18 June 2011

Eee I eee I oh....old McHodgson's trip to the farm!

This week I'm feeling all at one with the land after being invited to spend an afternoon at Millets Farm Centre in Frilford, Oxfordshire. Not knowing quite what to expect when I got there, this was unlike any farm centre I'd been to before. There's a farm shop packed with fruit & veg grown on site, a selection of local produce sourced within 50 miles & an assortment of other foodie goodies. There's also a garden centre, restaurant, farm zoo, children's play area, trout fishing lake, 10 acres of woodland & wetland walks, a craft gallery & if that's not enough to keep you occupied there's 50 acres of pick your own fruit & veg...phew!

I was invited to explore the PYO fields & learn a little more about what it takes to successfully grow such a wide selection of crops. Our guides were the very experienced & knowledgeable Orlin Atanasov & Les Britten. Orlin looks after the fruit, Les looks after the veggies! I love PYO farms, so much so that I even visited one on my birthday last year...I know not very rock & roll. That said I'd never given much thought to the work that goes on behind the scenes to bring you all that lovely produce.

Now I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to gardening of any nature, I live in a flat and my basil plant is about as good as it gets! So I thought I'd share some of the interesting facts I picked up, along with some of my favourite photos of the day.

Teepee's for peas! A favourite fun pass time for Rooks is pulling up broad beans, they don't eat them, just pull 'em up!

Beautiful beetroot, one of my favourites, but unfortunately not ready for picking yet :-( Orlin & Les will choose several different varieties of one crop so that the season is staggered, bringing us more delicious produce for longer!

This is the start of the brussel sprout crop, this lot will be ready for Christmas. They have a bunny barrier round them, I always thought bunnies liked carrots not sprouts?

Rhubarb or beebarb as we call it in our family. Apparently it's like a weed & will completely take over your garden if you let it.

The most delicious raspberries I think I've ever tasted, these are a variety from Canada.

Succulent cherries, yum! I can see why they call the fruit of coffee plants cherries, these look almost identical!

I'd like to say a big thank you to Jo & the guys at Millets Farm for inviting me along, I had a lovely afternoon. If you find yourself in the Oxfordshire area, the centre is well worth a visit. Have a look at their website for details of special events. I'm intrigued to experience the Maize Maze which is due to open mid July! Take care, Rebecca x

I wonder how long the waiting list for a Windsor allotment is?

15 June 2011

Celebrating the launch of PREPPED!

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited along to my first ever book launch. I was probably a little over excited about it as I'd actually been involved in testing one of the recipes for the book...oh & it was hosted in the Knightsbridge branch of Rococo Chocolate, so how could a girl say no?

PREPPED! is written by the lovely Vanessa Kimbell & promises that with a little prep, you'll be able to knock together culinary masterpieces from your own kitchen at the drop of a hat. I'm all for that!

The recipe I tested for Vanessa was the delicious Orange & Cardamon Barfi (page 233 of the book!) It was great to finally see it in all it's printed glory, especially when I saw that Vanessa had incorporated some of my testing comments into the final method. Here's a link to my original post.

It really is a lovely book, packed with beautiful photography & recipes helpfully grouped by flavours & ingredients. Top of my list to try out are Vanilla Vodka & Spiced Tomato Jam....yum!

It's published by Spring Hill & is available now from Waterstones & Amazon To find out more about the author, pop over to Vanessa's blog.

Good luck Vanessa, it surely has been a labour of love & I wish you every success with it. Rebecca x

6 June 2011

Rebecca Bakes Bread....and it was edible!

Bread, glorious bread, all hail the mighty loaf! For those of you who have been reading for a while you will have realised that I have a lot of favourite foods, but bread has got to be my biggest downfall! Whether it's mothers pride, a crusty cob or gourmet loaf with bits in I love it all. Not good for a girl who has a tendency to hold on to a few excess pounds! I have made my own bread in the past, but I'll be honest I've cheated & used a breadmaker. The breadmaker was sacrificed from my kitchen to make way for my beautiful Kitchen Aid mixer & seeing as that came with a dough hook, I thought it was time I tried it out.

I was going over to Mum's for dinner on Sunday to try out Marks & Spencers new giant ravioli, yes that one off the telly. It was like gold dust trying to find it, whoever said TV advertising isn't effective anymore clearly underestimated the pulling power of an M&S ready meal! I have to say it was delicious...but I digress, the relevance is that I decided to make an olive ciabatta to go with the coveted giant ravioli.

I didn't follow a recipe, I just messed around with quantities based on what I remembered from using the breadmaker. This is roughly what I used...

450g strong white flour
400ml warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tsps quick action yeast
2 tbsps olive oil
Handful of chopped green olives

There's not much of a method involved, I chucked it all in the mixer, with the exception of the oil & olives, combined it using the dough hook until it turned into a lovely stretchy dough. I added the olives, then finally drizzled the oil over the top. Next is the hardest bit for me...waiting! I covered the bowl with a tea towel & popped it in the airing cupboard for about an hour, after which it had pretty much doubled in size.

OK so doesn't look all that appetising at this point!

Using extra flour to stop it sticking, I gave it a quick knead to combine the oil then shaped it into something resembling a loaf. It baked it in the oven at 180c for about 45 minutes.

Ta da! Was really chuffed with my loaf & it tasted lovely too. There's something very satisfying about baking your own bread & it really is easier than it looks! Do you have a favourite loaf? Till next time, Rebecca x

And the winner is....

A couple of weeks back I ran a giveaway for a fab vintage vinyl cake stand hand made by yours truly! Thanks to everyone who entered & for sharing your innermost musical secrets, you certainly gave me a good giggle :-)

The random number generator has spoken & I'm happy to announce the winner is....

Liz of Me and My Shadow!

Liz & her daughter wasted no time in putting it to use & sent me this photo of the cake stand in action, stacked up with rather delicious looking cupcakes.

Hopefully I'll be able to bring you another giveaway soon, just need to wait for crafty inspiration to strike again! In the meantime, I'm open to taking orders for more vinyl cake stands, got to be a market for them somewhere? :-) Rebecca x

18 June 2011

Eee I eee I oh....old McHodgson's trip to the farm!

This week I'm feeling all at one with the land after being invited to spend an afternoon at Millets Farm Centre in Frilford, Oxfordshire. Not knowing quite what to expect when I got there, this was unlike any farm centre I'd been to before. There's a farm shop packed with fruit & veg grown on site, a selection of local produce sourced within 50 miles & an assortment of other foodie goodies. There's also a garden centre, restaurant, farm zoo, children's play area, trout fishing lake, 10 acres of woodland & wetland walks, a craft gallery & if that's not enough to keep you occupied there's 50 acres of pick your own fruit & veg...phew!

I was invited to explore the PYO fields & learn a little more about what it takes to successfully grow such a wide selection of crops. Our guides were the very experienced & knowledgeable Orlin Atanasov & Les Britten. Orlin looks after the fruit, Les looks after the veggies! I love PYO farms, so much so that I even visited one on my birthday last year...I know not very rock & roll. That said I'd never given much thought to the work that goes on behind the scenes to bring you all that lovely produce.

Now I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to gardening of any nature, I live in a flat and my basil plant is about as good as it gets! So I thought I'd share some of the interesting facts I picked up, along with some of my favourite photos of the day.

Teepee's for peas! A favourite fun pass time for Rooks is pulling up broad beans, they don't eat them, just pull 'em up!

Beautiful beetroot, one of my favourites, but unfortunately not ready for picking yet :-( Orlin & Les will choose several different varieties of one crop so that the season is staggered, bringing us more delicious produce for longer!

This is the start of the brussel sprout crop, this lot will be ready for Christmas. They have a bunny barrier round them, I always thought bunnies liked carrots not sprouts?

Rhubarb or beebarb as we call it in our family. Apparently it's like a weed & will completely take over your garden if you let it.

The most delicious raspberries I think I've ever tasted, these are a variety from Canada.

Succulent cherries, yum! I can see why they call the fruit of coffee plants cherries, these look almost identical!

I'd like to say a big thank you to Jo & the guys at Millets Farm for inviting me along, I had a lovely afternoon. If you find yourself in the Oxfordshire area, the centre is well worth a visit. Have a look at their website for details of special events. I'm intrigued to experience the Maize Maze which is due to open mid July! Take care, Rebecca x

I wonder how long the waiting list for a Windsor allotment is?

15 June 2011

Celebrating the launch of PREPPED!

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited along to my first ever book launch. I was probably a little over excited about it as I'd actually been involved in testing one of the recipes for the book...oh & it was hosted in the Knightsbridge branch of Rococo Chocolate, so how could a girl say no?

PREPPED! is written by the lovely Vanessa Kimbell & promises that with a little prep, you'll be able to knock together culinary masterpieces from your own kitchen at the drop of a hat. I'm all for that!

The recipe I tested for Vanessa was the delicious Orange & Cardamon Barfi (page 233 of the book!) It was great to finally see it in all it's printed glory, especially when I saw that Vanessa had incorporated some of my testing comments into the final method. Here's a link to my original post.

It really is a lovely book, packed with beautiful photography & recipes helpfully grouped by flavours & ingredients. Top of my list to try out are Vanilla Vodka & Spiced Tomato Jam....yum!

It's published by Spring Hill & is available now from Waterstones & Amazon To find out more about the author, pop over to Vanessa's blog.

Good luck Vanessa, it surely has been a labour of love & I wish you every success with it. Rebecca x

6 June 2011

Rebecca Bakes Bread....and it was edible!

Bread, glorious bread, all hail the mighty loaf! For those of you who have been reading for a while you will have realised that I have a lot of favourite foods, but bread has got to be my biggest downfall! Whether it's mothers pride, a crusty cob or gourmet loaf with bits in I love it all. Not good for a girl who has a tendency to hold on to a few excess pounds! I have made my own bread in the past, but I'll be honest I've cheated & used a breadmaker. The breadmaker was sacrificed from my kitchen to make way for my beautiful Kitchen Aid mixer & seeing as that came with a dough hook, I thought it was time I tried it out.

I was going over to Mum's for dinner on Sunday to try out Marks & Spencers new giant ravioli, yes that one off the telly. It was like gold dust trying to find it, whoever said TV advertising isn't effective anymore clearly underestimated the pulling power of an M&S ready meal! I have to say it was delicious...but I digress, the relevance is that I decided to make an olive ciabatta to go with the coveted giant ravioli.

I didn't follow a recipe, I just messed around with quantities based on what I remembered from using the breadmaker. This is roughly what I used...

450g strong white flour
400ml warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tsps quick action yeast
2 tbsps olive oil
Handful of chopped green olives

There's not much of a method involved, I chucked it all in the mixer, with the exception of the oil & olives, combined it using the dough hook until it turned into a lovely stretchy dough. I added the olives, then finally drizzled the oil over the top. Next is the hardest bit for me...waiting! I covered the bowl with a tea towel & popped it in the airing cupboard for about an hour, after which it had pretty much doubled in size.

OK so doesn't look all that appetising at this point!

Using extra flour to stop it sticking, I gave it a quick knead to combine the oil then shaped it into something resembling a loaf. It baked it in the oven at 180c for about 45 minutes.

Ta da! Was really chuffed with my loaf & it tasted lovely too. There's something very satisfying about baking your own bread & it really is easier than it looks! Do you have a favourite loaf? Till next time, Rebecca x

And the winner is....

A couple of weeks back I ran a giveaway for a fab vintage vinyl cake stand hand made by yours truly! Thanks to everyone who entered & for sharing your innermost musical secrets, you certainly gave me a good giggle :-)

The random number generator has spoken & I'm happy to announce the winner is....

Liz of Me and My Shadow!

Liz & her daughter wasted no time in putting it to use & sent me this photo of the cake stand in action, stacked up with rather delicious looking cupcakes.

Hopefully I'll be able to bring you another giveaway soon, just need to wait for crafty inspiration to strike again! In the meantime, I'm open to taking orders for more vinyl cake stands, got to be a market for them somewhere? :-) Rebecca x

 

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