes and shredded roast ham.

Packed lunches for this week include bitter lettuce and pea soup – an excellent (if slightly grassy tasting) way to use up the garden lettuce that is beginning to go to flower.   Toasted pitta bread with lashings of goat’s butter is needed in my opinion to help this soup go down…!

Tonight we made a Nigel Slater inspired grilled tomato pasta sauce with roasted tomatoes, garlic and a dash of cream.  He is a genius.

We must also use up the gorgeous local gooseberries we bought to make gooseberry fool.  They are blushed a claret red so should make a deep coloured fool.

And for the week ahead – maybe a chicken tagine with fennel and preserved lemon and homemade blackcurrant cordial.  A plan is needed and some shopping doing.

This afternoon we popped down to the Walton Lea Garden Party in Warrington.  We went last year and it’s always a lovely opportunity to go and enjoy their pretty walled garden and buy some gorgeous homegrown vegetables and fruit. 

We had a nice wander round the walled garden whilst munching on teeny tiny cupcakes – literally a mouthful.  I so enjoy seeing vegetables and fruit growing in such a beautiful old walled garden and going to the Walton Lea Project is almost like going to a National Trust garden.

Everything is looking a lot more parched and dry than last year what with all this steaming hot weather we’ve been having recently. 

But there is some gorgeous vegetables – like these stunning onions, all of which are for sale in the shop…

There is also a lovely selection of bedding plants and some good sized fruit bushes (redcurrant, whitecurrant and jostaberry) for a very good price – I would like to come back and get a few for the allotment.

We came away with…a selection of yellow and green courgettes, a punnet of redcurrants (destined for the pot to make a relish to go with a bacon and brie sandwich Mr Rigg fancies) and a punnet of blackcurrants (possibly for blackcurrant cordial)…

They were out of blackcurrants when we arrived, so whilst we enjoyed a stroll around the walled garden, someone went off to collect us a punnet of them!  Where else do you get service like that?!

And this gorgeous bunch of sweetpeas picked from their walled garden – and for only £1!

So following on from my weekend (last week) with my family and then the little sister, this is what we got up to when she came to stay…

We made French toast or eggy bread.  The little sister had hers with cinnamon sugar and I added some crushed (and homegrown!) raspberries to mine…

We made ‘cheats’ wraps – seed flecked tortilla wraps filled with Moroccan style hummous, sweet potato falafel and homegrown lettuce.  Sadly only the salad was homegrown…

We also had a delicious girlie lunch at Tampopo (the little sister’s favourite) – we shared Vietnamese goi cuon, she ate yaki udon noodles and I ate pad Thai.  Sadly we ate it all too quickly and there are no photos to show for these delicious dishes.

However, we also grabbed some lunch from Selfridges which I did snap a few quick photos of before we devoured it.  A selection of Indian delights and a pesto, mushroom and cheese pretzel and a mango smoothie to share…

A vegetarian breakfast for a hungry sister – a fried egg, sunny-side up with diced vegetarian sausage…

As part of her final parting dinner we did a baked Camembert eaten with crusty white bread that we picked up at the Abbey Leys farmer’s market.  Recipe for how to bake Camembert (it’s really easy) here.

We also made to-die-for cookies.  These are Hugh’s 10 minute cookies from his River Cottage Everyday recipe book, and they are everything you want from a cookie.  They are moist in places but crispy in others, chewy, sweet, and bittersweet with dark chocolate…

And finally, just before we left to pop her on a train home, we whipped up a quick quesadilla.  Two tortillas pan fried in a little oil with grated cheddar cheese and chopped cherry tomatoes sandwiched in the middle…

I miss you little sister!

So on the way back from the Cotswolds to Cheshire, the little sister and I stopped at The Organic Farm Shop – a great place on the outskirts of Cirencester near to where my family live.

I love visiting the farm shop and cafe, and I never need an excuse to pop in to pick up a few goodies.  And they have lots of goodies!  Loads of what they sell is grown or produced by the farm – from eggs and meat, to butter and cheese, and vegetables and flowers.

After driving down their tree-lined lane, past the fields of produce, the first sight we were greeted with outside the shop were buckets of gorgeous seasonal flowers and tubs of seasonal berries.  Share with me, for a moment, their beauty…

Here’s the follow up to yesterday’s post – our really local dinner.  Our local ingredients can be substituted with local produce from where you live or from your garden or allotment.

Grilled sausages, buttered new potatoes and a homegrown salad

Feeds 2

7 Locally reared sausages (3 for girls, 4 for boys)
A bag of earth covered Cheshire new potatoes
A bowl full of homegrown salad leaves
Homegrown Rainbow radishes (or normal!)
Local peas from about 20 pods
A giant spring onion (from Unicorn)
A bunch of parsley from the garden
Goat’s butter
Extra virgin olive oil
A dash a white wine vinegar
Sea salt and black pepper

Firstly, finely slice the spring onion and add to a large bowl.  Sprinkle with a dash of white wine vinegar and salt and leave to ‘pickle’ whilst you get everything else ready.

Preheat the grill.  Grill the sausages, turning regularly, until cooked through and a sticky brown colour.

Put a pan of salted water onto boil.  Scrub the new potatoes and boil until cooked.  Drain, add a generous knob of butter to the hot pan, let it melt then slosh the potatoes around until well coated.  Season with salt.

To the spring onion, add finely sliced parsley.  Clean and top and tail the radishes, then slice and add to the onion and parsley.  Pop the peas from their pods and add to the bowl.

When the potatoes and sausages are ready, add the salad leaves to the onion, radishes and peas and toss all the ingredients together with a glug of extra virgin olive oil.

Eat!

Yesterday was lovely.  It was one of those days when you feel whole, you feel content, you feel that life is good.

Mr Rigg and I spent the afternoon helping out the stall for our local Low Carbon group at the town’s May Queen Festival.  We are both involved in the group, me leading on local food.  We spoke to lots of people from our community, handed out information and lots of the ‘really local food’ maps I have produced. 

Then we headed up to Abbey Leys to get some eggs and bacon (I’m planning on making a Quiche Lorraine this week).  The sun was shining, the sky a dazzling blue.  The hedgerows are green and alive with twittering birds.  The hens and ducks at Abbey Leys were all down by the pond and sheltering in the shade of the trees.

Outside the farm shop was a bucket of locally grown Sweet Williams, a bunch of which now adorns our living room in an earthenware pot salvaged from the carboot.  Inside, Mr Rigg filled up two boxes with freshly laid eggs.  I found some outdoor reared Gloucester old spot streaky bacon in the chiller. 

We also filled up a bag with the first Cheshire new potatoes, still with earth clinging to them.  And then I saw them – a tub of locally grown peas.  I adore peas.  Peas plucked straight from the plant, popped out of their crisp pods and into my mouth.  Nothing is perhaps more delicious.

These were the first local peas I have seen, so we got a full bag.  By the time we got home I’d eaten about a quarter of the bag already.  Needless to say, they didn’t make it past sundown. 

From all this delicious local produce and some from our garden we ate a scrumptious, simple dinner – will post this separately.  This is how all days should be.  Should make you feel. 

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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