Slow Cooker recipes?

I don't know about everyone else, but certainly in our home and within our sphere of colleagues, slow cookers are very 'de rigueur'. Everyone is discussing how they use these mini cookers to ease the burden of preparing meals whilst holding down a busy job.

There is a difference of opinion, some colleagues feel they are dangerous and won't leave the cookers cooking throughout the day, others think they are fantastic. I have to say, as recent proud owners of a small (for two persons) slow cooker, Jan and I are greatly impressed – especially when cooking those less costly, potentially tough cuts of meat.

I think using the slow cooker may turn out to be a winter thing rather than all year round, however, the quality of Boeuf Bourguignon, Lamb Casserole and other such meals that require long cooking periods has not suffered at all from being cooked in our slow cooker. I must also say, the smell of cooking when you come indoors from work is fantastic and the knowledge that the meal is ready to eat is great too.

Recently, Jan cooked some Pig Cheeks overnight with Carrot and Sweet Potato using English Stout as a cooking sauce, we divided the meal into two and took them to our respective offices to eat as lunch; apart from the questioning looks about 'why would you eat Pigs Cheeks'? Those who sampled our lunch asked for the recipe.

In my office, this started a discussion about me doing a special recipe section on the website with a focus on slow cookers – I tend to think just adjust the recipes to include very slow cooking for 6 or 8 hours.

What is the opinion of my readers, should I do a special section for slow cooking?

Next meal for us is that delightful Milanese stew Ossobuco, which is a veal stew made from the cross cut leg joint and includes the bone with the Marrowbone; Ossobucco in Italian means "Bone with a hole" which is how the joint should end up after eating the meal – anyone want the recipe?

The pleasures of cheese making

Recently, I have been making some cheeses with a slightly different approach; I say that because I have been trying different maturation processes. An example of this would be the four Goats milk cheeses I recently made. All of the four cheeses came from the same 5 litres of milk and went through the same production process (Fig 1), but once dried, some were matured differently. One was immersed in Olive Oil with herbs (Fig 2), another one was rolled in smoked Paprika (Fig 3) and two were wrapped and placed immediately in the fridge.

Yesterday I was prompted to write this blog as I looked at the Stilton I had made at the same time as the 4 goats cheeses. I was checking the Stilton to ascertain if the maturation box needed draining, however I noticed a wonderful "Bloom" on the skin of the cheese (Fig 4). This caused me to reflect on the variety of the cheeses I had made on the one weekend (Fig 5).
The "Bloom" on the Stilton developed further overnight (Fig 6), so much so, the following evening I pierced the cheese (Fig 7)to allow the air access into the centre of the cheese. Once I had done this, I decided, this cheese was to be the Christmas Stilton for the family; how lucky are we?

The point of this blog is just to reflect on the varieties of the humble cheese we can all make at home (Fig 8) and how it can give such pleasure to those who make and eat their own cheese.

I suppose it would be remiss of me not to draw attention to the fact I do run cheese making courses - for more information click here.

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4


Figure 5 Figure 6 Figure 7 Figure 8



Lamenting the end of Summer

I fear there is no way to avoid the fact that summer has passed us by and we are now on the downward slope to winter. At least that's how it feels in my neck of the woods. This weekend the weather man is getting all excited about temperatures of 17C with sunshine – I wistfully look at the weather reports for Tuscany which are 'fine with sunshine' too, but their temperature is forecast to be 27C, not fair.

Why am I looking at Tuscany? Apart from being great fans of Tuscany, we returned from a week there on the 12th and it was noticeable the difference in temperature, but it was not only the temperature difference, it was about the difference in the feel of the air, the moisture and chill mornings you get with the onset of Autumn are already here.

Added to that chill feeling is how the allotments are performing now – my Italian garden has starting to look tired and sorry for itself; the courgette plants are withered and the Fennel had gone to seed.

I probably picked the last of the outside Tomatoes, Peppers and Aubergines at the weekend (Fig 1) I certainly picked the last of my wonderful white potato crop (Fig 2) and have started on the Red potatoes I use to store and feed us over winter. The Grapes are starting to ripen (Fig 3) and the Borlotti beans are drying on the plant. I have lots of weeds to take out and burn and need to start bedding everything down for winter and preparing the Onion beds for overwintering Garlic and Onions.

I have foraged some Sloes (Fig 4), they are already soaking in Gin. Autumn is here!

Roll on retirement!

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4

Cheese Jokes

What do you call cheese that is not yours?

Nacho Cheese


What cheese would you use to lure a bear out of a tree?


What did the cheese say to itself when it looked in the mirror?


What cheese would you use to obscure a small horse?


There was an explosion at the cheese factory. Everything was covered in debris.


How did Mr Cheese paint his wife?
He Double Gloucester


A man threw a lump of cheese at me! I thought "that's not very mature"



Kindly provided by Rorie...

A quick update

I'm aware that I have not written anything for my Blog for some time now, so thought I should do so, albeit to just change the date of the most recent blog and prove to those who don't follow twitter that I'm still about.

There is so much going on in our lives at present it's difficult to find the time to cope with things, for instance, in August we've had a wedding, a garden party, still have a cheese course to do, a long weekend in London, then in September we are off to Italy again. This is extra to the normal day to day things like going to work, gardening, house work etc.

The allotments are producing well, but the tomatoes seem a little delayed, it's not just me, several of my friends feel they are delayed in ripening; anyway, you can check the July update on the grow your own page.

I'm still making cheese and have some more recipes to write for publication on the website and on The New England Cheese website too; I'm still doing the cheese making courses and still trying to manage the demand for these by limiting the number of the courses and the number of participants on the said courses.

I'm now staring retirement in the face (April 2016) and am starting to prepare for this; I'm promising myself, once retired, I will lose weight, have tidier allotments, run more cheese making courses and have time to do those things important to both myself and Jan; along with enjoying life.

I read a tweet the other day which was singing the praises of hand written letters to people and saying we should return to those days once again; the article stuck a chord with me, I connected with that viewpoint, but honestly, I don't know where I would find the time at present, hopefully in 2016 this might change.

Anyway, this is my first blog on my new computer, so that's enough challenge for one day; I hope the next blog will not take so long to write.


We welcome your comments and discussion - please click on the comments link at the end of each blog post. Comments will be forwarded for moderation before publishing.