Monthly Archives: April 2010
We have a little tradition round here, a group of friends take it in turns to host a supper when it is one of the group’s big ‘O’ birthday. This was my chance; ever one to set myself a challenge, I decided to try to source all the ingredients from Suffolk. This is how the meal went, there is a Spotify playlist to go with the post; it was Earth Day too, so celebrating all good things around us seemed particularly appropriate.
The opening gambit from two of the friends when they arrived was, ‘so are we going to have road kill?’ – Little did they know.
Being fabulous people the first thing they asked was, “is there anything we can do?” – I explained that the one product I couldn’t buy locally was Suffolk butter. I poured some cream into a jam jar and asked them to shake it whilst they talked. Passing the jar from one to another; we could eat once when we had produced butter.
Starters: Platters – Salami and Ham from Lane Farm Brundish, Smoked Trout, Mackerel, and Salmon from Pinney’s of Orford, Green Peppercorn Dressing from Suffolk Mud, Mayonnaise from Stokes; mixed leaves from my greenhouse and Road Kill rolls made with white strong flour from Maple Farm, Kelsale.
The Lane Farm meats are dry and not overly fatty so really tasty to eat, especially with something a little spicy like a mustard or the peppercorn dressing. The Pinney’s smoked fish is delicious. The fish is soft and delicately smoked, not overly flavoured. The Road Kill rolls were bread rolls shaped like flattened hedgehogs. Kelsale flour is not bleached, so even their white flour comes up as a brownish roll, perfect for hedgehogs. The flour has a gloriously silky feel when you work with it. I was caught out though by using too much water in the initial mix, so much kneading on a well and frequently floured board was required to bring it back to a good consistency. I proved the dough over night and did a secondary shaping and proving in the morning.
Another time I would make the rolls smaller, they did look rather intimidating.
Amuse-bouche: Weed shot. I made a soup using, Jack-by-the-hedge, cleavers (aka sticky willy), nettles, chick weed, sorrel and land cress from the garden and the lane. I served the soup by giving everyone a shot glass and pouring the soup chilled from a White’s pear juice bottle. Variously described as disgusting, smelling like drains and quite nice; I think it is possibly an acquired taste. I’ll drink the rest for lunch, I guess it will have cleaned the palate if nothing else.
Venus and the Hunter’s return: The main course was a variation on coq-au-vin. Made with chicken breast, Shawsgate Venus, onions, carrots, potatoes, a good bundle of fresh herbs as a bouquet garni and some chopped pickled walnuts (walnuts from one of the friend’s garden) stirred into the sauce. I was trying to keep this course low fat, so didn’t thicken it with a roux and used skinless breasts, the little oil I used to soften the onions was local rape seed oil from Hillfarm. With hindsight this may have been a mistake, the chicken came up rather dry and I wish the potatoes had a bit of a crispy edge to them. Another time I think I would use a deep casserole, slice the potatoes and do as a layered topping. The chicken, potatoes and carrots are all from local suppliers and bought at auction at Abbots at Campsea Ashe. As there were already some veg in the casserole I just served it with a huge deep dish of Birds Eye peas. Now I can’t guarantee these were from Suffolk but there is a fair to middling chance they were; but equally that they may be the last ones we see. I have previously written about the pea harvest in this area; what I didn’t know at the time was that just before this year’s crop should have been planted, Birdseye would pull the plug and not renew the contract. Some of the farmers will have planted beans or other replacement crops, but various contractors have been laid off and had to find new work, all at very short notice.
Cheese: I served, Suffolk Gold, Suffolk Blue from Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses, Creeting St Mary, and Shipcord, Hawkston from Rodwell Farm in Baylham near Ipswich. Trying to avoid biscuits, I served them with spiced pickled pears that I made last year and some spiced peaches from Laxfield that I won in a WI draw.
At this point a friend that I knew was going to be late arrived. It was agreed that she should try the weed shot before being allowed to proceed, she correctly identified nettles as an ingredient.
Heston vs Delia Desert: I am not a great lover of puddings and often pass on them preferring to tuck into cheese instead; so deserts with me are always a bit of a risk. I gave each person a small plastic tub and a pipette. The idea was to build your own desert taking as many (Heston) or few risks (Delia) as you like from the following list.
- Baby meringues, eggs from garden, Aspall Balsamic Vinegar and Billington’s Sugar, at the time couldn’t find British Sugar.
- Marybelle Creme Fraiche, Yoghurt
- Coffee Granita made with Paddy and Scotts, Great with Friends Coffee
- Tea Granita made with Sencha Wild Grey tea from Butterworth and Son
- Beetroot Jelly made with ‘Beet it’ from Whites
- Coulis – Wild Blackberry and Raspberry from Whites
- Chocolate from Hadleigh Maid
- Walnut Liquor made with green walnuts from friend’s garden (which is what the pipette was for)
Throughout the meal the drinks on offer were Shawsgate Baccus 2004 and a selection of juices from Whites.
The meal was finished off with a gorgeous cake that one of the friends had made, fizz from another friend and there should have been tea and coffee but I think by then I had forgotten that bit – oops.
I am hugely grateful to Eat Anglia, who when I was having problems getting the Kelsale flour called and asked them to deliver some for me especially, that’s service.
I have been away this weekend, so not much time for anything more than a doodle. The theme for Illustration Friday is ‘Detective’. In this case I think the detective might be a little cross that the Scene of Crime Officer has not been taking her work seriously enough. If you like making fingerprint doodles why not link them in a comment here.
I’ve always wanted a licence to print money. Ever since @rubbishcorp introduced me to the doodle thingy people have asked me to send them the link. So HERE it is and above is some money I have designed. There are some much more creative doodlers than me out there. So if you have created a picture using the doodle thingy, please add a link. It’ll be like the vision on picture gallery all over again. Oh and if you can think of genius ideas and draw them BBC Genius and @davegorman are after them HERE.
This little girl is sitting in a lawn full of daisies; as she is linking her chain, making a necklace to go with her crown, she day-dreams of pink ‘effalumps. Is it the connection as she loops each flower through the split in its predecessor, or has she been licking her fingers as she sits in the middle of the fairy ring? To be honest none of the mushrooms is a faithful representation of Marasmius oreades, the fairy ring champignon, I suspect whatever they are, they could be mildly hallucinogenic.
As the weather improves, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. Perhaps it is time to reinvent the hippy movement.
This morning I walked with dog and camera, to photograph some spring flowers newly freshened by the dew.
I apologise to the cyclist who must have wondered what on earth he had discovered when he found me nose down, bottom up, in the wet grass. The phrases, “stay still, and stop tugging” were aimed at the dog.
It is not easy trying to find a perfect focus with the dog trying to follow the bike down the lane.
In the meantime I am just cross that I can not activate my existing flickr account to add my spring pictures to the winter ones.
More of this series here
One of the big things in the last election was the ‘choice’ agenda. I wonder is choice something that can only be afforded when things are going well in the economy? I wonder how often we will hear choice being mentioned in this election campaign. On the domestic front I suspect that the less funds you have the more important but also the more limited choices. One of the advantages of cutting things out eg when doing the detox diet is that everything is quicker, whole rows of supermarket shelves were out of the equation. But while there is a choice there is always the question over the Road Not Taken.
The thing that started me on this theme of choices was a post by Whimsical Wife about the Tools of Youth. When I looked at her list I thought golly gosh (or words to that effect) half those products didn’t exist when I was 18 and I’m sure a current, just about to vote’s list, would look very different. So for the record here is my list:
- Apparently this Spotify playlist were the top-selling tracks [list in 1st comment] – however I think I was very un-pop and much more likely to listen to Pink Floyd and Lynyrd Skynard
- Moulton Mini bike and dad’s mini van
- an instamatic camera – I tried finding photo’s of me from that era but I was always behind and not in front of a camera
- Rucksack – Holidays were had in the Lakes and Wales in Youth Hostels
- Charlie [until introduced to Dior]
- Wagon Wheels
- Boots 17 or Miners (but not often)
- Black Wellies
- Manual typewriter
- Reel-to-reel tape recorder
- Spike Milligan
The more I started to think about this list, the more all I could think abut was this…..
Back on the theme of choices, in this pre-election period; possibly the most difficult thing for me to understand is war. When I don’t understand things I tend to look to poetry, art, literature; basically anything other than political rhetoric to try and gain perspective.
This morning the japonica is in flower. Japonica makes me cry when I think of the poem “Naming of parts” by Henry Reed. For me the poem is about the physical and emotional unpreparedness of the prepared and their essential fragility no mater how tough they are.
However, I also reflect on the poem “First they came“, attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller. I don’t know that I am any further forward in assessing the rights and wrongs of the current disputes, wars and disturbances. I do know they can have a tremendous impact on individuals and communities.
Difficult choices. You can find out some of what your MP has or hasn’t been involved in voting at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/
If you are not sure what this is about a quick update. The Perfect Pie Company make pork pies. They also have a Pie Aggio (see previous post). In a moment of madness a scheme is developing to ‘make a film’; well in our heads at least. So here is my proposed screenplay. Most of these names exist, so please accept this is a bit of a laugh and if you want to be swapped out let me know. Sadly both @PorkPieHat and @TheProfessor seem to be dead twitter accounts.
The Screenplay for The Pietalian Job ~The Secret of the Golden Crust
Opening shot: [Music -Manolo Garcia – A San Fernando Un Ratito A Pie Y Otro Caminando]
Long shot of the Pieaggio driving through the Norfolk Lanes, each side full of yellow blossom; as the camera pans following the Pieaggio it disappears from view; the camera zooms in gradually the whole screen is nothing but yellow.
Fade to: Yellow but as the camera zooms back out it is clear this is no longer the yellow of the fields but the yellow of a silk dress. As it zooms further back the dress is topped by a smart hat and it is evident that we are in the ‘posh’ part of the racecourse [Fakenham]. [Music fades out]
Voice: [Throughout the Movie we have a ‘disembodied voice like in the Early Jamie Oliver series, as if it is coming from the camera] “Can you tell me where I’ll find the PieAggio”
Lady Banana: You’re in the wrong place madam you need to go over there. (pointing)
The camera zooms to another part of the racecourse and as if by magic we are sucked to that spot with it…clearly seeing a man in a distinctive Pork Pie Hat and yellow suit as we go past.
At this point we have a split screen view, at key points in the film this technique is used. Anything that starts with @ is actually the twitter feed and appears on the right pane of the split screen, with the visual action still taking place on the left.
Lady Banana: @PorkPieHat what’s happening? There are cameras here
The camera is now focused on Sarah Pettegrew, selling her pie, hair swirling and looking slightly flustered.
Voice: Ah, you must be Sarah.
Voice: Tell me what is the secret of your golden crust?
The Professor: @PorkPieHat I think we’ve been rumbled
Sarah: (to the Voice) Excuse me, who are you?
Voice: You said drop in anytime, to do some impromptu filming.
Sarah: Yes, oh, of course I did, sorry; I’m just a bit distracted at the moment.
At this point a noise that had been barely perceptible but getting louder becomes very audible. It is a snore but through a punch and Judy swazzle.
Voice: Gosh, what the blazes is that?
The Professor: @LadyBanana I may have overdone it….
Sarah: He keeps doing that. It’s the Punch and Judy Professor, he will drink too much and then fall asleep in front of the PieAggio. He’s not on again for half an hour. He’s best left; he gets nasty if he’s disturbed.
The Professor: @Pork PieHat , she’s g8, covered for me nicely.
PorkPieHat: @moggypie go steady, when will you be in with the next supplies?
Voice: So these are the famous pies?
Sarah: Yes, they are the ones. Sorry do you mind if I keep serving we are really busy today.
Voice: No you carry on. How do you manage to keep up?
Camera pans to show amazingly long queue
Sarah: I’ve sent MoggyPie to fetch more supplies
Voice: OK, I think we’ll go and take a few context shots; back in a minute or two.
Sarah bops down behind her trestle and is seen to be tweeting
Sarah: @moggypie as soon as you get here we load and go
The Professor: @ladybanana @porkpiehat stand by, distraction techniques required any minute
At that moment MoggyPie turns up with her own PieAggio clearly heavily laden.
Sarah: How did I let you talk me into this? Golden Crust indeed, it’s taken years to perfect this but I hadn’t reckoned on how heavy it would be once we made the bullion version.
MoggyPie: Too late you’re involved now, heck we better skedaddle
With that they hop into the PieAggio; the newly arrived pork pies glistening in the Norfolk sunshine. The rest of the time is filled with japes as The Professor, Pork Pie Hat Man and Lady Banana create diversions to allow the PieAggio escape. Plenty of scope for a lap round the racecourse, knocking glass carrying waiters, hay bales, horses, jockeys etc going flying. Then a road trip/car chase phase through every sight in Norfolk, down any steps you can think of in Norwich [We could get EEDA funding if we try hard enough]. I just insist it goes through Gedney Drove End [because I like the name and it is the back of, the back of beyond] and then ends with the PieAggio either dangling off the cliffs at Hunstanton in the classic style or slowly sinking into the sand somewhere like Snettisham.
MoggyPie: I have an idea…..
Sarah: It’s OK It’ll come out in the Wash
Music: We are the Brays Pie Consumption Society…….
Fade and close
The general election has been called, will we use or votes wisely I wonder? [Spotify playlist here] When I started voting we ended up with our first female Prime Minister. I remember thinking how good it would be to have a female in charge after many years of dispute with the Unions and Northern Ireland and race issues bubbling in Bristol and other UK towns. Since then I have been involved in politics local or national, been in ‘purdah’ where expressing no political views are allowed as part of being a ‘public servant’, been less interested in the result because I was too busy raising children, working etc to take time to think, been distinctly tipsy on the election night of 1992, staying up late with friends whilst on holiday and not sure if the feeling the next day was a hangover or what.
I am older now, idealism and that sense of knowing what is right has changed somewhat by recognising how much grey there is in the world (I was warned this would happen). However, two things I am sure of; there is no such thing as a wasted vote and where the cross ends up is between me and the ballot box.
In the meantime I have been thinking a lot about choices and will write more on the topic in the next few days. But I leave this thought; in Tamil Christian areas it is not unusual for people to be named after famous historical characters hence this election result. Many thanks to Thejaswi Udupa http://twitter.com/udupendra for the photo (click it to expand).