Thursday, 19 January 2017

Burns Night 25th January 2017

Burn’s Night, a celebration of the immortal Rabbie Burns, Scotland's famous poet, it’s national Bard. Held since the fifth anniversary of his death this tradition continues today and not only amongst the Scottish. Over the years the ceremony enshrining the supper has become all the more elaborate, adding an enormous amount of fun to be had during the evening, particularly for those not versed in the traditional Scottish tongue.
I’ll attempt here to take you through the evening's formalities as I understand them, so you can carry out your own Burn’s supper in all it's gloriousness.
Piping in the guest
Of course for this you will need to have your guests gathered in the drawing room, when the time comes to move to the dining room; be at the ready. Whip out you bagpipes and furnish your guests with your finest Scottish air; alternatively you could play a CD at this point.
Host’s welcoming speech
Once all seated it is, at this point, polite to welcome all your guests and say a few nice words, do not worry, you do not need to be as poetic as Burns, you will speaking like him later on, or in fact now, it’s time to say grace. Or to be more precise, the Selkirk Grace, penned by the man himself.
Some hae meat an canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae let the Lord be thankit.


Of course you don’t have meat, you have the things left after you’ve taken the meat away but I suppose there is a need to keep the meter and the rhyme of a poem.
Soup
Finally you can eat, traditionally you would go for Scotch broth, potato soup, cullen skink or cock-a-leekie. My favourite would be cullen skink but have whichever you can get the best ingredients for.
The haggis
Here is the moment you’ve been waiting for; you get to play the bagpipes again. The haggis should be paraded into the room led by the piper to the table. Whereupon the host recites from memory (or reads) Burns’ Address to a Haggis, as follows:-


Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my airm.

The full address is printed at the bottom of this article
(fa = fall, sonsie = jolly/cheerful)

(aboon = above)
(painch = paunch/stomach, thairm = intestine)
(wordy = worthy)
The toasts
During this address you will need to whip out a dagger whilst reciting “his knife see rustic Labour dicht” and thrust it into the haggis slicing end to end saying the line “An’ cut you up wi’ ready slicht”. At the end with the address safely delivered, all guests toast the haggis with a whisky and then sit down to the main affair; haggis, neeps and tatties.  
Depending on the company you keep this can be the funniest or the most dangerous part of the evening! It is usually consisting of two toasts:-

Address to the lassies
A short speech given by one of the male guests, giving thanks to the lassies for their work in preparing the meal, it also should cover the male speaker’s views on women in general, this should be amusing but not offensive; but it is here within the danger lies!
Reply to the ladies
A female guest replies, with her views on men, to any particular points raised by the male speaker. Again humour not offensive is the aim, I find that this is best served if there is some advanced collaboration between the speakers.
Closing
On closing of the evening it is customary to sing Burns’ most well known of songs Auld Lang Syne bringing our evening or ceremony and fun to an end.


I hope you join in this event by hosting your own Burns evening on the 25th. There is much fun to be had by following all the rigmarole and grandeur of Burns’ words that surround the humble haggis for the evening.

Address to a Haggis                                        

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,                    
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
'Bethankit' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.
Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis

It's Marmalade time!!!

SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE

There is nothing I enjoy more than on a cold January day than spending time in my kitchen making glowing jars of bittersweet Seville orange marmalade.


The Seville orange comes from near the town of Seville in Spain and has only a limited season, from the beginning of January until the beginning of February, but they do freeze very well for up to 6 months.  Freezing will pre-soften the peel, reducing the required cooking time.

You really can’t beat the intense fresh flavour of homemade Seville marmalade and
if you have never tried making your own marmalade I strongly recommend you try my favourite recipe and impress all your family and friends.

Once you have made your marmalade it will keep for up to a year if stored in a cool dark cupboard. You will never want to buy pre-made marmalade again!!


Ingredients
1kg Washed Seville oranges
1 x Juice of a lemon
1kg Granulated sugar
500ml Water

Put the whole washed oranges and lemon juice in a large preserving pan (a large ordinary pan is ok if you don’t have a preserving pan) and cover with water. Sometimes I find it necessary to weight the oranges down with a heat-proof plate to keep them submerged. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer very gently for around 2 hours, or until the peel can be easily pierced with a fork.

Gently warm half the sugar in a very low oven on a baking tray. Drain off the cooking water from the oranges into a jug and tip the oranges into a bowl. Return the cooking liquid to the pan. Allow oranges to cool until they are easy to handle, then cut in half. Scoop out all the pips and pith and add to the reserved orange liquid in the pan. Bring to the boil for 6 minutes, then strain this liquid through a sieve into a bowl and press the pulp through with a wooden spoon - it is high in pectin so gives the marmalade a good set.

Pour half this liquid into a preserving pan. Cut the peel, with a sharp knife, into shreds according to your own preference Add half the peel to the liquid in the preserving pan with the warm sugar. Stir over a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved, for about 10 minutes, then bring to the boil and bubble rapidly for 15- 25 minutes until setting point is reached.

Take the pan off the heat and skim any froth from the surface. (To dissolve any excess scum, drop a small knob of butter onto the surface, and gently stir.) Leave the marmalade to stand in the pan for 20 minutes to cool a little and allow the peel to settle; then pot in sterilised jars, seal and label. Repeat from step 3 for the second batch, warming the remaining half of the sugar first.

You can also make a dark marmalade by adding an extra 250g muscovado sugar, but don’t be tempted to make more than 50% of the sugar muscovado, unless you like the ‘molasses’ flavour more than you do the Seville orange.

Another twist I like on traditional marmalade is to add 250g chopped crystallised ginger when you take the marmalade off the heat, this adds a lovely addition to the taste.  You can add the ginger alone or it is doubly delicious if added with the muscovado sugar.  

Homemade marmalade makes a lovely gift for family and friends.


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

We're supporting the Guide dogs this year.



Each year we support one charity and aim to raise as large a donation to this charity as we can. This year we have all voted at Alder Carr to support the Guide dogs for the blind association.

We think that this is a great charity to support and will do all that we can to support them in 2016. 

The guide dogs provide mobility and freedom to blind and partially sighted people. As well as campaigning for the rights of people with visual impairment, educating the public about eye care and funding eye disease research.

It cost Guide Dogs around £48 million to provide the guide dog service and other mobility services in 2014. They really do need as much help as possible to keep up with this life changing service.


We hope that you will help us in supporting this charity throughout 2016 and see if we can raise more than we managed last year! Last year we support St. Elizabeth hospice and managed to raise £3000.

We will keep you informed of fund-raising events that we have throughout the year. Our Strawberry fayre on the 18th June will all be in aid of the guide dogs with all profits from the day being donated.



Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Alder Carr Christmas Tree Guide


As you would expect, at Alder Carr Farm we have a great selection of real Christmas trees, available from the end of November. These trees are grown just outside Woodbridge by George Stephenson. George cares for these trees for 6 – 10 years, once they have reached their perfect size they are cut, trimmed netted and delivered fresh to us here at Alder Carr. Here's our guide to picking your perfect tree.

1. Pick your spot

Before you do anything else, decide where the tree is to go. It wants to be seen but at the same time, ensure the tree isn’t placed where it will be knocked or crashed into by mulled-wine-filled adults or galloping toddlers.

2. Which species?

The traditional British Christmas tree, the Norway spruce, is attractive but has a tendency to drop its needles, particularly towards the end of the Christmas period. In recent years, it has been overtaken by non-drop varieties, such as the Nordmann fir.

3. Tool up

Gloves are essential, as are clothes you don’t mind covering in needles, sap and bark. If the tree is more than 4ft high, and presuming you are not a bodybuilder, take someone else along to help you carry it.

4. Choosing the tree

First, make sure the tree is as fresh as possible. To test how well the tree retains its needles, drop it on its stump from a few inches above the floor. If more than a couple of needles fall, choose another. Find a tree that fits your space.

5. Taking a stand

Keeping a 7ft or 8ft tree upright for nearly a month can be tricky. At Alder Carr, we sell stands that will hold up to a 6' tree and hold water to keep the tree fresh. Holding a bigger tree can be done with a large outdoor plant pot, filling soil around the tree stem (you may need to trim some of the bottom branches, you can use these for wreaths).

6. Caring for your tree


The two most important things are to keep your tree watered and stop it getting too hot. If you’re not putting the tree up immediately, store it outside where it will stay cooler. Cut a slice of the base before putting it up. Once it’s been put up, water it. 

Friday, 9 October 2015

Buckwheat Mushroom Risotto with Butternut Squash






Although this dish has no cream, butter or gluten it is still as equally comforting and satisfying as the buttery heavy risotto you would be expecting. It also makes a great stuffing inside squash or mushrooms for all your gluten/dairy free guests!
The better the mushrooms you use for this the more flavour you will get. Dried porcini will work great, but the best for this time of year would be to go forage your own; as long as you know what your picking.
Besides for its delicious flavour, this meal packs a big nutritional punch. Many people don’t know that Buckwheat isn’t actually a grain but comes from a plant (despite its grainy appearance). It ranks low on the glycemic scale which keeps your blood sugars levelled – which helps prevent weight gain. Most importantly, this recipe is DELICIOUS and gluten, dairy and refined sugar free.

Ingredients:

• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (divided)
• 1 butternut squash (cubed)
• 2 french shallots (finely chopped)
• 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
• 3 tbsp toasted hazelnuts (chopped)
• 2 cups mushrooms chopped • 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
• 1 cup buckwheat groats
• 1 cup boiling water
• 2 cups vegetable broth
• 1/2 tsp dried oregano
• 1/2 tsp fresh or dried thyme
• 3 tsp cider vinegar
• 2 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
• salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 180c. On a large baking sheet, coat chopped butternut squash in 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 45-60 min. Allow to cool.
2. In a bowl, place dried porcini mushrooms with boiling water and allow to reconstitute for 10 minutes. Place vegetable broth in a stock pot over medium heat and have a ladle on hand.

3. In a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil on medium heat. Add shallots and cook until translucent. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes or until mushrooms have reduced down. Add 1/2 tsp salt.

4. Add 1 cup of buckwheat into skillet along with oregano and thyme. Sauté for 2 minutes and then add 1 ladle broth. Stir until buckwheat absorbs all the liquid, then add another ladle of broth. Continue to do this until all the broth is absorbed, then add 1/2 of the porcini liquid and stir until absorbed. Add remaining porcini liquid. Chop the reconstituted porcini mushrooms and add to buckwheat mixture. Add apple cider vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
5. Toast hazelnuts in a dry pan for about 5 minutes or until oils are released.
6. Carefully toss cooked butternut squash into the buckwheat mixture. Top with fresh chopped parsley and toasted hazelnuts.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Ten ways to eat Almond Butter


Remember a time when there was no such thing as “nut butter.”
There was peanut butter, smooth or crunchy, and it was not very natural at all. It was full of sugar and hydrogenated oil and no one knew any different. Haven't times changed, now we have our pick of healthy nut and seed butters. But what to do with them?

If you've only had Almond butter on bread, or haven't tried it yet you're in for a treat here's our top ten ways to eat Almond butter.

  1. Spread it over toast and eat plain or top with fresh or dried fruit.

  2. Make a dip with almond butter and cream cheese; use it with fresh cut fruit and veggie sticks. 
     
  3. Make almond butter cookies

  4. Use it instead of tahini when making hummus

  5. Add to smoothies, like cherry and almond. Just use Almond milk, almond butter and cherries! 
     
  6. Spread over pancakes

  7. Toss through some seamed green beans, 3tbps per 1lb of beans. 
     
  8. Use in salad dressing, almond and chilli!

  9. Have a dollop with ice-cream

  10. Spread over crackers, oatcakes and shortbread cookies.




Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Strawberry Fayre Saturday 20th June


We have a really exciting Strawberry Fayre lined up for you this year. We have some of the popular attractions again this year with pony rides, bouncy castle and face painting. Also in addition we have some alpacas and a mini zoo where you can see spiders and snakes and maybe hold an owl. The owls will also be part of a demonstration in the ring.

The ring is an addition for this year with lots going on including the boys brigade band and dog show. The dogs shows are open for anyone (with a dog) to enter. Entry costs £2 per person and there is even a rosette for the winner.

We have over 40 stalls this year a mixture of food and crafts some that have been before and several new traders as well.

We also have a bar serving several local beers – like a mini beer festival! Tractor and trailer rides and of course we have Pick Your Own Strawberries!

As always the Strawberry fayre is a charity event all the proceeds of the day are going to St Elizabeth Hopsice, our charity of the year. Our sponsers for the event help to make sure that more money goes to charity than would otherwise.