Monday 5 October 2020


It has been an unusual year to date. It started as normal with Marmalade-making and other cookery classes, but my last hands-on session was on March 6th for the Welbeck WI, when sixty plus members made marmalade. It is always a fun evening as there is so much enthusiasm and good humour in the room.
Big tables are set up with portable induction hobs and all the necessary equipment. Members spread themselves out. All hands on deck; chopping, juicing, stirring, setting and potting until everyone has a jar of marmalade ready to take home.

This was just at the outset of the virus. The country was still functioning, but we were all washing hands to two renditions of Happy Birthday and hearing warnings about sneezing and coughing and not touching our faces.
The chair, Anuska Parente, warned WI members that this may well be their final meeting for some time, which being the eternal optimist, I found very turned out of course that she was dead right.
I had the worst train journey both there and back. Travelling North from Cheltenham to Worksop; there had been a fatality on the line and a journey that normally involves one change at Sheffield ended in four changes and to add insult to injury my journey home involved five. In spite of being sneezed over and the constant change from one crowded train to another, I came away unscathed. 
This was my last hands on course to date. Like everyone else, I cooked myself through lockdown, I made pates and terrines until I filled the freezer. Such good lunch time treats (since devoured). I distanced myself from the bread-making and cake baking that was gripping the country. 
I also did lots of walking and collected specimen wild flowers to paint, to while-away the hours that would normally be occupied by friends and family. The glorious weather and the bourgeoning spring helped sweeten confinement. 
Zoom started to come into play, we celebrated Easter around the table with the family. Each one of our households in seclusion, cooking the same roast lamb and all the trimmings, clinking glasses from afar which gave us a warm feeling of closeness at the time. Virtual quizes, birthday and cocktail parties followed even a surprisingly comforting wake, uniting, Scotland, Denmark, Cornwall, the New Forest, Herefordshire and Oxfordshire. 
When the news struck that Denman and the WI cookery school were amongst the economic fatalities of the Pandemic, I, along with all the other tutors shook our heads in dismay. How could this be? Sadly Denman closed but long live Denman! Denman at home was born. I was not among the first to jump on the band wagon but as I warmed to the wonders of Zoom I could see its potential as a means to teaching.
I have already Zoomed four seasonal preserving classes. Damsons and sloes, blackberries, runner beans and summer veg. This week's class sees apples in the picture. We will be making apple and rosemary jelly with the juice and apple cheese with the apple pulp and I have a programme ahead to take us up to Christmas. Here are my cooking sessions up to the end of October. Contact me for dates up to mid December.

October 6th, 4pm Apples

Apple and rosemary jelly

made with the juice extracted from the apples, delicious with roast lamb and pork dishes.

Apple and rosemary cheese

made with the apple pulp that is left over, after the juice has been used for jelly-making. serve like Spanish membrillo on the cheese board or cut into pieces and eat like sweets.


October 27th 2020, 4pm Pumpkin

Pumpkin and orange jam:

A creamy yet tangy breakfast preserve, to ring the changes with your favourite marmalade

Triple ginger and pumpkin soup:

With the return of chilly mornings and evening, soup makes a welcome return on the menu


November 3rd 2020, 4pm – Long life Fruit

English apple chutney:

to serve with cheese, cold cuts, English breakfast, or a bacon sarnie

Pickled pears

for the cheeseboard and to add to stews, curries and tagines.


November 17th 2020, 4pm - Cooking ahead – Advanced Party

Confits of Duck

The simplest winter warming supper party main ever to have tucked up your sleeve this Christmas

Rillettes of Duck

Pot the confit and create an ever-ready starter or canape to keep in the fridge and serve to friends and family at the drop of a hat.



Tues 24th Nov 2020 @ 4pm – Edible gifts


Traditional Italian biscuits to serve with pudding wine, perfect to give as gifts


Hazelnut biscuits to serve with ice cream, mousses, fruit and other light desserts


Tues 1st Dec 2020 @ 4pm – Festive

Mincemeat – apple, pear, or japonica?

There is no finer mince pie than one filled with homemade mincemeat.

Mince pies and alternative fillings

Not everyone loves mincemeat (especially children) but it is easy to fill them with things they do like.

Mulled cider and an alcohol-free mulled apple

The perfect drinks for festive fun at a distance this Christmas




Tues 8th Dec 2020 @ 4pm – Christmas extras to make ahead


Cranberry and orange relish

A quick-to-make and delicious alternative to Cranberry jelly…makes just 1 pot! Double up if you need more.


Red cabbage

A super standby that works, served hot or cold


Remoulard The perfect salad accompaniment to cold turkey and ham,  cured meats, smoked salmon, pies and pates.









No comments: