Just too hot for cheese!

sow it, grow it, eat it! by Annette Gibbons


Annette Gibbons OBE is renowned as a champion of real Cumbrian food. She hosts Cumbria’s Fine Dining Club and also enjoys her organic vegetable garden.

I love growing it, cooking it and eating it. What a crop it’s been this year! Each bulb has separated out into fat cloves and although the leaves were looking a bit sad, I have harvested a bunch to be proud of. These original cloves were put into the

soil in November last year, with a dusting of wood ash from the fire; they’ve been under a blanket of snow, have stood the ravages of two major storms and come out the other end ready to eat. We seldom see ‘green’ garlic for sale in the UK, I suppose it’s not grown in sufficient quantities here. Look out for it in early summer in warmer climes. The stem is sweet and juicy and can be chopped up in salads. We barbecued some whole last week which were mellow in flavour and worked well with the mushrooms and tomatoes on the skewers. The outer layer hadn’t yet turned to paper but inside each clove there’s a delicious heat to be had. Besides using them in your favourite dish, if there is a glut, I find it best to peel them and warm them gently in a pan of olive oil until just starting to soften. They are then decanted into clean jam jars for using during the year as a start to a cooked dish. Make sure the garlic is covered with the olive oil. I tend to keep mine in the fridge for easy access.

Another vegetable that works well with garlic is cucumber. These are now fattening up in the greenhouse with plenty of watering. I love to make Tzatziki. Grate your half cucumber into a bowl. Sprinkle with a little salt and leave to stand until you see water at the bottom of the bowl. Rinse the cucumber under a tap (use a colander for ease), squeeze it until it’s quite dry. I sometimes use kitchen roll to help here. In another bowl, I whisk Greek yogurt about 4 tablespoons with some green olive oil until it resembles mayonnaise. Add the cucumber and two cloves of garlic, crushed. Mix well, swirl the top and drizzle a little more olive oil on top. Guess who’s had a holiday in Greece this year? I always come home with a new recipe or two.

Although the summer is here, and watering can be a problem, it’s worth continuing to sow seeds in prepared beds. Swiss chard, Pak Choi, red cabbage have all been sown recently.

The mangetout Is bearing fruit after fruit and I’m having to be inventive with recipes. My favourite salad has included finely-sliced mange tout with lime juice, mint and a little olive oil. The internet is a good place to browse for recipes but best of all is to eat them raw.

Keep picking and your crops should continue to produce for you. If the hosepipe ban comes, you’ll have to use cold washing up water and the watering can.

If you enjoy eating out but can’t decide where to go and what to choose, look no further. Annette runs a popular Dining Club visiting eateries around the county where the evening is planned for you. If you’ve just moved to the area and would like to meet new people who also enjoy good food and wine this is a perfect night out. Long-standing locals are welcome too! Ring 01900 881356 to request a newsletter by post or email to have one sent directly to you.


It’s far too hot to eat cheese at the moment, so I’m not focusing on a specific cheese this edition, instead I'll take the opportunity to bring you up-to- date with all things Churchmouse! You might not have seen it, but we’ve recently been featured on Series Two of the More4 television programme the Yorkshire Dales and Lakes. It’s very gentle viewing but I think it shows our beautiful part of the world in the best possible light and it has been a complete pleasure to have been involved in the making of this programme. Last year, the show focused more on the shop and on our cheese wedding cakes. This year, it’s has been more centred on our family, specifically my 10-year-old William who is possibly Cumbria’s youngest campanologist! The bells of St. Bartholomew’s Church in Barbon had been silenced for some time due to a rotting wood problem in the bell tower. This had meant that William was no longer able to continue ringing the bells, so we decided to launch a fundraising evening at the shop to pay for repairs. This was covered by the documentary, alongside numerous shots of William standing on a wooden box, so he was able to reach the rope - very cute! If you didn’t see it when it went out, you can catch it on demand, we are on episode one. I’m pleased to say that we start filming for Series Three very shortly and this is likely to be much more cheese-centric but more on that when I am able to say...

Now good people of Cockermouth, I rarely venture up into your part of the world, but I have to say, I built a wedding cake at Low Hall Barn recently on one of the hottest days of the year. What a venue and what lovely people! This had to be one of the most fun weddings I have ever attended. I was building the cake in the barn during the wedding breakfast and the whole room got up to perform a Conga! This would have been fine, had they not been orbiting the cake which was balanced quite precariously on a small, rustic wooden table adorned with many soft fruits. I had to stand holding on to the top of the cake for dear life as it swayed vigorously from side to side, sending soft fruit cascading into the wedding party. One man was reputed to be suffering from physalis! I think this is a fairly-new wedding venue, so just to let you know, if anyone is looking for a venue in your part of the world, then I cannot rate it any higher, go and have a look. Amazing views, lovely and rustic with friendly owners!

John Natlacen, Owner

This lovely sunny weather just keeps going on! Nothing like our usual summers, but I’m not complaining at all... leaves even more time for more barbeques and picnics. So how about a...

Pea, Bean and Bacon Tart Ingredients

500g all-butter shortcrust pastry 175g podded peas 175g podded beans

12 basil leaves and a few for decoration Handful of Basil, roughly chopped 140g smoked bacon cut into lardons 300ml pot of double cream 4 large eggs 100ml milk

50g grated Parmesan Plain flour for dusting surface

You will also need a 28cm loose bottomed tart tin Here we go then...

Pre-heat your oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas 6.

Roll out the pastry on your lightly floured surface. Roll until large enough to cover your tart tin. Make sure you press the pastry into the edges. Leave the remaining pastry overhanging the top of the tin. Line the pastry with a baking sheet and blind bake for 25 minutes, using dried peas or whatever you prefer. When the time is up, take out of the oven

and remove the baking sheet and dried peas. Pop back into the oven for a further 5 minutes to dry out the base.

While the pastry is baking, boil the peas and beans for 5 minutes until they are just tender. Drain and rinse any froth that might be present. Place in a bowl along with the basil leaves, 3 tablespoons of cream and lots of seasoning - up to you how much!

If you have a blender/food processor, purée until smooth. Right, now we need to dry fry the bacon lardons until they start to turn a nice golden colour. Spread the purée over the tart base and scatter the lardons over the purée.

Whisk the 4 large eggs with the 100ml of milk, the remaining cream and the grated Parmesan. Add seasoning to taste. Pour over the purée and bacon... carefully though!

Turn your oven down to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas 4 and bake the tart for 35 minutes until the egg mixture is set and the pastry is a lovely golden colour. Remove and place on wire rack to cool a little, then cut off the extra overhanging pastry from the edge with a sharp knife.

Decorate with the remaining basil leaves and off you go for your picnic or just into the garden!

Enjoy on its own or with a salad. ISSUE 427 | 19 JULY 2018 | 36

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