Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear………… what is happening to our food industry? The issue regarding ‘other’ meat in some processed meat products is less about what is in these, manufactured, products but more what do WE know is IN the products and  then we can make a more informed decision about buying them. Do we know where the meat has come from, how the animals have been reared/dispatched, how the meat has been transported etc etc etc.  We don’t know what is in them-do we care-yes, of course. One answer is to cook more from scratch and to buy eg our meat from reputable sources and to cook it ourselves……..that is the top and bottom of it.

I could bang on about the importance of buying local , cutting food miles, etc and there are sound economic reasons -local grown vegetables are much cheaper to buy that from a supermarket and are not wrapped in plastic etc-meat is different.  Good quality meat is expensive to buy-there is no getting around this. One answer (and this is supported by the healthy eating lobby) is to eat less meat-not on a daily basis as we have become accustomed to. When we do buy meat we can buy the cheaper cuts instead of the more expensive (which can be used on high days and holidays) ones and, yes we are coming round the full circle and back to cooking our own food.  The problem is that many of these skills have been lost……………………………………

Quality meat is generally available from good Butchers and also small producers who rear their own animals for meat production and sell their meat at Farmers Markets or directly from the farm.

Mainsgill farm shop


This is an award winning Farm shop and Tea Room. Yes , I know it is not actually in Cumbria but lying only 6 km from Scotch corner, heading west on the A66 it is a must for passing travellers heading to and from Cumbria. There is a lovely tearoom (with delicious homemade cakes and scones etc.), gift shop, food shop (with lots of nice foodie gifts), and play areas for children and even a camel called Kevin..

The impressive butchery area has a wide range of meat and, most importantly, all the beef, pork and lamb are reared on the farm. So you know exactly what you are purchasing and can be assured of high quality and traceable meat.  Their attention to the highest quality of meat production has brought them national awards and they were finalists in the 2012 Farmers Weekly Awards.

I loved that children (and adults) can go onto the farm and see the livestock and really learn about where our food comes from and how important it is to do this well.

And Kevin?…………………..well, he looked surprisingly at home and content looking out over the beautiful countryside and enjoying the attention he was getting from all the visitors.

Put the brakes on when you are passing and enjoy a break here.



Enough of those American Pancakes (with blueberries..for heaven sake!), we love these traditional pancakes ones and who can resist flipping them in the air?  I certainly can’t and, as I say every year on Shrove Tuesday, why don’t we make these more often? They are quick to make, easy, cheap and quite delicious with lemon and sugar, golden syrup, chocolate Nutella type spread, honey, cream………………I could go on. You need a gentle touch to start with, the aim is to get thin pancakes with a frilly edge and to do this you must have a hot pan and only a little batter. Pour it in quickly and move the pan from side to side to distribute the batter.  You should see the little bubbles rising to the surface, flip up the side with a fish slice to see if it is brown enough but don’t get carried away and start batting it down with the slice-you will only make the pancake heavier. A quick flick of the wrist and you should be able to flip it into the air like a pro.  Once you have made one or two you will get the knack of it. They are best eaten warm with whatever takes your fancy.

Continue reading “PANCAKE RECIPE”



These are quite yummy for Shrove Tuesday. Ok so you can’t flip them but none the less they are fun to make .  I tried these recently in the States and they were huge accompanied by bacon and eggs-we were full even after 8 hours of determined sightseeing and absolutely no lunch.  Be prepared for the first one (or two) to be less than perfect either too rubbery (pan not hot enough) or burnt (pan too hot) which can easily be remedied and then you are on your way to pancake heaven.  Try them with maple syrup (not as sweet as you might imagine), golden syrup or plain and simple fresh lemon juice and sugar.  I ate mine with blueberries but bananas would be good too perhaps with a dollop of creme fraiche or if you are feeling wild double cream. (coming soon Traditional Pancakes that you can flip) Continue reading “AMERICAN STYLE PANCAKES WITH BLUEBERRIES”


Black Kale ‘Cavalo Nero’

Well obviously this is not ALL about Kale…but it is something delicious.  If you are a gardener cook like me the pickings in the vegetable garden are a bit lean at this time of year but  this morning I found  a dark and  handsome stranger standing nearly 1m high with a jaunty cap of snow.  This is the lovely Italian kale ‘Cavalo Nero’.  The beautiful crinkly leaves can be a tad on the tough side so try to pick only the younger leaves. If you need to use the older parts then  then tear the leaf from the woody mid rib and banish it to the compost heap pronto.  Once you have the leaves wash  carefully and then shred them.  It is easy to find bags of shredded green kale in any supermarket if you can’t get your hands on the real thing. If you are that way inclined have a go at growing your own-they are easy to get going but you will have to take precautions against pesky cabbage whites and pigeons.  I am going to cook them with the spicy Spanish sausage Chorizo. This is strongly flavoured with garlic and paprika and a good match for the hearty kale. You can buy the sausage  sliced but chunks of whole Chorizo are best for cooking.



Winter Kale with Chorizo
A very good way to eat up your greens!

Continue reading “ALL ABOUT KALE!”


Roasted carrots, parsnips, squash and sweet potato

A pale winter sun is just making it’s way over Dent in the Lake District and it’s distinctly chilly. I want some warming food to cuddle up with and root vegetables are the seasonal stars. Here is a roasted roots recipe for a winters day.
Carrots, parsnips, swede and butternut squash are simply roasted in the oven until sticky and sweet …………………….If you can get them Jerusalem artichokes would be delicious as well, I must plant  these this year and take care as they can be thugs in the veg patch. I have thrown in some sprigs of thyme a robust enough herb to cope with the flavours of the roots. I’m happy to eat these winter roasts on their own, perhaps with some shavings of salty Parmesan cheese, but they go well with chunky sausages (Cumberland of course!), roast chicken or any other meat.



The very best fruity Christmas pudding.

This homemade Christmas Pudding recipe is my mum’s. It is very easy to make-just an assembly job.  What, I think, puts most people off is the length of time it takes to cook. You really need to steam it for at least 4-5 hours which results in a  light texture. -This pudding is packed with fruit and it’s very different from any shop-bought puddings that I have tasted. I find these very oversweet and they often have a ‘pasty’ texture that I don’t care for!. You can make it a few weeks in advance or a few days in advance.

The Very Best Fruity Christmas Pudding




Festive Pork with orange and cranberries


 This is one of my favourite festive dishes and it always appears some time over the Christmas holidays. The mix of warm spices, cranberries and orange go well together with the tender pork and it looks stunning on the festive table.  You can make it ahead of time or well ahead and freeze it.  I like to have a few dishes tucked away ready to be whisked out at the last minute so that I don’t have to miss any of the Christmas fun and this is perfect.  Like lots of dishes it is even better re-heated the next day.