Archive for the ‘Local Food’ category

Pick your elderflowers for cordial soon

June 3rd, 2014

Elderflower cordial, made from wild elderflower heads, is a really easy “food for free”. But you’ll need plenty of elderflower “heads” to do the process justice. Right now, elderflowers aroundd Witney are absolutely at their peak—some have even “gone over” and are showing tiny, unripe berries—and when I went out to pick mine yesterday, the air around Deer Park practically whiffed of them!

If you’re interested in scavenging, then as long as you make sure there are enough heads left to produce a decent crop of berries, you should head to the nearby parks and paths; but do make sure you’re not picking on private land! As with any scavenging, you must make sure you know what you’re looking for: big, blowsy 15–20cm umbels made up of dozens of tiny cream-coloured flowers, each smaller than a pea. They should smell of elderflower cordial, basically; and if you haven’t had elderflower cordial, then oh boy! you’ve got a treat ahead of you…. But if in doubt, go with a friend who knows what they’re after. Also, try to pick them at the end of a sunny day, as damp flowers can smell a bit pungent.

Bowl of elderflower cordial ingredientsFor making the cordial, any recipe will do: here are two from BBC Good Food and River Cottage. But they’re all the same, really! Dissolve 2kg sugar in 1-2l heated water; add 20-30 heads-worth of washed, mostly destalked flowers; add 2-3 lemons along with their rind pared off, and 40-80g citric acid; steep for 24 hours, then filter. Only the quantities vary from recipe to recipe, and you should feel free to experiment with that for your own preference anyway.

So get picking; get steeping; bottle it up, or freeze it into ice cubes: and enjoy a taste of late spring all through summer, well into the autumn, and beyond!

Introduction to tree pruning workshop at Cogges

July 20th, 2013

On Saturday 31 August, Cogges will be running a workshop for summer fruit-tree pruning. Along with a tour of the fruit trees in Cogges, you’ll be taught techniques for healthy and sustainable management of your fruit trees through pruning.

Starting at 9.30am, it’s a ticketed event: tickets are £10, but the proceeds will go to a new greenhouse for the garden. Bring secateurs, gloves and something for taking notes!

Introduction to herbs workshop at Cogges

July 15th, 2013

On Sunday 4 August there’ll be an introduction to herbs workshop at Cogges, 10am-4pm.

Concentrating on the growing of herbs in the Victorian walled garden, and their uses in the Victorian kitchen (with examples to hand!) the day will cover the basics of growing and using herbs at home, and include both the history of herbs and practical tips for growing herbs at home as well as harvesting and storage.

It’s a ticketed event, so you’ll need to book ahead.

Cogges beer and cider festival

July 15th, 2013

Cogges, the living, breathing Victorian farm and food museum on your doorstep, is having a beer and cider festival on August 2-3.

Along with over 40 locally brewed beers and ciders, there’ll be a pub quiz, barbecue, Aunt Sally and other games, and even live music: Eloise Rees, Roukes Drift, The Lash and much more. £8 advance / £10 on the door; over-18s only; doors open from 6pm each day till 11.30pm. Price of ticket includes a commemorative Cogges tankard and two free half pints!

Also on Saturday 3 August, Witney BUG will have its regular afternoon meeting at Cogges. There’s every good chance that, all business having been conducted, it might segue into the beer and cider festival….

SW hosting Bee Cause meeting on Thursday 6 June

May 11th, 2013

On Thursday 6 June we’re hosting a meeting for Friends of the Earth to speak to West Oxfordshire groups about the “Bee Cause” campaign. This will start at 7pm, at The Fleece.

The talk will cover: an introduction to the campaign; what’s happened since the campaign was launched last year; activities currently ongoing in Oxfordshire (including Witney) and beyond; and what we can do to help reverse the decline in British bee populations.

We’re aiming for a 50/50 talk/discussion and we’d love people to come along and take part!

(Please arrive promptly for the 7pm start.)

Easter Eggs

March 27th, 2013

DippyEggsWelcome to our new monthly meal suggestion using locally sourced ingredients.

Something simple to get us going, I’m sure we can all boil an egg!

One of my favourite quick meals is dippy egg and soldiers and for the past couple of years I have been getting my free-range eggs from Mayfield House in New Yatt, a short bike ride from Witney. However, if you don’t fancy the ride you can get the same eggs in the Spar shop at the petrol station on Hailey Road.

For the soldiers you can use the lovely bread on sale at Witney’s Thursday market from the Wantage based Marcopolo Bakery. I usually bake my own bread using Wessex Mill flour, also from Wantage, which you can pick up from Cogges Farm or Huffkins in the High Street. A bread machine like the Panasonic SD-255 makes it very easy indeed.

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