A Trip to River Cottage

Last week, I, along with 50 other bloggers, had the pleasure of attending a bloggers camp at River Cottage HQ. A beautiful cottage, outbuildings and over 50 acres of land, which now hosts famous cookery classes, an amazing chef school, and many other events. I have seen many of the River Cottage shows over the past few years, and love Hugh’s books.

I set off early to pick up Kate from Veggie Desserts at Bath train station. It was a beautiful sunny morning, and we had a good natter on the two-hour drive to Axminster. After a slight detour (thanks Google Maps!) we arrived at the beautiful setting that was to play host to our fun-filled day. We had to leave the car at the top of the drive, and jump on a trailer towed by a tractor. What ensued next was a crazy bumpy ride down a dirt track to the cottage. I pretty much landed on someones lap, but hey, way to break the ice right?!

We were welcomed with some nibbles and coffee, and a quick chat about the days plan in a cosy yurt (accompanied by lots of comfy hay bales, and a large wood burning stove). We had a chance to say hi to fellow bloggers before breaking off into our groups. It was so lovely to finally meet lots of the blogging community who have been so supportive since I started Rough Measures.

River Cottage

Our first session was a tour of their organic gardens. We we’re shown around the large vegetable garden, and also got to meet their pigs and chickens. The gardener was really knowledgeable and had a clear passion for horticulture. He explained how they crop rotate to get the most of the soil, the composting cycle, and how the kitchen never like receiving cabbage! All the talk of growing veg reminded me that I need to make a veg box for the roof of the boat, something I’ve been meaning to do since we moved on.

River Cottage River Cottage

River Cottage River Cottage

Next up, we moved into the large kitchen, where we were going to make soda bread and our own butter. We met with the Group Head Chef – Gill Mellor, who talked us through the main ingredients in soda bread, before leading us outside to forage for blackberries. Once we’d picked a large handful, we headed back into the kitchen to get baking. Before we started with the soda bread, we got to work making our own butter. We whipped the cream and watched it turn to butter (with the help of a bit of squeezing to get the last little drops of liquid out). I chose to add goats cheese, thyme and sage into my bread. While the bread was baking, I headed out into the gardens to pick some herbs to roll into my butter. All too quickly, the hour was up, but I had some gorgeous soda bread and butter to take home.

River Cottage

River Cottage

River Cottage

River Cottage

River Cottage
The lovely Kevin from The Crafty Larder showing us his dusting skills

River Cottage

We headed into the hall for lunch, where we were welcomed by Head Chef – Gelf Alderson. He talked us through the menu, explaining the vegetarian option was spelt ravioli, stuffed with cheddar and leeks, on a bed of vegetable ragu. All veg from their gardens of course. Accompanying the main were some gorgeous herby corn on the cob. It all sounded good. It was absolutely mind-blowing. Never did I imagine that pasta could taste SO GOOD. The silence that came over the hall confirmed that it wasn’t just me who was enjoying it. In between courses I had a good natter with other bloggers. Up next, was the pudding; fennel meringue, honey-roasted foraged damsons, coffee ice cream with salted caramel chunks, and an oat crumble. I seriously thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I’m not a huge meringue fan, but these beauties, ohmygod. They were insane. So good, I ate two (thanks Vicki!) I have been raving about that creation all week.

After lunch, we rolled ourselves over to our food styling and photography workshop. Lucy from capturebyLucy ran through some of her favourite books, stylists and photographers. We headed outside, where she showed us some useful tips for shooting food, talked about texture and light, and some of the best angles for food. We then got to play around with some props and test out her tips. We all had so many questions, it soon turned into a big natter and time slipped away.

River Cottage

River Cottage

All too soon it was time to say our goodbyes. It was a fantastic day, with wonderful company and fabulous food. I left with a grin from ear to ear, and my head overflowing with information (note to self, take a notebook next time Sus!) The day was organised by Foodies100, so a big thank you to them, and all at River Cottage.

River Cottage

River Cottage

River Cottage

 

Here’s some of my fellow foodies take on the day!

A Day at River Cottage – Tin and Thyme

A Day at River Cottage – Anne’s Kitchen

A Day Out at River Cottage – Veggie Desserts

What to Expect From a Day at River Cottage – Le Coin de Mel

Blog Camp at River Cottage – Mummasaurus

 

Adventures of the French Kind

I had planned to get a recipe up tonight, but going through a gazillion photos on my camera, I couldn’t miss adding a little photographic homage to my French holiday.

I spent two beautiful weeks in the South West of France, in a little village called Azur. Tagging along on my parent’s  twice annual trip to this beautiful lake-side setting. Excited like a kid (or 27-year-old) at Christmas. It was intensely hot for the first week, which meant much pool-side lounging and hammock swinging (oh, life). I wanted to cram EVERYTHING into my two weeks there, making sure I wasn’t going to miss all the activities I’d been hearing about for the last 11 years. My parents weren’t quite prepared for this plan-every-day-down-to-the-last-second kinda deal. We swam, we ran, we kayak-ed, sailed, surfed and explored. However due to the intense heat, I had to give in and realise that I would have to just CHILL and RELAX for at least a little while. IT WAS FANTASTIC.

My brother, his partner and my little nephew joined us for a few days. Followed by my older brother and his (now) fiancée (WOO HOOO) a couple of days later. Those few days we were all (minus my younger sister) together are days I’m sure we will all cherish for a long time. We are so rarely at the same table all together. Much laughter and smiles were had, and a fair share of wine was drank.

I managed to take ZERO photos of food, but that’s probably a good thing, because we ate A LOT.

It’s safe to say, any ideas of a child-less holiday my parents may have once had in mind, will no longer be happening. Plans are already in place for us to take over Azur in summer 2016.

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Cormerant

Ducks

Fishingboys

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Jetty

Plants

Robin

Window

A Little Get To Know

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A while ago, Loriley Sessions saw a gap in the market for us foodies. Where were we all hiding, could there be a way to group us all together and form a little community? A place or platform where we could share views and ideas, and generally talk about our love of food? From this @fdbloggers and the #fdbloggers hashtag was born. This soon created a wonderful place to share our one true passion. I found out about #fdbloggers by chance on Twitter, and have been loving the weekly chats ever since.

I was in a bit of a rut when I first started blogging, too scared to really show people what I was up to, scared of their reactions. Finding such a lovely bunch of people who share the same passions as I do, really helped me grow my confidence, and also improve my blog.

Recently Loriley started the series #fdbloggers: Get to Know. A fun post to share a little bit more about yourself. The hashtag is #fdbloggersGTK, follow this on Twitter to get a little more insight into the world of Food Bloggers.

Name: 

Sus (short for Susanna)

Blog: 

www.roughmeasures.com

What was your reason for starting a blog?

I was stuck in a little bit of a rut, and low point, last September. I had been documenting my cooking through Instagram for a while. I saw an advert for an Online WordPress course, so signed up, and Rough Measures was born.

What’s the dish you’re most proud of?

My favourite recipe on the blog has to be my Chocolate Quinoa Crunch Bars – they were a way to use up left over quinoa, and turned out fab. I make them so often!

Chocolate Quinoa Crunch Bar

What one kitchen utensil could you not live without?

My Nutribullet – it makes the best smoothies, milks, nut butters etc. I use it at least once a day.

You’re stranded on a desert island. What three ingredients do you take with you?

Ras el hanout, raw cold pressed coconut oil, tahini.

Who do you take inspiration from?

I am a huge fan of cookery books. Classic ones by Deliah Smith, Diana Henry and Yotam Ottolenghi. My collection of recipe books is getting out of hand, my current favourite is New Feast by Greg and Lucy Malouf. I also love food blogs, and am constantly scouring the internet, trying to catch up on all the latest recipes.

Your favourite social platform?

Personally, my favourite is Instagram. I am a long time photography lover, and feel pictures speak louder than words. However both Facebook and Twitter have been a huge help in getting my blog off the ground, and connecting with other like-minded bloggers.

Biggest disaster in the kitchen?

Ha! There have been a few. One day stands out in my mind. I had put my wet trainers in the warm (but turned off) oven, to dry out – may sound strange but it’s a trick we often used growing up. Later in the day I decided to bake a cake. I preheated the oven and carried on prepping my cake. As soon as i went to put my cake in the oven, flames shot out and I realised I’d never taken my shoes out of the oven! I managed to run them over to sink and avert a serious fire. THAT SAME DAY, I made some buttercream icing for the cake, but something wasn’t right. Turns out I’d used flour instead of icing sugar. So yeah, that was my biggest disaster in the kitchen! Safe to say I’m a lot less clumsy and forgetful now.

Favourite spot for coffee?

Recently, its Indulgence in Bath. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll grab one of Society’s tasty Americanos.

Favourite food photo you’ve taken?

This picture of my Peanut and Chocolate Chunk Cookies is a personal favourite of mine. I just like the rustic colours and simplicity of the shot.

Cookie4

 

What would you say was your most successful blog post and why?

My Good Morning Granola has been the most popular post on my blog, and also is one I’m really proud of.

Now nominate three food bloggers you’d like to get to know more.

I’d like to know more about you all – so go!

Remember to follow the #fdbloggers and #fdbloggersGTK to discover new food blogs.

Green Gathering Round Up + Some Links

Last week we had the pleasure of attending The Green Gathering Festival in Chepstow, Wales. Charlie had managed to get a couple of his cabins sold there, and we were lucky enough to attend the festival together. We’d not been to this one before, and it’s always extra exciting to experience a new festival. We worked out that between us, over the years, we have been to an array of different festivals over 150+ times! Many of them are ones we do every year (Glastonbury etc) so the novelty can wear off. However, we were both so excited to experience Green Gathering.

Green Gathering is a small festival, near a racecourse in Chepstow. With glorious views over to Bristol and across the Severn Estuary. It’s entirely off-grid – using only solar, wind or people power. Possibly the cleanest, most caring festival I have had the pleasure to experience.

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GreenGathering11

As it was just Charlie and I, with a small build, our days were relaxed and stress free. We got the cabins set up quickly, and set about getting a little camp area sorted with lots of sticks and logs for some fires over the weekend. I managed to make a little garden of bracken around the cabins to make them feel a little more homely.

Now, I know I work with Charlie, every day. However, I often feel like we don’t really ‘see’ each other. We miss the opportunities to spend quality time together, rising early in the mornings and getting straight to the work, and falling into bed hours later and passing out. This is our routine for most of the summer. His job can be pretty stressful, and he is constantly thinking about staff, the build, future builds in the weeks ahead, that sort of thing. I admit I get quite needy, and sometimes it can cause a rift when I feel like I’m not getting my fair share of his time. We live, eat, work together, yet sometimes I feel like I haven’t seen him all week. My excitement at a whole week with just me and him was through the roof!

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GreenGathering1

 

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The week exceeded all my expectations. One night, after a rather failed attempt at a (useless and cheap) BBQ; which never even got hot, we made our own ‘BBQ’. Our version resulted in nothing but a pile of burnt corn and peppers. Fed up, and still pretty hungry, we made a little camp fire. We grabbed some sticks and whittled them into skewers, making sure our big bag of marshmallows wasn’t going to go to waste. We stuffed ourselves with the toasted, gooey, sugar filled buttons and grinned to each other. We swapped childhood camping memories, reminiscing about nights spent sleeping under the stars. We got THE BEST view of the meteor shower, Perseid, that was taking place. I have never seen shooting stars as big and long as I did that night. We watched it for a good hour or so, cuddled up on a big chair, so wonderfully content. I could have cried with happiness. That night is going down in the books as one of my best, happiest nights ever.

The weekend was filled with laughs, wonderful music, talented craftsmen, spoon carving workshops, thought-provoking talks, drumming in a tipi, too many super strong ciders, THE BEST CURRY EVER, fluorescent pink sunsets, crazy views, exhilarating yoga classes, and the friendliest group of people ever. Thank you Green Gathering, we will most definitely be back.

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GreenGathering8

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I’m off on holiday for two weeks, so things might get a little quiet around here. I’ll have access to my Instagram and Twitter, but not much else. I’ll be back in full force in September. For now, here’s some links for a few bits I’m loving this week.

The brownies and coffee here (seriously, if you’re in Bath, make sure you go!)

These beautiful wooden coffee cups

Anything and everything in here at the moment

This little visitor who stayed at my parents in the week

These crazy tasty Bloody Marys, along with all the other #drinkthesummer tipples.

My favourite ex-boss / mega lady is chopping her luscious locks off for charity, and you can support her HERE

Billy’s sweet, funky voice

 

 

Have a great couple of week guys!

X

Raw Chocolate Fudge Squares

First of all, an apology. When I started this blog I wanted to make sure consistency was key. That at least once a week, I would share a new creation with you all. I picked Monday as it felt like a good pick me up on a day that most people don’t like. I was strict on myself to get the recipe sorted and ready to go live every Monday. Beating myself up and stressing if by Sunday evening I hadn’t got it fully sorted. However, let me into a little secret, sometimes, every now and again, things happen that mean you can’t get that thing sorted in time. It’s a little thing called life. I battle with it a lot, a tug of war that I try to win in those last moments. But sometimes, life wins. It gives an enormous pull in that last millisecond. You can’t be a superhero, juggling everything at once. Sometimes life doesn’t want you to. So, I am sorry that I missed a week of blogging, and that this post is overdue. But hey, good things come to those who wait, right?

I’ve not been feeling myself the last couple of weeks. Exhaustion has kicked in, in what is now our mid-point through this summer of festival work. The days are relentlessly long and it’s catching up with me. My auto pilot needs a rest. Blogging has been my quiet time, my personal space. When you don’t feel yourself it’s real difficult to find the right words to get down into this blank void. I didn’t want to write something half-hearted or negative, nor did I want to force words and feelings that just were not there for a little while. I needed to re-align myself and get my head feeling all ‘me’ again.

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I am sat writing this in a pub in Dorset, with a window view out to the sea at Lulworth Cove, on a bright blue summers day. It’s certainly helping me feeling more alive again. I mean, you guys, it’s so gorgeous.

I created these gooey, fudgey chocolate squares a few weeks ago, and have been itching to share the recipe since. I really want to make them over and over again, but we don’t have a freezer for a couple of weeks, so I will just have to drool over these photos and reminisce!

Raw Chocolate Fudge Squares (gf) (v)

INGREDIENTS:

For the base:

1 cup medjool dates
100g ground almonds
Handful of hazelnuts
Handful of raisins
2 tbsp ground flax-seed
4 tbsp raw cacao powder

For the fudge mix:

4 bananas
2 tbsp agave syrup (or maple if you don’t have agave)
6 tbsp almond butter
2 tbsp peanut butter
6 tbsp raw cacao powder

METHOD

Soak the dates and raisins in very warm water for 30 mins.

Once soaked, drain and add both into a food processor along with the rest of the base ingredients. Mix for a couple of minutes, until fully combined.

Line a baking dish with cling film. Press the base mix evenly into the tray, use your hands or a spatula to make sure to get right to the edges.

Add all topping ingredients into the food processor. Mix until runny and smooth.

Pour your topping mix in the tray over the base.

Optional – shave over some raw dark chocolate

Freeze for 4 hours, or overnight if possible.

Remove from the freezer 30 mins before eating.

 

 

 

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RAWchocofudge

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Here’s some other no-bake recipes which I love:

Raw Chocolate Truffles from Tin and Thyme

Chocolate Coconut Bounty Protein Bites from Kerry Cooks

Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge from Celery and Cupcakes

 

I’m entering this into Tin and Thyme’s We Should Cocoa challenge for August 2015.

Glastonbury Round Up + Some Links

Hey friends. This weeks post is a little different. Having spent the last 10 days working at Worthy Farm and dancing my little boots off, I didn’t get time to get a recipe together for you. But panic not, they’ll be back next week. For the time being, enjoy these photos of the festival.

We had so much fun, exploring the many fields of the festival. Some highlights were:

  • An amazing fire / acrobat / arial dance show from the Arcadia stage crew on Friday night.
  • Seeing Mr Eavis himself, driving his red Land Rover though William’s Green and waving to the cheering crowds.
  • Hula-hooping away our hangovers in the Circus Field
  • Watching the sunset over the festival from the Glastonbury Sign on the hill.
  • Dancing to Plump DJs in the awesome Temple Stage
  • An amazing Lebanese mezze plate on Sunday evening
  • All the amazing bands and artists that we got to see over the 5 days.

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The view from Worthy View hill

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Some things I’m loving this week:

My new rucksack from Poler

The delicious mezze plate we had from these guys at Glastonbury

This summery spelt salad

This Pimm’s cocktail is just so refreshing

The best coconut shampoo, which is saving my dried out locks

 

Don’t forget to follow my adventures over on Instagram and Twitter