Thursday, 19 April 2012

Please buy Local/UK Flowers!!!

I've joined Vanessa Kimbell's campaign to change our attitude to buying flowers.  To me it's just a short step from "going local, seasonal and British" for food to flowers.  I've long had a big problem with those bunches of "garage flowers" seen on fuel station fore-courts which are often bought as last-ditch guilt-presents for un-suspecting hostesses or long-suffering wives and girlfriends!  I've long detested those big, blousey bouquets of stinky lillies which "puff" out their over-powering scents.  Even worse when they're proudly displayed in restaurants, wafting over the food!  Imported, long-stemmed roses on Valentine's Day are guaranteed to turn me off!  Out of season flowers, flown half-way round the world to appear in our houses at Christmas are simply one big No! No! to me.

What I love is to follow our seasons for natural, UK/home-grown flowers.  Searching the bare garden for the first sight of January snow-drops.  That splash of yellow from the winter aconite.  The keen anticipation of the first daffodils is, to me, as exciting as the first shoots of the new season's rhubarb.  Spring flowers represent the freshness of the new year and the scent of blue-bells in a damp wood is to me a wonder of the world!  A bowl of old English roses, shedding petals over polished wood and posies of summer wild flowers rammed into jam jars are more delightful than any over-done floral display of unnaturally-forced imported upstarts!  By following the flower season there will always be interest for your vases and you can set your calendar by it!

I bought this gorgeous bunch of tulips from my local butcher in Leintwardine and they were grown on a local farm.  I just could not resist them.  Please show your support for home-grown UK flowers by joining Vanessa's challenge.  Click here!  British Bloggers in Support of British Flowers Challenge

Monday, 12 March 2012

Sprouts. Love them or hate them!

Sprouts may not be only for Christmas however they do make a good, edible door wreath! 

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Tomatoes in January

The other night our on-site weather station recorded -5 and yet we're still gathering tomatoes from our un-heated greenhouse.  All these salad leaves and greens are growing in the ground outside and a ladybird visited my kitchen yesterday!  Salad days are here again!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Spring at Lower Buckton

Salad Burnet
For me the changing of the clocks herald spring no matter the weather.  To enjoy these lengthening days is nature's tonic for the winter-weary! As I write, the sunny evening shadows are passing over the Wigmore Rolls and there's a busy buzz in the air of birds, insects and animals astir.  My window ledges are cluttered with Henry's seedlings being given a "warm start" before he relegates them to the un-heated greenhouse and then to the garden.  I was pleased to see the back of "pheasant for dinner" half-way through February.  Delicious as pheasant is, it belongs "in season",  redolent of chilly winter evenings.  We've had plenty of roots and I've made the last of the winter hoard of parsnips into soup, said goodbye to the leeks and the new season's are already sown.  Looks like we've lost the Rosemary to acute frost damage.  A huge bush, it took a hammering in 2009/10 and I was amazed it recovered but this winter's relentless frost and snow appears to have taken its toll.  However not all is lost and we're picking the lemony sorrel, frilly fronds of fennel, peppery rocket, salad burnet, spiky chives, red chicory, lovage, land cress, sage and marjoram which are just left to get on with life and have come through the winter completely unscathed.  Then of course there's all the truly wild stuff coming through such as nettle tops and ramsons (wild garlic).  I feel a lot more soup on the way!
Daffs out for St David's Day!

Monday, 19 July 2010

HEREFORDSHIRE FOOD CHAMPION 2010


Thank you all who nominated me.  I was extremely pleased to be shortlisted for the award!


Please, please would you be kind enough to nominate me as a "Herefordshire Food Champion" in the up and coming Flavours of Herefordshire Awards 2010?  As you may know that I've won the Flavours of Herefordshire "Best Breakfast" for three years on the trot and am giving that one a break this year.  But the Herefordshire Food Champion award is a new category for this year and I'd love to be considered.
Your vote along with a few words to sum up what you feel is my ethos and approach to serving, promoting and supporting local Herefordshire food and food producers would be much appreciated.
Apparently, the HEREFORDSHIRE FOOD CHAMPION is based on the number of votes from the public!  If you would like to nominate me please send your entry including the following details:
The following bullet points are the criteria on which I'd be judged and I have made a few notes besides each.............
  1. Length of service to Herefordshire Food and Drink? - I opened Lower Buckton Country House in 2000 when I made a conscious decision that my food and drink served would be sourced from Herefordshire and from within a twelve mile radius of Lower Buckton.  Everything either home-produced, grown reared, baked stirred & cooked at Lower Buckton or locally sought, bought and caught from small-scale, micro-businesses and farmers' markets which is all served in season.
  2. Depth and breadth of knowledge of food produced in the county? Describe how aware the nominated champion is of the food produced in the county:  My depth of knowledge is demonstrated by the amount of food and drink which is sourced from small-scale micro producers in the county and my utter commitment to supporting local businesses and the rural economy.  I have a working knowledge of all the county's food/drink producers and the ability to impart my passion to all who're interested enough to listen!
  3. Charisma and enthusiam of the individual?  Describe the nominated champion's enthusiasm for the county - do they do anything special?  Well, I'll leave you to comment on that but I hope that my enthusiasm is reflected in the passion I have for our local seasonal food in the county and that I believe that our food has a history, provenance and story to tell from plot to plate.  The fact that I can tell our guests not just the name of the person who makes the cheese but can show you the fields in which the cows grazed that produced the milk and the name of the farmer who milked the cows and so and so on.  The women who make our apple juice collect the apples from friends' non-sprayed, private orchards and press them at their small-holding about eight miles away; we think their juice sublime.  All our meat is either our own home-produced free-range pork or from Doug Griffiths' Butchers in Leintwardine who has the only remaining slaughterhouse for many, many, many miles at the rear of his traditional shop.  A true Food Hero indeed!  These are sort of food producers who interest me.  The small, the struggling, the ones who battle against all the odds.  The farmers who've diversified, who've learned a new art in order earn "value added" from their product.  The ones who've not been afraid of change but have remained principled and true to their roots in agriculture but developed to meet a more discerning and enlightened market.
  4. How they promote Herefordshire in their work to the county, the UK and the rest of the world?  My Cookery Courses and Food Safaris are specifically devised to promote our local food and drink and to inspire participants through taste adventures exploring Herefordshire's food and drink rich culture and heritage.  The Cook Days evolve around whatever local, seasonal food is available at the time from which we're inspired to create spontaneous dishes.  My Food Safaris are magical mystery tours and regularly visit a cross-section of food and drink producers across the county.  Over the years I've made various TV and radio appearances: from a networked radio station in USA to prime-time TV in the UK all promoting Herefordshire produce.  The most recent was being featured on BBC R4 Traveller's Tree in May of this year when the reporter followed one of my Food Safaris.  I'm a founder member and committee member of Slow Food Herefordshire which organises various food-related events through the county.  I've twice represented Slow Food at the Salone del Gusto in Turin.  First as one of 30 cooks/chefs representing the UK at Terra Madre2006 and secondly as the Herefordshire representative at Terra Madre2008
  5. FOOD FESTIVAL I regularly give cookery demonstrations at local shows and food festivals but the reality of my passion for local produce in Herefordshire is "my own" Mortimer Country Food Fair which I co-organise with a neighbouring business(Aardvark Books).  We started the fair as a show-case to specifically highlight our local businesses within our community and to bring them together for a day to promote our own special corner of north Herefordshire.  This fair has grown in size and takes place every year in Brampton Bryan.  It is living proof of my commitment to promoting our local businesses and therefore supporting our local community.
  6. I'm constantly promoting Herefordshire food and drink through my websites, blog, Twitter and Facebook
  7. http://www.lowerbuckton.co.uk
  8. http://www.foodtourism.co.uk
  9. http://www.mortimerfoodfair.co.uk
  10. http://lowerbuckton.blogspot.com
  11. http://twitter.com/agaqueen
BUT MOST OF ALL, I ENJOY SERVING MY BED AND BREAKFAST GUESTS "HEREFORDSHIRE ON A PLATE"..........
Please, please send your nomination details to:
Food Champion at Flavours of Herefordshire 2010, Visit Herefordshire, PO Box 4, Plough Lane, Hereford HR4 0XH
or email it to jlewis2@herefordshire.gov.uk
Don't forget to include my name and address, so that they know who you are nominating!
Carolyn Chesshire, Lower Buckton Country House, near Leintwardine, Herefordshire SY7 OJU
Please hurry because entries have to be in by Sunday 1 August which really means by Friday 30 July, I suppose!












Monday, 5 April 2010

EASTER MONDAY TREATS

I'm slowly winding down from a very busy Easter weekend and there's still much hilarity issuing from the dining room. Henry's managing to eat something while all the guests are onto coffee and water-mint infusions. (It is nearly 11.00 pm so I let him eat....!)

Full-house for dinner plus a refugee from the Shepherd's Hut (which was extremely cosy with its wood-stove puffing away earlier) so we did Lower Buckton Pork. Always a winner!

A week or so ago I won a basket of fruit in a raffle. It was full of the sort of unseasonal stuff which I do
n't usually buy like hard, bullet-like unnaturally-looking black plums and under-ripe avocados.  Anyway, by tonight the avocados had, at last, softened so, as I abhor waste of any kind and the  avocados didn't ask to end up unwanted and unloved in my kitchen I set about "doing something with them".  I thought they'd probably be pretty discoloured when cut open and even if not, did I have a lemon to squeeze over them to stop the rot?  No!  Oh well, ............ Henry had already brought in from the garden some French sorrel and Welsh onions so I thought, sorrel, that's a bit "lemony", that will do!  A quick mash of the avocados (and amazingly they weren't discoloured at all), mix in the finely chopped sorrel and snipped chives, a grind of pepper, sprinkle of salt plus a slug of lemon-infused rapeseed oil www.justoil.co.uk saved the day!  Spread over some toasted soda-bread, it was delicious............


 Pudding was off the cuff........ I had a basin of tangy blackcurrant syrup-juice from last season's crop and had a sudden urge to make some grown-up jelly. I have a collection of over fifty antique molds which cry out to be used. So I chose a classic "sand-castle" type with turrets and things and made the jelly with a good glug of Herefordshire Cassis www.britishcassis.co.uk from Jo Hilditch and it turned out a real treat especially after the battlements were plastered with whipped Mawley Farm double cream. Eat your hearts out, Bompas & Parr!  (Oh and there was more chocolate as well........!)