Sunday, 13 April 2014

My five minutes of fame


It's taken me all week to pluck up the courage to watch last weeks BBC Countryfile that featured my hubby and I on an exciting project that we're working on together at the moment. I was terribly nervous as have never been on TV before and meeting John Craven too was quite exciting. My nose looks huge and I really need a haircut but it's not too bad, bossing my husband around on national TV has amused many of our friends anyway! You can still catch for a few hours if you want to watch it on I player!

The new girl


I am really excited to have been invited to be part of the This is Your Kingdom team, you can find me here. This is Your Kingdom is a beautiful website that shares lovely places to visit and things to do, by a team of contributors up and down the country. I have always enjoyed visiting the website so am delighted to now be part of such an inspirational team. If you haven't visited the site, go and make yourself a cup of tea and lose yourself for a few hours as you explore the UK, from hidden tea shops, to the best places to go crabbing, there really is something for everyone, and sign up for the free email too, which will deliver lots of inspiration straight into your mailbox.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

A 'whole' lot of love


We were doing so well, we'd followed Tom's great white bread recipe instead using a lovely stoneground wholemeal flour by Stoates. We split the dough into four and made three loaves for the week ahead and five rolls for lunch, they baked beautifully, although not achieving as huge a rise as we're used to with a white flour. Then tasting them we realised we'd forgotten a vital ingredient, the salt...!

I'm not quite how this happened, although I seem to remember a lot of us in the kitchen at once this morning! Just as you think you've turned a corner a schoolgirl error creeps in, oh well, it just about tastes OK with salted butter.

Playing along with Little Green Shed by baking a loaf a week and sharing a picture of it on Instagram with the #52loavesproject

Wild Food Weekends : A Forager's Breakfast


The dandelion plant is really easy to identify with their yellow tufted flowers and jagged green leaves. Called dandelion from the french dent-de-lion meaning lion's tooth due to their distinctive leaf shape, they are considered to many a weed popping up everywhere, and have been eaten in the UK for centuries. Dandelion and burdock has been drunk since the middle ages, where the dandelion was fermented to produce an alcoholic mead, but today we know it as a fizzy soft drink. The leaves of the plant are versatile and can be used in salads along with the yellow petals of the flowers.

In Miles Irving's book The Forager Handbook he suggests frying your dandelion leaves with a little bacon, white wine and adding a poached egg on top, a perfect forager's breakfast! So that's exactly what we're going to do this weekend, with fried eggs instead, here's our version;

Forager's breakfast 

(serves 2)

ingredients

20 dandelion leaves (young leaves as old are bitter, washed and picked from a clean place not a roadside)
3 rashers of smoked bacon - chopped
2 free range eggs
(salt and pepper to season)
1 dandelion flower - to sprinkle the yellow petals over the top

method
  1. heat a knob of butter in a frying pan over a medium heat
  2. chop in the bacon in small bits and fry until just starting to crisp
  3. move bacon to one side and break the eggs into the pan to fry
  4. add in the dandelion leaves on top of the bacon until they wilt
  5. serve on a plate placing the egg on top and garnish with petals
  6. season to taste
  7. eat outside on a sunny day! 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Baking with a new-found confidence

white loaves and banana bread straight out of the oven!

I set to making our weekly loaf this week with added confidence and enthusiasm after last week's bread making masterclass with Tom Herbert at Hobbs House Cookery School.

This was the week I was going to create the perfect white loaf! This was also the week where we had a new oven fitted (whoops sorry credit card!) and I purchased a baking stone too. There were a few variables but it was fine, I didn't impulsively add flour to the very sticky dough as I would have before, instead after a few minutes kneading it started to turn into a beautiful soft dough. The dough scraper was a revelation - who knew?


I also kneaded it for twice as long as I did before and shaped it to go into the tins and sprayed them with water before putting them in the very hot oven. I still made the mistake of putting too much dough in the tin, so there is plenty of room for improvement

The difference is amazing they actually look like something you'd buy in a shop! All the tips and advice that Tom shared have really paid off, you really can't substitute with a book the opportunity to learn hands-on with an expert, I feel as if we've turned a corner.


Playing along with Little Green Shed by baking a loaf a week and sharing a picture of it on Instagram with the #52loavesproject

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Sowing seeds with Stanley




I've just been sowing my seeds today from the enchantingly named Higgledy Garden in Cornwall. I bought an edible flower collection with sunflower, cornflower, calendula, dill, nasturtium and borage for £6, and a small cutting garden collection of cerinthe major, nicotiana, corncockle, rudbeckia, calendula, cornflowers, sunflower and cosmos for £10. I really liked the selection of flowers and different collections, far more than those on offer in the garden centre, they arrived in lovely brown paper envelopes too. I sowed them with Stanley, who was in charge of watering, I can't wait for them to grow. 



The 52 Loaves Project Bakers Go Back to School


When the lovely Tom Herbert of Hobbs House Bakery heard about the 52 loaves project on Instagram  he invited some of us taking part to the Hobbs House Cookery School for a morning of bread baking with him. We spent the day up to our elbows in flour, learning tips of how we can improve our loaves. Together we made a great white loaf dough, sour cherry and chocolate hot cross buns, soda spelt buns and watched how to make pitta breads. 



We brought home small bits of the famous Hobbs House 59 year old sourdough, which I have rehoused in a kilner jar in the fridge, and will feed until I feel ready to learn how to make sourdough loaves. *note to self read up on feeding sourdough*


A very dapper looking Tom, sharing his business card, a Hobbs House dough scraper!


Tom invited us to take one of our loaves with us for him to help us and as a result I discovered that I under knead, over prove, never shape properly and don't cook in a hot enough oven! Which might sound awful but after 12 weeks of baking loaves it was really good to get some guidance and tips on what I can improve on.


A beautifully presented row of our soda spelt rolls, don't they look delicious?


The day was so inspiring, Tom has such an infectious enthusiasm for sharing his baking passion that I can't wait to bake my next loaf and I've invested in a baking stone to bake my bread on too, I now have no excuses!


The 52 Loaves Project Bakers from left to right; Ruby, Carolyn, Jack, Lou, Dan, Tom, Laura, Emma, Natalie and Me!


If you would like to go on a bread baking course with Tom, check out the Hobbs House Bakery website for more information. 
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