A while ago I started following The Real Food Cafe on Twitter. They were opening up at Cogges Farm & celebrating with a food festival. I didn’t manage to get to that so on Bank Holiday my OH & I decided to take a trip to see the manor house at Cogges.
Cogges is trying to obtain charity status so we couldn’t pay by card, which meant a detour into the lovely town of Witney. I think the admission price is reasonable for adults (£5) but cannot understand why they feel they have to charge £1 for dogs! It’s not like a pooch is going to be bringing its pocket money! Weird! (Not that I have a dog…yet!)
I was expecting to see loads of animals but they only had guinea pigs, ducklings (super cute), chickens & turkeys. The guinea pigs were a bit shy so stayed in their cage. It was amazing to see that the chickens had previously been at a battery farm. They looked a bit worse for wear but it was good to see them out & about.
The best bit by far was the manor house. It had an amazing garden – full of veg & bee-loving flowers. Exactly what I want my garden to be like. Parts of the manor house are really old, like 1200’s kind of old, although the kitchens are currently dressed in the Victorian era. Just my cup of tea. In the kitchens were volunteers baking bread & welsh cakes and they had free samples for people to try. Bingo! They even had homemade butter & jam for people to try. They were all so delicious. The welsh cakes were cheese & chive flavour which I’ve never had before.
The upstairs wasn’t open to visitors so we headed out through the orchard & onto the river walk. There were bugs & flowers aplenty on the walk & we definitely saw evidence of otter activity! Something was making paths from the river, under fencing & across grass.
There were also loads of different flowers & plants that I’d not seen before but the bees were really enjoying. My favourite plant was this hairy looking one. I’ve never seen anything like it & would love to know what it is.
After all that it was time for lunch. We finally got a table & I had a lovely roasted veg & pesto sandwich on toasted bread. It came with a lovely side salad & coleslaw. The disappointing bit was the water. It tasted awful & was so bad you couldn’t taste the tea. There was also very little to see in the cafe or the shop. I’d hoped for some local produce/crafty bits. Maybe this will come later.
It’s well worth the trip, especially if you’ve got little ones as there’s loads for them to do. If you don’t have little ones (like us) then it won’t take long to get round Cogges & back in the comfort of the cafe! x
A lovely friend of mine recently gave me some plums. I’ve never used plums before so needed to search for a few recipes. I discovered a brilliant website called Allotment Growing Recipes. Not only does it have loads of recipes but feedback from people who’ve used them & lots of answered questions.
The first recipe I picked was one for plum cake. This one seemed quite easy & I wanted to try baking something with wholemeal flour. The recipe was easy to follow & was looking really good. My oven is a bit tricky so it took an extra ten minutes to cook.
I took it out of the oven & was trying to take it out of the tin. It was coming out fine but the outside slid off & was heading down my arm. I freaked as I was worried that it would burn me (& I was in a bit of a rush I was running late for yoga & I wanted to give the cake to the person who had given me the plums!). The cake slid of the base of the tin & fell onto the top of the oven! Yes it was as comical as it sounds! But it tastes amazing! I can really recommend the recipe if you have a load of plums.
I had some plums left so wanted to have a go at making some plum jam. So I returned to the Allotment website & found this very easy plum jam recipe. I didn’t have the recommended weight of plums left so had to use my maths skills (!) to work out how much sugar to use with the just over 500g of plums I had. The recipe didn’t mention any type of pectin so I just cut up my plums, poured in the water & set to work. I’d forgotten to reduce the amount of water but I don’t think it’s made much difference. I also didn’t have any granulated sugar so used caster sugar instead. I haven’t tasted any on bread yet but it tasted fine when I was checking it had reached it’s setting point.
I love trying out new recipes. I used to think jam making was really difficult & required loads of expensive equipment but the recipes I’ve seen are really easy & work really well. And it shows how great the internet is as I’ve got all my recent recipes for free! Fab! x
Every year I see blackberries out in the hedgerows & hear about people making jam etc with their free fruit. Every year I tell myself I’m going to do that. Well I finally did. On Saturday my OH & I went out blackberry picking to a park in Oxford. We started off small but it wasn’t long before we hit the mother load. I’d taken two tupperware boxes, just in case. It was a good job as we picked just over 700g of blackberries.
Once we’d got home, rinsed & de-maggoted them (gross!) I had to decide what to do with them. I’d promised my OH a crumble so knew that I was going to make an apple & blackberry crumble but that wouldn’t use them all up. Did I have enough to make some jam? I’d been collecting jam jars & lids for a while now, not for anything in particular, but when you get a good jar it makes sense to keep it!
I searched the internet for some jam recipes & came across one listing ‘Easy Blackberry Recipes‘. Perfect I thought, and it was a very easy recipe to follow. Despite not having the kilogram of fruit that most recipes ask for, this recipe made it easy to do the maths needed for the 500g of fruit I did have. Now I’ve never made jam before so I did have to nervously text my mum a few times but I think the result is good. I added the juice of one lemon to include some pectin but I didn’t include any apples because I wanted pure blackberry jam. I warmed my jars in the oven, as recommended in the recipe & this worked a treat. In the end I only had enough for three small jars but I’m quite happy with that. I’m not a massive jam-user so this way I can give one or two jars away and keep one for myself. Fear not, family & friends, you won’t be inundated with tons of massive jars full of jam!
I’ve made crumble loads of times before. I use my mum’s very tried & tested recipe and it never fails to deliver. But I had a recipe from a very old copy of Ideal Home Magazine for an oat crumble that I wanted to try. The fruit mix was the remainder 200g of blackberries & two large cooking apples. Then the oat crumble topping called for 100g of plain flour, unsalted butter & oats and 50g of golden sugar. I was a little dubious at first but when I put the mix on the fruit it definitely looked okay. That just left the taste test!
Final verdict: Very tasty! The crumble mix and the blackberries were absolutely delicious! I will definitely be picking more free fruit! x