Underfoot green shoots are emerging from their winter hiding places, bringing with them the promise of what’s to come with the arrival of Spring.
With a little encouragement, often in the form of a bucket or large garden pot, pleasing pale pink stems of rhubarb can be drawn to the surface a little earlier than the main crop. Forced rhubarb is at its best between late January and early April.
There are many ideas in my head of how to use this early bounty before its season is done. I start with a rhubarb, yoghurt and pistachio cake, in part to celebrate the first anniversary of my farm and food blog.
Over a forkful of cake, with an added drizzle of cream, I look back at the entries for the year and feel a sense that more has been achieved than I have remembered. I scribble a quick list of the main achievements.
Looking back at my first post, I find a picture of my youngest daughter staring out of the window at Grandma’s flat, whilst I am in Edinburgh this half term, I reinvent this photo. She still finds the view out of this window fascinating.
I also make a compote of rhubarb and orange – my well thumbed copy of The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit recommends a pairing of rhubarb and anise seed, I work with what I have to hand and throw in a single star anise, given that its’ liquorice flavour is much stronger than that of anise seed, I don’t want to overpower the other flavours. It embellishes the pleasing pink jumble both in appearance and taste.
I recently attended a Rora dairy yoghurt brunch held at the beautiful restoration yard at Dalkeith country park (Side note here for anyone with kids – this place has the most fantastic adventure playground, which would be well worth a visit). Rora dairy, from Aberdeenshire, produce their delicious yoghurt freshly from milk on their own dairy farm and following the success of their large pots of yoghurt, have recently launched their mini pots. I am always excited to hear of new farm to fork products. The founding principles of this product are that it is made on the farm from non-homogenised milk produced that day, doesn’t contain anything unnatural, and tastes truly fantastic. I used the Rora yoghurt in my cake and also to go with my Rhubarb compote, and homemade granola, I would thoroughly recommend it. For people local to St Andrews, you can buy it at Balgove Larder.
As you may have seen, we recently released our yearling calves to the grass to make way for the new calves we are expecting to arrive at the end of February or early March. We were running short of space in the cattle shed, and having the animals living very close to each other can increase the incident of disease. Some cattle spend the entire winter season outside, and whilst ours are normally inside a shed for a little longer in the year, we are confident that the fresh air outside will be a positive thing for them, plus the space we gain inside the cattle shed will be invaluable.
Another exiting development on the farm is that we have lights! It’s a massive moment to have an electricity supply in the sheds – this will allow for much easier calving and general handling of the cattle during hours of darkness. Right now, I can’t imagine that the ability to be able to switch on a light will ever get tiresome.