Tag Archives: honey

Lavenham Farmer’s Market

When I lived in London, we used to go to the Islington Farmer’s Market, which was great. There was a man there who sold baby lettuce leaves by the bag, and his leaves were so tasty. They had real bite and flavour to them and were far removed from supermarket lettuce which melts on the tongue and tastes of not very much, so as to appeal to as many people as possible. You couldn’t move for Bugaboos (including our own) and it was all very north London, but it was fun and there was raw milk sold (something I really miss) and great bread (something I no longer have to miss now I make my own).

When we moved to Suffolk, it took us a while to find the Lavenham Farmer’s Market which is now my favourite farmer’s market of all time. It’s held once a month (the next one is this Sunday, 23rd, it’s held on the fourth Sunday of every month), not once a week like our London one. There is usually plenty of parking and there is always something unusual to find. It’s not huge, but it’s not small either. Each time I go I find something amazing and different and have the best chats with people, from those who grow their own heritage apples, to the honey man from The Beehouse Honey Co in Great Yeldham who told me all about his bees and how different ones had different personalities and we had a honey tasting, as sophisticated as any wine tasting.

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One month we were walking round when my eldest got a really itchy neck (she suffers from mild eczema) and I looked round and there was this stand selling natural products, called Honey bee Natural Beauty, which uses honey and beeswax from their own hives. It was very Neals Yard-esque and the products smelled amazing (you know how sometimes you find these natural products and they smell just like what they are, made up in someone’s kitchen? Well these aren’t like that. There’s an orange body lotion that smells well posh and proper and I am going to buy it next time). And I said to the man “Do you have anything for eczema?” and lo and behold, he produced something called “Vitamin A Cream for Eczema Prone Skin” which cost £9 and really helps (it doesn’t cure of course since no one knows what causes eczema, but in our battery of creams and lotions, this earns its place).

And I’ve met people there, from Slamseys Drinks, who sell amazing gin  with fantastic labels, like nothing you’d find anywhere else.

I always stock up on Edward’s Cordials (strawberry and mint is great for the summer and there’s a new flavour coming soon but I forgot what it is…).

If you’ve never been to Lavenham it’s well worth a look around. It’s bonkers. I think it has the highest number of listed buildings of anywhere in England, but I may have made that statistic up (oh the glorious freedom of blog posts, no need to check facts like in newspapers). Lavenham has some great art galleries and I go in there with my children and no-one gets sniffy (my children are amazingly appropriately behaved though, as I’ve taken them everywhere with me from a very young age). Although there is one shop that says “breakages must be paid for” so that shop doesn’t get my custom because who needs that shit?

Afterwards we sometimes go to Clare, which is another amazing little Suffolk village that has proper shops. We go to Cafe Clare there, (1 Well Lane) which is tiny and quaint and we always have great service and lovely food there. It’s not the Wolseley but a great place to get a cup of coffee and a sausage sandwich and they are always accommodating to our children (I’ve seen them let dogs in too if that is relevant to you).

You can then go for a walk at Clare County Park. If you go during the week, do check out the hardware store – Hudgies.

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A totally wheat free cake: almond, pistachio and lime cake

I only realised this was wheat free when I was half way through making it. I do eat wheat. Lots of it, but I realise not everyone does or can, so I hope this helps some of you.

Despite the lack of any sort of flour, this cake does rise quite a bit, thanks to the four eggs. And it feels light. But it’s packed with protein so it’s quite filling and certainly you don’t get that huge blood sugar crash after eating it. Which can only be a positive thing (I’m choosing to only see it as a positive thing).

So in essence this is a light, moist, delicious cake which I think you’ll find hard to overeat. It needs no adornment or accompaniment other than a cup of strong coffee or, for you English peeps, a cup of tea.

It’s from the Donna Hay magazine, incidentally, which is my favourite foodie magazine.

You need:

150g unsalted very soft butter

165g caster sugar

The finely grated zest of a lime (equivalent to one tablespoon but I never measure it)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

4 eggs, at room temperature

180g ground almonds

130g ground pistachios (I ground these myself in my electric grinder, stuff of five minutes)

Honey for drizzling a-top

What you do:

Oven to 160C.

Put the butter, sugar, lime rind and vanilla extract in an electric mixer and whisk for 10-12 minutes, until the mixture has turned pale and creamy. It’s a heck of a lot of mixing isn’t it? But there you go. Then add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the mixture as you go. This is the hardest bit.

Now take the bowl out of the mixer and manually, fold through the ground nuts. Spoon into a 2lb loaf tin which you have lined with baking parchment and bake for 1hr to 1 hr 10mins until a test comes out clean. Cool completely in the tin then spoon some honey over the top.

 

Honey roasted cherry tomatoes. A thing of glory.

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One of the things you should know about me and this blog, is that whenever I’m on a particular deadline, something hard and difficult, I write a blog post. So when people ask me, as they do “how do you find the time to blog?” it’s because I am nearly always avoiding doing something else and that something else is nearly always writing An Actual Piece.  All the professional writers I know have vast, varied, and sophisticated procrastination techniques. For me, if it’s not writing on this blog, it’s ironing or cooking or baking.

I turn to a write a blog post when I’m just about to start writing that actual piece. The last bastion of procrastination, when I’ve ironed everything that shows even a weak crease, baked up all the flour in the house into something cakey and menu planned the dinners until Christmas. So in that respect it’s like a warm up: a gentle stretching of a muscle that’s about to be really hammered in the main event. I like to think it serves a useful purpose.

My partner doesn’t quite see it like that. Living with a writer isn’t easy. It’s all “I’m on DEADLINE I’M ON A DEADLINE. DON’T DISTURB ME DON’T TALK TO ME I’M IN MY MENTAL SPACE” and then we faff and fuck about until suddenly, miraculously, the words spill out, via our fingers, onto the screen.

(n/b: the worse thing you can say to a writer is: just get on with it. This is like saying to your male sexual partner: just get an erection.)

Until that moment comes. Here I am talking about tomatoes. This recipe is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Every Day. You may have the book. And you may have missed this unassuming, but actually vastly useful recipe. These make a great lunch: on toast, under a poached egg, or in a recipe that I will post next week (when I’m on my next deadline) which is a spin on what is really a very boring salad called tricolore. We try to make these when the oven is already on, and even if you don’t eat them immediately, they keep brilliantly for a few days in the fridge and just take minutes to warm up.

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I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you to augment or reduce the recipe according to your needs.

500g cherry tomatoes (must be cherry toms, save those big bastards for something else)

2 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon of honey

3 tablespoons of olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Halve the tomatoes and place them cut side up. When I do loads, I don’t place every single one cut side up unless I really do want to procrastinate. Choose your tin according to your tomato yield: you want the tomatoes to be close up and personal, not spread far and wide.

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Crush the garlic with a pinch of salt, then beat it together with the honey, oil and pepper if using. Because I have thick set honey, I have to melt the honey first as otherwise this just gloops together. Spoon the  mixture over the tomatoes and roast for about 30 minutes. I find it frequently needs longer as you want them toms to be goldeny brown, and bubbling. I sometimes finish them off under the grill too.

Eat immediately or keep in the fridge. Note that if you use tomatoes that aren’t that sweet, this will really improve them. However, if you start with really sweet tomatoes already then these are GLORIOUS. They also  make a great addition to a full fry up. Now then, I really must get on.