Posted by: hencorner | September 11, 2014

Bonnes Vacances…

Welcome back to Hen Corner!

As featured in Country Living Magazine

We had a wonderful holiday in South West France again this year and delighted in not just eating the regional food but also meeting the local people. Readers who follow us on Twitter and Facebook will have seen some of the other things we’ve been up to recently…

We are currently building a new website, by subscribing to emails (box right) you’ll never miss a thing!

Soirée Gourmande…

We were so fortunate that whilst we were staying just outside the little hamlet of Le Ségur a series of events had been scheduled to showcase local food producers. Venues included a distillery, a vineyard, a specialist food shop and our local dairy farm. We had a delightful evening at Fromagerie du Buisson Blanc with the owners, Sylvie & Phillipe Basse, alongside 300 other people!

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The evening began with a tour of the farm and milking parlor, we saw calves just a few days old and faithful Friesian that supply gallons and gallons of milk everyday.
Their cheeses were featured with pride as we began our Soirée Gourmande in the old barn with aperitifs of white pear or red blackberry wine served with crudités (to dip in their garlic & herb cream cheese), cheese quiche, and a selection of cheese cubes.
Starters were barbecued duck heart kebabs with pate, salad & bread followed by local sausage, pan-fried potato (with cheese stirred through to melting point), served with barbecued bundles of green beans wrapped in bacon. In keeping with French tradition, the cheese course was next; a selection of five of their best including a  Fromage Blanc with apricot jam. Dessert was cheesecake, of course, made with their cheese by a local pattiserie. The wine flowed throughout and as the evening grew darker, we watched bats flying above our heads in the barn that they usually have to themselves…

2014-08-28 17.42.49La Famille Brown…

It’s always great to meet Twitter friends when you find yourself in the same part of the world; earlier in the year we met Gillian Dixon of South Yeo Farm East and last summer we were making sausages with Katherine Garner of Mustard Seed Cooking. When I discovered that Becky Brown of La Famille Brown lived quite near to our holiday home in the Tarn region of Midi-Pyrénées I was delighted to accept her kind invitation to visit her lovely family and meet her cheeky chickens. The drive through the beautiful French countryside took us through mountains, over rivers and past a medieval abbey to Becky’s house in a picturesque village with stone walls and cobbled streets. We were welcomed into the courtyard and were greeted with a wonderful freshly baked cake filled with homemade plum jam, ‘There’s a tree in the village and nobody picks it, it’s a shame to waste the plums’, Becky explained. As we sat in the cool courtyard, which would have been a sun trap earlier in the day, I wondered where she kept her chickens. ‘I’ll take you to the garden’ said Becky as she led us out the front door, across the road, through a gate, up some steps and then into a beautiful terrace garden built into the hill and overlooking the whole village. There was a large chicken coop and run, a wonderful veg plot, lawn for the children and a seating area for enjoying the moment. It was so different to our London garden tucked behind our terrace house, but was simply perfect for Becky and her family; her boys could be ‘Kings of the Castle’ when playing up there!

More than Honey: Sara will be looking at the role of bees in so much of the food we produce in the UK, she will be looking at changes in farming and bee keeping over the years and the challenges and benefit of keeping bees today.Who is in the hive?: Sara will explain the structure of a honey bee colony, looking at the nest, the castes, the life-cycle, and roles of each bee.The Bee Keeping Year: Sara will outline the seasonal tasks & responsibilities of keeping bees today including suggestions as to how those interested can find out and experience more.
Read more at http://www.countrylivingfair.com/Spring/Content/Spring-Garden/4_10/#2Lq7bkl3oHGxTz3q.99

PP Pickle

Coming up at the Corner…

Pick and Pickle New Date: Wednesday 24th September ’14

This year we have planned courses right throughout 2014 giving everyone the opportunity for ‘A little bit of country life in London’. Throughout the next couple of months we will have three types of courses available:  Urban Hens, keeping chickens in London, Family Feathers and Fun! and Pick and Pickle, an introduction to preserving. Why not come and join us?

French MarketBook of the Blog Post:

Written by the author of Chocolat and other favourite food themed books based in France, this book is great to take on holiday or use from home to evoke sunny memories from traditional French fare.

 

This book is available with many of our other favourites books from the Hen Corner Shop!

 

Other News:
  • We’ve harvested the honey and took approx 20lb from one side of the Beehaus and 30lb from the other…
  • Sadly, most of our apples ripened and dropped whilst we were on holiday, so not many for Cider Sunday
  • The pesky squirrels have pinched every single almond from our tree – I’m building a cage around it next year!
Jobs for next week:

 

Have a good week yourself…Hen logo good

Join us on the Journey!

Posted by: hencorner | August 6, 2014

Sweet Summertime…

Welcome back to Hen Corner!

As featured in Country Living Magazine

I can’t believe how great the weather has been this year; some of our fruits seem to be ripening early and it looks like a bumper year for honey from our busy bees. Readers who follow us on Twitter and Facebook will have seen some of the other things we’ve been up to recently…

We are currently building a new website, by subscribing to emails (box right) you’ll never miss a thing!

KFH 13_hen_corner_000B6096 copy_Jamie BakerDripping with honey…

Whilst we’ve had our bees at Hen Corner since August 2011, this will be our third honey harvest and is so far looking like the best ever! In 2012 we collected 25lb of honey and first prize for ‘Best Honey in London; we were thrilled with that as most other London Beekeepers were only taking an average of 5lb off each hive. Last year, if you remember, was very wet meaning that the bees couldn’t get really busy on the nectar forage until July; 15lb was our harvest in 2013, and that was between two colonies. But this year, I’ve got almost 60 super frames loaded with ripe sealed honey. If you look at the picture, you can see that when the honey is ready, after the bees have reduced the water content of the gathered nectar by over 50%, they seal it with wax preserving it indefinitely. Did you know that they found perfectly good honey stored in the pyramids of Egypt? Each of these super frames, like the one that I’m holding, can contain approximately 3lbs of honey – that’s 6 jars full! I’ve got my new honey jars at the ready and will be harvesting the liquid gold at the beginning of September, this gives the bees a few more weeks to gather nectar from the late flowering herbs which adds a lovely botanical taste to the finished honey.

Plum and Apple DaiquiriKeeping Cool…

With this warm weather, some of the classic orchard fruits of autumn are ripening now and, in a sunny conservatory, it doesn’t take long for fruit to go past their best. Recently, I prepared and poached a selection of fruit (plums, apples & pears) with plans of making a crumble for dessert, but a hot crumble, even if served with ice cream, isn’t always the dessert of choice after alfresco dining or a BBQ. So in the fridge the compote sat. Then, after seeing a River Cottage Food Tube film by Tom Hunt – The Natural Cook, I decided to try my hand at a fruity cocktail. Into the blender I put handfuls of ice, a cupful of compote and a nice large glug of white rum and I was jolly pleased with the results – An Orchard Daiquiri!

More than Honey: Sara will be looking at the role of bees in so much of the food we produce in the UK, she will be looking at changes in farming and bee keeping over the years and the challenges and benefit of keeping bees today.Who is in the hive?: Sara will explain the structure of a honey bee colony, looking at the nest, the castes, the life-cycle, and roles of each bee.The Bee Keeping Year: Sara will outline the seasonal tasks & responsibilities of keeping bees today including suggestions as to how those interested can find out and experience more.
Read more at http://www.countrylivingfair.com/Spring/Content/Spring-Garden/4_10/#2Lq7bkl3oHGxTz3q.99

PP Pickle

Coming up at the Corner…

This year we have planned courses right throughout 2014 giving everyone the opportunity for ‘A little bit of country life in London’. Throughout the next couple of months we will have three types of courses available:  Urban Hens, keeping chickens in London, Family Feathers and Fun! and Pick and Pickle, an introduction to preserving.

Why not come and join us?

 

Macarons

Book of the Blog Post:

Macarons

By Pierre Herme

This book was recommended to me by a chef friend and gives wonderfully illustrated step by step instructions for the most marvellous macarons. I am determined to master them!

This book is available with many of our other favourites books from the Hen Corner Shop!

 

Other News:
  • We took Sapphire, our cat, to the vet and she said “Yes at 18, she’s like a 90-year-old woman, but she happy and healthy, just old” so she’s back home eating the tuna…
  • We’ve welcomed a couple of teams from The Challenge to visit Hen Corner and hear them pitch their ideas for community projects.
  • We’ve bought hundreds of new jam jars ready for this year’s honey harvest and preserving season.
Jobs for next week:
  • Put the wasp guard on the Beehaus so they can’t steal the honey
  • Buy a Kitchen Aid *swoon* to make the macarons
  • Keep collecting the windfall apples to deter wasps from the lawn

 

Have a good week yourself…Hen logo good

Join us on the Journey!

Posted by: hencorner | July 21, 2014

Peachy Keen…

Welcome back to Hen Corner!

As featured in Country Living Magazine

peachy keen: adj. excellent; fine, worthy

We’ve had a first and a last here at Hen Corner this week and the great weather is promising productivity in the Kitchen Garden. Readers who follow us on Twitter and Facebook will have seen some of the other things we’ve been up to recently…
We are currently building a new website, by subscribing to emails (box right) you’ll never miss a thing!

Peaches - the first fourBrenzone or Brentford?

OK, so I had to search Google to find an Italian town with a name similar to our own home, but with this glorious weather, there’s no need to look oversees for a Mediterranean climate. The bees are producing loads of lovely honey, we have almonds, grapes and figs on their respective trees and vines and a significant first for us this year was to harvest our first Italian flat peaches! Whilst we had good pollination rates last year, thanks to our little honey bees, we lost all of the fruit to peach leaf curl, a fungal infection that causes the leaves to blister and curl, restricting photosynthesis and causing the fruit to fail. This year, we built a polythene shelter for the tree which kept off the rain (which is responsible for spreading the fungal spores). There was still a bit of ‘curl’ but with our wonderfully warm summer, these beauties reached a good size and ripened well in the sunshine. If we managed this in year two, I can’t wait to see what the next few years hold…

Busy Bee Keepers…

We’ve had some fantastic Bee Keeping courses this year, several of them over subscribed! But as the season of weekly inspections comes to an end, so do our courses until next May. We’ve past the longest day of the year and the queen bees are slowing down in the egg laying department, the workers are busy making and storing as much honey as possible for winter and, when we’ve harvested some for us, we will treat the bees for the varroa mite. We use a natural thymol treatment which doesn’t harm the bees and helps remove most of the nasty bugs as they prepare for winter.

More than Honey: Sara will be looking at the role of bees in so much of the food we produce in the UK, she will be looking at changes in farming and bee keeping over the years and the challenges and benefit of keeping bees today.Who is in the hive?: Sara will explain the structure of a honey bee colony, looking at the nest, the castes, the life-cycle, and roles of each bee.The Bee Keeping Year: Sara will outline the seasonal tasks & responsibilities of keeping bees today including suggestions as to how those interested can find out and experience more.
Read more at http://www.countrylivingfair.com/Spring/Content/Spring-Garden/4_10/#2Lq7bkl3oHGxTz3q.99

FFF SkylarComing up at the Corner…

This year we have planned courses right throughout 2014 giving everyone the opportunity for ‘A little bit of country life in London’. Throughout the next couple of months we will have three types of courses available:  Urban Hens, keeping chickens in London, Family Feathers and Fun! and Pick and Pickle, an introduction to preserving.

Why not come and join us?

Beautiful Chickens: Portraits of Champion BreedsBook of the Blog Post:

Beautiful Chickens: Portraits of Champion Breeds
By Christie Aschwanden

This book fulfills the promise of the title, truly beautiful portraits of champion chickens… I was given the postcard version of this book a few years ago, then another friend gave me the full size book just last week. We love to flick through to see which breeds we have already had here at Hen Corner and then choose new breeds that we’d love to own one day!

This book is available with many of our other favourites books from the Hen Corner Shop!

Other News:
  • We’ve eaten the last of our asparagus for the year, we now let it fern to replenish the crowns for next year.
  • All sixteen chickens are laying nicely, loads of eggs, cakes and meringues
  • Our apple trees are bending under the weight of a massive crop, can’t wait until Cider Sunday!
Jobs for next week:
  • I need to take Sapphire, our 18 year old cat, to the vet. Sadly, I think it’s time for her to have a good long sleep.
  • I’m determined to master macarons, so watch this space
  • Make up some more super frames & boxes for the Beehaus. They are running out of space to store the honey!

 

Have a good week yourself…Hen logo good

Join us on the Journey!

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