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
Jelly optional consume
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
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! http://prune.it/lYxj
@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?)
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.
It’s been a while since I blogged – so some catching up to do. Let’s start with a playlist for those with Spotify – Click Here
- The Fantastic Truffle Pig Pop-Up in Brandeston
- How do I give feed back when asked – “is everything OK for you” and whilst OK it’s not great
- Why detox anyway?
The Truffle Pig Pop-Up
Way before Christmas, the delightful @suzannewilliams started mentioning the idea of a Pop-Up restaurant to be held at Brandeston Queen’s Head for one weekend only. I liked the idea; but from mid-January to mid-February I like to detox. For me that means no meat, wheat, dairy, fish, tea, coffee or alcohol. Now Suzanne’s other half is a great cook, I know because he has influenced the food at Brandeston Queen for some time now in his role as consultant, so I was rather sad to think I might forego the pleasure. However, quick as a very fast cheffy knife, they came back with ‘so? We’ll take you on, tell us what to avoid,’ thus a cunning plan was born.
A group of tweeting friends and other halves, six of us in all including @adrianmelrose, @fiswaff and @spudballoo decided to book. In the meantime Adrian experienced an epiphany (if that’s not too strong a word for it) and decided to become a vegan too, having read Eat to Live. Did Truffle Pig rise to the challenge? – You bet they did.
The aim with Truffle Pig was for Suzanne and David to run the show in their way, putting their stamp on everything from the food, suppliers to service and publicity. This is importantly different from acting as a consultant where you are influencing, advising and supporting others to develop their ideas. What a sign of a truly professional relationship though that the host location for this Pop-Up was Brandeston Queen’s Head who are current consultancy clients.
From the moment we walked through the door, coats were taken by attentive staff and we were directed to our table. The meat eaters had menus to select from but the detox two had each course introduced with due ceremony. To start was cucumber jelly with apple sauce and salad, delicate, colourful little roundels of jelly perfectly set and light on the palate. The main course included golden beetroot in a vegan consommé, rosti potato, with pak choi and tight spinach bundles. Desert was a trio of red fruit delicacies. For meat eaters there were such spectacular delights as pig’s head starter, pig’s trotters or blade steak for main course these of course were anything but ordinary. Every course created with the accent on flavour and beauty.
This was an evening to savour a long, leisurely meal with some absolute wow factors built-in. As if to prove that I’m not a food blogger, I failed to photograph anything as I went along; so many thanks to Suzanne for the photographs.
The extra good news is they are about to Pop-Up again. Follow @trufflepigpopup and register at their website to receive more information.
So half way through the detox and I was being treated like a queen – all good. Then came the end – time for a blow out meal but…
How do I give feed back when asked – “is everything OK for you” and whilst OK its not great
At the end of detox month, time for a meal out. I shan’t name the place (but if you think it’s you, ask). I have always said I’ll post the positives here and if there are negatives I’ll give feedback direct. First meat in a month, first wine etc, etc. I don’t think it was my palate being askew, if anything it should have been heightened and relishing good food. So how do I, or should I even, give feedback when food is OK, as in nothing to complain about (which I would do) but just uninspiring; the location hollow and empty and the whole experience leaving a feeling of – well we’ve tried it and now we know not to go back again? “Fine”. I would genuinely welcome your views. Since that meal another impromptu lunch date was totally unspectacular too – I swear, what gave the appearance of freezer sausages in freezer stew-pack veg with some watery stock does not constitute a sausage casserole in my book – “interesting”.
However I refuse to end on a down note – today I went to Marlesford Farm Cafe, squashed goat pie, mash and mushy peas – simple, fabulous in a deservedly busy, carefree atmosphere. p.s. no goats were squashed in the making of the pie, it is goat cheese and squash. When asked I was happy to say -“it was great thanks!”
Why detox anyway?
I promised Niamh a fuller response to her tweet to me (above). My version of detox might be more appropriately called a month’s rest. It is not intended to be a whole life change, but just to get me back on track after the Christmas excess, before you ask, I know I should just be less excessive over Christmas. It also is linked to dropping a few pounds in weight and getting out and active once again, fit and ready for the spring. It works for me. Basically I just eat super healthily for a month and then slide back into eating other stuff gently with the aim of being better with my self control thereafter. I am not trying to remove weird and wonderful substances from my body in weirder and wonder-fuller ways. I am more than happy to post Ben’s YouTube clip below, I don’t disagree with what he says, there is far too much hype about products etc., not sure that this clip is any more scientific than some of the things it is commenting on though. Many cultures, for many years, have had some period of abstinence, often fitting with religious festivals or timing that neatly fits with seasonal shortages or periods when eating certain foods might be more dangerous due to climate. None of this is new, a period of rest, a little pause, regroup and then off we go again.
One final comment:
RIP Broadhouse Hotel. Catering and hospitality is a difficult world. The Broadhouse Hotel recently announced its closure. It was a great place to stay. Sadly staff, customers, investors and suppliers will all have been impacted – it is such a pity, I can’t begin to understand the economics of it all, I hope others can and good will come of it in the long run.
I’ll start with a thank-you. The lovely @sausagekinguk popped over with my prizes from his blog competition. A great collection of books two by a sausage expert and one on exotic meats. So thank you kind sir! I hope the sight of the locals preparing for badminton was not too much of a shock.
My Janathon update – I’m really pleased; before badminton I did a bike session at the gym. The plan was 50 minutes, easy speed. So I upped the rpm to the 90s and actually spent some of it over 100 all at level 7. I managed 14.6 miles
Another day of rain and darkness – today is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. I tried to photograph the moon in a puddle. Standing in the lane, in the dark, dog on lead in one hand like some ancient moonraker trying to fool the customs men. I really should ditch the dog and find a tripod if I ever want to be successful at this stuff. But here is my Suffolk 365 of the day, not a reflected moon in the end but taken leaning on a gate post.
Happy New Year
It was a bit of a heavy night last night and the poor maids had to be up early milking. So they are off on their break now. Assuming everyone is also hung over, what they need is comfort food; something that goes right to their roots, home spun and soothing.
I wish to create a map of local delicacies, those things that just don’t exist elsewhere. Here in this bit of Suffolk I guess it would be rusks. Where I grew up it would be lardy cake. So what food and where did it originate from would you recommend for the milk maids? I will create a map, lets see if we can cover it with comfort eating.
The playlist for today is here
Your game of the day is deceptively simple yet…… well try it and you’ll see here
And finally the Russian Roulette Question:
Sarah Nelmes milked Blossom – why were they important?
If you are new to this, a brief explanation. The #12DCP is a virtual Christmas party. A post a day will appear on the Grethica. You respond by way of comments. Each comment creates an entry into my prize draw, for a money can’t buy prize (because it’s mostly stuff that’s been given away by others). The Russian Roulette questions are quiz style questions, the comments you leave to those will be posted at the end of the 12 DCP. However the danger with a Russian roulette quiz is that if you answer a question wrong – all of your answers become null and void. The good news is though you have time to go back and post answers to previous days, right up to the end of the 12th day.
Enjoy – thanks to those that have taken part so far… keep up the good work
Last night there was a programme on BBC1 which mentioned the Teasmade. Now I think there was a problem with the old style teasmade in addition to its association with the Generation Game conveyor belt, there is also the whole issue of the name (worse still when made by Goblin, which just sounded wrong), they looked clunky and the need for UHT milk, lumpy milk or coffeemate just served to make matters worse.
There are some newer models available but they still don’t more things forward much. Above is my idea, along with a new name. The Bedroom Barista-Geisha, guaranteed to make you perfect tea or coffee every time. It can make coffee with hot or cold milk, tea or infusions. For difficult couples (ie most) who can’t agree a double set up can be created. In any case it has to be better than the little kettle beloved of motel bedrooms, that just prove to you how alone you are.
Oh – if this is a truly genius idea I reserve the right to be known as its inventor.
So votes please:
Aldeburgh Food Festival has some great fringe events, I joined two separate farm walks and thoroughly enjoyed them both. [Here is your Spotify playlist to accompany this post]
The first was at Whitegates Farm, just off the A140 at Creeting St Mary and home of Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses. If ever you have the chance to go on tour do. Here is a happy farmer, with happy cows and a great example of turning adversity into advantage. The whole project started when Jason’s employer decided to sell up his herd leaving Jason without a job. Now he and Katherine, after a few false starts along the way, have perfected their Suffolk Cheese, using milk from their Guernsey herd. You may remember the cheese featured in my Suffolk diet dinner a few months ago. The creamy milk is gorgeous too and I thoroughly enjoyed the pork sausages I brought home.
The spare whey goes to feed an eclectic mix of pigs, who grunt eagerly for scraps of cheese experiments that have gone past their sell by dates. I am looking forward to hearing how the air dried ham and Brie style cheese trials are going. If you are interested in learning the craft of cheese making, you may like to join one of the Food Safaris that are run at the farm.
The second visit was to Peakhill Farm at Theberton, here the emphasis is on the beef end of cattle production with beautiful South Devon cattle strolling through the meadows, slowly creating full flavoured organic beef. I wish I had taken my proper camera as I only have one photo. Rob is a charming host and talks passionately about his love of his farm and cattle. Here beef never goes to slaughter, it goes on holiday and comes back ready for the shop. The last year has seen the farm add another element of diversity with a small caravan site; a fantastic location for those wanting to hide away near the Suffolk coast. The walk finished with tomato and basil soup, jacket potatoes and beef casserole and quince crumbles all produced by the delightful Karen and cooked in the field kitchen. I bought a beef pack and the brisket was great, the rest will come out of the freezer over the coming weeks and the dried field mushrooms are being turned into a Heston Blumenthal recipe soup.
It was great to meet Rob and Karen, having ‘conversed’ with them via Twitter for some time before the walk. Slightly worrying that Rob was expecting an older woman with a ‘large chest’; but as he ended up having to push my car out of the pond I guess he had to deal with the batty creature that turned up anyhow.
So two farm visits, plenty of luscious meat and dairy to eat and then along came a code to allow me to try and Graze on nuts and olives. If you haven’t come across the concept before, you order a Graze box, it is posted to you (typically your work address) and you munch. I quite enjoyed the nibbles, fresh and very tasty; I would normally pack a small selection of nuts or dates with my lunch box anyway, but I do have a basic packaging over expediency problem with the whole idea. So not sure I will be joining the herd, long-term, or only for very special treats but I can see how it would appeal to the office bound with only a cake shop to fall back on for comfort.
If you would like to try the Graze experience click HERE you will receive your first box free (until the voucher expires) and I will receive either £1.00 off my next box or to donate to a Uganda farming project.