Posts tagged Lincolnshire
Eating Seasonably Made Easy

It's lovely to hear that many of you enjoy my eat seasonably posts, in which I run through what's good to eat in the month ahead. For some it may seem easy, natural even, to pick out what's at its peak and create dishes accordingly, but I know from experience that starting to think and cook in this way can seem quite daunting. Today's post offers easy tips on how to start eating seasonably, considers why local food is important too, and includes expert advice from The Lincolnshire Chef.

Why should I eat seasonably?

Whether you care about any of the other justifications or not, the number one reason you should eat seasonably is the taste. There's a reason why we don't eat strawberries at Christmas - they taste awful; bland, insipid and slimy, the strawberries that are packeted and shipped into supermarkets over winter lack the heat of the sun and have probably travelled thousands of miles just to appease your whim. Are they worth it? Never. Is there a better option? Of course! Pick up a basketful of local apples to crunch and your taste buds (and your bank balance) will be thankful.

It can often be surprising how varied the produce on offer can be throughout the year if you're open to experimenting in the kitchen. You could find yourself sampling the delights of celeriac mash, baby radishes, Jerusalem artichokes and many more (often forgotten) delights if you eat what's in season, and your reliance on the same, tired recipes will inevitably, and happily, reduce. What's more, the abundance of in season produce and the fact it hasn't had to travel as far means that, more often than not, you'll save money too.

What about choosing local ingredients?

This falls hand in hand with seasonal eating. If you're eating what's best in Britain (or wherever you are) in that month, then chances are there's someone around you who's growing it. Not only are you relying even less on shipped in food, thereby reducing the carbon footprint left by your food choices, but you are also encouraging and helping to maintain your local economy. If no one uses the farm shop or the fruit and vegetable market, then they will disappear and our reliance on supermarkets will grow. Don't let yours disappear, because chances are they won't return.

How does this work in practice?

Steven Bennett, also known as The Lincolnshire Chef, follows these guidelines when he creates his ever-changing menus. He discussed with me his ethos and approach to cooking using seasonal ingredients.

"We base the menus on what food's available, not the other way around," he explains, telling me that only that week they'd changed the menu to include a rabbit pâté after a number became available from a local shoot. Served with blossom honey, carrot purée and marmalade brioche crisps, it sounds delicious and perfectly in keeping with the restaurant's values of fresh, local and seasonal ingredients with a modern twist. While most people choose what they want to cook, perhaps picking a recipe first, Steven argues that starting with the ingredients is key to cooking seasonably. It makes sense, and actually ensures a more creative kitchen environment, pushing you to consider what could be created from different sets of ingredients.

He continues:, "it's all about the taste," and goes on to explain that while people are usually confident in creating menus that include great tasting desserts, joints of meat or sides of vegetables, putting something like a whole fish or game bird in front of them can be scary. Becoming more confident at cooking fish and game will really help to improve your ability to cook seasonal foodsand choosing them for a dish is sensible, because they pair so well with seasonal vegetables.

If you'd like more advice on what's in season, I send out a list of the best foods to buy in my monthly seasonal newsletter. When you sign up you'll also receive a free e-book on living seasonally throughout the year, which includes sections on food and eating seasonably. Just sign up below!

Winter Walks
Me-Bella-Creative-Countryside

Walking is my favourite form of exercise; it's leisurely, the scenery can be beautiful, and it can be (for some at least) quite literally on your doorstep. For me there's no better time to explore outdoors than winter; there's something about  returning home, windswept and chilly with rosy cheeks, that allows you to feel truly connected with nature. The prospect of a warming hot chocolate and pulling a blanket over your toes is enough to conquer even the bleakest of weathers, and over the past couple of weeks Dan and I have taken full advantage of our time off, taking Bella walking through the wolds to discover scenery old and new in a wintry light.

The frosty, fresh mornings have meant our wellies have remained (largely) mud free and it has been a joy to crunch and stride through the fields and delight in so many tiny things: tufts of Lincoln Reds caught on barbed wire; the soft popping sounds of the pheasant shoot on the other side of the valley; silhouettes of branches that frame the sunrise; and vast, vibrant blue skies that herald the start of the new year and seem endless over our heads.

These last few days I have sorely missed our walks; leaving and returning for work when it's dark outside makes exploring a little more difficult, but I wait in earnest for the weekend. It's easy to get caught up in daily life and forget to appreciate the joys that a simple walk can bring, but this year I am determined to make time and continue to explore. The Lincolnshire Wolds is often overlooked in favour of other beauty spots, but for me the rolling hills and patchwork fields are second to none.

Lincoln Sausage Festival

A visit to Lincoln is always a joy; it boasts historic buildings and quaint tearooms and is without a doubt the place to go for the best of Lincolnshire food. It is no wonder, then, that the annual Lincoln Sausage Festival manages to lure us back to the city to explore and taste the best of what's on offer. This weekend we visited and sampled sausages in preparation for our wedding - I'm quite aware that for many people this may be an odd concept, but we are food lovers and as such what we eat on our wedding day is up there in terms of importance with what we will wear and where we will get married.

The sausage festival gave us the opportunity to taste a range of options and we have pretty much made our decision now. Not only was the day productive in this sense, it was also a lovely chance for us to spend some quality time together and sample other foodie delights that lined the lawn inside the grounds of the castle, before wandering down Steep Hill and returning home together.

Sign-Creative-Countryside
Sign-Creative-Countryside

The sun was (thankfully) shining all morning long as we explored the different stalls in the grounds of Lincoln Castle. The sausages were all delicious, but this rare breed variety particularly impressed us.

Sausages-Creative-Countryside
Sausages-Creative-Countryside
Mushrooms-Creative-Countryside
Mushrooms-Creative-Countryside

I love mushrooms. This stall was pretty much my idea of heaven.

Meat-Creative-Countryside
Meat-Creative-Countryside

Other meat-based products on offer, including chorizo crisps, which we decided against in the end.

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Bread-Creative-Countryside
Lincoln-Creative-Countryside
Lincoln-Creative-Countryside

Alongside the sausages I managed to sneak in a couple of other purchases too: sourdough, whisky and orange cheese (which is absolutely delicious despite how it might sound) and some truffle oil from the mushroom stall. I mentioned in my last post that I'm trying to be more creative in terms of my cooking ingredients, and I'm hoping that the cheese and truffle oil will inspire me to create autumnal feasts. Any recommendations for what to cook with them?

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Blog Signature
Brunch, Salvage and Art
brunch

Brunch is the best. I always feel like I can indulge, because let's face it, normally I'd be eating two meals and this is just one. Right? Regardless, there is a farm shop and eatery near Market Rasen - Sunnyside Up - and the breakfast is sublime. Mr CC like to go when we've had a heavy week at work or just want an hour out of the house, but last weekend I visited with my sister, and she seemed to love it just as much as we do.

brunchHappily, the food is locally sourced, and the eggs travel only a few steps as the chickens are from the farm adjacent to Sunnyside. Next to the eatery is a farm shop packed with goodies; I can never resist Stokes Tomato Ketchup or Belvoir Elderflower Presse and the meat and cheese selections are not to be sniffed at either. The fruit and veg is located in a shed next to the main building, and if it's a hot sunny day there's even an ice cream kiosk!

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Recently Sunnyside has added a small outside area for the Cottage Garden Flower Company and the scent of summer blooms was a lovely greeting as we entered the shop.

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Not only did we visit for flowers and brunch, we also made a stop off on the way home to Jim's Yard - a rural collaboration including Bricktree Gallery and the Salvage Shed. The latter was pretty much my idea of home shopping heaven; there were rustic chairs hanging from the ceiling, vintage metal signs stacked up by the door and quirky glass bottles galore.

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salvage shed

I was extremely restrained and it was a good job too, as Bricktree Gallery also offered a range of art and treats for the home and I fell in love with a linocut print. This style of images has long been a favourite of mine, and the simple, clean-cut lines really appeal. There were also some very sweet imprinted key rings which would be perfect for an extra addition to a loved one's present.

bricktree gallery

Jim's Yard is located only a few minutes away from Sunnyside so we were able to combine brunch, salvage and art all by early afternoon! If you're looking for unusual antiques, salvage or rural artwork I would definitely recommend you pay a visit. It's also located right next to a B&B - perfect for a weekend visit to Lincolnshire!

What have you been up to over the weekend? Did you find a delicious brunch too? Any galleries / salvage yards you could recommend?

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