Feb 1, 2018
I haven’t posted anything for a few days, mostly because I lose most inspiration as soon as I hit the city. Now I’m back in the countryside and the ideas and thoughts have all started flaring back up. The sky today has just been amazing, constantly changing! I always forget how instantly calm and happy I feel and how much pleasure I take from just getting outside in the fresh air. Suddenly I don’t need shops or screens or things, I just need to be outside whether it’s calm and still or wild and windy. It never fails to invigorate me and I return to the house with a smile on my face. Sometimes getting out of the house is the hardest part - but all the benefits are just sitting there, whatever the weather, waiting for us to take full advantage of them!
Feb 5, 2018
Some of our tasty black pudding sausages. Unfortunately we couldn’t keep our own blood due to abattoir restrictions but some well sourced powdered blood went into these to give us some sausages with a hint of black pudding. The colour of them is amazing - so dark and rich. It’s funny that many of us will happily tuck into some black pudding along with a Full English breakfast without a second thought for the fact that they consist of blood. I’ve told a few people that in Italy I tried some of the raw blood from a freshly slaughtered pig. The family brought a bucket into their charcuterie and invited us to dip our fingers into the vivid red blood. I really wasn’t so keen but I wanted to try it and see - so at least then I could have an opinion. It tasted like the most delicious fresh black pudding I’ve ever eaten. As ever, it’s funny how differently we can react being presented a bucket full of blood compared to a compact piece of black pudding that’s been shaped and fried up just to look like another piece of meat.
Feb 10, 2018
Well this is a Saturday night feast if ever I saw one. We’ve smoked these in our wood burning stove because it was too rainy to be outside. We are surrounded by oak trees here and have so much wood from trees that have fallen in the windy weather. Lots of little bits of kindling went into the ash tray and we put the meat above in the fireplace. Oak smoked ribs. Then we’ve made a barbecue sauce with all kinds of delicious things such as hoisin, star anise, honey, Worcester sauce mmmmmm and they’ve been well and truly coated. Crunchy homemade coleslaw to go with them and I think it could just be heaven on a plate. The smell of them just from being smoked is so wonderful, and look at the colour! Excited to see them once they’re glazed in all their glory!
Feb 13, 2018
Whatever you’re doing right now, STOP and take stock of everything. Life is AMAZING. As I was reminded today your strength isn’t evident when life is happily bumbling along. Your strength is shown when times are that little bit tougher. These piglets being born in Sweden last year, I took for granted. I loved seeing the piglets so young but I didn’t really appreciate everything this gorgeous sow had been through. For her, although totally natural, birth is no laughing matter. Often it’s things we breeze through, because we have to, that we then look back on and realise everything that we’ve done. These piglets were a miracle. To see them being born was utterly wondrous. Last year was a huge year of firsts and planning the rest of this year now fills me with even more excitement when I think through all that I experienced in 2017. Another pearl of wisdom from today - life is always moving forward, so it’s no use looking through the back windscreen!
Feb 19, 2018
Ummmm well this was pretty bloody mega. Char Siu pork belly. I love trying out new things, but with the pork from my pigs I’ve been getting nervous cooking. I don’t want to ruin it and waste any (not that I ever really like waste) but this meat just seems even more precious to me. But as ever I like to try new things! This is actually the easiest thing to make as long as you don’t burn yourself lifting the tray filled with steaming hot water out of the oven (I did) and you remember that when lifting the rack out, that will also be hot (I didn’t). By cooking the meat in the oven over a tray of water, it allows steam to get to the meat, keeping it incredibly moist instead of just drying out in the heat of the oven. You just make the marinade by mixing all the ingredients together, throw it all in a bowl with the pork belly and let it marinade for up to 24 hours (longer the better!). Then you put it in the oven. I added a bit of leftover glaze every ten minutes or so, cue additional burns, and then put them under the grill for the last couple of minutes to really crisp it up. It’s also amazing cold the next day - I recommend making more just for the leftovers! Once again, thank you lovely pigs.
Feb 25, 2018
The DIY drying station. So excited for these pigs cheeks to be ready to roll so I can start using them in pasta, stews, soups and all manner of glorious dishes! We’ve never tried making any dried or cured products before (the plan was to get everything tested and know what we were doing before we came to using our own pigs - basically so we didn’t fuck it all up - but we didn’t) but there are so many amazing resources out there now with advice and step by step processes, it seemed silly not to try. It’s made me realise that if you care enough about doing something, it really doesn’t matter how inexperienced you are, as long as you’ve really got your heart set on it for the right reasons. By listening to advice from others, reading and absorbing as much information as you can, and then putting things into practice you can soon build a very good knowledge base. I’m trying to take this philosophy through to everything I do, whether it’s something for business or for other day to day activities. Even if things go wrong there is a big difference between actively failing and passively failing. Actively failing gives you experience and learning, passive failure is when you don’t even try - so there’s nothing to strive for in the first place. Sometimes the temptation to not even bother is strong - especially when the goal feels so out of reach, but this passive failure does nothing for us. So for the week ahead I’m encouraging active failure - even if you make a tit of yourself and things go wrong, you’ve given it a go, and that’s definitely something to be proud of!