Christmas Greetings From Yvette
I am sitting in the warm watching icicles form on a frosty window with deep snow outside.
All is looking very Christmassy even though we have two weeks to go before the big event.
What does Christmas mean to you?
I enjoy the tinsel, red berries on the holly, robin red breast, ice, good food but more importantly the season of good will to all men.
The Harvest Festival and the Month of Plenty
Are you feeling blue with the evenings drawing in, children back to school and the prospect of winter coming?
Well pick yourself up as we are in the month of plenty!
September is the best month for an overflow of produce from gardens, hedgerows and fields. This is the month of the Harvest Festival and a celebration of fresh, seasonal, local food. Traditionally there would have been church services followed by barn dances with cider a plenty at this time of year. The whole community would have been involved with bringing in the harvest before the winter storms broke. We all know the cry ‘Too many marrows what can I do with them?’! Not only are we in the month of harvest but it is also the month when there is a frenzy of preservation: bottling, pickling, fermenting, dehydrating and freezing.
The National Vegetarian Week Challenge
This year, for National Vegetarian Week, the campaign asked people to go vegetarian for a week. We thought this was a great challenge and asked friend of the cookery school, Howard, if he’d be up for the challenge and he said YES!
Howard loves his meat – so much so, that he even breeds his own! On his smallholding they keep chickens, ducks, sheep Autumn to Spring, pigs occasionally and also he makes his own cider and perry.
Howard’s all-time favourite meal is roast lamb, followed by scouse, a hearty meat stew and on average will eat some meat maybe up to four times a week (some of that will be leftovers from previous meals) oh and he loves a bacon sandwich!
Creativity in the Kitchen – Food Intolerance and Allergens
As part of Coeliac Awareness week we asked Principal of Harts Barn Cookery School, Yvette Farrell, on her thoughts and experiences of cooking for people with allergies or intolerance.
How do you deal with food intolerances running a Cookery School?
Working in the catering and food industry it is European law that we have an understanding of the 14 registered allergens and the conditions they can effect.
We take this responsibility seriously and use the free training available from the Food Standards Agency and also have an allergen statement. We always ask attendees to cookery or baking classes, parties, supper clubs, chef hire and other events to let us know if there are any allergies or intolerances that we need to be aware of. By knowing in advance, we can then accommodate these requirements into our menus.
Ask the Expert – Tips for Gluten Free Baking and Gluten Free Cooking
To support Coeliac Awareness Week we put some questions to our “Free From”and Vegetarian Expert, Chef Erin Baker. Read below to find out more about Erin and the great tips and advice she has to help you cook or bake Gluten Free.
Erin runs our Gluten Free Baking Class at Harts Barn Cookery School as well as a range of incredibly popular and diverse range of Vegetarian Cooking classes.
Read below for some top tips on Gluten Free Baking and Gluten Free Cooking.
Let us know if you have any questions and we’ll answer them all this week over on our Facebook Page as we support the #glutenfreevolution
Wild Boar and British Pie Week
This week, we have been embracing British Pie Week here at the Cookery School and collating some wonderful pie recipes that are true celebrations of ‘Britishness’. I’ve been demonstrating a suet based vegetarian pie, getting kids to make their own cheese and onion pasties and buying fresh rhubarb to make a real British classic – rhubarb pie with custard – to enjoy after Sunday lunch this weekend.
Then it got me thinking, what pie could represent the Forest of Dean? I had a few on my list but if I’m honest, one stood out above all the others – The WILD BOAR PIE.
Julia shares her experience of a Valentine’s Day with a difference – at our Cookery School!
Last night mark and i benefited from our Christmas present from my parents: a cook and dine event at Hart’s Barn Cookery School. I thought we were going to learn how to make pasta and then eat a 3 course meal that included our pasta but it turned out to be WAY better than that!
We were offered complimentary drinks on arrival so i opted for hillside brewery’s pale ale, pinnacle. Yvette Farrell was very welcoming and once the third couple had arrived she took us through to meet the lovely Erin Baker, our teacher for the evening. Erin was enthusiastic about the Italian food she was going to get us to cook and got us started with tiramisu so it would have time to chill before we ate it.
A little bit of love and comfort food..
Something we do very well here in the UK is a good stew. In fact, it is up there in my top go- to comfort foods. And it’s Brexit and weather proof – we can produce all the beautiful ingredients for a winning stew right here on our island. February is definitely the time of year to bring out the stew! We all need a bit of comfort when it’s freezing outside and the skies are grey. It’s a great way to bring everyone together as well, serving the masses from a lovely casserole dish, knowing that everyone will leave the table satisfied and been given a big, warm hug! For me, there has to be some warm, crusty bread as well to accompany the offering or even some lovely homemade dumplings. Delicious! For those of you that haven’t taken the slow cooker out from the back of the cupboard yet, I urge you to do it now, plug it in and get the aromas filling the kitchen. You won’t regret it.
My Reflections on the January Blues, recipes to try and our January Sale
It’s always this time of year when everything starts to ‘pinch’.
Blue Monday is said to be the most depressing day of the year. From doing a quick google it is apparently on that particular day because of a calculation that looks at factors like weather and debt levels. Oh and it was invented by a Holiday company apparently too!
Now here’s the thing – you have a choice – you can either curl up under your duvet and sleep through it or you choose to ignore it and purposefully do something positive and maybe even fun! You can smile at a stranger, get out for some exercise or even bake yourself something deliciously healthy. Or you can do all 3! Being kind to yourself (and others) is like medicine – self-care if you like.Bring colour in to your house – try filling a big fruitbowl full of colourful fruit and just see how good it makes you feel seeing such vibrancy from nature’s larder. And let’s face it, you are far more likely to eat a piece of fruit if it looks enticing and on is on display within your eye-line.
My Top Tips and Recipes for a Stress-Free Christmas
I absolutely LOVE Christmas! For me, nothing beats a celebration where family and friends all gather together. I even love the chaos of it all! Having said that, many people do find the run up a little stressful with thinking of gifts to buy and being overloaded with pressure to produce an all singing and all dancing Christmas Dinner.
Here are a few ideas to help you on your way. It’s a magical time and it can stay that way especially if you start preparations early and I mean…. early.