Ten kilos of cheese

Deep in the mists of time I supported a crowd-funding project to help Duncan, a local farmer, set up a mozzarella dairy… like you do. He didn’t manage to collect as much money as he had hoped, but there was enough to get him started. The buffalo herd was established and milk production commenced. Once that was going well, they started experimenting with producing the cheese on a commercial scale, but they had some problems getting it just right. Slowly things moved forward, including experimenting with other cheeses and producing a very acceptable cheddar for a while, and then illness struck and things ground to a halt for ages. All was quiet and then a few months ago an email arrived to say that finally, they were in production and “would I like some cheese?” Of course the answer was “yes”, but the logistics in this time of covid can be a bit challenging, so we’ve only just had our first lot… kindly delivered to the door, in fact, as Duncan was passing.

It turns out, however, that the money I “invested” in cheese futures now equates to 10kg of mozzarella! So far, I have had 750g, so there’s quite a way to go yet. I made a lovely pizza with some the other day, but now I invite you to share with me your mozzarella recipes… all suggestions welcome.

More glut busting

Last night we were visited my friends – both old and new – for dinner. My aim was to feed them on produce from the garden, with any additional ingredients sourced locally. It’s such an abundant time of year that this turned out to be relatively easy (until I got to wanting ice cream).

Our main course consisted of:

  • Yum!

    Yum!

    Frittata, which is a sort of vegetable quiche without the pastry. Ours contained eggs, potatoes, courgette and peppers from the garden, plus onion and tomatoes from a local organic farm.

  • Glamorgan sausages, which are a vegetarian dish made from wholemeal breadcrumbs (flour from the local water mill), cheese (Snowdonia Black Bomber – a Welsh Cheddar) and sage (out of the garden) bound together with beaten egg (home-produced) and shallow fried.
  • Cherry tomatoes (from the garden)
  • Lettuce (from the garden)
  • Boiled potatoes (from the garden)
  • Monkey bread (flour from the local water mill, herbs straight out of the garden)
  • Couscous (haven’t found a local source of this yet!) with home grown pepper, coriander, courgette and tomato

For dessert we had:

  • Strawberries (from a local organic farm) and blackberries (picked in the afternoon from a local hedgerow)
  • Meringues (home-produced egg whites, but bought sugar)
  • Whipped cream (bought)
  • Homemade chocolate ice cream (home-produced egg yolks, but all the other ingredients bought)

You may be wondering why I bother to make ice cream at home when we live near The Hive on the Quay – a great source of locally produced honey ice cream. Well, the issue is that being lactose intolerant, I can’t eat it… so I make my own lactose-free ice cream and it helps to use up the egg glut when there is one (like now).

So, there you have it… a diversity of food, with very few miles on the clock… and now I have a few less courgettes to think what to do with too!

Eggy!

An abundance of eggs

An abundance of eggs

Recently we have been rather eggy… no, not annoyed, just egg-full! Lorna has pretty much given up laying, despite only being three years old: we haven’t had an egg from her since Christmas. The other three (including Esme, who is the same age as Lorna) are giving us an egg each almost every day. Even with an occasional day off, this means we are getting about 18 eggs per week. I think that this level of production is being supported by the abundant leafy greens that they are consuming: kale, broccoli leaves and a wide variety of oriental leaves from last autumn’s planting (which we too are enjoying).

It’s great to feel that the garden is so abundant, but sometimes the number of eggs does seem overwhelming. The easiest solution is to give them away: our lovely neighbours look after the hens when we are away for a weekend and so we often give them a box of eggs. However, we do like to make use of much of what we produce ourselves and, to this end, recipes that include eggs are really useful. Of course, there’s always cake, but if all the eggs went into cakes, we’d be the size of elephants by now… or perhaps the shape of Humpty-Dumpty! We often have poached or boiled eggs for our lunch – always with homemade bread using our locally milled flour, but even that has its limits.

Recently we have been enjoying Scotch Eggs made with Glamorgan Sausage (breadcrumbs, cheese, sage and onion bound together with beaten egg). This is a lovely combination of flavours, but being deep-fried we don’t want to have them too often.We also quite often have hard-boiled eggs (7-8 minutes so the centre of the yolk is still soft) with garlic mayonnaise (again made with fresh eggs if I have the time) as an element of Tapas, along with patatas bravas, broad beans with spring onions, monkey bread and fried sweet peppers… all of which often have elements from out of the garden. Alternatively, a Spanish tortilla always goes down well – sometimes spiced up with some small chunks of chorizo in it.

Pasta drying on the kitchen table

Pasta drying on the kitchen table

Perhaps the least egg-like use is making pasta. For every 100g of flour in the pasta, you use 1 egg. That’s it as far as ingredients are concerned – it just takes some kneading and quite a lot of rolling. We do have a little pasta machine for rolling it out (like a tiny mangle that you clamp to the work surface) which makes life easier, but it’s not necessary. Mr Snail-of-happiness usually makes the pasta and then I use it for cooking, so it’s a team effort. I usually make it into a layered lasagne, but I think I might have a go at fresh ravioli next time we make it. It’s great because you can freeze it too.

So, those are some of my favourite egg dishes, but I’m always looking for new ones. Do you have any suggestions?

free food for rats

not instructions on feeding rodents!

Don’t be mislead by the title… this in not a post about encouraging vermin!

If you read my ‘about’ page, you will know that I am a scientific editor, but what it doesn’t mention is that I also occasionally edit other books. Sometimes it is a real struggle to stay awake through them, but sometimes I’m asked to work on a book that I really enjoy and am subsequently delighted to own.  free food for rats ** (published by Black Kite Press) is one such book. It is mainly a cookery book, but also includes anecdotes about family and travel, plus some lovely photographs of the food and a variety of illustrations and paper cuts all done by Anja, the author.

Anja has a German mother, a Welsh father and has lived in a variety of countries during her life… and all of this has influenced her cooking. In what other cookery book could you find recipes for Glamorgan Sausages, Waffeln mit Haferflocken (German waffles with oats), Rempeyeck Kacang (Indonesian crispy peanut wafers), Zhurou Chao Huanggua (Chinese pork with cucumber) and Bitterballen (a Dutch beer accompaniment)? And all written by a cook who has lived in all those countries?

One of the joys of the recipes is that they use ingredients that you are likely to have in your store cupboard (with the exception, in my case, of Marmite!)… so none of that getting excited about cooking something only to discover it contains some obscure ingredient that you will have to seek out specially. In addition, the recipes were tested out in Anja’s own kitchen (or her mum’s) and photographed there, so there have been no food stylists involved to make the dishes look any better than they really are – what you see is what you get.

I must confess that I have known Anja and her mum, Eveline, for many years and have enjoyed many a great meal in their respective kitchens… often over a glass of wine or a game of Mahjong, so I am a little biased. But, nevertheless, I love the book and will be cooking recipes from it for years to come.

NEWSFLASH: The book is now available to buy from two shops online: The department of small works and 80 20

-oOo-

** The name comes from a sign that appears in a picture in one of Graham Oakley’s Church Mice books… possibly The Church Mice Adrift

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