Mr McGregor and I are just home after a wonderful weekend staying with friends in Lancashire. Our friend John owns a magic beer-making contraption known as a Grainfather, and needed to brew his Christmas Ale. Mr McGregor was a very willing helper in this endeavour and was delighted to donate his own hops. A very happy morning was spent brewing and the ale is currently doing whatever it is that it does for the next few months in order to be ready for Christmas. A pair of content men then went off to see Mr McGregor’s football team, the mighty Nottingham Forest, be held to a draw by Blackburn Rovers.
Lynne and I also had an important engagement as the world famous Yarndale was held this weekend. Otherwise known as a ‘weekend of woolly creativity’, this festival is held in the Auction Mart in the Yorkshire market town of Skipton.
We spent several very happy hours wandering round the stalls – and I bought some wool for my next project from The Little Grey Sheep, created on a small family farm on the Surrey Hampshire borders.
Mr McGregor knows one of the stall holders, Gill Pinkney, who makes lovely things from wool and felt, and it was nice to catch up with her (and buy a lovely brooch).
This is the first time I’ve been to Yarndale, but it is a lovely, friendly festival and I’m looking forward to going again – in fact I’ve already booked it in my calendar next year…..
We ate dinner one evening at the White Swan in the village of Fence in Lancashire. The pub’s website says it is a ‘local pub that serves food, Timothy Taylors award winning real ales & wines so fine that you will probably do a little dance of delight when you sample them’. They aren’t joking. The pub is small, very friendly, and serves good beer (and wine) and really excellent food. There is a small seasonal menu – I can report that the Pheasant Wellington is delicious, whilst Mr McGregor tells me the Wagyu beef is mighty fine. There was an extensive cheese menu, and this was served with truffle honey (they make a large batch every year when English truffles are in season – which is apparently now).
*****Late breaking news is that the pub has just been awarded a Michelin Star (well deserved in my humble opinion!)*****
We have a good crop of cooking apples this year and the recent winds mean that a lot of them have fallen and so need using quickly. A colleague recently brought along some apple muffins to a meeting I was at. They had been made by her daughter who had used around half the sugar in the original recipe and they were delicious. She shared the recipe with me and I baked them today using some of our windfalls. I have kept the same amount of sugar as my colleague’s daughter used, but increased the amount of apples a little. I’m not sure mine are quite as good as hers but we’ll manage to get through them…..
Apple muffins (pdf Apple muffins)
Makes ~ 12 muffins
225g plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
50g caster sugar
200g apples – peeled, cored and chopped.
- Preheat oven to 200 C / 180 fan / Gas mark 6. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.
- In a separate bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Stir the flour mixture into the sugar mixture alternately with the milk. Fold in the fruit. Pour batter into prepared muffin cases.
- Bake in preheated oven for ~20 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of one of the muffins comes out clean.