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!

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!

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