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Jan. 7th, 2009


OK, don't go below the cut if you are vegetarian/squeamish.

Yesterday I found myself with 2 brace of pheasants to deal with.Collapse )

Dec. 14th, 2008


Butter Beer (not butterbeer)

I must admit, this is something I've never researched, assuming it was a JKR creation, but apparently not. According to Heston Blumenthal, it's a real drink popular in Tudor England, and he's tried to recreate the recipe. It sounds like just the thing to me - I think most of the recipes I've seen trying to recreate the Harry Potter drink are far too sweet. This sounds as though it will be rich, spicy and warming without being sickly:

2 cans Old Speckled Hen ale
¾ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cloves
¾ tsp ground nutmeg
120g caster sugar
5 egg yolks
20g unsalted butter

Pour the ale into a saucepan and stir in the ground ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Gently heat this mixture until it is warm (to approximately 52ºC if you have a thermometer).

In the meantime, using a hand-held blender, blitz the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy.

Once the spiced ale is warm, add the egg yolk and sugar mixture and return to the heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid starts to thicken slightly (no hotter than 78ºC). Be careful not to let the saucepan get too hot or the eggs will scramble. Maintain this temperature for 2 minutes.

After 2 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter until it melts. Then froth the mixture with a small cappuccino whisk until it looks like frothy, milky tea. Pour into small glasses, mini tankards or espresso cups and serve immediately.

Dec. 3rd, 2008


Evil, evil, evil


Of course, they've been putting people out of business this way for years.  BOGOF?  The suppliers are told they have to take the brunt of it.  Decide a wholesale price with Tesco at the beginning of the growing season, when they've already squeezed you so you are barely making a profit?  You can bet your bottom dollar you'll be facing a price reduction later down the line and paying for it.

There are farmers/growers/producers round here who have had to dump entire crops because after Tesco have reneged on agreed prices, have gone back and said that the producer has to cover the cost of a BOGOF, or a price reduction - when they've already had to pay for the packaging, the labelling, the transportation, the shelf placement (sometimes having consignments rejected, sometimes seemingly on a whim), because they just can't afford the expense of physically meeting Tesco's demands.  Sometimes they are lucky.  They can find a local restaurant or shop who will take stuff - one rang around and managed to get a whole season's worth of aubergines to an airline caterers.  But what they do is still criminal.

I hate, hate, hate Tesco.

Oct. 4th, 2007


Some very depressing food related news

I was watching Channel 4 news last night and they did quite an in depth piece on the organic dairy industry, focussing on the fact that despite the Soil Association not allowing the practice, a lot of farmers are culling unwanted day old male calves because they have no use for them, or in some cases, even shipping them to the continent for veal production.  The transporting of calves for veal is barbaric, and the way most of the calves are treated in Holland is even more barbaric and makes me feel sick - the practices are illegal in the UK, and things were tightened up a bit by EU legislation earlier in the year, but as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't come close to giving these animals a decent life.

This is partly because of different standards between organic bodies.  The Soil Association are anti culling/transportation, believing that the wastefulness of the former runs against the whole organic ethos.  I would go further and say that both practices do have an impact on the dairy herd.  However, some of the other bodies do not have the same standards, believing that it isn't fair to expect organic dairy farmers to discontinue these practices.

 The ideal solution is that organic farmers should have dual purpose herds, ie. both dairy and beef.  This means that any male calves can be weaned naturally, so there is no trauma on either side.  It also means that there isn't any senseless waste.  The other thing to do, and I've mentioned this before, is to start eating British organic veal.  People are emotionally put off eating rose veal in this country, because they think of little calves - but they actually live much longer than poultry, lambs, and pigs, too.  And the welfare standards of British organics are high.  Farmers have to be pragmatic - they are running businesses, and if they're to do this, they need a market for it.

However, in the meantime, I'm not sure what dairy I can safely buy.  The biggest independent organic dairy producers in this country, Yeo Valley and Rachel's have, to certain extent, been victims of their own success.  They used to be supplied by a small number of organic farmers, many of which were dual purpose (this in particular is the Yeo Valley ideal, and they discuss welfare of calves on their site), but they now get much of their milk from a centralised source under a group called OMSCo - The Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative.  Unfortunately, whilst most of these are Soil Association accredited, which means no culling, no transportation, others are certified under other bodies which don't have such strict criteria, and this milk is getting into general mix.  So, no Yeo Valley for the time being.  I'm only going to buy Soil Association accredited stuff, which is going to be very diffcult or some of the Waitrose products.

Now the problem has been highlighted again, the Soil Association are working on getting some agreement between its criteria and those of the other organic certification bodies.  According to the TV report, some of the supermarkets, in particular, Waitrose' s select farm products (both organic and non organic) are fully traceable and don't support these practices.  And apparently Tesco is following suit.  But it looks as though it's going to be a very long time before it's going to be possible to buy more than a very limited range of dairy where the welfare needs of  the calves are being taken into account. 

For anyone interested,  a precis  of the report can be found at the link below, along with a link to the actual report:


Aug. 30th, 2006


Hopefully something not so vomit inducing.

OK, as an antidote to all the sick making meat posts, and to try and put myself firmly back in the running as a potential food writer, I thought I'd post a couple of my curry recipes - vegetarian ones this time, and both very simple.

Curry PowderCollapse )

Vegetable Curry with Tamarind and MangoCollapse )

Chick pea and Red Pepper CurryCollapse )

Aug. 29th, 2006


I feel sick

A few months ago, some venison livers came into my possession. I only wanted 1-2 to try a pate recipe I had, and the game supplier down at Watton Farmers' Market screwed up royally and I ended up buying a large box containing about 20 livers, each weighing a couple of pounds. It was a big misunderstanding between the couple on the stall and their son who was the one I had placed the order with, but they refused to believe that I'd only ordered a couple and said that as the livers were frozen together I wouldn't be able to separate them. This turned out to be untrue - they came apart very easily as soon as I got them home so obviously weren't frozen as well as they should have been. They only charged me £15.00 the lot, but that wasn't the point - I didn't want that many, and I wish that I'd been stronger that day and walked away. Anyway.

So the livers have been clogging up an entire drawer of the freezer for some time, so today I decided to make the pate. This was quite time consuming - mincing pork, finely chopping the liver, softening finely chopped onions, making breadcrumbs and soaking them in milk...then add the seasonings etc and blend. Blending was shambolic, as the motor of the KitchenAid blew up half way through and started belching toxic fumes and smoke at me, and I had to finish the job doing smaller batches in my handheld blender. By now I'd made a complete mess, with gory, rank smelling blood and pate mix all over the place. It was at this point that I realised that I'd finally found my limit in the kitchen, because all of this lot blended together (even though it looked like chocolate) just started to make me heave, because it did smell just too gamey even for me. It was truly repulsive. I now have four 1lb pates sitting on the table, and I'm sure that they will taste very nice, but I don't know how I'm going to bring myself to eat them. As for the rest of the livers, I'm going to donate them to our neighbours to feed to their dogs.

ETA: It doesn't taste great either. Not rank, but not particularly pleasant either. Hugh, I feel as though you've let me down this time.