Wormery

Worms are one of the most efficient ways of converting kitchen waste into something you can use in the garden. Worm compost is a very rich source of nutriment for young plants and in it’s liquid form for top dressing the garden in general. The wormery above was bought from our good friend Heather at Wiggly Wigglers and of course Farmer Phil. Basically you start with three trays, a base which holds the liquid sump, a lid, worms and a bedding mix. The worms supplied are chosen as the most suitable for composting rather than others which can be bought for earth working.

The wormery can handle a variety of food waste but is best to go for vegetables, fruit and peelings. Contrary to popular demand, worms do not eat meat, that’s a maggot diet. They are not too keen on dairy produce either, but you can add bread and rice. Citrus fruits should be avoided at all cost as the oils are poisonous to the wormery. In fact you can change the balance of the colony with putting in too much of anything which is acidic or caustic. Too much onion can turn the wormery sloppy and acidic, much like the effect it can have on the human stomach.

To keep this in check, lime can be added to change the acid balance and handfuls of shredded paper. Wormeries are also excellent places to get rid of old egg shells. Simply dry them in the oven and then break them up in a pestle and mortar. Add a handful from time to time.

Harvesting the compost is done from the lowest tray first. Swap this to the top and leave the lid off and the worms should descend into the tray below. The compost collected is perfect for potting and for nourishing containers. One final tip, the worms are not to be encourgaed as a fishing bait by your father in law !!!

 

 

Sliced bread

Yes, sliced bread. So where do sayings like “the best thing since sliced bread come from”? This is something we want to look at in the new year. History and science are two fascinating areas which cross over to an extent in the food world. Do you have any food myths or old wives tales that need busting or proving? Any food sayings that don’t make sense? Let us know and we will try and do the research.

In South Africa a favourite way of serving curry is inside a loaf. The top crust is cut off and then handfuls of the centre are pulled out. Curry gets poured inside and gets mopped up with the spare bread. This is also a traditional way of serving Welsh cawl. Sliced bread is not the best thing if you think about it !!

 

 

 

Brown snd Green

 

Those lovely folks at Brown and Green have invited us along to showcase our smoked range.

Fresh out this month are 3 new items to the product line:

Cold smoked hake
Hot smoked pigeon breast
Hot smoked duck breast

This  is on top of the smoked salmon and venison that we have made since opening.

If you are in or around Derby Garden Centre, please come along and say hello.

 

If I was to say that we are going to inflict death by imploding cell walls, exposure to acid, gassing, rubbing in salt or poisoning, you would possibly be fair in thinking of medieval executions. The truth is that every day, food curers and charcutiers do just these things to preserve food. All of the processes are natural and most of them have been around for centuries. When ships set sail across the oceans a staple dish was salted cod. All the moisture had been drawn out of the cod and it could be reconstituted and cooked up months into the journey. It is also rumoured to be one of the origins of “Salty Dog” as a reference to an experienced sailor. What would have happended if the same piece of cod had not been preserved?  How long would it have lasted in the ship’s galley? Also, how heavy would the food supplies on board have been?

Over the next few blogs, we are going to look at how some of these techniques work, the science and maybe some history to go along with it. If you have ever tried fresh pastrami and enjoyed it’s rich flavours, then you will have experienced the benefit of at least three of these tactics of chemical warfare.

 

Probe Thermometer

 

After freshly marinading the chef in wine or lager, your next essential is to make sure that you cook all food safely. Handling food with clean utensils, clean hands, having a clean cooking environment and making sure the food doesn’t hang around for too long are basics. To check whether the meat is ready to be served, check the internal temperature.

The only way to accurately do this is to use a probe thermometer. You can pick these up for less than £10. Make sure you keep the probe clean between measurements as you don’t want your attempts at food hygiene to be the thing that spreads the bugs. Use the probe into the middle of the food to be checked and let the thermometer come upto a reading before withdrawing. You will also get hints with well done meats and chicken, when the juices coming out of the probe hole are clear. An infrared thermometer will not do the trick as it measures surface temperature, even though they do look very cool with the laser dot.

Safe temperatures:

Beef
Rare 125-130F (52-54C)
Medium rare 130-140F (54-60C)
Medium 140-150F (60-66C)
Medium well 150-160F (66-71C)
Well done 160F (71C)

Lamb
Medium 140-150F (60-66C)
Medium well 150-160F (66-71C)
Well done 160F (71C)

Pork
Steaks 150F (66C)
Chops 150F (66C)
Ribs 190F (88C)

Chicken 165F (74C)

Burgers 160F (71C)
Sausages 160F (71C)
Hot dogs 140F (60C)
Gammon steaks 140F (60C)

 

We have all witnessed the charred outside of a barbecued sausage and then bitten in to find it’s raw or even frozen. This is all done to rapid and uneven transfer of heat or flames. If you want a sausage that tastes good and is an even temperature all the way through then try these 3 simple steps:

1 Is the barbecue ready to cook on? The flames need to have died down and the charcoal glows white. At that point you can start to cook. It doesn’t matter that the heat may start to go down. This is better than the coals still heating up.

2 Make sure the sausages are ready to cook. Nothing is worse than frozen or raw sausage. The many scare stories of food poisonning at barbecues come down to meat not cooked properly and maybe kept around too long before eating. One quick way to get a sausage up to heat is to simmer them for about 10 minutes in water or stock. Not only does this get them nice and juicy but it gets them to a consistent temperature.

3 Probe. An instant read thermometer should tell you when your food is ready to take off the heat. These are inexpensive, very easy to use and simple to clean. Safe cooking temperatures depend on what you are cooking, so a crib sheet will be coming out next week.

 

British Summer Caldo Verde (c) Girl Interrupted Eating 2011

 

Serves 2

100g of Staffordshire Fine Foods Dry Chorizo
1.5 pints of chicken stock (chicken stock out of the freezer )
1 large onion finely sliced
1 bulb of wet garlic finely chopped ( ro two cloves of regular garlic)
1 large potato roughly chopped
2 large bunches of spring greens leaves removed from stems and roughly chopped
2 handfuls of broad beans removed from the pods but not shelled
1/2 a fresh lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Simmer the chorizo in a large chunk in the chicken stock with the onions , garlic & potatoes for an hour at least ( I used my slow cooker on low for a few hours)
  2. Remove the chorizo and cut into chunks , return to the pan and turn up the heat to a medium simmer add the spring greens and broad beans
  3. Simmer for ten minutes serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and ground black pepper.

 

Recipe kindly written by : Girl Interrupted Eating

 

Louise, Jo and the rest of a very friendly group of affable foodies came to visit 99 Station Street for lunch and then back to the house for some hands on stuff. We start with a quick test on the difference in flavours of shop bought salted peanuts. One of the packets was smoked at home, just before the folks arrived and the other, not. Then we did a test on some thinly sliced salmon which had been cured and another not. Both of these where put into the smoker as we went for a wander around the village.

After pointing out a few local landmarks we returned with a bag filled with nettles leaves at their prime and some of the last of the wild garlic. Both of these were added to the simmering liquid I had used to reconstitute an air dried chorizo. A quick whizz and we had a soup with homemade and foraged ingredients, made in minutes.

Then the salmon was taken from the smoker and sampled for differences between cured and uncured. The verdict was unanamous, they had spotted the cured very easily and preferred that sample.

Lots of photos, sampling and discussion on books, including a very specific selection of over a dozen from our library of about 300. The knowledge of food around the table was very high, it was great to be asked focused questions by people who knew what they were talking about. Just the day before I had been featured in an article in a local paper which was a 5 minute Q&A about my life, which was fun, but certainly did not put me on the spot as much as these guys did.

Again, a big thank you folks, we look forward to seeing the photos and videos :)

 

This should be an entertaining session on techniques used for our charcuterie and food preservation. There will be hands on demos of:

Smoking
Curing
Brining
Sausage making

As well, weather permitting, a local forage. Then back to create a couple of dishes with what we have found.

© 2011 Staffordshire Fine Foods A Peel House Investments Brand Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha