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Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Have Fire, Will eat (and eat and eat and eat!)

Oh it's been a while again hasn't it?  If I'm honest I'm struggling to find things to write about that aren't about care homes, hospital stays, trying to sell houses and the general fedupness that is sometimes life.

So, when I found that a course on Deer butchery for his nibs for Christmas, was preceded by a course on Cooking with fire (which very much sounded like something I would like), I decided, as all good women do, that his Christmas present should include me (:D) and be a weekend away for both of us to return to the things we love doing together and just for 48 hours (if we were lucky) forget about everything else.

Turned out that it worked really rather well.

We travelled half way up to Yorkshire on Thursday afternoon and stayed overnight in a travelodge and ate KFC at a service station (totally yucky! but a little fun!)  On Friday we drove past our final destination and spent the afternoon in Whitby and then the early evening in Scarborough, driving back across the North Yorks moors later in the evening to find our accommodation for the weekend in a wonderful little village only about 15 minutes from the courses over the weekend.  We had a lovely evening meal and settled in early for the night as the travelling and the sea air had worked it's sleepy magic on us (OK the guinness and wine helped a little :D)

The next morning the irony of being totally grateful for smartphones whilst driving towards a course to teach us how to be more "back to nature" wasn't lost on me, when I found I had lost (in the space of 20 minutes!) the course paperwork which had the directions on it.  Luckily I still had the email on my phone!

We arrived on site for the course start at 9:30 to be greeted at the gate, led down a little path and immediately made a cup of tea and whilst drinking it, a shoulder of lamb was rolled and we were shown how to put it on a spit and what kind of fire that would need - I was going to enjoy this!

There were 8 of us on the course. It was drizzling rain and already the thought of lighting fires - whilst appealing in that they would keep us warm, was worrying in that everything was wet!  Not a problem (so we were told!) And indeed Chris proved with only his second strike that if the rules were followed a fire can easily be lit in the rain. - Could we do it?  Turned out we could!

All that fire making had taken us rather miraculously to elevenses, so a skillet was laid on the fire and drop scones with some elderberries frozen from last autumn, were made with another cuppa....... No photos of that particular interval - they were made and gone too quickly :D

I think after this was when we wrapped some red onions in clay (naturally occurring in the soil up there - I'd have to buy, as I don't think our sandy stuff would have quite the desired effect!!)  They were then put in the fire under the spit

We were then taken a little further into the wood to learn about cooking in a pit - and that fire was got ready as it would be used later to cook an afternoon snack (you can see why I liked this course can't you?)

Then it was time to finish preparing lunch - the lamb was still on the spit doing it's thing, the onions underneath it. To go with it we were to have flat breads, smoked halloumi, feta cheese wrapped in wild garlic leaves, and baba ganoush.  All of them cooked on the open fires we had made around the place.  Me and himself were in charge of the "cheese course!"  The halloumi first was hot smoked over oak chips:
and then I wrapped cubes of feta in 2 wild garlic leaves each turned 90 deg to each other, which were secured with a couple of beautifully hand made skewer ends (well ok, MrNoo was let loose with a knife and a couple of twigs - but he did a lovely job!) which were then fried in a skillet over the fire for a few minutes, turning now and again.  (Could also have been done on a toasting fork, but possibly not for 10 people in good time!)  You can also see the aubergines in the bottom of the fire there ready for the baba ganoush.  Meanwhile someone else was making the flatbreads, which sadly I didn't see any of because i was too much enjoying what I was doing, and also another pair were making fruit soda bread which was put on the fire after we had finished which we later had for tea.

All done, lunch looked a little like this:
Hot Smoked Halloumi

Shoulder of Lamb
Clockwise from Top: Onions still in clay jackets, Flatbreads, feta wrapped in wild garlic leaves (skewered by MrNoo's handiwork!) and natural yoghurt which we didn't cook!

Clockwise:Baba Ganoush, a little of the bare roasted onion, lamb, halloumi

Now unfortunately what didn't follow this was a short after lunch nap, oh no, we had to go back and tend to our pit and put the fish and tomatoes in, and also learn how to light a fire if we couldn't find all the bits that we'd learnt about before........ so we made feather sticks. And again lit fires and had a giggle.  It had stopped raining so for the most part the lighting of the fires was a little easier, and certainly more fun without being dripped on at the same time.

All the while a marvellous kitchen fairy had been tending to the soda bread in the dutch oven, and when we had all mastered the knife art of creating feather sticks and striking fire steels we were presented with afternoon tea:

Trout and beefsteak tomatoes cooked in a pit
Fruit soda bread from the dutch oven: Served with butter!!

The course was such a great day, I can't recommend it highly enough.  It was informal enough to be fun and so that we (well certainly I) didn't feel awkward asking questions, and yet structured enough that by the end of the day we had covered a remarkable amount of information. (I think I only realised that after the event!) And somewhat miraculously - I can still remember at least some of it. We learnt a little about using knives on wood (for the purpose of fire lighting!), Cooking, choosing wood, different ways of using fire and how to get the darn thing started in the first place (pretty important).  A full and rewarding day!  The food was amazing, the location was beautiful (even in the rain) and the company was exceptional :D

After we left the woodland we walked up the side of the White Horse just up the road (didn't realise at the bottom how many steps it would be to the top - one of those moments where you wished you'd done the joined up thinking!) But it was totally worth it. The view is incredible and armed with our binoculars we spotted a peregrine which we managed to watch for several minutes.  The circular walk was a mile and a half, and despite it having been a bit of an outdoorsy day we both enjoyed it.  Then - because obviously we hadn't crammed quite enough into the day, we went back to Whitby and walked around the town..... when i suddenly got quite a thing for wanting pizza (Which luckily we found in a gorgeous proper italian restaurant)......... I'm totally blaming looking at this all day:
Handmade pizza oven  - another course for another weekend??

I will review the deer course another day - I think this post is long enough already ?

T'il soon ♥︎


  1. What a great weekend away. Sounds lovely. Could imagine it al. Even the drip drip and the smell of fire and food. Xxxx

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