Category Archives: food

CheeseSmiles – Cheese Course at High Weald Dairy

The cheese making kit

I have just completed a one day course at High Weald Dairy, I had hoped to tweet on the day but having twitter photo loading issues so here is a quick whizz through in photos.  First things first though, it was a great day, relaxed, well organised and I learnt a huge amount.  High Weald Dairy is based at Tremains Farm in Sussex, set in beautiful countryside, it has grown and developed over the years from a small family business to one creating a wide variety of cow, sheep and goats milk cheeses that are sold through farmers markets, delis and supermarkets. The whole team at Tremains Farm are, as I have learnt to expect in cheese makers, smiley people.  Husband and wife Mark and Sarah along with ‘the apprentice’ Chris ran the day. The course took place in a training room above the cheese maturing shed, with a teaching kitchen and place for teams of two to work on their cheese, a soft cheese had been part started and the cheddar was worked on throughout the day. The course materials are good too, with plenty of detail and information on suppliers, cheese record keeping, etc so lots of take home value is included.  My main interest was to learn the processes and equipment for hard cheese making and maturing, to work out if it is feasible to do this at home.

The picture above is a valuable one to me for the little blue jug and the blue manmade cheese cloths. Up to now I have been transferring my curds with a ladle but the little jug is much more efficient.  I also tend to use cheese cloths from Lakeland but they aren’t quite big enough, having a generous sized cloth definitely helps and the blue does mean if there is any loss into the cheese it would show.

Soft cheese draining

The picture above is the soft cheese curds draining, they were left with minimum disruption to gently give up their whey.  Just occasionally we moved the cloth to softly tumble the curds allowing puddles of whey to fall into the container below. The final processing, salting and adding flavourings was carried out at the end of the day, I created a cayenne and chilli version and kept one batch plain (I may add some horseradish from the garden to half and try the other half with fresh blood oranges). The soft cheese is delicious and the flavours enhance over the following 24-48 hours.

Soft lactic cheese with cayenne and chilli


The other main cheese production of the day was a cheddar. This gave the opportunity to stir the curds as they were reheated in their whey, a key part of the process the curds reduce in size and increase in ‘ping’.

Stirring the curds as they warm


The resultant curds are then strained and later pressed lightly in a single block. The block is then cut and stacked, the cheddaring process. Later this is broken down by hand into smaller bits, milling, and salted before putting into the press for the final stage.

Milled cheese being added to mould

After pressing, turning and pressing again the cheese emerged, pale and interesting.

The pressed cheddar


Now my little cheese is sitting in its cave, actually a cardboard box with a cup of water to raise the humidity and has become mellow yellow. I am exhibiting my best efforts at patience while it matures and becomes a star in its own right.

Of course I have brought the stages of the day together in this post; one of the great things about cheese making is that its not a hurry, there are pauses and opportunities to do other things.  Have coffee, chat, a wonderful lunch was provided (no surprises that cheese featured heavily) and a tour of the dairy manufacturing, packaging and cheese storage rooms. we also made mozzarella with much elastic stretchy, pinggggy fun!  The cheese below I really like the look of, the shape is from the colanders that the cheese are formed in and they remind me of the sourdough breads made by @pumpstreetbakery that take their form from the proving baskets.

The cheese store


Huge thanks to everyone at High Weald Dairy and the great company of those who were also taking part in the course, it was a superb day and actually as it was pouring with rain outside I can’t think that there would have been a better way to spend the day!

Enter Lear on a Mobility Scooter

Theatre in the Forest - Red Rose Chain - King Lear

It has already been quite a summer – I have not written anything here since the Wensum Swim, so time for a little catch-up.  We all know there has been a helluv-a-lot (meteorological terminology) of rain so looking back I’m amazed at how many summery things have been going on.

Theatrically I have had the pleasure of seeing Margaret Catchpole performed by Eastern Angles at the Hush House at Bentwaters.  This former jet engine testing site makes an excellent theatre and Margaret Catchpole was a fabulous topic for a regionally based play.  It was beautifully performed and the long exhaust chamber that forms the end of the hanger was used to very good effect.  The production followed the story of Margaret, from her life in Naction, to ‘stealing’ a horse and being sent to Australia; at heart though it is a love story with a bit of Suffolk farming and smuggling thrown in.


More recently I was invited to attend King Lear performed by Red Rose Chain, if you get the chance this is a must see theatre-in-the-forest production;  absolutely madcap and thoroughly entertaining.  You are met by the cast before you have even parked you car so it shouldn’t really come as a surprise when King Lear enters on a golden mobility scooter.  It is a testament to how engaging the whole piece is that the children in the audience were completely enthralled.  There is something magical about outdoor theatre, and the the cast made the most of the setting, entering from deep in the forest as an integral part of various scenes.  As night fell and the sounds of the forest changed the sensations became even more intense.  It was both hilarious and moving – and it has to be said suitably sad at the end. The cast, staging and costumes were fabulous. The production continues over the next few weeks, don’t miss it! [..and p.s. buy a programme, there is a comic strip version of the play in the back, which helps if you never listened much in Eng Lit – or like me did The Scottish Play]


This summer has also seen Suffolk’s first International Polo match. After Suffolk Show having been blown away in the storm it was good to see Trinity Park back on form as a social centre. I had forgotten just how huge a polo field is, but thankfully as the teams change ends frequently there was plenty to watch, not least is the pitch invasion ‘treading in’.


Travelling has led to some more interesting finds on the hotel front.  The first I can thoroughly recommend is the Green Dragon, a pub with rooms, at Cockleford, not far from Cheltenham. This is dog friendly, has very comfortable bedrooms, free wifi and excellent food.  There is also fantastic woodland walking just over the road. The second, the Clifden Hotel in Teignmouth, was a totally dog friendly hotel, not surprisingly as it is run by Vision. The staff could not be friendlier and the facilities include ‘spend areas’ for the dogs, grooming areas etc.  In both cases the hotels were found through Smoothhound, which remains my favourite source of different accommodation.


The rain has brought on some interesting fungi – one of the cutest was the Witches Butter growing in the moss down the middle of the lane.  I think the rabbits have been eating it – looking at the list of things the polysaccharides in it are supposed to cure/prevent the rabbits will probably last for ever!

Now we are in full Olympic’s mode and I’ll admit I’m hooked.  I was lucky enough to see the torch arrive at Ipswich and then on the day of the opening ceremony Framlingham had its own flag parade; it even made it to the national news!  it certainly brought home to me how the torch bearers role as ambassadors for the games live on after their few minutes with the torch – people were queueing up to have their pictures taken.

Now its time to start looking forward. The full programme for Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival has been published.  The main days should be interesting – I’m involved with Food Safari and looking forward to the fringe programme which has almost too many fantastic activities to choose from.

Below the Line – Day 5


My final day, living below the line; I’ll be completely honest this is where my attempts at counting the pennies went awry. I started with a 5p breakfast of porridge; straightforward enough. Then decided I should make soup with everything in the fridge. I made three batches. Cauliflower and cheese, using the rest of my 60p roadside cauli, two stale tortilla wraps, leftover Shropshire blue, fabulous Brie from Yoxford Post Office , creme fraiche and Parmesan. All the cheese grazing I would normally do in a week added to one pot of souper tasty, souper high fat soup! A batch of mushroom using all the mushrooms left from my £1.50 Morrison’s, plus any others lurking, some of the 40p/kg rice and milk (lots spare because I’ve only had three cups of tea). Then a big batch of leek and potato using £1 a bag baking potatoes and Morrison’s leeks. I had a bowl for lunch which I reckon came to 25p or thereabouts. In the evening I went to a family party – nibbled some nibbles (hopefully not too many) and drank water, how to be a party bore.

What a lesson –
1) How much food was in that fridge; at the start of the process I bought way more than I needed. I should be able to live on £1 a day for a month with what I have left. As I lost 3lbs over the week it could be just the diet I need.
2) To buy cheaply I bought in bulk and from a big supermarket. I’m fortunate, I could. I still tried to avoid pal oil but local/organic/fairtrade did not feature. What if I’d gone out on Sunday with a £5 note and had to buy and live off what I bought?
3) The costs of really budgeting for one, if it’s people living alone or people catering for one in a shared house are very much skewed. Not surprising then that in the UK we are seeing an increase in the use of food banks
4) People are kind, so many offers of tea and cake (because surely that’s allowed – I refused) and everything tastes better with chilli!
5) That all of this, in the warmth and comfort of my position is as nothing compared to the situation of billions of people in other countries.

Huge thanks to all those who have donated to UNICEF and who have read the blogs.

From Pieku to Piewayman

Lovely Sarah from Bray’s Cottage sent me a pie. Not any pie, a really big, pork pie of the onion marmalade kind, personalised with my name. There was huge excitement, not least from the delivery man when it arrived, as he breathlessly said, “It’s from the Perfect Pie Company” and handed over an enormous box. The pie was my prize for coming up with the pieku idea and I was thrilled to receive its scrummy meatiness. Indeed I think a large pie like that would form a great centrepiece for a jubilee picnic, it looked like a huge gold crown.

Now Sarah has a new challenge for you, could you be a Dandy Piewayman? For the price of a password or song you could get a reduction on the cost of your pie during this week. If you are prepared to dress up and sing you could get a free pie; it would be hilarious if a flash mob of Dandy Piewaymen attempted to intercept Sarah and her pies at Norwich Farmer’s Market next weekend!

Georgie, Porgie, Pudding and Pieku

This is one of those longer posts, so – feel free to skip to the bit you came looking for:

Pieku – Haiku on Pies, 0r Janathon 2012 – Thanks Kathy and Janathoners, or ‘Dispersal’ – a short story

Pieku – Haiku on Pies

You will find elsewhere in this blog reference to Brays Cottage, the Perfect Pie Company. One of my first ever ‘Pop-up’ assignments was helping Sarah on her stall, I’ve written a silly screenplay in the past too. This weekend has seen a little activity that has taken over twitter in a big way and I love the way that Sarah can take a batty idea and run with it – introducing the Pieku. It started when she asked me for the origins of the nursery rhyme Georgie, Porgie Pudding and Pie; I pulled out my copy of the Opie’s book on nursery rhymes and quoted back a few lines.  Then overnight my brain was clearly working away on the idea of rhymes and pies I woke up with Pieku forming; Pie based Haiku. I tweeted one to Sarah and she started a competition (it ends tonight – Sunday so get in quick for a personalised pie to the winner), they seem to be coming in at one every 10 minutes at the moment!

Here are some of the ones I have written – I try to stick with the 5,7,5 – cutting word and seasonal reference.

Knife through golden crust

Reveal inner soul, hearty

Blanket spread on ground


Wanton luscious pie

Mustard bit on side devour

Secret Valentine


Seductive mouthful

Jelly optional consume

Amatory gold


Hot crust raised up high

Chorizo filling warming

Not all pies are cold


If you have Pieku forming tweet them to Sarah @Brays_Cottage

Janathon 2012 – Thanks Kathy and Janathoners

Janathon 2012 has been a wonderful stimulus to get me moving again this year, but I failed miserably in the blogging and logging. Finally I think I’ve reached the stage where for me, as long as I do the exercise, I’m happy and don’t feel the need to log it all the time.  This is progress. I am really thankful to Kathy for starting the ball rolling and I have taken up running which is another new activity and paying dividends. Although, you’ll understand by the picture above why I haven’t run or swum today. I am also really grateful to the fellow Janathoners who encourage and support and dare I say it the PlankPolice who riddle me with guilt!

Dispersal – a short story

This is my latest piece of homework for the writing workshop I attend.  The task again was to allow the dialogue to do some of the narration, it is also designed to be read out loud for a ‘performance’ later in the year; let me know what you think…


The day I first visited here, a hoar frost was still hanging in the trees at mid-morning, thick fog had dogged us for days. Cloud Farm was boarded up and virtually derelict. When I opened the oak door I was disappointed that as it swung back it was silent, not the heart stopping creak I was expecting. It should not have been possible, but the air inside the tiled hall was even colder than outside. The door to the right led me into a large sitting room.  As I entered the room the only light was forcing itself through tiny holes in dark sheeting tacked up to the windows. I struggled to find my way to one of them, and tore at the corner of the fabric; it made an echoing, ripping sound as it split.

“Stupid girl,” I turned at the sound of the quiet voice, “put that back, there’s no light allowed in here.” I attempted to hook the fabric back into position but there was no way it would stay put.
“Sorry?” I said tentatively, “I didn’t mean to cause offence; I wasn’t expecting anyone to be here.”
“There isn’t,” said the voice.

The solicitor had warned me that that in addition to dereliction, the house was reputed to be haunted. He probably thought I was joking when I told him that was fine because I grew up with them.

I moved towards the voice, “You’re the colour of amber,” I said, she had the sheen and consistency of manuka honey, fresh from the fridge.
“You’re not frightened of me then?” she said.
I moved towards her, a small table at her side held a deeply grooved board with what looked like a single large marble balanced towards the end. Suddenly my foot landed on another marble and I started to slide inexorably towards her.

“Don’t knock the table,” she called out weakly. I resisted the temptation to put a hand out and instead drifted into her, landing on my backside with my eyes at her knee level.

“Oh my god, what happened to your legs? They are so tattered, they look chewed, are they sore?”

“Stupid girl; I can’t feel anything anymore. The damage was done after I collapsed; I was unconscious for two days before I died. The rats got me.” She seemed calmly philosophical about it.

As I attempted to get up, my fingers touched another marble. I lifted it as I rose and turned it in my hand.

“An eye,” I said, “Are they all eyes?”

“Yes would you mind picking them up and putting them in the rack?” she asked.

“Of course; such a variety, I like this one, a beautiful sapphire blue, how unusual.”

“It’s the only one that matches my natural eye colour” As I looked at her now though, she had no colour other than amber.

“Could you help me fit it?” she asked. I lifted the eye-ball up to her face; she had no temperature, as I felt for the outline of the eye socket.
“You don’t feel of anything, I can just sense differences of resistance, is this a bony ridge?” I asked.
“Yes just press the ball in and it should sit there.” For a moment, with her sapphire eye, she was complete.

Then she sighed, “Stupid girl.” The fog was clearing outside, more light streamed into the room and as the temperature lifted I looked at her.

“Your eye; it’s slipping.” It slid down inside her face and fell out of the bottom of her jaw, hitting the ground with a dull thud and rolling to the skirting board.

“Dispersal,” she said “When I warm up I start to melt away, it takes so much energy to rebuild myself when it’s cool enough…” and with that she seemed to dissolve in front of my eyes, and hers; trickling through the cracks in the floorboards. Just an eccentric collection of glass eyes on a side table remained.

I moved back to the window and let in more light, then saw the note pinned to the wall.
If you are reading this, Cloud Farm is about to become yours. Charlotte and I have lived peacefully together for nearly thirty years. She lives in the walk-in fridge mostly. Each time she retires there we agree when she will next emerge. We have had some successes. So far we have found the final resting place of four of the rats who chewed at her limbs and have garnered quite a bit of her form. We have learnt that two degrees Celsius is the critical temperature, any higher than that and she starts to disperse, any lower and she is too stiff to move. You must turn the air conditioning to its lowest setting and raise the fridge to two degrees for twenty-four hours before she is due to come out; check the whiteboard on the wall for the next date. On no account attempt to bring her out if the air temperature is above two degrees. There are still more rat bodies to find, or potentially the rats that ate those rats. Also her original eye; she lost it cutting wood, but taking her outside is so risky and the emotions so painful, we have agreed to leave that until last. You see, like all spirits she cannot pass over and finally release her particles until she is complete. At least her imperfections are physical, it is so much harder for those whose damage is emotional, they may never recover and remain here forever.

Look after Charlotte; she is essentially good, just damaged.

That which dies does not drop out of the world. Here it remains; and here too, therefore it changes and is resolved into its several particles; that is into the elements which go to form the universe and yourself. They themselves likewise undergo change, and yet from them comes no complaint. – Marcus Aurelis

For #12DCP folks this is my belated Ghost Story

More writing – Take Three; Chefs and Rome

Another short story made it to the ether app recently – Take Three; Chefs is the result of an over active imagination when applied to one of @PumpStreetBakery’s tweets and my slightly bizarre interest in flies.  You can read more about it here.

I also recently posted a story on a site called Circalit; it is a ghost story called Rome. I trimmed down a longer story to fit the criteria of the competition, it involves my favourite Roman woman Fulvia Flacca Bambula one day I would love to study her in more detail.

Rome on Circalit

Red Currents

The events of the last few days have left me, once again dismayed and confused about humans, life and how we interact with each other.  I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to be close to events such as those in Norway, how to react, cries of ‘what must be done?’ – should anything be done, should we just try to normalise and move on?  Then there are the thoughts of hundreds of deaths around the globe which could be avoided, treated, prevented.  In the end yesterday evening I could not cope with all the confused thoughts in my brain.  I wanted to do something simple, I picked red currants, but even there the metaphors caught up with me – so I came in prepped the fruit for the freezer and listened guiltily to Mike Brearley, possibly England’s greatest ever cricket captain, talking from his autobiography about the 1981 test matches.  Memories of wandering around Torquay trying to catch up with the game; which as every bar and pub was crowded out with people watching and listening to the game was easy, people shouted out the scores as you went past. Of course nothing has changed in the world, but small moments of calm help.

A playlist here

Red Currents

Garnet berries,
Arterial blood, drips from bushes,
Gathering should heal,
Life and death are bitter-sweet.

Cakes, Rides, Local Food and Silicone Knickers

The weather has been amazing in the UK; for Easter Bank Holidays it is unparalleled, not surprising then that I haven’t written anything here for ages.  There seem to be pairs of things queuing up; please skip to the bits that interest you most.  In the following order we have:

2 Apps; the 360Panorama and the Moleskine

2 Cakes; a giant Jaffa cake and a sweet, tart, redcurrant tart

2 Fungi;  A Dryad’s Saddle Paper experiment and St George’s Mushroom

2 Foragy bits; Sea Purslane and an experiment with cleavers and milk in an attempt to make cheese

2 Fabulous cycle rides, mapped from Framlingham, one following the Alde and one Green Bagging in Bow and Arrow Country

2 Local Food Discussions; why does Suffolk have a strong local food culture and a new local food festival?

2 Swims – How is my training going? – first sea swim of the season

Two Apps – 360Panorama and Moleskine

I have recently downloaded two apps for the iPhone that I am enjoying immensely. The first I heard about from @ssilvestori  who showed pictures of Lecce using it. Fantastic images; Silvestro is currently cycling around Puglia to generate interest in the small towns of the region.  His website is worth a gander, he offers food and wine courses and much more besides. The 360Panorama app allows you to take 360 degree images that can be shown flat, like the one below, or if you have an iPhone, the images can be uploaded and viewed as interactive 360 images.

The second app that I am enjoying is a digital version of the Moleskine note book.  I think it is going to be great fun for gardening and foraging notes, especially as it allows you to geotag pictures.  Now if it could just capture sounds and smells, and if I could draw a little better….. However I am quite pleased with my cover and a simple gardening note.

Two Cakes – Giant Jaffa Cake and Sweet, Tart, Redcurrant Tart

This being Easter cake baking seems essential. I have been quite pleased with two cakes this holiday so I am recording them here so I don’t lose the recipes. The first is a giant Jaffa Cake. Based on a Guardian recipe designed by Ottolenghi and supplied by the lovely @downatheel, it is a rich almondy, moist cake.  I adapted it by adding a jelly layer. Using 300ml of fresh Clementine juice and gelatine at 1.5 times the normal ratio.  I set the jelly in a soup plate before scooping it onto the cake.  I allowed the chocolate coating to cool as much as I dared before covering.

The second cake is described as a tart but is somewhere between a cheesecake, meringue and a desert sponge. It is sweet-sour and just plain lush. I used frozen currants which worked well but makes the meringue very tricky to apply as it part freezes as you mix them in. The whole cake is gloriously messy to make, but well worth the effort.  The recipe can be found on Catalina Bakes.

Two Fungi – Dryad’s Saddle and St George’s Mushroom

Spring is a joyous time for mushrooming, mostly because the spring ones are a bit easier to identify.  A friend brought me a Dryad’s saddle.  Not many commentators declare this to be edible, but it is supposed to be able to be used to make paper. I cooked it for hours, smushed it, strained it and ended up with some thing crispy stuff – nothing to write home about or on…. but it had an interesting transulcence so it might be useful added to other materials.

Much more exciting was the early appearance of the St George’s mushroom. One thing I have learnt is the earlier it arrives the less likelihood of worm damage.  This year there were far fewer, so I only picked two, but they were in tip-top condition. For the record, this year’s photograph April 18th whereas last year they didn’t appear until May 8th – what a difference a year makes. This year I sliced them and placed them with trout and Jack by the hedge, wrapped in foil and cooked on the barbecue.

Two Foragy bits – Sea Purslane and using cleavers to make cheese

Spring is a great time for foraging on salads, two of my favourites at the coast are samphire and sea purslane.  The samphire was not much in evidence this week but there were some lovely snacks of crisp, salty, purslane to be had.

Another favourite of mine is cleavers, a fresh pea-pod taste that makes weeding a pleasure.  I had read that it was used in the past as a rennet for cheese making.  I found a recipe for feta cheese and bought some goats milk.  I heated the milk, added the yogurt and then decided to squeeze a massive handful of cleavers into the milk mixture.  I left it and left it for days at room temperature.  After two days I had remarkably fresh smelling yoghurt, no goaty smell, no cheese though. I think that cleavers other title of ‘milk sweet’ might be interesting to explore further.

Two fabulous cycle rides – Orford/Iken/Alde and ‘Green Bagging’

This spectacular weather has been a great excuse for some serious cycling. Regular readers will know I am hoping to take part in the Dunwich Dynamo so I am steadily increasing my distances.  I don’t seem to be able to increase my average speeds though so I think I will be on the bike for in  excess of 10 hours.  Several chums have asked me how I manage, especially now I have a bike with a more racing style seat.  The seat is quite comfortable, I am naturally ‘well upholstered’ and I have recently invested in silicone knickers, with thick padding they are supposed to be good for up to three hours – so do I need to wear four pairs?

Two great rides though.  I have remapped these from Framlingham for you, parking in Framlingham is good at the Elms car park.  Both rides are mostly on very low traffic routes.  The first takes you to Orford, where there are plenty of pubs and the wonderful Pump Street Bakery, I also include a slight side track to High House Fruit Farm where they have fresh apple juice and Asparagus.  Points to watch out for on this route too Adders! on the Iken lanes, basking on the tarmac.  It is worth stopping and strolling down to the river for a spot of foraging (see above), you may also see Alpacas between Blaxhall and Farnham.  Click on the image below to go to the full map at MapMyRide.

The second ride was my Suffolk version of Munroe bagging.  I recently downloaded an app called Hill Lists, needless to say Suffolk doesn’t feature.  However, if someone would like to create the antidote I think it could be used for bagging greens, bottoms or castles all of which abound round here.  In this ride I count nine Greens, it goes over two commons, the one at Wingfield complete with tethered cattle.  It is worth checking the Wingfield website before you leave, if you have time to stop they have magnificent arts exhibitions and can offer tea and coffee.  There are plenty of pub stop-offs, if your timings suit;  The De la Pole at Wingfield, the Low House at Laxfield (actually named the Kings Head, but called the Low House) and the Queen at Dennington (actually named the Queens Head but known as Dennington Queen) all have solid reputations for food and ale.  If you just want quick supermarket fayre there is a shop in Laxfield and Framlingham has a full range of shops, coffee houses, pubs and a cycle repair shop.  This journey is largely traffic free and you will find miles of Bow and Arrow country – remember too the #bowandarrowtweetup if you are interested in joining a few of us for drinks or to watch The Social Network on 25th May 2011 at Wingfield Barns.  As before click on the map below to go to the MapMyRide site.

Two Food Discussions – Why does Suffolk have a strong local food culture and a new local food festival?

One of the features of  Twitter is that it is not a forum or a place for lengthy discussions; until one breaks out.  A few comments and before long a group of us were involved in a discussion about why Suffolk and Norfolk have a strong local food culture, as opposed to other areas which seem to feel a bit adrift.  You can read and add to the full conversation synopsis here.  It ranges from great products and producers, through sympathetic media and a relative absence of the ‘big stores’, but covers much more besides.

Pride in local food is important in so many ways.  There has been a food, craft and music festival at Framlingham College over the last three days.  The pre-publicity did not give many clues about who the exhibitors and demonstrators would be and I knew that a couple of local food related people were not involved so I wondered what the outcome would be.  Framlingham has a bit of a reputation for events being called off due to appalling weather, with the Gala rained off, fireworks not even making it to the stage of damp squibs etc.  However, the setting could not have looked better in glorious sunshine, looking at the castle across from the college green was a rural scene befitting of Midsommer Murders.  There were a few local food suppliers, notably the Chilli Company, Jimmy’s Farm, Suffolk Cup Cakes and local chef Emma Crowhurst was providing demonstrations.  There were also suppliers from further afield so it had the air of the food stalls at a county show.  It will be interesting to see if the event is run again and grows to include more local suppliers, they certainly had the best possible of weathers and things looked reasonably busy, with plenty of cars in the car parks and people wandering the grounds and at the demonstration.  I bought chilli sauces, curry sauces, sausages and enjoyed Emma’s demonstration, not least because real time demos are so much better than edited TV for things like sugar work.

Two Swims – How’s my training going?

I think I’m on track for the Grethathalon two swims; one the Great East Open Water Mile and the other a dip at Dunwich Beach preceded by the 120 mile overnight Dunwich Dynamo bike ride.  I am gradually increasing my miles on the bike. I have been doing more reading around the subject and beginning to understand why the training plans also focus on shorter, faster rides.  I hope this will make me try and ride faster, to build up the relevant muscles, mitochondria etc to improve my overall performance.  It has to be said I am a bit sedentary at the moment.   

Yesterday I did my first sea swim of the season, at Dunwich Beach; no way was I going to attempt crawl or put my face in the water though, so back to the old chestnut of controlling the drowning reflex.

If you would like to make a donation, I am supporting Diabetes UK this year.  My Just Giving page is here.

Most Splattered

Back on Shrove Tuesday I asked which cook book people always turned to for their basic recipes.  The one that is permanently covered in cooking splatters.  Mine is the Cookery Year Book – a Readers Digest staple of the late 1970’s and early 80’s no dinner party could be completed without it.  I was stunned by the number of responses:


Good Housekeeping, BeRo and Delia feature heavily but what a response!!!

@SimonMagus = Dairy Cookbook and Good Housekeeping

@DanHigham = Leon: Naturally Fast Food

@Jocassels = every cookbook she owns is splattered #verymessycook

@SuffolkCupcakes = Good Housekeeping

@mcliffe = The (all new) Purity Cook Book for general basics and The Compete Book of Mexican Cooking (Ortiz)

@WordCheck1 = 1943 ‘Complete Cookery’ by Lilian Mattingly that was my mum’s, with a familiar recipe for ‘rock cakes’

@easternsparkle = McDougall flour book

@JewelleryGenie = my grandmother’s (Cookery Book for Brides – subtitled ‘to love and to nourish’) has lots of scribbled notes in it from her

@Suffolkbloke = Tamsin’s Kitchen Bible and Four Seasons Cookery Book

@SaffronKate = (1)Margt Patten’s Everyday CB, gift from worried MiL when 1st married! & (2) Delia’s Cookery Course (I bt)

@tbosuffolkcoast = Several by Nigel Slater are v. splattered as are ones by Annie Bell &Tamasin Day Lewis.

@janehamerton = I love my new one by Diana Henry

@8CW = 1000 Recipe Cookbook – from when a student plus Larousse’s Gastronomique

@Emma_Crowhurst = Leith’s Cookery Bible, it has all my old trusted basic recipes, I love Diana Henry 2, I used to teach her @ Leith’s back in the day

@SpiersC = Gammon and Spinach-Simon Hopkinson. Promised myself I would cook every recipe in it – have ticked off 2/3 so far…

@mwschaefer = Jam it, Pickle it, Cure It is always in my kitchen

@josordoni = Alistair Little, Italian Kitchen.. this is THE BEST tiramisu recipe ever!

@cardiffbites =  St Delia

@Jo6789 = good housekeeping

@DomesticJules = Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess.  for basics, cakes and pastry either Nigella – Domestic Goddess or my 1950’s copy of Good Housekeeping Compendium

@stillcooking = reference has to be larouse. Fail safe recipes probably the complete Robuchon (my old boss)…p.s. later..realised I spent Larousse incorrectly.well chefs are terrible at spelling.CB revision- the good cook(timelife) cakes & pastries

@shopkeeperswife = delia’s complete cookery course. ‘a new edition for the 1990’s’!

@JaqMart = BBC Good Food website – every recipe you’ll need. That or the Bero recipe book that I got free when I collected enough tokens.

@goodshoeday = delia smith cookery course the late 70s/early 80s version

@trufflepigpopup = Bouchon by Thomas Keller would be mine, fab buttermilk chicken and I have made a mean quiche from it too!

@direbonappetit = basics is always to delia complete or a very old 1960/70s good housekeeping!

@susannewilliams = my childhood learn to cook book!

@Meadowitch = 1001 recipes

@Sarah_Woolford = A tie between Delia and Be-ro……wonder what decade that places me in?

@niamhirl = Same answer for most splattered and where I go for basics is “Cookery for absolute beginners” by Lynette Baxter. Copy is 16 yrs old


Thank you all – great list and some fabulous memories of cook books lost (what happened to my learn to cook book with the dog making Croque Monsieur?)




The taming of the (mu)shrew(oom)

Time for a few confessions. A lovely person called Mr Truffle recently ran a creative writing competition; create a piece of writing about ‘how to buy truffles’.  I entered with a piece heavy on double entendre and won!  You can read my entry on Mr Truffle’s pages here, sadly I posted it before I finished editing so there are a few glitches in the last couple of paragraphs – but hey I won and am now the proud owner of 20g of truffles.  But what to do with them…. watch this space.

Second confession – my interest in this topic is not a new one.  Ever since I read, Taming the Truffle  – the history, lore, and science of the Ultimate Mushroom by Ian R Hall et al, I have wanted to plant my own truffiere; who knows, one day, maybe.


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