Tuesday, 29 September 2009

A little tip from me to you

Last night I had the most amazing roast lamb ever to pass my lips - the flavour was quite something, even surpassing that from my old butcher on Broadway market. So if you happen to live in the Falmouth area then lucky you! Said lamb comes from Nancarrow Organic Farm, situated halfway between Perranporth and Truro, but you can buy it from the farmers market ever Tuesday in Falmouth, and Saturday in Truro.

Nancarrow Farm

01872 540343

Friday, 25 September 2009

Sloe Gin

Oh yes.. I have been busy. Over the past couple of weeks I have spent a couple of days picking things in the local hedgerows. These mainly consisted of blackberries, which now seem to be coming to their end, wild rosehips, and of course, sloes. I have never attempted to make sloe gin before, and was slightly dismayed to learn that it's best enjoyed some 18 months after making. Still, I keep telling myself that if I make a couple of bottles, I'll be able to save one to sample next year.

If you are thinking of doing this and haven't before, let me first tell you in no uncertain terms that the blackthorn bush is a ferocious brute, that does not part easily with its wares. As long as you are aware of that, then fine, as it seems to have escaped everyone's mention wherever I looked for information. All bushes are covered in thorn over an inch long, you'll often find the best berries are sitting smugly right at the top of the bush, completely out of reach, and in my case, also perched on the edge of a precarious cliff top. My god this had better be worth it.

I have included a recipe below but would like to add one further point on my research. It seems that many people pick the sloes, then prick them all over with a fork before placing inside a large jar or bottle. Apparently, whilst this is an acceptable way of making sloe gin, it does not produce the best. Ideally you should wait for the first frost, helping to break the berries down (and also prevent the arse of going through the prep of pricking them). However, if this is not possible - as this year they are all out quite early - then place in the freezer overnight before making the gin as usual. Minus the pricking, of course.

Makes about 1 litre

450g sloes, frosted or pricked
450g sugar
600ml gin

Place the sloes into a large clean jar or bottle. Pour over the sugar, follwed by the gin. Close the container securely (and do not scrimp here, I have bought an inferior model it would seem, and now have gin all over my kitchen) and give a good shake to mix up the ingredients. Shake this daily for the following week - it helps incorporate the sugar and to release the sloe juice. After that shake once a week for 8-10 weeks.

Once the sloes have instilled their flavour in the gin pour through a fine sieve and bottle. I now double dare you to resist leaving one to enjoy in 18 months time. Others feel free to glug as soon as you get the Christmas mood.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

In my garden

In moving to Cornwall I have had the good luck of obtaining a garden. I like to call it (albeit affectionately) 'The Scrubland'. As you can guess from such a name, much of it is bare earth right now, with some plants, some herbs, and an on-going battle with the local weeds (of which there are a variety). It's been really exciting to get a relatively large patch for a new-comer such as myself, and of course, because we're only renting it's always hard to weigh up the cost and effort required to make it really nice with a wonder of how long we'll actually be there. But y'know, it's going well. It's blessed with amazing soil, as has been the local compost dumping ground for the surrounding flats for the past few years. Already I seem to have a few friends doing well, and I'm pleased to say that the bees seem just as keen as I am.

Already from this I have managed to make two batches of herb and ricotta ravioli, to remind me of sunnier times in the winter, plus we're now enjoying our own salads regularly. I'm hoping I might even get some fruit and jam out of it next summer. Wish us luck, I'll keep you updated.

(if all goes to plan, when this flowers next year it could be up to 15ft tall!)

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Organic Fortnight

Starts today. Get involved :)

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Blackberry Season

If you're in London then this isn't going to be news for you - but down here in Cornwall we're only just coming into the season now. Blackberries are brilliant, and what's better - they're free, and they're everywhere! Chock full of antioxidants and Vitamin C they are super good for you - I plan to go out and start collecting today... yum :)

Bramble Jelly Recipe