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ISSN 2051-6525





s the creator of Charlie Brown, cartoonist Charles M Schultz, so delightfully put it, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

Here at Saffron we follow that maxim when it comes to talking, writing about, and enjoying food and wine. It’s really why we all get up in the morning, and probably why we have all been lucky enough to spend our working lives pursuing the best of it. Because we love doing it. This issue has been created with love (and not a little chocolate!). Along with our contributors, we have explored, photographed, cooked, tasted and talked to people who share what all we believe in. That good food brings people together, that everyone deserves to know how and where to get it, and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive or exclusive, complicated to prepare, or only for those with too much time on their hands. We’ve learnt a lot putting this together, as we’ve debated and anguished over the process. We hope you enjoy the results. Please let us know your thoughts, comments and ideas for the future



Summer’s lease may be brief but for

Fowl fanatic Sheila Hume follows in her

Mary apricots add to its pleasures

great aunt’s footsteps

Back to the land

Whizzy Whips

It’s fruit and vegetable paradise as Bill

Delicious glasses of goodness, all

travels around Swedish allotments

created in a flash

UPPER CRUST The raised pie is a thing of wonder that

You can’t climb Everest on an empty stomach

evokes memories of childhood

Chips, chocolate and a curry or two

ODE TO A MANDOLINE The best kitchen equipment is so

The making of a Real Cheddar

often the very simplest

Bill goes in search of an original



What were twenty Frenchmen

It’s party time on a warm summer

doing gathered in a Kentish field?

evening with friends and family



Isobel Curtis looks at the burgeoning

Casey Lazonick examines how sweet

farmers’ market movement

has turned somewhat sinister



Rediscovering the old-fashioned

Explores simple tastes transformed on a

delights of bottling fruit

magical island with Marie-Louise



Annalisa and Rupert wander the streets

The Saffron piglets have arrived and are

of Barcelona in search of wonders

settling in happily to their new home


A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg. Samuel Butler


HEN PART Y A long lasting family connection with keeping chickens inspired Sheila Hume to follow in her great aunt’s footsteps and throw a hen party with a difference Words: Sheila Hume IMAGES: BILL

Hen party


’ve recently been given a faded photograph of an elderly woman, hair in a bun, long dress and apron, holding a bowl and surrounded by chickens. It is a photo of my great–aunt feeding her hens, and in just the way

that I do myself everyday. For me it conjures up a marvellous feeling of continuity and peace; if you’ve never kept hens you won’t understand just what pleasure they give. My advice is to give it a try - they will make you laugh, intrigue you and lower your blood pressure. This morning I let the chicks out late, and one young brown hen ran at a pace into the old log shed and hunkered down in a nest of straw, making little cooing noises. There is nothing a chicken likes more when she’s laying than to sit for ages contemplating. You know the saying, “ sometimes I just sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits”, well, that’s a perfect description of a laying chicken. I once saw a hen race towards the shed only to stop in her tracks, adopt a dreamy look, and drop an egg soundlessly on the ground. If I hadn’t been laughing so much, I would have felt sorry for the loss of her meditating moment. These wonderful entertainers also provide

You know the saying,

regular and beautiful eggs. The pleasure starts

“ sometimes I just

the body as you look into the nesting box to see

sits and thinks, and

the most amazing thing about eggs. For the most

sometimes I just sits”,

with collecting, and a rush of endorphins floods a clutch of multi-coloured ovals. I must tell you part, the colour of an egg is ink-jetted on by your hen just before laying. So the very deep bronzy brown egg from a Copper Maran, and the rather gentle beigy pink from a Light Sussex, is created

well, that’s a perfect

from no more than nature’s very own Farrow and

description of a

white. A blue egg, however, is that colour due

laying chicken.

Ball painter’s palette. The inside of the shell is still to genetics so the shell is blue throughout. End of lecture! Once you have gathered your freshly laid egg, crack it open and watch the pearlescent

albumen gloop into a bowl, carrying with it a golden yolk. A cake made with these eggs is saffron-coloured and richly flavoured. Add to this shelled bounty the possibility of eating your fowl, and you have the perfect producer. However, be warned that not all chickens make good eating. I speak from bitter experience! Years ago we had a feral and vicious cockerel. After he gave my husband a dead leg, we decided it was time for murder most fowl (sic and sorry!) so our friendly butcher agreed to kill him and return him to us ready for the pot. I could barely contain my excitement when going to collect our prize but maybe should have been warned by the suppressed giggles. I gazed at the plump free-range chickens in his window and imagined my very own version. Sadly, reality was very different. Yellow skinned, small breasts drooping down from the backbone, and atrophied legs – our bird looked like an ageing starlet who had spent too long on the fags and booze. Determined not to give up, and pretending this was exactly what I had expected, I took it home and cooked it …….for hours. Tough but tasty, it did us for a starter. At that early stage in my career of chicken husbandry, I was still too naïve to realize that our cockerel was bred for egg production so not designed to plump up for the pot. I learnt from the experience! Two years ago our eldest son struck a deal with me. He would provide some fertile eggs from chickens bred for the table, and if I incubated them and raised the birds until they were ready, he would kill and pluck them, and we would divide the spoils. Great, I thought; no blood and guts for me but just the fun of new hatchlings, and a few extra birds to look after. But it didn’t quite go as planned. The day of the deed (or should that be dead?) was Christmas Eve, and instead of the birds disappearing off to be dispatched and cleaned, the whole family ended up sitting in the garage, plucking feverishly at the still-warm corpses with the poor bald chickens hanging up on the rafters still rather ghoulishly dripping blood. I’m not going to shame the family member who wore marigolds to do this, by naming him here. We live in a friendly area, and a number of our neighbours called in with cards whilst we were doing this – maybe unsurprisingly the more squeamish did not hang around. However, the result was delicious and the birds were plump and flavoursome, if a bit more gamey than usual chickens. Despite this success, I’m going to stick to buying my poultry free-

Chickens are classified as layers or table birds, and the most efficient can be both. But there is a further class – ornamental, or in other words, “useless� birds!

range from the butcher as I’ve been put off by my up-close and personal endeavours in the garage. There is one rather funny footnote to this. Chickens are classified as layers or table birds, and the most efficient can be both. But there is a further class – ornamental, or in other words, “useless” birds! In her wonderful book, All My Eggs in One Basket, journalist Francine Raymond described her annual Hen Party, where people display their prized chickens and children hunt for eggs. It sounded really fun so with Francine’s blessing, in 2007 two friends and I started our very own event on the same lines. Each year we hold what is, in effect, a Bring and Buy party for poultry and ducks, and a multitude of birds of every colour and hue, cackle and chirp in cages on our lawn. This year we had Indian Runner ducks, quail, Pekins, Silkies, mop-headed Polands, as well as Light Sussex and the urban sounding Buff Orpingtons. In fact, Buff Orpingtons are the Queen Mother’s hat of chickens - huge overblown powder-puffs with a wonderfully docile nature, who lay pretty pale-ish pink eggs. This year we expanded, adding two plant stalls, and our bodging neighbour, John, set up his pole lathe and created wonderful turned tools, and even a pork pie dolly (a mould for shaping the pastry) from a picture. Poultry and their associated paraphernalia were traded and discussed ad nauseam by all and sundry. A pair of Appleyard ducks were loaded into the back of a Passat, where they sat beside someone’s elderly mother on their way home to Essex; a rather small woman walked up the drive with a rather large lupin towering above her, and an ingenious brooding box was dismantled and taken away. One couple bought a very pretty trio of lavender Pekins, and then the sturdy Rivers Animal house which would have been a palace for their new acquisitions, as it was built to hold eight large fowl. On top of all that, a great deal of cake was eaten and some money raised for various charities! The only complaint came from a woman who arrived to buy eggs, and found the only ones available were very expensive fertile ones. Chickens, chickens everywhere, and not an egg to eat! Despite this, the Hen Party is now a high spot in my hen-keeping calendar, and one that I’m sure that great –aunt Biddy would have revelled in. 

li nk

Rivers Animal Housing

Blueberry banana breakfast P r e p : 5 m ins | C oo k : none | S e r v in g s : 1 | S K I LL : E as y

A sustaining breakfast this is quick to make and good for you with blueberries for anti oxidants, egg for protein, flax seed for protein and fibre, yoghurt and milk for calcium and a little fat. And most of all it is totally delicious!

1 egg (from an impeachable source)

1 handful blueberries

2 tblsp Greek yoghurt

1pod of cardamon seeds crushed

1 banana

1 dsp milled flax seeds,

milk to taste


Whizz all ingredients together in a blender.

Pea whizz P r e p : 3 m ins | C oo k : none | S e r v in g s : 1 | S K I LL : E as y

100ml frozen peas

200ml water

2 tbsp live probiotic natural yoghurt

sprig of fresh mint

1/2 tsp Marigold vegetable bouillon powder


Put all the ingredients into the goblet of a blender or beaker of a stick blender, and whizz until the peas have been smoothly combined with

the other ingredients. Enjoy as light, quick, low calorie lunch or snack.


The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, ‘What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?’ and my answer must at once be, ‘It is no use.’ There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It’s no use. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.

George Mallory


you c an ’t climb E verest on an empty stom ach How did self-confessed foodie Mary Gwynn fare when trekking to Base Camp, in a region not renowned for gourmet cuisine? words & Images: MARY

© Pavel Novak

My battered Readers Digest Cookery Year was the starting point for the pastry. At the start it felt rather lumpy, hot and soft, so I kneaded it and left it to cool. Then I started to form it around the dolly*. It was wonderful, very like turning clay on a potter’s wheel. With a little encouragement, the pastry rose up the sides and formed a flat-bottomed cup. Traditionally, the meat filling is chopped by hand, but that was slow work. Next time I will use a coarse grinder on a hand mincer. I used the best quality meat, a mixture of shoulder and leg with a fat content of 20–30%. Because we were only making four pies, I decided to make the jelly from a vegetable stock set with gelatin, rather than use pigs trotters. When the pies came out of the oven, I was so happy, they looked amazing and tasted even better than the ones my father bought from Fortnums! * If you don’t know a bodger, a jam jar will do!


CIT Y OF 1,001 TA STES Le Corbusier called Barcelona ‘a port open to the past and future’. Annalisa and Rupert wanders its streets in search of wonders Words: RUPERT IMAGES: ANNALISA

Music: “Laid Back Guitars” by Kevin MacLeod (

Green potato salad with avocado and basil I make this with first pickings of little potatoes from my vegetable beds. It’s lovely warm or cold, stands as a great dish on its own, or as part of a party table – a perfect summer dish S e r v es 1 0 -1 2 / P r e p : 1 0 m ins / C oo k : 1 5 m ins / S k i l l : E as y

large handful fresh basil leaves, 750g new potatoes, halved if large 400g fresh broad beans, podded a few sprigs fresh mint

shredded 1 ripe avocado, peeled, stoned and diced

2 cloves garlic, peeled

bunch spring onions, sliced

25g pine nuts, toasted

100g baby spinach, shredded

3 - 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tbsp grated Parmesan


Place the potatoes with the mint in a pan of water to just cover, bring to the boil and simmer for 12 – 15 minutes until tender. Cook the

broad beans in a little simmering water for a couple of minutes until just tender. Drain and refresh under cold water.


While the potatoes are cooking, work the garlic, pine nuts and seasoning to a coarse paste in a pestle and mortar or small food

processor. Add the pecorino and basil and pound or process again until you have a coarse paste. Gradually beat in the olive oil a little at a time. Check the seasoning.


Drain the potatoes and toss with the basil pesto in a large bowl to coat the potatoes. Leave to cool. Stir the broad beans, avocado, spring

onions and spinach into the potatoes with seasoning and serve.


Three little pigs We’re putting our principles into practice – meet the Saffron piglets as we settle them into their new home. And try not to get too attached… WORDS: MARY image: Bill

Saffron Magazine 2  

A free taster of the second issue of Saffron, the new independent fascinating food magazine, available form the app store at https://itunes...

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