After my last blog in which I said it was good to rest up, the latest weekend has been the opposite; it's amazing how a couple of days of sunshine, albeit sporadic, makes a difference. The Catkins are out on the trees, the apple trees in the garden are starting to form buds, the birds are building nests and the dawn chorus is getting louder. Well at least all of this is happening in Hampshire, England on the 22nd and 23rd of February.
After spending Saturday making Cheeses (Surprise, Surprise), I went down the allotments on Sunday just to collect some vegetables for Sunday lunch and check out how the allotments had weathered the recent storms.
Everything seems to have come through well, the over wintering Onions, Shallots, Garlic and Broad Beans are all doing well, the fruit in the cage is starting to bud, but at some time during the storms, a pane of glass from someone else's garden has been picked up by the wind, carried onto one of my plots, it has dug into the ground and broken; amazingly enough, no damage has been done to the onions growing where the glass landed. It could have been worse, given the severity of the storms I could have found myself replacing glass in my Greenhouse, thankfully because I have spent time raising the soil in my allotments, they have drained well.
Now the impressive stuff, whilst at the allotments, I harvested: the first of some Purple Sprouting Broccoli (a good hand full), a Cauliflower, a small Savoy Cabbage, half a carrier bag of Brussels Sprouts, a good bunch of Italian Black Kale, 6 Leeks, about 15 Parsnips, a couple of pound of Oka, three Swede Turnips, and a dozen Onions out of the store. There is more to come, I have not even started on the Jerusalem Artichokes yet. Sunday Lunch was fantastic, and this served to remind me, this is why we do what we do.
It's not always easy to find the time or energy to do everything we do, but when you get days like Sunday it makes it all worth while; other than the Roast Chicken everything on our plate we had grown ourselves, we knew no chemicals had been sprayed on it and it was fresh picked that day. The Rhubarb for the crumble came out of the freezer, but was from the allotment earlier in the year.
I look forward to a week of Leek and Potato Soup, Parsnip and Truffle Oil Soup, Chicken Broth, not forgetting Bubble and Squeek, we will have some Steak or Beef Shank mid week to help use up some of the veg, so all in all, it's been worth it.
After saying on Twitter, Yippee it's Friday I can be the Weekend Artisan again – I have done nothing this weekend.
Well, that's not absolutely true, on Saturday we attended my Mother in Laws 90th Birthday celebration. We held it at the Falcon Inn in Rotherwick.
Lee the proprietor provided a wonderful buffet, the food was delicious, if ever you are past that way, the ham he serves is fantastic and his sausages are very special. The staff were welcoming and friendly which all helped to make it a fantastic day for all of the family and there were lots of us to look after.
On Sunday apart from dressing 6 cheeses and preparing some vegetables I did nothing. Both Jan and I had a restful day and that made me think; sometimes we find it difficult to relax, we always have something to do, but it's ok to just do the bare minimum sometimes. Even the Weekend Artisan has to relax and chill out, that's ok.
The 6 cheeses are coming along nicely doing their own thing and will be ready for the next Cheese-making course in March, I need to make some soft white (Camembert Style) Cheese, but that will be next week's work.
We can't get into our gardens yet because of the weather, the bees will be doing very little other than having the occasional look outside (they may need feeding) so, if you have been fortunate enough to not be flooded out, just enjoy a rest and gather strength ready for the onset of Spring.
If you really can't relax, I suppose you could always make some sausages (see recipe) or set some seeds away in the greenhouse – if you must.
Happy New Year, I know it's a bit late, but, as they say, "better late than never". I hope all of my readers are managing to keep warm, safe and dry, there's some bad weather out there.
2014 has started on an upbeat note for us, after spoiling ourselves with a Christmas in a luxury hotel and then having a gentle New Year celebration, in which we indulged ourselves by eating Confit de Canard (see comments on Twitter and recipe here), January 3rd saw our Cheese-making Course mentioned by Andrew Web in the Financial Times food section. The course was recognised as one of the best five cheese-making courses in England;
Added to this, bookings for the Cheese-making course are coming in on a regular basis.
With some of the gift vouchers that were sold over Christmas yet to be redeemed, the first two courses are fully booked, therefore, if you intend to come on the course, please book early to avoid disappointment.
Jan also wants me to make more of it and then use the cheese as part of the Lunch on our Cheese Making courses; I think it would be a great idea.
The sudden national awareness of this cheese has been fuelled by Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty in their new TV show on British TV. But up until recently it had been more or less forgotten about. See the slow food website below for more details:
This programme on Channel 4, Friday evenings, is an effort by Jamie and Jimmy to encourage people to make more food, source their food appropriately and to ensure traditional British produce is recognised for the quality product that it is. The last series of Jamie and Jimmy's "Friday Night Feast" on Channel 4 saw the two guys challenging the French to a competition about Cheese; of the 5 British cheeses they took to France, I am not sure now, but I think 4 of them were judged as being superior to the French counterpart.
So it was interesting to see that as part of this new series, they got behind the makers of this great cheese and helped to highlight how wonderful it is. It is my understanding that the programme has raised awareness and resulted in the demand for the cheese soaring.
This Cheese was revived by Alan and Jane Hewson, see their great website here:
If you want to try this cheese and live too far away from Belvoir Ridge Creamery, then how about making some yourself? It's not too hard. Check out my recipe for how to make it:
If you don't have any starter or Rennet, then how about trying a bit of experimentation and substitute Lemon Juice or Citric acid instead of the rennet and starter?
Happy cheese making!
We would just like to take the time to thank all of the Blog followers, participants in the cheese making courses over 2013 and those of you who log onto the website occasionally just to check for new ideas, recipes, hints or tips on how to do things. We are now fully in holiday mode for the Christmas period, no cheese making, allotments or anything else, just planning a happy and relaxed Christmas.
We wish the same relaxed and Happy Christmas for all of our readers and participants, along with best wishes for a brilliant, happy and productive New Year in 2014.
Our New Year family toast has always been: “wishing you Health, Wealth and Happiness”, therefore this is what we wish for you all.
Doug and Jan