On fields eerily shrouded in mist, the 2016 Giant Pumpkin harvest has begun. All the giant pumpkins that have not been sold in advance will be listed for sale on www.bigpumpkins.co.uk/pumpkins-for-sale/
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
I selected the Annie Sloan ‘Graphite’ chalk paint as I wanted a dark, soft, velvet finish.
The difference between wet and dry is significant so don’t be disheartened by the gloss of the paint when wet.
The dried paint was exactly the texture I had imagined but perhaps a bit lighter than I had hoped for.
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…
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
The base on the first pizza was too thick but that was easily rectified and we quickly got some first class results.
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.
With the small bit of left over dough we made a few mini ‘soup loaves’ in tiny bread tins. Lovely!
Having lit some 10 fires of ever increasing size in our new wood oven in order to ‘cure’ the construction (slowly drive out all the moisture) it was nice to declare the oven open and pop in a few appropriately named ‘firecracker’ sausages from Taylors at Lathom.