I’m virtually bribing you all with cake (see below) to do this week’s challenge – because it will I think, be the most challenging of all but I think, the most rewarding…
But first, here are my favourites from last week’s challenge – the human element. Thanks so much everyone who gave it a go, so many great pics!
Week 4 challenge – Bee observant
This beautiful little book was introduced to me by Barbara Sweeney (did you catch her recent interview about food writing on the podcast? So good), and it is a collection of poems that Sean wrote while sitting out next to his bee hive. He took his notebook and pencil out every day for a year and sat and wrote his observations. At the end of the year the book was covered in wax, dirt and prose and he collected the words together in this slim book. So now for the challenge…
I’d love you to take your phone and notebook outside or wherever you do what you do. Sit down, take a deep breath and just write an observation or two. It doesn’t have to be poetry, super long or tricky – just your take on what you are seeing. Share a photo and an observation about your day or your week.
It can be the way the stock are grazing and playing, it can be how the wind feels, it can be anything. It can be one line or ten. And it can be for your eyes only.
And then if you feel comfy about it, post a photo and a copy out a few words on IG with the #myopenkitchenstories hashtag. You might prefer to keep this just for your eyes only and that’s cool too. The important thing is the writing.
And maybe you’ll go back more than once, and maybe you’ll get a rhythm going, find your groove, and find that you want to share your scribblings regularly!
Put yourself in your network’s shoes – or think about another producer or person you follow…wouldn’t you love to receive a daily or weekly dose of reflections or observations right from the field of your favourite farmer? I would. Definately.
So to re-iterate – take your notebook and pencil outside or wherever you do what you do. Sit down, take a deep breath and just write an observation or two. It doesn’t have to be poetry, it’s just your take on what you are seeing.
Here are some of my favourite passages from the Bee Journal, just for extra inspiration;
“The box is flooding with arrivals;
a weight measurable by thickenings of sound”
18th June : The Works
“With the hive tool prised the glue lid off;
slight cracking of propolis
(before I saw the citizens).
A sieve, a spoon; such words conjure baking.”
20th June : Dusted bees with icing sugar
“To be honest, this is dark stuff; mud, tang
of bitter battery-tasting honey. The woods are in it.
This is the offal of the flowers nectar.
The sleep of ancient insects runs on this.
Giant’s Causeway hexagons we smeared on buttered toast
or just the pellets gouged straight from wax to mouth.”
12th November : Winter Honey
I wish I could give you all a piece of this cheesecake with sweet dukkah and fresh honeycomb as extra encouragement to do this challenge – but alas. You can make it yourself though! Here’s the recipe below (from a Local is Lovely workshop last year)
GOATS CURD CHEESE CAKE
This recipe comes from the super talented chef and Orange cake queen Lily Hahn-Stevens and is, honestly, the best cheesecake and one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. It’s also gluten-free and super easy to make. Thank you Lily! We served this with a topping of fresh honeycomb and sweet dukkah. You could of course use store-bought ricotta for this cake and it would still be amazing, but if you take the extra 10 minutes to make fresh stuff, the end result will be lighter and that bit more delicious. Also, if you like a crumblier base and aren’t gluten-free, the classic crushed biscuits blitzed with butter option would also be great here too. Serves 8-10.
100g tapioca flour
100g unrefined sugar
80g coconut oil
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 180C and line a 20cm springform cake tin greaseproof paper. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine, press into the tin and pat down so you have an even base. Bake for 15mins, or until the filling is a light golden colour.
450g goat (or cow’s milk) ricotta (recipe below)
125g caster sugar
100g Greek-style yoghurt
1 1/2 tbsp gluten-free (or plain flour)
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 egg yolks
Zest of one lemon
Reduce oven temperature to 170C. Combine all ingredients into the bowl of your food processor or mixer and mix until well combined (of course you could just use a big bowl and wooden spoon for this). Pour over the base and cook for 35 minutes or until just set then let cool and keep in the fridge to chill and set.