Is a pork pie course right for me?

Is a pork pie course right for me?

Everyone naturally has a few concerns, whether you're buying a cookery course for yourself or as gift for someone else. So I thought I'd write a blog post to lead you through everything so you can be sure that its right for you. I even asked on social media what people's fears might be.

Honestly. There's nothing to be worried about - it's all very un-scary.

The cookery school is run by ex hospital consultant and now pâtissier (which means he has a gorgeous cake shop) Dr Tim Kinnaird. Tim and I have been good friends for a long time and we're keen that people have fun whilst they're with us, as well as learning something new.

You are in very safe hands, Tim and I know that pork pies are probably a new skill, but we make it all surprisingly easy. And we'll teach you how to make puff pastry as a bonus.  

Scandi Cambridge. An Airbnb adventure a month

Scandi Cambridge. An Airbnb adventure a month

I am, like all right-minded people, in love, utterly, with Cambridge's Kettle's Yard, (the 20th century art gallery in a Cambridge house), it rivals only The Sainsbury Centre at UEA in my heart. My adoration for it is probably why I've often walked past, but never been to, the much larger Fitzwilliam museum. But dear, dear Kettle's Yard is closed until next year for refurbishment, so we couldn't even be tempted by it. And I'd heard good things about The Fitzwilliam, one friend told us it was as good as the V&A for decorative arts, so September's adventure was Cambridge. 

The wooden shed by the river. An AirB&B adventure a month.

The wooden shed by the river. An AirB&B adventure a month.

My sense of things geographic is notoriously scatter-gun. Most of Norfolk has been transfixed by the treat of the tidal view of the bright morning light on the river from the London train when you pass Maningtree in Essex, so when I booked this I thought that was roughly where we'd be. But no, turns out we were headed to Suffolk and another river. No matter, Essex will be a different month.

Pin Mill is a beautiful little port village on the banks of the Orwell. It's famed for Authur Ransome having lived there and nestled amongst National Trust woodland. Mostly what people do from there is mess about with boats and mend boats, What leapt at me though, from my phone and the AirB&B app was this little wooden building. There's an adventure.

Twitter By Gently - take back control of your timeline

Twitter By Gently - take back control of your timeline

What to do if your twitter timeline isn't chronological

But first. Let's pause a while and consider choice.

I'm sure you like to decide how to take your coffee (mine's good beans, ground moments before, milk and no sugar since you ask, thank you). But it's your coffee and your decision. Well, I'm not keen (at all) on algorithm robots deciding for me what I see and when I see it, and I don't think are either.

The tiniest train

The tiniest train

Now, I'm not much of a one for steam trains. Somehow the gene that has directed the rest of my family to variously obsess, head to Greece on (full size) ex-UK, engine-buying expeditions, run station sweet shops etc has firmly passed me by. But I've found my exception.

As my half-anthracite brother was staying with me, and because I see a lot of the happy team at the Wells to Walsingham Light Railway on our regular visits to supply their little cafe (there will be a lot of diminutive adjectives coming up) with our sausage rolls , I suggested a trip from Wells to Walsingham. And just utterly LOVED it.

Black pudding in a pork pie (they're, ahem, bloody lovely)

Black pudding in a pork pie (they're, ahem, bloody lovely)

TALK ABOUT BLACK PUDDING AHOY

If you are squeamish about the red stuff (and I don't mean Merlot) look away now!

Right... still with us? Off we go. I promise I'll be gentle.

I love black pudding but have held off, for a long time, from making black pudding pork pies. This was mainly because I found out a while ago that, extraordinarily, almost all UK black pudding is made from imported dried blood (including by the companies you're probably thinking of) and it seemed a bit strange to go to lengths about making our pies with local, free range, traceable pork whilst compromising on the origins of black pudding.

But then we were approached, in the nicest sense, by Matt and Grant from The Fruit Pig Company,based just up the coast, who are lovely and we've known for ages. You might know them also, they're increasingly famous and have recently popped up on Jamie Oliver's Channel 4 series an

Wild Garlic Pork Pies

Wild Garlic Pork Pies

I just love where we make the pork pies, we're in old flint barns, in an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so surrounded by some of the best countryside in Norfolk and the UK, and the sea is just over there.

The day Kate came to play with pastry

The day Kate came to play with pastry

 We know what we like and the Great British Bake Off is one of those things, we adore the gentle fun of it, the way a nation has convened around it and the fact that it's got people into their kitchen, inspired to learn skills to feed themselves and their friends and family. And we do like the contestants, who seem to be particularly nice human beings.  
     We've really hit it off with Kate Barmby from this year's series,

The gift of Pie Independence

The gift of Pie Independence

Would someone you love like to spend time with expert pie maker Sarah having fun yet learning how to make their own fine pork pies and sausage rolls? Especially on a course recommended by the Guardian and lauded by Chris Evans on his breakfast show?

Is that person also a mite hard to buy the perfect Christmas present for?

Then we can help - click here for the answer to your prayers and book them a pork and pastry course!

Pygge hygge - the British version

Pygge hygge - the British version

Do I need to explain hygge to you? Really? I promise you, give it a couple more weeks into the season and you won't be able to move for, possibly over-simplified, wall to wall hygge. it's exactly what lifestyle journalists love. But scoff not, you cynical Brit you. After a working boiler, know that it's your most useful armament in the face of the colder months. It's a change of perception. It's about good things. It works. Come February you'll be clinging to it, trust me. Best to start now.

A very brief synopsis is that it is the Danish/Swedish/Norwegian concept

An Historical Pie

An Historical Pie

For long years I've been sitting in a particular traffic queue waiting for the lights to change, staring at Strangers Hall, one of Norwich's oldest buildings, and wondering why ever they had a little reproduction of a graphic saying PIE in the window. Why, why, why? Why notof course, but why? Apart from being an actual sign, it must be a sign. Was Stranger's Hall calling to me? Was Norwich trying to lure the piemaker back after my own escape (back) to the country?

Holkham

Holkham

I was on pork pies and sausage rolls delivering duty there yesterday and had a good nosy round. I came away impressed and pleased, I liked it before and, as with anywhere you are fond of, was that little bit apprehensive about the end result, especially having seen it as a building site over the winter when I dropped in for meetings. But it all looks just fabulous. Much improved and so much more appropriate for the destination that Holkham has become over

Seville. The lesser known stuff.

Seville. The lesser known stuff.

The big touristy things to do in Seville are well documented, you'll find The Alcázar and the Cathedral for yourself (and extraordinary they are too), but they are busy, so here are a few less well documented things you might like.

Tapas Tour - As soon as I mentioned Seville on Twitter we were swiftly steered toward Shawn of Azahar - thanks Rachel and others. Her tapas tours started with a blog and gradually became a business (file under living the dream), s

The naming of the pie

The naming of the pie

I'll keep this brief.

Once in a while I find myself involved in a conversation about what a pie actually is. 

Picture the scene. I invite you round for a bite to eat. I make a classic white sauce, season it, add some chopped parsley, perhaps some lemon juice. Then I fold in some white fish and probably some glorious smoked fish from Cley Smokehouse. I'll have made this in my blue Le Crueset casserole. I'll top the fish with mashed potato, run a fork over it in a hither and thither pattern to make some mini peaks and dot with butter in the hope that the mini peaks with go bro

Kimchee

Kimchee

Kimchi (kimchee and various other spelling variations) is cropping up all over social media at the moment, and I'm sure it'll be in the cookery pages imminently. I hereby declare you to be at the cutting edge of the zeitgeist. And if you give making it a go you'll be even more so.

It's simple preserving of vegetables using lacto fermentation, which for some reason isn't really in the British cookery repertoire, we seem to favour sugar and vinegar in our funny old medieval way. But most of the rest of the world does some form of it, using naturally occurring "good" bacteria, in the same way as yoghurt or cheese does (notably sauerkraut). So