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.
GUEST BLOG – ERIN SHARES HER RECIPE FOR PUMPKIN PIE
Pumpkin Pie has got to be the quintessential American autumn treat. As I am an American living in England I recreate this classic pie every year to remind me of home. Until they have tried it, most people I have met in the UK are not convinced they will enjoy a piece of pumpkin pie. When asked to describe pumpkin pie I refer to it as a spiced pumpkin flavoured custard tart. This generally warms people to the idea of it and after they have scoffed it, they are completely in love.
Most recipes in found in the states call for tins of pumpkin purée and evaporated milk, two things I would rather not use! This recipe calls for fresh pumpkin and replaces the evaporated milk with double cream. I grow a special type of pumpkin called New England Pie Pumpkin that is perfect for this recipe. This variety is sweeter and less watery than the type for carving. When people ask if I am going to carve my precious beauties, they are often glared at with offensive eyes and are then told the tale of pumpkin pie. When making the pastry, make a double batch, wrap in cling film and place in the freezer, always great to have some spare.
Why not try an alternative Halloween this year?
With Halloween on the horizon I thought I would dedicate this blog to how important our dead are to food – in fact, I would go so far as to say they are almost as important as the living! The ritual connections between food and the dead span centuries and cultures. Recipes and rituals are interwoven, traditions run deep in local cultures and are often misunderstood or misinterpreted in the modern day.
In Ancient Egypt the dead were buried with honey cakes to eat in the afterlife. The Mexican, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), is a rich and colourful celebration of death and the continuation of life and is synonymous with a sweet bread called Pan De Muerto.
The bread becomes the centre piece of the altar during the Day of the Dead ‘holiday season.’ Now this bread does vary from region to region but the shapes on top are apparently suggestive of bones and often sprinkled with sugar or sesame seeds. Now wouldn’t that make a really interesting #GBBO showstopper bake or technical challenge?
FOOD LOVERS RETREAT – PRIZE GIVEAWAY
Cook, Dine and Relax….all on us !
WE HAVE A WINNER…..LEONA PRICE!….CONGRATULATIONS!
Beat the fear and forage!
When someone mentions foraging to me, more often than not, they are referring to going deep in to the woods with a basket looking for the non-poisonous mushrooms and berries! They certainly wouldn’t do it on their own without a trained forager – oh no, there’s far too much danger lurking out there!
There is definitely a fear to forage but there really doesn’t need to be. The definition of foraging is “a wide search over an area to obtain something, especially food provisions.” I’d actually say that you don’t even need to search over a wide area. I just step out in to my garden!
I am currently surrounded by a glut of parsley at the moment – OK, I know it’s planted but it’s taken over my garden and it certainly felt like foraging to collect it! On my dog walk I collected heaps of wild garlic recently and I’ve also noticed that nettles are, well, everywhere! This is all free food and who doesn’t like free food?
Now for the clever bit – what to do in the kitchen with this glut of free food. Here’s a few ideas…
Musings from a Cookery School Principal
It was always my aim to develop a Cookery School that was accessible to everyone and non elitist so “cooking for all” really seemed to encapsulate my vision from day one.
A colleague of mine, runs a creative business offering art and craft activities, now she calls herself ‘eclectic’ due to the diversity of art projects she runs – we’ve even collaborated on cook and craft projects, among others.
Eclectic is a word I have been thinking a lot about recently and I feel it is a good word to describe life running a cookery school with the vision of offering ‘cooking for all’.
Thanks to Soglos.com for this interview with our very own Yvette Farrell
Can you tell SoGlos a bit about yourself and where you’re from?
I’m Yvette Farrell and I’m the owner of Harts Barn Cookery School in the Forest of Dean. I’m originally from London and came here about 24 years ago.
What brought you to Gloucestershire?
I was headhunted and moved because the office was based here. I spent many years driving all over the UK, but always enjoyed coming back to the Forest of Dean. I then had the opportunity to set up my own business and now every day I get to look out to marvellous views.
Guest blog: Artisan Bread Baker, Dede Lis on The Story Behind Artisan Bread and Long Fermentation
I often get asked why Artisan Bread or Real Bread is more expensive. To understand why, you need to look at the baking process and that starts with the ingredients. The Real Bread Campaign champions bread made with 4 basic ingredients; flour, water, salt and yeast or a leven. That means no artificial ingredients – but that’s just the beginning of the story.