Monday, 1 December 2014

Chutneys, Pickles & Jellies

Chutneys and pickles are available around Christmas time and then are available whilst stocks last.  They are made in the autumn to preserve the bounty of fruit and vegetables that are available in late summer.  As they are best eaten after the flavours have matured for a few weeks this makes Christmas the perfect time to start the new chutney.  They will last for months unopened.

Perfect to eat with cold meats, quiches, sandwiches, cheeses.  So of course perfect to eat with your cold turkey on Boxing Day.

We often have jellies, such as quince and crab apple jelly which are perfect for savouries dishes and roast meats.




So I thought you would like to see a quick step by step making chutney :)  Lots of fresh ingredients from the garden, along with some other items that are grown a long way away.





Then all chopped up and ready to start cooking, I bet you can almost smell the aroma of it starting to cook now.









Then after a lot of cooking it is then put into jars.

Then it has to sit on the shelf for a few weeks, to let all of those flavours mature, it will be perfect for Boxing Day.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Scarves

We have a small range of knitted scarves this year, perhaps if you like to knit, sew or crochet you could join us and add your wares to the stall.  It is certainly the weather for a nice snug scarf, what do you think....I hope that you like the model.


 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Jordans Mill

It was a bright and sunny day a few months ago so we took oursleves off to Jordans Mill.  It isn't far from Ampthill and was only around 25 minutes.  They have recently had a major change and invested in the historic mill and site.  

They offer guided tours around the mill or you can just wander around and read through the information boards.  I will be honest and we didn't really spend much time in the Mill, there are lots of stairs and my companion wasn't feeling up to the climb!  

We just wandered around the gardens that are laid out neatly with a paths that takes you through, and loads of seating. 

There is also a meadow with a small wooded area to wander around too. 

The gardens aren't vast, but depending on the weather it can be a pleasant hour.






You can click through on the link above for lots more information about the site - this is the new building that houses the restaurant and a small shop. 

For those of you that have visited prior to the refurb - the shop has a limited range, but does stock most of their products along with locally milled flour and some dried fruit and cereals.

They have a range of cakes, snacks and refreshments and a lovely deck that looks over the water, with umbrellas for shade if required, and seating inside. 






I couldn't resist a picture of this cheeky chap that
was climbing into a garden :)

We visited Parkside farmshop on the way there - it is only small but worth a visit and had a surprisingly amount of stock in there.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Willington Dovecote

The only National Trust building in Bedfordshire is Willington Dovecote, we stopped by there recently and had the pleasure of being shown around the Dovecote, Stables, and also the church.  It was well worth the visit, you can go for a walk to the river after.

It is only 20 minutes or so from Ampthill.



There are 1500 'nests' in each of the two dovecotes - so a lot of doves/pigeons used to be here...and you know what would accompany that many birds....
This is the stable building that also remains as part of the farm buildings.  They do have some information in the Stable building, and there is speculation about its original reason for being built.

The chap that showed us around was very knowledgeable and is keen to promote the site, and would love to be able to get some better info boards.

They have been organising events such as a vintage car day


Check the National Trust site for event information:
NT Events

They are taking part in the Heritage open days next Saturday 13 September 2014 at 1:00pm - so make a date in your diary.



The village school was donated by the Duke of Bedfordshire.


Friday, 29 August 2014

Sticky Toffee Pudding

This was a recipe that was given to me by someone on my www.Craftsbycarolyn.co.uk/craftforum and it is great. Ever since I have had the recipe I make it every Christmas and it is my Mother in Laws favourite.


It is so light and moist, and without the sauce almost healthy :)





Ingredients
175g (6oz) dates stoned and chopped
300 ml (10fl oz) water
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g (2oz) unsalted butter
175g (6oz) caster sugar
2 eggs beaten
175g (6 oz) self-raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

300 ml (10 fl oz) double cream
59g (2oz) Demerara sugar
2 teaspoons black treacle


Method
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4 and grease a 2 lb loaf tin or line it - it was also suggested in the recipe that is work on a 28 x 18cm (11 x 7 inch) baking tin.  I only line mine with a strip the length of the tin, and leave a bit so that I can pull it out.  But the liners are good too, This picture is quite old and I must have used a liner then :)

Boil the dates in the water for about 5 mins until soft (does not take long), I did these in a bowl in the microwave, mash them with a fork then add the bicarbonate of soda. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (I normally start this whilst the dates are boiling), then add the eggs and beat well. Mix in the dates mixture, flour and vanilla essence then pour into the prepared tin. You don’t need to wait until the dates cool down. The mixture looks quite runny but don’t worry. Cook in a pre-heated oven for about 30-40 mins depending on size of tin, until just firm to the touch, it was more like 40 mins for me.

The actual cake will serve around 8 I reckon and the sauce 4 to 5 - as you can see we added a blob of clotted cream on ours, but we also like vanilla ice cream as well :)

It freezes really well and keeps moist for a long time. I just re heat it in the microwave. It is a nice cake on its own and is low in fat! If you intend to serve 8 you will need to double the quantity of sauce.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Savoury Turnovers

We have tomatoes and courgettes for sale on the market at the moment, and they should be available for quite a few weeks now - here is a simple idea to use them.











Roll out a pack of puff pastry (half at a time might be easier), and cut into 12 squares in total.

Chop an onion - red would be good and fry it gently, then add some courgette - diced or sliced which ever you prefer. Put this mixture from corner to corner, and add some diced feta and some sliced tiny toms - make sure it looks attractive at the ends, add some seasoning and herbs.  Fold over the two corners, and seal with milk or egg. I brushed with milk - or for a shinier finish brush with beaten egg.

Cook them for about 15 mins in a fairly hot oven, I always guess these type of things but sure the pastry pack will give guidance.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Hitchin Lavender

We popped over to Hitchin Lavender last week, it is about 20 minutes drive from Ampthill, and easy to find, the village of Ickleford is lovely to drive through also.



The Farm is a working farm with a huge field of lavender that looks magnificent as it goes up a slope. The smell and the sound of the bees was fantastic.  You walk along rows of lavender cutting as you go as they provide a bag and scissors for you to trim the sides of the plants to your hearts content.






We also had a leisurely lunch there, they offer a selection of sandwiches and paninis and also quiche and salad which is what we chose.  They were very busy so unfortunately some of the quiches had gone - but second choice was just as good and service quick.  They also had cakes - but didn't partake :)




Along with the lavender they have planted a field of sunflowers that you could pick for 50p each - this was a challenge in itself with the supplied scissors ...but worth it, my 3 sunflowers looked great and soon perked up having had stems cut and put in loads of water.

Having spent all that time in the field getting quite hot we sat and had a homemade lavender ice cream afterwards, apparently also made in Hitchin, but cannot recall the name!



There is plenty of space to sit and have a picnic and lots of families were enjoying the sunshine and lavender.




Here they are - light was fading and they had were loads better an hours or so later:


Sunday, 10 August 2014

Runner Beans

Runner bean season is upon us now, and we will be having some locally grown on the market over the next few weeks.  Sadly we do not have as many as years ago due to members moving away...so if you have a glut you know where to sell them, you don't always have to be selling items to join...check out our join us post.  We also have french beans - just as an aside.

I have childhood memories of my parents with a load of runner beans that they had grown on the allotment, and no freezer  - yes really - we didn't have a freezer...they only became affordable and popular in the late 60s early 70s - I think we had one before other people as we had so many vegetables that needed freezing! see it tells you all about it here: http://www.retrowow.co.uk/retro_britain/70s/70s_high_tech_household.html :) .


I remember us all in the kitchen with a bean slicer at the kitchen table, piling them into glass sweet jars - you know the type that sweetshops have boiled sweets and salting them as a way to preserve them.  I have just found a link here to prove that I wasn't going crazy... http://www.1900s.org.uk/1900s-preserving-beans.htm
and then delving a little bit further it seems as though some people recommend this way of preserving over freezing - here is a youtube video and HFW-forum.



I personally remember them tasting quite salty, but that may not be accurate - I was a bit fussy as a child!  And I am pretty sure that my parents added more salt to cooking than I have ever done, and maybe they didn't rinse them enough?


So back to the bean slicer you fed in the beans and turned the handle a bit like a mincer...it was clamped to the table.  I have searched around and it was a bit like this one - ours used to have a little gadget on the top that you slid the beans along to 'string' them, no most of the varieties are stringless anyway.  I wonder if my parents still have it?


We do have a modern hand held one - no where near as quick, and not so much fun as we all had turning the handle.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Shaws Corner - National Trust

The journey is around 45 minutes drive from Ampthill (22 miles), a pleasant country drive.  It is the former residence of Sir George Bernard Shaw. 

I would think unless you are a really big fan of GBS you will only spend an hour or so around there.  It was a nice afternoon out and lovely to take a picnic, as there are no catering facilities there, just some ice-creams.


The garden is lovely and slopes away from the house, but I did feel that it could do with some attention, particularly the flowerbeds, the orchard and wooded areas are fine.  GBS had a writing hut which is still in the garden.

As you can see the house in not a 'stately manor' just a large house with servants quarters.




There are some seats around the grounds and we did take a picnic and enjoyed just sitting in the grounds in the sunshine.










There is a lot of information about GBS in the house and there are volunteers that take you through a lot of the history.  If you enjoy the history of the writer there is so much to see, and it is still as he left it.   

Parking can be a bit tricky, as the car park is quite small, but there is a steady stream of people coming and going.



As we are National Trust members it didn't cost us anything for the entry, I did think that the entry price was a bit high at the time.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Flowers from the garden

I have grown some marigolds, cornflower and rudbeckia from seed, and have been picking them.




The Rudbeckia is the large yellow flower in the centre, and is the first out - but can see that there are many more to follow.



The white flower is a phlox - lovely and scented, I do sell them on the market when I have some available, they are just all coming into bloom now and stand up nice and strong a good plant for the back of the flower beds, or I also have a plant in the veg patch just so that I can pick some.

























Unfortunately the cornflowers fell over whilst I was on holiday so are a bit bent, I have now staked them and they are starting to sort themselves out, so hopefully will be looking better for picking in a vase soon.  I love the these little flowers, and although they don't last that long they have loads of flowers, so no shortage of picking, I will be putting some seeds in next year.

So maybe if I have some left there will be some for sale on the Ampthill country Market.



Friday, 11 July 2014

Ascott - gardens and house - National trust



sundial summer 2013
Trip out
Ascott House is near Wing and about a 30 minute drive from Ampthill, about 18 miles.  

We visited the gardens in summer 2013 and was pleasantly surprised, and it is definitely worth visiting.

The gardens are varied, there is a mix of footpaths and some grassed areas.  There are some amazing hedges using a variety of plants, and topiary, along with a sundial made from box and other green shrubs.

They have seasonal planting in some of the beds, both with annual and perennial flowering plants.  Some modern pieces of statuary as well as some lovely old pieces, a lake and a pond with fountains.  Make sure you get a map and you can do a circular walk.

There are benches around the grounds, so you can sit and take in the views.

The house has a few rooms that can be visited, containing a large amount oriental porcelain, paintings, furniture and ceramics, and also hand blocked wallpapers and tromp l'oeil dutch tiles.

The car park is outside of the gardens and a fair step to the main part, I think there is wheelchair access a lot closer.  There are only toilets at the car park.


There are no refreshments available, so make sure that you take something with you, if you are going to stay a while.

They have a website here: 
www.ascottestate.co.uk

It is owned by the National Trust:
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ascott

The opening times are limited, so check the website before you set out, and would love to hear your comments.



Saturday, 5 July 2014

Bread Pudding



I have always love bread pudding - not to be confused with bread and butter pudding, which I also love, but bread pudding is more of a cake slice.

It is a recipe that has been around for years, made by grandma :)

It is great for using up old bread, or even the crusts, if they are soft.



I spent ages looking at different recipes and in the end came up with my winning formula:

Bread Pudding
Bake 1 hour in a traybake at 170c
15 oz Bread soaked in
14 fl oz of Milk (can do some water)
3oz Sugar
10oz Dried fruit
2oz or 3 oz margarine - melted
1 egg
I add some Mixed Spice and some nutmeg

Basically soak the bread for at least half an hour, you can leave it for longer overnight in the fridge is fine, mash completely – I use a use mixer to get it smooth
Add everything else and bake - how simple is that.

Line the tin with silicone paper not greaseproof it sticks!

And you should have some nice Bread pudding. I sprinkle with sugar on top. This quantities are very 'loose'!

I cut it into 15, I have also added mashed bananas, and it is nice hot or cold.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Flitwick Moor

Flitwick Moor is a quiet place, and off the beaten track, it is only 5 minutes in the car from Ampthill.  I went when it was lovely and sunny, but it can be muddy in places, so take suitable for footwear.

Head down towards Maulden and then turn right at the village Hall.  Keep going until you reach a roundabout, go straight on, which is the Maulden Road.  After about 1 mile there are some farm buildings  (Folly Farm) on the left, opposite Massmold, turn down into the track.  There is a small car park, at the end.



There are information signs that tell you more about the area, you can see a picture of one above, I have put them on links below.  
The actual Moor is quite small and won't take long to follow the paths around, or you can go on a longer walk, I have put a link to the Two Moors leaflet which shows a walk around the area. 

We just followed the paths around the Moor which takes you out to the meadow, and then brings you back into the Moor once more. I had no idea about the local history and was fascinated to read that peat was extracted here up until 1967.



The land is iron rich and so the streams running through are coloured orange - just like the Worsley Canal in Manchester, if you know that area.  The place is indeed very boggy, and the reeds

Check out the Wildlife website for more information.
Wildlife trust

Flitwick moor leaflet

Here are some pictures of the information at the site

notice 1

notice 2

notice 3

notice 4

Ampthill Open Gardens

I just wanted to remind everyone that it is this weekend

http://ampthillcm.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/ampthill-open-gardens.html

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Center Parcs - Woburn Forest

The newest Center Parcs village has opened up just 2 miles from Ampthill and already receiving great reviews on trip adviser,  It is only moments in the car to pop into Ampthill, or by bike and a cycle way for some of it, cycle racks are on the town square.









Thursday is market day - just for the morning, and there are plenty of places to get food, either to eat in or take away.  Of course the Country Market stall will be selling homebaked cakes and quiches, so something for lunch.  We also have a supermarket (Waitrose), a newsagents and a chemists.

You just need to leave the park onto Steppingley Road, and turn left towards the roundabout, cross over before the roundabout to the cycle way on the other side of the road, and head straight towards the roundabout.  And then cross over using the access that has been provided, turn right and head along the cycle way, and this takes you into Ampthill, turning off to the left.  The park is on your left, and the centre of Ampthill just straight on.

I hope all this makes sense - you will see the road signs as well.

If you are on foot you can follow a footpath that is marked for Millbrook Church (but it is not suitable for bikes) on the left, you can go down there a little way and then turn right (not towards the church), and pass by the alpacas in a field (dead cute), and this will eventually bring you into the park.  The path is a little meandering, and then you just follow straight on, crossing a field that often has cattle within the park.  NB there are kissing gates,

Once you have crossed the field through to the other gate, start to head right and this will bring you back to the park car parks and the road, or of course you can enjoy the park, and wander any which way.  See the link on the side for information about the park, you will be coming from Millbrook.


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Raspberries

The first pickings of raspberries will be available on Ampthill Country Market on Thursday, I love raspberries.  Along with fresh raspberries this week there will be jam to follow in the next few weeks as well.

We had homemade Raspberry muffins at the weekend, that my other half made using a square muffin tin, so thought I would share the recipe with you, delicious with a blob of vanilla yoghurt, or maybe some icecream, or clearly great on their own.  You can do the same with reasberries as gooseberries see here:
http://ampthillcm.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/soft-fruit.html

and of course the summer pudding posted last week:

http://ampthillcm.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/summer-pudding.html

Here is the muffin recipe:

I have a large jug that I always use for making muffins and find it easier to pour the mixture as it is runny, and all muffins are delicious straight from the oven.

200g plain flour
100g caster sugar
50g soft brown sugar
Cinnamon to taste (optional)
2 ½ Baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
90ml skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
80ml vegetable oil
1 large egg, beaten
5 drops vanilla extract
200gms (approx) fruit

  • Preheat oven to 200 C / Gas 6 and add paper cases to a muffin tray.
  • Measure out flour, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large jug. 
  • Combine milk, oil, egg and vanilla in another jug.
  • Stir until just combined (mixture will be lumpy).
  • Gently fold in chopped fruit, divide amongst 10 cases, or around that number, cases 2/3rds full.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top, sprinkle with icing sugar when slightly cool.
NB I have cheated and use loganberries in the picture as that is all I had in the garden :)



Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Jam

We sell a wide variety of homemade jam throughout the year, and is made mainly from home grown fruit.

Homemade jam is special and the quality is far superior to any mass produced jam in the shops - come and buy a jar, so that you can taste for yourself.  It doesn't have any artificial preservatives or colours.

A selection of varieties like raspberry, damson, victoria plum, gooseberry, blackcurrant are often available. 



There is the most variety following the summer months when fruit is in abundance, what is your favourite variety and how do you like to eat your jam?

Sometimes we have scones on the stall too, a perfect partner, and we often have a victoria sandwich with homemade jam inside.







Friday, 13 June 2014

Kathy Brown's Garden

This garden is in Stevington, which is about 20 minutes drive from Ampthill, in North Bedfordshire.  I went a little while ago and it is definitely worth a visit.

It is open most weeks on certain days, and Kathy takes you around the garden and tells you all about the plants, you can then wander around on your own.

You can also enjoy a piece of homemade cake and a drink, sitting in the garden.  Many of the cakes have edible flowers in them, and were delicious.






 We took our lunch with us, and eat that in the garden before the start of the tour, there are a number of seats around.  

We were lucky as it was raining before we left, and then the sun shone all afternoon.  It was a lovely afternoon out and if you like gardens and cake I would definitely recommend it.
Kathy Browns Garden




and of course I needed to show the cakes:






Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Summer Pudding

With the abundance of soft fruit in the summer months here is a really easy recipe, and it is even low in fat :)

You need a quantity of fruit, a nice selection is good - but it pretty much works with any combination of:
Strawberries
Blackcurrants
Redcurrants
Blackberries
Loganberries
Blueberries

I like to put something in with a bit of punch like blackcurrants or blackberries, but not too many that it overpowers.

I put all the fruit into a saucepan with some sugar, and a tiny drop of water, I personally think that the quantity of sugar depends how sweet you like things. I heated it up until some of the juices came out, not too much as you want the fruit to keep its shape. I took nearly all of the fruit out of the saucepan and left a bit in the saucepan, I mashed these up and made more sauce.

I then roughly lined a pudding bowl with cling film leaving the edges out, this just ensures it will come out easy.

Then it was a case of using sliced white bread to line the basin. I found a saucer than fitted on top of the basin so that it would squash the contents down. Leaving the slices as complete as possible and just filling in the gaps. The outside of each of the pieces was dunked into the sauce and put back into the basin. Then pile the fruit into the basin so it is full. Then make a sliced bread lid - again dunking the outside in the sauce.  The first time I made this I didn't dunk the outside of the bread into the sauce and I found it didn't seep all the way through.

Then pop the plate or saucer on top so that it squashes it down, and put a tin of something on top to weigh it down.

Leave over night.

The pic is a slice with some clotted cream icecream (not homemade!)

There are loads of recipes on the internet - here is one by Mary Berry it isn't a recipe that needs an exact science - just go with what you fancy, you just don't want too much juice, if you have too much use it to add to serve.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Ampthill Market

Ampthill market was established in 1219 and was confirmed by royal charter in 1242.   It has always been held on a Thursday.  There was a market house on the square, this was replaced with the market house now Richardsons in the 1780s, when Lord Ossary of Ampthill Park 'tidied up' the town.

It is small market but has a good selection of stalls, the Town Council try to keep it varied.


Here is a quick summary of all of the stalls, and hopefully I will return with some more posts later on about each of the stalls, apart from the Country Market - as I am sure you will know we are there every week if you have been reading this blog :)

So there is Keith a fishmonger from Grimsby




A greengrocer


Isla Jane Bakery


Open air foods selling cheese and olives


Charity stall for Keech cottage


Luella gifts


Newbury Farm Plants


Pet foods


A seller of household items
Greetings cards

Here are some more great photos of the market from www.Ollieali.com:
Ampthill Market