Treat Yourself

Kitchen Essentials: Illustration: www.walternewton.com

Alongside our forthcoming Forage and Cook course, we have a fantastic selection of other Loaf Cookery School courses coming up in April to whet your spring cooking appetite. Go on, treat yourself.

April 2014 Courses

Cooking Meat – Tuesday 8th April

Butchery: Perfect Poultry – Tuesday 15th April

Forage & Cook – Wednesday 16th April

Handmade Pasta  – Tuesday 22nd April (one place available)

Knife Skills – Wednesday 30th April

Why not?! Find out more here: www.loafonline.co.uk/cookeryschool or call Nancy on 0121 458 7682

Birmingham Post Review – Forage and Cook Course

If you missed it, last week we had another wonderful piece of press coverage in the Birmingham Post, thanks to feature writer Mary Griffin.

Mary, who rolled up her foraging sleeves and joined us, alongside other course participants including Halo Garrity, Rob Walker, Dave Smith, Chrissa Murrell and her husband Stu, discovered that you really can find bounteous edible wild foods on your urban doorstop. Even in Stirchley.

Birmingham Post, 25 Sept 2013

Birmingham Post, Life  (25 September 2013, page 11)

Mary’s list of wild foods found in Stirchley near Loaf included:

  • Hawthorn (whose berries can be used in a hedgerow jelly)
  • Sumac (the red conical flowers can be dried and sprinkled on a salad)
  • Wild cherries (Tom tells us where to look out for them around Birmingham)
  • Meadowsweet growing in the long grass (a little sprig can infuse tea or cream)
  • Horseradish (which we dig up a thumb-sized chunk of)
  • Nettles (Tom shows us which bits to pick and which to avoid) and vetch (with a peppery, rockety flavour)
  • Yarrow (a good substitute for lavender or rosemary)
  • Dead nettles (no sting and you can suck the nectar out of the flowers)
  • Himalayan balsam (a non-native invasive plant with tasty pink flowers)
  • Rowan (which makes a good jelly mixed with apples)
  • Wood avens (which can make dandelion and burdock if you infuse the root)
  • Rosehips (which make good syrup)

…as well as mint, sloes, elderberries, blackberries and hazelnuts.

Amazing really. And that’s just a small sample of hundreds of wild foods that can be found locally, and in cities across the UK.

Tom Baker leading the Forage and Cook course. Photo by Jane Baker

For more information and to book on any of our courses visit the Loaf Cookery School page

To read the review online visit the press section on our About Us page and click on the link to the Birmingham Post. Or if you have a printed copy, it’s on page 11 of the Life section.

 

Birmingham Post Review – Forage and Cook Course

If you missed it, last week we had another wonderful piece of press coverage in the Birmingham Post, thanks to feature writer Mary Griffin.

Mary, who rolled up her foraging sleeves and joined us, alongside other course participants including Halo Garrity, Rob Walker, Dave Smith, Chrissa Murrell and her husband Stu, discovered that you really can find bounteous edible wild foods on your urban doorstop. Even in Stirchley.

Birmingham Post, 25 Sept 2013

Birmingham Post, Life  (25 September 2013, page 11)

Mary’s list of wild foods found in Stirchley near Loaf included:

  • Hawthorn (whose berries can be used in a hedgerow jelly)
  • Sumac (the red conical flowers can be dried and sprinkled on a salad)
  • Wild cherries (Tom tells us where to look out for them around Birmingham)
  • Meadowsweet growing in the long grass (a little sprig can infuse tea or cream)
  • Horseradish (which we dig up a thumb-sized chunk of)
  • Nettles (Tom shows us which bits to pick and which to avoid) and vetch (with a peppery, rockety flavour)
  • Yarrow (a good substitute for lavender or rosemary)
  • Dead nettles (no sting and you can suck the nectar out of the flowers)
  • Himalayan balsam (a non-native invasive plant with tasty pink flowers)
  • Rowan (which makes a good jelly mixed with apples)
  • Wood avens (which can make dandelion and burdock if you infuse the root)
  • Rosehips (which make good syrup)

…as well as mint, sloes, elderberries, blackberries and hazelnuts.

Amazing really. And that’s just a small sample of hundreds of wild foods that can be found locally, and in cities across the UK.

Tom Baker leading the Forage and Cook course. Photo by Jane Baker

For more information and to book on any of our courses visit the Loaf Cookery School page

To read the review online visit the press section on our About Us page and click on the link to the Birmingham Post. Or if you have a printed copy, it’s on page 11 of the Life section.

 

Urban Harvest: Urgent Crowd-funding

Urban Harvest: Help save Birmingham’s fruit from going to waste

Our friends at Northfield Ecocentre need our support. They’re re-launching the fantastic Urban Harvest project originally set up by wonderful Loaf and Stirchley Market supporters Eleanor Hoad and Nigel Baker. As keen wild food foragers at Loaf (next Foraging course – 3 Oct), we know there’s loads of free edible treats in and around urban street, canals, parks and back gardens, and whilst we do our best to pick and use what we can, it’s a crying shame that so much goes to waste each year.

The aim of Urban Harvest is to turn local fruit that would otherwise go to waste from back gardens and public places into jams, preserves and juices, and to give apples and soft fruit away for free to children centres and food banks for re-distribution to individuals and families who could benefit from the good old five a day.

Urban Harvets Logo

Crowd funding – £10,000 needed by Weds 18 Sept!

They’re looking to raise £10,000 to re-launch the project and employ a part time co-ordinator, and need 2000 people to donate £5 (or more!) each to reach their target. The deadline is looming, on Wednesday 18th September, and if the target is not met they will be unable to go ahead.

To donate visit: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/urban-harvest

Urban Harvest

They’re also looking for:

  • Volunteers and drivers to help pick fruit
  • People with fruit trees and bushes who would like their produce picked (tell them how much you want to keep and they’ll use any surplus)
  • People to help promote the project and share the crowd-funding site with friends and families
  • Retailers wiling to sell juices and preserves made with local fruit
  • Local producers who need fruit to make their own preserves etc
  • Children centres, food banks and charities who can re-distribute free fruit to those who need it.

Northfield Ecocentre is working with Martineau Gardens, Urban Veg and Growing Birmingham to deliver Urban Harvest.

 

 

 

Courses – Seasonal Favourites are Back

Since moving into our shop in Stirchley six months we’ve added a whole load of new courses to our Cookery School repertoire.

As well as old favourites (bread, sourdough, pasta, butchery) we’ve added a Seafood course and seven Kitchen Essentials workshops (knife skills, stocks and sauces, flavour geography etc). Our seasonal favourites, Forage and Cook, Earth Oven Building & Preserving are also back.

Sorry, but our courses and events always sell out fast, so book early!

New courses can be found on our website, or if you’re local browse in the Cookery School window: www.loafonline.co.uk/cookeryschool

Earth Oven Course

Courses – Seasonal Favourites are Back

Since moving into our shop in Stirchley six months we’ve added a whole load of new courses to our Cookery School repertoire.

As well as old favourites (bread, sourdough, pasta, butchery) we’ve added a Seafood course and seven Kitchen Essentials workshops (knife skills, stocks and sauces, flavour geography etc). Our seasonal favourites, Forage and Cook, Earth Oven Building & Preserving are also back.

Sorry, but our courses and events always sell out fast, so book early!

New courses can be found on our website, or if you’re local browse in the Cookery School window: www.loafonline.co.uk/cookeryschool

Earth Oven Course

Last chance to forage!

Just a quick blog to tell you about the last forage and cook course that we’re running in 2012. Next Thursday evening 6th September will be our last outing into the wilds of Stirchley to check out what wild plants are around at this time of year and what tasty treats we might be able to cook up using wild ingredients. Also for the first time we’ll be starting and finishing the course at our brand new cookery school on Stirchley High Street which is very nearly finished! You can check out the course details and reserve your place using our new online shop. There’s loads of other courses now advertised in the shop and I’ll tell you all about those in another post very soon.

Abundance Birmingham

apples going to waste
Apples going to waste - Northfield, Birmingham

A month or so back I heard on twitter about a new project called Abundance Birmingham. I’d been following the progress of ‘Abundance Sheffield’ for a few years now, so I wondered if these were connected. To my joy I discovered on their website, that Abundance Birmingham is indeed a community fruit distribution project in the vein of the Sheffield project. This is taken directly from the about page:

“Abundance Birmingham is a voluntary run project that collects and distributes soft fruits that grow unharvested around our city on trees and bushes in both public and private spaces.

Fruit is distributed to groups, volunteers and the local community.  Damaged fruits are turned into juice, preserves, jams and chutneys. Any money raised is put back into the project to help with running costs. We are also creating a detailed reference map of Birmingham with location and tree information for future harvests.

As part of the project we aim to raise awareness of the great abundance of local tasty and healthy food that is available for everyone and for free!”

It’s great to see this project starting in Birmingham, and Loaf will be offering any support we can to help promote it to a wider audience. If you have a fruit tree in your garden with surplus fruit, or spot one growing wild, let Abundance Birmingham know by emailing abundancebirmingham [at] gmail [dot] com, or tweeting them.

Elderflower Cordial – Recipe

IMG_6031

Well we’re only just over a week into the elderflower season here in the midlands and I have already made two batches of elderflower cordial. We drink it like water here at Loaf HQ, so I’m hoping to make up for the disappointment of last season when I’d bought all the required ingredients, only to go out for a walk  after a blisteringly hot weekend in July, and find all the flowers had turned over the weekend and begun their berry-growing stage.

For the first two batches, I’ve used Richard Maybe’s recipe from the classic wild food book Food for Free. I’ve expanded on the recipe a little and altered the quantities so it makes around 2 litres. I doubled this recipe with some school children this week and it made just under 4 litres.

Ingredients (for 2 litres of cordial):

1.15 litres of water
1.5kg granulated sugar
2 unwaxed organic lemons
15-20 elderflower heads (picked on a sunny day)
35g citric acid

Method:

IMG_6033

Boil the water in a pan, remove from the heat, and then stir in the sugar  until dissolved. Set aside to cool to blood temperature. Meanwhile pick any bugs from the eldeflower heads and discard any that are badly infested. place them into a deep bowl, bucket or pan. Zest the lemons and add to the elderflowers, along with the remaining lemons, sliced, and the citric acid. Pour the sugar syrup over the elderflowers, lemon and citric acid, cover it, and leave to steep for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

After 24 hours steeping, strain the liquid through a jelly bag or muslin cloth into a large clean bowl, and from here, through a funnel into sterlised bottles.

Some thoughts

Allowing the syrup to cool to blood temperature before adding it to the elderflowers should lead to a more delicate flavour and colour than adding it when it’s just boiled. However the low temperature won’t kill the natural yeasts on the eldeflowers, so the keeping quality is lessened – the yeast may start fermenting the liquid leading to an alcoholic and fizzy liquor, and possibly exploding bottles! So if you want to store it for more than a month or two, add the liquid when it’s just boiled, or freeze the above recipe when it’s in bottles (leaving an air gap for expansion when freezing).

Next weekend – elderflower champagne!

IMG_6056

Elderflower Cordial – Recipe

IMG_6031

Well we’re only just over a week into the elderflower season here in the midlands and I have already made two batches of elderflower cordial. We drink it like water here at Loaf HQ, so I’m hoping to make up for the disappointment of last season when I’d bought all the required ingredients, only to go out for a walk  after a blisteringly hot weekend in July, and find all the flowers had turned over the weekend and begun their berry-growing stage.

For the first two batches, I’ve used Richard Maybe’s recipe from the classic wild food book Food for Free. I’ve expanded on the recipe a little and altered the quantities so it makes around 2 litres. I doubled this recipe with some school children this week and it made just under 4 litres.

Ingredients (for 2 litres of cordial):

1.15 litres of water
1.5kg granulated sugar
2 unwaxed organic lemons
15-20 elderflower heads (picked on a sunny day)
35g citric acid

Method:

IMG_6033

Boil the water in a pan, remove from the heat, and then stir in the sugar  until dissolved. Set aside to cool to blood temperature. Meanwhile pick any bugs from the eldeflower heads and discard any that are badly infested. place them into a deep bowl, bucket or pan. Zest the lemons and add to the elderflowers, along with the remaining lemons, sliced, and the citric acid. Pour the sugar syrup over the elderflowers, lemon and citric acid, cover it, and leave to steep for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

After 24 hours steeping, strain the liquid through a jelly bag or muslin cloth into a large clean bowl, and from here, through a funnel into sterlised bottles.

Some thoughts

Allowing the syrup to cool to blood temperature before adding it to the elderflowers should lead to a more delicate flavour and colour than adding it when it’s just boiled. However the low temperature won’t kill the natural yeasts on the eldeflowers, so the keeping quality is lessened – the yeast may start fermenting the liquid leading to an alcoholic and fizzy liquor, and possibly exploding bottles! So if you want to store it for more than a month or two, add the liquid when it’s just boiled, or freeze the above recipe when it’s in bottles (leaving an air gap for expansion when freezing).

Next weekend – elderflower champagne!

IMG_6056