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Sally and me

Tonight it’s steak for tea. Yum. From Sally. That’s the name of the cow, not the farmer. The farmer is Frances.

I am very keen on knowing where meat, above all things, comes from. I strongly believe that if you eat meat then you are already involved with that animal and should consider that you have a kind of contract to know, as much as possible, that it had a good life. I always have photos of our pigs on the farmers market stall so that people realise that the animals they are eating are real. And if the customers say they don’t want to know that they get a stiff talking to.

One thing is for certain, if you buy an anonymous bit of shrink wrapped meat from a supermarket you aren’t taking any responsibility for the animal. A few years ago I talked with an organic pig farmer from West Norfolk. When he took his pigs to slaughter they went, in family groups, to a small abattoir just down the road. He also sold some of his pigs to Tesco’s for their premium organic range. Those pigs went off in a big lorry to Bristol for slaughter, where Tesco distributed from. That’s a journey of about six hours. He hated doing it and I just wouldn’t. I bet Tesco’s customers shelling out for best organic meat didn’t imagine that had happened.

All this makes a difference to what it tastes like too.

I’m in the fortunate position that when Frances takes one of her small herd of cows she’ll give me a call and ask if I want a box of meat in about three weeks time.  I didn’t actually know Sally, but I’ve known other of Frances’s cows that I have bought.

I do always try to buy meat from friends who I know and trust, Ideally from someone like Frances with just a few animals.  But if I don’t do that I buy from a proper butcher who I can talk to about where the animal came from. Never, ever from a supermarket.

I feel I owe that much to Sally and all the farm animals I’ve known.

On a less heavy note, I think I’m unlikely to find any Norfolk diet oats for my porridge. After a long phone chat to the very nice man at Garboldisham Windmill I’m becoming aware that processing oats is a specialised job and only a very few places in the country do it. Hey ho.

Food today:

Breakfast
Toast with Strawberry& blackberry compote
Apple juice

Lunch
Scrambled eggs (also from Frances, as it happens)

Supper
Steak (but you knew that) with  potatoes and lots of kale
Baked apple

My chum Paul who runs Norfolk and Suffolk Food Direct has asked* me to mention that he has a special Valentine’s Day offer of a meal for two (naturally) including wine and chocs for £20. Something of a bargain

*No brown envelopes have changed hands. It’s just a good company.

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Milk and the milkman

When I started thinking about the Norfolk Diet and its practicalities a particularly nubby conundrum was the milkman and what to do with him. So to speak. We have milk delivered three times a week by a pleasant chap in a Dairy Crest milk float. I had a feeling that the milk was probably not Norfolk and a bit of Twitter research (thank you Gary from Creospace) confirmed it.  Mostly.  It turns out that milk from Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex goes from the dairies to a central Dairy Crest distribution point in Essex and then some of it comes back to our milkman. So there is some proportion of Norfolk milk in our milk bottles I assume, but normally for Norfolk Diet purposes I wouldn’t really count it as Norfolk.

But I do think the concept of a milkman is A Good Thing, for all sorts of reasons, not least that it’s one of the few services of any sort that people in our middle-of-nowhere village have. And if we didn’t have a milkman what ever would we do for risqué jokes?

So, what to do?

We do often supplement our regular milk delivery with some bought milk, so the, making them up as I go along, rule will be that the milkman stays as a semi-exception and any milk over and above his that I buy will be from local dairies. Which round here means milk supplied by either Pointens at Stody or Nortons at Freckenham.  And very nice milk it is too.

Today’s round up of food

Breakfast: Owl toast with Wood Berry Farm Strawberry and Blackberry Compote and a glass of apple juice

Lunch: Leek and potato soup,  recipe here

Supper: Parsnip and Apple soup. Yes I know that’s two lots of soup but it turns out I’m eating on my own this evening so I’ll be hanging on to the steaks that I got yesterday until tomorrow. It’s easy and I like soup! So there.

All veg bought from Crowe’s little greengrocers in Holt.

Liberal quantities of tea throughout the day.

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The first day of eating only Norfolk food and drink is going rather well. So far.

My usual weekday winter breakfast is porridge, but having not yet sourced any Norfolk oats, I stopped in Holt on the way to work to get some bread. I’d noticed a sign outside The Owl teashop saying that they bake “real” bread and, as it turned out, they certainly do. I chose a still-warm large loaf and then decided to have a rather cute looking cottage loaf – half roll half  loaf – a couple of scones and a pot of their home made raspberry jam.

Whilst I was being served a chap called Dan brought another couple of loaves through to the shop from the back and I guessed he was the baker.

Half an hour later, once I’d got our pork pies into the oven up at our kitchen, outside Holt, I was just settling down to enjoy some of the still-warm cottage loaf with jam when Norman, the recently retired baker from North Elmham, rolled up, all unexpectedly, in his van. Over a cup of coffee it turned ot that Norman had actually been with Dan on Saturday and the Owl Bakery was having some of his equipment from Elmham and the loaf I’d bought had more than likely just been baked in a North Elmham tin. It did feel a bit more than a coincidence that I’d suddenly found myself drawn to The Owl.  Positively spooky.

Anyway. Very nice bread. I’m planning on going there a lot.

Lunch was sort of skipped as we’re working on developing a new Bray’s Cottage line and I ended up eating quite a bit, in the spirit of research. But it was definitely all Norfolk!

Before heading home, I grabbed a bag of Morston Mussels, on a bit of a whim, from the honesty box on the way into Cley. I would normally cook mussels in white wine or possibly cider, and although people do produce both in Norfolk, I just didn’t have any at home. But, after a bit of a consultation on Twitter, I’m going to cook them with finely chopped onion, parsley (just excavated from beneath the snow in the garden), garlic, apple juice, mustard and probably a dash of Norton’s cream.  The only non Norfolk ingredient is the garlic. I’m going to put garlic on the exceptions list, although a Cromer friend has told me that he still has some of his home grown garlic that he can let me have (we’ll do a pie swapsie) so garlic may be just a temporary visitor to the exceptions.

I’m thinking that I haven’t had enough fruit and veg today, so I’ll cook some apples to have as dessert and work on doing better tomorrow.

The recipe for the mussels is here

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