We have moved!

From February 2012 our blog is moving!

To make life easier for everyone our blog now forms part of our main website www.strawberryfieldsfoods.co.uk 

To get straight to the blog and keep up to date with all our new adventures you can follow this link: http://www.strawberryfieldsfoods.co.uk/the-strawberry-fields-blog.html

Snow in Sopley. So the snow did make it to Sopley last week although not in quite as much severity as the rest of the country and certainly not enough to stop us attending the farmer market at the weekend. Although it did produce enough to allow the children next door to build three rather large snowmen!
This Saturday 18th February you can find us at Winton Farmers Market Bournemouth 9am - 3pm on Cardigan Road - hopefully snow free :) 

Snow in Sopley. So the snow did make it to Sopley last week although not in quite as much severity as the rest of the country and certainly not enough to stop us attending the farmer market at the weekend. Although it did produce enough to allow the children next door to build three rather large snowmen!


This Saturday 18th February you can find us at Winton Farmers Market Bournemouth 9am - 3pm on Cardigan Road - hopefully snow free :) 

Project: Bird Feeders

Kirstie & Ben have been on a mission of late to entice some birds back into their garden after a rather serious haircut this Winter. Spurred on by the fact that it was National Nest Box Week a couple of weeks ago and that it has been bitterly cold some home made bird feeders were in order.

These are really easy to build and a perfect activity to occupy little hands (and big hands!) alike. Just follow the step by step photographs and hopefully you will be spotting a whole range of bird species in your own garden.

What you need:

  • plastic cup
  • string
  • scissors
  • lard
  • bird feed/nuts/seeds

All you need to start off with is a plastic cup with a piece of string threaded through a hole in the top with enough string either side to hang it up and poke out the bottom of the cup once full with bird seed.

Next up you will need to melt the lard over the hob…

And stir into your bird seed. Nuts, seeds or pre mixed packs from pet stores or farmers markets are more than fine. A mixture of sizes can help to entice a range of birds to your garden.

Once the lard and seeds are combined you can get on with the fun part of stuffing the plastic cups full of the lard/seed mix, ensuring that the string pokes out of the bottom when you are done, to ensure its nice and secure.

Now leave (outside if its not sub-zero) overnight to harden and the next day  carefully cut down the side of the plastic cup and peel away from the bird feeder. Now all that is left to do is hang them up and get bird spotting - because these bird feeders don’t have perches they are best hung in bushes or trees close to other branches!

Over the two days these have been up the bird species seen so far include:

  • Robins
  • Blackbirds
  • Blue Tits

Let us know what you manage to entice into your gardens!

Its a pretty grey day today, but last weekend the sunrise in the New Forest was beautiful :) only downside is getting up at 6am to see it!

Its a pretty grey day today, but last weekend the sunrise in the New Forest was beautiful :) only downside is getting up at 6am to see it!

Monthly Madness

As I child I remember January being a very long month, in fact I actually remember one year having a reccuring dream of being at the beach with sunny skies for most of January - it seemed even longer that year!

Not this year! So far 2012 has flown by in a haze of dark mornings and even darker late nights. In the last four weeks so much has been accomplished (don’t get me wrong the ‘to do list’ is far from clear) that when I stop to think about New Years Eve, only a short thirty days ago it seems ridiculous that we have fitted it all in.

However it is indeed the 30th January and it is almost February - am I the only one who is glad that we get an extra day thanks to the Leap Year?!? - and February has a whole other set of delights in store…

For those in the Dorset/ New Forest area you can come see in Feb at the following dates and locations:

  • Brockenhurst Farmers Market Sat 4th Feb 9-1
  • New Milton Farmers Market Sat 11th Feb 9-1
  • Winton Farmers Market Sat 18th Feb 9-3
  • Verwood Farmers Market Sat 25th Feb 9-1

Where you, as always, have the opportunity to try before you buy! Our little jam tarts samples are of an unrivalled yumminess and I should know, if left unsupervised they would all be gone before any market visitors arrived!

If you are a little further afield than the above locations then do not fear, a considerable proportion of January was spent booking fairs and markets all over the South for 2012 so keep your eyes peeled and fingers crossed we will be coming to a high street/shop/field near you!

THE JAMS!

Now to the most important part…2012 so far has seen the release of three new products from us; all based on our generic Orange Marmalade but with a little va va voom - to quote Thierry Henry!

  • Seville Orange Marmalade
  • Seville Orange & Ginger Marmalade
  • Seville Orange & Whisky Marmalade

Available for the first time last Saturday these marmalades are proving incredibly popular making us some very happy miss.marmalades!

However for those with a slightly more eclectic taste February may well be your month, as we have a few new product ideas up our sleeves. Watch this space…your tastebuds will thank you!

Marmalade Mavericks?

If you or someone you know is a Maramalade fan and would like to put their opinions and thoughts on to paper, then you are in the right place!

We have just launched our new range of Seville Maramalades including the following:

  • Seville Orange Marmalade
  • Seville Orange and Ginger Marmalade
  • Dark & Punchy Seville Orange with Whisky Marmalade

And we are after some testers and reviewers please! You will get (for free of course) one jar of our marmalade to enjoy and in exchange we would like a short review of the product! - around 250 words; although feel free to go longer if you would like!

To get involved please send a short email to lauren@strawberryfieldsfoods.co.uk containing your name, email, postage address and a line on why we should pick you, by Friday 13th January 2012.

We will then pick our reviewers and the marmalade and further information will be sent out Monday 16th January 2012.

The boring stuff:

  • Your can only apply for this review if you are at least 18 years old.
  • We are only looking for two independent reviewers.
  • Please be aware that not all entries will be selected for a review, our favourites will be put into a hat and two reviewers pulled out!
  • Your review may be used on our webiste or other promotional activities related to Strawberry Fields Foods, we will only ever use your first name however if you would prefer we can use initials instead - do let us know.
The Vintage Tea Party The Book

The Vintage Tea Party Book was first discovered by Kirstie on a recent trip to Dublin in a gorgeous little cafe, come deli, come shop…acknowledging its beauty to her lovely Mum a week after her return the book magically turned up in the post.

The Vintage Tea Party by Angel Adoree is as its says on the cover ‘a complete guide to hosting to your own dinner party’. This enchanting book contains everything you need to know from lip lickingly good recipes, to chosing your china, to decorating and even hair and make up tips! (As well as a fantastic stencil of her Royal Highness…and cocktails, lest I forget the cocktails!)

Angel (otherwise known as Angela Newman) may be familiar from her successful pitch in BBC series Dragons’ Den in which she showcased her vintage hosting company named Vintage Patisserie. You can find out more about Vintage Patisserie on their website www.vintagepatisserie.co.uk but for now back to the book…

Launched last year (2011!) the recipes are intriguing and one of the first things that caught my eye were the Earl Grey truffle hearts. For anyone who loves Earl Grey as much as me and Kirstie these are a must. However I do warn you not to pick up this book for the first time with a deadline in mind as you will undoubtedly be distracted by all of the photographs and illustrations that make this book a real little gem. 

Other star recipes to have come out of this book are for real chocolate lovers; Chocolate Melting moments. Angel advises that an extra half a batch is needed - I say if theres more than two of you double up! These are positively scrummy!

However, depending on how deep your chocolate addiction lies (and for some of the extended Strawberry Fields team, that’s very deep) then the next chocolate creation may be more up your street. The Decadent gluten-free Chocolate Cake is a real shining star, especially if like Kirstie one of you colleagues is a celiac and you are forever turning up with cakes and treats packed full of gluten!  This cake is so moist it almost has a brownie like consistency and is packed full of cocoa powder and ground almonds so has a fantastic texture and due to its sticky nature it keeps really well. If you, or someone you know needs a gluten free cake then this one is a hands down winner.

I could go on more about the many chocolatey mouthfuls that are contained within the The Vintage Tea Party but my next mission is to tackle the cocktails…and maybe on school nights some of the other drinks such as the Berry Smoothie or Hot Raspberry and Apple Drink. Now just how delicious does that sound?!

So I think I shall leave it up to you to discover the rest of the yummy (and beautiful) treats that are contained within this book. More than just a cook book this is a real treat to read and your imagination will run away with the pages. 

Kurtle the Turtle

The last time I tried to make a 3D cake was last Summer, a football shape; it baked and rose and when it was done the skewer test cake out clean and then when turned out of the cake tin made the discovery that the bottom half was definately not baked as it ran all over the cooked sponge, worktops and floor. 

So I did not have great expectations for this turtle cake I had planned for Kirsties birthday, in fact I thought it a bit adventurous and whilst in the oven had a slight panic attack about the likelihood of it coming out the tin, but some how despite this I managed to pull it off. So here is my guide to making a 3D turtle cake.

You will need:
Ingredients for an 8” Madeira Sponge 
Mini swiss roll x2
Jam
Ready to Roll Icing (ideally green if not white)
Green Food Dye (if green icing is not available)
Chocolate Icing Writing Pen 

The sponge is the important bit of this cake as I was using a football cake mould to make the main body it needed to be a strong sponge. I used a Madeira sponge recipe but I have had recommendations that a muffin batter works equally as well. You will need a recipe designed for an 8” cake - James Martin has a good Madeira Cake recipe here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/madeiracake_73878

Now I didn’t line my mould as it was just too darn difficult so I just greased well with butter before filling with my Madeira mix. It took about 50 minutes in the oven, as usual the skewer test through the middle is vital, anything stuck on that skewer may end up on your kitchen floor (as per previous disasters!) so make sure its coming out clean.

When out of the oven rest for 10minutes in the tin to cool before going around the edge gently with a knife, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

Now i was exceptionally lucky that my cake rose a bit too much and when sliced off produced a tiny round cake perfect for the head! (For those who aren’t so lucky you can easily make a round head with the leftover ready to roll icing and afix later.)

Whilst the main part of the cake is cooling you can prepare the legs/fins - slight bit of artistic license here in that the legs look more like those of a tortoise! Tortoise? Turtle? This cake is so versatile! Now these are really easy…take your two mini swiss rolls, flatten down slightly and chop in half so you have four small slighly squished cylinders. These can be set aside to iced.

The icing part is really very easy, all you need to do is get some jam in a saucepan and get very hot to use as a glaze to coat the cake in before applying the icing. Of course I used Strawberry Fields Strawberry Extra Jam - yum!

Now roll out the icing to less that a 1/4 inch thick and cut around the shape of the cake, the head and the legs/fins. Cover all parts of the cake, ideally tucking the icing under the base and ensuring there are no rips in the icing. You should now have something looking vaguely like the below.

 

Now if you have been lucky enough to buy green icing you can skip the next step, but for those of you like me who just don’t live in trendy/urban enough places to be able to get green icing on a whim its time to get you food colouring out.

Now I have to confess here is where I handed over the pastry brush to my boyfriend Sam as after a couple of brushes it was obvious I am still as artistically challenged as ever. So he painted it very nicely with green food colouring straight onto the white icing, now this tennds to be very messy so old clothes are required and some patience in leaving it too dry…

Once it is well and truly dry it is time to add the details, starting with too little round discs of leftover white icing for eyes. Then it is time to get busy on the final detailing - namely the shell on the back….

Doesn’t he look cute!!

I also decided to make some little round boulders out of white icing to hold the candles so they didn’t ruin the look of the cake. But that is pretty much your turtle done! Hopefully whoever you make it for will love it as much as Kirstie loved her turtle.

Christmas - Strawberry Fields Style

If there is one thing we like just as much as making jam, its cooking lots of yummy things for our friends to eat and when your friends are as fabulous as ours you can’t help but want to make a lot of it!

Christmas Dinner was always going to be on the agenda but when we first started thinking about it a month or so ago, I’m not sure we quite planned on it being quite this big or there being that much food or that much mulled wine or that many beers for that matter. However it was big (eleven of us sat around 2 large tables pushed together), there was a lot of food (all three ovens in use plus four rings on the electric hob and the entire top of the aga acting as a hot plate!) and it was unbelievably fun! But that was just on the day, behind the scenes (sort of) Kirstie and I had planned, made lists, ordered meat, shopped, made gifts and organised a secret Santa. 

Everyone invited had in some way helped us with Strawberry Fields Foods over the past eight months; whether that be carrying bags brimming with fruit on foraging trips, handing out tasters at fairs, making us dinner every night when we are just too busy to have time to eat let along cook, hand drawing the words and pictures on our labels, saving us from the rogue trojan horse on the laptop or simply helping us out in the kitchen when its eleven at night at there is a delivery due the next day. They are all amazing and supportive and thus this Christmas Dinner effectively became a Strawberry Fields Staff Party! And our staff *cough* volunteers deserved a lovely day filled with lots of delicious things to eat and lots of lovely drink. 

Here’s the story of how it all happend…and pulled off with such skill and finesse that we werent slaves to the oven and everyone had a brilliant time! (Or at least we hope they did!)

Way in advance, when i say way in advance I do mean about 4 days - we are just not that organised! We placed our order with Paul at the lovely Danestream Farm Shop, Sway (where our jams are sold) for a brilliant Ham - which turned out amazing. And got on with the gift making, list creating and planning.

Kirstie has been masterminding a home made hot chocolate lolly pop for weeks and below you can see how it made and this made up the first part of the gifts for our visitors.

Firstly melt some chocolate over ban marie. Then hang the bottom corner of the sandwich bag into a pint glass, ready to be filled with melted chocolate, ensure that you don’t pour too much chocolate in to be able to fit in the glass when set! When cooled slightly push a spoon into the chocolate and cover the exposed chocolate in mini marshmallows. When set peel the food bag away and you have a hot chocolate spoon…just add hot milk!!

Sneaky shot of our Lemon Curd in the background!

Also making up our gift parcels was Strawberry Fields Foods Jam (naturally), cinder toffee and Sloe Vodka - a new experiment on the old favourite Sloe Gin, this stuff is liquid heaven and needless to say a lot got drank before the night was over!

YUM!!!

Making sure the fire was at the right temperature to slow cook out beautiful 3kg ham in the oven next door. 

Now for the actual menu, well I have to be honest, we made so much that I’m not sure I can remember it all so forgive me if I miss anything.

N.B: The omission of sprouts was not a mistake - despite protests from Kirstie we elected to skip the sprouts in favour of Peas with Mint. A yummy alternative!

To start:
Blinis with goats cheese & caremlised red onion
Blinis with cream cheese & pesto
Filo pastry parcels filled with brie and Strawberry Fields redcurrant jelly.

Main:
Turkey (obviously) with streaky bacon.
Ham - glazed with honey and cloves (heaven).
Roast potatoes
Yorkshire Pudding
Honey glazed roast carrots and parsnips.
Cranberry nut roast
Onion and sage stuffing
Peas and mint
Cauliflower cheese 

and to serve Strawberry Fields Redcurrant & Mint Jelly and Spiced Crab Apple Jelly. What more could you ask for…oh yes dessert!!

Dessert came in the form of a Nigella Lawson recipe from her Christmas cook book; the Girdlebuster Pie. A combination of chocolate, biscuit, ice cream and caramel. This was a slightly alternative Christmas Day pud but it was delicious and served with lashings of brandy whipped cream.

Nice shot of the cranberry nut roast.

Davinia in her secret Santa present!

 

The Girdlebuster - I don’t think the photo can put across just how delicious this Nigella beauty was, if you ever need a dessert for a special occassion I would thoroughly suggest giving this a whirl! And best of all it can all be made beforehand and eaten straight from the freezer!

The leftovers (below) and our home made mince pies with Strawberry Fields Foods extra fruity mincemeat.

The big news is: we have a website! Can you believe it? strawberryfieldsfoods.co.uk for more excitement!