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eG Foodblog: Sheepish (2012) - Eating and drinking in a Welsh farmhous

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#31 david goodfellow

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 02:23 AM

David. As you say, lamb prices are going up and up. I'm very much like an international pop star in that I have a very poor grasp of what lamb cost at the butchers because I never buy any. Last summer Mrs Sheepish was trying to kick start a local farmers market and sold some of our lamb. We had to price up the joints and I was amazed at how much it sells for in a supermarket. My understanding is that as China and India get wealthier they are buying up more lamb. That might be from New Zealand rather than the UK, but the lack for New Zealand lamb in Europe then pushes up the prices here. I'm very un-commercial because it really is a hobby for me, but reckon on about £35 profit per lamb. It can make you a living if you have enough land. Would it pay the mortgage on a farm you buy? Probably not. But then nothing will really. You also have to factor in the complex world of subsidies but I'd still think it's a very hard way to eek out a living if you don't get a farm handed down to you from your parents.

The only bit of a pig that the dog might see are the lungs. I can use some lung. But a lot of lungs I struggle with. Everything else though, yep, eaten. If I can find some in Cardiff on Friday I'll buy some faggots, if nothing else to give American readers a giggle. They would be the traditional Welsh way to use up the squidgy bits from a pig.

Thanks for sharing, thats a pretty comprehensive insight from a non farmer.

Don't want to scaremonger at all, but in our area because of the price of lamb, rustling has reared its ugly head and has shown a dramatic increase this last year or so. Are things ok in your part of the world?

BTW, you get about a bit restaurant wise, how do you think your home grown product compares taste wise?

#32 nickrey

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 04:46 AM

Lamb prices in Australia have been very high for a number of years. What used to be the staple meat is almost a bit of a luxury now.

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#33 sheepish

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 06:01 AM

Lunchtime update!

Bit hectic at work today so my plans for cooked lunch have been shelved in favour (yes eGullet spell checker, that is how you spell favour) of cheese and biscuits.

Mrs Sheepish was visiting Nottingham last weekend and picked these up for me. Montes de Toledo which I'm guessing is goat's milk, and is definitely semi-hard. Epoisse, which is a favourite of mine. And Lincolnshire Poacher, which is kind of cheddar-like.

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Cheese gets stored in my climate controlled cheese cave.

OK, it's not a cheese cave, it's a wine cellar. All right then, it's the cupboard under the stairs, but it is insulated from the central heating and keeps a fairly stable temperature.

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We will be returning here later in the week!

Also got some biscuits. The ones in the purple box are much too sweet for me. The rye crackers are very nice.

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So I know you're only really here for the sheep so I snapped them while feeding this morning. Couldn't get the light right on the camera, this was the best I could get.

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Have also been plotting Mrs Sheepish's birthday meal. Got amuse, starter and fish course sorted, I think. Still not decided on meat. I want something that we can drink a nice bottle of red with, which for me rules out pork, because pork goes well with something slightly sweet and for me that kills red wine.

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Exciting trailer for tonight's dinner. I am defrost duck's necks and pigs liver for some Sichuan themed fun.

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And a little taster of what I would have prepped for lunch today if I wasn't so busy working and updating eGullet food blogs.

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#34 ScottyBoy

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 07:04 AM

Awwwe, those fluffy little sheep!
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#35 mkayahara

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 07:07 AM

Awwwe, those fluffy little sheep!

Yeah, they're making me drool too. :wink:
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#36 Hassouni

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 07:43 AM

So, after a trip through the Lake District I noticed that all the sheep there are spray painted. And it seems yours are too. What's the story on the graffitied sheep?

#37 sheepish

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 09:16 AM

Have you tried lamb lungs? They taste great when grilled.


I have. And this is how I like them, as part of a mixed offal kebab. Have made haggis too (with Ox bung not stomach), but you get an awful lot of haggis out of 4 lambs you just got back from the abattoir. Anissa Helou has a Lebanese lung stew in her 'The Fifth Quarter' book which I haven't got round to trying yet. She doesn't think much of it from her description, so I haven't been inspired yet. I like the idea of Sichuan 'Man and Wife Lung Slices' that I've seen on a few menus, but I don't think restaurants tend to use real lungs, and I haven't found a recipe that suggests how to prepare them for that.

#38 sheepish

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 09:20 AM

Whats the deep colored green under the champ and ribs? Such a simple treatment for the ribs and I am sure they were delicious - perhaps because the meat itself was full of flavor and did not need accents.


Ah yes, I should have said. It's Cavolo Nero. Seems quite popular in the UK to the extent I can buy it in my local supermarket which is a good indicator of the banal. Just added to the simmering ribs towards the end of cooking so shares their salty, porky water. I'd like to think they are good ribs from happy pigs, and simple seem to be an Irish hallmark. Mrs Sheepish's Irish stew which is just lamb chops, onions, potatoes and water is a tour de force. Sadly I'm out of lamb chops at the moment.

#39 sheepish

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 09:22 AM

I will be interested in seeing what you do with the pig stomach and large intestine!


OK, you got me! :-) I haven't cooked with those because they aren't returned from the abattoir. I haven't cooked small intestine either, but I have eaten chitterlings in Argentina and they were very good.

#40 sheepish

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 09:27 AM

Purty!
Purty landscape, purty pigs, purty sheep.

Whydja choose Wales?

My great-aunt lived there most of her life, in Swffryd (near Crumlyn).
Your pictures evoke our visit there, even tho the locations are not all that close to one another.


Got offered a job here nearly 20 years ago. Didn't look like being offered any other jobs!

Swffryd isn't too far. About 40 miles. But a lot of windy mountain roads. Or down the motoroway, but a bit further.

#41 sheepish

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 09:31 AM

Thanks for sharing, thats a pretty comprehensive insight from a non farmer.

Don't want to scaremonger at all, but in our area because of the price of lamb, rustling has reared its ugly head and has shown a dramatic increase this last year or so. Are things ok in your part of the world?

BTW, you get about a bit restaurant wise, how do you think your home grown product compares taste wise?


I know of rustling, but fingers crossed, no one near hear hit. Being in the mountains helps. It's not so easy to gather the sheep, although at this time of year a shaken feed bag attracts a lot of ovine attention.

I'm always very self-critical about anything I produce, but I think our lamb matches the flavour of anything I've tasted. Because we have a lot of it it's not something I'd order in a restaurant. We did have a slice of loin in The Square last year that was stunning. Flavour and very tender. I'm at the whim of the abbatoir, so I can't control hanging times too much. One day I will have my own walk-in fridge! And all that said, Phil Howard could probably make a piece of cardboard taste good :-)

#42 sheepish

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 09:36 AM

So, after a trip through the Lake District I noticed that all the sheep there are spray painted. And it seems yours are too. What's the story on the graffitied sheep?


Lots of reasons. Just a localised way to record some information. Sheep require a few annual "treatments". So when I spray them to prevent blow fly strikes, or give them a dose of wormer, or flukicide, they get a coloured spot on the shoulder or rump so I remember which I've done. I don't have a proper run, so I tend to pen them and wander about doing whatever needs doing. They do look quite alike, so the coloured dot helps me know which have been treated.

Then I also spray an 'R' for Rob on mine, so I can easily spot them on the mountain if some kindly rambler leaves a gate open. There are plenty of other sheep up there so nice to identify them from a distance. You also see some people number ewes and lambs so they know which match. useful if you are treating or moving ewes with small lambs so you can make sure the correct lamba and ewe get back together afterwards. You will sometimes fine a lamb crying and often it's just because it's mother wants a bit of peace for 10 minutes and is happily ignoring it 6 feet away :-)

#43 andiesenji

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 11:51 AM

And here I was thinking those with the marks on their backs had been bred. Growing up we had a lot of sheep and when the ram was turned in with the ewes, he wore a harness with a bag of red chalk on his chest. Do they still do that or have they gone high tech in that also?
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#44 Kouign Aman

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 11:59 AM

I see you've left the beasties their tails. I dont think I've seen that before.
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#45 sheepish

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 12:29 PM

And here I was thinking those with the marks on their backs had been bred. Growing up we had a lot of sheep and when the ram was turned in with the ewes, he wore a harness with a bag of red chalk on his chest. Do they still do that or have they gone high tech in that also?


Still do that. The harness is called a raddle. At least it is here.

#46 sheepish

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 12:31 PM

I see you've left the beasties their tails. I dont think I've seen that before.


Depends on the breed and what they graze on. The idea is to prevent a build up of, err, muck, around the tail because that attracts flies and flies mean maggots. Rufty-tufty mountain sheep on poor pasture have nice firm muck. Namby-pamby lowland sheep on rich grass can suffer from a softer movement.

#47 Anna N

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 01:28 PM

Fascinating stuff about my favourite meat - lamb! Thanks for sharing your week with us.

Edited to fix typo - frozen fingers - just got in from outdoors!

Edited by Anna N, 07 February 2012 - 01:29 PM.

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#48 andiesenji

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 02:00 PM


I see you've left the beasties their tails. I dont think I've seen that before.


Depends on the breed and what they graze on. The idea is to prevent a build up of, err, muck, around the tail because that attracts flies and flies mean maggots. Rufty-tufty mountain sheep on poor pasture have nice firm muck. Namby-pamby lowland sheep on rich grass can suffer from a softer movement.



There is a breeder near Bishop, CA that is experimenting with some Karakul fat-tail sheep because the terrain/climate is similar to where they originated. The first time I drove past the place, I was startled by the mounded rumps and long tails and had to stop to take a closer look. I was told their wool is not great but the hides are valued as well as the meat.
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#49 sheepish

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 03:34 PM

Evening. Been getting some lamb on the go for tomorrow, and my attempt at Sichuan tonight.

First, the lamb. Breast of lamb. Based losely around a recipe from The French Laundry for veal breast. This is the last piece of lamb I could find from those we had slaughtered last year.

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Timmed of most of the fat and skin, split into three so it will fit in my pans, and browned on both sides.

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Add stcok veg

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Plus chicken and lamb stock and this will simmer gently for four hours. Later on tonight I pull the ribs out and let the meat cool, pressed under a weighted baking tray. And come back to it for tomorrow's dinner.

Next onto tonight's dinner. Our local farmers market only happens once a month, so no pictures I'm afriad, but there's a lady there who sells various poultry. I asked her for duck necks and hearts. And the following month I had a *big* bag of necks and hearts for £4. I was sure they must eat necks in Sichuan so I tweeted Fuchsia Dunlop and she suggested simmering in strongly spiced stock and serving at room temperature with roast, ground sichuan pepper and salt.

Duck necks chopped into 3s.

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Also going to do sweet and sour fish. Mrs Sheepish tells me there wasn't much choice at the supermarket today, which isn't unusual but we have a sea bass, which I'm pretty sure will be farmed.

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Found some proper facing heaven chillis listed from a place I occasionally buy spices from. Bought a 200g bag a few weeks ago. Nearly all gone now. Nice to know how hot these dishes should be by using the proper chillis.

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Getting thirsty at this point, and mindful of the ever present danger of developing malaria in South Wales it's time for a large glass of quinine flavoured fizzy water, with the merest splash of Tanqueray.

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Got bored of taking pictures at this point, as I'm sure you will have been looking at them. So here's how it ended up. Duck necks. Sweet and sour fish. Pigs kidneys with wood ear mushrooms. Green beans with chilli and sichuan pepper. Green peppers with black vinegar.

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Close up of the liver

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And the green beans

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Andiesenji wanted to see what my kitchen looks like. Well here's what it looks like when I've been cooking.

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Not to be outdone, Mrs Sheepish has been baking. This is another Welsh recipe. Teisen Lap. Not a million miles from Bara Brith, but slighty drier and lighter and I've nearly eaten it all.

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#50 andiesenji

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 03:41 PM

Beautiful food photos and that is exactly what an in-use kitchen should look like.
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#51 Dejah

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 04:13 PM

Those duck necks would be my dish! I'd take a dish of it, sit infront of the telly and pick 'em clean with my fingers and teeth! :wub: I do that with chicken necks.

Really enjoying the blog so far. Lamb is one of our favourite meats. Kids can't afford to buy it - not really because of the price, but due to the humongus amounts they want to eat!

Mrs. Sheepish's baking looks great. Would she post the recipe?

And the kitchen...that's exactly the way it should look when it use!
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#52 Blether

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 05:23 PM

Nice work. Lots of colour on the duck necks - are they spice-tossed or finished with a browning or something ?

Great-looking cake from Mrs. S, too. Funnily enough back home in Scotland we had a home-baked tea-soaked-raisins fruit bread we called a "Dublin loaf".

#53 maggiethecat

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 07:32 PM

I love a picture of a kitchen in use. Makes me feel fine about mine.

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#54 mutt on

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 06:19 AM

Just joined eGullet after Mrs S directed me to Sheepish's blog. Of course this is a wonderfully creative blog, and not just because Rob has inherited many of his father's communication skills. Coincidentally Rob is also my son so I can testify to the exceptional quality of his (and Mrs S's) cooking, although with such a long trek from one side of the UK to the other we don't get to enjoy it as much as we'd like.

We've yet to savour any of the Sichuan meals that Rob has already displayed here, so we better start planning our next trip!

As for the kitchen photo, it really does look like that all the time. Mr & Mrs S's kitchen is half the size of ours but they turn out food at least twice as good!

#55 sadistick

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 12:12 PM

Great blog - would love to see more shots of the property and what else you farm (both animal and veg) there.
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#56 sheepish

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 01:21 PM

Mrs. Sheepish's baking looks great. Would she post the recipe?


Teisen Lap recipe came from here. http://www.greatbrit...recipe_id=1085. I'm told it took 50 minutes to bake, not the 35 minutes specified.

#57 sheepish

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 01:25 PM

Nice work. Lots of colour on the duck necks - are they spice-tossed or finished with a browning or something ?


The stock they cook in has added soy sauce and is created by simmering with a muslin bag full of star anise, fennel seeds and sichuan peppercorns. It taste pretty strong and quite bitter, but makes what simmers in it delicious. If I make pork spare ribs in it then they get deep fried after and dressed with chilli and garlic.

#58 sheepish

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 02:18 PM

Bit of a catch up here.

Last night the lamb breast finished simmering after 4 hours. I took it from the pan, pulled out the ribs, which happens very easily once cooked, laid once piece on the other and set it under a weighted sheet. Big books work well here.

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Back to today and lunch courtesy of Mrs S. Umm, tinned tuna and cheese and salad. You know if I'd been cooking lunch it would have involved frying. I managed to consume it while contributing little to a conference call about getting some emergency SAN provisioned (computer stuff).

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I forgot to buy polenta for tonight's lamb, so after work I popped to the supermarket. I know everyone else's blogs are full of wonderful pictures of local markets. I don't really have a local market. Perils of living in the sticks. This is what the outside of the supermarket looks like. In the UK possession of an SLR in public is a terrorist offence (probably) so here's my covert picture. The fella in the Fiat is on to me. I'm expecting a call from MI5 tonight.

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Another peril of living in the sticks. When it gets very cold our water supply freezes up. So today we're on jerry cans I've lugged up from the spring.

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With water at a premium we had little option but to raid the climate controlled wine cellar. Not sure where this bottle comes from. I've never been keen on a blend with Mouvedre. Apologies if anyone now reading this bought it for me.

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Cracking on with tonight's dinner. Lamb, unpressed.

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And lamb simmering liquid strained and ready to be reduced.

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Update later when I'll bring exciting news about what it tasted like.

#59 sheepish

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 02:49 PM

And a little later. I cooked the polenta with chicken stock and garlic. Let it set and fried in olive oil. Fried the lamb in butter - everything tastes better fried in butter.

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Veg is betroot, carrots and celeriac. Carrots and celeriac finished in butter, of course.

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The lamb is really tender. For me this is the best thing you can do with lamb breast. It' OK roast with a dry stuffing, but not this good.

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And just because "mutt on" has popped up to sing my praises, here's the decanter he bought me for Christmas. That wine was a bit tanic straight from a just opened bottle. Not too bad after the first glass :-)

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#60 nickrey

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 02:56 PM

"Mutt on" "Sheepish." I can see this going for another generation with "Lamb e" but what happens then?

Enjoying your blog.

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