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Gardens and Countryside

A Herdwick Country Cook Book:

Heritage, Walks and Recipes

 

Published in association with the Herdwick Sheep Breeders' Association

Short-listed for the Lake District Book of the Year Award 2004

About this book:

  • ISBN: 190 452 4141 (hardback)

  • Price £19.95 + postage

  • ISBN: 190 452 4133 (paperback)
  • Price £14.95 + postage
  • Published 2003
  • 180 pages
  • Illustrated with 61 colour photographs.

 

 

With a foreword by Professor Philip Lowe and photographs by Peter Koronka

About the Authors:
Hugh trained to be a Master Chef at Harrods, and was a lecturer in professional cookery for 30 years. For 25 years he took students on work experience duties to State Banquets at Buckingham Palace and is still a part-time member of the Royal Household.
Therese's family owned hotels in Belgium for over a century. She learned her cookery skills from her father, a gold medallist at Hotel Olympia and her Irish-Italian grandmother who was a teacher of Cordon Bleu cookery.
Hugh and Therese retired to a village overlooking the Ennerdale Fells in Cumbria in 1999. Hugh is a National Trust volunteer in the Buttermere and Ennerdale valleys. Therese does spinning, weaving, dyeing and felting and is a member of the Wool Clip Co-operative.

The Beatrix Potter connection:

Beatrix Potter invested money from her Peter Rabbit stories which helped the revival of Herdwick sheep. She bought up Lake District farms which she then left to the National Trust specifying that only pure Herdwicks should be bred on them. For over twenty years her Herdwick sheep won all the prestigious prizes at local shows. In 1930 she was elected president of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders' Association.

Reviews:
A marvellous and long overdue book written by people who not only understand the enduring value of the Herdwick sheep but also the spirit of community that makes the Lake District such a special place. Eric Robson, Chairman Cumbria Tourist Board

A lively combination of recipes, an authoritative history of Herdwick sheep and the woollen industry and the foreword by Professor Lowe, make this book a real taste of Lakeland. The authors' have put their culinary imagination and experience, combined with their obvious love of the Lake District, into devising new recipes using local ingredients, especially Herdwick lamb. They have also researched (and tested!) colourful traditional Cumbrian dishes such as frumenty and haver bread. An excellent book for cooks and country lovers! Sir Donald Curry

A celebration of our proud, hardy, useful, tasty Herdwick
When did the Herdwick sheep first graze the fells? One story suggests they came with the Spanish Armada. They are thought to be descendants of sheep that escaped from a shipwreck off Ravenglass in the 16th century.
More probable is that they came with the Norsemen. The breed bears distinct resemblances to breeds found in Iceland, the Faroe Islands and in Norway itself.
For Hugh Southgate, who has cooked for the Queen, the most convincing evidence is taste. The meat of the Old Norwegian is very similar to Herdwick. There is very little fat and the taste is more deer than mutton.
But the people who should know, the farmers themselves, talk about the Herdwick being indigenous, having developed from a primitive Iron Age breed. Certainly, excavations at Vindolanda on the Roman Wall have thrown up textiles made from the characteristic hairy wool.
The name itself is Norwegian. The areas of forest cleared for farming were called 'herdwykes' and by the 18th century the name had been transferred to the sheep.
Cumbrian farmers have been inordinately proud of their tough local sheep. In 1878 William Abbot wrote in The Shepherds' Guide, "There is not a breed anywhere in the world capable of taking the place of the Herdwick, a beautiful animal, stands against rain, hail and snow, braves the strongest blasts that sweep over the northern hills. The hardy Herdwick always to the fore, ready to climb to the summits of the loftiest mountains and proudly look down on less exalted, less beautiful fellow creatures."
And it is this very sweetness that has inspired this celebratory book by the Southgates. Therese is an enthusiastic spinner, weaver, dyer and felter of Herdwick wool, and Hugh is a master chef. They are keen to make the most of their sheep.
Hugh's recipes exploit the gameyness of the meat. These are not recipes for any old mutton. In Hardknott Leg with Caper Sauce, thyme, bay leaf, celery and capers are employed to enhance the unique taste of Herdwick. Witherslack Surprise is imaginative and sounds delicious with local damsons, damson beer, cream and honey complementing the meat. And Rosthwaite Roast is Cumberland's answer to Tornedos Rossini.
Hugh and Therese are in love with their adopted county. They roam the hills and valleys where the Herdwick feed and they talk to the farmers about their sheep.
Up in Yew Tree Farm in Borrowdale, Hazel and Joe Relph breed Herdwicks and also run a restaurant, the Flock In. They serve the finest Herdwick meat and as you enjoy it you can look out of the window and watch tomorrow's dinner munching in the field.
This is what the book is about. It is about getting an all-round view of our food, appreciating where it comes from, why it tastes the way it does - grazing on heather makes a key contribution to the taste - knowing the history of local cooking - importing West Indian rum and spices through Whitehaven gave Cumbrian cooking a distinct flavour - and then cooking it in the right way.
The Herdwick Country Cook Book is a recipe for a perfect day. The watery atmospheric photographs by Peter Koronka invite you to walk the hills and valleys and the guided walks with their historical notes and agricultural observations will work up an appetite that can only be satisfied by the finest Herdwick dishes. And, if you're a little cold, there is always a good thick Herdwick jumper to keep you warm.
Cumberland News, September 2003.

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