Posted by: hencorner | November 1, 2014

Half Term Hens & Honey Show…

Welcome back to Hen Corner!

As featured in Country Living Magazine

We’ve had a great half term holiday as a family which began in Paris to celebrate the first two years of my husband’s business and ended with us picking up a prize at the National Honey Show! Readers who follow us on Twitter and Facebook will have seen some of the other things we’ve been up to recently…

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Paris PoultryParis Poultry

We had a wonderful long weekend in Paris with Andy’s brother, Rich, and his family to celebrate the second birthday of their new business Raw Unlimited. We saw all the famous sites, including a three-hour queue for the Eiffel Tower, and cocktails at Harry’s New York Bar, but a real highlight for me was to visit the colourful Marché aux Fleurs (flower market) which, dating from 1808, is the oldest and one of the largest flower markets in Paris. From Monday to Saturday you can find everything from orchids to orange trees and on Sundays it is joined by the Marché aux Oiseaux (bird market) with cage after cage of birds ranging from the tiniest of finches to an extra-large goose and a wide variety of parrots, pigeons and poultry on display for sale. I’m not sure whether the chickens were intended as household pets to be kept in a fifth floor apartment; caged birds seem to be the easiest, low maintenance, pet for a hard-working Parisian and whilst hens may contribute freshly laid eggs I think the farm animal odour might outweigh the benefits!

Another Prize!

Half Term finished with our annual visit to the National Honey Show at St Georges College, Weybridge. This year, with its mild weather that was perfect for bee keeping, saw 1,714 individual entries at the show distributed between classes that included inventions, photography, baking, brewing and all things honey and wax related. Whilst our honey didn’t scoop any prizes this year we were thrilled to pick up an award for our favourite Honey and Oat Cookies; they came third place in a class that included entries from all over the country.

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TM ToastComing up at the Corner

This year we have had courses right throughout 2014 giving everyone the opportunity for ‘A little bit of country life in London’. The next sessions coming up are Family Feathers and Fun! on 8th November and Stir Up Sunday on 23rd November, which is now fully booked.

Into the new year, we have our Toast and Marmalade Course on Wednesday 28th January, this is a whole day course introducing both marmalade making and baking bread.

Why not come and join us? We have also planned all of our courses for next year, so whether you want to try something new or treat someone to a wonderful gift, have a look and book in early!

‘Oh yes, I am!’ There are no courses in December as I’m fulfilling a dream and am playing a part in a local pantomime, Cinderella, on Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th. Tickets are available here and we’d love you to join us along with your family and friends (£5 adults, £3 concessions).

Spoonfuls of HoneyBook of the Blog Post:

Spoonfuls of Honey – A complete guide to honey’s flavours & culinary uses with over 80 recipes

By Hattie Ellis

I’d seen this book first on Twitter and then held a copy in my hands at the National Honey Show. Filled with stories, recipes and beautiful pictures – this is a must for my Christmas list!

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

Other News:

  • Now that our honey has been safely extracted, the empty super frames have been frozen to kill any wax moth eggs, and packed away for next year
  • The bees have been slurping up syrup to store as spare food over winter
  • We’ve been continuing to treat our apple, pear and plum trees with a Codling Moth Nematode

Jobs for next week:

Have a good week yourself…Hen logo good

Join us on the Journey!

Posted by: hencorner | October 18, 2014

October Offerings…

Welcome back to Hen Corner!

As featured in Country Living Magazine

Mmm, we really must remember 2014 for the long warm season that began in April and is still proving mild in mid-October, there’s still food growing in the kitchen garden and it’s not quite coat weather yet! 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,
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Bunty the Chocolate Brown Bantam OrpingtonWot no eggs…?

Unusually, I’ve had to buy eggs from the supermarket for two weeks in a row now. Come on girls, there’s sixteen of you, surely a few of you could give us a daily offering? Or most of you could just lay a couple a week? Sadly, I’m in the position of having more chickens here at Hen Corner than ever before and nearly all of them are moulting, hence the rations in the baking department. Pictured left is beautiful Bunty our Chocolate Brown Bantam Orpington, photo taken by Sunny Day Photography back in August, today I picked her up and the feathers literally dropped from her tiny frame. I couldn’t possibly show you a photo from today as she’s looking indecently oven-ready! I know that this is time limited and very soon all the girls will be sporting the latest fashions in winter warm plumage but whilst they are focussing all their energy and extra protein on growing these feathers they are taking a break from egg laying. Hopefully, our three hybrids should come back into lay with enough eggs for our Christmas baking but I’m not expecting the pure breeds (yep, that’s the other 13) starting back until that traditional date of Valentine’s Day.

Pumpkin & ShedKeep it coming…

Whilst most of our harvest is safely gathered in and preserved for winter we still have courgettes, squashes & inca berries (Cape gooseberries/Physalis) ripening in the Kitchen Garden. The winter squashes are great as their hard skins ensure that they keep well for months, and if we have more courgettes than we can manage we’ll knock up another batch of Courgette and Cumin Chutney; as for the inca berries, which I planted Spring ’13 and over-wintered a little bit too well, they have taken over two whole raised beds and are becoming the stars of a new preserve that I’m making this year. If you’ve been growing pumpkins this year, do try out this chutney recipe, it’s perfect for bonfire night with sausages and matures well for a Christmas accompaniment for cheese.

SUS StirComing up at the Corner

This year we have had courses right throughout 2014 giving everyone the opportunity for ‘A little bit of country life in London’. The next sessions coming up are Family Feathers and Fun! on 8th November and Stir Up Sunday on 23rd November.

Why not come and join us? We have also planned all of our courses for next year, so whether you want to try something new or treat someone to a wonderful gift, have a look and book in early!

River Cottage Veg EverydayBook of the Blog Post:

River Cottage Veg Every Day!

By Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

I love all the River Cottage books, and how trim Hugh is looking on his lighter diet, but this one unveils the recipe for a Courgette and Raisin Tea Loaf… I’m definitely trying that one soon!

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

Other News:

  • We’ve been treating our apple, pear and plum trees with a Codling Moth Nematode
  • It was wonderful to meet the delightful Anna Scott of West London Mum for an interview
  • Men’s Fitness magazine came round for some photos and a chat and about the nutritional benefits of growing your own food

Jobs for next week:

Have a good week yourself…Hen logo good

Join us on the Journey!

Posted by: hencorner | September 28, 2014

Pickles, Pigs and Preparations

Welcome back to Hen Corner!

As featured in Country Living Magazine

September always seems to be busy; back from holidays and into harvest time with honey to extract and cider to make, then all kinds of pickles and preserves to make as winter treats. 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!

Our London Harvest…

As the weather has been so warm and mild this year, we lost most of our apples as they dropped and rotted whilst we were on holiday. Fortunately, friends and family brought bags and boxes with them to Cider Sunday ensuring we had enough for several gallons of cider and sufficient post-pressed apple pulp to try out a new wine recipe. The mild weather has been good for the bees and even after taking off 50lbs of honey, they are still filling up their super frames with nectar, probably from the late flowering ivy. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to eat this honey as it’s contaminated with a thymol treatment that we’re using to kill the varroa mites that seem to have thrived especially well this year. It’s a good feeling to have all the honey safely in jars and a 5 gallon demi-john of wine bubbling away.

As usual, September allows us to invite others to join in our preserving with our Pick and Pickle course; this year we were fully booked so we ran a second date the following week – over 100 jars of jams, jellies, pickles and chutneys were made and have been squirreled away for Christmas…

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 Thank you to Sunny Day Photography for some of these pictures.

Pigs in applesPigs in the garden…

This time last year we were feeding the unpressable apples to our pigs, not in our garden but in the vicarage garden down the road. We had bought a half-share in a beautiful Saddleback sow who was reared with her sister, by our friend Jono, from little weaners until the pair were six month porkers ready for sausages. It was a delight watching the girls slowly grow from cuddly piglets that you could hold in your arms to big large animals that enjoyed sunbathing in the sty and chomping down treats. Eating animals that we rear ourselves, be it cockerels that hatch at Hen Corner or pigs like these, is always a sobering reminder of where our meat comes from. It’s so easy to enjoy a restaurant meal or pick out a bargain from the butchers counter in the supermarket but, unless stated, it’s likely that the meat has come from intensively reared animals. Factory farming is the term currently used for manufacturing meat by growing as many animals as possible in the space available. Often this means overcrowding, survival of the fittest, squashed in sheds, deprived of fresh air and more than not fed routine antibiotics to reduce infections that would be so prevalent in these overcrowded conditions. When we eat our own animals, we can be sure that they’ve had the happiest, healthiest, lives and when we shop for meat, choosing organic and free range meat is better for us and better for the animals. I’ve recently signed the Pig Pledge which is looking to show the true costs of cheap meat from animal factories in order to inspire people to make better food choices that enable local, healthy and fair farming systems – for people, animals and the planet. Find out more here. If you are in London on Saturday 11th October, you can visit this year’s pigs and chickens at the vicarage as Jono and I are running sessions as part of the Ealing Community Fayre.

SUS StirPreparation

I’m not sure when it’s really acceptable to start talking about Christmas, but we all know that being prepared always makes for more enjoyable celebrations…

As I’ve said, we have already been busy making cider, wine, preserves and pickles ready for the festive season, but we’ve also got a couple of events coming up that we’d like to invite you to join in with:

Stir Up Sunday - This special course on 23rd November enables you to make your own Christmas Pudding whilst enjoying mulled wine, mince pies and some Christmas crafts.

Cinderella - ‘Oh yes, I am!’ This year I’m fulfilling a dream and am playing a part in a local pantomime on 13th & 14th December, tickets are available here and we’d love you to join us along with your family and friends (£5 adults, £3 concessions).

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 had courses right throughout 2014 giving everyone the opportunity for ‘A little bit of country life in London’. The next sessions coming up are Family Feathers and Fun! on 8th November and Stir Up Sunday on 23rd November.

Why not come and join us? We have also planned all of our courses for next year, so whether you want to try something new or treat someone to a wonderful gift, have a look and book in early!

PreservesBook of the Blog Post:

Preserves: River Cottage Handbook No.2
By Pam Corbin

Written by the legendary Pam the Jam, this book opens up a whole world of opportunities for preserving home-grown, or foraged, produce and creating wonderful foodie gifts and treats.

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

Other News:

Jobs for next week:

  • Bake some cookies for the local Beavers groups that are visiting Hen Corner
  • Practise my lines (and song!) for the pantomime
  • Sort out my entries for the National Honey Show

Have a good week yourself…Hen logo good

Join us on the Journey!

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