Friday, 4 April 2008

Day four-Dorset beckons.We leave the Ashdown forest.

Well, we left the wilds of the Ashdown forest today after we had consumed a mountain of fantastic sausages from Tablehurst farm served up with a side helping of deep green, buttery Ground Elder gathered from the very lane Ruby was parked up in. This lane ended a beautiful bridge where we played Pooh sticks with Oskar and our hosts little girl Holly. It was her Mum Katie who told us, nay, evangelised about the foodie Utopia that is the Ashdown forest. We were sorry to leave after being made to feel so welcome.

Recipe for Buttery Ground Elder

Gather your Ground elder, you will need about a good handful for each person. Rinse and place in a covered saucepan with a large knob of butter. Heat on the hob until the leaves have wilted about 4 or 5 minutes. Season with salt, black pepper and a dash of lemon juice. Yum.

Dorset has always beckoned me with its wonderful balance of food from the land and sea. My family are originally from here and many of them are still here. It is where I was born. So, my next stop was at the home of my Shepherd cousin, Stephen and his partner Melitta a former commercial fisherwoman who has build her own family fishing boat. The farm Stephen works has 800 breeding ewes and most of them seem to be producing twin and triplets so Stephen certainly has his hands full. Last year the farm provided the nearby Village with 15 lambs as a thank you for putting up with the farm working all hours! Now that's a village to move to.
Stephen and Melitta, live with three border collies, two that work with the sheep and one pet. Melitta made us the best home grown rhubarb crumble with rhubarb from her Dads garden.

Recipe for Melittas Rhubarb crumble

Peel the tough bits off the rhubarb and chop into bit sized pieces, Place the rhubarb in a saucepan without water and stew until the rhubarb is soft and mushy Add plenty of sugar. This is a matter of taste, so add sugar until you like the ratio of sweetness to tartness. Make a normal crumble topping using: 180g (6 oz) plain flour, 90g (3 oz) butter, 90g (3 oz) sugar, Rub the flour into the butter until you get a breadcrumb consistency. Mix in some sugar to taste. Put the stewed rhubarb into an oven dish, including any liquid that has come off the rhubarb. Put the crumble mixture over the top and place into a oven at 190-200 degrees Celsius (gas mark 5) for 30-40 minutes. Once the top is golden brown serve. Preferably with thick Dorset cream.

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