I incorrectly assumed that having pots and pots of material and pans and pans of expertise, that a book on preserves would set itself without too much boiling. I discovered that just like jam the more content you have the longer it takes to set. Naturally I made it in the end, but after a great deal of chopping and changing and cutting and stirring.
I hope to have created a book that is easy to follow for newcomers as well as appealing to old hands, with plenty of variations on traditional British themes and some Italian and French staples. Giving both the would-be preserver and the pro, the confidence to experiment and to conjure up their own concoctions.
Chapters include Jamming, jams, jelly and marmalade; Sugar, spice, vinegar and all things nice, chutney and ketchup; In a pickle, fruit and vegetables in vinegar, wine and extra virgin olive oil; Salt of the earth, ferments and pickles; Gone to pot, pots confits and rillettes.
I hope you enjoy looking at the images from the book’s chapter opening pages, on the website. These are by photographer, Caz Holbrook. The small, step by step pics were taken by me in my kitchen over the preserving year. Cataloguing them was a nightmare; another reason why the book was more complex to put together, than previous ones.
If you would like a signed copy with a dedication, please email me. I look forward to having you join me in spirit, through my preserving year, enjoying the seasons and their bounty.
New Project - All about Food!
I have been running monthly cooking socials for young adults with learning difficulties, over the past three years (via Zoom during lockdown) for Building Bridges in Monmouth.
We are about to launch a new project throughout Monmouthshire for the children, teenagers and adults associated with Bridges’ Disability & Inclusion Projects. We hope to make them more aware of the food they eat, where it comes from, its cost, its value to health, how to budget, how to cook and how to enjoy it.
The All about Food Seaburne Project is new, and we do not yet know how many people will take it up. The cooking socials for young adults have proved very popular and it is hoped that this will be too. It is hoped to roll it out in Monmouth and Abergavenny over the coming year. Ten sessions over ten months or better over the growing year. There will be visits to a community garden, in spring and autumn, to help with planting, harvesting and apple pressing. The opportunity to make soup in spring with vegetables sourced from the zero-waste stall and in autumn with vegetables from the garden. There will be a visit to a supermarket to look at what we grow in the UK and what we import. To look at special offers and to taste basic and luxury ranges and to compare flavour and prices. The project will be punctuated with cooking socials where the groups will have made informed choices about menu and shopping before cooking meals and enjoying them together. The project will culminate in a visit to the Abergavenny Food Festival.
We will choose cooking ambassadors (to encourage other people to get involved) from the regular cooks attending the already popular cooking socials.
It has been an unusual year for us all!
It started as normal for me with Marmalade-making and other cookery classes, but my last hands-on cookery session was on March 6th for the Welbeck WI, when sixty plus members made marmalade. I always enjoy what can only be called the “preserving marathons” I do at Welbeck. They are fun evenings, as there is so much enthusiasm and good humour in the room.
Big tables are set up with portable induction hobs and all the necessary equipment. Members spread themselves out. All hands-on deck: chopping, juicing, stirring, setting, and potting until everyone has a jar of marmalade ready to take home.
2019 was uneventful book-wise but my mind has been brimming over with ideas which hopefully I will start committing to paper this year. I did however write and illustrate a children’s book called ‘Bunny Island’, inspired by a family visit to Lake Garda and our small Grandson’s favourite soft toy. But this is for his eyes only.
This was just at the outset of the virus. The country was still functioning, but we were all washing hands to two renditions of Happy Birthday and hearing warnings about sneezing and coughing and not touching our faces.
The then chair, Anuska Parente, warned members that this may well have been their last meeting for some time. I, being the eternal optimist, found this very surprising... it turned out of course that she was dead right.
I had the worst train journey both there and back. Travelling North from Cheltenham to Worksop; there had been a fatality on the line and a journey that normally involves one change at Sheffield ended in four changes and to add insult to injury my journey home involved five. Despite being sneezed over and the constant change from one crowded train to another, I came away unscathed.
This was my last hands on course to date. Like everyone else, I cooked myself through lockdown, I made pates and terrines until I filled the freezer. Such good lunch time treats (since devoured). I distanced myself from the bread-making and cake baking that was gripping the country.
I also did lots of walking and collected specimen wild-flowers to paint, to while-away the hours that would normally be occupied by friends and family. The glorious weather and the bourgeoning spring helped sweeten confinement.
Zoom started to come into all our lives, we celebrated Easter around the table with the family. Each one of our households in seclusion, cooking the same roast lamb and all the trimmings, clinking glasses from afar which gave us a warm feeling of closeness at the time. Virtual quizzes, birthday and cocktail parties followed, even a surprisingly comforting wake, uniting, Scotland, Denmark, Cornwall, the New Forest, Herefordshire, and Oxfordshire.
Denman and the WI
Sadly for the moment, cooking with Denman@home has fallen silent. I can only say watch this space.
The School of Artisan Food
I am glad to say that The School of Artisan Food goes from strength to strength. https://www.schoolofartisanfood.org/categories/all-courses
My own fermenting, pickling courses are coming up in May (fully booked) and September and are available to book now.
It never ceases to amaze me, what a broad spectrum of interesting people beat their way to the gates of the Welbeck Estate, and to the School of Artisan Food and how far they travel, to learn the crafts of preserving and fermenting pickles. It is encouraging, in a world where we have instant access to everything, that we are dedicating much of our free time to artisan pursuits. It is also worth saying at this point that what a terrific bunch of people work at the school and what an absolute pleasure it is to teach there.
Local and bespoke
My award winning cookery school closed a few years back, when the property changed hands but Franco and I found an idyllic venue with excellent facilities for corporate events for up to 20 people, near Raglan in Monmouthshire, which will hopefully be available again sometime next year for private lunch party cooking days and pop-ups,, once restrictions are lifted. Please let us know your needs and we will look forward to accommodating you.
Small bespoke groups can be catered for in my home.
I am truly fortunate in the places I work and with the people I meet and hope to work with you this year.
Very best wishes
| Lindy has worked with photographer Kevin Summers on both Artisan Drinks and Raw and Rare from which these images have been taken. www.kevinsummersphotography.com/#Portfolios/Food/books
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© Lindy Wildsmith