Now that the clocks have gone back and the evenings draw in, we take comfort from all that brings warmth and light – this week the pumpkin shall reign…
I love squashes and I’m not talking orange and lemon cordial! Summer squashes such as courgettes and patty pans are delicious roasted with garlic and stirred through a cous cous salad and larger squashes such as marrows make fantastic chutneys. The winter squashes such as Butternut, Turks Turban and a whole range of pumpkins develop a tough skin allowing them to be stored through the winter ready for a wonderful warming soup after a winter woodland walk. This year, we were thrilled to receive a large trug full of pumpkins from our friends’ daughter, Matilda. We combined them with some of our apples to make this very warming Pumpkin & Apple Chutney.
Of course, there are long traditions of carving, not just pumpkins but many other vegetables, into lanterns at this time of year. Turnips were traditional in Ireland whilst in Scotland they would hollow out the thick stalk of a cabbage and hide a candle inside. There are many tales and folklores as to why vegetable lanterns became so popular as days continued to shorten and temperatures steadily dropped; the end of October marks the last days of gathering in the crops and beckons a holiday period filled with a wide range of festivities that would traditionally revolve around Harvest but now also embraces celebrations such as Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights, complete with it’s hallmark of amazing fireworks. This season of celebrations end after Christmas as we welcome in the New Year.
Well first, we’ll look out for a Light Party; often organised by churches to celebrate things of light rather than darkness. We love to celebrate All Hallows (All Saints) Day and think of the good and the godly people that have made a real difference to the lives of others over the centuries. Then a few days later, in the first week of November, we invite local students and friends round for a Bonfire Party. We gather the autumn prunings of our fruit trees, lock up the chickens safe and sound, and light a big fire in our old brazier. Spicy pumpkin soup is passed around with home-made bread followed by toffee apples as we light some fireworks and welcome a new season of festivities that we can enjoy together with friendships warming our hearts and the fire warming our hands.
This year we have planned courses right through the year giving everyone the opportunity for ‘A little bit of country life in London’. We’ve got Family Feathers and Fun on Saturday 9th November and Stir Up Sunday on 24th November; bring a friend or family member to enjoy some festive fun whilst you make your own Christmas pudding! If you have started to think of gift ideas we have planned a whole year’s worth of courses which can be seen here and can send you gift cards confirming the details.
By Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Apparently this book weighs the same as a 6 week weaner and should teach me all I need to know to process our 6 month porker. I have always valued the food ethos that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall holds and look forward to this new adventure in pigs. Salamis, Faggots and sausages – here we come!
This book is available with many of our other favourites books from the Hen Corner Shop!
- Our daughter, Macy, collected 3rd prize at The National Honey Show for her huge papier-mache bee
- All the animals survived the great storm – phew, I dreaded a bee hive falling over…
- Some of the chickens are going through pretty mighty moults, a few look almost oven ready!
Jobs for next week:
- Pot up our honey ready for St Faith’s Christmas Fair next month
- Prepare for Family Feathers and Fun next weekend
- Primp the chickens for a photo shoot – will they make it as calendar girls?
Join us on the Journey!