Monday, 2 March 2015

Happy As Pigs in Muck

It's very difficult to find genuinely ethical pork: a lot of 'outdoor reared' or 'outdoor bred' meat in supermarkets has only spent a few weeks or so outside before being grown on in large sheds. Better than a life in an intensive pig farm, but not quite the free range existence you might imagine.

This week Rob and Em Lawrie showed us round their small holding, where hens roam free, Spike the farm cat purrs round your legs and 30 or so happy pigs are reared in wide open pens.  Brought inside when necessary, a local butcher slaughters and prepares the meat which you can buy at the farm gate.  Their weekends are currently taken up with running full service hot roasts so they aren't doing farmer's markets yet but if you're headed towards Nantwich, phone ahead and they'll let you know what they have available for collection.  We picked up 48 delicious sausages and a 10 person joint of pork for less than £25, with piglet cuddles thrown in for free.

Rob and Em with two of the latest litter - five days old, these little squealers were beyond cute.
Next week's sausages.  Two fine looking 8 month old Berkshire pigs.

Olly, age 7, gets friendly with Mummy pig.

We found them by chance online while looking for some new chickens to add to our back yard flock.  You don't get more 'local food' than eggs from the garden.  Rob and Em have a wide range of rare and heritage breed chickens - they also sell eggs for hatching, hens of various ages and feed if you fancy having a few feathered friends yourself.

Check out their website at

Jen Murphy

Friday, 6 February 2015

This one's for you, Meg!

I have a spring in my step this week.  A kind blog reader emailed in to show appreciation of our last post about using internet search engines:
"Great blog.  I always have a look on Riverford's website for inspiration as you can put in an ingredient and it will come up with applicable recipes...Am hoping to make February soup month, so here goes!", Meg.  Thanks so much for taking the time to email us, not least so we know we know that our witterings are relevant!

Meg's idea to dedicate February 'soup month' is a good one.  It could be a way to further develop a basic skill, is a cost effective way to feed lots of people, and soup can come in many guises.  What's that you are saying?  'Boring?'  No way...and I will prove it by telling you my top tips for keeping everyone soup savvy...

1. there are loads of different kinds of soups: lumpy ones (leek and potato), smooth (cream of carrot), international (thai chicken noodle), hybrid (lentil and bacon/broths/chowder), and we haven't even mentioned my killer minestrone yet.
2.  you can tart it up at the table (ooer!).  Putting a variety of foods on the table for eaters means they can customise their bowl, and is a good conversation starter.  Try grated cheese, posh oils, chopped celery leaves, fresh herbs, pesto loosened with olive oil, chopped mild chilli, toasted nuts, roasted vegetables, bread croutons, a big cheesey crouton.
3.  serving soup with homemade bread is always a crowd pleaser.  I haven't got time for a bread diversion here, but hope to get a guest blogger to share her tips soon.
4.  buy a new vegetable you haven't used before and do an internet search, such as 'Jerusalem artichoke soup'.
5.  buy a new spice mix.  My crowd pleaser here is 'ras al hanout'.  Someone once told me this is a 'bad housewives' spice in Morocco since it can make a success of any dish.  It has lovely warm spices and rose petals.  Use in a creamed soup of root vegetables.

If you are still in need of inspiration, take a leaf from Meg, and get a couple of foody websites on your 'favourites' bar, such as:  (the GoodFood magazine has good ideas too)

Get in touch if you have any ways that you make a success of soup in your household.

Lisa Reid

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Lost Mojo

Boy, am I glad to see February: January is a long month after the expense and over indulgence of Christmas.  Given that I've gone cold turkey on supermarket shopping and pay day is a long wait, I've been seeing how many meals I can make from what is lying around in the cupboards.

Before Christmas I had lost my cooking mojo, too frazzled with festivities to think most evenings, but now it's "Ready, Steady, Cook" every night as I attempt to rustle up something edible from that which is lurking in the darkest corners of my kitchen.

We're all hoarders when it comes to food.  Out of date spices at the back of a drawer; bargain joints of meat lost in the bowels of the freezer.  Most of us are sitting on a fortune of unused ingredients.  I've been checking out the Love Food Hate Waste campaign for advice as I try to avoid chucking perfectly good food for lack of inspiration.  ( - they have a great newsletter available via email too)  Dig out forgotten bits and pieces, add in a few locally bought fresh ingredients and it's amazing how many different cheap tasty dinners you can produce.

One family I know goes online to maximise their food supplies - they have discovered a few family favourites by typing a list of what is left in the fridge into an internet search engine and seeing what it suggests.  Last night's squash, sweet potato and chestnut risotto was a hit.  Today's lunch of carrot, parsnip, swede and lentil soup finished off the rest of the soggy veg lurking in the fridge.  There is a recipe for the risotto listed at the bottom.  Roasting root vegetables gives them colour and added depth of flavour which stops them being too bland in something like a risotto. We'd love to hear about your successes with leftovers.  Why not tell us about them in the comments section?

Lisa Reid

Squash, sweet potato and chestnut risotto
serves 4

320g Arborio rice
1 small squash
1 large sweet potato
1 medium onion
Packet of ready to eat chestnuts/chestnuts leftover from Christmas defrosted
Vegetable stock

Chop and peel both the squash and potato, toss in oil, sprinkle with salt and roast in an oven for 40 mins until tender and crispy.
Meanwhile lightly fry the onions in some oil, add the rice and fry until translucent then gradually add the stock - stirring after each addition until the rice is cooked through. 
Add the chestnuts to heat through.
Add the cooked potato and squash then serve with plenty of black pepper and grated cheese.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Are You a Reward Card Slave?

It's hard work being a local food lover. At the end of a long day of work, with two hungry teenagers running on empty, there's nothing more tempting than a quick trip to Tesco to pick up an easy meal.

When I meet producers through the local food project or read about supermarkets delaying payments to farmers, it makes me more determined to cut back on the supermarket deals, but they can be soooo tempting.

Take the Tesco Clubcard for example, over the years we've had a family crossing on the Eurotunnel, a trip to Legoland and dinner out at Pizza Express. All handy when you are budgeting for a family of four. But what is the price of those points? The reality is that the pricing is cleverly pushing me into buying items I don't need, and the loyalty card tracks my habits in order to provide Tesco with information to more accurately brainwash me next time!

The average family with two teenagers in the UK fills their trolley to the tune of over £150 per week. The promise of BOGOFs and bonus points draws us back until we develop habits that are difficult to break. We are not always getting the best value and the hard pushed producers at the end of the food chain are being more aggressively squeezed than ever. Over time we fall out of the habit of shopping around, eating seasonally and picking up real bargains locally. 

So, what to do? Well I've made a brave decision: I've cut up my loyalty cards. I'm kicking that habit and going supermarket cold turkey. For branded items I will use the village co-op, but for 2015 I'll be a reward card slave no more!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Local Markets

We've got another busy weekend ahead in our house. I guess that is the case for most people this month. I visited a department store today and was full of empathy for the staff working through this mad period.  They seemed to be bearing up, but only just!

Lymm Sunday Market
It was a totally different experience at the last Sunday Market held at Lymm Youth Club. It was re-launched by Roni (of cupcake fame) in September. She did a terrific job attracting back the food sellers who are needed to make a market successful. She had done a cracking job with the advertising too because the place was busy with customers, and there was a good atmosphere. Food sellers included Kenyon Hall Farm, The Talking Bee (jams & chutneys) and Ken Webb butcher. The next  market is 21st December 11-4.

Talking of is Abbey Leys Farmer's market this coming Sunday. I will be there running a kids craft stall free of charge and Santa will be there courtesy of the Rotary club.

Apologies for the lack of laptop only put in a brief appearance last week before dying again. Don't forget, I simply write this blog based on my experiences: it isn't advertising because I am not paid to write the blog or Twitter feed (@LymmFood). If you have any recommendations you would like to pass on, please email me at Low Carbon Lymm or complete the comments section below. 

Lisa Reid

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Love It or Hate It?

I have a love-hate relationship with both Christmas and technology.  When technology is working fine, I incorporate it into my life and love exploiting its many advantages.  When an individual gadget inevitably stops working, I really do want to throw it through the window.  Such has been the case with my trusty laptop over the last couple of weeks - hence my lack of postings since Hallowe'en. I feel a similar way about Christmas.  I love the genuine sentiment of giving small gifts to family, but hate that there are now shoppers behaving so badly that police were called in many supermarkets yesterday.  We must all make the festive season into whatever celebration we love, and avoid being sucked into someone else's idea of the perfect Christmas.

Festive Cheer
I guess it won't take a genius to work out that if I am spending money this month, I am going to spend as much as possible of it locally, and I will opt out of buying through huge internet-based corporations who pay little UK tax.  The upcoming farmer's markets will be especially lovely this month because they will make an extra effort to have Christmas goodies and a cheerful atmosphere to make even the most hardened Scrooge smile. 

I took time out last week to visit Nigel and his family at Broomedge Farm near the Jolly Thresher.  They are extremely busy looking after lots of turkeys in the couple of months before the big day.  They take delivery of the white turkey chicks in August.  The turkeys are barn-reared, hand plucked and game hung for a good taste. 

I was impressed by how happy and well the turkeys looked.  To my knowledge, they are the only turkeys for sale in Lymm which are guaranteed to be both bred and sold truly local.  Nigel is always happy to show people the turkeys, so pop in and have a look.  You can order in person, give them a ring on 01925-752830 or 07979 785421, or email

Lisa Reid

Friday, 31 October 2014

All set for the weekend?

In our house before we consider what to do at the weekend, we first check the met office for an up-to-date weather forecast.  The good news is that it will be largely dry during the daytime this coming weekend...great for all those getting out and about for Halloween or Bonfire evenings.  It will be windy at times - so that is a happy husband for me because he will no doubt squeeze a windsurfing trip in at some point. 

Next on our list of considerations is whether the kids have any commitments.  As it is half term, there are only two things on, so if we do man-on-man marking then that leaves lots of spare adult time.  Oh, while we are on the subject of kids, the wee darlings have been busy carving those pumpkins I blogged about last week:

...and one of them is currently icing some skull biscuits to give away to doorstep callers.

No weekend is complete in our house without some quality food to share around the family table.  As it is Abbey Leys farmer's market ( this coming Sunday from 10am that is sorted too.  Come Sunday morning, we will be heading down there to buy some truly wonderful grub.  Janet and Tim invite a coffee van every month, and when he isn't available, they lay on hot drinks under a gazebo - so you are always assured of a cuppa to go with your food buys.  They are opening up the old shop for customers to use as a place to eat and drink, or keep the kids busy for a while with a kids activity. 

This fabulous market is very different from those labelled 'Artisan'.  You won't find ornate signage or much gingham bunting.  What you will see is really good food and drink that you can buy from the people who made or farmed it.  That makes a massive difference for lots of reasons.  You can ask the producer any questions you like, which I frequently do; the food hasn't been hanging around in a food chain for ages so it is really fresh; there are minimal food miles; and since the farmer gets loads of direct feedback, the food is top quality. 

Coupled with a hot cup of tea and kids activities, I know what will be top of my list for the weekend.  Hope to see you there.

Lisa Reid