Harvest Wreath Success!

First prize at the Hesketh Bank Village Show for my ‘Harvest Circle’ creation. I’ve never done any flower arranging before but I couldn’t miss out on the chance to include logs, pumpkins and wreaths so very pleased with coming first!

'Harvest Ring' on a log slice base
‘Harvest Ring’ on a log slice base

Slices of our home grown Silver Birch made up  the base with a simple squash centrepiece with a pine cone, barley, cotoneaster and ivy decorations.

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Event Props: Achtung Minen Sign

A request for a wooden Achtung Minen sign for use as a prop at an event is not an every day request but I have learnt it never to be wise to be asking too many questions.

Wooden 'Achtung Minen' sign
Wooden ‘Achtung Minen’ sign

Whilst waiting for it to be collected it has been pressed into active service sending a not so guarded message to our errant local dog walkers. We’ll see if it makes any difference.

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Painting Baby Pumpkins

I don’t suppose many people will actually need a tutorial in how to paint a pumpkin for Halloween but it might be of interest to see the finish achieved using Annie Sloan Chalk paint. The little pumpkins are available from our pumpkin farm shop www.BigPumpkins.co.uk

Select a nice baby pumpkin for painting
Select a nice baby pumpkin for painting

I selected the Annie Sloan ‘Graphite’ chalk paint as I wanted a dark, soft, velvet finish.

A tin of Annie Sloan Graphite Chalk Paint
A tin of Annie Sloan Graphite Chalk Paint

The difference between wet and dry is significant so don’t be disheartened by the gloss of the paint when wet.

Painting baby pumpkins for Halloween
Painting baby pumpkins with Chalk Paint

The dried paint was exactly the texture I had imagined but perhaps a bit lighter than I had hoped for.

A baby pumpkin with one coat of Chalk Paint
A baby pumpkin with one coat of Chalk Paint

One coat was probably not enough but the effect was close to what I had been seeking. Perhaps I will try another with some blackboard paint…

 

 

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Busy day in the sun

A very busy day making the most of the sunshine to get caught up with all the field and footpath mowing but the highlight was cutting our first pumpkins of the season. It usually gets to September before the PR people remember to think about Halloween but quite a few have been making enquiries already.

The first order was just for a few pumpkins and quite on odd mix but ours is not to reason why. I look forward to seeing the finished piece.

Cutting pumpkins in August for a photoshoot
Cutting pumpkins in August for a photoshoot

We always grow a few pumpkins under glass so they are ready for sale that bit sooner. Due to the poor weather, the outdoor pumpkins are only just beginning to set but hopefully they will be ready for the mid October harvest.

For more information on our pumpkins please visit our www.BigPumpkins.co.uk website.

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Rustic Chopping & Serving Boards

The past few days have taken place in a large cloud of sawdust as we try and catch up on a few bespoke orders for BIG chunky chopping boards.

Thick milled planks are cut to best make use of their individual natural grain patterns. All boards are marked out by hand and consequently no two boards are ever the same.

Our boards grace many a TV studio kitchen and are also used in photo shoots for an ever increasing amount of in house and retail food magazines.

Interestingly, when our chunky chopping boards leave Lancashire and travel down the motorway, somewhere around Watford they become ‘Rustic Serving Platters’ and the price quadruples!

Massive chopping board sealed with olive oil before use
Beech chopping board sealed with olive oil before use

As the trend for rustic weddings has increased so has the demand from caterers and wedding planners (professional or DIY) for these boards. Subject to availability (and enough notice) we also do log rings and slices for cake stands.

For a small additional fee, we can also personalise a board with a text message or logo burnt into the edge or surface of the board.

Thick beech chopping board with two waney edges
A large double waney edged beech serving board – a bespoke  order for a restaurant.

We can’t do ‘urgent’. We may have something suitable already in stock but if not it takes time to locate suitable logs and get them transported and milled. It then takes at least two years for the milled boards to be air dried sufficiently before they are ready for turning into our lovely rustic serving boards.

 

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Sourdough Course

Having already completed the Artisan Foodworks ‘Basic Breadmaking’ course at some time ago, the ‘Mastering Sourdough’ course was a natural follow on.

David and Julie were again the perfect hosts and the gang of eager students were a good bunch.

My haul of my own handcrafted sourdough bread made on the day was impressive:

Making Sourdough Course
Making Sourdough Course

For a novice it is an awful lot to take in but having spent a few hours re-reading the course notes and watching youtube tutorials it is now all fitting into place.

David sent us all away with a cup of his treasured sourdough starter which I have been nurturing carefully.

Flying solo, I have now proudly produced my own sourdough pizza base and a couple of wholemeal loaves and am slowly gaining a bit more confidence.

At present I am minimising variables and using the electric oven but with a view to having a go in the wood fired oven very soon. All good fun!

 

 

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Our first homemade wood fired pizza

Yesterday we finally got around to making our very first homemade pizza in the wood fire oven.

Liam made 1kg of pizza dough and a delicious (secret recipe) tomato sauce and so our first pizza trials began.

The oven was lit with some dry brash and a few sticks to warm it up before it was given a heaped load of mixed hardwood wood chunks available from www.woodchunks.co.uk

The wood chunks worked very well and got it up to a steady 300 degrees Centigrade in short order. They quickly turned to glowing embers but, unlike big logs, they were much more maneuverable inside the oven and could be banked up around the edges with ease.

The oven temperature was much more stable than I expected and it was not as difficult to assess and adjust than I had expected.

Our pizza oven loaded with wood chunks
Our pizza oven loaded with wood chunks

The base on the first pizza was too thick but that was easily rectified and we quickly got some first class results.

Our first wood fired home made pizza
Our first wood fired home made pizza

We still need to work on a stand and get a proper prep table sorted out as I don’t think an old cupboard door balanced on the forklift will meet all the hygiene standards.

Makeshift pizza oven stand and prep table.
Makeshift pizza oven stand and prep table.

With the small bit of left over dough we made a few mini ‘soup loaves’ in tiny bread tins. Lovely!

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