The Blog

Welcome to our award winning blog


Here you can find a collection of our thoughts, reports and ramblings together with some fun things we find along the way. We try to update the blog at least once a week and more often during busy periods so make sure you check back regularly..

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Feb 14 2017 11:00AM

The Feast of St. Valentine on 14th February commemorates the beatification of Valentine, a priest imprisoned and executed by the Romans for preaching Christianity.

It was only in the Middle Ages that Valentine's Day started to become associated with romantic love, particularly thanks to the writing of Geoffrey Chaucer, and by the 18th Century it had become the festival that we recognise today with sweethearts exchanging cards, presents and flowers.

Despite the over-commercialisation that it has undoubtedly been subjected to, most of us still look forward to receiving a card or two and to the opportunity to cook a meal for our loved ones. But it’s possible that the day has its roots in something much older and more lascivious.

The pre-Roman festival of Lupercalia was celebrated between 13th and 15th February. Lupercalia celebrated Lupa, the wolf who had suckled Romulus and Remus (the twin founders of Rome), and Lupercus, the Roman god of shepherds. The party would kick off with a sacrifice of goats and dogs. As part of the festivities, the animals' skins were cut into thongs and used to whip girls and young women to ensure their fertility. So, hardly the mushy, romantic stuff of today.

Whether or not Lupercalia is, in fact, the mother of the modern day Valentine’s Day is hotly debated by academics. But they do share some similar themes and it is not hard to see how feasts and festivals falling around the same date might have become intertwined.

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Feb 8 2017 11:09AM

In my recent post I introduced Russell Brown, hugely talented chef and co-author of the Well Seasoned Book.

Russ has his own website for his consultancy business Creative About Cuisine and, in his February newslettter you'll find his thoughts on the book together with a fantastic seasonal recipe to try - Caremelised Onion Cheesecake. I highly recommend you check it out.

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Feb 3 2017 09:00AM

A quick glance at our seasonality charts reveals that, whilst there are plenty of options for fish and meat on the menu in February, healthy green vegetables are rather thin on the ground.

This month, roots such as carrots, parsnips and swede are all still fairly plentiful but the cold weather means above-ground, leafy produce is hard to come by.

Thankfully a thin, purple superhero comes to our rescue this month. He's become so popular in recent years that he goes simply by an acronym - PSB. The Vegetable Formerly Known As Purple Sprouting Broccoli arrives just in time to sustain us through to spring.

Every part of this slender, leafy plant is edible so don't be put off if your PSB looks a bit stalky compared to "proper" broccoli. The first crops usually arrive in late January or February and the season will come to an end around May.

Good PSB is a real treat but it's easy to be put off by poor quality produce - woody stems and wilting, flavourless leaves are, unfortunately, all too easy to find. Choose yours carefully; it should look fresh and healthy. If the florets are yellowing or look dry then it's not fresh enough. The stems should snap cleanly in the same way as asparagus. Cooking is straightforward and much the same as for the normal broccoli.

Rather than be tempted by "early season" (almost certainly imported) asparagus in February, why not try a few stems of the freshest PSB with hollandaise sauce as an accompaniment? It'll add a perfect touch of seasonal glamour and goodness to your late-winter dinner table.

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Feb 1 2017 11:00AM

By making sure your garden is home to plenty of insects you'll also get plenty of visiting birds and larger animals who feed on them.

February a good time of year to make a bug house; although many insects aren't active over the winter, making and installing a house for them now means they will quickly colonise it in when they emerge during the spring and summer. The key to a good bug house is plenty of nooks and crannies for insects to lay their eggs in and to hibernate. Different species have different preferences, so providing a range of habitats will ensure you get a variety of lodgers. If you have space, placing more than one bug house in your garden at varying levels and on different surfaces will also help attract a diverse selection of creepy crawlies.

You will need:

• A section of clay pipe about 6 inches in diameter (available from most garden centres). Clay pipes are particularly attractive but if you can't get hold of one you could also use:

- a section of plastic drain pipe

- a plastic bottle with one end cut off

- a tall flower pot

- a large instant coffee tin

• A bundle of bamboo canes

• A selection of long twigs

Cut the canes and twigs so they are slightly shorter than the pipe. Place as many of them as you can lengthways into the pipe to ensure a snug fit. Place your house on its side in a dry spot in the garden before the spring so that hibernating insects will find it when they emerge. Be patient - it will take insects a little time to find and colonise your bug house, but the longer you leave it, the more will make it home.

Top tips for the best bugs:

• Block off one end of your house by placing it against a fence or other surface to stop the wind blowing through. You could also mould some flattened modelling clay to seal the end.

• Make sure water can't collect in your bug house. Raising the back end by placing it on a stone or twig so that it slopes slightly downwards will help.

• Leave any natural vegetation (twigs, fallen leaves etc.) that falls on or around your bug house.

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Jan 16 2017 11:00AM

Wassailing is an ancient custom that takes place in the country's apple orchards every January and it's surprisingly common in the cider-producing counties, even today.

The wassail is often celebrated on Twelfth Night but some maintain it is most properly observed on "Old Twelfth (or Twelvey) Night" being 17th January (which would have been the right date before the modern Gregorian calendar was adopted). The word itself is a toast derived from the Middle English greeting "waes hael" meaning "may you be healthy."

The form of the ceremony differs greatly from county to county but all involve singing, dancing and drinking (lots of drinking) to the health of the apple trees in the hope of a good harvest next year.

The largest or oldest tree in the orchard is selected and the cider is liberally sprinkled at its base. Then crowds then usually sing, shout and bang pots and pans to ward off evil spirits and awaken the trees as they come towards the end of winter.

Old apple tree we wassail thee;

And hoping thou will bear;

For the Lord doth know where we shall be;

'Til apples come another year.

For to bear well and to bloom well;

And so merry let us be;

Let every man take off his hat;

And shout to the old apple tree.

Old apple tree we wassail thee;

And hoping thou will bear;

Hat fulls, cap fulls,

Three bushel bag fulls;

And a little heap under the stair.

- Wassailing Carol, Somerset.

Did you know…? Mulled cider (see December) or ale is known, in some parts of the country, as Wassail because of its connections with the wassailing ceremonies.

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Jan 13 2017 11:00AM

St Hilary's feast day on 13th January is traditionally regarded as being the coldest day of the year.

Many historic cold events have started on or spanned St. Hilary's Day. In 1086, a great frost was recorded as spreading all over the country. In 1205 the Thames froze over and people ice skated through central London. In the 16th and 17th centuries a series of cold winters saw the Thames freezing regularly and Frost Fairs were set up in the centre of the city with amusements including skating and ice bowling.

Although it is usually pretty chilly, meteorological records show that St. Hilary's Day has only occasionally been the coldest day of the year. On average, January and February are equally cold and records of the actual coldest day show it is fairly evenly spread between December and February.

The coldest day ever recorded in the UK was 10th January 1982 when in Braemar, Scotland a temperature of -27.2C was reached. That record was equalled on 30th December 1995 at Altnaharra, Scotland which is officially the UK's coldest village.

"Lay long, being a bitter cold frosty day, the ice being now grown old and the Thames covered with ice." – Samuel Pepys, January 1667

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Jan 9 2017 08:40PM

As we've just started the new year it feels appropriate to talk about new things and we also owe you an explanation for why things have been a bit quiet on the blog recently.

So, here's the BIG news.... We're absolutely delighted to report that the Well Seasoned blog is going to become the Well Seasoned book! We met with the publishers today so the wheels are already in motion and we'll be beavering away on it for the foreseeable future.

We can't give you all the details just yet but, as you'd expect, it's going to be an awesome food-filled read, packed full of seasonal information and recipe ideas.

We can tell you a few other things. First, we'll be working with chef Russell Brown. Russell's been a friend of ours for a while now. He was previously the owner of Sienna, Dorset's only Michelin starred restaurant, and you won't find anyone who knows more about seasonality and seasonal food than him. His recipes and photography will have you eating pages out of the book so we're really, really pleased to have him on board.

We can also tell you that we're hoping the book will be published in March 2018. That sounds a long way away but we've got recipes to write and test, chapters to be researched and written, design, editing and printing to get done, all of which takes a looooong time to get right. But we're confident that it'll be well worth waiting for.

We'd LOVE to hear from you with any ideas for the book - have you got a favourite seasonal ingredient that simply MUST feature? Is there a seasonal event that takes place near you that everyone should know about? What about that hedgerow fruit that you'd love to know more about? You can use the Contact Us page to drop us a line with your thoughts.

That's about it for now. We hope you're as excited as we are about the project and we'll let you know more as soon as we can.



By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Jan 6 2017 10:07PM

If your Christmas and New Year have gone anything like ours you will currently have i) a batch of fantastic new marmalade made from the season's first Seville oranges (in season until early February) and ii) a slightly stale, half-eaten panettone leftover from Christmas. If that's the case you'll definitely be needing this recipe, a New Year twist on that favourite classic, the bread and butter pudding.

Marmalade and Panattone Pudding


1 jar of orange marmalade

350g panettone, sliced and cut into rough triangles

Butter to grease the dish

1 tbsp brown cane or caster sugar

4 free range eggs

500ml full fat milk

4 drops vanilla extract

Cream or vanilla ice cream to serve.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Lightly grease a deep, 25cm ovenproof dish. Spread a layer of marmalade over each slice of panattone. Layer the panattone triangles in the ovenproof dish. Beat the eggs and milk together and add the vanilla. Pour the mixture over the panettone, ensuring each slice gets a soaking. Sprinkle over the brown sugar. Bake for about 40 minutes, until golden brown. The pudding should wobble very slightly when you take it out of the oven. Serve still warm with cream or a generous helping of ice cream. Relax and and enjoy in the knowledge that Auntie Doris won't come visiting or another 364 days.

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Jan 1 2017 11:00AM

January is, of course, time to make New Year resolutions. It's worth taking time to consider how we might do things differently this year. For the seasonal family a few small changes can mean we live a more interesting, healthy and ethical life. Why not write yours down and stick them to the fridge to remind and inspire you throughout the year?

Here's a few suggestions:

- Make the change to free range. If you haven't already, resolve to eat only free range or higher welfare farmed meat and eggs.

- Support your local independent shops. Most of us visit the supermarket from time to time but small artisan retailers with real passion for their products need our support if they are to survive. The same goes for farmers' markets.

- Remember to take your reusable bags to the shops. The plastic bag tax has already led to a dramatic reduction in plastic bag use. It's good news but we can always do more.

- Take an extra piece of litter home from the beach. The UK has some of the most beautiful coastline in the world, but there isn't a single stretch of it that isn't blighted by man-made litter. If we all take home more than we come with, we can make a difference.

- Plan at least one outdoor adventure a week (whatever the weather!) Only by being out and about in the Great British outdoors (town or country) will we appreciate everything it has to offer.

- Don't eat the same fish twice in a row. This simple measure eases pressure on endangered fish stocks and makes your dinner plate more interesting.

- Eat more game. Whether it's venison, wild boar or pigeon, most wild meat is low in fat and high in iron. It ticks lots of boxes from an ethical perspective too.

- Try a new food every month. By broadening our horizons our seasonal menu just gets longer and more exciting.

- Have a meat free day every week. A veg-focussed day is good for you and less demand for meat reduces pressure on the planet's resources.

- Become an educated consumer. By learning more about the food we eat and where it comes from, we can make positive choices.

Perhaps above all, we should all resolve simply to eat as much seasonal, local produce as possible over the coming year. If we can stick to that, we'll be doing ourselves and the planet a world of good.

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Dec 6 2016 10:45AM

'Tis the season... to feel guilty about how much work you've actually done. Social media gives a voice to the smug Christmaseers of the nation who started preparing back in August and they have a habit of letting us know.

Didn't make your own mince pies? Fail. Didn't spend an entire day hand-crafting Christmas tree decorations with your children? Fail. Didn't rear your organic turkey from a chick and lovingly feed it on organic maize grown in your pesticide-free garden? Definite fail. What have you been DOING with your life?

Just in case you get to Christmas eve and haven't even managed to hand tie a dozen Christmas crackers (honestly) here's your banker. THE simplest cranberry sauce recipe that can be made the night (or even several days) before, in just a few minutes. Whack it down on the table and silence the critics, even if everything else - including the now-half-finished bottle of brandy - come from Iceland.

Simple Cranberry Sauce Recipe

250g fresh cranberries

100g light brown sugar

100ml orange juice (from a carton is fine – they’ll never know)

3 tbsp port (optional)

Pour the juice, port (if using) and sugar into a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer then tip in the cranberries. Stir for about 6 minutes, until the berries just start to break down. Take it off the heat while they still have some form. Put to one side (or keep in the fridge) and serve at room temperature.

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